Family lines reveal and redefine the authentic Yamhill Valley.
People who grow up in Yamhill Valley have some trouble leaving. It can make them devise entirely new ways to stay, and in the process, create in the valley entirely new possibilities.
Stefan Czarnecki grew up in his father’s restaurant, the Joel Palmer House, now run by his brother, Chris. Stefan had gone into teaching, and then found a more expansive route into the life of the valley.
He operates Black Tie Tours, running limousine tours through the wine country he’s known since he was a kid, showing visitors unexpected sides of the valley. “I like taking people to lesser-known wineries,” he says. “I like throwing people a curveball.”
Although Black Tie Tours started as mostly a summer operation, said Czarnecki, “The season is getting longer and longer every year.” A true insider, Czarnecki always has places to reveal to visitors. He is never in search of an answer when a customer asks if he knows a good restaurant around here.
Christian DeBenedetti landed even closer to his roots. After building a career as a beer writer (he wrote the book The Great American Ale Trail: The Craft Beer Lover’s Guide to the Best Watering Holes in the Nation), he opened the Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery on the same Newberg farm where he grew up.
As the website says, “Farm Founded: c. 1850, Brewery Founded 2014.” For 50 years, the DeBenedetti family has been carrying on the work of early settlers at Springbrook Farm.
Now, in a 1912 barn, Wolves & People brews sour and wood-aged beers, using a yeast from a plum tree on the farm. It’s a rustic setting for a brewery; as DeBenedetti has said, “It’s not unusual to see coyote, deer, blue heron, huge raptors, red-wing blackbirds and other living things outside.”