Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Rolling through Oregon wine country (Photo essay)

Posted by on May 2nd, 2012 at 7:54 am

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Portlander Mykle Hansen at Anne Amie
Vineyards in Carlton.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This past Saturday I joined 25 nice folks for a ride through one of the Willamette Valley’s many wine-producing regions. The ride was organized by Juli and I, along with another couple, as a way to raise money for our kids’ schools. We both listed a fully supported wine-tasting ride as an item at our school auctions and then donated the entry fees.

Besides helping out two great schools (go Trillium and Emerson!), the ride was a perfect excuse to hang out with friends while pedaling through gorgeous country roads and sampling tasty local wines.

We began in Carlton, OR, about 36 miles southwest of downtown Portland (about an hour drive). After a picnic and our first tasting at Anne Amie Vineyards, we headed north on our loop (expertly planned by our experienced, wine-riding friends Joe and Hau Hagedorn) up to Solena and Grand Cru Estates. The route took us on a gravel road that connects NE Carlton-Chehalem Creek Road to Yamhill-Newberg Highway.

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After Solena, most of the riders opted for the “Challenge Loop” option which took us up a nice climb — and then down a thrilling descent — through idyllic country landscapes on NE Woodland Loop Road.

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Our stop at Lenné Estate was a highlight. After a steep gravel driveway, we were treated to a view of small farms and rows of grapevines dotting rolling hills in every direction.

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A bit more pedaling and we arrived back in Carlton at our final stop, Cana’s Feast Winery. We then rode through the quaint town of Carlton and back to Anne Amie Vineyards — with a serious hill to cap off a great day in the saddle.

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I’d highly recommend grabbing a map and plotting out a wine-tasting bike tour of your own. Grab a few friends and make it a group ride. You can check out our route via Google Maps here. This is the type of bicycling that I think could really help spur bicycle tourism. The roads themselves are attraction enough for enthusiastic riders; but then throw in picnics and great wineries (we could have chosen four different wineries on the same route), and just about anyone that has a bike would enjoy it.

On a related note, it looks like there’s a very exciting opportunity for a new rail-trail in this same area. A recent story in the Yamhill Valley News-Register (April 25th) details an abandoned Union Pacific rail line that stretches from St. Joseph (northeast of McMinnville) about 20 miles north all the way to Gaston. The right of way is being offered at a very reasonable $2.4 million — that’s down from $9 million the last time the idea was broached. A wine maker in Carlton is already backing a plan to make the trail happen. We’ll keep you posted on any developments!

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  • peejay May 2, 2012 at 8:19 am

    I see my friends Ken and Heidi in the photos, having an awesome time!

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  • Todd Boulanger May 2, 2012 at 9:29 am

    We always have a great ride visiting this area – except that too many wineries are built high up on a hill. Great for the views but not for cyclists. How about a series of bike friendly wineries built in the valley?! 🙂 we always stop at the lower ones.

    Looking forward to the future rail trail.

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    • Martha R May 2, 2012 at 11:14 am

      Last summer, my husband and I did a weekend wine tour (Portland-Carlton-Forest Grove) and late in the day we spontaneously decided to visit one last winery. All the way up their steep, steep gravel driveway I mumbled and grumbled about stupid wineries deciding to build their stupid buildings at the top of the hill just to get a stupid view…but my attitude completely changed when we reached the top. The winery staff greeted us with broad smiles, told us how happy they were that we arrived by bike, and said that they always waive the tasting fee for cyclists. Yay! If only I could remember the name of the winery.

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      • Lars F May 2, 2012 at 4:10 pm

        It was Patton Valley Vineyard. And there was one stretch so steep and gravelly that I lost traction and had to walk. But it was worth it. What a fun trip!

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        • Richard May 2, 2012 at 6:45 pm

          Patton Valley’s driveway could very well be the longest, steepest, and most winding gravel driveway in Oregon wine country. I raise my glass to you on your accomplishment!

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  • D Nelson May 2, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Growing up in Sonoma valley I used to enjoy cycling to wineries. Even though there usually were not bike lanes, most of the roads drivers went slow. However I was always nervous about their sobriety. Perhaps this clip which joyously advocates cycling for all ages, mostly recorded in Amsterdam, “why cycle!” will encourage some to get out, wherever they plan to go.

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  • Andrew K May 2, 2012 at 10:06 am

    This looks like a lot of fun! My wife and I have been talking about doing a cycle tour of a few wineries and this may just motivate us to do it.

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  • Jonathan Gordon May 2, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Gorgeous shots! Print out this post and you’re more than halfway to a tourist brochure right there. I hope to get out and do this ride this summer!

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  • Thomas Houseman May 2, 2012 at 11:25 am

    As a former Backroads guide and an avid cyclist, I am always happy to see cyclists stopping in at our winery. Granted, we are at the top of a steep hill, but it is my personal training hill, so I have come to love it. We are exploring progressive bike dinners (http://www.anneamie.com/f%C3%AAte-d%E2%80%99-%C3%A9t%C3%A9-2012). None planned for PDX yet, but we still have all summer.


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  • Art Fuldodger May 2, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    nice shots! Really beautiful out that way this time of year.

    for those who want to the winery tour car-free, there’s a nice, fairly quiet & flat route from the Hillsboro MAX station down to Yamhill – see Route 3, Map 1:

    It would be a long-ish day round trip for some- possible overnight at Grand Lodge in McMinnville?

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    • Art Fuldodger May 2, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      check that, Hotel Oregon. Grand Lodge is the McMenamin’s outpost in Forest Grove.

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  • 9watts May 2, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    I have to ask, what happened to the guest article about the St. Johns’ Bridge that was posted here this morning?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 2, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      Thanks for letting me know about this 9watts. Not sure why but it got unpublished. I’ve restored that post. Cheers -Jonathan (from Florida)

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  • Kevin Wagoner May 2, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    That last picture is awesome!

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  • Kristen May 7, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    The Vineride has some great routes they use every year for their ride. They don’t stop at any of the wineries they go by, but it could be a good basis for planning a route.

    Alternatively, park down in Hopewell and visit Hauer of the Dauen down on Webfoot Rd. They open at 9:30 AM during the summer months, which was handy during the Vineride when I needed some place to stop and take off some layers. 🙂

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