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Writer Lucy Burningham

Dundee, Oregon: Embrace the Unexpected

Posted by Lucy Burningham on October 03, 2011
ancient olive oil press at Red Ridge Farms in Dundee Oregon, picture
Photo credit
Photo: Lucy Burningham
Photo caption
The ancient olive oil press on the grounds of Red Ridge Farms.

When I visited Dundee in the fall, I had a thorough itinerary and a mental image of what each day would bring. But when I decided to walk behind the Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey, I remembered why it’s important to slow down when you travel and notice the unexpected.

I’d stopped at the Abbey to check out their homemade fruitcake and hand-bound journals, but decided to explore a bit of the trail system on the property. As I walked through a warm drizzle, I came to a huge mass of wild blackberry bushes heavy with ripe fruit. I stopped and grazed on sweet berries, feeling like a little black bear that’d discovered lunch.

Later that day, I visited one of Oregon’s first large-scale olive groves at Red Ridge Farms. The 13,000 trees there, which include Arbequina and Arbosana varieties from Spain, were planted just two years ago, but already produce enough fruit to go into some olive oils (along with a crop of California olives) pressed onsite. While I expected to see the large-scale mechanical olive presses, I was surprised by the historic 7,000-pound stone olive mill sitting outside. Owner Paul Durant told me the massive press was used during the Roman empire and had been sitting somewhere in Spain before it ended up on his farm.

As I thought about the impossibility of seeing an ancient European olive press in Oregon, I drove to a winery called Torii Mor, where I was surprised to find a Japanese-themed tasting room and garden.

Again, I decided to poke around outside and came across a gurgling water feature and some Asian sculpture adorning the peaceful grounds. And around back? A gorgeous view of Mount Hood. From where I stood, the pointy peak looks liked a distinct of cousin of Mount Fuji, another unexpected moment in what turned out to be a nuanced day.

Lucy Burningham wrote about a Dundee wine weekend for the September/October 2011 issue of Via.

This blog post was first published in October 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.