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Kegs & Legs Winery of the Week: Winter’s Hill Estate

What a view.

I love beer. After now having visited over 365 different breweries, it’s fair to say I have sampled a lot of beer (follow me on Untappd). From post-race pints and run club meeting locations, to beer miles and relays, running and the kegged nectar seem to go hand-in-hand in Oregon. Our Kegs and Legs feature is where beer drinking runners like me can go to find some new favorite beverages.

Check out previous posts here!

We are making a little dip into the wine scene now with this feature, as there are some beautiful Oregon wineries that not only make great Pinot’s, but also host running events as well. Winter’s Hill Estate, which sits high atop the Dundee Hills of Oregon, is one of those locations!

When I ran the 2016 Fueled by Fine Wine Half, I distinctly remember running along the outer edges of some of the wine fields here. It actually started with a welcome downhill, the first one since the race started (and almost halfway in), and completed with a trek back up as well. All the wineries in this area are amazing, but Winter’s Hill stood out for its quiet, understated, and welcoming environment. I am not saying that the others aren’t, but they produce on a little smaller scale than some of the other nearby, gigantic, and classy wineries in the area. The farm is now in the third generation of being owned and operated by the Gladhart family. They manage their own vineyards, fields, and forests for the long-term benefit of their family and our community at large. I found it awesome to learn that every job that is done for the vineyards (pruning, thinning, etc) is done by hand –  including harvesting. Every wine is truly a labor of love.

The grounds themselves are really beautiful – more of a down to earth beauty than a meticulously manicured diamond estate. The winery and tasting room are surrounded by a natural landscape of fields and forest and they us native species to landscape. The vineyard is certified by LIVE (Low Input Viticulture & Enology) as Sustainable and Salmon Safe. The grounds are fantastic (with some downright amazing views and sunsets when the timing is right), yet is still very accessible, making it ripe for wandering in the field with a glass of Pinot Noir without feeling out-of-place. They are actually an official stop on the Willamette Valley Birding Trail, as well.

In 2018, Winter’s Hill will actually be the packet pick-up location for FBFW and is also hosting the Dionysis Dash Vineyard Run on July 21, 2018. This will feature a 5k and have wine tasting, music, and other vendors on-site. And, after sampling a few wines from Winter’s Hill, I highly recommend checking them out – race or no race.

A perfect backdrop for sampling…or race day.

As far as the wine goes, I will be the first to admit that I am not a wine connoisseur. I enjoy wine, and can articulate what I don’t like – but I am not going to be able to pick out all the different flavor profiles that a true master can. However, I will tell you that the few samples we received were all well worth the drive to the winery, as well as extremely well worth the drive to the local wine hub to find a bottle as well.

My wife can tend to be pretty picky when it comes to Pinot Gris. The Winter’s Hill 2015 Pinot Gris Watershed, which has received some accolades from others (a Bronze Medal at the TEXSOM International Wine Awards and 89 points in Wine & Spirits), and now by my wife as well. Here’s a little bit behind this styling:

Tending vines and making wine is a series of watersheds or transitions as the seasons change and we turn from one vintage to another. Pruning, harvesting, pressing and bottling are final, there is no turning back. These watershed moments are the challenge and the joy we find in our daily work. We invite you to celebrate your watershed moments with us.

This brisk white starts out lean and opaque, its green-apple and tarragon scents needing time to reveal themselves. By the second day open, this wine has taken on a second life, presenting expansive, mouthfilling flavors of quince spritzed with lemon.

We both found that it was not too sweet – still refreshing, yet smooth to drink. We agreed with the sentiment that nursing this a subsequent day or two is actually quite nice. Their Pinot Gris‘ are also regarded highly in multiple wine periodicals and blogs. We found the 2015 to be very refreshing while seemingly taking on a more pear-forward flavor, while the ’16, fermented in stainless steel, to be clean and more “apple-y” than the previous year. All of these bottles are pretty darn inexpensive for some really quality stuff ($16 for the Watershed & $19 for the “standard” Pinot Gris).

After checking out both the grounds and drinking some wine, Winter’s Hill is a definite must for the “run & wine” individual out there. Tastings are $15 for 5 samples and the tasting room/winery are open daily from 11am-5pm. There are also a TON of other wineries a simple stone’s throw from here, so you can definitely make a day of it. Beyond that, don’t forget about the races that are coming to the grounds in 2018. This is a great opportunity to check out the location, get a challenging run in, and drink some great local wine afterwards.

Wines:

Winery:  Winter’s Hill Estate (Facebook)

  • 6451 NE Hilltop Ln, Dayton, OR 97114Tastings 11am-5pm daily
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About Matt Rasmussen (1209 Articles)
Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching the Olympics, sampling craft beers, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010. Matt joined the Run Oregon team in October 2011, and since then he has spearheaded the blog’s efforts to cover product reviews, news about businesses related to running, and running events in the Willamette Valley.

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