Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene October 23-29

One of the highlights of this past summer was attending my first-ever International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC).  With food and Pinot-centric festivities from morning until midnight, I was able to feast on some outstanding cuisine while enjoying some of the finest Pinots from around the globe.

The menu for the Summertime ¡Salud!

The evening before IPNC officially started, I attended a pre-IPNC dinner fundraising event at the beautiful Stoller Family Estate in the Dundee Hills of Willamette Valley: Summertime ¡Salud! The Big Dinner: Big Bottles. Big Tables. Big Hearts. With 14 incredible wineries from Oregon, California and France, we had the opportunity to taste some rare and highly prized Pinots from Anam Cara, Domaine Drouhin, Shea Wine Cellars, California’s Flowers Vineyard and Winery and France’s Domaine Jean Grivot, to name a few.  We tasted many at the Big Bottle wine reception prior to dinner, while many more were served along with dinner.

The upscale family-style meal was prepared by JORY Executive Chef, Sunny Jin, and was served by the wonderful sommeliers and staff of the sponsor for the ¡Salud! dinner – Allison Inn & Spa.  There was a Marketplace that featured large format and library wines that were available for purchase, with 100% of the sales to benefit ¡Salud!; as well as, one-of-a-kind Cuvées made exclusively for the ¡Salud! auction, sold in cases at a pre-set price of $1,500 per case.

2002 Ponzi Vineyards ¡Salud! Cuvee Pinot Noir

¡Salud! is a collaboration between Oregon winemakers and healthcare professionals to provide access to healthcare services for Oregon’s seasonal vineyard workers and their families.  The relationship between vintners and physicians, united in their mission to benefit this essential workforce, is unique to Oregon.  No other state in the country has such an effective and far-reaching program to support the seasonal worker population.  Since 1992, the program has been supported by ¡Salud!, The Oregon Pinot Noir Auction and other generous contributions.  Since its inception, the mission has raised over $9 million and contributed to the health and well being of thousands of individuals.

In 2012 over 7,400 medical and dental procedures were documented, and over 4,000 workers and family members were registered in the program – an increase of more than 10% percent from 2011.

“Wineries cannot supply health care and other benefits to this vital workforce because they are only with individual vineyards for a short period of time, often just days or weeks,” says event co-chair Donna Morris of Winderlea Vineyard & Winery. “To our understanding, no other agricultural industry in the country supports its seasonal workers at this level, and we donate our best wines as an impactful way to give back to the people who work hard to bring in the grapes to make outstanding wine.”

Salud clinic
Vineyard workers attend a ¡Salud! clinic | photo credit: Andrea Johnson

The next ¡Salud! event will be held November 8 and 9, 2013.  A $395 dollar ticket price includes a Pinot Noir tasting of the heralded 2012 vintage and auction on Friday, November 8, 3:00-6:30 pm at the beautiful Domaine Drouhin in Dayton; in addition to, a Saturday evening Dinner and Auction Gala from 5:30-10:00 pm at Portland’s historic Governor Hotel.

I was completely impressed by the amount of wine that was sold at the Summertime ¡Salud! at Stoller Family Estate.  It’s enlightening to realize the level of care we Oregonian’s are capable of.  

Follow me over to my award-winning website, WineJulia.com for a photo essay of the Summertime ¡Salud! dinner.


Absentee bids are available: (503) 681-1850
Facebook: www.facebook.com/saludauction
Twitter: @saludauction





Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene July 24-30

Beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon at Martinez and Martinez

Having just returned from the gorgeous Horse Heaven Hills AVA in southeastern Washington, I’ve barely had time to unpack while I’m already thinking about what to pack for the upcoming 27th Annual International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC). But, before I dive into what the IPNC is all about, I need to take a moment to write about the incredible Horse Heaven Hills.

Located in an area that boasts a very arid and often windy climate, Horse Heaven Hills is home to both large (Chateau Ste. Michelle) and small (Martinez and Martinez) wineries that have staked a claim to stellar Cabernet Sauvignons.  Spending a few days at the Mercer Estates Ranch House (along with some other wine writers), gave me the opportunity to explore this region and some of its well-known, and lesser-known, wineries that are truly producing some outstanding, high-quality wines. From Viogniers and Chardonnays to Syrahs and Malbecs, there’s a diverse selection that can’t be overlooked, in spite of their big, bold, juicy Cabernets that tend to get much-deserved attention from esteemed wine critics.

It’s not just the wine that made me fall head over heels for Horse Heaven Hills, but it was the people, as well. The folks behind the mouthwatering wines are truly passionate about the land they farm and the wines they create – they love what they do and it shows. They work together to strive for a unified region that reflects their camaraderie and togetherness, it was simply fun just being around them.  Add the beauty of the region to the wine and people, and it’s a little slice of heaven, right here on earth.

View of the Columbia River from my room at the Mercer Winery Ranch House

Although there is much more to write about my visit to Horse Heaven Hills, which I’ll be doing over the next few weeks on my award-winning website WineJulia.com, I’m taking the rest of today to prepare for the upcoming IPNC.

Even though the IPNC doesn’t officially begin until this Friday, I’ll be kick-starting this Pinot-centric celebration Wednesday evening during a live wine tasting and discussion called #WineChat.  #WineChat is a scheduled weekly wine conversation that takes place on Twitter, and this weeks #WineChat will focus on Pinot Noir from the Willamatte Valley. Being hosted by William Allen of Simple Hedonisms, I’ll be joining several other wine writers and popping the corks on Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs from five different wineries: Eyrie Vineyards, R. Stuart & Co., Elk Cove, Montinore Estate and Sokol Blosser.  Wine enthusiasts around the world are encouraged to purchase a bottle of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and join in on this special #IPNC #WineChat.  After popping the cork on a Pinot Noir, simply go to Twitter.com, and type #WineChat into the Twitter search bar to follow all the tweets from everyone who is participating globally.  Adding the hashtags #WineChat and #IPNC to the end of each Tweet ensures that everyone who is participating will see all of the conversations about this special Pinot Noir-centric event.

Stoller night view tasting room
The new tasting room at Stoller Vineyards | photo: Stoller Family Estate facebook page. Snapped by their Farm Manager, Mike Haverkate

Come Thursday, I’ll meet up with featured guest winemakers from Oregon, California and Burgundy on the patio of the Stoller Vineyards new tasting room for a pre-IPNC dinner.  The executive chef from JORY at Allison Inn and Spa, Sunny Jin, will prepare an upscale family-style dinner that will be paired with wines from the featured winemakers.  Having had food prepared by Chef Sunny Jin before; as well as, excellent Pinot Noir from Stoller, I know I’m in for a very special treat.

The IPNC begins the next day, and this three day, world-famous, wine and food event is all about celebrating the Pinot Noirs of the world.  Featuring 70 of the world’s top Pinot Noir wineries and 50 of the Pacific Northwest’s top chefs, this wine and food extravaganza also has seminars, visits to surrounding wineries, walk-around Grand outdoor tastings, a much-talked-about Saturday Night Salmon Bake and a University of Pinot course, to name just a few. Words cannot describe my excitement as I wonder about the incredible Pinot Noirs and Northwest foods I’ll be delving into in just a few days – I am on fire with anticipation and excitement.


Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene July 17-23

Wine Writers life
The life of a wine writer

As I pack-up for my next adventure in the world of wine and wine writing, I’m reminded of how much I love what I do. Although writing about wine takes a lot of time, dedication and research (gotta love the cartoon that says it all), the perks are far beyond what I had imagined when I started down this path.

With loads of exciting travel taking place these past few months, including trips to New York City, Washington, British Columbia and Spain, I also enjoy tasting the wine that gets shipped to my door.  From Tuscany, Italy, to Oregon’s Willamette Valley, I receive a lot of wine and have discovered some unfamiliar varietals and real beauties through samples that are sent to me for review.

Last week, I received an entire case of Oregon Riesling from marketing extraordinaire’s Watershed Communications, and as I pop their corks each week from wineries like Trisaetum, Brandborg, Argyle and Elk Cove (to name a few), I’ll be writing about them on Best Case Scenario on WineJulia.com. In the next few days, I’m expecting several Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs to arrive at my door for an on-line Twitter tasting and #WineChat that will have a focus on the upcoming IPNC (International Pinot Noir Celebration).  Hosted by William Allen of Simple Hedonisms on Wednesday, July 24, 6-7 pm, I am really looking forward to a vibrant discussion and tasting my absolute favorite type of wine: Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

work for winejulia
My husband snapped this photo while I was working

Most recently, I received two different style Müller-Thurgaus from one of my favorite Oregon wineries, Kramer Vineyards. The Müller-Thurgaus, one bubbly and one still, were sent to me for another on-line Twitter tasting, where wine enthusiasts will join each other under the hashtag: #TasteKramerWine.  Not taking place until this Thursday, my will power caved in as the Kramer duo chilled in the fridge – I couldn’t wait, so I popped the corks.

Müller-Thurgau is Kramer Vineyards most popular white wine. With a planting of one small block back in 1986, they have increased the plantings to three acres total. The Müller-Thurgau varietal has an interesting background: It was developed in the 1880s by Dr. Hermann Müller, and until recently, Müller-Thurgau was believed to be a cross between Riesling and Silvaner.  Recent DNA testing revealed that the varietal Madeleine Royale actually pollinated Riesling to produce Müller-Thurgau, so no Silvaner was involved at all.

Kramer Müller-Thurgaus
A duo of Kramer Vineyards Müller-Thurgau – outstanding wines

Tasting one varietal made in two totally different styles was really interesting.  I tried the Kramer Vineyards Celebrate Müller-Thurgau Sparkling Wine ($18) first. Beautifully aromatic, pear, peach, banana, lemon custard and nutmeg were displayed in both aromas and flavors.  The mouthfeel was lush, juicy and totally palate pleasing with loads of soft, tiny bubbles. The tropical fruitiness was perfectly balanced by silky acidity, and I absolutely loved it.  The aromas and flavors of the Kramer Vineyards 2011 Müller-Thurgau Estate ($12) were similar, but richer and more intense with added flavors of dried fruit and ripe apricot.  The mouthfeel was smooth and placid on the front and mid palate, and the finish had a nice shot of lemon zest. They were equally delicious, and both are perfect for summers on the patio, falls by the fireplace and New Year’s Eve.

I only recently started to truly appreciate Müller-Thurgau, and possibly because I’ve had great opportunities, as a wine writer, to taste and experience this unique and delicious varietal.  To learn more about it, pick up a bottle or two and join me for the live Twitter tasting with winemaker Kim Kramer, Thursday, July 18, 6 pm. Use hashtag #TasteKramerWine.





Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene July 10-16

horse heaven hills pretty photo from fb2
Horse Heaven Hills | photo: Horse Heaven Hills Wine Growers Facebook page

I’m feeling like a very happy wine gal these days; blue skies, warm air, and a summer full of stellar wine events and media trips throughout Oregon and Washington – life couldn’t be better. There is much to look forward to, much to be excited about, and a whole lot to write about.

Next week, I’m off to Washington State for a media tour of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA – an American Viticulture Area (located within the larger Columbia Valley AVA) that is world renowned for having some pretty incredible wines. We’ll not only be attending a media tour, where we’ll visit wineries like Columbia Crest, Alexandria Nicole Cellars, McKinley Springs and Mercer Estates (to name a few), but we’ll be attending the 8th Annual Horse Heaven Hills Trail Drive, Wine Tasting and BBQ event, taking place on July 20.  Horse Heaven Hills is about a five hour drive from Eugene, but with a recent sampling of some seriously stellar wines from this area, the drive is going to be well worth it.

jamie goodes IPNC photo
Wine writer Jamie Goode of Jamie Goode’s Wine Blog was lucky enough to attend the famous IPNC | photo: wineanorak.com

Right after I return from Washington, I’ll be packing up once again.  This time I’ll be taking a short drive north to the beautiful town of McMinnville.  I won’t be staying in the place I fell in love with last time I visited McMinnville, (3rd Street Flats), but I’ll be staying in the dorms at Linfield College.  Not without good reason:  the Oregon Wine Board is hosting me for the world-famous IPNC (International Pinot Noir Celebration), which takes place on the Linfield campus.  To be able to grasp how awesome the IPNC is going to be, and because this will be my first time attending, the IPNC website describes this annual event best:

The IPNC is a three-day event, famous around the globe, as a mecca for lovers of Pinot noir and northwest cuisine. During the weekend, world-renowned winemakers, northwest chefs, esteemed media, epicures and wine lovers will gather in McMinnville, Oregon, for three days of exploring Pinot noir, savoring unforgettable meals, and learning and celebrating with luminaries of the food and wine world. Along with the speakers and chefs, it is the relaxing and festive atmosphere that sets the IPNC apart from all other wine events. Whether tasting Grand Cru Burgundy or walking through Oregon vineyards with the grower who planted them, guests find themselves unwinding in picturesque Oregon wine country for what wine legend Jancis Robinson described as “one of the most enjoyable wine weekends in the world”.

Origin 13Another event that’s happening this summer that I’m all charged up about is Origin 13: Feasting with the Wines of Chehalem Mountains and Ribbon Ridge.  With a history that resembles a disaster movie; simultaneous cataclysmic floods, tumultuous winds, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, this movie ends with the creation of soils and qualities that are perfect for growing grapes needed to produce world-class wines. This event will celebrate the accomplishments of all the characters (farmers, doctors, teachers, scientists, artisans) who have made the Chehalem Mountains AVA and Ribbon Ridge AVA the amazing wine regions they are today. Taking place on Saturday, August 10, at ArborBrook Vineyards in Newberg, Oregon, with over 30 wineries showcasing their wines and featured chefs from EaT: An Oyster Bar with The Parrish, Bollywood Theater with Coquine, Wildwood Restaurant, Subterra and Olympic Provisions, this is an event that should not be missed. Just check out the cool poster for this event – the captured theme in the artwork is truly remarkable.

There are a number of exciting wine events going on this summer, and I could continue with few thousand more words in just this single Wine Down! Because I need to sleep at some point, be sure to check the featured event listings on the right side of Wine Down Eugene at least once a week – wine events are emailed to me on a daily basis.