[Mt. Hood: taken while flying into Portland, OR]
I just can’t get enough of Oregon.
One of my dearest friends in life, Greg Lint, is the president of Oak Knoll Winery, and he keeps me so connected.
Years ago, when I was working for Belvedere Winery, Oregon was one of the states where I sold a boatload of wine. Back then, my connection was Todd Bacon of Columbia Distributing. He and his wife Nancy were also just so dear. (I wonder if there’s something in the water?). Todd graciously turned me onto a lot at that time. Then, I left Belvedere, and when Jose and I began Diaz Communications, Oak Knoll became our client early on.
Now, it’s years later and we’re not only colleagues, Jose and I have become very attached to the entire Oak Knoll crew. Not every relationship goes this way… There’s something totally magical about this union.
Maybe I also just click with Oregonians, because their culture is what I view as “Maine gone west.” It was Todd who taught me that two men were in Portland, Oregon; one from Boston and the other from Portland, Maine. Not being able to come to a decision on what this new area should be called, they flipped a coin. It was either going to be named Boston or Portland, from the cities where each emanated. Portland won the flip.
Being from the Portland, Maine area, and having a great grandfather (14 generations removed) who discovered Boston, Massachusetts (William Blackstone), I really just “get” Portland, Oregon. And, yes, I could live there.
It’s been Greg Lint who has taught me how diversity sensitive Portland, Oregon is, especially in the realm of disabilities. The city area is completely empathetic to people with any special needs, and so corporations all follow suit. It’s honestly heartwarming.
Each time we visit, Greg takes us wine tasting in different areas of the state. Unlike California, where one winery seems to fall on top of other wineries, Oregon still has a lot of growing to do. The way it will grow, however, is going to be drastically different than what’s happened in California. Here, parcels of land are quite small, and neighbors mostly look into each other’s windows. In Oregon, land is more available, prices are more reasonable, and there are many more down-to-earth people. The stress is less, hence the Zen of Oregon.
Besides Oak Knoll, other favorites are David Hill Winery, Lange Estate Winery & Vineyards, and Sokol Blosser, all found in Willamette Valley. I got to meet Jesse Lange (of Lange), Jason Bull (David Hill Winery and J. Bull Wines), as well Alex Sokol Blosser at this past year’s Oregon Pinot Gris Symposium. Meeting each of them, I was able to connect the dots of why these wineries and wines are so meticulous, earthy (in terms of heart and soul), and friendly… each winery and their wines reflect their families’ ethos.
What follows is a photo video that I’ve called The Zen of Oregon. Once you’ve seen these images, you, too will be able to understand the title as being aptly named. You’ll also find one where we were in an actual Zen garden, and like naughty school children, we were cracking up… While we definitely broke the Zen silence, we probably also delivered a lot of positive regenerative energy. Yeah… Oregon’s that great.