Sipping Knudsen Vineyards on the Tillamook Coast
Located in the northwest corner of Oregon, the Tillamook Coast is a breathtaking stretch of shoreline that reaches as far north as Manzanita and down south to Neskowin. If a person wanted to touch the majority of the cities and towns that make up this treasure, it’d take about two and a half hours—providing you could resist the urge to stop for every photo op.
From old growth forests to stunning Pacific Ocean views, the Tillamook Coast is a magical destination of ever-changing landscapes. Its waters bring forth a bounty of line caught, troll caught and hand harvested fish and shellfish. When thinking of seafood, my mind always goes to chardonnay and Knudsen Vineyards recent release—their 2015 Dundee Hills Chardonnay—is an overnight bag must for a seaside respite.
A well-known name in the Willamette Valley, Knudsen Vineyards is where the oldest plantings of French Dijon clones in the New World can be found. Over the last several decades Knudsen has supplied pinot noir and chardonnay grapes to reputable Valley wineries but back in 2014 this circa 1971 vineyard underwent a reboot. Reaching back to their roots, the grown children of founders Cal and Julia Lee Knudsen brought their estate label to market and each successive vintage has shown depth, elegance and exciting ageability.
The ocean view balconies of each room at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City are an idyllic spot to perch to enjoy the bright and approachable notes of this well-balanced white. Gazing at Haystack Rock and a stunning sunset elevate the moment but there’s also room for an appetizer platter made up of aged cheddar and other Oregon favorites purchased at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. Stay at The Cottages at Cape Kiwanda and have the added bonus of a gourmet kitchen to prepare scallops, salmon cakes or grilled prawns to accompany the melon and mineral notes of this 2015 Chardonnay.
Another more vintage option is The Terimore Motel in Netarts. This place is perfect for sipping, keeping a date with a great book and completely unwinding in an oceanfront room. Ben Nunez purchased this special lodging with his late wife nearly 30 years. The number of returning guests speaks volumes to what people find at—and take away from — The Terimore.
While not oceanfront, Sheltered Nook Tiny Home Village in Bay City does have porches, grills and its cozy vibe is perfect for sharing wine finds with new friends.
A visit to the Tillamook Coast doesn’t have to be all relaxing. Plenty of places abound for kayakers including the Tillamook Bay watershed, the Nehalem River, the Salmon River and Cape Meares Lake. Hiking can be as strenuous (Neahkahnie Mountain, Wilson River Trail, Kings and Elk Mountain), scenic (Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint with its lighthouse, ocean view trails and whale viewing during migration season) or leisurely (the paved nature trails at Kilchis Point Reserve) as you like. In Bay City, there’s a unique biking opportunity with the Oregon Coast Railriders. This two hour excursion takes riders along six miles of decommissioned Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad track passing rivers and pastures on a specially-designed bike.
When activity has whet your appetite, be sure to check out de Garde Brewing, The Pelican Pub & Brewery (right on the beach), Nehalem Bay Winery (fermenting since 1974), Blue Heron French Cheese Company (known for their Blue Heron Brie as well as their own wine label with daily wine and cheese tastings) and The Pacific Oyster Company (where visitors can procure fresh seafood and shellfish and enjoy a self-guided tour).
Other full service restaurants include the intimate Offshore Grill (serving breakfast, lunch and dinner); Big Wave Café (serving breakfast, lunch and dinner); and Black Bird (dinner only, showcasing a seasonally-inspired menu).
Wait for it…Source Oyster and Wine Bar is set to open this spring. With a focus on local wines, beers and seafood, this is the brainchild of Jeff Wong, owner of CS Fishery. Source will also offer a take away case for at-home indulging.
Wine distribution: Although there is no on-site tasting room, current Knudsen Vineyards releases are available via their website or at Red Hills Market in Dundee, Oregon.
Directions: Tillamook is reachable by car from the Portland International Airport (PDX) in under two hours.