Wait, There’s More to the Willamette Valley Than Wine? Say Cheese!

With 500+ wineries in Willamette Valley, Oregon always feels like home to me. It has been the actual home to the ‘rents for the last 20 years, so I call it my second home. It is much more slacker friendly than the limo clogged drunk-fest that is Napa. Not that there’s anything wrong with that — been there quite a few half-remembered times.

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Willamette Valley Cheese Company. Dawn Page/CoastSideSlacking

The more wine the better, really, but this post isn’t about wine. ‘Cause sometimes you just need a little something to soak up all that Pinot Noir.

So Momlady and I took a detour from our errands in Salem one day and visited the Willamette Valley Cheese Company.

This place is farm-to-table in the literal sense. Scores of cows greet you as you drive in and the cheese is made on site.

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Curious cow at WVCC. Dawn Page/CoastsideSlacking

As we got out of our car, we could definitely tell we were on a farm. However, WV Cheese Co. must employ cow aroma sorcery to make sure the farm smells stay outside. The tasting room has no trace of cow at all.

Kari was our guide. She was a font of cheese knowledge and served us generous portions of the 20+ cheeses they had on hand. This was a full lunch, pretty much. And these cheeses were a revelation. The freshest cheeses were aged 3 months and had a floral scent from the  grass and clover the cows had eaten in the field. We learned that Fontina and Gouda can be fresh or aged. Who knew? Turns out raw and aged cheeses taste really different.

This kind of tasting experience leads you to spend an hour filling up on cheese after cheese, then buying three and a half more pounds of cheese to take home for dinner. No exaggeration. Go there. You will buy a lot of this cheese.

Only one thing can bring you out of a cheese coma. Not wine (well, not until later) but a stop at the EZ Orchards Farm Market for the fruit doughnut du jour. Apple cider, in this case. They were very good, but honestly this place shines brightest in berry season. We also picked up some veggies to go with our cheese dinner. The veggies here are wonderful year-round.

[We may have picked up more doughnuts to go. A lot more.]

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