Saturday, July 31, 2010

Carlton Cellars Veraison Lunch

Veraison is a French word meaning the point where the grapes begin to change colors, from bright green to various shades of purple. Join Carlton Cellars on Saturday, August 21st, for their "Veraison Lunch" — a spectacular vineyard meal designed to celebrate this splendid cycle of the growing season.

The Veraison Lunch
 Saturday, August 21st, 12–3 PM
At: Russell-Grooters Vineyard, just outside Carlton, Oregon

Carlton Cellars' winemaker Dave Grooters and vineyard manager Dustin Miller will teach guests all about the life of the vines and the grapes that eventually become wine. Afterwards you'll join them for a memorable lunch in the vineyard with seasonal fare prepared by the very talented chef Paul Parenteau (see menu below) paired with Carlton Cellars' award-winning wines.

Veraison Lunch Menu

* Selection of imported cheeses
* 2009 Carlton Cellars Cannon Beach Willamette Valley Pinot Gris

* Chilled tomato soup with ripe melon, english cucumber
* 2009 Carlton Cellars Agate Beach Pinot Noir Rosé

* Omnivore Entree: Salad of smoked Magret duck breast, quinoa, plums, peaches
* Vegetarian Entree: Fusilli with Roasted Eggplant and Goat Cheese
* 2009 Carlton Cellars Seven Devils Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

* Chocolate Almond Torte

$35 each (prepayment requested to reserve your place)
RSVP by phone 503-852-7888 or email

Includes four courses and three glasses of Carlton Cellars wines.
Menu may be subject to change according to seasonal availabilities or wanton caprice.
Appropriate footwear and clothing recommended.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A BIG RED Block Party You Don't Want to Miss

Come to Carlton's BIG RED Block Party … and make sure you come hungry!

On August 14th, from 2-7pm, Troon Vineyard and Cliff Creek Cellars are shutting down the street in front of the tasting room for some serious partying. Enjoy 'Big Reds' from Southern Oregon's Applegate and Rogue Valley and drool over the the southern-style grub from the Rib Slayer as he cooks up his BBQ magic while the Ian James Band from Portland entertains the crowd.  Surely a wine block party you don't want to miss! 

Aug 14th — 2pm-7pm
North Kutch Street, Carlton OR (in front of the Cliff Creek Cellars tasting room)
Includes two flights of "Big Reds" from Cliff Creek and Troon Vineyard
FULL BBQ lunch from the Rib Slayer
Live music by Ian James and Band
Special BRBP logo glass

Ticket price $25 in advance, or $30 at the door

This is an actual "block" party… they're really shutting down Kutch Street!

I know my teeth will be stained a deep shade of purple that day… because prior to this event, Sip with Me with will be tasting at the Taste of McMinnville AVA and then afterwards, will be heading directly to the Best of Oregon Food and Wine Festival in Hillsboro! Wine Wipes to the rescue!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Willamette Valley Vineyards Hosts Upcoming Chef's Night Out

Willamette Valley Vineyards has begun selling tickets to their upcoming Chef’s Night Out on Sunday, October 3rd. I know it’s hard to even think about Fall right now, as we sit deep amidst the heat of the summer season, but it will creep up all too quickly, of that, I am certain.

Be a part of this event and you’ll enjoy 46 different restaurants, caterers, wineries and other beverage purveyors in the quintessential fundraising event for Marion-Polk County Food Share.

Tickets can be purchased on or before August 1st for $65; $75 if purchased after August 1st. Order tickets by calling 503-581-3855, ext. 315. Get your tickets now, and put your mind at rest that you won’t miss a thing.

The line-up’s pretty hot, check it out… then call.

45th Grill @ Keizer Renaissance Inn
Adam’s Rib Smoke House, Salem
Airlie Winery, Monmouth
Alessandro’s Ristorante & Galleria, Salem
Amadeus Café, Salem
Amity Vineyards, Amity
J. Bella’s  Ristauranté, Independence
Bentley’s Grill, Salem
Bethel Heights Vineyard, West Salem
Bon Appetit at Willamette University (new)
Café Mam, Eugene (new)
Cascade Baking Company, Salem
Clemenza’s Italian-American Café, Albany (new)
Coelho Winery, Amity (new)
Creative Catering by Roth’s Fresh Markets, Salem
DaVinci Ristorante, Salem
First Burger, Albany (new)
Flight Deck Restaurant & Lounge, Salem
Grand Vines Wine Shop & Bistro, Salem
Griffin Creek, Turner
Hauer of the Dauen Winery, Dayton
Illahe Hills Country Club, Salem
Loustic Catering, West Salem
Morton’s Bistro Northwest, West Salem
Mystic Wines, West Salem
Odom Southern Wine & Spirits, Portland
Prudence Uncorked, Salem (new)
Rogue Ales & Spirits, Newport
Salem Keizer Culinary Students
Silver Grille Café, Silverton
Spirit Mountain Casino Cedar Plank Buffet, Grand Ronde
Spirit Mountain Casino Legends, Grand Ronde
Sybaris, Albany
Trinity Vineyards, Salem
Van Duzer Vineyards, Dallas
Vitae Springs Vineyard, Salem
Vitality Food & Spirits, Woodburn
Willaby’s Catering & Event Design, Salem
Willamette Burger Company, Salem (new)
Willamette Noodle Company, Salem
Willamette Valley Cheese Co., Salem
Willamette Valley Grill, Salem
Willamette Valley Vineyards, Turner
Witness Tree Vineyard, West Salem
Youngs-Columbia Distributing, Salem
Z’IVO Wines, McMinnville

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Much Needed Breather…

You'd think spending every weekend out in the country tasting wine would be fantastic. Well, you're right… it is. For the most part. But it also has many drawbacks such as lost time with family and friends, no time for weekend chores (meaning most things have to get done during the week), missed simple summer outings, like berry picking, visiting the coast, hanging out on the river… lazy summer days.

One of the things I miss the most is taking the time to just appreciate the bounty of the season. To me summer has always been about slowing down, yet lately, things seem to speeding up at warp drive. Having overspent my weekly time allowance at wine events, and feeling in need of more than just a little recharge, I played hookie from the "Wine Quest" for a day and enjoyed my local Farmer's Market instead.

I deeply inhaled the fresh and lively aromas of basil, berries, flowers and other intoxicating smells. The rich colors of the produce revived my tired eyes. Having collected a treasure trove of goodies to bring home, I paused, alone for a few moments to lounge in the sun. Lounge and reflect. When was the last time I had done that?

When I got home and unpacked my bag of summer, I was awestruck. More for how that produce came to be sitting on my kitchen counter than by the colors, smells or abundance of it all. Just like a bottle of wine, a vineyard, or a wine blog for that matter, the amount of time, energy, resources, love and passion that went in to create it utterly moved me. I'd like to raise my glass to growers, farmer's (and bloggers) everywhere for all their dedication… I hope you do too. Until we sip again…


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wines For Mad Men

Tonight's the night Mad Men fans everywhere have been waiting for. The incomparable series highlights cigarette smoking, drinking, cigarette smoking, chauvinism, cigarette smoking, cigarette smoking, drinking, cigarette smoking, sexism, cigarette smoking, feminism, cigarette smoking, adultery, cigarette smoking, swanky 60’s attire with more cigarette smoking and cleverly revolves around the conflicted world of the ridiculously sexy, yet very mysterious Don Draper (notorious ad and ladies man). In honor of skinny ties and creativity, as well as tonight’s season premier of one of the most original shows on TV depicting American society and culture of the 1960s, I’d like to recommend a wine to personify each of the dynamic Mad Men characters…

Don Draper
Don Draper is the aloof, elusive, enigmatic Creative Director and Partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad agency. Don’s a complicated and secretive man, though his secrets are starting to be revealed. The man is the master of image, adultery and is always perfectly dressed for every occasion. Though Don’s primarily an “Old Fashioned” kind of guy, as a wine, he’s definitely a Pinot Noir… elegant, difficult and challenging, but worth the extra effort.

Betty Draper
Betty is officially Don’s wife though they’re now separated after she discovered her husband’s infidelity and went on to have an affair of her own. She's a former model, exceedingly concerned with appearances and rather proud of her beauty. Betty’s also always impeccably dressed for every occasion, and if she’s anything, she’s a perfectly bubbly Champagne.

Roger Sterling
Roger Sterling is a Partner in the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Ad Agency. He smokes and drinks, even though he had two heart attacks—a man clearly in denial. He lives an excessive lifestyle, but is affectionate, indulgent and immature. He’s very into image and “looking the part.” His name is on the building, yet it's unclear what he really does… other than harass the young secretaries. He's lush (I mean, a lush) and often at his best when blended with other wines to produce something even better than when just on his own (i.e. the agency). If Roger where a wine, he’d be a Syrah.

Pete Campbell
Pete Campbell is smart, persistant and determined; he works in Account Management at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Pete’s many things, but mainly he’s also a blackmailer with a plan that backfired. Though I truly like him, I know he’s self centered and furative. No secrets… He makes light of things but is also disciplined, insecure, sneaky, highly impulsive and immature. Pete’s a Beaujoulais if he’s anything.

Joan Harris
Joan Harris is the seductive, cunning and manipulative Office Manager at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. She’s very Marilyn Monroe-esque— totally rocking the curves. Joan’s a smooth and silky, seductive Merlot—pretty, fleshy, soft and sensual though complex and easy (to drink) yet—often passed over for something more complex.

Peggy Olson
Peggy’s formerly Don Draper’s ambitious secretary but he promoted her after recognizing her potential and she’s now a Copywriter at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. She's a bit frumpy—though admittedly working on it—and also perhaps a bit naïve. She’s a good girl running a tight ship, but she’s conflicted, she’s a Riesling… is she dry or is she sweet?

The time has finally arrived! Put on your favorite pencil skirt and twinset and raise your best vintage stemware to Don and to tonight’s Mad Men premiere. Until we sip a again…


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Get Your Tickets Now for the Best of Oregon Food & Wine Festival

Keep it local…is the message. The Best of Oregon Food & Wine Festival features the very best of Oregon's culinary culture with world class wineries and celebrated food artisans.

Don't miss the 2nd Annual “Best of Oregon” Food & Wine Festival, scheduled for Saturday, August 14, from 5:00– 9:00 p.m. at the fabulously elegant Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club in Aloha, Oregon.

Showcasing the very best of Oregon's culinary culture – 30 world class wineries and 20 food artisans will be presenting their goods for one night only. Tickets to the main festival are $30.00 pre-sale and $35.00 at the door and wines will be available for purchase!!

Addtionally, the program includes a golf tournament prior to the festival. The tournament will be offered to a limited number of participants at an entry fee of $150 per person and includes access to all the day's  festivities. Kuni BMW is donating a brand new BMW for a “hole in one” prize!

Best of Oregon aims to support and promote Oregon's local economy by encouraging patrons to support the local festival vendors. A portion of the proceeds from the golf tournament, sponsorships and festival fees, along with 100% of door prize ticket sales will benefit Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation.

Check out the line-up of food and wine and then purchase your tickets today, visit! Contact Claudia Bowers at for more information.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Stepping Out… Beer and Wine Events Galore!

Big day yesterday! Sip with Me participated in an incredibly educational media Tap Tour at the Oregon Brewers Festival and then went on to the spectacular Anne Amie Vineyard's Pre-IPNC Counter Culture Event.

Sometimes just a few pictures can say a whole lot:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

So Many Pinots… Too Little Time

There she was, in a position she never thought she’d find herself in. A lavish Pinot party was being thrown and she alone would be host to five very seductive guests, five sultry strangers. How the night would play out, no one could be sure, but she planned to indulge in each of them. And she meant to talk about it… a lot. She even intended on judging them and how they measured up and would tell everyone she knew.

She welcomed her guests to her home; two native Oregonions, one from California and two from Argentina, adding some international flavor to the group. She knew which guests were planning to be there, she had invited them all—and she attentively prepared each of them for the pleasure they were about to share. Undressing each one slowly, focusing solely, intently and deliberately on one while the others watched with Pinot envy, she exposed a hint of their essence and breathed them in slow and deep. Their heady aromas filled her body and teased her with delight as she patiently moved from one to the next, opening them up, releasing just a glimpse of their unique promise. She sighed, looking at them all with wonder, “What ever will this one be like and what is it that you have to share with me?”

She tenderly touched each, stroking and then gripping their smooth necks, unsure where she’d exactly start… what she’d explore first. That exotic Argentinean was giving her hot and heavy “do me” eyes, so she decided then and there, Argentina would be last. She’d begin with the local flavors first, and venture out from there; though she had a wild side, the safe and familiar sometimes holds a certain allure. At some point, a feeling of decadence washed over her like a powerful ocean wave and she found herself drenched in emotion, feeling blessed with abundance no one person should know.

She would make the first move, but things degraded quickly. The ratio was five-to-one: them against her, her against them, her drinking them in, them waiting for her, her lips on one and then another, each of them teasing her and tormenting her with their lustiness… one after the other, individually and collectively, until eventually they all came together in what some might view a frenzied climax of indulgement… a pinotrgasm (the ‘t’ is silent) if you will. She’d never enjoyed five at once… wow. And then she put it down in words:

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2008 Pinot Noir Founders Reserve: The nose of this wine immediately calms and soothes you with its smooth and silky aromas… almost as if it were Al Green whispering in his deep and throaty voice, “Oh yeah baby, just drink me in and let me take you over, I can show you a night like no other. Stop thinking, just open up and let me in for a soulful experience of the vine.” The strawberry and floral notes draw you in, while the tart cherries, smoked meat, earth and funk provide an “anything but vanilla” experience of Pinot Noir.

Panther Creek 2007 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir: The deep ruby color of the wine captures your attention the same as a pretty girl might. You wonder about what’s beneath the surface, surely there’s more than meets the eye. The fragrance is captivating… expect this wine to press you against the wall with its beautifully balanced, harmonious, yet detectable juicy black plum, tart cranberries, cassis, earth and violet notes that add subtle notes of femininity and grace to an otherwise powerful and dominating wine.

Consilience 2006 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir: The deep ruby color of this wine immediately sets the stage and you know you’re in for something a little bit different. It will lick your lips and flick your tongue with sweet blueberries and blackberries, though there’s still a bit of that Northern California “earthiness”. Know what you’re getting into with this one though: it’s pretty hot, will get you drunk and finishes quick.

Alpatago 2007 Pinot Noir (Patagonia, Argentina): Deep and dark, you swirl thinking you may have discovered something complex and mysterious only to discover it’s about as misleading as a man on a first date. The wine lacks structure, is fairly viscous and overly tastes of American oak.

Alpatago 2006 Reserve Pinot Noir (Patagonia, Argentina): Rico Suave—pure charisma, this wine could be the life of any party with bright and playful acids and its strong backbone. More rich and intense than your typical Pinot noir, it fills your mouth with ripe plums, figs and black currants.

Until we sip again…



Read more about the #PinotNoir Twitter Tryst 2010 from fellow bloggers:

Monday, July 19, 2010

The McMenamin Brothers are Doing a Whole Lot More Than Just Beer at Edgefield

When you think of Oregon’s wine country, you rarely think of Troutdale. A suburb of Portland, it’s more likely home to truck stops and outlet malls than to a winery. And yet, right there, at the mouth of the Columbia Gorge, lies a wonderful surprise that’s ready to grab you. McMenamins Edgefield Winery is located on the historic Edgefield estate, which was built in 1911 ironically as the Multnomah County Poor Farm and residence for indigent, elderly, disabled and mentally challenged people. Destined for demolition, the complex was purchased in 1990 by micro-brew pioneers Mike and Brian McMenamin, who not only restored the 74-acre parcel, but also breathed a whole new life into the old and tired frame.

With Edgefield’s close proximity to Portland and plethora of activities, I thought my family could make a day of it. We could stroll the grounds, taste some wine and grab a bit of lunch at one of the outdoor pubs. I dragged the husband and son along with me, only to discover minors aren’t allowed in the tasting room area at all. Really? How could you refuse entry to this face? Sending the family off to the park dejected, I resumed what’s becoming painfully habitual, tasting the wine with the company of no one but myself. Thank goodness I’m such good company.

Fortunately Janelle was attending to me in the tasting room, because in addition to her vast knowledge, she was also pretty okay company too. She told me about some of the ghost stories the old building carries. A lot of people have lived and died on these grounds and a lot of people now do a good deal of drinking here—the result is stories are bound to surface. Janelle told me when the McMenamin brothers first started making wine, they had to shovel the grapes through the window, as there wasn’t even a door to the cellar yet. The winemaking team put the wine into kegs instead of barrels, as that’s what they had on hand. Hey brothers, have you seen this article on wine kegs? It could very well be the trend of the next generation and perhaps it’s time to revisit the past to keep moving forwards. Hmmmm.

Edgefield sources fruit from Washington and Oregon to produce a number of wines, which are not available in retail but can be found at various McMenamin’s locations. Look for Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Viognier, Riesling, sparkling wine, Dry Rosé, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah, white Pinot Noir, another Riesling done in an ice wine style and a couple of port-style wines from Zinfandel and Syrah as well.

McMenamin’s Edgefield property is more than just a winery to visit on your way to the scenic Columbia Gorge or to Mt. Hood… it’s a destination. Come stay a while and discover the hotel, spa and soaking pools, brewery, distillery, restaurants, bars, a theater, golf courses, gardens and an intimate and outdoor summer concert venue with some of the hottest names in the music biz. Stop in for a glass and stay for an experience; but keep in mind, make your reservations early. I’ve tried to stay in their hotel on two separate occasions only to find it disappointingly full each time. Until we sip again…


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Taking a Break From Wine for a Little Brew-haha

We all know I drink lots of wine, even my poor recycling collectors know this. But I also love to wrap my lips around a cold frosty mug from time to time… after all, what else really pairs with fish and chips? I have a pretty good feeling you appreciate a good cold one now and again too. In case you didn't know, Portland is kind of a Mecca for microbrew and coming up next weekend is the 23rd Annual Oregon Brewers Festival. This Beervana is set to take Portland by storm July 22-25 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland, don't miss out!

The Oregon Brewers Festival is one of the nation’s longest running and best loved craft beer festivals. Situated on the west bank of the Willamette River, with towering Mt. Hood as a backdrop, it's a stunning venue for anyone who loves craft beer. With a laid back attitude and scores of award-winning beers, the festival reflects the essence of the city of Portland.

The festival provides an opportunity to sample and learn about a variety of craft beer styles from across the country. Eighty-one craft breweries from across the nation will offer handcrafted brews to more than 70,000 beer lovers during the four-day event. There’s also a Buzz Tent featuring tastes of more than 50 limited production brews from the participating breweries.

The event features live music all four days, beer-related vendors, beer memorabilia displays, beer writers and publishers, homebrewing demonstrations, and an assortment of foods from a variety of regions. The Crater Lake Root Beer Garden offers complimentary handcrafted root beer for minors and designated drivers. Minors are always welcome at the festival when accompanied by a parent.

The Oregon Brewers Festival strongly encourages responsible drinking, and urges patrons to take advantage of the MAX Light Rail line, located just one block west of the festival on SW Oak Street. The festival also offers complimentary manned on-site bicycle parking.

Contact Information or 503.778.5917

Saturday, July 17, 2010

International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC)… Wines From Oregon and Beyond

Well, the wild #PinotNoir Twitter Tryst is sadly behind us. And, while  I drank and tweeted about some fabulous Pinots and helped lead the Willamette Valley (#WV) to victory, truth be told, all it really did is tease and whet my whistle (okay, maybe even made me drool just a bit) for the Grand Puba of Pinot Noir events. Coming up next week is the illustrious 24th Annual International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) in McMinnville, Oregon, featuring over 60 premier Pinot noir producers from Burgundy, Oregon, California, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Alsace and Italy. From July 23rd-25th, Pinot lovers from all over the globe will gather to taste and revel in the finest Pinots from, well, all over the globe (hence the word “International” in the title).

The International Pinot Noir Celebration is known for bringing Pinot producers, aficionados, acclaimed chefs and foodies together for a truly memorable and remarkable weekend of more than just tasting world-class wine and eating taste-tempting foods. Showcasing some of the world’s finest wines, the event, emceed this year by Food & Wine Magazine’s Ray Isle, offers unique opportunities for education including exciting seminars, guest speakers, tastings, group activities, vineyard tours and festivity galore. Serving as a showcase for Northwestern farm-to-table cuisine, the exceptional event also honors and hosts international chefs, contributing to the intercontinental theme and creating an unforgettable pairing with specific Pinots. But it’s the salmon bake I hear that’s to die for!

Historically, the event has brought together over 11,ooo wine geeks to explore the finicky and much-loved varietal. Epicurians and oenophiles, don’t miss out — the whole weekend Passport is already sold out, but a few precious tickets to Sunday’s Grand Tasting of over 60 Pinot Noirs are still available. Visit IPNC for more information and to purchase your tickets before they're all gone. Hope to see you there!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Don't Miss the Dundee Hills Wine Experience

The wines of the celebrated Dundee Hills take Portland by storm this August. Join the top wineries in the Dundee Hills as they gather in Portland for the 2010 Dundee Hills Wine Experience. This year's tasting features three generations; the founders who put the Dundee Hills on the world stage in the 70s and 80s, the legends who continued to build the reputation of the Dundee Hills in the 90s and the rising stars who have made their mark over the last decade. Gain direct insight in to what makes Dundee Hills wines so unique from local vineyard owners. There will be no shortage of great wine, stories or education.

Thursday, August 26
6:00 - 9:00 PM
Left Bank Annex In The Rose Quarter
101 N Weidler, Portland OR

• Taste through older and current vintages of participating Dundee Hills wineries
• Enjoy dishes from some of the finest Dundee Hills restaurants and Bon Appetit Catering
• Pinot noir glass included with admission

Event includes a silent auction to benefit ¡Salud!, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing healthcare services for Oregon’s seasonal vineyard workers and their families.

Tickets are $45 before August 15th or $50 at the door. Visit Dundee Hills for additional information or to purchase tickets before they're sold out.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wordless #WW — Attention Wine Geeks, What am I?

Get Ready to Drink and Tweet #PinotNoir (and vote #WV)

If your idea of a Tweet-up or Twitter tasting is a bunch of nerdy people sitting around their basement drinking wine, then you're about to be proven wrong (yeah, I'm talking to you). Events are taking place all over the country; in wineries, wine bars, wine shops and individual's homes—and not one of them could be considered nerdy. For one night only, people everywhere will be drinking and tweeting… and Pinot Noir will the common connection bringing them all together. Since people are excited about wine in general and seem to enjoy having a platform to share their thoughts with other like-minded people, Twitter events like these have opened the door to a whole new way of communicating about wine.

The biggest and greatest online #PinotNoir Twitter tasting is looming anxiously on the horizon (this Thursday, July 15th) and I’m really looking to the Willamette Valley to show the world the bounty of wines this fair region produces. I may be somewhat biased as I have the pleasure and privilege of consuming a good deal of the tasty and hedonistic fermented juice coming out this area and I’ll tell you first hand, there’s a whole lot more great wines than swill.

The soil’s fertility can be traced to a foundation of old volcanic and sedimentary soil and the massive ice age floods that occurred approximately 15,000 years ago, periodically flooding the area, depositing the land with silt, rich volcanic soil and non-native rock.

Oregon has many different wine regions, but the state’s most popular and abundant is the Willamette (rhymes with damnit) Valley, also home to 70% of the population. The area, located at the foot of the Oregon Coast Range, is named for the river that runs through it and the fertile valley stretches from Eugene in the South to the Columbia River just north of Portland.

As an AVA (American Viticultural Area), the Willamette Valley is 150 miles long, up to 60 miles wide, is the state’s largest and includes six sub-appellations: Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton District and the newest addition, Chehalem Mountains. Oregon wine pioneer David Lett of The Eyrie Vineyards, was the first to cultivate and commercially produce Pinot noir and Pinot gris in the Willamette Valley, earning him the nickname “Papa Pinot”. The Valley now hosts approximately 200 wineries and grows over 12,000 acres of wine grapes.

Open a bottle of your favorite Willamette Valley Pinot noir on Thursday, July 15th from 5-7pm PT and share our secret with the world—there’s over 200 to choose from. Make your vote count and don’t forget the #WV hashtag!

Here’s a list of hashtags my buddy Joe Herrig of Suburban Wino put together for you to include with your tweets, you don’t need to memorize the list, just keep it handy for a cheat sheet. But remember, all you really need to know is #WV – go Willamette!!

#CA (California)
#NC (North Coast)
#MN (Mendocino County)
#AV (Anderson Valley)
#SO (Sonoma County)
#RR (Russian River Valley)
#GV (Green Valley of Russian River)
#SN (Sonoma Coast)
#NV (Napa Valley)
#CN (Los Carneros...yes, we know it's Sonoma AND Napa.)
#CC (Central Coast)
#SC (Santa Cruz Mountains)
#MO (Monterey)
#SLH (Santa Lucia Highlands)
#SLO (San Luis Obispo County)
#SB (Santa Barbara County)
#SM (Santa Maria Valley)
#SY (Santa Ynez Valley)
#SRH (Sta. Rita Hills)
#OR (Oregon)
#RV (Rogue Valley)
#WV (Willamette Valley)
#CM (Chehelam Mountains)
#DH (Dundee Hills)
#EA (Eola-Amity Hills)
#MC (McMinnville)
#RB (Ribbon Ridge)
#YC (Yamhill-Carlton)
#WA (Washington State)
#NY (New York)
#FLX (Finger Lakes)
#VA (Virginia)
#FR (France)
#BU (Burgundy)
#CDN (Côtes de Nuits)
#CDB (Côtes de Beaune)
#CCH (Côtes Chalonnaise)
#NZ (New Zealand)
#CO (Central Otago)
#MT (Martinborough)
#ML (Marlborough)
#CAN (Canterbury)
#WP (Waipara)
#BC (British Columbia)
#ARG (Argentina)
#CL (Chile)
#SA (South Africa)
#GM (Germany)
#IT (Italy)

For more information about Thursday, July 15th's larger than life Pinot Noir Twitter event, visit these blogs:
Vinotology covers New Zealand
The Oregon Wine Blog Talks Smack
#PinotNoir Hashtag Decoder Rings on Suburban Wino
Breaking it Down on Wine Tonite

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Kegs… They're Not Just For Beer Anymore

The word keg conjures up images of high school and college fraternity parties, beer bongs, keg stands—more or less, a whole lot of drunken debauchery. Today's stainless steel kegs are growing up though, getting a whole new image. Some forward-thinking Oregon wineries are putting their wine into kegs to save money (for the winery, restaurant and consumer). They're also reserving resources and protecting the environment by producing less waste (minor added bonus). Read about the benefits of wine kegs here on today's Palate Press.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Tasting Room Nightmare

This is my first attempt at video, animation and satire (well, I may have tried satire once before). Watch the world's most obnoxious tasting room guest as he drives the staff crazy!

Discover Aliens, Ghosts and Great Wine in McMinnville

McMinnville, Oregon—home to Linfield College, the Evergreen Aviation Museum, the largest annual UFO gathering in the Pacific Northwest (second in the country to Roswell, NM) and a fantastic wine bar or ten. Though I didn’t see any aliens in town that day, I did hear the voice of McMinnville’s past luring me to the couple of tasting rooms I hadn’t yet visited and found myself magically bellied up the bar at the NW Wine Bar.

General Manager Jonathan Trusty (JT) described the NW Wine Bar as a tasting room and bottle shop on steroids, which was a fairly accurate description. Located in a spectacularly renovated historic location, with high ceilings, stained glass windows and comfortable seating, the NW Wine Bar’s all pumped up, featuring 25 different Oregon wines (the company produces) from 15 wine growing regions and 55 vineyards. Wines are offered by the sip, glass, flight, bottle or case and a tempting menu of small bites, grilled Panini sandwiches, soups, flatbread pizzas and desserts are available to make the experience complete. JT spoke passionately about being able to open whatever bottle he thinks may dazzle a particular guest, knowing he can then add it to the tasting menu of by-the-glass pours for other guests to enjoy as well.

The NW Wine Company, founded by winemaker Laurent Montalieu (of Solena Grand Cru Estate) in 2003, produces nearly 85,000 cases for over 25 different clients out of the old Mrs. Smith’s pie factory. The wine production facility utilizes some of the most innovative winemaking equipment in the US, including two receiving lines to process the fruit at warp speed, two Europress destemmers, 100% temperature and humidity controlled barrel rooms, rare rotary fermentors and a Ganimede fermentation tank that harvests and utilizes the energy produced in the fermentation process (something I’m still not sure I understand).

The wine bar focuses on educating guests about Oregon wine and JT is as generous with his knowledge as my Jewish mother is with food. While JT tasted me through his vision of the NW Wine Company, it was as if the wines all came together to tell a cohesive, synthesized and colorful story of region, winemaking style and limited production wines that have been crafted, nurtured along and allowed to reach a potential they could never have reached otherwise.

It’s for all these reasons (and more) NW Wine Bar is a must visit on your McMinnville wine tour… exquisite wines, a hospitable staff and a chic, contemporary, yet historic venue to enjoy it all in. One tiny caveat, be ready to shell out more than just a couple of bucks for perfection.

As if going from day to night (so if you decide to do this tour, I’d actually recommend going here first), I next found myself in the Golden Valley Brewery unable to both peel the patrons off me or get the bartender’s attention while I stood there aiming to taste their two house wines. Eventually, I was poured a glass of 2006 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir from Golden Valley Vineyard in a granny wineglass (small and thick), but the first swirl sadly revealed chunks of cork floating around in it. When I pointed this out to the bartender, instead of pouring me a new glass, he took a spoon and fished the cork out for me… so kind. After all that buildup, the wine unfortunately tasted overly oaked (or was it over-corked?).

The 2006 Oregon Big Red was an unmemorable blend of Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Grenache and Pinot Noir. The Golden Valley Brewery’s wines are both made by prominent winemakers whose wines I’ve often enjoyed, however, these I did not. I perused the menu and determined the wine’s not what people come here for. If I choose to visit this place again, I’ll be sure to order some pub food and stick with the beer (they looked mouthwateringly deeelish), you should too. Until we sip again…


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ponzi Vineyards 40th Anniversary Gala

Celebrating 40 years of crafting some of the finest Oregon wines, on August 21st, 2010 at 6PM, the Ponzi family welcomes you to a very special evening at their brand new winery facility, Collina del Sogno, honoring their history of winemaking in the Willamette Valley. The evening's festivities will include a tasting of wines from the family cellar (I'm dreaming of '99 Abetina), a memorable dinner by Chef Jason Stoller Smith of Timberline Lodge (formerly of The Dundee Bistro), dancing with music by the David Cooley Band and toasts to the past, present and future of Oregon wine. Seating is limited. Cocktail attire requested. $125 per guest.

Proceeds benefit the Youth Employment Institute, a Portland non-profit.

Contact Laurel Dent at 503.628.1227 or for more information.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Couple of Bloggers Unite at Owen Roe

I don't typically make a habit of accepting invitations from strange men, but when fellow blogger Josh Chang of PDXploration asked me to meet him for a private tasting of Owen Roe wines, I knew it was one invitation not to be overlooked. Not only was I intrigued to learn about a fellow Portland blogger who focuses on all the undiscovered and delicious things around Portland, I was also dying to pick his brain for the inside scoop on where to dine. The fact that I'd actually been meaning to visit Owen Roe and would be able to cross this tasting room off my list was just the icing on the cake.

I’d heard Owen Roe’s winery has no sign and is not-easy-to-locate. When given directions to their facility, I was instructed to look for the driveway flanked by English ivy (thanks portlandoregonwine), really? Stealth locale discovered (are they trying to keep people away?), I joined my buddy Josh and his visiting family for a private tasting of Owen Roe’s wines. Owen Roe sources the fruit for their wines from premium vineyards sites in Washington and Oregon and operate a production facility in Washington as well. In addition to the Owen Roe label, they also produce Sharecroppers, O’Rielly’s and Corvett A.

To say I was immediately impressed with the 2008 DuBrul Riesling ($21) would be an understatement—blown away might have been a more accurate description. I’m not typically a huge Riesling fan, but the wine was slightly worshipable—viscous, almost honey-like in color and sweet on the nose, presenting apricots and candied almonds. The minerality and brilliant acidity played well against the hint of residual sugar, and though there is .4% RS, the wine was far more dry than it was sweet. The fruit for this luscious bottling came from a small block of grapes in one of the oldest vineyards in Washington’s Yakima Valley.

Inquiring about the winery’s intriguing black and white labels was a bit like opening up Pandora’s Box. Rose told us story after story of Owen Roe O’Rielly (anscestor of founder and winemaker David O’Reilly), a 17th century Irish patriot who battled all his life with rival Oliver Cromwell. The Riesling’s hand-drawn label features an original woodcut of Clough Oughter Castle where Owen Roe eventually died. Each wine and each label depicts a different chapter in the Owen Roe saga, utilizing the back label to convey the story.

One of the most memorable and impressive of these tales (though I haven’t a clue if the wine is as memorable and might have even given up my left hand to try it) was the story behind Sinister Hand (a blend of Rhone varietals from vineyards in Washington State) whose label prominently features a severed bloody hand. Legend has it, during a boat race across a lake between the O’Rielly’s and the O’Neills, whomever touched land first would be awarded the land as a prize. Land being so valuable, when the O’Rielly’s were losing, one of the crew cut his own hand off and threw it onto land to claim their prize. Rose retold the story with such grim reality, it felt almost like a Monte Python movie, “It was just the left hand… no big deal,” she said sinisterly.

The Owen Roe Kilmore 2008 Pinot Noir was thin and elegant with mouthwatering acidity and earthy components of soil, mushrooms and leather. The mouth opened up to reveal dark, black cherries, blackberries, coffee and a hint of floral perfume that was all but beguiling. Whereas the 2007 Cabernet Franc Mystica Rosa was a bit too vegetal for my taste, with bitter tastes of green pepper that stole the show (and not in a good way), the 2006 DuBrul Cabernet on the other hand, was, in a word, fabulous. Rich and complex flavors of black fruit and lingering spice fill your mouth, laying across your tongue like the finest silk sheet… purely luxurious, especially at $72 a bottle.

Owen Roe also makes a late-harvest Semillon called “The Parting Glass.” The 2007, tropical and floral on the nose, tasted of pineapple, figs, vanilla and toasted caramel… a lovely finish to a great tasting. The Parting Glass is a tribute to winemaker David O’Rielly’s father and the bottle features a popular Irish toast used both to mark the end of a gathering and to honor those who have died: “But since it falls unto my lot that I should go and you should not, I’ll gently rise and softly call, good night and joy be with you all.” Until we sip again…


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Anything But Pinot Gris - Oregon Whites For Summer Sipping

Now that summer may finally be here, the time for enjoying white wines with everything has finally arrived. So, in the spirit of the season, I've taken a closer look at some Oregon whites perfect for warm weather and lighter summer fare. Read about it on Cork'd.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Erotic Art, 3D Labels and Freedom Rings

My gaze simultaneously melted and froze upon them… wrapped up, tied, knotted up, bound. I walked in the door to the live display by artist Lew Rubens featuring a rope suspension demonstration by two scantilly-clad women wrapped up in various displays of bondage, "interacting" with each other while suspended from 18-foot swings.

These brave women squirmed and writhed their bodies before a crowd of onlookers in an odd combination of grace and freedom juxtaposed against the limiting constraints of the ties that bound them. Independence. A glass of free but tasteless sparkling wine in hand, my mind first wondered why I wasn't drinking Naked Winery or even Hip Chicks Do Wine, what a missed opportunity for them, but then my silly little mind actually wandered (for a moment) to the similarities a winemaker might experience trying to delicately coax the fruit into brilliance, sometimes relying on intuition and instincts even when it goes against the confining and rigid formalities of education and expectation.

Ok, I know, first of all, how in the world do I let myself get dragged into these crazy things? And second, what in the world am I doing thinking about wine at a 3D Erotic Art and Live Bondage Exhibit? Tamara, get your mind out of the cellar. So, get there with me. Forget about the girls all tied up with string like pretty little packages, waiting to be unwrapped as they're swinging before you upside down, legs all awry for just a moment and focus on my words. FOCUS ON MY WORDS… 3D erotic art. The real reason I came. My friend told me about an erotic 3D art exhibit during Portland's First Thursday, and the geeky graphic designer and deep-down naughty girl in me were all but on fire—she neglected to mention the word "bondage." Hmmm. The real irony is we were supposed to go see Toy Story 3 in 3D earlier in the day, but plans fell through and we ended up viewing Bondage 3D art instead. I'm not sure which is better, world-class animation or world class-less art, but it did inspire an idea for a collectible wine label the likes of which I can't believe hasn't ever been done.

I want to design a 3-D wine label. How cool would that be? All I need is a winery who's looking for the most unique label ever imagined. How can I copywrite a concept? I'm picturing Owen Roe's Sinister Hand, actually looking like it's oozing blood. Or Van Duzer with all the godess's hair flying around - or perhaps it's a whole new story, you know how I love new stories. The 3D glasses could be included on the bottle that had contact info as well as a shelf talker. This would blow critter labels out of the water! I am often reminded how stories and inspiration are everywhere, sometimes in the most unexpected places, if we remain open to them, even when it goes against formalities and expectation. Take an example from me this holiday weekend… relax, open your mind, shake loose whatever ties are binding you and just let freedom ring. Until we sip again…