2014 Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon – The Wine Dinner, Festival, and Wine Tasting Experiences Recap

This past weekend, I ran my third Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon event and it was an amazing time. For the first time running it (Ran in 2010,2012), we decided to make it a date weekend and experience it fully with wine tasting, overnight stay, and more. I booked a room at the R&B Thompson house in February, and started planning our Wine Country excursions.

The Tuesday before the race, my husband informed me he would like to run the half. I was surprised. He said he never wanted to run a half (ever!). However, he stated that if there was ever a time he was prepared for a half, it was this weekend. Why? Well because he had just run a little over 17 miles in the Hood to Coast relay just the days prior. I was ecstatic, but he told me I couldn’t tell anyone. Ugh! What a secret to behold! I wanted to run with him, so I kept it between us,  signed him up (that late registration fee hurt a little) and let the weekend excitement grow.

We left Friday night, and were able to take in a couple of wineries before they closed. We went to dinner at “The Cuvee”, a French restaurant located in downtown Carlton. The dinner was quite nice (but note is not a inexpensive place to eat with meals) and we headed back to our B&B. Carlton is a quaint place, and there is not much to do after dark.

Saturday was a fun day! Our day started with following the half marathon route and stopping at the wineries along the way. Wineries such as Ghost Hill Cellars  (where Drenda was so sweet) and Monk’s Gate Vineyard Estate (both of whom we found out were pouring on Sunday at the wine expo). Later, we visited Ribbon Ridge Road, which has amazing wineries and two of our favorite wineries are on this road; Utopia and Styring. These wineries welcomed us as if we just came in yesterday, although we had not been to the area in over a year. The owners are so sweet and down to earth at these wineries, and with fabulous wine, I cannot say enough good things about them.  Later we stopped at Armenta,  Penner-Ash and Saikkonen, who also had great wines. Saikkonen also gave us a tour of their vineyards in addition to the wine tasting. It was awesome to see the grapes ripened on the vines, and imagine how they would taste in a couple of years.

Saturday evening, about 6pm, we had the pleasure of attending the Anne Amie Vineyards Dinner, a ‘Sold Out Event’.  This pre-race dinner was fabulous!  We were able to sample some of Anne Amie’s wines and we were treated to 15% off our purchase as if we were club members.  This vineyard is located on the top of a hill, and we enjoyed watching the amazing views and sunset. Dinner was served about 6:30pm.

The dinner featured a Farm to Table buffet with dishes that all could enjoy and paired with either a tasty Pinot Noir and Crisp Pinot Blanc (or both).  We had vegetable lasagna, salads, bread and more. Our tablemates were visiting from Colorado and San Francisco, and we loved hearing about their experiences so far, and their excited anticipation of the race the following day. Later in the evening, about 8pm, we were able to hear the Race Directors talk about their race as well as Melody Fairchild, an elite runner and coach. She gave us a pep talk for the next day! We enjoyed One Fork Farm’s Cherry Whiskey and Taihitian Vanilla caramel sauce served over vanilla ice cream while listening to her. It was amazing! We were able to get back to the B&B and get plenty of rest before the race the next day.

I’ll talk about the race experience in another post, as this one is just about the wine experience. Even if you are not able to experience the wine country, the wine & music festival afterwards is a pure treat! After the race, we picked up our glasses and headed to the festival (a little tip, you can get your ID checked the day before at the expo to save time). Our glasses were so cute! Someone mentioned that the glasses were not as nice, but I disagree. I loved the stemless Riedels, and liked how the glasses were different from each year to the next.  In addition to wine, there were several other vendors to include Sprint, Newton, and that fantastic Caramel Artesian we saw at the expo and wine dinner the night before. One Fork Farm treated us to caramels so good, they were sold out by the end of the festival. The music was fun and lively, and kept going after noon for a bit too.

There were tons of wine vendors pouring; I believe about 20 different wineries. Some wineries ran out sooner than others did, but that was rare. (Come to think about it, I believe at 11:30 only two to three wineries were out of their pours.)  Among those pouring, Dennison Cellars was a rare treat. They do not have a storefront, so this is one of the few times you will get to sample their goods and purchase without paying shipping. We loved the fact that when the festival ‘closed’ at noon, several wineries kept pouring until their samples were gone. We really appreciate this, as we came to the wine festival a little later than others choosing to run to the B&B for a quick shower. So we want to give a huge shout out to those booths; Carlton Cellars, Denison Cellars, Adelsheim, and Stag Hollow to name just a few. A couple others had to close up and get back to their stores, but gave us free tasting coupons; Stone Griffon Vineyards and K & M wines. Therefore, even if you were a runner over 3 hours, you were still able to experience the festival to its fullest. Which is awesome! In addition, many of the Vineyards, like Arborbrook allowed free wine tasting if you showed your bib or medal after the race. So the wine tasting continued for many, to include ourselves.

At Carlton Cellars, we met a Run Oregon Blog fan and her hubby; Sheila and Brad. They invited us to join them for wine tasting after the festival. We had the most fun visiting Carlos & Julian Winery, which was along the race course route. They treated us like royalty there, treating us to samples and a personal tour of the vineyard. Later, six of us went on to Four Graces winery (where we were also treated very well) and ending the night at dinner with Bobica Hen in Dundee.  All of these wineries were exceptional and I cannot say enough good things about them. Sheila and Brad were just awesome welcoming us and another couple as if they knew us for years. They even drove, which was great, because I am such a lightweight when it comes to drinking! (That is what is so great about the runner community; many of us just click and love talking running!) We had to call it a night before dessert though; we were wiped out from an early morning call and the race. Add to that the wine tasting all day afterwards, yes we were officially done for the day.  The day was amazing, and I cannot think of a better way to end the day than sharing it with fellow runners and wine lovers.

Soon our weekend was over. There is not much to do in Carlton, so we left about 10am on Monday. What an amazing weekend though. This race is a great destination race with a great wine experience. The race offered several options to enhance your experience, and I love being able to participate in the wine Dinner experience. You will enjoy just the wine festival too though if limited by a budget. Be sure to wear your medal though, to get the benefits of free wine tasting at some wineries!

Read my upcoming review of the race with hubby and how he enjoyed his 1st half marathon experience.


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