Somebody once said we are all Americans, sometimes born in the wrong places.
I decided to join my new homeland.
I've come to appreciate the ideals that helped create this great country.
I started drinking wine many years ago as a student in Poland. But I could only afford Bulgarian, Rumanian and Hungarian red wine. I had a friend with whom we would meet every weekend to roast a chicken on my East-German made electrical rotisserie, watch movies and enjoy a bottle or two of some Egri Bikaver.
So when I moved to Italy, I was well primed to undergo further "culturing" and learned quickly to appreciate very good wines. I owe it mostly to my Italian in-laws who over the years introduced me to some very good labels and vintages.
Memorial weekend wine tasting is a tradition in Oregon. This is the second time in five years that I was convinced to go. In both cases, my father-in-law was here so it was easier to be convinced. We went to the nearby Montinore Estate
the first time. It was an utter disappointment. Wine, mostly Pinot Noir, was very expensive and not really overwhelming. In other words, bad value. A bottle of decent Pinot Noir goes for at least $20 and can easily reach $30 and more.
So this time, we decided to go farther from home in search of something better. We went to Eola Hills. First to Eola Hills Winery
and then to Witness Tree Vineyard
. The result? My overall opinion about Oregon wines from Willamette Valley has not changed. They are overpriced and can't compete with wines from California, not to mention, Italy. Unless, of course, Pinot Noir is your thing. It's not mine. I simply don't get this wine.
The trip itself, however, was a lot of fun. First, the views in Villamette Valley complement nicely other typical Oregon landscapes: beaches, mountains and the prairie. But for me, views of Oregon vineyards remind me of the country where I lived for a short while, visited many times and, more importantly, where I met my wife.
I worked many different jobs in Italy, from a day laborer to dish washer to fruit picker. I also worked in some vineyards near Rome pruning plants. So views like these bring many memories. They remind me of hard work I did once in Italy for about $15 a day. But they also remind me of the cheap wine we drunk after we finished the work.
Another fun part of the trip was the fact that we could taste wine directly from barrels. Some of it was almost ready to be bottled, some of it was still fermenting.
A nice touch were platters with cheeses, crackers and nuts. But we opted for some serious BBQ. If the wine doesn't satisfy, a good BBQ always will. We had a full rack of spare ribs.
Wine could be tasted between 1pm and 5pm for $5 per person. So after a short break for some lunch we were back at the cellar.
I did find some decent wine for a reasonable price to take home: 2000 Coyote Cabernet Sauvignon. After the Montinore fiasco, I would probably never have bought it had I not tasted it first. But this wine is just OK for $8.50 per bottle I paid for it, presumably paying less at the source. For comparison, the 1999 Nerello del Bastardo I buy at Trader Joe's goes for almost $2 less and is much better.
Italian wine still offers much better value.
When we got home, I checked the news. And, as expected and as I hoped, the French soundly rejected the EU Constitution. I don't care much for France but I was happy for Poland for there is still a chance for freedom
I do not buy French products. And I don't think I miss much. I do think, for example, that Ferrari Spumante
can easily compete with Moet & Chandon or Dom Perignon. But tomorrow, at Veronika's God-parents' BBQ party, we will be drinking this (in addition to some good home-brewed beer Veronika's God-father is very proud of):
It tasted so much better considering what we were celebrating.
The beer is gone, there is still some wine left.