Hidden gems: Local wineries welcome visitors in an old-world style

May 2013 Posted in Food & Drink
Jason Hanson in his family’s vineyard.

Jason Hanson in his family’s vineyard. Photo by Steve Ritchie

By Steve Ritchie 

Memorial Day weekend is a great time for a little wine-tasting and Silverton and Mount Angel residents are fortunate to have a several charming local wineries to visit.

One winery that is slightly off the beaten path, but close to home, is Hanson Vineyards on Barlow Road in Monitor. Nestled in between Butte Creek and the surrounding farmland, this 15-acre estate winery and vineyard gives you a good vibe as soon as you turn in at the historic red barn, which happens to be a prominent part of the distinctive Hanson Vineyards logo.

One of the smallest wineries in Oregon, it might also be one of the most interesting.

Jason Hanson, who operates the winery along with his father, Clark, gives a quick but intriguing history lesson about Hanson Vineyards. His family has farmed this plot of land since the 1890s, and four generations of care is evident everywhere you look.

Hanson says that the lower part of the property, behind the farmhouse and vineyards, is a dry creek bed. In other words, sandy, rocky and well-drained soil that is perfect for a host of different varieties of grapes.

“The grapes love it,” Hanson said.

Like many Oregon wineries, Hanson’s pride and joy is their award-winning Pinot Noir, but they are also known for Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and a recently-released Pinot Noir Blanc.

One of the attractions of Hanson Vineyards is the fact that only family members pick the grapes on the property, and they use only their own grapes to make their wines. As Clark Hanson is fond of saying, he “knew that wine when it was a grape.”

The family plants and cares for the vineyards, makes the wine, runs the tasting room, handles sales and marketing, and nearly all of the other necessary tasks.

“When you do it yourself, and have the personal connection to the wine, people respond to that,”  Jason Hanson said. “It’s an ‘old-world’ style of welcoming people to the farm and keeping our hands around the  whole process.”

Hanson calls this approach their “old-world ethos,” a description that he says can be applied to the other 13 area wineries that form the East Valley Winery Association.

“The (area) wineries all grow their own grapes. They all have their own winemaking style. And the tasting fees are small.”

Hanson also loves the fact that the wineries in the association work closely together, and adhere to a philosophy of “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

The association’s winery tour brochure trumpets the “uncrowded, unique, personal, and picturesque” nature of the East side wineries, drawing a sharp contrast with a larger, corporate-owned wineries that are perhaps more concerned with production and profits than the character of the wine.

An East Valley tour gives people the opportunity to “traipse through the backroads,” Hanson said. “We want people to come out, and when they do they don’t want to visit just one winery. They want to visit five or six. This can be a full day, or a weekend, or maybe multiple trips to take it all in.”

While the wineries on the east side of the Willamette Valley don’t yet have the cachet or the history of west side wineries in and around Dundee, Newberg, McMinnville, and Forest Grove, Hanson believes that the “upstart” east side is well-suited to growing grapes.

To back up his point, he notes the vineyard acreage between Oregon City and Aumsville-Turner is “staggering.” In addition to the wineries, Hanson says, there are large grape growing operations, as large as 500 acres or more, that sell their crop to a variety of wineries.

Asked if his small winery is making a profit after eight years, Hanson nods in the affirmative.

“We are making money. We are profitable. We are not getting rich.” Hanson says he is encouraged that sales year-to-date are double last year.

“More people know that we exist,” he said. “We’re coming out of the recession, and we have picked up some new corporate clients.”

Their customers are their best advertisers, Hanson said. A good weekend brings 40-50 people to their cozy tasting room, and Memorial and Labor Day weekends might bring as many as 200.

Exploring the east side

Memorial Day weekend wineries are open Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the times noted. See eastvalleywine.com for details.

AlexEli Vineyard & Winery
35803 Oregon 213, Molalla
Noon to 5 p.m. Sample estate release wines and newly released 2010 Estate Pinot Noir Reserve and 2011 Malbec.

Christopher Bridge Cellars & Satori Springs Estate Vineyard
12770 S. Castro Road, Oregon City
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Enjoy new releases.
Picnics welcome.

Domaine Margelle
20159 Hazelnut Ridge Road, Scotts Mills
11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sample wine while enjoying the vistas. Jazz pianist Randy Byrnes 1 p.m. daily.

Forest Edge
15640 S. Spangler Road, Oregon City
Noon to 5 p.m. New releases, light snacks.

Hanson Vineyards
34948 S Barlow Road, Monitor
Noon to 5 p.m. daily. Saturday Portland instrumentalist Robert Bernadelli plays.

King’s Raven Winery
11603 S New Era Rd, Oregon City
Noon to 5 p.m. daily

Mount Angel Cellars & Vineyards
215 N. Main St., Mount Angel
Friday 3 to 6 p.m.
Saturday – Monday 12 to 6 p.m.

Pheasant Run
21690 Main St., Aurora
Friday – Saturday noon to 6 p.m.
Sunday – Monday noon to 5 p.m.

Piluso Vineyard and Winery
Aumsville, 503-749-4125
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. New releases, wine sales and food pairings.

Pudding River Winery
9374 Sunnyview Road, N.E., Salem
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

Silver Falls Vineyard
4972 Cascade Hwy. SE, Sublimity
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. New releases, including an award-winning 2011 Marechal Foch.

St. Josef’s Winery
28836 S Barlow Road, Canby
Noon to 5 p.m. Friday – Monday. Bike and Brisket:  a casual ride of 15 miles. 503-651-3190 for details.

Vitis Ridge Winery
990 N First, Silverton
Noon to 6 p.m. For $10, you can taste our wines, keep the glass and listen to Portland guitarist Kit Garoutte. No entry fee for wine club members. 10 percent off on Pinot Gris and Marechal Foch.

  1. One Response to “Hidden gems: Local wineries welcome visitors in an old-world style”

  2. By ROCKY on May 17, 2013

    MARLIN NEEDS TO PICK HIS WEIGHT IN GRAPES!
    WATCH HIM CLOSELY. HE WILL EAT YOU OUT OF HOUSE AND HOME…

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