After I finished the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon, it was time for the wine! Never mind that it was only 10 am. I had already been up for 5 hours at that point, and that totally counts right? I had seen the sunrise, and sunrises are almost like sunsets, and a spectacular sunset calls for some wine! Not to mention that almost 3 of those hours were doing high intensity exercise! I was more than ready.
But where was my cheering section? Where were my partners in wine? Allysa and Bob were going to meet me at the end of the race and watch me cross the finish line, but I didn’t see them, and I couldn’t figure out where they were. Carlton is not that big, so the possibility that they had lost me in the crowd seemed unlikely. I texted Allysa that I was done! I got a message back that the GPS had taken them on the scenic route, and they were almost there. Oops…
So, while I was waiting, I got prepared. I wandered around looking for water, and stumbled into a vendor booth where they were giving away cans of an all-natural juice/electrolyte/anti-oxidant/miracle drug concoction. Score – sounds great! I chose one in Nectarine and something else (Pomegranate?) and cracked it open. Despite the fact that I had not yet imbibed anything alcoholic, I cannot for the life of me remember what the juice was, but it was tasty.
Now normally I might not wait for my friends – I would have just dug into the wine, but I had to pick up both my glass and the guest glass together, and my guest had to be present. So, finally, Allysa showed up, and we were ready to taste! And then Shelley showed up! We picked up our souvenir etched Riedel wine glasses and headed over to the tasting area. If you have ever been to Carlton, the festival was right outside in the parking lot of Ken Wright Cellars and the Carlton Winemakers Studio. There were 29 wineries (Wow!) represented, most with tasting rooms in the immediate Carlton vicinity.
Here’s the list:
Each winery was tasting between 1 and 3 of their wines, with 2 being the norm. I didn’t write down any of my impressions, and I must admit I found it somewhat difficult to pay particular attention to the wines (call it fatigue or adrenaline or whatever), so I won’t be giving you any tasting notes here. Post half marathon wine tasting is an interesting experience, as I learned… I will say that there wasn’t a bad wine in the bunch. I tried to focus on wineries that I hadn’t visited before, but unfortunately there wasn’t time (or stamina) to try them all. I did sample Arborbrook, Cottonwood, Duck Pond, Elks Cove, Ken Wright, K&M, Lemelson, Lenne, Luminous Hills, ROCO, Seven of Hearts and Solena. I feel like I didn’t even scratch the surface!
Allysa, Shelley and I had a great time, and I made sure to have some big glasses of water in between tastes to rehydrate – I just filled my wine glass with water to make sure I would drink the whole thing before I started tasting again! Ken Wright was one of my favorites, of course, and I loved the Pinot Gris from Solena Estate. Lenne had two vintages of their Pinot Noir to sample, you could taste the robust, earthy 2010 next to the more fruit forward, elegant 2009. Seven of Hearts was sampling a GSM – Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre blend that offered something different than the Pinot Noir so many Willamette Valley wineries specialize in. I think the server was a little surprised that I knew the blend in GSM though – I’m sure the half-marathon types aren’t necessarily wine connoisseurs too.
In the grassy patio area of Carlton Cellars, a band played for the crowd, and you could sit and rest your tired feet if you needed to. We stayed until noon, when the festival was wrapping up, and then we wandered over to a small bakery/sandwich shop on the main street of Carlton to get some much needed food. I ordered a Reuben sandwich that was delicious! I had an orange juice too, to get some vitamins and anti-oxidants. Shelley had a BLT without Dijon mustard, but unfortunately the dry baguette bread didn’t lend itself to a lack of condiments. Allysa and Bob enjoyed their sandwiches too, but I can’t remember what they ordered. We sat in the sunshine and soaked up some rays, and then Allysa told me she would do the race next year! Yay!
So, hopefully, next year, we will have a big crowd of friends all coming down to test ourselves and then try some wine. Perhaps this is the beginning of an annual tradition!