Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
24 Hours in the Willamette Valley

24 Hours in the Willamette Valley


A few weeks ago Jordan and I visited the Willamette Valley for the first time. Home to two-thirds of Oregon's wineries, and known especially for their Pinot Noir, the Willamette Valley is a must-visit destination for wine lovers and foodies alike! Our visit was a quick one, having only one full day for wine tasting in an area that could have occupied us for weeks!


There are eight Willamette Valley AVAs: Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge, Van Duzer Cooridor, Willamette Valley and Yamhill Carlton. For our quick trip, we decided to focus on visiting wineries in one AVA so that we could spend more time tasting wine, and less time in the car!  If you don't know which AVA to focus on, is there one winery that's on your "must visit" list? Find out with AVA that winery is in, and there you go!

Most tasting rooms in the area open at 11 and close at 5/6. To maximize time, I recommend eating a big and protein-heavy breakfast, packing some cheese and crackers for if you get hungry later, and arrive at your first winery at exactly 11! 


For us, our must-visit winery is Stoller Family Estate, which is located in the Dundee Hills AVA. I talk more in-depth about our experience (and food and wine tour!) in the blog post here. We loved their wines at first sip, and ended up joining their wine club because we loved it all so much! If you find a winery where you enjoy every single wine they pour for you, you're soul mates. Join the wine club!

One thing I love about Stoller Family Estate is that they have wines across a large price range, and they are all exceptional. I opened up this 2016 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir for some friends the other night, and they were all so pleasantly surprised at the quality for the price point (this one is $30)!

While I'd happily enjoy any of their wines, my very favorite wines from Stoller Family Estate are from their Legacy Line: 2016 Helen's Pinot Noir and 2016 Nancy's Pinot Noir. At $75 a bottle, these wines for me are special occasion wines to open on Thanksgiving or Christmas.

I think it's great to have wines in your collection that are easy to open on an average Wednesday, and some really special bottles that you look forward to opening all year, and when you do it's like Christmas morning level excitement!




Jordan and I usually gravitate toward red wines, but are beginning to appreciate whites more and more. Especially during the warm summer months ahead! I couldn't find the exact Chardonnay pictured below on their website, but I highly recommend this Chardonnay and this rosé for refreshing summer wine! And you know what that means? You'll just have to make a trip to visit Stoller Family Estate yourself to taste the rest!




The second tasting room on our itinerary was White Rose Estate. Their tasting room is so unique, and I told Jordan as we walked in that I felt like we were in a Game of Thrones tasting room! (Hold the plotting and revenge, please!).

We really enjoyed tasting these wines because they are all so incredibly unique. White Rose Estate is one of the few wineries that focuses on the Neo-Classical Objective. You can read more about what that means here. We found all of the wines to be complex and spicy in all the best ways. These are definitely wines I would enjoy with a meal, and their Pinot Noirs have enough structure to be paired with a variety of flavors.




I loved having the chance to visit their barrel room, which is build into the hillside with the tasting room directly above. The warm, ambient lighting and smell of wood barrels and earth is hypnotizing! And by the way, the landscape photo at the very start of this blog post was taken directly outside the White Rose Estate tasting room! Even on the misty day we visited, the views were beyond beautiful!




Our final stop of the day was Domaine Drouhin, just a hop, skip and a jump away from White Rose Estate. One of Domaine Drouhin's coolest features is their family history in winemaking, originally (and still!) making wine in Burgundy, France. They describe themselves as "French soul, Oregon soil" which felt very accurate!

Domaine Drouhin offers a French Soul, Oregon Soil: Tour and Comparative Tasting, during which you will have the chance to taste wines made of the same grapes, grown 7,500 apart in France and Oregon. We had the chance to taste a few of the wines back to back, and it was such a fun experience. When we come back to the area, we'll definitely sign up for that tour and tasting!


We really enjoyed all of the wines tasted at Domaine Drouhin, and I was especially blown away by their 2018 Edition Rosé! Lighter and spicier than most of the rosé wines I've tasted, I kept getting a subtle hint of anise that was so intriguing and made me want to keep coming back for more! We bought a bottle of the rosé to take home, and I can't wait to pop it open!

The Willamette Valley is such a beautiful, fun and delicious spot for wine tasting in the Pacific Northwest! We really appreciated that all of the wineries had a very friendly and collaborative feel, and were happy to recommend other wineries to visit in the area.

We now have a mile-long list of wineries to visit next time! If you've visited and have favorite wineries, be sure to comment below - I'd love to hear about them!
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Kirsten Bell
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A Visit To Stoller Family Estate

A Visit To Stoller Family Estate


Last weekend Jordan and I had a chance to visit the ultimate wine region of Oregon - the Willamette Valley! Neither of us had ever taken a trip to this Pinot Noir destination, and it was well worth the trip. The wines were delicious, people were friendly and welcoming, and the area was absolutely beautiful!

Our main reason for making the trip down was to visit Stoller Family Estate. Upon arriving, we were greeted by families picnicking on the front slope, dogs playing, and a feeling that despite their amazing success, Stoller really is a family winery.


The property at Stoller Family Estate is so beautiful. Even if the wine wasn't as delicious as it is (it's really good, I'm getting there!), I'd be happy to just hang out on the 399 acres of grounds! They have three beautiful guest houses, and we were lucky enough to stay in one. We were able to take a sunset walk with views of the vineyard, sipping our wine. When we come back soon, we plan to stay at one of their houses again! We couldn't have asked for a better location or more comfortable space.


The highlight of our visit to Stoller was hands down the Gastronomic tasting & tour. If you're in the area, this is a must! Each wine was so thoughtfully and perfectly paired with the food, and all of the food was chosen based on what was locally in season so the flavors were bright and delicious. They hold this tasting for private parties, so you and your friends can enjoy this special event together! Jordan and I were raving about this tasting all weekend, and kept saying we can't wait to come back and do it again.



The menu for the Gastronomic Tasting & Tour is seasonally dependent, so it's always different! Their chef thinks of new delicious and creative dishes each time, so every experience is unique to you. I think that's so fun, and makes the experience even more special.



On our menu:

Pairing 1: First of the season compressed watermelon, husk cherries, basil and white balsamic. Paired with 2018 Willamette Valley Pinor Noir Rosé.

Pairing 2: English pea farro risotto. Paired with 2016 Reserve Chardonnay.

Pairing 3: Roasted diver scallop, sweet corn succotash, black eyed peas. Paired with 2016 Elsie's Chardonnay. 

Pairing 4: Pan roasted salmon. Summer squash, saffron butter sauce. Paired with 2016 Helen's Pinot Noir.  (This was my personal favorite of the wines! We're going to get a bottle to enjoy for Thanksgiving, and I can't wait!)

Pairing 5: Filet mignon with morel mushrooms, green beans and chimichurri. Paired with 2016 Nancy's Pinot Noir. 

Pairing 6: Lamb chop, rainbow carrots, pinot reduction. Paired with 2014 History Otis Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.


Thank you to Stoller Family Estate for hosting us, and providing this wonderful experience. As always, all opinions are my own.


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Kirsten Bell
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Paris, Je T'aime: Three Days in the City of Love

Paris, Je T'aime: Three Days in the City of Love




Outfit Details:  

Day 1: Green dress, borrowed from my sister! Similar here. Day 2: Red Lace Eliza J Dress, old, similar here and here. Day 3: Floral Midi Dress. Day 4: Navy Lace Dress 


I have always loved Paris. I visited for the first time six years ago, and knew from the moment I stepped off the train that I was going to have a lifelong love of that city.

On this trip, Paris was the last stop on our journey. By the time we got there we had been traveling for almost three weeks straight with a toddler, and we were really exhausted. But all the same, that infectious romance of the city revived me!

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Kirsten Bell
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Chateaux & Merlot in Bordeaux, France

Chateaux & Merlot in Bordeaux, France



After our time in Scotland (which you can read about here, here and here), we made our way over to France. I was really looking forward to our time in Bordeaux, which is basically the Napa Valley of France! We spent four days touring the region, soaking in as much wine and information as possible. I wasn't at all disappointed - it was grapevines as far as the eye can see, and a new winery around every corner!

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Kirsten Bell
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