Wine-tasting rooms have become more numerous in downtown Newberg. More restaurants and retail shops are needed.
// Photo by Sierra Breshears
There's an old reporter's adage about our business: The definition of news is what your editors see on their way to work. There’s a lot of truth in that. In the case of the story on Newberg and Dundee in this issue, I was both reporter and editor, but in this case, it was on my many drives from Portland to the Coast — and I had missed the news. For years I’ve barreled through both wine-country towns as I’ve headed west, barely glancing at them while I grumbled about the traffic. On those occasions when I had to sit in a jam, I didn’t see much out my windshield that invited me to stop and linger, other than a few wine tastings in Dundee. But a few months ago, I was having lunch with Susan Sokol Blosser on McMinnville’s charming and bustling Third Street. The founder of Sokol Blosser Winery, Susan turned that over to her children and then founded the nonprofit Yamhill Enrichment Society. Few people have the history and perspective about Yamhill County that Susan does, so when she told me about her very different windshield view of Newberg and Dundee, I listened. She convinced me that I didn’t know much about her Yamhill County towns. In fact, though both towns express a bit of McMinnville envy, she said she was envious of Newberg for several reasons, including its Chehalem Cultural Center and the Austin family. The Austins — founders of A-dec in Newberg, and an important philanthropic family — are very familiar to me and many others. But the cultural center and the rest of the efforts going on in Newberg? I knew nothing. “The wine community made Yamhill County more than a pass through to the Coast; it’s become so much more,” Susan said. “It’s awakened leadership in the small communities.” So I set out to get off the beaten path, especially now that the Newberg-Dundee bypass will become a reality in 2016. After 25 years of wrangling, the new bypass will give both towns fresh possibilities. What I found reminds me again to get out of my car and look beyond the windshield at every town in Oregon, no matter how small or how they might look from the road. When I do, I’m always amazed at what I find.