Many folks don’t know that the state flower of Oregon is the Oregon Grape. With our love and appreciation of the grape, it is no surprise that we have many wineries in and around Portland, Oregon—wineries which rival those of our famous Napa Valley neighbors, a half days drive to the south.
Wineries in the Portland area have to be different if they want to offer year round wine tasting. We get more rain and cooler weather out here then Napa Valley and while our climate is what makes the grapes so flavorful, a winery would not survive if they had to close for half the year. This is part of what makes the Ardiri winery in Cornelius (about twenty miles from downtown Portland) such a successful venture.
Depending on where you stress the accent, Ardiri is an Italian word meaning either “taking a risk” or “consumed by fire.” If the wines offered here are any indication, the wine mongers of Ardiri are certainly not afraid of taking risks to create some of the best wine you’ll ever taste.
My wife and I decided to take a dazzling, autumn Saturday afternoon wine tasting trip to this winery we’d heard so much about. Driving to Ardiri is like driving through a European countryside. Luxurious green hills, elegant views of Mt. Hood and an assortment of farm animals welcome you as you make the pleasantly circuitous drive through Oregon’s rural countryside. Finding Ardiri and pulling into a gravel driveway, we were greeted on either side by late fall grape vines—a field of haunting yellow with a series of purple grape bunches. We parked and made our way up to the tasting room.
The “room” itself was stone and had a large, wooden roofed patio. A series of fire places and a diverse crowd of people sat in subtle silence. For ten dollars each (plus five bucks for a fun little snack box) we each got two commemorative tasting cups and five wine samples. We began with the award-winning white and made our way to an approachable group of folks sitting around the stone fire pit.
Conversations ensued. Friendships were made and wine was consumed. After the whites, a series Pinot Noirs were served. They each had a nice piquant flavor. They were not too dry and had enough flavor without being too strong or punchy. As we drank slowly, savoring the aroma and the flavor, we walked around the manicured grounds. We stood and watched Mt. Hood in snow-capped brilliance watch us from a distance. We found some red rocking chairs and simply sat and observed the world around us as the brilliant colors of late fall filled us with immense appreciation for living in the area.
This was our first wine tasting experience, but we vowed that it would not be our last. By the time we left we had a new appreciation for wine, for the rural countryside, and for the numerous amenities and activities available to us near our home in Portland, Oregon.