As a wine educator and writer, I consider myself fortunate to be able to conduct research, analyze market trends, and discover gems in some of the most beautiful areas of the world. And while it may appear to most that I’m on vacation, immersed in a perpetual happy hour, I profess to my students and readers that these are purpose-driven, fact-finding missions.
Tastings with winemakers and winery owners are reserved well in advance. Many tours of caves, vineyards, and production facilities are conducted “by appointment only.” And wanting to maximize the short time I have to expand my “boots on the ground” knowledge, I dutifully abide by all the rules.
The wine industry is serious business. And oenophiles are serious. Serious drinkers, that is.
By contrast, my recent trip to the Willamette Valley, about an hour southwest of Portland, Oregon, was relaxed and informal. I was on vacation after all! As Oregon’s largest American Viticultural Area (AVA), vineyard acreage is still relatively small at 20,000 acres compared to the Napa Valley AVA at 45,000 acres. There was simply no need to make appointments and keep strict schedules since the region has managed to retain its rustic charm, laid-back ambience, and deep connection to its agricultural roots.
This is the anti-Napa--no party buses and bachelorette parties here. Espousing a genuine communal mindset, many winemakers are happy to sell their wines in Oregon and see no need to expand to other states--much to my chagrin. They know their pinot noirs are world famous and but seem content to “keep it local.”
But even with no reservations, it seems there was plan--a cosmologically significant, astronomically important, and dare I say, spiritually meaningful plan. It’s called the “Path of Totality.”
We’re wonderfully aware in Columbia how fortunate we are to be able to view the total eclipse on 21 August. Coincidentally—or not—residents of the Willamette Valley are just as thrilled because their region’s in the path of totality as well.
As it turns out, the Willamette is Columbia’s “Eclipse Twin.”
In that realization I found the celestial purpose for my unscripted trip to the Willamette. Perhaps sharing a bottle of Willamette Valley wine can help you find deeper meaning in the eclipse, or at least celebrate with our eclipse brethren.
The wine gods would approve.
Willamette Valley wines abound at Columbia wine stores. Below are my selections for wines representative of the region.
Chardonnay—Eyrie Vineyards 2014 ($25.99), Bethel Heights 2012 ($29.99), Domaine Drouhin Arthur Chardonnay 2013 ($39.99).
Pinot Noir— Cloudline Willamette Valley 2015 ($17.99), Adelsheim Williamette Valley 2015 ($19.99), Winderlea Shea Vineyards 2013 ($54.99).
For an opportunity to experience some of these wines and use the once-in-a lifetime event as a catalyst for self-reflection, come to the “Yoga, Meditation, and Wine Collab” at Lululemon in Trenholm Plaza on 21 August from 5:30 to 7:00. The event will include asana and guided meditation by Yoga Instructor and Meditation Teacher Sarah Corbett, and a wine discussion by yours truly. Visit https://www.facebook.com/lululemonColumbia/ to register or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.