Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Harvest Hosts First!

We happened upon Harvest Hosts earlier this year at an FMCA rally in Indio, CA.  The concept is brilliant and especially tailor-made for RVers. Overnight parking at a vineyard or farm for a very low yearly fee is offered by many member/hosts throughout the country.

As luck would have it, we headed out in need of repairs, with Eugene, OR and Oregon Motorcoach Center as our destination.  More on this later.  After checking in and getting lined up for work to start in a week, we checked out the Willamette Valley area.

This is where the good karma kicked in and we found Emerson Vineyards in Monmouth, OR in our Harvest Hosts online guide.  I called Tom, the owner, and we were more than welcomed.  The online map provided "door to door" directions and  the drive north along 99W was an easy two-lane, scenic hour or so.
We've arrived!

The countryside

Elliott, the winemaker, working the vineyards

Around the property

Surrounded by a field of orchard grass

Old oaks & wildflowers
Our first reaction, and you can see why, was utter amazement at the location and beauty surrounding us.  How could we be so lucky in our first experience and does it get any better than this?

Tom greeted us outside and pointed us to our parking place in a nice, secluded location surrounded by a field of orchard grass, then met us in the tasting room after we got set up.
Tom educates us about the Emerson wines

We're ready!

Horizontal barrels are a good thing!
Emerson Vineyards is a family operation evident on many levels:  the namesake is Tom's great-grandfather Emerson Waldo Fisher.  Tom and Jane are the owners and live on the estate with Tom acting as business and marketing director, and I might add, social and people specialist.   Their son Elliott is the "vines and wines" man, having graduated from the Oregon State University's Fermentation Science program.  We mostly saw Elliott on his tractor tending the vines.

Emerson's winemaking philosophy is vineyard-centered. They believe that the key to world-class wines is beautiful, carefully farmed grapes grown in the best possible conditions. If successful the wines almost make themselves; they just take care of them.  The wines we tasted were excellent, though the pinots, both gris and noir, were our favorites.  The Reisling and Brother Red (named after Emerson's brother, Red!) also got rave reviews from our fellow tasters!

Tom told us that last year was their worse in terms of growing and environmental conditions.  The shortage of rain coupled with some very aggressive migratory birds and a crop disease which blew in from property to their east caused their production to fall from 50 tons to 10! This year, if the healthy thriving vines we saw are any indication, will be a very good year.

To top off this very enjoyable experience and these beautiful surroundings, we were just in time for Friday night music at the vineyard.  This night featured music by folk singer Larry Kenneth Potts who, coincidentally, is from Petaluma.  A good crowd gathered bringing along their picnic goodies with Emerson's wine (of course) and beer available for purchase.
Entertainer, Larry Kenneth Potts

Howard has us all set up!

Having a great time!

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