In Part 2 of our Alaska Airlines Free Wine Tasting series, we are going to explore Umpqua Valley, Oregon. As a quick reminder, the way to get the free wine tasting is if you’ve flown on Alaska Airlines from one of the 30 participating airports and will visit one of the listed wineries within a certain amount of days. You can find more detailed information on Part 1 of the series here.
Umpqua Valley is not a well known wine region, but I would not put it past you if you are in the area. The area has a diverse climate that allows for a wide range of wines to be produced. Rogue Valley to the south is hotter in climate so that’s where you get your typical Napa/Bordeaux style wines. Willamette (pronounced Will-AM-it) to the north is cooler in climate so that’s where you see pinot noirs thriving the most. Umpqua Valley is right in between and has the conditions to produce both cool and warm grape varieties. We got explored three different wineries on our trip: Abacela, Hill Crest Vineyards, and Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards.
Also, you might have noticed that my pictures kind of have a weird orange overcast look. Well, this actually was the beginning of what would be the worst fires the state of Oregon has ever seen. We had a whole week planned of wine tasting, but sadly had to cut it short due to the smoke and hazardous air quality. After this day, we had to move from city to city just to find some fresh air. Unfortunately, every night, the smoke would catch up to us. Luckily, we already had a make-up trip planned so we were fortunate to come back another time.
Disclaimer: This is not a partnership blog post with Alaska Airlines. This is solely my experience using their Wines Fly Free program and all opinions are of my own.
ABACELA VINEYARDS (WINERY #3)
Tasting: $10 For Five Wines (Complimentary with Alaska Airlines)
Abacela was highly rated from someone we met on our trip so we were excited to try them out. We called ahead and they confirmed that they were doing to Alaska Airlines Free Wine Tasting so we had no problems. We each got The Signature Flight which has five wines for you to try. I noticed that there was a rosé listed on the menu, but not on the tasting so I asked if I could try it and they obliged. I loved it so much I ended up buying two bottle of it.
A little insider trick is if there is another wine on the menu that you would like to try, just ask your host if they have a bottle of that particular one open. If they do, they will be more than happy to let you try it.
HILLCREST VINEYARDS (WINERY #4)
Tasting: $15 For Eight Wines (Complimentary with Alaska Airlines)
This winery was a little out of the way, but we wanted to try “Oregon’s Oldest Estate Winery.” We also called ahead to confirm that they were doing the Alaska Airlines Free Wine Tasting. It’s definitely smaller and more rustic than your typical modern wineries, but I think that’s what made it quaint. You walk in and you have to ring a bell and someone from upstairs will come down and help you. Most likely it will be the owners. The tasting consists of eight (yes EIGHT) wines. What was interesting is that they end with the white wines because it’s more refreshing. It was the first time anyone has every done that and I was actually kind of a fan. We ended up purchasing a bottle of Petite Blanc.
REUSTLE PRAYER ROCK (WINERY #5)
Tasting: $12 for Four Wines with a Food Pairing of Three Items (Complimentary with Alaska Airlines)
This winery was the last one for the day and it was kind of out of the way also. We called ahead to confirm that they were aware of the Alaska Airlines Free Wine Tasting and they said they were. The fun thing about this tasting was that you got three little bites to go with your wines. It was actually a nice touch especially after wine tasting all day.
This was probably one of the most beautiful wineries of our trip. The indoor portion was a little more on the “religious” side, but the outside grounds were gorgeous. The smoke kind of put a gloom on everything, but there were so maybe fun spaces around the winery. Also, there are a bunch of farm animals that you get to pass on your drive out. We ended up not purchasing anything, but tipped our server heavily. Again, definitely take care of your host/server, especially if you don’t plan on buying a bottle!
Since Oregon is in a different state with COVID, they do allow indoor dining at a reduce capacity. A lot of places are still choosing to do outdoors only so please check before going. All the places we visited were very mindful and had each group spread apart. Masks are still required as of this time when not actively tasting. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below!