Road trip for Franc and Merlot

Mmmm - the gods seem pleasedAt about 7am Saturday morning, Hal and I set out with Laura’s truck and trailer to find America – and barring that, ripe Cabernet Franc and Merlot. We’d packed plenty of tie-downs and enough plastic sheeting to Cristo a garage, having learned in previous years that you can’t have too much grape-wrap.

The morning was drizzly in Portland, but as we passed the Dalles, the weather lightened and the low autumnal sun began to slice across the hills, giving them the soft suppleness of suede. As we crossed the Columbia at Biggs and scaled the bluffs overlooking the water, the view downriver was both calm and majestic. It’s a 3-1/2 hour drive each way to the vineyard, but that glance over your shoulder in the early morning light always makes it easier.

Bins formerly full of ripe grapesJust out of Sunnyside, we pulled into the vineyard, where, as advertised, it was indeed sunny. The grower had already stacked the Franc in small white picking bins, ready for weighing. We’d always rather taste and test the grapes before they’re picked, but this grower just does what he does and you hope for the best.

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