Monday, July 19, 2010

The McMenamin Brothers are Doing a Whole Lot More Than Just Beer at Edgefield

When you think of Oregon’s wine country, you rarely think of Troutdale. A suburb of Portland, it’s more likely home to truck stops and outlet malls than to a winery. And yet, right there, at the mouth of the Columbia Gorge, lies a wonderful surprise that’s ready to grab you. McMenamins Edgefield Winery is located on the historic Edgefield estate, which was built in 1911 ironically as the Multnomah County Poor Farm and residence for indigent, elderly, disabled and mentally challenged people. Destined for demolition, the complex was purchased in 1990 by micro-brew pioneers Mike and Brian McMenamin, who not only restored the 74-acre parcel, but also breathed a whole new life into the old and tired frame.

With Edgefield’s close proximity to Portland and plethora of activities, I thought my family could make a day of it. We could stroll the grounds, taste some wine and grab a bit of lunch at one of the outdoor pubs. I dragged the husband and son along with me, only to discover minors aren’t allowed in the tasting room area at all. Really? How could you refuse entry to this face? Sending the family off to the park dejected, I resumed what’s becoming painfully habitual, tasting the wine with the company of no one but myself. Thank goodness I’m such good company.

Fortunately Janelle was attending to me in the tasting room, because in addition to her vast knowledge, she was also pretty okay company too. She told me about some of the ghost stories the old building carries. A lot of people have lived and died on these grounds and a lot of people now do a good deal of drinking here—the result is stories are bound to surface. Janelle told me when the McMenamin brothers first started making wine, they had to shovel the grapes through the window, as there wasn’t even a door to the cellar yet. The winemaking team put the wine into kegs instead of barrels, as that’s what they had on hand. Hey brothers, have you seen this article on wine kegs? It could very well be the trend of the next generation and perhaps it’s time to revisit the past to keep moving forwards. Hmmmm.

Edgefield sources fruit from Washington and Oregon to produce a number of wines, which are not available in retail but can be found at various McMenamin’s locations. Look for Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Viognier, Riesling, sparkling wine, Dry Rosé, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah, white Pinot Noir, another Riesling done in an ice wine style and a couple of port-style wines from Zinfandel and Syrah as well.

McMenamin’s Edgefield property is more than just a winery to visit on your way to the scenic Columbia Gorge or to Mt. Hood… it’s a destination. Come stay a while and discover the hotel, spa and soaking pools, brewery, distillery, restaurants, bars, a theater, golf courses, gardens and an intimate and outdoor summer concert venue with some of the hottest names in the music biz. Stop in for a glass and stay for an experience; but keep in mind, make your reservations early. I’ve tried to stay in their hotel on two separate occasions only to find it disappointingly full each time. Until we sip again…



Ben Simons said...

Looks like your little guy is sending a little message to the folks who denied him entrance to the tasting room. :)

Sounds like an interesting stop. Seems like there are lots of ghost stories among Oregon wineries. Kind of a fun thing to collect during your travels.

Sip with Me! said...

I know Ben, partly why I included the photo. Am I sending my own little message? Silly rules. Edgemont's amazing, kind of like an adult amusement park that you never really need to leave!