Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Check it out! DOWNPOUR's first winery promotion. Just for being a follower, DOWNPOUR fans are in for a real treat. Check out the video for details.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays

From my family to yours!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wine Spectator's Top 100

Many feel it's the Bible list of the best wines of the year, many feel it's compromised and political. Regardless, it's a big deal. Congrats to Argyle, King Estate and Evening Land Vineyards, all three Oregon wineries made the Wine Spectator Top 100 for 2009 list.

Click here for the full run down.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Your cork can take you to Portugal!

Willamette Valley Vineyards wants to send you Portugal, just for saving your wine corks. This might just be the coolest thing ever...

Willamette Valley Vineyards: As the first winery in the world to be certified by the Rainforest Alliance for using 100 percent Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified cork, we are also the first winery to launch a cork recycling program of this kind--one with zero increase to its carbon footprint.

Shall we start a DOWNPOUR collective?

Click here for more details.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's beginning to taste a lot like Christmas

Ahhhh! Yesterday was just glorious. We could not have asked for better circumstances all around. Jolie and I hit the road a little before 1:00 and were cruisin into the Forest Grove area within what seemed like minutes. The sun was shinning so bright, without a cloud in the sky-I must say, it really didn't feel like Oregon in December. We pulled up to the David Hill Winery tasting room and immediately took in the serene surroundings and homey feel of the property. Before we could even take a look at the tasting menu, we were drawn into the most adorable gift shop-seriously, this gift shop had some of the most unique and nice things-and I'm not talking about kitschy knickknacks. Michele, the tasting room manager got us started with some tasty whites and off we went. Because we were the only people there we had the place to ourselves and Michele was more than happy to give us lots of information on the winery and how she got involved several years back. When we moved onto the reds, I was impressed by how dynamic they were, and how affordable! It is not often you see Oregon Pinots for less than $30 and I was more than happy to take home the 2006 Estate Pinot and a bottle of the Farmhouse Red, a blended table wine for just $10!

We got to talking with Michele about restaurants and I mentioned one of my favorites moments in life is at the end of an evening of great food and drink, when you have a little chocolate dessert, a sip of red wine left in your glass and a decaf espresso, this trio to me is utter bliss. And with this, Michele ran to the back room and appeared with 2 chocolate truffles for Jolie and I to enjoy with the last of our Merlot. It was a lasting memory and sealed my new love for David Hill.

Next on the tour: Elk Cove Vineyards in Gaston. If you are a frequent Oregon red wine drinker, chances are you have tried one of Elk Cove's wines. ECV is one of the top 10 producers of wine in the state. And if you have had their wine, you're in good company, their La Boheme Pinot has been a favorite at the White House! But I must back up. The drive to Elk Cove was gorgeous. The trees lining the road and the entry to this vineyard just screamed "Oregon wine country" to me. Even with the sun shining bright, there was no mistaking, we were in Northwest territory. The long driveway gives patrons time to take in a vast and majestic view. Seriously, on this crisp winterish day the air outside felt so alive and even sparse vines exuded beauty. The tasting room itself has what seems to be a 360 view of the valley and Kari, the lovely tasting room coordinator says she has the best view of anyone she knows. Elk Cove is not joking with its name, promptly mounted above the tasting room bar is this elk head.

I must say, every so often a wine speaks to me, and when this happens, all rational thinking expires and I just MUST own this wine. That happened at Elk Cove. The 2008 Mount Richmond Pinot, even at its young age was something special in my opinion. I am so excited to add it to my collection.

We left Elk Cove just before the sun went down and as we ran to the car to crank the heat, I was just so thankful. Thankful to be able to enjoy such a great day at such nice wineries, with such an awesome friend, in such beautiful country that, at least for the day, felt like it was all ours.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Look out

Who here has heard of Gary Vaynerchuk? This 33 year-old stick of dynamite has built a new generation wine empire-books, online TV program, social media-he's everywhere, talking about wine.

Check out this video, where he reviews EIEIO's Pinot Noir. This Oregon producer had the bad fortune of naming this Pinot, Swine Wine. Clever? Of course. Appealing? Not so much.

P.S. Vaynerchuk sells every wine he reviews...bear in mind.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bottle Shock-3 corks out of 5

An entertaining movie that if nothing else, makes one thirsty for a 1973 California Chardonnay. The movie takes place in the gorgeous hills of the Napa Valley and certainly does a nice job capturing the beauty of this wonderous region.

Glad I didn't pay big bucks to see this in the theater...a perfect Netflix find, even better when watched with a glass in hand.

Stay tuned people, the Oregon wine country road show looks like next Tuesday Jolie and I will be hitting Cooper Mountain, Elk Cove and possibly Chehalem-speaking of Chardonnay.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bottle Shock

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of Bottle Shock from Netflix. If all goes as planned it should show up today.

Have any of you seen this wine flick?

A little plot summary: Bottle Shock is a 2008 film that tells the story of the events that led up to the Judgment of Paris in 1976, when California wine beat French wine in a blind taste test. It stars Alan Rickman, Chris Pine and Bill Pullman and is directed by Randall Miller, who wrote the screenplay along with Jody Savin and Ross Schwartz. It premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

Stay tuned for a review!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Domaine Drouhin

Jim Gullo uncovers some of the mystery behind the jet-setting winemaker, Véronique Drouhin-Boss in today's Food Day. Véronique impressively manages to craft some exceptional wines in both Dundee and Burgundy. Modern day woman indeed! Check out the article to learn just how she does it.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a DDO (Domaine Drouhin Oregon) wine club event where there was a certain je ne sais quoi in the air. The tasting room and cellar were full of what I like to call "Oregon chic". There was just something different about this audience, and I liked it. Not only are the DD wines (especially the 2000 Pinot) noteworthy, the ambiance left us feeling like we had enjoyed a little European getaway-right here in Oregon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blogging for the new wine generation-confirmed

I stumbled upon this link on Facebook and wanted to talks about a wine event for the "younger" set in Seattle. From what I have heard, the event could have been more strongly executed in a way that benefited the wineries and allowed for them to resonate with the guests, but it does address the obvious need for wine events (NW Food & Wine Festival comes to mind) to market to a younger/hipper demo.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One's loss, Another's gain

What was supposed to be a birthday gift for my mom got lost in the shuffle of a weekend in Walla Walla (where I felt no need to bring wine), and her 60th bash last weekend where, among other things a 2003 magnum of Tour St. Michel Chateauneuf du Pape was consumed.

It wasn't until late yesterday afternoon that I realized my GC Commuter Cuvée 2008 Pinot Noir was right where I left it-in my "wine closet". I bought this wine for two reasons: 1. I have had Grochau Cellars wine before and liked it. 2. My mom is a big bike person and commutes quite often to work-the label screams her name.

This wine paired very nicely with our dinner of heirloom greens, sauteed pears & blue cheese and some beautiful roasted butternut squash. I love fall!

P.S. A portion of the proceeds from this wine go to the Brett Jarolimek Memorial Fund. Nice.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fun Weekend Ahead

The benefits of bringing friends to Wine Country? They join wine clubs. Wine clubs have events. I get invited to events. Domaine Drouhin is having a Pre-Thanksgiving event for wine club members and Meghan is taking me as her +1. Honored and Excited!

Stay tuned...I am pretty sure we will be exploring a few more wineries in the area.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Whirlwind in Walla Walla

The Lieberg/Leclerc crew spent a delightful Birthday weekend in Walla Walla, sipping lots of Syrah and meeting some of the locals who really make this town tick.

We started with K Vintners. I had visited this winery before and it once again lived up to its reputation of a rockin' tasting room. With loud music pumping throughout, it was the perfect place to kick-off our weekend. Most of you know the House Wine label, in big black and white imagery, this was one of the first wines on the market to showcase a more irreverent label. Charles Smith, the winemaker, of whom Food & Wine recently named Winemaker of the Year, is anything but a conformist-and everything about his production proves this. We enjoyed some delicious Syrah and ended up with 3 bottles of Boom Boom! to enjoy later that evening.

Next stop was Buty & Beast wines. A small producer selling wine from a tasting room near the airport (where several wineries have set up shop). We had heard that these peeps were producing some killer single varietals. We enjoyed some Granache, Malbec and Syrahs. I ended up with a Beast Phinny Syrah that I cannot wait to open later this fall. We enjoyed chatting with the friendly staff, and Taylor got caught in deep conversation with the Buty guru.

We headed downtown Walla Walla where fortuitously Nicholas Cole Cellars opened their doors to the public for a food and wine extravaganza. We enjoyed a bottle of the 2005 Michele while nibbling on a scrumptious spread catered by Saffron, one of Walla Walla's premier restaurants. We were more than happy to take home 2 bottles from Nicholas Cole, another bottle of the Michele and a bottle of the 2006 Dauphiné.

Day two: Lucky for us, the sun was shinning and the vines in Walla Walla made for an incredible backdrop. We picked up lizzie and Eric, grabbed a disappointing breakfast (something's better than nothing when you are winetasting?) and headed to Kerloo Cellars. I learned of this boutique winery through a Full Pull newsletter that praised the Kerloo wines. We were in for a treat as we not-so-easily navigated our caravan to Va Piano, where Kerloo Cellars operates. We were met by Ryan Crane, the young winemaker who created Kerloo while also serving as Assistant Winemaker at Va Piano . Ryan gave us an hour of his time while we sipped his Temparnillo and Syrahs. It was awesome to hang out in the cellar and hear how this energetic winemaker's career evolved. Ryan's passion, knowledge, accessibility and seriously tasty wines made this visit the highlight of our weekend. We could not leave without taking home bottles of Kerloo's Syrah and were really thankful we made the appointment with Ryan-a must on anyone's tasting journey in Walla Walla.

Luck was on our side because as we saddled up to the bar at Pepper Bridge's tasting room, Norm one of the winery's co-owners asked if we wanted a tour of the facility, um...YES! This is a serious production and it was awesome to have a behind the scenes experience. Thank you Norm!!!

Next stop: Gramercy Cellars, which was pouring wine in a tent on the property they share with Waters winery. Talk about a beautiful setting. The ladies opted to pass on the tasting (we had a big night ahead of us!) but did enjoy the awesome outdoor fireplace.

Saturday was topped off by a Leclerc tradition-racelette. Our better version of a fondue. Cheese, cheese, cheese and more cheese were on the menu. A perfect way to celebrate a weekend of indulgence. Hey, you're only 60, 30, and 27 once...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Walla Walla Baby

The road show continues people! Stay tuned for more stories and photos from Syrah country....can't wait!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Small is the new Black

How could I not snap up the adorable single serving wine being demoed at Whole Foods? Have you seen these? 6.2 oz of goodness, in an easy to carry, plastic/reusable glass.

For $2.50, this Cab Sauv from France isn't too bad...keep your eyes out. My guess? All the rage in 2010.

Check it.

V vs. V

So I did something fun in Dallas which I realize I don't do enough of right here in Oregon-blind taste testing. Texas is producing some noteworthy Viogniers, who knew?! We had a lot of fun trying 2 different producers at different price points. The first hovering around $15 a bottle and the other at $25. I think it is safe to guess these wines attract two different customers based on pricing alone?

The one-nostral method proved worthy and Cassie, Rob and I all ended up preferring the most expensive-go figure (those of you who know Cassie or I should not be surprised). Both wines were delightful with the Brennan showcasing minerals and crisp fruit, while the McPherson embodied more of a lush peach flavor. Cassie and I thought the McP would be a nice substitute to the usual summer rosé. In the end the Brennan was the standout for us and tasted even better with a Julie Child reproduction of garlic soup and scrumptious croutons. The evening was topped off with a read-out-loud on the veranda....

Did I mention how well Dallas treats visitors?


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Royal Treatment

Southern hospitality? Maybe I'm just keeping the right company here in Dallas. Our evening at Charlie Palmer's could not have been nicer. Upon arrival I scurried off to the restroom (you know I love a nice restroom!) I got back to our spot at the bar to find a coup of sparkling rosé waiting for me and Cassie and Rob enjoying their glasses. Apparently we were in sound hands with Gerald Cook, the fabulous sommelier. He was more than happy to show me his digital wine list with amazing search capabilities (a bit of a Kindle situation).

The wine selection at this restaurant is vast and to be able to find a wine based on country, region, varietal, price, food pairing and more was kinda next level. We fell in love with a 2007 Robert Foley Charbono, of which Gerald was eager to share.

It tasted even more divine with the salumi plate, salmon tartare and beet medallions we noshed on. The chilled sparkling red that followed was just the thing to wash down our peanut butter chocolate terrine. When in Texas!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oregon Love in the Big D

Texans loves them some Oregon wine! Cassie and I had lunch at an amazing cheese shop that stocks some of my local favorites. Our lunch of cheese galore was accompanied by a delicious semi-sweet sparkling muscato from Australia. My most delicious moment? A Rogue Blue followed by a sip of the muscato. Heaven.

Most interesting find at Scardello? Kefir marshmallows. Check em.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Serious Discount

Looks like our friends at Dobbes Family Estate are being extra generous this year. On October 25th, one day only, friends and family (this is YOU) can enjoy 50% off cases of Grande Assemblage Pinot Noir, Grande Assemblage Syrah and Pinot Gris. This is the perfect excuse to get yourself to wine country, stock up on some great wine at a killer price and have your Thanksgiving elixir taken care of!

Do it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rain won't stop us

and it didn't yesterday. After a warm and sunny 11 mile run we made it home just in time-the rain came with a vengeance. Hervé and I dashed into the car and we were off. First stop was Hawks View Cellars. You might remember HVC from the photos I featured on an earlier post. We were excited to check out the Harvest open house, and catch some of the action. Sipping on some delicious Pinot Gris we got to check out the 2009 grapes doing their thing.

Can you tell which batch is Pinot Noir and which is Syrah?
Everyone is very excited about the 2009 harvest and from the sounds of it, the Pinot is going to be BIG. Hervé fell in love with 2008 PN of which he snagged a taste. I'm pretty sure we'll be back to pick up a bottle or 2 of this come spring.

Next stop? Winderlea in Dundee. I have been really curious about Winderlea, as several wineries have recommended swinging by. I was also impressed with the fact that the $10 tasting fee here is donated to Salud!, an organization dedicated to providing education and healthcare for vineyard workers and their families-very cool. The winery sits on a gorgeous piece of property with sloping hills and a terrific view. The tasting room was surely designed to highlight the surroundings, it is very modern and minimal, letting the view take center stage. Hervé and I grabbed our wine glasses and walked outside onto the terrace, enjoying a small reprive from the rain-it was lovely.

As a side note: Winderlea definitely wins in my book for best bathroom in wine country. Check it.

I was hoping we'd have a chance to hit Thistle this trip, but we were starving and it was only 3:30, Thistle doesn't open til 5. So it was back to Dundee Bistro. No complaints from this camp.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New acquisitions

What used to be additions to my closet has rapidly become additions to my wine cellar (or closet as it may be). I am just a sucker for the Wine Finds deals at CORK bottle shop. This week featured all Oregon wines, so I couldn't pass on some of these discounts. I chose the Ayres 2008 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir for $18.90 (regular price $21) and the Patricia Green 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir at $22.50 (regular price $25). Normally I would save the Oregon wine purchases for my tasting room adventures, but both of these wineries are not open to the public, so there's my out!

who needs Manolos?

P.S. Get ready for a weekend post, Hervé and I will be heading down to check out some harvest action...and maybe even pop in at Thistle in McMinnville.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How much is too much?

I have taken a neutral to positive approach in documenting my wine findings and waxing on Oregon Wine Country in general. I believe this is the best position for me in this project for many reasons. BUT something has stuck in the back of my mind for the last few weeks, so I figure it is worth sharing. It has to do with the price of tastings. I am 100% behind charging a tasting fee at wineries and tasting rooms. For many in this business the profit margin is thin and the tasting fee can help offset the cost of keeping the doors open to the public. I believe the system of charging a fee that is waived with purchase is smart. It encourages patrons to buy wine, which is part of the point, right?
I spent a good week tasting wine in Sonoma in August and there were tasting fees at every winery we visited, almost all of them waived the fee with purchase. Shockingly, we came home with cases of wine in our trunk. The most expensive tasting we did on the trip was at the sparkling wine house Domaine Caneros (in Napa). It was $15 for a flight of 3 sparklings, with more expensive tasting options offered. I guess it is because of this relatively recent trip, and all of my Oregon wine research as of late that I am a bit put off by the $20 tasting fee at Bergstrom Winery in Newberg. It has been at the top of my list, but I just can't bring myself (or anyone who is with me) to pay that amount. I am not sure what the tasting includes, but I do know the price of a 2007 bottle of Pinot Noir ranges between $55 and $75. I realize this is a limited production winery, dedicated to producing exceptional wines, and there is no doubt in my mind they are exceptional, but $20?!!!! That is 4 tastings at several other wineries in the area.

I wonder, are the tasting fees a deterrent for people to visit Oregon Wine Country?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wine Bible Disclosed

I realize now I should probably share my Wine Bible with the rest of you, and honestly, Wine Trails of Oregon becomes more biblical in my world by the day.

I was perusing Powell's wine section earlier this summer and found 3 used books to help with my R & D. Before I went to check out I headed up to the travel section, where I inevitably wander on every trip to Powell's. It was here I saw Wine Trails of Oregon, it was on the "staff recommended" shelf. I had told myself used books only for this project, but when I saw this book-already substantiated by a discerning staff, I couldn't afford NOT to buy it. Simply put, Steve Roberts took on the daunting task of visiting all 200 open to the public wineries in Oregon and then neatly organized his journey in an easy to use, extremely comprehensive guidebook. Ask anyone who has sat shotgun with me to wine country, this book is essential. Check it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I like Thursdays!

Man, although wine country is all a flutter with harvest, I must say Meghan and I felt like we had the region to ourselves!

We were excited to check out Lenné in Yamhill. From what I have heard, this vineyard is producing top quality grapes and the Pinots are duly noted. We did some shuffling of schedule on our way and ended up at Lenné a little before noon. The long drive up to the tasting room was steep and I tried not to be distracted by all of the horses in the adjacent field. As luck would have it, the gates to the property were closed. We realized we were there before they opened. It was a great photo opp, so here you go!

Within a few minutes a car pulled up behind us and the proprietor of the estate let us eager beavers in. Let me tell you, this tasting room is stunning. Definitely an aesthetic I love, very French country home with a ton of Northwest accents. It sits on a gorgeous piece of land and it was nice to have it all to ourselves. Steve opened up the tasting room and the Pinot started flowing. I was excited about the Le Nez, french for nose, and a play on the name of the estate. Meghan did the tasting and from the looks of it, was very happy. Steve told us a lot about the evolution of Lenné and how they currently operate. I had read that for a time Steve and his team were looking for 15K investors to help take the business to the next level. At the time this was fairly public (I read it in my Wine Bible) . He told us, unsurprisingly that people really came out of the woodwork-lets face it, wine is sexy. If you've got 15K sitting around, it'd be nice to be associated with such a fun business.
After waxing on the erroneous way some (unmentioned) wine publications choose editorial features/ratings, it was time to move on. A bottle of Pinot each and we were off!

Next stop: Trisaetum. One thing I have noticed in all of this winery research is how many "combo" names are out there. Nearly every winery has a story behind the name and Trisaetum is no exception. A blend between Tristen and Tatum, the children of the vineyard owners. Trisaetum sits up on Ribbon Ridge Road, which is scattered with some notable wineries. Once again upon arrival, Meghan and I were the only ones there. Trisaetum is a new and very nice winery. The tasting room is vast and houses and art gallery which showcases the art of one of the owners James Frey (not to be confused with the author/embellisher). The art was interesting. A lot of it played off the terrior of Oregon wine country.
We were lucky enough to have Courtney, the tasting room gal offer to give us a cave tour. It was right below the tasting room and it was awesome! Of course the first question Meghan and I asked "Do you have parties down here?!" Answer being yes, BUT you must be a club member. This is a great perk if you ask me. She said they are hosting a dinner for 50 in a few weeks being catered by the Art of Catering. This no doubt will be fabulous. Although with the temperature hovering around 55 degrees, the dress code is very North Face meets Uggs.

We left Trisaetum with a bottle of dryish Reisling each (being stored for the next Racelette dinner party) and headed for Dundee Bistro for some much needed nourishment. The weather was gorgeous and we nabbed a table outside. Food per usual: excellent.

Another successful wine country voyage! Geez, at this rate I will have made my way through my wine bible in oh, 2 years?!

Lesson learned: Thursdays are a great day to go wine tasting-do it.

We're Off!

I'm on my way to pick up Meghan for another wine country adventure-stay tuned!!!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Prepare for more tourists

Trip Advisor, the largest international trip planning community website (so it says) has recently published the top 10 wine country destinations in the US and Oregon shows up not once, but twice on the list. The Willamette Valley follows the easily guessed Napa and Sonoma to take the #3 spot.

Here it is. Trip Advisor does Wine


In Action

Harvest is in FULL swing! From the sounds of it, this is going to be an epic year for wine. I thought this video, from one of Oregon's coveted wine makers Ken Wright, was worth sharing. It's easy to overlook the massive amount of labor involved in getting just the right juice in a bottle.

Check it!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Oregon A Taste of Wine

I took an internet marketing class yesterday and as we went around the room introducing ourselves, I realized I knew one of the other students. When Janis started talking about his business as a world renowned photographer with clients like National Geographic under his belt, I was brought back to my babysitting days in Lake Oswego. I had watched this guys 2 boys a time or two. Well, fast forward a good 20 years. Janis's most recent project ironically is a beautiful book on Oregon Wine Country! Needless to say I ran straight to Powell's after class. I can honestly endorse this book, not only as a gorgeous lens into the vast beauty of wine country, but also a very informative book, as it contains interviews with many of the pioneers and key figures in the world of Oregon wine as it stands today. Oregon A Taste of Wine would make a great gift or, if you're like me, a great addition to an ever-growing library of books capturing the beauty of Oregon's Wine Country.

Check it. Janis Miglavs, Oregon A Taste of Wine

As an aside, you may have noticed that there is no wine country visit on the agenda this week. In preparation for the Portland marathon Sunday, I am abstaining from wine this week. This might actually trump the training!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Feelin Lucky?!

I just stumbled upon this video made by the team at Sokol Blosser winery in Dundee. I am a huge fan of SB for countless reasons. Yummy wine? Check. Sustainable practices? Check. Great tasting room ambiance? Check.

I actually think I was at the winery the day part of this video was made. As I was cruising down the driveway back to 99 I saw Alison and Kitri in the vines-camera in hand.

Check it!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Done Right

Oregon Bounty, a long-running program from Travel Oregon produced a very cool campaign to create buzz around the food and drink scene that has become so vital to Oregon tourism. This summer they advertised a chance to win a Cuisinternship, in which winners would have the opportunity to shadow one of several different epicurean adventures, including a chance to participate in wine country harvest at Penner-Ash (not a bad place to learn a thing or two about making wine). How cool? And how cute is that Gabe Rucker?!

Check out some of the video submissions. Has me salivating....
Oregon Bounty Videos


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Eye Candy

While exploring the new and impressive Hawks View Cellars in Sherwood a few weeks ago, my girl Jolie Goodson captured some beautiful photos. (apparently very easy when you are Jolie, Check out a few of my favorites.

Friday, September 25, 2009

My kind of tasting experience

Today I was lucky enough to have 3 willing partners in crime for another wine country adventure. Allyson, Jackie and Jolie met at our house and we were out the door before noon. First stop, Montinore Estate in Forest Grove . We were impressed at first sight as this Estate sits up on a gorgeous piece of property and the aesthetic of the tasting room was really elegant and inviting. I think we hit the jackpot in terms of service. We were the only ones there and had Amy, the tasting room gal's undivided attention. She was throwing out facts about the winery and the surrounding area faster than I could write! Luckily, I found the video option on my camera, so I will attach a clip of Amy explaining the organic and biodynamic methods the winery practices. We tasted some nice wines and were shocked by the affordability of the bottle prices. Amy explained the owner prides himself on producing top quality, sustainable wine at a price point that doesn't break the bank. The most expensive wine on the flight was $35-which can often be the STARTING price of a Pinot in Oregon. Most wines at Montinore are less than $20. I was stoked with the Forest Grove Cellars (the 2nd label at Montinore) Merlot from 2007. I know many may be shocked that while tasting wine in Oregon, one ends up with Merlot in her bag. I, along with most of America was turned off from even considering Merlot (Sideways?), but after a week of tasting wines in Southern Oregon and Sonoma, I realized I really enjoy Merlot. So there you have it!

Amy mentioned that Argyle is now producing a sparkling Pinot Noir. This had our interest piqued, big time. It is like 2 rights making a super right. I was familiar with the concept from my days in Australia, where sparking Shiraz, served chilled was all the rage. I find my nearest and dearest to be vast in many ways, but one common thread seems to be a serious passion for bubbles. We immediately rethought our daily schedule and decided to make our way to Carlton for a bite and then cruise down to Dundee to taste this elixir for ourselves.

We made our way to the cute town of Carlton where several fabulous wineries and tasting rooms reside. We popped into the Horse Radish where we shared plates of cheese, olives, tuna and chicken salads and split 2 glasses of Patricia Green Pinot. Yummy!!! Our server suggested we head out the back door on our way out and peek Raptor Ridge's tasting room. By the time we were heading out, we realized we couldn't do it all and sticking close by was probably a better option than Argyle, which would have us in major traffic on the way home. Needless to say, Argyle is at the top of my list for the next trip.

We tasted several Pinots at RR and the highlight for me was a bone dry Pinot Rose. But I just couldn't bring myself to buy a bottle, as I am trying very hard let summer go, and having Rose readily available is not part of this strategy-sadly. RR's tasting room is shared space with the winery facility and apparently we just missed the fruit being delivered for fall harvest. That would have been a treat!

By the time we left Carlton it was after 4. Amazing how the day can fly! Although we only hit 2 tasting rooms, it was a long and leisurely day and I am fairly certain I can speak for my group in saying we gained some insider knowledge in the world of Oregon wine. The nuggets you glean from actually being in the "field" so to speak, cannot be found anywhere else.

On to the next!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Amity Vineyards, who else?

It looks like Amity Vineyards is touting a sulfite-free Pinot, the Eco-Pinot Noir. I have known Amity to pride itself on organic methods-but it looks to be one of the few (Cooper Mountain used to market a sulfite-free wine) available. From what I understand, it is impossible for a wine to be "sulfite-free" as sulfites are found in all grapes undergoing fermentation. But I'm not in this for a science degree, although I do believe we will begin to see more and more "no sulfites added" wine popping up in Oregon. Something to definitely be making note of.

Gearing up for tomorrow! It looks as though I may just have more than 1 co-pilot. Get ready for some fun wine tales.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

NSA Wine...not so bad

I will post more on this tomorrow, but tonight was my 4th(?), time drinking a red wine free of added sulfites and I was again, more than happy with what was in my glass. It was not from Oregon, but CA. I am in the process of researching which wineries in Oregon are practicing sulfite-free methods. Stay tuned...

Vintage Year Ahead

These long hot summerish fall days might make it tough for the kiddies to go back to school, but they make for a promising year in the world of Oregon wine...check out the post on KGW's website. Those with futures should be happy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Well, I BOUGHT it in Oregon

Lord, am I already veering off track? Regardless, I just have to document how excited I am on my first experience with "wine finds" from Cork wine shop here in Portland. In doing all of my due diligence, I have signed up for every wine email newsletter, e-blast, direct mail piece, you name it from wineries and wine businesses all over the state. Cork sent me an email about a great deal on a limited supply of Boroli Nebbiolo D'Alba for just $21 a bottle. Many consider Nebbiolo the poor man's Barolo, and for that price I would have bought cases if I was fully employed...partially employed maybe. I emailed the store requesting 4 bottles and was told the last 2 bottles have my name on them. I fetched the wine tonight at the Alberta location and talked for a bit with Pat, one of the managers. I must say, this store has a serious selection of small production wines from all over the world. About 15% of the wine inventory is from Oregon.

Speaking of Oregon, it looks like Friday will be another field trip down south. As it stands now, I will hit Maysara Winery, The Eyrie Vineyards and Panther Creek. Harvest is lurking, so who knows what I will witness?! Also, it looks like Meghan booked a job with Nike for the week, so my passenger seat is empty. Any takers?!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Round One

Day One and I hit the ground running-new camera in hand (thank you Herve!) I picked up Meghan (an eager co-pilot) at 11:15 and we were off. The hit list: Dobbes Family Estate, Domaine Drouhin & Stoller Vineyards. I have done a fair bit of research on each and was excited to check them out. We could not have asked for a better day. The sun was shining and it was warm, I think the Audi's temp gauge read 88 degrees.

Right off 99W in Dundee sits Dobbes Family Estate, our first stop. I was more familiar with the Wines by Joe label-which is hard to miss in any given wine store. We opted for a full tasting which included the 2007 Wine by Joe Pinot Noir as well as 4 of the Dobbes Family Estate wines. These wines did not disappoint and both Meghan and I left with a bottle of the 2007 Grand Assemblage Cuvee Pinot Noir. Yummy!

Next stop was Domaine Drouhin. The drive alone is intoxicating and once again reaffirms how amazing and picturesque our wine country is. Meghan was in heaven, as any newbie to the area would be. DD is a gorgeous winery and we landed a key spot in the tasting room. Before we knew it, Meghan had joined the wine club and we were talking about future trips to the winery for "club only" events. (Hot air balloon breakfast anyone?!)

Just down the road is Stoller Winery. I have read a lot about Stoller and I am impressed by how sustainable it is in its practices, not to mention its numerous wine accolades. We sat outside and enjoyed the lush surroundings and ended up purchasing a bottle of the delicious JV 2007 Estate Pinot Noir.

Come 4:00 we were hungry! I had been dying to check out the highly hyped Allison Hotel in Newberg and now was the perfect excuse to swing by and enjoy a snack. We pulled up, bypassed the "hybrid and electric car" only parking spots and made our way through the hotel to the terrace. We nibbled on a yummy plate of meat, cheese and fried mushrooms and sipped on a Brick House Pinot. The Allison is a grand endeavour to say the least and I was really glad we were able to end the day here.

It was a glorious excursion and a perfect way to catch up with a friend, do some research and reinforce how EASY it is to escape the daily grind and enjoy a day in Oregon Wine Country.

P.S. the photo is of Meghan at Domaine Drouhin. Cute indeed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Are you with me??????

I admit to being mildly obsessed with the vast world of blogging. I followed Julie Powell's blog on back in 2002, when salon was one of very few places to find a "blog". Now Julie Powell is a millionaire with a bestselling book and a movie staring Meryl Streep. My ambitions are much more modest, rest assured.

Through many a circumstance, which I am sure to elaborate on as this progresses, I am in a position (if only temporarily), to do as I please. And as of now, I please wine. Meaning at any given moment, chances are I am thinking about, talking about or drinking wine. More specifically, Oregon wine. My goal as it stands now, is to establish a meaningful marketing program that will incentivize my contemporary set (more on this later) to explore the impressive wine country that just so happens to rest in our own backyard. DOWNpour is a 360 marketing concept that encourages patronage to Oregon wine country year round.

I will put this out there now because it is important. I am in no way an established wine critic. I have no credentials in the world of wine. Sans for the fact that I have done my fair share of tasting in Oregon, Washington, California, New York and France. I am like most urban 30- somethings who list wine as one of life's constant joys, if not necessities. This is not about featuring Wine Spectator's top picks-there is enough of that being done and it is not my interest. DOWNpour is about highlighting the experience that comes with drinking local wine.

Welcome to my journey. It is here that I will document tasting wines from a shortlist of Oregon wineries that I hope to work with. I see this as the perfect way to learn even more about their wine while simultaneously creating a connection between DOWNpour and my soon-to-be partners.

Get thirsty!