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31st Annual Barrel Tour Umpqua Valley Winegrowers

Located in Roseburg, Oregon and surrounding area is the Umpqua Valley Barrel Tour.  Last year was the first time I had heard of this tour from a co worker who had been taking this tour with her husband every year for the past 24 years.  I was intrigued and curious about this tour and what would keep this couple coming back year after year.  Luckily for me, because my co worker she been going on this tour for so many years and has invited such a large group of tourists, she was able to get the tour bus to pick us up at our hotel.  Considering we are visiting 7 wineries in one day, I am so happy we aren’t having to drive at all!  Let’s get on with the tour….

The Tour Bus!

Photo by Chris Nolte

Yep a yellow school bus!  It wasn’t fancy, but it held all 46 of us and as much wine as we wanted to buy on the way!  The bus driver picked us up at our hotel at 8:00am, we headed to where the rest of the tourists were getting picked up and we were off.  The bus seems so much smaller than when I was in school, but certainly brings back memories.  There are 3 different tours available to choose from and a total of 13 buses, all the proceeds go toward supporting the Umpqua Valley wineries.  After driving about 30 minutes or so, enjoying the beautiful green countryside and hills, we arrived at our first winery, Chateau Nonchalant Vineyards.  We were greeted by Weldon, the owner and winemaker and his “assistant manager” Dave his chihuahua.  Love it!  Weldon informed us of the wines we will be tasting and what they will be paired with along with the lay of the property and where to go.  Here is a view of what we saw when we got off the bus.

Lovely landscaping and welcoming deck right outside the tasting room.  Inside the tasting room the walls are covered in dark wood and we were encouraged to open the doors at the back.  The door on the right opened up to a dark wood wine cellar, not to be overshadowed by the door on the left that opened to the laundry room.  This was the most top of the line laundry room that includes it’s own wine bar!  So while waiting for the spin cycle to complete you can have a glass of wine!  The first wine they poured was their 2013 Nonchalant Blanc paired with Mango Salsa on Blue Corn chips.  The next sampling was their 2009 Tempranillo with Andouille/Chicken Jambalaya which was a great pairing that had just a little spice but the wine helped cut through the spice.  The third and last pairing here was their 2013 Malbec with a very tender Roasted Pork Bordelaise on Crustini.  The Bordelaise is a nice light sauce that was delicious on the pork.  Off to a great start for the day and now, on to the next.

What a great welcome for all of us, I have never seen this before, but a clever idea using chalk on the barrels!  We are now at Girardet.

Marc Girardet the second generation Winemaker at GIRARDET explained they have a 30 acre vineyard and his father Phillipe planted the first grapes in 1971.  Phillipe learned how to make wine back home in Switzerland and brought his knowledge to Oregon. The first wine poured here was their stainless steel fermented 2012 Chardonnay paired with Pineapple Upside-down Cake a surprising pairing that worked well.  The second wine 2010 Pinot Noir served with a warm comforting Wild Mushroom Soup.  Lastly the third pairing their award winning 2013 Baco Noir with Russian Garlic Toast.  The Girardet family pioneered this French vine on the West Coast!

Another great winery and looking forward to the next.  As we drove up to the third winery, this was our beautiful view.

Off in the far distance there is a gazebo you can walk to and they encourage you to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy there.  There wasn’t enough time to visit on this trip, but next time!  Abacela Winery is where we have arrived.

Photo by Chris Nolte

What an amazing day so far, the weather was perfect, sunny and a warm 70 degrees and the expansive views!  The first wine at Abacela was their 2014 Albarino paired with Baked Beets & Goat Cheese served on a thin cracker.  I was skeptical of the beets, but was pleasantly surprised this was a tasty appetizer!  Next they poured a Barrel sample/2013 Syrah with a hearty Soy Ginger Meatball, which demonstrates how well this wine would taste with a spaghetti and meatball dinner.  The third wine their Flagship Wine 2013 Fiesta Tempranillo with a Chorizo & Red Pepper Crustini, we bought three bottles!  Loaded back on the bus our driver cranked on the music!  Now that we have been to three wineries our inhibitions are diminishing, so most of us are singing to songs such as “Sweet Caroline”, “Livin on a Prayer” and “Don’t Stop Believing”.  The fun continues.  We made it to our fourth winery, Freed and were greeted by a few goats on the property.

Freed has a fun Hawaiian themed tasting room that has a nice relaxed feel.

The pairings here were Curried Deviled Free Range Eggs, from the Freed Farm, with their 2013 Rose’, followed by assorted Bandon Cheeses, Salami w/ Special Mustard paired with 2005 Merlot.  Hard to go wrong with meat and cheese!  The final selection and the best here Smoked Hawaiian Style Kalua Pork paired with their 2008 Syrah.  Such a good sandwich and in keeping with their Hawaiian theme, delicious.

The tour is more than half over…  winery number 5, Spangler.  Spangler has been making wine for the past 27 years and 95% produced is red.

Yep wine flies and is flying today, quickly!  Here we enjoyed 2011 Zinfandel (first Zin for the day) paired with Bacon, Cayenne, Chipotle Cream Cheese, I have never heard of anything like this it was fantastic.  Second 2012 Sangiovese with Basil & Garlic Meatballs in a Savory Tomato Sauce and last 2012 Tempranillo served with Ginger & Soy Mustard Pulled Pork Shoulder, served on Whole Wheat Rolls.  While here I also found a delicious mustard, Spangler Roasted Garlic Champagne Mustard, I think I should have bought more.  After shopping and tasting we all loaded back on the bus and continued on, still singing to songs we all know and taking in the lighthearted festive day.  We arrived at Melrose Vineyards.

Melrose was on last year’s tour and I am glad to visit here again this year.  Our pairings were delectable and started with Cajun Alfredo Prawns with their 2012 Chardonnay.  Next we had Raspberry Chipotle Brownie Trifle and 2012 Umpqua Pinot Noir, amazing!  Then we finished with Handcrafted Brats w/ Carmelized Onion Sauce paired with 2012 Syrah.  The wine is tasty, the tasting room has a large variety of gifts and wine accessories, t-shirts, and the views are beautiful.

Photo by Chris Nolte

I am starting to get tired, it’s been a full day, but of course well worth it and looking forward to our final winery.  We drove through the property and came upon a beautiful pond leading to the tasting room.  Very tranquil.

Photo by Chris Nolte

I’m sure the owners spend many nights sipping wine and enjoying this stunning view as this is what they see from their back deck.  Lucky!  However, anyone can enjoy this property too, there is a one bedroom B & B with a pool and hot tub to bask in along with hiking trails throughout.

Delfino Vineyards is the last stop, certainly not the least.  Delfino, the owner’s last name, means Dolphin, hence their logo designed by Jim Delfino, owner and winemaker.  They poured 2012 Zinfandel and served Camenzola on Baguette that had a light smokiness.  Second we had 2012 Tempranillo with Spicy Split Pea Soup and the final pairing for the day 2011 Merlot with Pulled Pork w/ Merlot BBQ Sauce.  Everyone finished their wine and loaded their purchases on the bus and we head back to our hotel.  Another barrel tour comes to an end.

If you have never tasted Umpqua Valley wines, you must make a point to change that and if possible visit this beautiful, green, lush countryside Umpqua Valley in Southern Oregon.

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