Musical pairing – Only The Wine by David Gray

‘When we came here looking for some advice it was poured out on us; everything we wanted to know that they knew, they told us. And we in turn, have wanted to pass that on to people who come after us’ ~ Pat Dudley, Bethel Heights

It has been a month since I’ve been home from Full on Oregon . . . and you know what? We’re still talkin’ about it.  We’re still remembering the people we met, the food we ate and the drinks we shared; and I’m still thinking about a few of the women I met who left quite an impression . . .

Sitting outside on a perfect day, on a perfect deck, with a perfect view of beautifully landscaped vineyards, one would think that owning a vineyard is . . . well . . . perfect . . . and I have to admit to having several Falcon Crest moments . . . But look beyond all that perfection and you’ll find that plenty of blood, sweat and tears have been shed when it comes to starting and owning a vineyard.

As I sat there that beautiful Friday morning, sipping some of the. best. wine. I’ve ever had, I couldn’t help but be very proud of these women – some of which I’m guessing are in the vicinity to my own age . . . yes proud, inspired and awed. And as I listened to the stories of what it took to make their vineyards a success, I understood the sacrifices made.

I may be wrong but I believe it is, and certainly was back then, expected that men would charge off into the wilderness, forge new paths, discover new lands, conquer the world; that’s not always been the case for women. And I’m not trying to make this post about sexism or how hard women have had it in terms of jobs, professions, etc., I’m simply saying that until the mid to late 60s, most women found themselves raising families and taking care of the home. But these women stood shoulder-to-shoulder with business partners, husbands and families to create a new life . . . a new venture into wine making . . . it was risky . . . it was gutsy . . . and it was uncharted territory.

Grapevines needed planted, farm equipment maintained, marketing a product to be learned, children to be raised – all sacrificed much for the rare opportunity to create a world-class wine. Collaboration with other vineyards and a petition to the State of Oregon reversed the designation of the surrounding area from ‘view property’ to agricultural land – a move that protected land on which many of the vineyards are established today. Information was shared with one another not only because they wanted to but because they had to in order to survive . . . and somewhere in the 1980s, some of these families traveled to New York to compete head-to-head with wines from France . . . and won . . . suddenly . . . Oregon was on the map.

The reality is that owning a vineyard is farming at its core: a 24/7, 365 days a year, sometimes thankless, job; summer vacations were all but non-existent, weekend trips to the mall were few and far between. You’re at the mercy of the weather, it’s dirty, it’s sweaty, it’s gritty, it’s cold and wet – children worked too because everyone’s efforts were needed. No one had money to hire the work done back then; most were working other jobs in addition to caring for the vineyards – roll up your sleeves and roll yourself out of bed every day. I watched adult second generation children nod in agreement when talking about how tough it was growing up during these times; some left the vineyards to experience another life only to return with a deep appreciation for what was, ‘literally’ built from the ground up.

I’m not a wine aficionado by any stretch of the imagination; I drink what I like and I don’t have a true understanding about grape varietals, climate or the science of making wine. But what I do know, what I’m really good at, is knowing when I see the passion of someone working their craft. And as I said in my first Full On Oregon piece, when you see someone working at what they were put on this earth to do, you catch a glimpse of that person’s soul and it is something quite special . . . I caught a glimpse on Friday morning . . . a consistent theme which played out again and again throughout my stay.

As a professional storyteller and videographer, I can say that the journey of these pioneers is rich with elements great movies and/or documentaries are made from – human against nature, sacrifice, hardship, defeat. And then like Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa, bruised, bloodied and broken, rise again triumphant . . . these are the stories which make America great . . . these women and their families have lived that American dream.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Jason Lett of Eyrie Vineyards who was also part of this panel and has produced the beautiful Rosé you see in the above photo. It won’t be available for another year or so but I’ve always been a big, big fan of Rosé and this was one of my favorites; I’m keeping my eyes peeled for the release and plan to get my hands on some . . . and seriously, don’t you love that bottle??

If you happen to live in the area or are traveling to Oregon at some point, I highly recommend visiting these vineyards and tasting their fabulous wines; I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Wineries participating in our weekend were: Sokol Blosser, Bethel Heights, Ponzi, Chehalem Winery, Ayres Vineyard, Matello Wines, Antica Terra, Argyle Winery, Abacella, Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, Apolloni Vineyards, Troon Vineyard and King Estate . . . yes, we sampled some of the very best Oregon has to offer . . . all memorable . . . all remarkable . . . all world-class.

FULL DISCLOSURE: While Travel Oregon paid for and sponsored Full On Oregon, I am not being compensated for this post, nor was I asked to provide any type of review; as always, the opinions expressed here are strictly mine.



  1. Pingback: Friday Favorites – Episode 109 | my kitchen addiction

  2. Loved seeing all of your photos… They are stunning! And, this pot pie sounds fabulous. Perfect for a chilly fall evening!

  3. Wow, what a great idea and a lovely recipe! Your photos are just beautiful, too. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Deb, Thanks for letting us share our memories with you! And thanks for this mouth watering pot pie recipe, looking good next to our Bethel Heights Pinot Noir. Just what we need to warm ourselves up while waiting for harvest!
    Pat Dudley

  5. I have the deepest respect for farmers of vineyards and produce farms – it is probably one of the hardest jobs, requiring such dedication and commitment, day in and day out, often not knowing what the outcome will be depending on the weather. Lovely hearty recipe to go along with Oregon red wine.

  6. Having the opportunity to meet these winemakers and share a few bottles of some extraordinary vintages was a very special treat. I would agree…a little bit of Falcon Crest came to mind that day. 🙂

  7. I love this recipe – very much up our alley! And the photos are gorgeous. New lens makes a big difference I bet?

  8. I think we should plan a trip there so you can show me the wine. I’ve enjoyed a couple of bottles from Oregon and was totally surprised at how much I like them.

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