We began our trip dipping paddles into the refreshing river water, splashing ourselves each time we switched sides, as we propelled the canoe forward. Stroke after stroke, mile after mile, we kept paddling, knowing at the end of the day, a fully catered dinner and four Willamette Valley wineries awaited our arrival. But as I paddled along, keeping the ultimate goal in mind, I found myself entranced, swept away by the breathtaking scenic beauty of this stretch of river I’d never witnessed.
One of approximately 70 people, from Oregon and beyond, we poured into kayaks and canoes for the 29-mile two-day journey on the Willamette Riverkeeper’s first wine-themed event, Pinot Paddle. The trip began in Salem, with small pods launching inside the city, traffic din all around. It was surprising how quickly the noise fell away, leaving only rural vibrations in its place. In no time at all, it felt like we were remote — without a house, car or person in sight — though in reality, we were merely a few minutes’ drive from downtown Salem.
When I closed my eyes… Read the rest of the story here on Oregon Wine Press.