Monday, October 13, 2014

Local Restaurants Tap Oregon Wine

You shop local, you eat local—you even vacation local. But are you choosing to drink local? We have a world-class wine region right at our fingertips, yet sometimes it’s easier and cheaper to order a wine from the menu that’s been imported from France, Italy, Australia or Argentina than it is to order a wine produced less than thirty miles from the restaurant.

Fortunately, restaurants are increasingly supporting the Oregon wine scene. Some menus have extensive bottle selections that include hard-to-find library wines. Others list a variety of wines by the glass or host special winemaker dinners. The newest trend—and most sustainable—is the selection of rotating wines on tap.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Talk Wine With Me: David Specter of Bells Up Winery

In this on-going interview series, I will introduce you to a different Oregon winemaker in the hopes that as you learn more about them, you'll also be interested in learning more about their wines. You might discover how and why they came to make wine, you may gain a better understanding of their palate and how it influences the wines they craft, you might get some great new ideas for what and where to eat, what to drink, or you might get a glimpse of the future. Whatever you take away, I hope includes a deeper appreciation for the notion that behind every bottle, behind every brand, behind every decorated or undecorated label, stands a person with a unique vision and a personality all their own. Let's step back and discover how those characteristics intertwine with and become that memorable wine in your glass.

Q. What was the first wine you ever drank?
A. My family very rarely drank alcohol – not for any religious or social reasons but it just wasn’t something they did.  But when I was like 8 or 9 years old, someone opened a bottle of Manischewitz at a family event.  I have no idea why. Anyway, being the curious kid I was I asked to have a sip, with completely predictable results.

Q.What was the first wine you ever enjoyed? 
A. I was cooking dinner for a date and was trying to impress her so I served up a Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling. The wine experience was better than the date experience!

Q. Tell me about your aha wine moment. Either when you realized you wanted to make wine, or when you gained an understanding of the beauty and complexity wine offers. 
A. I was at EPCOT in Orlando with a good friend of mine from school and we split a nice bottle of Cotes du Rhone at the restaurant in the French pavilion. Between interplay of the wine and the food, I started to realize that amazing things were possible and began learning whatever I could.

Q. What's your favorite part about being a winemaker?
A. I can’t pick just one. I love to craft a wine – to me it’s like composing a symphony where you’re bringing together individual instruments and voices to create something larger than the sum of its component parts. I also love sharing my passion with others, whether they be wine geeks or just folks out for a nice afternoon. My fondest memories of visiting wineries have always been based on the people I encountered, and my vision for our winery is to be a place where our customers can have that kind of experience.

Q. What's your harvest kickoff soundtrack?
A. Interesting question. Before I started in the industry, I saw harvest as this dramatic event and I was absolutely sure that the theme music would be something similarly dramatic – like Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra” (many know it as the theme to the movie 2001) or Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.” But now that I’m spending more time in the vineyard, I see harvest as just another step in the journey from grapes to wine and chose something much more low key - Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly.” There’s a line in that song I always think about that is so perfect for winemaking - “So I've started out for God knows where / I guess I'll know when I get there.” At harvest, we don’t know exactly what wines will emerge from the process to come but we can’t wait to make the journey.

Q. What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
A. I don’t like to stress out about food and wine pairings – I think most wines can be paired with more foods than traditional “rules” allow for.  So my favorite pairing is simple – pizza and chianti were made for each other.

Q. You're celebrating the end of a busy week, what's your go-to drink?
A. Depends on whether we’re talking good busy or bad busy. Good busy leads to seasonally appropriate wine. Bad busy leads to bourbon.

Q. Right now do you have a full fridge or empty fridge?
I have a moderately full fridge but my freezer is stuffed to the gills. With a 5-year-old and a busy schedule, I can’t cook fresh as much as I’d like so when we do find time to cook we tend to make a lot and freeze the overage. At least then we can pull out quality leftovers whenever we need.

Q. Is there a wine you hate to love?
A. Oh goodness no. Wine is a world full of possibilities so why would we feel bad about discovering something wonderful?

Q. Is there a wine you love to hate?
A. Heavily oaked chardonnay. A TOUCH of wood is okay, but leave the heavy toast barrels out of the rotation, please.

Q. What's your guilty pleasure? One you're willing to admit anyway.
A. Thick, chewy chocolate chip cookies. Preferably with semi-sweet chocolate chunks. Believe it or not, Costco’s store-brand cookies are tremendous. Nothing else should go into the cookie – save your nuts, grains, and raisins for something else and away from my cookies!

Q. Winemakers sometimes seem like they're married to their job. How do you find balance in your life?
A. Be as efficient as you can with your time management. Make things as simple as possible, prioritize your tasks well and, most importantly, demand from yourself that personal/family time is as much a priority as everything else in your life. Keep your expectations of yourself realistic. None of us are superhuman and nobody can do everything. Trying to micromanage or stretch yourself too much in this business for any length of time is only going to burn you out and hurt the quality of your product and brand. So find good people to work with, delegate as much as you can, and trust them to do the job.

Q. What are you working on right now that most excites you?
A. Our inaugural vintage (2013) pinot noir and syrah to be released in 2015. They’re coming along great in the barrel and I’m really excited to see how they are at bottling!

Q. Favorite wine - variety, region or brand.
A. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love Oregon pinot noir above all else but my heart will always be loyal to seyval blanc. It’s a white grape I worked with when I lived in Ohio and you’ll see it throughout the Midwest and northeast. It’s a hybrid, meaning that it has both vinifera and non-vinifera parentage. It’s extremely flexible in that you can steel ferment (which I prefer) or barrel ferment, with distinct but amazing results. It has a citrus flavor profile, a nice clean minerality, and no trace of the foxy characteristics you often find in hybrids. My first winemaking medals came with this wine, and I’m installing a block of it in our estate vineyard in 2015. I can’t wait to share it with the Willamette Valley.

Q. Favorite restaurant
A. Haven’t been in the area long enough to endorse a favorite – way too many to choose from!

David Specter of Bells Up Winery is a relative newcomer to the Oregon wine scene. Founded in 2013, Bells Up Winery, located in Newberg Oregon, is scheduled to release the first of their wines in the Spring of 2015. The name Bells Up is a reference to a dramatic moment in classical music where the composure instructs French horn players to lift the bells of their instruments upward and project their sound with maximum intensity. Specter, a French horn player who played in bands and symphonic groups throughout hight school and college feels the winery is his "Bells Up" moment. Bells Up planted their estate vineyard in Spring 2014 and has been working hard building their estate winery and tasting facility. Keep your eyes peeled for good things to come.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Variety of Tasting Panels at Feast Portland to Tempt You

Feast Portland. The name about says it all. For a weekend full of OTT culinary madness, it's the event guaranteed to deliver. It's also less than two weeks away and if you haven't purchased tickets yet, many of the hot events have long sold out.

But you're in luck because tickets are still attainable for some of the more affordable Tasting Panels. Think Chardonnay, Negronis, Sour Beer, Beans and Booze (and by beans, they mean coffee beans), Lagers and Tiki Cocktails. And if you're anything like me, than tasting experiences are right up your dark alley. So, check the schedule and reserve your space before these sell out too. Follow @FeastPdx on Twitter for ticket giveaways and event news.

Chardonnay is For Lovers:

Friday, Sept 19th - Noon-1pm
Portland Art Museum Evans H. Roberts Sculpture Hall $55
Forget about California Butter Bombs. Let Bon Appétit’s Wine Insider, David Lynch, lead you through a tasting of some of the Oregon’s best bottles and show you why Anything But Chardonnay is no way to drink.
Still not convinced? Featuring some of Oregon’s finest Chardonnay producers such as Evening Land, Bergstrom, and Chehalem. The other four? It's a secret now, but buy your ticket and enjoy the surprise.
Friday, Sept 19th - 2pm-3pm
Portland Art Museum Evans H. Roberts Sculpture Hall $55
Sour beers are often been called “The Wine Drinker’s Beer?” Enjoy one of my favorite producers, Ale Apothecary’s Sahalie, as well as The Common’s Trillium, sure to tempt even the most ardent wine lover in the audience. Pucker up!
Friday, Sept 19th - 4pm-5pm
Portland Art Museum Evans H. Roberts Sculpture Hall $55
Any time is Negroni O'Clock. Whether a brunch worthy quaffer, an afternoon delight or a last-call nightcap, learn how the classic Negroni can be transformed for all times of the day. Enjoy four different styles of the classic Negroni. For example, a breakfast version that's a twist on the Belllini featuring some local producers like Aria Dry Gin and Imbue Petal & Thorn Vermouth blended with a puree of local peaches.

Beans and Booze

Saturday, Sept 20th - 12:45-1:45pm
Portland Art Museum Evans H. Roberts Sculpture Hall $55
Coffee and spirits are two great favorite buzz-worthy ingredients.Enjoy local legends Stumptown Coffee Roasters, House Spirits Distillery and industry titans Jeffrey Morgenthaler and Alex Negranza. Bring your mugs and your martini glasses folks. You’re gonna get buzzed.
As a guest, you’ll be able to taste Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s infamous espresso martini without having to wait in line!
Saturday, Sept 20th - 2:30-2:30pm
Portland Art Museum Evans H. Roberts Sculpture Hall $55
Make Lager. Not war. Yup, lighter style brews are all the rage. Come taste the best new lagers, Kolsch, Hefeweizens and more as we explore the lighter side of beer with some favorite brewers and beer geeks.
The panel be featuring some pretty killer local lagers such as Worthy Brewing’s Easy Day Kolsch and also showcasing some notable ales from around the country, like Michigan’s Founders Brewing Co.’s All Day IPA.
Saturday, Sept 20th - 4:15-5:15pm
Portland Art Museum Evans H. Roberts Sculpture Hall $55
The Tiki Gods will be pouring four classic cocktails including Planter’s Punch, Three Dots and a Dash, Mai Tai, and Sailor’s Grog! Forget the trip to the islands, it'll feel like an island escape in September.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Behind the Wine Label - Part 2

Personality can be defined as the evident traits in one’s character as it impresses another. To say that every wine embodies its own personality would not be a bold enough statement. How each winemaker influences their wine’s personality is reminiscent of parent’s influence on some of the personality traits of their child. Each wine may start from the same place, but both nature and nurture will predict the qualities it expresses in the end.
In the second part of the Behind the Wine Label series, we’ll take a closer look at some of Oregon’s male winemakers and how they’re imprinting their personality stamp on their wines. Read more about these impressive and memorable personalities here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Game is Afoot!

Here's news of an event that might and should not pass under your radar.

On Sunday, September 7, 2014, from 11:30am-4:30pm , a truly wild event will be taking place outside Portland proper. It might just be a meat orgy! Revered chefs from some of my favorite Portland and Seattle restaurants will be facing off in a culinary competition to see who can produce the best dish using Nicky USA's meat and wild game.

The sensational and unbelievable Portland vs. Seattle match ups include:

Joshua McFadden of Ava Genes (Portland) vs. Shane Ryan of Matt's in the Market (Seattle)
Josh Schofield of Toro Bravo (Portland) vs. Rob Sevcik of Loulay (Seattle)
Jin Soo Yang of Bamboo Sushi (Portland) vs. Jason Stoneburner of Bastille (Seattle)
Jason French of Ned Ludd (Portland) vs. Mike Easton of Il Corvo (Seattle)

The showdown will be taking place at the Wy'east Annex at Timberline lodge. Guests will enjoy samples of each competition dish and vote for the winner while they eat their way through the artisan marketplace featuring products from regional artisan purveyors. For more information about the food sponsors and the extensive list of market participants, visit the Wild About Game website.

Tickets for this unique and guaranteed-to-be-flavorful culinary event will set you back $65 for a whole day of eating pleasure ($75 at the door). Make a weekend of it and join Timberline chef Jason Stoller Smith and last year's winner Aaron Barnett of St. Jack for a pre-game feast on Saturday, Sept 6th, 2014.

Tickets are available here.
For more information about Nicky USA or the event, click here.

Game on! Go Portland!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Talk Wine with Me: Rebecca Pittock-Shouldis of Ghost Hill Cellars

In this on-going interview series, I will introduce you to a different Oregon winemaker in the hopes that as you learn more about them, you'll also be interested in learning more about their wines. You might discover how and why they came to make wine, you may gain a better understanding of their palate and how it influences the wines they craft, you might get some great new ideas for what and where to eat, what to drink, or you might get a glimpse of the future. Whatever you take away, I hope includes a deeper appreciation for the notion that behind every bottle, behind every brand, behind every decorated or undecorated label, stands a person with a unique vision and a personality all their own. Let's step back and discover how those characteristics intertwine with and become that memorable wine in your glass.

Q. What was the first wine you ever drank?
A. This horrible little bottle of something red on the British Airways flight from San Francisco to France (via Heathrow) as I departed for my Junior year of High School as an exchange student. They asked if we wanted wine with our meal… so of course we all said yes…it was terrible! Thank goodness my host father in Arcachon, Gilbert, insisted on changing my mind about wine!

Q. What was the first wine you ever enjoyed?
A. I think it was a gradual process. Gilbert would put a little of red Bordeaux in my glass at dinner and then water it down. Each night he put a little more wine and a little less water until I was able to enjoy a small glass of wine with the family at the evening meal. It was important to him that I was able to understand and appreciate the role that wine played in their culture and their lives. I think the first night I had a glass of wine with no water was a life changing moment; even though I didn’t realize it at the time and wouldn’t see the impact of it until more than a decade later. Today I am so grateful for that experience and how it helped lead me to where I am today.

Q. Tell me about your aha wine moment. Either when you realized you wanted to make wine, or when you gained an understanding of the beauty and complexity wine offers.
A. See above… Other than that… maybe the night at a Rotary International dinner in a winery outside of Bordeaux when I realized that the wine I was drinking and that everyone was floored by was older than I was!  I wish I could remember what the wine was. But I do know that it was from 1973 and it was 1992 when we were drinking it

Q. What's your favorite part about being a winemaker?
A. Creating something that makes people happy. 

Q. What's your harvest kickoff soundtrack?
A. Changes every year… but I love to blast classical violin in the winery when there alone late at night.  The acoustics at Scott Paul Wines where I make the wines for Ghost Hill and Gypsy Dancer (and my own) are incredible. It is really a sanctuary; Kelley Fox (of Scott Paul Wines) and I often refer to it as "the Cathedral." 

Q. What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
A. Ghost Hill Cellars Pinot Noir Blanc or WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Blanc and fresh oysters either from OR or WA – favorites are the little Kumomotos or Shigokus from Washington or extra smalls from Netarts Bay in Oregon.

Q. You're celebrating the end of a busy week, what's your go-to drink?
A. BUBBLES!  Even better if it’s a rosé champagne. One of my favorite go-to is the Rosé Champagne from Marc Chauvet imported by Scott Paul Imports.

Q. Full fridge or empty fridge?
A. It fluctuates a lot. This time of year it is pretty full with the great stuff coming out of my garden!  J  During harvest… you might find condiments. LOL

Q. Is there a wine you hate to love?
A. Barolo – Because great ones are so darn expensive!

Q. Is there a wine you love to hate?
A.  California Cabs – There is always an exception to the rule… but high alcohol, over extracted and over-oaked Cabernet Sauvignon is not something I enjoy at all; that and over-oaked Chardonnay are two things I can’t stand.

Q. What's your guilty pleasure?
A.  Scotch – neat, and the older the better.

Q. What are you working on right now that excites you?
A. Finally releasing my own brand! I'll be releasing a Syrah from the North Willamette Valley and a Viognier from the Applegate Valley. The brand is “A La Main” (pronounced “a la man” – which means “to be done by hand”). It should be available for purchase in July.

Q. Favorite wine - variety, region or brand.
A. This is tough! It depends on SO many factors and variables. I have always loved the Alliette Pinot Noir from Willakenzie, and that started way BEFORE Thibaud.  ;)  I have a strong adoration for the lovely Rosés from the south of France and am inspired by true cool climate Syrah, such as the incredible ones from the N. Rhone Valley. In truth, my favorite wine is the one I am drinking at any given moment with family and friends that will forever be cherished for both the memories it will leave imprinted on my heart and then brought back each time that wine is enjoyed again.

Ghost Hill Cellars, in the Yamhill Carlton AVA is owned by the Bayliss-Bower family. 15 acres of Pinot Noir is planted on Willakenzie soil to produce in what is my opinion to be some of the region's finest and most elegant estate wines. In 2005, Rebecca Pittock-Shouldis, winemaker for Ghost Hill Cellars, Gypsy Dancer and now her own label A La Main, left a career as an F-15 aviation technician with the National Guard, to pursue a her passion for making wine. According to Rebecca, "Pinot Noir should be listened to  and gently encouraged to reveal its beautiful, haunting and ethereal flavors." A busy mother and winemaker, read more about Rebecca here in 1859 Magazine.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Talk Wine with Me: Jason Brumley of Xylem Wines

This new series of articles will expose a side of the winemaker you don't often see—their up-close and personal side. The purpose is for you to learn a little more about each winemaker's philosophy.You might discover how and why they came to make wine, you may gain a better understanding of their palates and how it influences the wines the make, you might just get some great new ideas for what to eat and what to drink or you might get a glimpse of the future. Whatever you do take away, I hope it includes further developing an appreciation for the notion that behind every bottle, behind every brand, behind every decorated and undecorated label, stands a person with a unique vision and a personality all their own, and how these individual characteristics intertwine with and become the wine in your glass. 

Q. What was your "Aha moment"?
A. I had worked in restaurants for 15 years and had been the wine steward for a French bistro in Oklahoma City (yes, there's a French bistro in Oklahoma City) for a few of those years when my girlfriend (now wife), Cokie Anderson, and I took a trip through the Willamette Valley and then over to the coast. I had already been playing around with the notion of finding a spot in Oklahoma that might be suitable for growing a few grapevines and making a little wine (nothing commercial mind you), so that seed was sort of already planted. The beauty of the Willamette Valley itself, the wines produced here, and the communal spirit of those involved in the winemaking industry in northwest Oregon spoke to my soul in a way that nothing ever really had. I knew that I had finally found a calling. As we sat in a hotel room looking out at the Pacific Ocean and listening to the sound of the crashing waves come through the open window, I turned to Cokie and said, "I'm moving out here to make wine and you can come with me if you would like." We flew back out 3 weeks later and began looking for a house to buy in McMinnville. 

That's about as "Aha!" as it gets. 

Q. What is your favorite part about being a winemaker? 
A. I've always liked telling and reading stories and each bottle of wine that we make tells a story of vineyard, varietal, and vintage if you listen to it. 

Q. What is your harvest kickoff soundtrack? 
A. I'm a Grateful Dead fan and my best friend and business partner in the vineyard and winery, Forrest Schaad, and I began a little project a few years ago of listening to every live Grateful Dead show in chronological order that is available on (no repeats of the same show). So, whatever show is next in line when harvest begins will be the kickoff soundtrack. It will likely be a show somewhere in the winter of 1970 or 1971.

Q. What is your favorite food and wine pairing?

A. I love rich shellfish and a good acid-driven Chardonnay. Chardonnay is always the wine that I choose when asked the "You're on a desert island..." question. I figure that a desert island should have plenty of seafood around and there's nothing better than Chardonnay to pair with varying types of seafood.

Q. Right now: Eempty or full fridge?
A. My fridge is currently full of fresh local berries, veggies, and mushrooms. We try to eat locally and support as many small farmers in the area as possible. The communal spirit of the area extends out, not only in the wine industry, but in so many other facets of our life. It's such a privilege to have such diversity available withing such a small radius of where we live.  

Q. What wine do you hate to love?
A. I may get berated for this, but I actually like certain wines with a bit of brettanomyces. Not all wines play well with brett, but some are quite intriguing with it. I believe that we have moved into a realm of such clean and pure wines that many of them are technically great, but lack that "je ne sais quoi" that I often enjoy.

Q. What wine do you love to hate?
A. White Zinfandel...'nuff said.

Q. What is your guilty pleasure (one you'll admit here)?
A. I'm a hedonist, so guilt and pleasure don't exist in the same realm. If I feel guilty about it, then it's not pleasurable. 

Q. What are working on right now that truly excites you? 
A. The vineyard is absolute excitement for me. Forrest and I have been working together on this piece of property in the Chehalem Mountains since 2009 and the young vines are just now coming online. More blocks will be coming on in future years and I cannot wait to taste the fruit and wines from those vines. 

Q. What is your favorite varietal? 
A. Chardonnay!!! Some day, I hope to establish a vineyard and a label that is nothing but Chardonnay. I want to buy an old church and have it moved, re-built, and converted into a winery on top of a hill that overlooks the vines. I will call it 'The First Church of the Eternal Chardonnay'. I will wash the sinful red stains of Pinot Noir from your soul and ye shall be pure again. 

Xylem Wines is a fully functioning, residence-based winery located in McMinnville, Oregon - in the heart of Oregon's wine country. It is the result of two friends sharing a passion for viticulture and winemaking, Jason Brumley and Forrest Schaad. The vineyards are located on Schaad's family estate in the Chehalem Mountain AVA, which was originally planted to fruits and nuts in the 1950's and then to vinifer in 1980. The winery is located in the Brumley residence. In 2012, Brumley and Schaad ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the winery and expansion of their vineyards. They are excitedly preparing for their second annual release at the end of June.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Combing Oregon's Countryside for Rhone Style Wines

Finding a bottle of top-quality Pinot noir in Oregon is easy, fortunately for you. And since May is Oregon Wine Month, you could easily go out and purchase a bottle of local Pinot noir in your favorite restaurant or wine shop. But don’t limit yourself to the famed grape. Rhône varietals thrive in Oregon, due in part to the diversity of Oregon’s weather. Read the rest of story to discover more about Oregon's Rhone style wines here at 1859 Magazine.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Guaranteed Good Time in Wine Country - 10 Tips for Wine Tasting Success

Like a gun shot starting a horse race, Memorial Day has officially kicked off wine tasting season in the Willamette Valley. I ran the following article on the now defunct Gary Vaynerchuk website Cork'd many years ago. The same tips still apply.

Wine is produced in each and every one of the 50 United States. So, as wine making and wine tasting become more popular in the U.S., and wine regions continue to expand faster than my waistline, more and more of us have the unique opportunity to sample the wine bounty than ever before. If you’re planning to visit tasting rooms in Wine Country, USA anytime soon, there are a few things you should know to help make the most out of your experience.

1. Limit the number of wineries you plan to visit to three or four. It’s tempting to try to taste as much as you can, and to try and stop at every winery you pass by. But squeezing too many visits into one day not only limits your overall experience, it just might ruin it. Take your time, sit on the decks and soak up the view, walk the grounds, the vineyards or the cellar if permitted. Talk to the tasting room staff or the winemaker, if they’re around; they usually love to share their knowledge about wine and their personal stories with those who show interest.

2. Avoid wearing perfumes, colognes, heavily scented body/hair products and lipstick. Strong chemical aromas will mask or even alter both the aromas and the flavors of the wine… not only for you, but also for wine drinkers around you, so be considerate. Lipstick will immediately turn your pourer off. One look at you and all they can think about is the extra time and effort it will take to wash and buff your glass special so the next guest isn’t wearing your lipstick too.

3. Don't chew gum. It’s not school, but you’re there to taste, so that's all I have to say about that.

4. Leave the kids and dogs at home. It's not fun for children shadowing their parents all day as they drive from winery to winery, and no, tasting room employees don’t double as babysitters and won’t entertain them. So, while it sounds like Fluffy would have lots of grounds to roam, vineyards to explore and moles to chase, most wineries don’t allow pets on the property (as they often have their own). Exception to the rule: Do your research first and select one winery with picnic grounds and an outdoor activity like bocce ball, horseshoes or disc golf to keep the kids busy while you sip away (but still leave the dogs at home).

5. Be prepared to spend a little cash (or to swipe the plastic). Once upon a time, wine tasting was a free activity, but like my youth, those days are long gone. If you’re prepared to spend roughly $10 per person at each winery, you won't have any disappointing surprises. You're not obligated to buy anything, but tasting rooms are actually in business to sell wine. So, if you like something or enjoyed your experience, take home a bottle and take home the memory. Some wineries will even waive the tasting fees with purchase.

6. A little preparation goes a long way. Have a cooler on hand to store your purchases. It can get quite warm in the car while touring the countryside (think sauna). You'll want to protect the precious bottles of wine you bring home. Nothing will ruin your day faster than an expensive bottle of cooked wine.

7. Bring a lunch, buy a bottle and stay awhile. It’s not speed dating for wine—no need to rush off to the next. Pull up a chair and watch the grapes ripen. Slowing down never felt so good.

8. Remember the five S’s: swirl, sniff, sip, savor and spit.

9. Yes, it's OK to spit and dump, in fact, please do! Spit buckets are conveniently located on every tasting room bar (or you can ask for your own cup to be more discreet). Though spitting can be awkward and perhaps even messy for novice wine tasters, a little backsplash is much more desirable than a stumbling drunk. It might seem wasteful and perhaps even rude, but the best option (if you’re not driving) is to have a small taste of everything you’re poured and then dump the remaining wine instead of drinking the whole glass.

10. Keep in mind you’re a guest on someone else’s property. Wineries can be a dangerous place if you wander where you shouldn't go (remember Agustus Glup in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?). Wineries are often family businesses with the family living on the grounds, so don't open closed doors and always be respectful. Wine can be an aphrodesiac, but wait till you get home (or at least until off winery grounds) to take your clothes off. Many wineries actually have cameras in place, and the staff (while having great stories to tell for months) really don’t enjoy having to chase half-naked (and fully naked) people off the grounds… and yes, I do speak from experience.

Wine tasting is a fun activity and whether or not you follow these simple suggestions, you’re on your way to creating memories to last a lifetime. These tips will ensure a successful and embarrassment–free tasting experience. So, now that you now how to do it, all you need to is get out there and taste, enjoy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Feast Portland Ticket Sales Commence…NOW!

Prepare to loosen your belts because tickets are on sale for Oregon's quintessential culinary event of the year. The event takes place September 18-21, 2014, but get your tickets NOW because they sell out FAST (rumor has it one of the events has already sold out)!

Entering its third year, this four-day party for your mouth brings together leading chefs, artisans, farmers, winemakers, brewers and distillers from Oregon and beyond for one delicious weekend with over 35 events at venues across Portland. At the core of this annual exhibition of bounty is a mission to end childhood hunger in Oregon and across America by donating festival net proceeds to Share Our Strength and Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, giving more than $99,000 in its first two years.

Here's a shortlist of hot ticket items. A complete listing of events and participants can be found at

The Hot 10 Dinner: Celebrating Bon Appétit's Best New Restaurants in America
Location: Ava Gene’s | Date: Thursday, September 18, 2014 | Time: 7pm | Price: $200
Feel the pulse of the country’s best restaurants at this multi-course dinner prepared by past and present recipients of the “Hot 10,” Bon Appétit's annual short list of the best new restaurants in America, as named each year by Restaurant and Drinks Editor Andrew Knowlton. Hosted by Knowlton and Editor in Chief Adam Rapoport this dinner is a showcase of Hot 10 alums as well as one chef/restaurant from the 2014 list to be unveiled in late August.

Widmer Brothers Brewing Sandwich Invitational Presented By Dave’s Killer Bread
Location: Director Park | Date: Thursday, September 18, 2014 | Time: 6pm-9pm | Price: $95
The goal: Sandwich Supernova. The event: The Sandwich Invitational, Feast Portland’s killer kick-off party, where wildly imaginative, chef’d-up interpretations redefine everything you thought the humble sandwich could be. This year, 13 of America’s top chefs gather under the stars at Downtown Portland’s Director Park in their quest for sandwich success. Test your sandwich savvy by voting for the People’s Choice winner, wash it down with local Widmer Brothers Brewing beers, Northwest wines and cocktails and you have yourself a deliciously unforgettable evening. 

Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Presented by Alaska Airlines
Location: Pioneer Courthouse Square | Date: Friday, September 19, 2014 and Saturday, September 20, 2014 | Time: 12pm-5pm | Price: $60
Oregon is known for outstanding artisan offerings such as cheese, charcuterie, wine, beer and coffee. Come taste them all at the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting when we transform Portland’s “living room” into the city’s dining room for two days of Feast-ing!  At the festival’s premiere daytime event, you can eat and drink your way through artisans, wineries and breweries. And while you’re indulging in Oregon’s best, the country’s top chefs return to the KitchenAid Main Demo Stage for lively cooking demonstrations. Whether you’re new to Oregon’s bounty or a dedicated locavore this event is not to be missed.  

USA Pears Night Market at Zidell Yards
Location: Zidell Yards | Date: Friday, September 19, 2014 | Time: 6pm-9pm | Price: $125
The nation’s liveliest outdoor celebration of global street food moves to the iconic Portland waterfront at Zidell Yards. So get ready for an evening that is bigger, bolder, and somehow, filled with even more food! Situated below the Ross Island Bridge, the Night Market will overlook the central artery of this port town, the Willamette River. New street food offerings will include the plethora of Asian options you’ve grown to love, along with Italian, Argentinian, Indian and more. With a who’s who of Oregon craft beer, wine, and spirits, you’ll be ready for an experience that embodies the sights, sounds, and tastes of an international culinary journey.

Oregonian Media Group High Comfort at The Nines
Location: The Nines Hotel | Date: Saturday, September 20, 2014 | Time: 6pm-9pm | Price: $175
Feast Portland doubles down again this year, with more than 20 chefs pushing comfort food out of its comfort zone at High Comfort. Put on your cuff links and high heels ladies and gents, cuz we’re headed to The Nines Hotel for the most decadent culinary event around. Oregon’s top winemakers will personally keep your glass full and you’ll be fed silly by the nation’s top culinary talent from Portland to NYC and everywhere in between. Don’t plan anything early the next day!

Brunch Village
Location: Pioneer Courthouse Square | Date: Sunday, September 21, 2014 | Time: 11am-2pm | Price: $75
We’ve gathered the best of the brunch for Feast Portland’s newest event, Brunch Village. If you’ve ever found yourself waiting in line outside of that must-get-into brunch place, if you’re a baron of Bloody Mary’s, a sultan of scrambled eggs, then pull up a chair and join us for the best boozy brunch ever. Chefs from Portland and around the country will build their “towns” of bacon, eggs, pastries, and everything else that makes brunch our favorite meal of the day. Pile your plate up high, relax and take in the first-ever Feast Cocktail Competition, where Portland’s top bartenders mix up their favorite drinks for brunch glory. We guarantee you’ll apply for citizenship of Brunch Village.

Hands-On Classes & Tasting Panels
Location: Throughout Downtown Portland | Date: Friday, September 19, 2014 – Sunday, September 21, 2014 | Prices: $55-$125
For those who want to bring home more than just a fully belly from the festival, Feast Portland’s Hands-On Classes provide a rare opportunity to learn the tricks of the trade directly from the nation’s most skilled artisans and chefs. The Tasting Panels explore new trends in the beverage world, with discussions and tastings of wine, beer and cocktails led by local and national experts.

Dinner Series:
New KitchenCru Dinner Series Debuts
Traditional Feast Portland Dinner Series Returns
Location: KitchenCru Culinary Prepspace and Various Portland Restaurants | Date: Thursday, September 18, 2014 – Sunday, September 21, 2014 | Time: 7pm | Prices: $100-$175
KitchenCru is a shared use kitchen and culinary incubator in the heart of Portland – thus it’s the perfect location for the Feast Portland KitchenCru Dinner Series, our brand-new, next-level, multi-chef, collaborative dinner series where chefs from around the country will bring together their unique perspectives for once-in-a-lifetime dinner experiences. Feast Portland’s popular traditional dinner series also returns, pairing a visiting chef with a Portland favorite, creating the menus of their lives. With a spotlight on the best Oregon ingredients and local wines, attendees will feast on the culinary excellence of the country’s top chefs and those from our own backyard.

State of the Art with Adelsheim Vineyard and Willamette Valley Vineyards
Location: KitchenCru Culinary Prepspace | Date: Friday, September 19, 2014 | Time: 7pm | Price: $175
Join a super group of the country’s leading edge chefs for what will be one of most interesting dinners ever to happen on Oregon soil. Local boy Justin Woodward (Castagna, Portland) will be joined by Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn, San Francisco), Homaro Cantu (Moto, Chicago), Matt Accarrino (SPQR, San Francisco) and pastry chef Matt Tinder (The Restaurant at Meadowood, Napa Valley) in this culinary super jam.

Pop Stars with Elk Cove Vineyards and Ponzi Vineyards
Location: KitchenCru Culinary Prepspace | Date: Saturday, September 20, 2014 | Time: 7pm | Price: $150
Pop-up dinners and restaurants are the culmination of inventive culinary themes and vanguard chefs, so we’ve gathered together our favorite “pop stars” including Sarah Simmons (City Grit, NYC) along with local pop heroes Katy Millard (Coquine, Portland) and Will Preisch and Joel Stocks (Holdfast Dining, Portland) in one kitchen for one night to create what is sure to be a once-in-a lifetime meal.

Girls! Girls! Girls! with Elizabeth Chambers Cellar and Domaine Serene
Location: KitchenCru Culinary Prepspace | Date: Sunday, September 21, 2014 | Time: 7pm | Price: $175
Those who claim that men monopolize the culinary world simply haven’t been paying attention for the past decade. Be schooled by bad-ass lady chefs Kuniko Yagi (Hinoki and the Bird, Los Angeles), Christina Tosi (Momofuku Milk Bar, NYC), Naomi Pomeroy (Beast, Portland), and Johanna Ware (Smallwares, Portland) as they ‘lean in’ and show you why women are leading the culinary conversation more than ever.  

Edward Lee and Jenn Louis at Lincoln Restaurant with King Estate
Location: Lincoln Restaurant | Date: Thursday, September 18, 2014 | Time: 7pm | Price: $150
Two Top Chef alums join forces at Lincoln for a food reality TV junkie’s fantasy dinner. Kentucky-based chef Edward Lee (610 Magnolia, Louisville) and Jenn Louis (Lincoln, Portland) will serve up delicious dishes full of Oregon bounty.

Anita Lo and Gregory Gourdet at Departure with R. Stuart & Co. Winery and Sokol Blosser
Location: Departure Restaurant | Date: Thursday, September 18, 2014 | Time: 7pm | Price: $150
Two masters of invention spiked with Asian flair, Anita Lo (Annisa, NYC) and Gregory Gourdet (Departure, Portland) come together for an unforgettable evening. At Annisa, Chef Lo has been collecting stars – one  from the Michelin guide and a rare three sparklers from The New York Times in the past year – while Chef Gourdet has been turning heads as a prolific chef and budding television personality. We’ve even thrown in Downtown’s best view for good measure because we take ‘unforgettable’ seriously.

Ari Taymor and Sarah Pliner at Aviary with Archery Summit
Location: Aviary Restaurant | Date: Friday, September 19, 2014 | Time: 7pm | Price: $150
Chef Ari Taymor (Alma, Los Angeles) ventures north to team up with Sarah Pliner (Aviary, PDX) for a dinner to remember. Two food world Picassos, Taymor and Pliner, root classic technique at the heart of their food, but add a world of abstraction and creativity that brings it to another level. You won’t want to miss what they create together.

Tickets can be purchased at for the more than 35 events around Portland, Oregon, and offer a broad range, from “The Package,” which includes one ticket each to the Friday Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting, Saturday Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting, Sandwich Invitational, Night Market, Brunch Village and High Comfort, at $530, to tasting panels at $55.

In addition, visitors and media are invited to expand their Feast experience by taking advantage of pre- and post-event options that will take them to Oregon tastemakers’ favorite mouthwatering spots. Travel Oregon’s “Trails to Feast” inspirational itineraries give a firsthand look into Oregon’s bounty – meeting the farmers, fishermen, winemakers, foragers and food artisans who contributed the ingredients behind Feast. For more information or to plan your tasty adventure, go to

To apply for a Feast Portland 2014 Media Credential or Blogger Pass, please visit To learn about becoming a Feast Portland sponsor, please email

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Behind Every Wine Label Lies a Real Personality

A label is only the surface-level story of the wine. A winemaker’s job, besides making the best wine possible with a given vintage, is often to be the face of the brand. Winemakers attend wine dinners near and far, and participate in market tastings to acquaint potential consumers with their wines. With so many bottles on the shelf to choose from, it’s not easy to develop brand loyalty. Opportunities that allow the winemaker to display his or her personality and create a faithful fan are often what bring people back to the same wines each year. Discovering how a winemaker puts their touch on the wine requires one to look beyond the label on the bottle.

In this two-part series, I will peel back the label to show you how Oregon winemakers pour their heart, soul and personality into each bottle. I’ll start here with some of the female powerhouses of Oregon wine. Read the whole story Behind the Wine Label here…

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Oregon Bubbles Over With Fun

For one week only, Oregon celebrates sparkling wine with the second annual Bubbles Week 2014. This year, it's May 4th - May 11th. I say, why just a week? Why not Bubbles Month? Bubbles Year? Ok, my bubble bursts, it's only for a week. But what a gloriously fizzy week. With events all over Portland featuring Argyle sparkling wines paired with everything from oysters to tapas and from dinner to dessert, there's something for everyone.

All Week May 4-11, 2014
  • Library sparkling wine tasting in the Argyle Tasting Room
  • Bubbles happy hour menu at The Parish and EaT: An Oyster Bar (M-Su)
  • Bubbles pairing menu at Bar Avignon (M-F)
  • Special Argyle glass pour at Ambonnay (M-Sa)
  • Complementary pours in the Portland Opera VIP Lounge
  • Tastings at Zupan’s, New Seasons and Fred Meyer stores
Sunday, May 4
  • Bubbles cocktail workshop at Raven & Rose. Mixings with Sparkling Wine featuring Argyle Bubbles. Ticket includes four cocktails and a light snack. (20 tickets, $50 per person, 3 p.m.)
  • All day happy hour menu at The Bent Brick
Monday, May 5
  • Bubbles pairing dinner at Park Kitchen (6 p.m., $80 per person + gratuity, limit 16 guests, call 503-223-7275 for reservations)
    • Sunflower salad with cheddar crisps and trumpet mushrooms
    • Lamb sausage, rhubarb pickles and shallots
    • Blackened steelhead trout, toasted barley dashi, pea shoots
    • Buttermilk panna cotta, rhubarb, toasted butter 
Tuesday, May 6
  •  Encore! A bubbles and desserts pairing competition at Union/Pine where five of Portland’s top dessert maestros will compete for the best dessert as judged by ticket holders. Ticket holders will enjoy five desserts and five paired Argyle sparkling wines (200 tickets, $25 per person, 7:30-9 p.m.). Featuring:
    • Petunia's Pies & Pastries
    • Pix Patisserie
    • Raven & Rose
    • Salt & Straw
    •  Xocolatl de David
  • Bubbles pairing dinner at The Bent Brick (6 p.m., $80 per person + gratuity, limit 16 guests, call 503-688-1655 for reservations)
    • Butter poached halibut, pocha beans, nettle puree, pickled ginger, country ham
    • Agnolutti, nettles, toasted filberts, house made ricotta
    • Payne Family pork, early morels, sheboygen style bratwurst, bread pudding
    • Rhubarb crisp, cornmeal & filbert topping 
Wednesday, May 7
  • Shucked! An Oyster mignonette and  bubbles pairing competition at Union Pine where five of Portland’s top chefs will compete for the best dressed oyster as judged by ticket holders. Ticket holders will enjoy five oysters and five paired Argyle sparkling wines (200 tickets, $25 per person, 6-8 p.m.). Featuring:
    •  The Parish - Ethan Powell
    • Andina - Hank Costello
    •  Imperial - Benjamin Bettinger
    • DOC - Brian Scibetta
    • Branch Whiskey Bar - Scott Shampine
  •  Bubbles tasting at Urban Farmer
  • Bubbles pairing at Cia Vito: Shrimp, Squid & Manilla Clams on the plancha tossed with preserved Meyer lemon, pickled peppers, mint and toasted almonds. Paired with Argyle Vintage Brut. (W-Su) 
Thursday, May 8
  • Complementary Argyle bubbles tasting at The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg (6:30-7:30 p.m.)
  • Bubbles pairing menu at Bar Avignon
  • Pre-performance bubbles tasting at Portland Center Stage’s production of “Othello” (7:30 p.m., for Othello ticket holders only)
Friday, May 9
  • Limited edition Argyle Brut Mimosa Sherbert at Salt & Straw (F-Su)
  • Library magnum tasting at Ambonnay (5-7 p.m.)
  • Complimentary bubbles pours in the Portland Opera VIP Lounge at Fri and Sunday performances
  • Portland Bubbles Week Wine Dinner at Wilf’s (6:30 p.m., $80 per person, call 503-223-0070 by May 6 for reservations)
    • 2010 Argyle Vintage Brut with Grilled radicchio, melted brie, balsamic, crostini
    • 2011 Argyle Chardonnay with Wilf's Dungeness crab meat, Oregon bay shrimp, romaine
    • 2010 Argyle Brut Rosé with Caramelized onion, roasted cauliflower and Rogue gorgonzola tart, spring pea coulis
    •  2011 Nuthouse Pinot Noir with Double R Ranch filet mignon, spring vegetables
    • Chef's cheese plate, assorted cookies, dried fruit and nuts
Saturday, May 10
  • Bubbles & Tapas: Enjoy a free tapa with every glass of Argyle sparkling wine purchased at Bar Vivant (Sat-Sun all day)

Sunday, May 11 – Mother’s Day
  • Special Edition Mother’s Day Tea with Argyle Bubbles at PIX Patisserie: Special selection of 10 sweet and savory bite-sized treats, a pot of Townsend’s Tea and a glass of Argyle 2010 Brut for $30. Plus, a special kid’s version of six sweet and savory treats with non-alcoholic beverage of their choice will be offered for $16. ($30; $16 for kids version)
  •  Bubbles tasting in the Rookery (11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.) and bubbles cocktails for Mother’s Day brunch and dinner at Raven & Rose (call 503-222-7673 for more info and reservations)
  •  Oysters and bubbles special at EaT: An Oyster Bar
Some events are already sold out. If your interested in joining in the fun, tickets for the week's events can be found at 

Use the hashtag #pdxbubbles to share your photos and virtually toast with your friends. Hope to see you there, we can raise our glasses in celebration of Oregon bubbles. Let's bubble over together.