This is not a pilgrimage to Napa

Although we are going to California and visiting wineries, please don’t think we are only interested in California wineries. We have visited Napa and Sonoma before, and enjoyed it very much, but we flew down there, so we couldn’t bring much wine back.

That inspired us to drive to Washington and Oregon this time last year, the Wine & Dino tour. We great fun visiting the Museum of the Rockies; the Evergreen Aviation Museum, home of the Spruce Goose; and a good number of wineries.

One of our favourites was Amity, in Oregon, which unlike many ostentatious wineries, consists of a large shed and a trailer. While we were tasting, workers were packing wine bottles into cases a few yards away, making room for the new crop to arrive. We also visited the south end of the Yakima valley in Washington, and stopped in at Hogue Cellars. Although they were promoting some of their vineyard-specific wines that day, they let us taste some of their Genesis line and we bought a variety pack at a very attractive price. The locals in Prosser haven’t quite got used to the idea of wine tourists yet, the lady in the liquor store asked us: ‘did you come here on purpose?’ We definitely visited Walla Walla on purpose, we had lunch on the beautiful patio at Ecole 41 while the first trucks of the new grape harvest arrived, and we had a fabulous dinner at the Creektown Cafe.

Anyway, that trip was so much fun that we did another last spring, except this time instead of Oregon, we did British Columbia’s Okanagan valley, especially Naramata, and the whole Yakima valley instead of just the Prosser end. We also visited the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta on the way home. Didn’t like Drumheller much, but the museum was awesome.

So now it’s back to California for the first time in more than a decade, but on the way we hope to see some of the wineries of southern Oregon, where they’re breaking the state’s Pinot habit and planting other grape varieties. We’ll stop at Yakima again, and say hi at Silver Lake and Bonair, and we’ll drop in at Hogue Cellars again, too.

When we get to Napa, we’ll stop in at Domaine Chandon for a Blanc de Noir, see if we can find some Swanson Merlot, swing by Merryvale for some Starmont, spend the day in Napa valley to see what’s changed, and then we’ll do a full day in Sonoma because last time we split a day between Sonoma and the Petrified Forest. We want to get back to Dry Creek, and buy another lunch at the Dry Creek General Store, if they still do deli-style sandwiches there.

On the way home again, we’ll see more of Oregon, visit McMinville again, and maybe this time we’ll visit the Space Museum. We want to see Walla Walla again, even though the Creektown Cafe will be closed on Sunday, and we’re going to try and find Abeja. Failing that, we’ll shop for some on Monday morning.

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