December 30th, 2019

Wine Country Travel: Making the Most of Each Experience

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. I’ve always believed that if one needs to make a personal life change, it shouldn’t wait for a new year. Still, a clean calendar and some free time allows one the opportunity to set a few goals for the year to come.

In all my 2020 travels, I want to do more than simply visit a place. I want to make the most of each experience. I want to better understand the people who live and work there. I want to turn left when everyone else turns right. By doing this, I’ll appreciate each destination that much more.

With that in mind, here are a few goals for 2020.

Discover More Chefs – McMinnville’s food scene has dramatically changed since I first walked up and down Third Street more than 20 years ago. This is not just wine country; this is foodie country. And, it’s not just happening downtown; new dining spots are opening across town and Yamhill County.

But who are the people creating these unique experiences? What brought them here? I want to ask them why the food scene is so strong here and how they see their contributions.

Return to Sip! – The McMinnville Wine & Food Classic, known for years as Sip!, is a fundraiser for St. James School. The 27th annual event, scheduled for March 13-15 at Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, brings more than 70 regional wineries – plus chefs, breweries, distilleries, bakers and artists – all under one very, very large roof.

Attendees at the McMinnville Wine & Food Classic at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum enjoy wine, food, music, and so much more.

I enjoy visiting as many booths as possible to discover what winemakers are creating but it has been years since I last attended. That drought ends in 2020.

Ride Into the Hills – I’ve ridden my bike across many miles of Yamhill County roads but I’ve never climbed up to Sheridan Peak. Before I go, I will stop by Tommy’s Bicycle Shop and talk with owner Patrick Vala-Haynes to learn about the ride and what points of interest I may find along the way.

Explore Ribbon Ridge – McMinnville and the surrounding area have so many AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) that some may get overlooked. Nestled between the Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills and Yamhill-Carlton designations is a small spot on the map called Ribbon Ridge. I intend to head that way in 2020 – yes, perhaps on my bike – to talk with some winemakers and find out what makes wines from the Ribbon Ridge AVA so different than similar varietals from their neighbors.

Sit with Ben Franklin – That’s not entirely accurate. I will sit on a park bench at the corner of Davis and Third streets in downtown McMinnville. Beside me will be a statue of Ben Franklin. He’s been holding down that spot for years.

While I’m there, I want to ask passersby a few questions. I want to know what they think of McMinnville and Yamhill County. Why do residents choose to live here? Why do visitors pick this as their destination? In the end, I expect to have a better understanding of this city that I’ve known for so long.

Dan Shryock writes each month about McMinnville and Yamhill County. He first came to town in 1996 for work at the local newspaper and has witnessed many changes over the years.