There’s a reason I often gush about the offerings from Wanderlust Tours. It’s not because I’m being blackmailed or have a secret crush on the owners or that I want to type the word “lust” repeatedly.

It’s because the trips conducted by Wanderlust Tours are some of the most amazing ones I’ve done (and that’s saying something considering I’ve done tours ranging from a sunset camel ride into the Sahara desert, to a multi-day trek through the Amazon jungle).

Behind the scenes at Volcano Vineyards.

Suffice it to say, I adore the knowledge and professionalism of the Wanderlust team and the creativity of their tour offerings. When they told me about a new Bend tour called The Local Pour, I did a joyful somersault off the end of my desk. Beer? Wine? Spirits? Wanderlust? I’m in!

The Local Pour offers a delightful half-day trek between one brewery, one winery, and one distillery. The locations rotate, but on the day I did the tour, our first stop was Silver Moon Brewing. Our group enjoyed a generous sampling of beers and scrumptious appetizers including edamame and nachos piled high with cheese and pulled pork. We were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at brewery operations and a delightful Q&A session with the head brewer.

Did I mention the beer was heavenly?

We were all feeling cheerful when we piled back in the Wanderlust van for the short drive to Volcano Vineyards. This was my first time in their new tasting room, and I was pleasantly surprised. The room was beautiful and cozy, with lovely décor and friendly staff. We sampled a nice selection of wines before taking a tour of the bottling and production area. There, we got to sample a scrumptious red blend right from the barrel. The owners, Scott and Liz, were cheerful and knowledgeable, and the wide variety of wines ensured there was something for everyone.

Brad Irwin, owner of Oregon Spirit Distillers, explains the process for making gin and vodka.

Eschewing the old wives’ tale about beer-to-liquor versus liquor-to-beer, we boarded the tour bus again and aimed it toward Oregon Spirit Distillery.

A sidenote here – you may have noticed there’s a bit of alcohol consumption involved on this tour. One of the best things about heading out with Wanderlust is that they truly think of everything, including the fact that tourists imbibing so freely should probably not climb behind the wheel of an automobile. That’s why it’s awesome they arrange to pick people up at their hotels or homes and return them safely to their point of origin.

So our final stop at Oregon Spirit Distillery proved particularly educational. I’m more familiar with Bend Distillery (which is an alternating stop on this tour) but was eager to learn more about the newer Oregon Spirit Distillery. By “learn” I mean “drink everything they offer,” and I wasn’t disappointed.

The owner gave us a tour of the facility and educated us about the process for making a variety of distilled spirits. We sampled bourbon and gin and vodka and the most amazing concoction called Black Mariah – a signature cordial distilled from grain spirit and blended with fresh marionberry puree. I don’t normally splurge at $36 a bottle, but it’s totally worth it for the pleasure of drizzling this stuff over ice cream every night. Yum!

All in all, I’m a huge fan of The Local Pour and recommend it highly for visitors or locals craving a few good drinks and a thorough look into the world of Bend’s beer, wine, and spirits. For $45 per person, you get transportation, tour, samples, appetizers, and a charming, knowledgeable guide. Tours run daily at 1:30, and reservations are required.

Regular stops on the brewery front will include Silver Moon Brewing, Good Life Brewing, Cascade Lakes Brewing Co., McMenamins Old St. Francis, Bend Brewing or Old Mill Brew Werks. Your winery stop will be Volcano Vineyards, followed by a visit to either Oregon Spirit Distillers and Bendistillery. Quite a mix!

For more information, call 1-800-962-2862 or visit Wanderlust Tours online.

Happy sipping, everyone!

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