There is just something about February in Eastern Oregon. The days are a little longer, and the chill coming up the Columbia River isn’t as bad as it was a few weeks ago. Yet, there is just a grayness to it all, and something that makes you want to reach for dark red wines, and equally dark, rich chocolate to sooth away the dullness of the season. Pair that with a weekend full of adventure with your sweetheart, and you’ve totally blown away the blahs.
With Valentine’s Day falling on Saturday, the wineries of the region are breaking out the best to offer lovers an adventure they can’t refuse. Red wine and chocolate events are available from Walla Walla to the Willamette Valley.
The Willamette Valley Winemaker’s association is kicking off their “150 Days of Wine” event starting Valentines weekend, and running through September. 39 of the wineries, including Torii Mor, Argyle, Bethel Heights, Domaine Droughin, Rex Hill, and Raptor Ridge will all be tasting wines, chocolate, and other gourmet goodies in their tasting rooms.
Coming up the river at Maryhill you will find Maryhill Winery’s “Passport to Passion” and Waving Tree Winery’s “Sweehearts Red Wine and Chocolate” weekend. Both wineries will be tasting a cornucopia of wines and chocolates, with live entertainment running through Monday the 16th.
Continue over the hill into the Yakima Valley, and take the scenic route back to the Tri Cities to find another nearly 60 wineries that will be offering rich chocolate desserts paired with excellent wines. There is an opportunity to purchase a special “Premier” pass for $20 per person which will open up the doors on special tours, tastings, and extra chocolates reserved only for pass holders. Go to http://www.wineyakimavalley.org/ to get your pass. You will actually pick up your pass at a winery you designate as your starting point.
If you are feeling really adventurous, you can always head to the North Cascades region to enjoy wineries not normally open to the public. Be sure to check out their website at http://www.columbiacascadewines.com/ before going in order to know where and when the wineries are available.
In Walla Walla, the newly opened winery leChateau is offering a complete class on wine and chocolate pairing in conjunction with Petit Noirs, a chocolate artisan from Milton Freewater. There is a cost of $30 per person to attend this class, but well worth it considering all of the chocolates, wines, and even a souvenir glass for participants.
When you get back into town, I encourage you to attend one of the many special Valentines Meals being prepared at establishments in both Pendleton and Hermiston.
As always, enjoy and be safe!