Toast to the Tunes: Oak Knoll Winery

Support your local winery!  They’ll educate your palate, enhance your enjoyment of wine, and raise your sophistication level (or “Snooty-Q”) considerably.  (“When in doubt, pinky out!”  You’ll understand later.)  

Elevate Your Experience

Wine tasting is a blast, but you can take it to the next level by packing a picnic basket with fun and style. But go big, and pay attention to the “Wow Factor!” Hiking and beach day trips are high adventure outings, but sometimes a couple (or a group of friends) need a relaxing day in Wine Country. Your picnic basket raises this to an even more luxurious experience. 

Start with a stylish picnic basket.  I have two, one with bright colored accessories including the Traveling Wine Glasses, and a second one more sophisticated with subtle colors and real stoneware plates.  Now that your basket is properly (and fashionably) accessorized, pack it with plenty of gourmet treats. You might try sandwiches made with roasted veggies and prosciutto, topped with micro greens. Or a panini made with eggplant spread and fontina cheese. Get creative and go wild! 

Find out if your local winery has live music and other festivities to enjoy while you sip.

Mix-and-matching picnic charcuterie like smoked salmon, blue cheese, fruits, nuts, breads and pastries will wow anyone! Individual glass jars filled with caprese salad (cherry tomatoes, bocconcini mozzarella, fresh basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper) are beautiful to the eye and easy to eat.  And don’t forget dessert! Toss in some Moonstruck Chocolates (or your favorite decadent treat)! A nice picnic blanket or tablecloth and even some soft pillows set the tone for an amazing wine tasting experience.

Girl Talk

Local wine and chocolate.

Several years ago I decided to treat myself to memberships at a couple of wineries in the countryside not far from my home near Portland. What started out as a fabulous opportunity to collect and learn about great wines became an excellent way to entertain friends, clients, and dates. 

Single ladies, just a little lesson I learned the hard way: always have your own wine membership! That way if things go south, you still have the membership and it’s your hangout. Gathering your Girls and talking smack about him is classy if it’s over glasses at a winery!  We’ll save the story of crying in the rain in a vineyard for another day.  (Spoiler alert: it was not Hiking Guy who made me cry.) 

At wine tasting events, I drank in how to pair wine with various dishes.  This heightened my love for cooking and entertaining. I invited Hiking Guy to tasting events very early in our dating. Turns out, he’s quite a good wine taster, picking up notes in the wines I had not detected. His observations on Oak Knoll’s Müller-Thurgau had me very impressed! I noticed the hints of Dijon and tarragon while he picked up the fruit and floral notes. What luck! Think I’ll keep him.

Find out if your local winery has live music and other festivities to enjoy while you sip.

Wine, Music, Food, Cars

This particular summer evening we, are enjoying Oak Knoll Winery’s “Toast to the Tunes” event. Live bands jamming onstage, semi-dazed hippie chicks dancing… all in a setting on grass under trees, surrounded by classic cars! This is a super-popular event, and people stake out their spots early and lay out lavish picnics for their friends. For those who hotfoot it from work, food trucks are also available.

Oak Knoll has a wide variety of wines, including the pinot noirs the Willamette Valley is known for the world over. But on this warm summer evening we go for an ice cold bottle of American Niagara. This wine is Summer in a Bottle… like you’re popping fresh Niagara grapes right into your mouth. And it’s surprisingly affordable, just 8 bucks a bottle at this writing (2021). 

One of our favorite wineries in Oregon is Oak Knoll in Hillsboro, near Portland.

We secure a picnic table, lay out our snappy tablecloth, and fill the Traveling Wine Glasses with Niagara. They’re so much more stylish than the plastic cups venues typically provide with wine.  Now to get our groove on to the live tunes and wander through a field full of classic cars! 

We’re having so much fun, we may end up buying a whole case of wine! (Do we?  Duh.)  They announce a special for another amazing Oak Knoll classic, Deviant… a sweet (but not syrupy) red wine. “When in doubt, pinky out!” Deviant plays well with a big wedge of blue cheese, chocolate cake, or berry pie. And it makes a wonderful fall sangria your guests will guzzle and beg you to make more! 

Crank It Up

Your local winery can broaden your cultural horizons.  A properly-stocked picnic basket turns the volume up for whatever your adventure:  a winery, a hike, a beach walk, a park, or whatever experience you design.


  1. We love taking our picnic basket to our local wineries enjoying beautiful scenery and our great local wines. We also love the sense of community we feel at the small boutique wineries. We have met amazing people and made new friends. Thank you for the tips on what to include in the picnic basket. I never thought of including a table cloth! Are your traveling wine glasses glass?

    • Hi Marcy, the Traveling Wine Glasses are plastic and were purchased at Fred Meyer.
      I am with you on the small boutique wineries. Packing up a basket and heading out for a sip. You just never know who you might run into. 🙂