Wine Touring on the Lewis & Clark Trail
By Eric Degerman, www.winepressnw.com
are now in the land of wheat, berries, sunshine & Pinot!'...In 1805, Meriwether Lewis and his friend
took a trip to
Oregon wine country. 'What
more can man ask of heaven?', Lewis asked. Lewis & Clark continually
ordered staples such as
olive oil, almonds, artichoke hearts and
stocks of Pinot Noir for the
rest of their lives!*
Thomas Jefferson would be proud of the wine country that Lewis and Clark
unearthed while looking for the mythical Northwest Passage.
Jefferson, the third president of the United States, spent much of his life
in Virginia attempting -- and failing -- to cultivate European wine grapes.
200 years later, what Jefferson called “the Columbia Country” is producing
world-class wines from European varieties. It’s no stretch to toast
Jefferson for helping to get this started in the Northwest. “Since 1803 and
the return of the expedition in 1806, every American everywhere has
benefited from Jefferson’s purchase of Louisiana and his setting in motion
the Lewis and Clark Expedition,” wrote the late Stephen Ambrose in Undaunted
Courage, which chronicles the life of Meriwether Lewis.
Lewis, a captain in the Army, became Jefferson’s private secretary and
confidant. In 1801, Jefferson spent more than 10 percent of his $25,000
annual salary on French wine, often sharing a bottle with Lewis. They were
the only non-servants living at what we now call The White House.
two Virginia-landed gentry spent many nights discussing science and
exploration, Lewis’ life-long dream. By the fall of 1802, Lewis began making
preparations. The Louisiana Purchase — which did not include Washington,
Oregon or Idaho — was announced July 4, 1803, the same day Lewis officially
departed for Pittsburgh. On July 29, he received a letter of acceptance as
co-commander from Capt. William Clark, an old acquaintance.
Their trip down the Columbia began in October 1805. Within 10 years, fur
traders working for New York’s John Jacob Astor established a fort at
Astoria, Ore., and the British fur trade set up Fort Nez Perce at the mouth
of the Walla Walla River.
These days, it is wine helping to attract attention to the our region. And
during the next three years, Americans will be retracing Lewis and Clark’s
famous footsteps in the Northwest. Along the way, tourists will discover
wines that Jefferson would have loved...