The royal treatment

We mentioned King Estate briefly in Friday’s post, but we knew that after the weekend was over, we’d have a lot more to say. We couldn’t have been more right. What we thought was going to be a nice little weekend away from the city turned out to be an introduction to one of the coolest wineries we’ve ever visited.

Since we arrived after dark, it wasn’t until we woke up the next morning that we saw how gorgeous the estate was. When we stepped out of the cottage, we were treated to views like this:

France? Italy? Nope, Oregon.

And this:

The estate's main building, which houses the vistor's center and tasting room.

And then there was the cabin itself—uber charming, with two bedrooms, a little kitchen, an awesome back porch, and a stone fireplace (which we used all weekend long!):

We want this to be our summer home!

We fixed ourselves a killer breakfast, made with ingredients from our fully stocked kitchen. The best part? The bacon, cured right at King Estate. After that, we walked around the cabin grounds and had some down time, and then it was on to lunch at the estate’s restaurant, where the chef, Michael Landsberg, is doing amazing things. He’s living a chef’s dream, with all manner of fresh produce grown organically right there on the farm, and easy access to sustainably grown chicken, beef, pork, and fish, much of which is raised on farms just a few miles away.

We couldn’t resist the burger, topped with pork belly, spinach, and aged cheddar:

We're a little worried this burger is going to spoil us on all burgers from this point on. It was amazing!

We balanced the meat-fest of the burger with the Nicoise Root Vegetables:

This salad came with the most perfect slow-cooked eggs. Aren't they gorgeous?

After lunch, we met up with Quentin, one of the estate’s wine educators, and set out for our tour. We don’t know the other King Estate wine educators, but we can’t imagine anyone being more knowledgeable than Quentin. The guy lives and breathes (and loves) wine, and his enthusiasm for it is contagious. We saw pretty much every part of the winery, including the production rooms, the aging room, the bottling room, the storage room, and on and on.

The wine ages in these oak barrels, many of which are from France.

After that, it was on to the estate’s bakery, where we met and promptly fell in love with pastry chef Tobi Sovak. She’s the perfect combination of no-nonsense and hilarious, and she’s extremely talented. As she led us through the bakery, she gave us tastings of all kinds of treats, including bunches of homemade ice creams, jams made from fruit grown about 50 feet away, Pinot Noir sorbet, and a pumpkin cake topped with cinnamon ice cream:

Autumn, in dessert form.

From there, we visited the charcuterie, where they cure their own bacon and prosciutto, make their own pates, and smoke everything from sausage to oysters.

The coolest part about the tour was that everywhere we went, Quentin introduced us to and chatted with every staff member we encountered. King Estate has more than 80 employees, but we got the feeling they operate a lot like one big happy family. During crush, when the wine staff is working around the clock harvesting and making wine, the restaurant and bakery staff prepare meals for them. Talk about job perks!

We topped our tour with—what else?—a tasting.

The tasting room, like pretty much everything else at the estate, is gorgeous. Love those exposed beams.

King Estate is known for its Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, two grapes that thrive in Willamette Valley’s climate. Both were fantastic. We tasted a huge range of other varietals too, including a Reisling, two Cabernets, two Syrahs, a Muscat, and their Vin Glace (similar to an ice wine). The verdict? We ended up buying five bottles!

If King Estate had just been a cute little winery with some decent wines, we would have had a perfectly fine weekend. But it was so much more than that. It’s all thanks to the owners, a father-and-son team who seem to embody the sustainable spirit. Instead of stopping with organic wine, they branched out to include organic greens, fruits, vegetables, an on-site bakery and charcuterie, even all their own compost. Seriously, the apocalypse could hit and this place would survive just fine on its own—and probably feed the rest of the community, to boot. It’s so encouraging to see that places like this not only exist, but also thrive. Nice work, King Estate!


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Filed under Eco-friendly, Food, Fun, Random, Restaurants, Travel

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