As my husband navigated the gravel drive, Carlos came out and asked “Are you my Harvest Host guests for the night?”
Okay, you know that feeling when you’re sure you’ve missed out on something cool? You knew nothing about it minutes prior but now, NOW, you’re intrigued just enough to have actual feelings of loss.
Come to find out Harvest Hosts is a terrific overnight opportunity for RVers. You can only stay one night and it’s dry camping (like that’s a struggle in a 30’ RV) but the network spans wineries, farms and attractions all over the U.S. Wild Rose Vineyard in Winston, Oregon is a host and they invite RVers to hang with them for the night with as much (or as little) host contact as they want. A beautiful spring evening with Carlos and his wife, Denise, would’ve been a treat. Alas, a wine tasting would have to do.
We just happened to have pulled into Wild Rose because I read they make Pinot Gris and the weather necessitated this find. ‘Carlos’ is Carlos Figueroa, owner and winemaker at this unassuming spot since 1995. Aside from being a winemaker, Carlos is on staff as professor in the biology department at Umpqua Community College so I’m figuring he knows a little bit about wine.
We tasted through his line up inside what I can only describe as a groovy pad accented by blown glass courtesy of his neighbor. In particular, I enjoyed the smoky and red berry notes of his 2011 Merlot (BBQ wine), felt the silky tannins and meaty characteristics of his 2015 Merlot would be terrific with a choice meat cut and very much enjoyed his 2011 Tears of The Rose. At 18 percent alcohol (thanks to the addition of a little brandy) and 5 percent residual sugar, this Pinot Gris was aged in a merlot barrel for nearly a year, giving it a slight pink tint.
What I left with was a bottle of his 2015 Pinot Gris because I knew exactly what I was pairing it with and who I was sharing it with. Wild Rose Vineyard is known for their dessert wines and Carlos certainly seems to have a knack for balancing the acid level with the residual sugar to produce a beautiful wine perfect for an aperitif, with a main course salad or alongside a thoughtfully-prepared cheese platter for dessert.
A couple days later, my hunch would prove correct as we poured the 2015 Pinot Gris alongside smoked salmon, walnuts, dried apricots and blue cheese. It was a perfect first course to enjoy on a deck with close friends clinking glasses to another birthday (mine).
As for the Harvest Hosts offer, we’d already booked at another spot for the night…but now I know there’s another RV trip with my name on it coming soon.
Travel tip: Carlos' recommendation of Carlos Restaurante (no relation) in Winston for good food and a darned fine margarita was spot on!