Narnia Gone Rogue

On the Way to Corvallis

On the Way to Corvallis

Willamette Valley in Oregon is on the same latitude as Burgundy and has a similar climate. So, it is not surprising that 75% of the grapes grown here are the red grape of Burgundy, Pinot Noir. While Pinot Noir is softer-bodied and less tannic than Bordeaux’s Cabernet Sauvignon, it has just as great aging potential. Some age will enhance it, and it can hold quite a bit of age. With a good Pinot Noir, knowing when it is ready is key.

“It looks like Narnia.” It is when he says things like this that I realize my 18 year old son is still between childhood and adulthood. It wasn’t that long ago that he got lost in fairy tale movies like that. Now, he is choosing his college, his first major decision that will send repercussions rippling through the rest of his adult life. It is a decision he will have to make himself.

Domaine Serene Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 2009

Domaine Serene Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 2009

Domaine Serene has been producing wine since the late 1980’s. They are a large, well-established winery in the Willamette Valley that has been earning accolades from wine reviewers such as Robert Parker, Wine and Spirits and Wine Spectator since the 1990’s. It is no wonder. Their Pinot Noirs express the perfect Willamette terroir with bright red fruits and earthy aromas in a silky texture. As in Burgundy, the wines are aged in oak for just a hint of vanilla and cedar aromas. The 2011 and earlier are ready now, but will continue to improve over the next several years.

My son and I made the 9 hour drive to Corvallis, Oregon yesterday. The scenery was glorious. No one ever told me Oregon was so stunning. “Oregon has one of the lowest rates of tourism of any state in the union.” Sometimes on his way to adulthood, Bob channels Cliff Clavin. I haven’t fact-checked him on this tidbit, but I had to wonder why that would be true as we crossed first the Rogue, then the Umpqua, and finally the Willamette River. Oh, yes, friends, we are in the heart and soul of Oregon wine country. He applied to Oregon State University because he was impressed with their engineering program. When they offered him a scholarship, OSU made his short list. We had to visit to make sure it could be a place he’d feel at home in over the next few years. So far, he seems a bit enamored with the pine-covered mountains. For selfish reasons, mainly wine related, I hope he chooses Corvallis. I am excited for him to take that big step away from home. I know he’ll embrace it. At the same time, of course I will miss him terribly. He has been a bright, cheerful and funny buddy over the past 18 years. But, I also wonder if he’s ready, caught as he is somewhere between childhood and adulthood. Like the winemakers of this region, I have done my part. Just as the winemakers know when to release the wine it is time for me to stop counting to ten, and say, ‘Ready or not, world, here he comes!’

14 comments on “Narnia Gone Rogue

  1. renobarb says:

    Years ago, we took our twins on an adventure through Oregon, covering lots of miles up the coast, through the Willamette Valley, Corvallis, Bend and back to Portland. Corvallis was so charming that we added it to our list of places where we would love to retire. I hope he chooses OSU, too-it’s a great school.
    Oh, and the wines are wonderful, too!

  2. I bet you’re having a hard time not nudging him towards OSU….although it seems fair you should let him know you will come visit all the time if he goes…:)

    • foxress says:

      If I tell him that, he won’t go! But, two days after we got back, he signed up! He was impressed with their engineering program. He felt right at home there when we visited, and they offered him a nice scholarship, so it was kind of a no-brainer. I’m going to miss having him around every day, but I’m very glad he found a university that seems to be such a good fit.

      • I bet it won’t be easy when he leaves….but as you indicated, what a great incentive to visit him and spend your days in wine country! 😉

  3. My cousin is a professor there – they are originally from Michigan and are really liking it. No matter what your son chooses, I’m sure it will be the best for him, but that would be nice to be close to all the Oregon Pinot! My all time favorite wines!

    • foxress says:

      Camille, What does your cousin teach? I’m so excited for my son. The area is absolutely stunning, and the town of Corvallis is charming. I’m excited for me, too. Now, I have an excuse to explore all those beautiful Oregon wines in person 🙂

      • He’s got his Ph.D. in Turf Management of all things! 🙂 He teaches classes like golf course management and irrigation and drainage in landscape management. He researches ways to make turf less dependent on pesticides – to grow more naturally pest resistant. He was the project manager for the turf at the Beijing Summer Olympics! Great guy, but obviously a pretty specialized field. His name is Alec Kowalewski, if you want to look him up on their webpage.

        I love Oregon – especially the wine country. If your son goes there, I know you will really enjoy your visits! We are planning a long weekend trip down to the Grants Pass area this summer – it is so pretty there!

  4. Caught between childhood and adulthood – a great descriptor. Well done.

    • foxress says:

      Thank you, Ernest. I suppose a parent never feels like the job is finished. But like the wine maker, at some point we need to commit to a release. Hopefully, like a good Pinot, he’ll keep maturing.

  5. I lived in Corvallis as a child while my dad got his degree in Environmental Chemistry at OSU. My happiest kidhood memories. Such a precious part of the world! I hope you son chooses OSU, too (don’t tell my husband, he’s a U of O grad 😉 )

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