Dundee Hills Passport Pointers

I will take it as a compliment that at the last winery where I flashed my Dundee Hills Passport this week, the girl behind the tasting room bar commented, “Looks like you got some mileage out of that.”

But really, after a few days of being put through its paces, it’s only fair that my passport should have been wrinkled, torn, battered, and stained with chocolate, chévre, and pinot rings. Sporting 32 participating Dundee Hills wineries, three inns, two restaurants, a market and a cooking school, this small burgundy booklet represents good times to be had, and this is your last weekend to get some mileage out of yours.

Since it might be asking a lot to expect you to go through the entire gauntlet in one weekend (notice I said might, I have complete faith that you could do this), I’ve picked a few highlights from my tour, divided into helpful sections like “Sips With a View,” “Free Sips,” and “How To Get There (And Feel Like You’re In A Danielle Steele Novel).”

SIPS WTH A VIEW

Tour Torii Mor's tranquil Japanese garden, then try a few white wines in the tasting room before retiring to their expansive deck--they will bring the four featured pinot noirs to you.

Tour Torii Mor's tranquil Japanese garden, then try a few white wines in the tasting room before retiring to their expansive deck--they will bring the four featured pinot noirs to you.

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Winderlea would not look out of place clinging to the Hollywood Hills, but the modern design maximizes the winery's breathtaking views--the entire back wall is transparent roll-up doors opening to a sleek glassed-in deck.

Winderlea would not look out of place clinging to the Hollywood Hills, but the modern design maximizes the winery's breathtaking views--the entire back wall is transparent roll-up doors opening to a sleek glassed-in deck.

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White Rose's windowless, medieval-chic garrett of a tasting room is affectionately referred to as the "Hobbit House," but it's views are not diminutive--and if you claim the patch of grass beneath the front patio's lone tree, you'll have the makings of a seriously picturesque picnic.

White Rose's windowless, medieval-chic tasting room is affectionately referred to as the "Hobbit House," but there's nothing diminutive about the views--claim the patch of grass beneath the front patio's lone tree and have a panoramic picnic.

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Sokol Blosser's shady deck is the ideal vantage point for a view of both the valley and a slowly-dwindling bottle of rosé. Picnics are welcome, so BYOF(east).

Sokol Blosser's shady deck is the ideal vantage point for a view of both the valley and a slowly-dwindling bottle of rosé. Picnics are welcome, so BYOF(east).

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Views abound from all angles at this gorgeous grande dame of a winery--enjoy them from inside the elegant tasting room or the pretty, paved patio.

Views abound from all angles at this gorgeous grande dame of a winery--enjoy them from inside Domaine Serene's elegant tasting room or on the beautiful patio.

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The stellar Vista Hills Winery vista--sit back and take in the valley, or people watch...everyone here always seems to be having a great time and a great (translation, way more interesting than mine) conversation.

The stellar Vista Hills Winery vista--sit back and take in the valley, or people watch...everyone here always seems to be having a great time and a great (translation, way more interesting than mine) conversation.

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SIPS THAT ARE FREE

fourgracesMost of the Passport wineries’ tasting fees have been halved, and you’ll find loads of very palatable $5 and $7.50 tasting fees at favorites like Archery Summit, De Ponte, Erath, Eyrie, and Winter’s Hill–but sometimes the best price is free, and you’ll find completely complimentary tastings at Armonea, AyoubDurant, The Four Graces, Thistle, and White Rose. And if you consider that without your $15 passport, those tastings would cost $45, you actually made money. Tasting wine. You are brilliant.

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SIPS FOR ACROPHOBICS

Maybe high vantage points and big views aren’t for you. Hey, that’s ok! There are loads of excellent wineries lining Route 99W–Passport participants Argyle Winery, Zerba Cellars, Ponzi Wine Bar, Dobbes Family Estate, Daedalus CellarsCathedral Ridge and Domaine Trouvere are all firmly rooted to the valley floor.

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WHERE TO EAT

redhillsmarketsandwichThe passport gives you a few special dining savings–get half off any of Red Hills Market‘s sandwiches (I had the roasted vegetable with Briar Rose chevre), $25 off your second entree at Tina’s Restaurant (may I recommend the incredible beef, beet and almond tartare over baby beet greens as an appetizer), or dine at Red Hills Provincial Dining and you’ll get 20% off any Dundee Hills AVA wine. If you’re a DIYer, book a class for you and a friend at the Wine Country Cooking Studio adjoining the Red Hills Market–it’s buy one class, get one half off.

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WHERE TO STAY

dundeemanorThere are several B&B’s in the book offering special deals for passport holders–my favorite is Le Puy Inn, because it has sublime views of Chehalem Ridge, eight very nicely-appointed suites, and a grand fireplace-anchored great room that might make it difficult to retire to your quarters come bedtime. Mention your passport when you book and get a complimentary Red Hills Market picnic basket for two, which you can snack on while gazing into your significant other’s eyes and saying, “I love you, my little Le Puy.” (Sorry. I just can’t stop saying it.) Or, divert from the passport to stay at the Dundee Manor Bed and Breakfast, because it’s hard not to veer off Worden Hill Road when you see this Victorian jewel’s park-like grounds, numerous romantically-positioned gazebos and terraces, and (drum roll please) bonsai collection. Plus, it’s within pinot gris-spitting distance of both Dundee and Winderlea Winery, Barrel Fence Cellars & Crumbled Rock Winery.

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HOW TO GET THERE (AND FEEL LIKE YOU’RE IN A DANIELLE STEELE NOVEL)

grahampark

So much prettier than a Tigard stoplight.

I realize that feeling like you’ve stumbled into a Danielle Steele novel is not necessarily a virtue for some, but hear my rationale. There are a few ways to get to wine country, the most heavily traveled being the ol’ 99W exit through the endless stoplights of Tigard, but if you stay on I-5 a bit longer and get off at Exit 283: Wilsonville Road, you’ll depart the ‘burbs within a couple miles, embarking on a meandering pastoral journey past Graham Oaks Nature Park, flowering orchards, rolling green hills, and sprawling horse ranches, farms, and faux chateaus with names like Phoenix Rising and Entheos, which will make you feel like, well, you know, you’ve wandered into Palomino. In a good way.

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I think that’s pretty much all you need to know, besides where to get the passport (click here). Now go forth and wrinkle, spatter and spill all over yours this weekend, my little Le Puy.