The plan was simple. That is what made it so great. Take Friday off of work [from my day job], convince Micheal to do the same, and spend the afternoon wine tasting in Willamette Valley topped off with a nice dinner in Corvallis. If only that is how the day materialized, I wouldn't be writing this post right now. I am, so clearly things went awry at some stage in the game.
The first issue, which I failed to take into consideration in this wonderful plan, is the fact that it is still March...and in March, many of the Benton County wineries haven't opened yet for the season; the ones who have are only open on Saturday and Sunday. The day being Friday, clearly a Saturday or Sunday tasting just wasn't going to work out. Micheal was driving to Corvallis from Salem, so I felt really bad asking him to go back North for wine tasting....and really didn't feel like driving to the South much either. That is where Plan B came into effect.
Plan B was masterful as a backup, if I do say so myself. A nice afternoon hike up Mary's Peak, followed by a delicious dinner and some wine back in town. It was patchy sun and rain on the drive to Mary's Peak Road, during which I was telling Micheal about the views from the Peak and how it had opened back up for the season a few weeks prior. Perhaps the first sign of warning should have been the significant runoff apparent as we started our ascent. Perhaps the second sign of warning should have been the glint of snow up the road as we progressed. I certainly should have taken caution when the snow started bottoming out my 4-door all wheel drive german sedan, but alas, I was as cocksure as Clive was in navigating our journey to Portteus in February. The final warning sign, of which we started to take heed, was a suburu wagon backing down the mountain because it was too slick and narrow to turn around. It sunk in...this was a bad idea. Ahead of us, we saw:
A lack of traction devices and a bit of common sense for once in my life led to the wise decision to turn around. Who wants to be stuck in the middle of the wilderness, after all? The afternoon was shot. Wine tasting failed, the hike wasn't to be. What were we to do? Fortunately, the wine gods came to our rescue in the form of Belle Vallee Cellars. Returning to downtown Corvallis after the mishap, we popped in to Avalon Wine, Wineopolis, and Enoteca to browse the bottle selection before retiring home to cook a seafood dinner. The final stop of the afternoon, almost as an afterthought, was Belle Vallee on the Corvallis waterfront. Aubrie welcomed us in, and before we could even take our jackets off, we were met with what can only be described as a pot of gold for some wayward travelers:
Two Pinot's, a Syrah, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a vibrant conversation about winery branding and social media later, Micheal walked away with a quarter case of wine and me with a nice buzz, having entirely forgotten about the mishaps of the afternoon. If you haven't been to Belle Vallee yet, you need to check them out. Solid Pinot, solid big reds, and a delicious Pinot Port...you will not be disappointed. With a nice deck on the waterfront that will be scrumptious in a few weeks...they are one of the best kept secrets in town. When we were done, we retired to The Oregon Wine Blog headquarters for some steelhead, shrimp, and 2007 Willamette Valley Vineyards Elton Vineyard Pinot Noir.
So, there you have it. A tale of two guys, a mountain, snow, a car, and a lot of wine...an afternoon which could have reeked of epic failure but resulted in a great day.