Tasting Room Summer Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat-Sun 11am-5pm
Today, my friend Summer is here to share a little bit about Oak Knoll Winery, one of Oregon’s oldest wineries with tons of great wines!
Summer is definitely falls into the category of “foodie” friends, always willing to check out a new restaurant or splurge on a quality meal. She also has a great sense of wine that continually inspires me to learn more. She is finishing up her MBA program at Portland State University and got to do one of her class projects with Oak Knoll, helping them with their marketing. Seriously, such a cool project. Something like that would make me almost considering going back to school!
I got to join Summer and her MBA team for an awesome tour and lunch out at the winery. I was really impressed by their wines, especially the rich and bold Barbera. To add to the fun, their outdoor space, which is home to picnics and a concert series, is gorgeous. If you’re looking for some wine tasting to add to your summer agenda, try something different and head west to Hillsboro for Oak Knoll.
And now without further ado, here is Summer!
Let me first explain why I am guest blogging today: I met Erin at a Portland crossfit gym and over the course of two years we have bonded over food, wine, hiking and more food. So when the winery I did my MBA capstone consulting project on said they’d like to host us for barrel tasting and a winemaker’s luncheon, I thought Erin was the perfect plus one.
I really became passionate about wine when my boyfriend (now ex) happened to get a dream job at Gallo in Napa, California. This led to taking about 10-12 trips to Napa/Sonoma over the course of a year and I just fell in love with the industry and wine in general. When it came time to pick an industry for a big school project, I instantly knew I wanted to do something for a local winery.
This six-month consulting project with a local business was one of the final tasks for my MBA at PSU, serving two purposes: 1) to provide MBA students the opportunity to conduct high level research, financial analysis and business consulting and 2) to help a local business. My group was lucky enough to find a good fit with Oak Knoll Winery.
Oak Knoll Winery was founded in 1970 by Ron and Marj Vuylsteke. Located on an old dairy farm, it was the first winery in Washington County and has since grown to become one of the largest wineries in the county. Oak Knoll continues to be a family operated business, now lead by Greg Lint and Jeff Herinckx, who has been Oak Knoll’s winemaker for about 22 years. They also are the sole sponsor of the Portland Rose Festival and each year the Portland Art Institute students compete to create a wine label for the event.
One of my favorite aspects of Oak Knoll is that they really care about wine, not the snobbery or pretentiousness prevalent in the industry. Their guiding principle is “When in doubt, pinky out”. Meaning, if you’re ever worried about looking the part, put your pinky out and you’ll fit right in! They defiantly believe that wine should be for everyone, not just wine snobs.
They also have a great, Instagrammable view and host a load of cool evening events in the summer. The tasting room staff is incredibly friendly and love to teach about wine. And to make it even more charming, Lucy, the adorable winery Basset Hound, greets everyone at the door! The magic of this winery is definitely worth the trip out to Hillsboro.
Now about the wines!
To be completely honest, I hadn’t tried all of their wines before we embarked on our project so it was extra special when they prepared a fantastic lunch and opened every vintage they made for us to try.
Personally, I love a big red and they have an incredible 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley) that is everything you’d expect: deep, dark, fruity with a nice tannin structure. Several of my friends and project members really fell in love with their 2011 Barbera (Columbia Valley) which is a medium bodied, dry, but luscious red. I’d easily pair this with braised short ribs, one of my favorite dutch oven recipes.
For the white wine drinkers, they produce an unoaked chardonnay that I really enjoy. Unoaked chardonnay can be a bit of a controversy depending on who you talk to, but I like it because it’s sweet and dry and really fruity. They also produce Pinot Gris, a sparkling Pinot Gris and a white Pinot Noir.
If you can’t make it out to the winery, you can look for Oak Knoll wines in almost any grocery store in Portland and you won’t break the bank buying them. They reasonably price all their wines especially for such small batch handling and production. The 2009 Cab is $24.00 and even cheaper if you become a wine club member. Plus, you’d be supporting a local business in an insanely competitive market.
Now go get drinking! Cheers!