South Salem Mini Wine Tour

KandN & Liseanne~

Someone told me recently that the Willamette Valley is home to 364 wineries (although I notice that the Willamette Valley Winery Association says over 200). What a treasure trove we have at our doorstep! It's a fun way to introduce out of towners to the backroads and beautiful views as well as the bounty from the local vineyards. Before starting out, be sure to check the hours and to see if your destination does indeed have a wine tasting room. The Willamette Valley Winery Association is a good place to gather the needed information. We try and carry a copy of their publication in our car in case we need a phone number or address.
Last weekend, Lise picked out 3 wineries close to home for the two of us to spend our Sunday afternoon visiting and tasting at; Trinity Vineyards, Ankeny Hills and Vitae Springs. She loaded the addresses into our GPS for trouble free traveling, hustled me out the door and we were on our way.

We were surprised to discover that Trinity Vineyards is situated atop a hill close by a home we used to travel to often when both of the girls were in school. Not only is the setting beautiful, but the house and tasting room are both grand buildings and seem well suited to their hill top location. I was hestitant to open the door and walk in (felt like I was intruding into someone's home), but willingly followed Lise as she confidently opened the door and climbed the stairs. That's when we heard, "Hi! Welcome!", from Steve Parker, the owner, waiting for visitors in the tasting room above. He had 5 wines available to taste. Such a warm, friendly atmosphere! We had a nice chat, which continued when another couple joined us. Both Lise and I discovered some nice surprises in their offerings. I chose two bottles for purchase and we were on our way.

Reggie-the-GPS took us from Liberty Rd. onto Cole Road to make the short trek over Riverside Dr. S. to Ankeny Vineyard Winery. Parts of Cole are gravel road, so we were careful not to stir up too much dust for the residents. Ankeny Vineyard's locale is slightly higher than the agricultural land surrounding it. The pastoral setting along with the resident dogs, Maxine and Hershey, gave me that comfortable feeling--like I was visiting a farm. We opened the door to walk in where we were immediately greeted to join the 8-10 other visitors at the tasting bar. They had a variety of items for sale, where you could buy a tee with their logo or put together a gift basket of local goodies. Lise and I joined the conversation about both the wines and local concerns. We tasted all the offered wines and made a purchase before leaving the friendly gathering.

Once back in the driver's seat, we navigated the 5 scenic miles over to Vitae Springs Vineyard on Vitae Springs Road. We were glad they have an additional sign to warn you about the turn-off to their tasting room, as it was hidden amongst the trees on the side of the hill above us. Parking was tight, but on the way out we noticed other visitors had found a solution by pulling off the driveway straight onto the grassy area. As Lise and I walked up to what appeared to be the house, we could hear voices and laughter. I walked around to the front thinking that might be the way in, but Lise waved me over to the entrance to the tasting room through the garage area. Due to the number of visitors, the tasting room felt small. The warm colors and cork floor is a nice look and the cheeses and crackers on the counter were a welcome sight to this wine taster. Pam VanVolkinburg, one of the owners, was our hostess. She warmly introduced herself and the other visitors assembled in the tasting room. You could tell she was truly interested in her customers by how she remembered everyone's name in the tasting room. Lise and I were both surprised to find some nicely done German wines in their line-up. We sipped, we nibbled and chatted for quite awhile, before making a purchase and heading north to run some errands downtown. What a great way to spend a summer afternoon!

Trinity Vineyards
1031 Wahl Lane South
Salem, OR 97306

Ankeny Vineyards Winery
2565 Riverside Dr S
Salem, OR 97306
(503) 378-1498

Vitae Springs Vineyard
3675 Vitae Springs Road
Salem, OR 97306


tracylee said...

Glad to hear that Hershey's still greeting people at Ankeny! We've been visiting Joe there for many years and always find something to buy a few of. I think I still have some of their Ankeny Gold dessert wine down in the wine fridge.

Great writeup, KandN!

KandN said...

Thanks, Tracylee!
I couldn't figure out why their Airdale gave me a dirty-dog-look, until I discovered she was NOT a he. Oops! Sorry, Maxine!

Salem Man said...

Oregon has so many interesting small wineries. Thanks for the info on these three.

AMY said...

Is it just me, or are you noticing that the change in economy--and perhaps competition--has resulted in fewer places offering free tastings? It seemed to me that a few years ago a free tasting was the norm, with perhaps the odd special reserve that fetched a cost.

A few weeks ago Leah and I meandered around up 99 and into Carlton to do some tasting, and it seems MOST places were now charging.

Perhaps too many people took the free tastings to be the event itself, and forgot to take a bottle or two (or three, or a case, or...) home with them?

KandN said...

We've noticed that change within the past year or so, too. Even Eola, where we've always taken visitors (because you could taste everything on their list for free), has begun to charge for their reserves. But, yeah, we always buy at least one bottle.

Lise M said...

Personally, from my experience working at a winery, you really should be charging for tastings or you will lose money. I like the trade off of paying for a tasting or buying a bottle of wine to have the tasting comped.