Little Joys of Summer

Get Out of Town with These Daytime Drives

Bored at home? Take a spontaneous drive through scenic Oregon and be back in time for dinner.

By Julia Silverman and Marty Patail August 1, 2020 Published in the August 2020 issue of Portland Monthly

Wine Time 

The Willamette Valley has two crucial advantages for these times: wine and light-years of space. Take Stoller Family Estate in Dayton—a glass-walled tasting room overlooking a breathtaking 400-acre vineyard nestled deep in the Dundee Hills. Back when this farm was founded in 1943, some 700,000 turkeys roamed the fields. These days, sippers can enjoy a much calmer atmosphere, helped along by new rolling reservations, properly distanced tables, updated bathroom protocols, and rigorous sanitation.

From there it’s just a six-minute drive to Sokol Blosser Winery, where seated tastings take place on an outside patio, and are limited to about 30 percent of the usual capacity, with all guests asked to wear masks. Closer to Dundee, Hyland Estates boasts a reopened tasting room (reservations only, up to six people, and no pets, children, or outside food) and, for those who’d prefer to keep it outdoors, a guided tour of the 200-acre vineyard. Head north, and Abbey Road Farm near Carlton has moved its tasting room to a larger space that allows for groups of up to 10.

One new and important twist before you head down the 99 on a spontaneous sip trip: reservations are key these days, so make them before you go to avoid a dry and disappointing day trip. —Marty Patail

Berry, Berry Good 

Coronavirus can steal our festivals, our movie theaters, and our public pools. But our berries? Not so fast. Oregonians wait all year for berry season, when supermarket clamshells full of tasteless Driscoll’s give way to impossibly sweet raspberries, plump blueberries, tart blackberries, and beloved, Oregon State University–developed marionberries.

U-pick farms around the metro area are open for business this summer, with contactless payment and signs urging physical distancing. (They politely request you refrain from the time-honored guilty pleasure of eating while you pick. Check your favorite farm’s social media feed before heading out to see if there are additional rules.) You’ll find me at Sauvie Island Farms, a family-run operation with few bells and whistles but exceptional quality, plus fields of flowers and a distant view of Mount St. Helens. Hot tip: Don’t miss Red Haven peach season, from mid-July until mid-August, or until they’re gone, whichever comes first. —Julia Silverman

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Red Haven 🍑 peaches.

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Farm Life

Spotted at a supermarket in Iceland one fateful summer: a smallish bag of Oregon-grown Rainier cherries, retailing for a cool $17.99, or its equivalent in króna. Aren’t we lucky, then, to be this close to their namesake where loads of the yellow-red beauties can be ours for not much more than pocket change? Get thee to the Hood River Fruit Loop’s stunning vistas, where around every corner lurk glimpses of Mount Hood, Mount Adams, neatly kept orchards, and inviting farm stands.

For Bings, Rainiers, and pie cherries, head to Hood River U-Pick Organic or, closer to Parkdale, Draper Girls Country Farm (where there are baby goats over which to coo!) and Kiyokawa Family Orchards. When you’ve picked to your heart’s content, stop at the Apple Valley Country Store for a huckleberry milkshake and slurp it up in the spacious garden. —JS

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