Last weekend’s downpour signaled the definitive end of Portland’s glorious summer and as we look ahead to the coming eight (or more) months of rain, we wanted to share a special evening from the season.
Like many of our Portland friends, we first met Maggie Harrison and Nate Ready of Antica Terra Winery as customers. Antica Terra is a winery that produces primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Maggie is the Winemaker and Nate is the Master Sommelier and both come from esteemed food and wine backgrounds, including Sine Qua Non and The French Laundry.
Last fall, we gathered together some staff and friends attended a wine tasting in their barrel room. The wines were impressive, but Maggie and Nate’s knowledge and enthusiasm nearly stole the show. Being of the friendly and sociable sort, they proposed a follow-up vineyard visit when the weather turned warm, as it slowly, eventually does here in Oregon.
On a perfect summer evening, with friends in tow, we trekked out to the Antica Terra vineyard. We expected wine of course, maybe some charcuterie or sandwiches. We should have known better. We won’t detail the whole superb al fresco menu, but with Rabbit Paella cooked over an open fire serving as the main course, you get the idea. Add “supremely generous” to the accolades we give our hosts.
The great food, wine, and company were matched by the vineyard’s hilltop setting, high above the valley floor with a view to the Coast Range. As the sun set and coastal fog crept in along the horizon, it was hard to imagine a more idyllic setting. The whole set-up looked like a pictorial in some glossy monthly that a whole army of stylists composed, but it was instead genuine, unpretentious, and a whole lot of fun.
One of the great pleasures of Oregon’s Wine Country is its low key, rustic nature. Not Napa Valley five star resort quaint-rustic, but truly rustic as in old tractors and weathered barns. Granted, Highway 99—the main drag through the Valley—is not going to win any beauty contests with its strip mall clutter. However, once away from this main thoroughfare the gentle and lovely countryside reveals itself. We’re fortunate to have such a place virtually in our backyard to experience and enjoy–rain or shine.
As a last word, we congratulate Maggie on being selected one of Food & Wine magazine’s Winemakers of the Year. We couldn’t agree more.