Off the Radar Wine

Although Salem is the capital of Oregon, it’s not an exciting city to visit. Last weekend on my wine tasting quest I heard it referred to by a resident as “SoLame”…sad, but true.

Kathken vines


However, once you head west out of town (or east for that matter, but today we’re heading west) the countryside offers lush views and great wine – what we’re looking for!

Our first stop was an obnoxious vineyard whose name I will not mention. To be fair, it was a holiday weekend, the owners were expecting crowds, and had a band (that didn’t play the entire time we were there) and some food (for a price). Immediately I was bothered by the placement of the tasting room and patio AWAY from the magnificent view to the east, down in a hollow below the vines. The staff were very uptight, and the wine was nothing to write home about, so on to the next stop.

When planning this foray into unknown wine country I consulted maps, winery associations and google, but many vineyards are open for tasting and entirely off the internet radar. Our next stop was one of those.

Kathken driveway


The driveway to Kathken Vineyards is very unprepossessing.


The tasting room is a canvas yurt.

Looking west towards the Coast Range

But the view! We pulled out some comfy chairs and settled back to enjoy good wine….and free snacks! How nice.


Our last stop of the day was Eola Hills. They’ve got a Northwest hipster vibe.

A variety of cool little spots to hang out take advantage of the western view….with fire pits!


And a tire swing!


And of course, the last and most important requirement of the tour: great wine!




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