Oh my soul…if you have some good girlfriends in your life, take the trip together. Just do it.
I just got back from a trip to Oregon Wine Country with my 3 sisters, and we seriously had the most amazing time together. And now I’m encouraging everyone I know to go on a girlfriend trip.
I mean, big family trips are a blast, and trips with a significant other are amazing, and solo travel is always a growing experience. But if you’re lucky enough to have some great girlfriends in your life, there is NOTHING in the world like spending time with your girls for a weekend away. Just do it.
Ok, now that I’ve started with my call to action, let’s get to the trip recap. 🙂
My 3 sisters (Courtney, Cara, and Kylee) and I have always been close. But in our adult years, we’ve figured out that we really enjoy traveling together. (This trip will always be one of my favorites!)
Part of it is probably due to being adults and having more disposable income for experiences like travel, but a big part of it is realizing that we really have to make a point to get these trips scheduled if we’re going to spend time together now that we live in different parts of the country.
So we discussed a few options and decided to do a wine tasting trip in Willamette Valley this summer!
I’ve been wanting to do an Oregon Wine Country trip for years, and ironically the year it happened was when I also got to do the Portland beer trip that Nate and I have been dreaming about. Both were incredible!
^ Up bright and early for my flight to Oregon! Friends, there’s nothing that I love quite as much as a long, solo flight. I’ve always loved them, but now that I have two young kids I EXTRA love them. 4 hours of sitting in silence with nobody talking to me? Bliss. I’ve had the same flight routine for years and years:
1. Buy some candy. (Reeses Pieces or Swedish Fish)
2. Download books on books on books.
3. Download tons of podcasts.
4. Download a Netflix show.
5. Fill up my giant water bottle at the airport so I stay hydrated on the flight.
^ And then before I knew it, I had landed in Portland. My 3 sisters had just gotten the rental car, so we ready to head out on our trip! Kylee (my younger sister) and I were matching. 😉
^ And then that’s Cara on the left (my older sister) and Courtney on the right (the first born of the four sisters.) We were all sooo hungry right when landed, so we made a stop at one of my favorite breweries from my Portland trip earlier in the year: Breakside!
Love ya, Breakside. IPAs for days and days!
Y’all, we lucked out with the most AMAZING beautiful sunny weather on this trip. It was sunny and 75 when we landed on Monday afternoon, and it stayed that way all week.
We got some groceries and drove down to Willamette Valley to our Airbnb. We stayed in this cute little apartment in Dundee (about 45 min south of Portland) and it was perfect for us. A little kitchenette, two king-size bedrooms, two separate baths, and a hot tub on the back patio.
(Quick note if you’re looking for a place to stay in the area: this one was awesome for the view, the space (the rooms were huge!) and the proximity to wineries. The only downside was that is that the owners live on the floor above it, so you can hear the little toddler running around sometimes. Not a big deal to us at all, but if that sort of thing bothers you, it’s worth noting! Also, the kitchen has everything except a stovetop, so this wouldn’t be a great option if you’re planning to cook your meals at home.)
Anyway, here are a few more pics of the apartment:
^ The waterfall showers were lovely and the bathrooms had heated floors! I love it when Airbnb hosts add fun little treats that most people don’t have in their own homes. Makes it feel really vacation-y.
We had to drive up a steep hill to get to the Airbnb, and I said “this means the views are going to be amazing!” I love a steep hill in the final 1/2 mile before you get to your destination. It’s always a sign of good things ahead.
We got our groceries, unpacked, and opened a bottle of wine at home! The hot tub overlooking the valley was a BIG WIN for this trip! None of us realized it before we got there, but all of the Oregon wineries close at 4:30 or 5 pm, so there was nothing to do in the evenings. So we’d always bring a bottle of wine back home and chat in the hot tub in the evening hours.
^ Ready for our trip to begin!
We had three full days in wine country, but I’m not going to recap each day because we pretty much did the same thing each day: sleep in, enjoy a slow cup of coffee/breakfast in the morning, do a hike or take a walk, and then get ready to head out. We’d go to about two vineyards each day, eat a meal, and then come back in the evenings with our favorite bottle of wine from the day and relax on the back patio. Bliss.
Here are a few of our favorite stops, though:
^ Furioso Vineyards was my favorite of the whole trip. The views were stunning, the tasting room was architecturally pleasing (it had these amazing floor-to-ceiling windows, and glass floors where you could see the oak barrels down below!), I absolutely loved the tasting flight (the best pinot rose of the whole trip for sure), and our server was the best one of the whole trip (hi Megan!). They also had an awesome little brick oven pizza truck outside, so we ordered a few pies for lunch.
Here’s a pretty good example of a Willamette Valley tasting flight in 2022. Most flights started with an interesting white (this one at Furioso was a Melon de Bourgogne, but other wineries offered a Riesling or a Pinot Gris or a sparkling wine), followed by a pinot noir rosé, a chardonnay, and then two contrasting pinot noirs.
Love you, Ky! Kylee is my little twin (we were both blonde babies while the two older sisters were born with dark hair), and my childhood roommate for 14 years. Since we roomed together for so many of our formative years, she gets me in a way that most other people don’t. She has a masters degree in social work and is changing lives in Dallas as a kinship specialist. She truly has a heart of gold. Ky was the very first person I called when the ambulance drove off with Nate in 2020, and she literally got in her car right away to come to Austin to be with me. (She’s just that type of person.) She also came down to Austin for both of her nephews’ births (shhhh, she snuck in to the hospital when Dayton was born in summer 2021…). After all of these years of seeing how she shows up for the people in her life, it should stop surprising me…
Anyway, that’s a bit about Ky. She’s an amazing human.
The little pizzas were sooo tasty!
The entire winery was absolutely lovely. This was the only place where we didn’t have a reservation (we just walked in and hoped for the best), and they were able to fit us in. And I’m so glad, because it ended up being my very favorite winery of the whole trip.
We loved the tasting so much that we got another bottle to share afterward.
Not my cutest look (we were probably very deep in conversation at this point), but this gives you a good look at the entire room and our view!
^ Cara!! She’s the sister who’s just older than me, so we were the two middle kids growing up. Cara is a BLAST. I hate it when she’s not around because the room feels empty without her! She’s the life of the party, the only extrovert in our family, an enneagram 7, a shopper, a gift-giver, the sister whose closet we always raid, and one of the most beautiful humans on the planet. As kids, we were the two who would get into the most trouble because we were just SO goofy and hyper and crazy and would set each other off. For instance: Cara and I worked in a recording studio when we were 7 and 9 (our first job!) recording background vocals for Sunday school curriculum CDs. We would have 3-hour recording sessions each day, and she and I would be standing around the mic and one of us would just give the other one a look or say one word (some stupid inside joke) and we would LOSE IT. Like, two dumb kids rolling on the floor in fits of laughter, and the sound engineer would have to tell the entire group to take a break until we got our act together. And in addition to all the goofiness and fun in Cara, she has this amazing work ethic. She brought her laptop on this wine tasting trip because she’s finishing up her Masters in counseling, which she’s been working on for the past few years while simultaneously working her full time job. So proud of her.
^ Argyle Winery was right by our Airbnb, so we checked it out! It’s known for being a bigger production winery, so most people have at least heard the name “Argyle.” We didn’t do a tasting here, but we each ordered a glass of their bubbly and enjoyed the beautiful indoor/outdoor tasting room.
^ Aww! I was coming back to my seat and saw the three of them sitting there and chatting. I am sooo happy to have these three in my life!
It was a really lovely space! This wasn’t necessarily my favorite place of the entire trip (it was just a tad bigger and more “corporate” feeling than some of the other vineyards we visited), but it was really convenient for us to visit. And it was the only place we went that specializes in sparkling wine.
^ We got several meals and snacks at Red Hills Market. It was all so yummy! Kylee went back for their giant Monster Cookie a few times. 😉
It was a full breakfast/lunch/dinner restaurant, plus a little market with wine, home goods, and snacks.
I’m not going to tell you how many times I peeked at Dayton’s monitor to watch my sleeping baby boy. I missed my babies sooo much all week!
^ Stoller Family Wine was another one of my favorites. This is the only Oregon winery we visited that’s advertised as a family-friendly place, and there were actually a lot of little kids and families there! They had a huge grassy hill with dozens of Adirondack chairs, and indoor tasting room, an outdoor patio, and lots of space for people to move around.
We sat outside for our tasting.
We sat and sipped and chatted our way through a tasting flight at Stoller. The views at this winery were AMAZING (do I sound like a broken record yet?) and I didn’t want this tasting to end!
We were all a little hungry so we ordered…
…a couple lox and charcuterie boards. Delish.
Before it was a vineyard, this property was the largest turkey farm in the United States. Ha. Yep! In the mid 1900s there were 1 million turkeys wandering around these hills. Gobble gobble.
^ Aww, Court. Courtney is the eldest of the four sisters, so she’s always been the trailblazer in our family: first one to leave for college, first one to live in a different country, first (and only!) one to get a doctorate. She has this supernatural ability to nurture and love, and she has a special knack for loving the ones who have had a harder start in life. Like, she has saved dozens of little kittens who would have been euthanized, bottle fed them and sometimes literally brought them back to life, and then found wonderful homes for them. Her motherhood journey started a few years ago when she became licensed foster parent, and she now has several little ones in her life. She fights really hard on behalf of their birth moms to get them reunified. I love her sooo much. Court is really good at living life slowly, staying in the moment, and not rushing…so she’s a great one to have on a wine tasting trip!
^ I mean…this is honestly what we did all week! It was absolutely perfect.
^ Sunrise view from our patio. Oregon, do you know how good you’ve got it??!!
^ We ate at Trellis one night, and it was ok! Not one of the best restaurants I’ve ever tried, but it was decent. Maybe a 6.5/10, and it was our best option nearby. (Note: someone told me that Jory at The Allison is a really good restaurant..we didn’t get our reservation in time, but that’s one I’ll try next time.)
^ Conversation and wine with these girls? Always a 10/10. 😉
^ We went to cute little McMinville one day to walk around the town!
Flag & Wire Coffee Co was absolutely darling. The two windows were completely open, exposing the inside to that fresh Oregon air.
Also, I’ve lived in big cities for too long because I was SHOCKED at how cheap my coffee was. I got a pastry (a shiitake mushroom hand pie) and a medium drip coffee, added my typical 20% tip, and the total was just $5. Haha! If I ordered the same thing in Austin I’m pretty sure it would have been double that. Note to Flag & Wire: you can raise your prices!
After a few days of wine tasting we were all craving something healthy, and then we stumbled upon…
…a Health Bar. Would ya look at that? 😉
Sisters, eating kale together in the morning and drinking wine together for the rest of the day.
We found a cute little famers market..
…so we wandered through that and enjoyed the sunshine.
We just wandered around the town for a bit, sipping green juice and enjoying a little break from wine.
I love stopping by a local book store! This one was absolutely precious.
I picked up a few of these Dover Little Activity Books for Milo. I remember my mom bringing these home from her trips for me and my sisters.
Ok, another winery that I really enjoyed was…
^ Archery Summit! We enjoyed their signature tasting on the bright, sunny patio!
It had sweeping views of the vineyards below. My only complaint? They built the parking lot between the tasting room and the view! If they had figured out a way to reverse it (put the tasting room where that parking lot is above, and the parking lot behind the building) guests would be able to enjoy the view sooo much more easily.
But one of the really cool things about this winery is that they have 1/4 mile of underground walkways through a cave.
I mean, maybe that’s why that had to build the parking lot where they did…so they weren’t putting the parking lot inside a cave. I don’t know. I clearly don’t know what I’m talking about here. All I know is that I loved the views at Furioso and Stoller Family Vineyards, and the view at Archery Summit was obstructed and I wish I could have enjoyed it better!
But the wine was lovely, our server was so fantastic, and I really loved Archery Summit. The 5th tasting was “choose your own adventure,” so we sampled a 2013 pinot reserve from the library, a pinot gris, and a 2017 pinot (apparently that vintage was a really good one in Oregon.)
^ At one point we needed a break from wine, so we went to Wolves and People Farmhouse Brewery for a few pints.
I looooved it! It’s a small farmhouse brewery (lots of wild, farmhouse-style beers) with a small walk-up tap wall and outdoor seating only.
We got a bunch of half pours and tried a few beers each. They had a lot of Grisettes on tap (great summer beers that hover around 4% ABV) so we mostly stuck to those.
See the mulch in the photo above? It was actually..
…crushed acorns! I saw this at a few places during our trip. I’ve never seen crushed acorns used as mulch, but it definitely makes sense to use what’s available and local. (Kind of like how we use Cedar mulch here in central Texas.) I just thought it was notable, so I snapped a picture to share with you.
Our final winery of the trip was at Ponzi Vineyards:
…and it was one of the most beautiful, modern tasting rooms of the entire trip! The wine was absolutely lovely. We booked a table indoors, but we were still able to enjoy lovely views because the entire building was made with glass walls.
Helllooooo gorgeous Oregon!
Ponzi was highly recommended to me by lots of people! We loved the wine and the ambiance, but the wine tasting experience wasn’t my very favorite. I’ve found that I really appreciate it when the servers are highly knowledgable and know lots about wine, the region, the industry, and can share a few tidbits other than just a script they’ve memorized.
I couldn’t have asked for better company. 🙂
And that’s the final photo I have from this trip! We sipped, we swirled, and we mostly had many long and deep conversations. Haha.
Anyone who comes from a big family (or is one of four girls) can appreciate this: a sisters trip is always sprinkled with “family therapy” sessions. We talked about everything! We all joked that we slept SOOO well on the first night because we didn’t shy away from talking about anything all day. Nothing was off limits, but on day 2 we all agreed that we were just going steer clear of the heavy stuff and talk about dumb things for a few hours.
Because after growing up in the same family, with the same parents, and many of the same experiences, we will always have stuff to rehash and share and ask. We don’t stay on the surface level/small talk stage for very long.
But we also joke around and laugh and have car karaoke to our favorite old songs from high school. I have more fun with these three than just about anyone!
I think our friendship is so rock solid because we’re willing to talk about the hard stuff AND enjoy the fun stuff.
I couldn’t have asked for a better wine tasting trip with my sisters!
That’s it for today. Thanks for letting me share these photos and memories with you. Xx.