“A Destination for the Senses”
A picnic in Oregon wine country sounded just too good to refuse. I’d had the notion to go since meeting our neighbors the night before. They had visited Durant Vineyards at Red Ridge in the Dundee hills of Oregon wine country. They gushed about all of the incredible amenities the vineyard had to offer in addition to the excellent estate-grown wine. Plus it offered a view of Mt. Hood that was to die for.
A wine picnic sounded great, but what caught my attention was the fact that the estate also had a plant nursery and a gourmet gift and garden shop. My husband and I were ready to check it out. It turned out to be much more than I anticipated.
The manicured lawns of Durant Vineyards were lovely as well as inviting. Vast expanses of lush green grass rolled beyond the seating area and downward over the hill. The staff inside the tasting room were warm, friendly and enthusiastic about their wine. Mr. Durant informed us that he and his wife planted their vineyard in the Dundee Hills in 1973 as one of the first in Oregon to plant wine grapes. Among the wines grown in the vineyards are Pinto Gris, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
My fascination grew as he mentioned his olive grove, planted in 2004, next to the first and only commercial olive mill in Oregon. I instantly loved the fact that he and his family were true-blue trailblazers.
We decided to walk the grounds before our tasting and get the lay of the wine estate. The nursery was beautifully organized with numerous varieties of shrubs, flowers, trees, and miscellaneous plants. Culinary herbs, specializing in Lavender and Rosemary varieties, were in abundance. There is a large lavender patch on the estate.
Baby olive trees in various sizes were staked in pots and displayed around an old wooden table. These are cold-hardy varieties that do well in Oregon’s cooler climate. Pottery is everywhere and gorgeously made. Some looked just like ancient amphorae used in Roman wine storage.
I passed a traditional English Knot Garden which created a maze of interconnecting hedges infused with a variety of aromatic and culinary herbs. Nearby was a trickling fountain with a koi pond.
Inside the garden shop is a Terrarium Bar, which was a new idea to me. You just pick a glass container, rocks and plants to put inside of it and you have a lovely bit of nature to take home that will last a long time. It also makes a great conversation piece.
The shop was full of seed packets, gardening supplies, a solarium with unique houseplants, pottery, and gourmet salts. Estate-grown olive oil tasting and vinegar tasting was available, all of which can be purchased by the bottle. It was enough to get me in the gardening mood.
We walked on to the olive mill next to the 17 acres of olive trees. Tiny green olives are now forming on the branches that will continue to grow and be harvested in the fall. The lavender field was getting ready to bloom.
After our exploration of the estate, we headed back toward the tasting room. Inside, we purchased a bottle of Chardonnay and a picnic plate consisting of Olympia Provisions salami and an assortment of local cheeses, Oregon hazelnuts, Arbequina olives, cornichons, fresh vegetable crudités and sliced baguette, drizzled with Oregon Olive Mill extra virgin olive oil and 8-year Aged Balsamic Vinegar. We took the picnic outside on the spacious lawn with a lovely view and enjoyed a slow, relaxing afternoon. It was heavenly.
At the end of our day at Durant Vineyards Estate, we felt refreshed and inspired. More than just a vineyard, this estate has so much to offer. It is a complete day of sensual enhancement that the entire family can learn from and enjoy. I encourage you to find a similar winery near you that will make a great family outing. Or, if you need a couples get-away, this would be the perfect way to spend the day.
Durant Vineyards at Red Ridge
Open daily 10 AM – 5 PM
Address: Red Ridge Farms
5510 NE Breyman Orchards Rd.
Dayton, OR 97114
Email: [email protected]