Bethany vineyard in Ridgefield

I hadn’t ventured toward the wineries in Ridgefield, WA until a wine distribution friend of ours mentioned there were some good ones to explore.  We couldn’t recall which ones he’d mentioned so we decided to just try out out.  Bethany vineyard was a pleasant surprise.

In addition to their tasting room, they’ve taken great care to provide beautiful grounds for events as well.

The Tempranillo was my favorite with notes of dark cherry and leather.

Gouger winery was recommended by our friend so we’ll check that one out soon!


Red Ridge farms/Durant vineyard and Vista Hills vineyard and winery and Zerba cellars

What a lovely sequence of 3 wineries to explore today!

Our first stop was Durant vineyard/Red Ridge Farms for the spring pick up party.

See prior posts on Durant vineyard, Red Ridge Farms, and Oregon olive mill:

3.2.13 Check out Red Ridge Farms and Paley’s Place Bistro and Bar on KOIN TV!

5.19.13 Red Ridge Farms/Durant Vineyards wine and olive oil club spring pick up event

7.21.13 Red Ridge Farms/Durant Vineyards wine club summer BBQ

View this Durant vineyards video from their website talking about their process.

The spring pickup lineup were the following 2 wines:

2013 Southview Vineyards Pinot Gris

Tasting notes:

580 cases.  Our vineyard has a large planting of Pinot Gris.  My father, Ken Durant, has always enjoyed this wine for its easy drinking characteristics-Unpretentious, fruity, racy acidity, a hint of sweetness, and low alcohol.  This is a wine meant to be consumed on your patio, front porch, or when tailgating with good friends with a barbecue fired up nearby.

2012 La Casita Vineyard Pinot Noir

Tasting notes:

155 cases.  We poured this wine as a sneak peak at the winter pickup party.  I have mixed emotions about releasing this wine so early.  It is probably the “biggest” pinot noir we have ever produced, and we do not strive for “big reds”-honestly, quite the opposite.  However, you play the hand you’re dealt with and 2012 dealt some amazing wines and La Casita fits that model.  It is luscious, rich, deep and just damn good.  I hope you savor this wine as it is unique and quite exceptional.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

This is an interesting description as La Casita has always been my favorite and it’s not their poster child block.  However, I do tend toward bold reds and this one is luscious and earthy!  I’m holding onto my bottles of 2011 whole berry and 2011 whole cluster as long as I can as they are going to be so delicious!

Our next stop was Vista hills vineyard which is close to Durant vineyard.  They have a lovely pond at the front door.

Vista hills

The treehouse tasting room is such a lovely view of the vineyard!

Vista hills vineyard

Vista hills 2

The 2011 Piedmont estate pinot noir reminds me of what I enjoy about a great Nebiollo.

Tasting notes:
A polished estate Pinot Noir, with a sweet vanilla bean nose and juicy berry notes. Strawberry and raspberry give way to tempered tannins and a soft and extensive finish. 180 cases produced. 90 Points – Wine Enthusiast.

Vines: Vista Hills Old Block C and Block F
Clones: 667, 777
Barrel Regimen: 18 months in French oak, medium plus toast (40% new)

Our final stop was Zerba cellars which is on the way through Dundee back to Portland.  This is only a tasting room as the vineyards are in the Walla Walla valley.  They are an interesting contrast to the pinot noir in the Dundee AVA as I do enjoy bold reds and Italian and Spanish varietals such as Nebiollo, Tempranillo, Barbera, Malbec, etc.

Tempranillo tasting notes:

This medium-bodied red is sourced exclusively from certified sustainable vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley (LIVE, VINEA, IOBC, and Salmon Safe}. Intertwining aromas featuring black licorice, olive, leather, and caramel lead into a pleasing mouthful of dried cherries, and granite on the way to a smooth dark leathery finish.

Malbec tasting notes:

A medium-bodied red that does not disappoint.  This smooth red features rich aromas of huckleberry, lavendar, tobacco and granite that transition into dark cherry flavors and a dark spiciness that leads to a bright huckleberry finish.

Barbera tasting notes:

This light-bodied everyday Italian drinking wine showcases intense currant aromas along with allspice, graphite, and lavender.  As you begin sipping the wine prepare for bright raspberry flavors that fade to dark cherry on the way to a lightly oaked finish.  Enjoy with your favorite pasta or light grilled barbeque fare.

However, their “Wild Z” red blend is quite good as well.

Tasting notes:

This full bodied red table blend is 52% Merlot, 48% Cabernet Sauvignon. Contains cedar, dark plum, and white pepper aromas that lead up to tantalizing flavors of blackberry, dark cherry, and cedar with hints of earth and currants. This perfect everyday wine pairs with a wide range of foods.

What a delightful afternoon of red wine tasting!

Evergreen space museum

My husband has been wanting to go to the Evergreen space museum for years and we finally did it.  I had envisioned a small, musty type of museum and was surprised at the scale of artifacts and information provided at this amazing museum!  There were 3 buildings on the lot with 2 museums of artifacts (planes and space), a theater, and a water park for kids.

So, I’ll summarize just a few highlights and you can check it all out yourself! 🙂

There are planes and jets outside of the building as you drive up and you can see how enormous just the one building is.

The main building holds a wealth of  general aviation, and world war II fighters with the replicas of the Wright Brothers’ Curtiss JN-4 Jenny, Messerschmitt Me-262 Schwalbe, and Curtiss P-40 Warhawk.

The Spruce Goose is quite a draw for this museum.  It’s amazing how much of the building it took over!

The SR-71 Blackbird was also an interesting exhibit.

SR-71 Blackbird

The Space Flight building was interesting with rockets, missiles, space capsules, rovers, space probes, satellites, etc.

We didn’t watch any of the movies in the Theater, but that would be interesting on a future visit.  There’s also a Waterpark for the kids!

Zerba Cellars

On my way to Red Ridge Farms and Durant Vineyards, I had occasion to stumble upon Zerba Cellars in Dundee, OR.  Take note that it is Zerba and not Zebra even though there is a zebra on some of the wine labels.  It is just a tasting room since the vineyards are in the Walla Walla valley, however, it was quite a find!

While I enjoy Durant Vineyard’s pinot noirs, I tend toward bolder reds so it was a nice pleasure to run into this local resource.  I indulged in a delightful tasting flight that included Malbec, Tempranillo, and Barbera which are some of my favorites.  I was disappointed that the Nebiollo was reserved only for the wine club.  Cascade Cliffs makes a delicious Barbera, however, Zerba’s was quite good as well!

I forgot to take pictures, however, you’ll have to check it out for yourself…


Breathtaking beach on the Washington state Olympic peninsula

I apologize to my readers for being away for so long. Supporting my husband through the last year of his dissertation and life events in my family were the priority this last year. However, I set aside all of the interesting events to catch up on now that I’m back on so stay tuned on those! 🙂

These are a couple of photos of the ocean beach on the Olympic peninsula.  They are of 2nd beach near Forks, WA.  Breathtaking!

Olympic peninsula-ocean beach Olympic peninsula-ocean beach

Oregon coast lighthouses-Coquille River Lighthouse and Bullards Beach State Park

My mom is a genealogy buff and has been wanting to visit all of the lighthouses on the Oregon coast, but particularly the Coquille River Lighthouse inside Bullards Beach State park.  Apparently, I have a relative that ran this lighthouse many years ago.  She lives out of the area so I researched it and printed out some maps and guides for the trip.  It’s quite a drive from Portland, OR almost to California with just an overnight stay!

There are lots of websites on the Oregon coast lighthouses and historical books at Powell’s bookstore, however, I found this engaging map on the Oregon state parks website to be helpful:

Below is a portion from the bottom half of the map with some brief information about the lighthouse.

Oregon coast lighthouses map

Walking up to the lighthouse, the sand and beach and seagulls were beautiful enough for a painting.

The view was breathtaking from both inside and outside of the lighthouse!

We took the tour from the main desk up the windy stairs into the lighthouse.  Those were sure interesting to trek up so they only allow a few people at a time.

Lighthouse keeper


Now, on to the other lighthouses on the coast!


Oregon Zoo Zoolights

This year is the first year that I’ve indulged in the Oregon Zoo Zoolights.  It was quite a spectacle with gorgeous colors and patterns!  Apparently, it runs from after Thanksgiving through the 1st week of January 5-830 PM.  It’s closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

oregon zoo zoolights 1

It was quite thick traffic from the freeway through the zoo parking lot and tricky to get a parking spot.  It was a chilly evening, but I was dressed in a cozy wool scarf and wool peacoat.  The line to get in actually wasn’t too long and it was busy throughout the zoo, but not terribly and it didn’t interfere with maneuvering through the zoo and enjoying the lights.

oregon zoo zoolights 2

It was quite festive with groups of friends and family exploring the patterns together.  Kids were snuggled cozily into wagons and strollers and all were bundled up to fully enjoy the experience.

Of course, these photos don’t do justice to how dramatic these lights are in person.  I look forward to checking it out next year!

Cascade cliffs

Cascade cliffs

Last year when I raved about Maryhill winery’s Barbera, a friend of mine suggested that I might like Cascade Cliff’s Barbera as well.  So, this year after dropping by Maryhill I had to check it out.  The winery was buzzing with activity since it was the day of their 16th year anniversary.  I was in a bit of a hurry, but the entire flight of wines were amazing and I enjoyed every single one immensely!

Cascade cliffs

Cascade cliffs tasting room

Here’s the tasting lineup along with tasting notes:

2011 Nebbiolo
Our nebbiolo is much more “generous” and soft at an early age while still retaining the grape’s trademark complexity. The estate nebbiolo provides a myriad of flavors and aromas ranging from rose petal, dried tea, rosemary, coffee, and Mediterranean fruit such as fig and blood orange. This is truly the most poetic red wine known to mankind!

The skins of nebbiolo are fairly thin and delicate, producing a lighter, somewhat translucent ruby color. Looks can be deceiving though… This is a wine that can stand up to hearty dishes and goes particularly well with earthy flavors of wild game, mushrooms and truffles.

2011 Syrah
It can produce dark and brooding aromas of black fruit, chocolate, espresso and black pepper. With proper aging a deep layering of flavors emerge that are earthy with savory hints of leather and white truffle.

Our Syrah exhibits ultra ripe fruit flavors, powerful spice and smoke aromas, and soft, velvety tannins on the finish. This is a great wine to either lay down for a while or enjoy with grilled meats.

2011 Barbera
Barbera wines can be either fresh, fruity, and youthful (without oak aging), or produced in a more robust, drier style that ages well for many years.

Our estate barbera is our richest and most intense red, packed with dark red berry flavors, including black cherry, currant, and black raspberry. Solid acidity allows this wine to remain well-balanced with a long, vibrant finish.

2010 reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Our estate cabernet is a robust, full-bodied red with notes of tobacco, cassis, black cherry and clove on the palate. It can be enjoyed in its youth with hearty meals, but will age well and soften for many years.

I was still thinking about how delicious these wines were days later when I called a few days later and signed up for their Cliff’s club.  It was exciting to pick up the 1st shipment and have another tasting to decide which bottles to open first.

If you’re not familiar with Cascade Cliffs, you might enjoy their blog as well as this “Vine stories” video about them.


Maryhill winery

Maryhill winery

Last year was my first excursion to Maryhill winery and I was due for another visit since I was out in the gorge en route to Skamania lodge.


Last year I was impressed with their Barbera and I was eager to try another flight of their wines.  This time I indulged in the flight of their reserve wines.  Here’s the lineup along with the tasting notes.

2011 Reserve Chardonnay

We can’t believe ‘it’s not butter’ in this Chardonnay!  Honeysuckle, grilled pear, pineapple and peach aromas liven the senses and prepare you for a silky,  golden delicious apple, honey and toasted almond finish.

2009 Reserve Syrah

This ruby beauty blends rich aromas of fig, coffee and caramel with a pomegranate, dark chocolate palate that lingers briefly and leaves a wonderful bready, roasted chestnut finish.  Pair with peppercorn steak, roasted duck or rich shellfish.

2007 Reserve Serendipity

“Serendipity – the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.” Experience lavender, raspberry, cherry and cigar box on the nose. On the palate a smooth fruit entry develops into a complex blend of pomegranate, raspberry, stewed plums, coffee and tart cherry on the mid-palate. The finish has a bit of grip at first and a pleasant linger that allows you to contemplate the opus that is this wine.

2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Deep garnet color in the glass gives you a visual of things to come. Dark fruits, smoke, vanilla and coffee are prominent on the nose and palate. The experience doesn’t stop there though. The hints of lilacs, currant, plum and raspberry come and go and add a depth and complexity that will provide a wonderful sipping experience as well as pair with big flavorful meat dishes. This is a very smooth cab.

2010 Reserve Zinfandel

Our crowd pleasing Zinfandel has hit a new high. Aromas of cherry chutney, plums, cigar box, truffles and coffee make one’s eyes light up immediately. On the palate, black cherry, smoked meat, currant and hints of the darkest of fruits keep you engaged. On the lingering finish look for pain grille’ with truffle oil to surprise you and make you ready for more. Whether with prime rib, chocolate cake or simply sipping slowly, this deliciously Zinful wine is an absolute pleasure.

I ended up purchasing a bottle of Malbec this year.  Here’s the tasting notes:

Typically a blending grape due to rich color and bright acidity, Malbecs were late to the wine scene as an individual bottling. Our deep red-violet offering filled with aromas of rich red cherries, juicy raspberries, rose-petals and baked bread certainly is deserving of its own bottle. On the palate black pepper, tobacco, French roast coffee, and dark fruit precede a palate cleansing acidity and soft tannins. Malbec was late to the party? We say, better late than never. Yum!

It was a gorgeous day for a picnic lunch on the deck before running off to miss the traffic from the Willie Nelson concert in the evening.

Oregon zoo

Oregon zoo

Last year was the first time I’d been to the Oregon zoo and it was a nice adventure including the Pink Martini concert.  It was a nice refresher to see all parts of the zoo in 1 day, but quite a bit of walking.  I didn’t take many photos this time.

It was fun to watch the penguins during feeding time.


It was interesting to watch how the giraffes doing the splits to get down low while eating.


I was able to get close to the eagle after his show and he’s considered small. 🙂


This little beaver was cute up close under the water.


Each time I go, there are interesting things to see…