Road Trip Guide - Page 36 - Water and wine

Road Trip Guide
- Page 36
Water and wine
A perfect pairing in Oregon’s Willamette Valley

By Paul Abercrombie
Chicago Tribune

Standing at the bow of a little rowboat and chatting with my two companions, I realize I’m not just fly-fishing Oregon’s famed McKenzie River, I’m also a student in a floating master class on how chance geologic events made this valley about perfect for two things: growing grapes to make world-class wines, and sustaining some of the country’s loveliest wild trout.

True, my shipmates aren’t your average fishing buddies. Manning the oars is river conservationist and science teacher Steve Lent; wielding a fly rod at the stern is Jesse Lange, lifelong fly fisherman and winemaker at one of Willamette Valley’s first — and finest—wineries.

How I’d managed to score such a spot was, as with many things in my life, a matter of dumb luck.

Like most wine geeks who love pinot noir, my wife, Gail, and I are familiar (read: obsessed) with those from Willamette Valley. When I noticed images of fly lures festooning most bottles of Lange Estate’s wines, I deduced that someone there might share some of my other passions. One thing led to another, and after a brief email exchange and phone call, Jesse invited my family to visit his vineyards and for me to come fishing with him.

That such a several-day trip would mean blessedly cooler weather than at home in Florida, along with hills bigger than speed bumps, and lots of good local food, was enough to convince our teenage son, Ewan, that it could be fun for him, too.

Arriving one mid-March morning after an hour’s drive southwest from Portland, we drop our bags at one of the guest houses at