Chicago Tribune

Water and wine make a perfect pairing in Oregon's Willamette Valley

Standing at the bow of a little rowboat and chatting with my two companions, I realize I'm not just fly-fishing Oregon's famed McKenzie River, I'm also a student in a floating master class on how chance geologic events made this valley about perfect for two things: growing grapes to make world-class wines, and sustaining some of the country's loveliest wild trout.

True, my shipmates aren't your average fishing buddies. Manning the oars is river conservationist and science teacher Steve Lent; wielding a fly rod at the stern is Jesse Lange, lifelong fly fisherman and winemaker at one of Willamette Valley's first - and finest - wineries.

How I'd managed to score such a spot was, as with many things in my life, a matter of dumb luck.

Like most wine geeks who love pinot noir, my wife, Gail, and I are familiar (read: obsessed) with those from Willamette Valley.

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