Willamette Valley, Oregon: Coppia Staff Winery Tour!

Because the band is taking a rare three-month hiatus from performances (with the exception of two shows in Seattle, and a birthday party in Moscow, Russia), I haven’t had much to write about from the road, sorry.



After ten years of business, my partner, Todd, and I sold the restaurant (Coppia) recently.  I knew getting the keys to my first restaurant would be one of the most emotional days of my life, but no one prepared me for the truckload of conflicting feelings I was hit with the day I would hand those keys over to someone else.  It was like my heart was being ripped out of me, with a light touch of pleasure, a huge loss of identity, along with the realization that I was finally going to get the break I’ve needed so badly.   Though touring with Pink Martini six months a year while running a restaurant has been intensely gratifying, I’ve also experienced some of the most difficult moments of my life in the past ten years!

But, my favorite times with the Coppia/Vino Paradiso staff are when we have the opportunity for a three-day wine country retreat in the Willamette Valley.  This region, the heart of which is less than an hour away from our home, Portland, produces some world-class wines, and, on a recent weekend, we tasted some of the best!

For this epic weekend, Archery Summit Winery put up our staff of ten in their guesthouse, which is completely surrounded by one of their famous vineyards in the picturesque, rolling Dundee Hills. To wake with the vines right outside my window, with the promise of a new day of meeting winemakers and tasting delicious wines with my friends…you can’t beat it!

Wil, Todd, Bill, Lisa, Timothy, Morgan, Michelle, Adam & James
Wil, Todd, Bill, Lisa, Timothy, Morgan, Michelle, Adam & James at Domaine Serene

While I will continue to work occasional shifts, coordinate wine dinners, and help with the wine program at Coppia, this winery tour was a great way to bid adieu—at least for now, ahem—to restaurant ownership!

Below is a list of the wineries in the order we visited them (note that most of these are high-profile, but I usually lean towards the more boutique sort):

Alexana Winery  12001 Northeast Worden Hill Rd., Newberg (503)537-3100—A fairly new winery, housed in a beautiful modern structure, with a gorgeous view from their tasting room deck, Alexana produces some incredible wines, from Riesling to Chardonnay, and, of course, Pinot Noir. They also own a winery in Argentina, and you can taste some of those wines, as well.

Winderlea Winery  8905 Northeast Worden Hill Rd., Dundee (503)554-5900—Also a super modern winery with a view of the Valley from their deck. I always love the wines (the 2013 Chardonnay is stunning!), and the staff is as personable as it gets.

Lange Winery 18380 Northeast Buenavista Dr., Dundee (503)538-6476—A stalwart in the Valley, this winery sits on what must the highest point in the Dundee Hills AVA (American Viticultural Area), so the view is just stunning! Though they produce a lot, the high quality of the wines have never wavered.

Archery Summit Winery 18599 Northeast Archery Summit Rd., Dayton (503)864-4300—Arguably one of the very best winery experiences in Oregon, from the drive up to the winery, a stroll through the caves, to the exquisite wines.

Domaine Drouhin 6750 Breyman Orchards Rd. Dayton (503)864-2700—This is the Oregon venture of the family of the huge producer in Burgundy, Joseph Drouhin. They’re proud of their gravity-flow winery, so you should check it out. The wines lean towards finesse, rather than power, with great success.

Beaux Frères Winery 15155 N.E. Valley Rd. Newberg (503)537-1137—First off, the 2012 Beaux Frères “Zena Crown” Pinot Noir is, in my opinion, the best Pinot Noir from Oregon available right now.  Across the board, every vintage, their wines are exceptional. The modest, makeshift tasting room belies the quality of the wines, and I love how unpretentious the whole team is.

Domaine Serene  6555 N.E. Hilltop Lane, Dayton (503)864-4600—I must note that Domaine Serene gave us their eight-bedroom guesthouse several years ago for two nights, and we had an incredible time! Though I think the Pinot Noirs are among the cream of the crop, the Chardonnays deserve more attention than they get. The winery and tasting room are about as Napa-like as Oregon gets, but we’ll overlook that…


Want more recommendations? Contact me!

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