In our last installment, we stayed overnight in in Hood River and did a little shopping in the downtown area in the morning… Just before noon, we headed out to check out a few Hood River wineries. We decided to give Marchesi Vineyards a try – Jon found Marchesi on the internet, and it was also recommended by our server at The Pines the night before. They focus on the Italian varietals, which tend to be less robust/tannic reds, so I was pretty excited about our visit. Little did we know we would meet the used car salesman of wineries!
Our server was a younger woman who was very pleasant – she guided us through our tasting cheerfully. But shortly after we arrived, an older, bald gentleman started working the room. At first, Jon and I thought that he was the owner the way he was chatting everybody up and seemed to know them, but as we listened, it became clear that he wasn’t, because he kept talking about Franco Marchesi, who is the owner. He talked to us for a couple of minutes, telling how this wine and that one won awards(!), but never offering any details about the wine, or the award for that matter. After a few moments, he went back to working the room, and that’s when we began to marvel at his ability to sell a wine club membership. Of the more than half dozen couples in the room, it seemed that we were the only ones who weren’t signing up for a wine club membership! So we sat and continued with our tasting, watching the master-schmoozer work his magic. He did come back over and tell me about it, and I told him politely thanks, and that we would consider it.
Once we finished up with our tasting, the woman server came over and asked us if there was anything else we would like to revisit or try, so I asked if I could try the Pinot Noir that I had seen on the counter and on the tasting menu. She cheerfully brought some over and poured some in my glass – meanwhile Jon revisited the Sangiovese. Then Mr. Schmoozer came back over and asked us what we were trying, so I told him that I was trying the Pinot.
You would have thought I just told him that I had just given meth to a baby! He blurted out, “The Pinot is only for wine club members! That side of the tasting menu is for our wine club members!” He spent a few more minutes mumbling indignantly (I love that word) about the wine club and then huffed off, disgusted that we, mere mortal non-wine club members, had somehow managed to finagle a taste of the coveted Pinot. After he left, I turned to Jon and told him that I felt that was pretty insulting, and certainly not gracious. The Pinot was on the menu, given to everybody, and open in plain view on the counter. What a jerk! Unfortunately, our experience couldn’t be salvaged after that. I did like their wines, although I didn’t think they were spectacular, but life is too short to be treated poorly just because you don’t want to join the club.
The one good thing about the experience was that Jon and I will have plenty of laughs about Mr. Schmoozer, well into the future. “What?!? You don’t want to join the wine club? Do you know that these are award winning wines? They won awards! You can’t have that Pinot! Don’t touch that glass! You are not worthy!” Hmmm… I didn’t think that kind of pretentiousness existed outside of Napa, but I guess I was wrong.
After our snub at Marchesi, we headed a couple miles down the road to Cathedral Ridge. We were there a couple of years ago, and absolutely loved their Halbtrocken, a Rose that has a proprietary blend (although the tasting room server did tell us it is Riesling based). The Halbtrocken did not disappoint again, tasting like fresh strawberries. This is a perfect wine for enjoying on the deck on a hot summer day. Unlike our experience at Marchesi, the Cathedral Ridge staff do not push sales or the wine club, letting their wines stand on their own. I also was pretty excited to learn that they recently opened a second tasting room in Dundee, Oregon, which is often easier for Jon and I to get to. Maybe now I won’t have to go so long without the Halbtrocken!
We left Cathedral Ridge and headed west towards the Willamette Valley, stopping in Troutdale to visit the McMenamin’s Edgefield Inn. The Edgefield used to be the Multnomah County Poor Farm – it was built in 1911 and was where destitute people could go and live if they didn’t have the money to support themselves. In 1963, it became a nursing home and the farm operations were discontinued at that time. It closed completely in 1982 and fell into disrepair. It was purchased in 1990 and restored by McMenamin’s and is now a hotel complex with a unique, eccentric flavor. The hotel has about 100 rooms, most of which do not have private bathrooms. There is a restaurant, a winery, a brewpub, a pool hall and in the summer they have an outdoor movie theater and picnic area. They also do concerts there in the summer, with fairly well known northwest area bands.
It looks like it would be a fun place to stay, but book early, because it seems to book up far in advance, especially if you want a private bathroom. We had lunch in one of the bars, and I really enjoyed my chicken sandwich with bacon and avocado. Jon had a salmon salad, and liked it a lot, although it wasn’t a big enough meal for him. We both had hot tea, which was loose leaf, and delicious (I had the Black Mango). It was raining off and on, and cold, so we didn’t do much exploring of the grounds, but it would be a neat place to stay or visit in the summer. I haven’t seen the rooms, but I do imagine it might not be the quietest hotel to stay at though – bring earplugs.
After our late lunch we got back on the road and headed over to the Willamette Valley. I realized as we were planning this trip that we have not been there since Memorial Day weekend 2011, which is a lot longer than I was thinking it had been. By this time, it was evening, so we headed to the La Quinta for a nice relaxing evening. After dinner and getting settled, I stayed up late after Jon fell asleep, watching “In Her Shoes,” with Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz. It had been a couple of years since I had seen it, and I enjoyed it all over again – I think Toni Collette is a great actress. It was a perfect end to a great day.