Julia Crowley - Page 3

Heart of Willamette Valley 4th Annual Barrel Tour: Feb. 15


On Saturday, February 15, the Heart of Willamette Winery Association is hosting its 4th Annual Barrel Tour.

Sit back and relax on a guided bus tour and taste great wines from the Heart of the Willamette Valley.  This year, six wineries will be showing off their wines paired with the winery’s favorite appetizers.  Learn from the winemakers how the nectar of the gods is made.

Brigadoon in snow
Brigadoon’s tasting room looking very cozy covered in snow | Brigadoon Facebook page

Participating wineries include:
Spindrift Cellars, Airlie, Benton-Lane, Brigadoon, Emerson Vineyards & 3 Fools.

Take advantage of this excellent offer by stopping at any Heart of Willamette winery to purchase passes or buy them on line at VisitCorvallis.com.

Winery Tour passes are $75 per person which includes a souvenir wine glass, bag of local snack items, and transportation.

Saturday, February 15, 2014
Check in at 9:45 AM

Benton County Fairgrounds
110 SW 53rd
Corvallis, OR 97333

The tour includes visits to 6 local wineries at 5 locations.  Each winery will serve 3 wine selections paired with the winery’s favorite appetizers.  Guided tour transportation from Corvallis will be by charter bus and will highlight the area and vineyards.

2014 Oregon Wine Symposium Feb. 25-26



Oregon wine industry’s largest gathering will be taking place February 25-26, 2014, at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Not only is this the biggest wine industry event of the year, it’s a gathering place for Oregon’s wine community to come together to learn, share and become acquainted.

The Oregon Wine Symposium offers two days of learning about operations from the vineyard to the wine list. With a focus on all aspects of Oregon’s highly successful wine industry, highlights include numerous educational sessions and workshops, a keynote delivered by Steve McCarthy (founder of Clear Creek Distillery), and the Symposium awards dinner featuring Chef Pascal Chureau of Allium, West Linn and wines certified by Low Input Viticulture and Enology (LIVE). The Symposium will wrap up with a Chardonnay technical tasting panel moderated by Robert Brittan of Brittan Vineyards.

Attendance at the event is expected to surpass last year’s record of more than 1,400 attendees, exhibitors and media.

“This is the third year the event has been held in Portland and every year our attendance has grown,” said Leigh Bartholomew, chairwoman of the Oregon Wine Board, sponsor of the event. “The Symposium is one of the highlights of our year, providing a gathering place for our industry to come together as a community, learn and celebrate its achievements.”

Purchase tickets at symposium.oregonwine.org.

Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene February 5-11

The Eugene Fermentation District is now in full swing.  Openings of new urban tasting rooms and wineries, distilleries, a possible cider house and a long standing fermentation center are the core of what is contributing to Eugene’s new-found awesomeness – and it’s all happening in the eclectic, colorful and undeniably funky neighborhood that we all love – the Whiteaker, also known as The Whit.

Fermentation District logo

Surrounded by creative new and established eateries, bakeries and bars, businesses of the fermentation kind that are a part of the Eugene Fermentation District include Kore Kombucha, Ninkasi Brewing Co., Hop Valley Brewing Co., Territorial Vineyards & Wine Co., Falling Sky Pour House Deli, Heritage Distilling Company, Home Fermenation Center, Oakshire Brewing & Pub, Eugene Wine Cellars, Blue Dog Mead, the Oregon Wine L.A.B. and the newest addition, Capitello Wines and Tasting Room.

I recently had the opportunity to spend time at both the Oregon Wine L.A.B. and Capitello Wines and Tasting Room.  Within walking distance of each other, both establishments have their own unique characteristics, ambiance and, of course, stellar wine.


Chef Elizabeth created savory Beef Empanadas, paired with Abacela's '10 Tempranillo
Chef Elizabeth created savory Beef Empanadas, paired with Abacela’s ’10 Tempranillo

The Oregon Wine L.A.B. (Local. Artisan. Brands.) is a place where guys and gals can gather to enjoy owner Mark Nicholl’s William Rose Wines; as well as, other local brands like Keeler Estate Vineyard, Bodner Wine Company and a selection of local craft beers.  Australian born Mark has local bakery, Noisette, making authentic Aussie meat pies that he’s selling in the tasting room, the music that echoes throughout comes from a classic record player that spins a variety of vinyls, and he rents out a room that looks over the tasting room for everything from wine classes to business meetings.  Just last week, I joined in on a class presented by Wine Exploration & Food Pairing for Women that highlighted wine and food pairing basics with a focus on the wines and foods of Spain.

Owned and run by wine expert Roxanne Watson and personal chef Elizabeth Stuart, this was the second class in their series of original classes that include education mixed in with fresh ideas, excellent food, a variety of wine and lively conversation between like-minded women.  Some upcoming classes include The Truth Behind Wine Rankings with a focus on German wines and foods, Selecting and Purchasing Wines with an Italian theme, and the one I’m most excited about, the Sparkling Wine class scheduled for February 20.

Capitello sign at tasting room

Just down the street and around the corner from the Oregon Wine L.A.B. is the new Capitello Wines and Tasting Room.  Hard to miss, the old Lord Leebrick Theatre now adorns the Capitello sign with the logo’s signature crescent moon and stars, outer walls painted in an eye-catching cheery yellow, shuttered windows with box planters, and a wine colored entrance.  Wood floors and warm tones are inviting and cozy, and the wine themed furniture and leather couch are just a few touches that create an excellent ambiance.  A barn-style sliding door that leads from the tasting room to the winery has one of the coolest handles I’ve ever seen: a large wrought iron corkscrew, finished off with a Capitello cork on the pointed end.

I enjoyed a stellar glass of the Capitello Olivia’s Cuvée Brut Rosé and followed up with a tasting of both the Willamette Valley and Marlborough, New Zealand Capitello wines.  What a fun tasting; totally contrasting, yet absolutely delicious Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs – two of each varietal from two completely different regions.  It’s a great way to discover one’s own palate preferences through experiencing regional characteristics.  Owner and winemaker, Ray Walsh, is truly a seasoned and talented artisan that produces high quality, exceptional wine.

The striking corkscrew handle that adorns the slider door in the Capitello Tasting Room
The striking corkscrew handle that adorns the slider door in the Capitello Tasting Room

Follow me over to my award-winning website, WineJulia.com, for detailed tasting notes on each of the Capitello wines; as well as, a recollection of the wines and foods I thoroughly enjoyed while attending the Wine Exploration & Food Pairing for Women class.

Check out the Oregon Wine L.A.B. at 488 Lincoln Street and Capitello Wines and Tasting Room at 540 Charnelton Avenue.  Pick up a map of the Eugene Fermentation District at either location.


Inaugural Westside Beer and Wine Loop – Westside Warehouse District


Claim 52 Brewing, J. Scott Cellars, Noble Estate Winery, and Viking Braggot Company are coming together to host the Inaugural Westside Beer and Wine Loop on Saturday, March 1, from 5-9 pm.  Live music, food carts, beer and wine specials, and a VW van photo booth will make for a fun filled night.  Bailee Jordyn and Peter Giri are among the musicians scheduled to perform, and food trucks Bacon Nation and Smokin’ Oak Bar-B-Q will be joining the festivities.

Noble Estate Line up
photo: Noble Estate Facebook page

More than 40 beers and wines will be available to sample at the four businesses located in the new Westside Warehouse District.  J Scott Cellars, Noble Estate Winery, and Viking Braggot Company tasting rooms are in the 500 block of Commercial Street, and Claim 52 Brewing’s taproom is at 1030 Tyinn Street.

My Party Bus will be providing party bus limo service between Tyinn and Commercial Streets. Starting at Claim 52, shuttle service will run every half hour.  Transportation tickets can be purchased for $10 per person the evening of the event or ahead of time by either calling 541-554-7979 or emailing [email protected]  (Tickets are for transportation only and do not include beer or wine tastings.)

Viking Braggot t shirt and beer
photo: Viking Braggot Facebook page

While at Claim 52, don’t miss out on the PhotoSwagon by Blue Bus Creatives. Their renovated 1973 VW Bus turned mobile photo booth will be snapping photos from 6 – 8 p.m. Hop in the bus to take some hilariously memorable photos of the night and be sure to follow them at www.Facebook.com/bluebuscreatives to find your photos during the event!

Information about each of the Westside Warehouse District businesses:

The mission of Noble Estate Vineyard and Winery is to provide customers with high quality handcrafted wine from grape to bottle.  The Noble Estate wine catalog consists of 15 current releases including Gold Medal Winning Muscat, Viognier, and Pinot Noir.  The Noble Estate Urban Tasting Room is open every Friday night from 4-9 pm.

J Scott award winners
photo: J. Scott Cellars Facebook page

J. Scott Cellars is an urban, boutique winery producing extraordinary, award winning Rhone varietals from the Pacific Northwest.  14 wines are currently available.  J Scott Cellars has two Oregon tasting rooms, one located at the winery in Eugene and one on the coast in Yachats.

Claim 52 Brewing was recently awarded Oregon’s best new nano-brewery by Northwest Brewing News.  Open just over a year, Claim 52 specializes in small-batch European styled ales such as Kolsch brewed with a Northwest flair, as well as more familiar beers like pale ales, reds and IPAs.  Hand crafted, each batch turns out a little different but is consistently tasty and delivered fresh from the tank to the tap.  Claim 52 taproom is open every Friday at 4 pm.

Claim 52 tap handle
photo: Claim 52 Facebook page

Viking Braggot Company specializes in one thing: making braggot, also know as, honey beer. They’ve taken an age old brewing tradition that was pioneered by the Vikings and adapted the concept based on modern Northwest craft beer styles.  Unique varieties of honey and herbs are used to create astoundingly flavorful and balanced brews.

Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene January 29 – February 4

January in Oregon never ceases to amaze me.  It’s as if Mother Nature feels guilty for the months of clouds and mist she casts down on us, so when she sees we are all getting a bit loopy from the looming grayness, she gifts us with two or three days of unbelievable warmth and sunshine.

Who’d have thought flip flops in January?

Her guilt arrived last Friday in the form of a 20-30 degree hike in temperatures along with a cloudless, cerulean blue sky.  The second I heard that Oregon’s Coast was going to have temperatures in the upper 60s, I packed up my husband, kids and myself while determined to find a last minute place to stay along the Coast.

Whenever my boys and I are able to get a weekend away (aside from our camping trips), I always book us a place to stay through VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals By Owner).  A user friendly site that has multiple listings of vacations homes throughout the world, VRBO has numerous photos of each vacation home along with visitor reviews.  I’ve been booking vacation homes on VRBO for for almost 15 years and have stayed in homes ranging from luxurious mountain-top log cabins to sand-filled beachfront cottages.  There’s really no other lodging comparable to those that are like a home away from home.

The super cute VRBO beach cottage called “The Hut” – Florence, OR

Feeling extremely lucky to have found a place on VRBO (last minute) that looked absolutely perfect, the Rhode Island residing owner worked magic by quickly responding to my request, taking our payment and sending us directions and entry instructions within the amount of time it took me to pack a couple bags – I was impressed and feeling very happy to be on our way to the sunny and warm Oregon coast on a late January Saturday.  I packed wine, too, of course.

When we arrived at the adorable A-frame cottage painted in ocean-blue, I was thrilled to discover how breathtaking the panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean were.  The kitchen, living and dining areas were in one room together with the entire back wall made of floor to ceiling glass windows and a sliding glass door.  Beyond the door was an expansive deck with a picnic table, lounge chairs and an endless view of sand and ocean.  There was a small bedroom downstairs and two upstairs, including the master that had the same view as the deck below.  After getting settled in, we took a couple sand discs that were in the garage, some beach chairs (that we brought with us), and headed down the private path to the beach.  Within a couple minutes, we were over the dunes and had miles of sandy shores all to ourselves.

Breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean from The Hut
Breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean from The Hut

Arriving back at the cozy cottage in time to watch the sunset, I opened up one of the bottles of wine we had brought with us: The Pines 1852 2010 Brut Rosé (made from 100% Pinot Noir using the classic Methode Champenoise).  It that was the absolute most perfect sparkling wine to sip while watching the sun dip behind the ocean’s horizon; the pinkish-salmon hue of the wine was the exact same color as the sky – and even the flavors somehow mimicked the sunset.

Crisp and fresh aromas and flavors of apples, oranges and lively cranberries flowed on to the palate in lush, juicy waves highlighted by thousands of tiny, dancing bubbles.  Mid-palate zestiness led to a lively, long-lasting finish filled with vivacious berry and lemon flavors. The color of the sky became more intense as the sun went down, just like the complexity of the wine became more intense as it graced the palate – resulting in a perfect pairing.

The perfect sunset wine: The Pines 1852 Brut Rose’ 2010

The Pines 1852 is located in Hood River, Oregon, along the Columbia River Gorge and has a very interesting history.  Dating back to the late 1800s, an Italian stone mason planted grape vines from his homeland in Genoa, Italy, making The Pines 1852 one of the oldest heritage vineyards in the Northwest.  Other wines produced by the Pines 1852 include Pinot Gris, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, a couple red blends, and of course, Zinfandel and Old Vine Zinfandel.

Check out thepinesvineyard.com.  Follow me over to my award-winning website WineJulia.com for all things wine, food and travel.


Local Lunch Gals Solo: Laughing Planet Café


Although the other Local Lunch Gals weren’t able join me on this lunch outing, I was glad to finally be able to check out Laughing Planet Cafe, even if it meant going solo.

Laughing Planet has two locations in Eugene: one in the Whit on Blair Boulevard in the same strip mall where the new Falling Sky Deli is, and the other on 29th and Willamette just a few doors down from Market of Choice.

Menu specials at Laughing Planet Cafe
Menu specials at Laughing Planet Cafe

Choosing the Whiteaker location because it’s closer to home, I arrived during lunch hour and found that it was pretty busy, but the line leading up to the counter where orders are placed was moving along quite rapidly.  As I waited, I looked around the naturally lit cafe that’s one big room with a an entire wall of windows. There’s table-top seating; as well as, bar seating that runs along the order counter.  I took note of the toy dinosaurs that were randomly placed on tables and shelves throughout, and the orange and green painted walls; along with, brightly colored framed chalkboard menus gave the ambiance a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

Not having a clue what to order from their relatively distinctive and unique menu, I asked the gentleman behind the counter to help me choose something.  Eager to help, he suggested I try the Seasonal special called the Cascadia Bowl: Roasted Pork shoulder (or I could have had baked surata tempeh), puréed maple roasted butternut squash, yams, carrots, herb roasted brussel sprouts, sauteed kale and a side of cranberry-apple chutney.  Intrigued, I took his advice and went with the Cascadia Bowl.

Local brews abound at Laughing Planet
Local brews abound at Laughing Planet

Scanning their list of locally crafted beers from Eugene breweries like Viking Braggot, Oakshire, Hop Valley and Claim 52 (to name a few), I was tempted to have lunch with a pint.  But, since I was going to be picking up my kids at school right after lunch, I decided on a glass of fresh brewed berry iced tea.

After being given an order number and my iced tea, I took a seat at the bar with a bunch of interesting and amusing toy creatures that were enclosed in glass.  From a purple bobblehead poodle to a variety of aliens and alien-like dinosaurs, I think it’s safe to assume kids probably love going to Laughing Planet.

My creature companions
My creature companions

My Cascadia Bowl arrived not long after ordering, and the spice-filled aromas instantly made my mouth water.  The shredded pork shoulder was piled high atop all of the other ingredients, and the gentleman who had taken my order suggested that I pour the cranberry-apple chutney on top and mix it all together – so I did.  The flavors were savory and ambrosial, and I especially loved the herb roasted brussel sprouts.  I was amazed that so many different flavors and textures were able to tie-in so perfectly – each bite was delicious.  Surprisingly, I even enjoyed the kale, which is a vegetable I tend to avoid, regardless of its health benefits.

While I ate, I looked over their menu which is really quite extensive.  From Cuban and Thai Bowls, Lebanese Burritos and BBQ Chicken Quesadillas to homemade soups, salads, smoothies and zappetizers (non GMO tortilla chips and house made salsa), they’ve got dishes for vegetarians and vegans as well as meals prepared without gluten.  Their approach to the food they serve is to get the food from farm to plate as quickly as possible. Whether it’s grass-fed beef from Carman Ranch in Wallowa, Oregon, or vegetables from farms on Sauvie Island along Oregon’s Columbia River, they support the local economy by sourcing foods from local farmers.

The Cascadia Bowl
The Cascadia Bowl

Based out of Portland, with eight restaurants in various Portland neighborhoods, two in Eugene and one in Corvallis, Laughing Planet Cafe’s are considered quick-service restaurants with an approach to sustainability that offer nutritious, affordable and delicious fare, and I can’t argue with that.

I’m looking forward to returning and trying the Lebanese Delight Burrito: Lemon-spiced lentils, grilled veggies, brown rice, cucumber salad with tomatoes and Kalamata olives, romaine lettuce and tahini garlic sauce.  And this time, I’ll bring my two young boys with me – they’ll dig the dinosaurs.

There's no lack of dinosaurs at Laughing Planet Cafe
There’s no shortage of dinosaurs at Laughing Planet Cafe

Learn more about Laughing Planet Cafe at laughingplanetcafe.com.


Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene January 22-28

I think it’s safe to say that everyone who has ever shopped for wine has, at least once, purchased a wine solely because of its packaging -I’m certainly guilty of it. Whether it has an eye catching label with beautiful artwork or boasts a name perfect for a special occasion or holiday, it’s too hard to avoid the urge to bring home a bottle that will undoubtedly be a conversation piece.

Legends Bubble best
Legends Estates “Love Potion” Sparkling Rosé – the ultimate Valentine’s Day wine

When I label shop, it’s usually around Valentine’s Day, Halloween and New Year’s Eve. For each occasion, I’ve found the ultimate wines that are not only high quality and outstanding, but offer packaging that couldn’t be more perfect.

Legends Estates Winery makes a delicious Sparkling Rosé that is affectionately known as Love Potion.  It’s the ultimate wine for Valentine’s Day with its gorgeous pink packaging that boasts a tattoo artists rendering of a heart with wings.  Aromas and flavors of cherries and raspberries are rounded out by lemon zesty crisp acidity, creating a well balanced, delectable bubbly.

For years, I’ve been making the most out of Halloween with a bottle of Ghost Hill Cellars because of the name, of course.  Best of all, however, is whether it’s Ghost Hill’s Pinot Noir Blanc or Pinot Noir – the quality is consistently outstanding and the wine is thoroughly enjoyed to the last drop.

Excellent Riesling with a label that makes a great gift for someone retiring
Excellent Riesling with a label that makes a great gift for someone retiring

For New Year’s Eve, there’s nothing like celebrating with a sparkling wine that has the word “celebrate” on its label.  Kramer Vineyards makes a couple different outstanding Sparkling Wines that both made my best of 2013 list on WineJulia.com: Celebrate! Muller Thurgau Sparkling and a one-of-a-kind Celebrate! Rosé of Carmine bubbly.

I recently came across a few distinctively enjoyable wines that also offered befitting labels for occasions other than Valentine’s Day, Halloween and New Year’s Eve.

For instance, Mercer Estates Winery in Washington, under their Wine Out West label, has a palate-pleasing 2010 Riesling named Gone Fishin’ – perfect for someone who is retiring or going on a long vacation.  Aromas and flavors of peach, pineapple and honey are highlighted by lovely minerality and a touch of acidity.

Know someone who's accomplished something great? Rock Star Red is the perfect gift and is down-right delicious
Know someone who’s accomplished something great? Rock Star Red is the perfect gift and is down-right delicious

A wine perfect for a college graduate or someone celebrating a promotion is Alexandria Nicole Cellars (also out of Washington) 2011 Rock Star Red.  Coined after the collaboration of three “rock star” winemakers, this big, bold beauty is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre and has a silky, lush palate of dark fruit and licorice – delightfully mouthwatering.

For someone who is turning a new leaf, starting over, or on the up and up from sickness, Clean Slate 2012 Riesling out of Mosel, Germany, could not be more appropriate – in name and taste.  Rich tropical fruits and and freshly sliced lime are the highlights of this beautifully balanced wine that refreshes the palate with every sip. It’s fresh, clean and focused.  Ironically, the story behind the name of the winery is somewhat uplifting, as well:

The thin slate stones of our vineyards in the Mosel River Valley are a critical factor in crafting a Riesling of exquisite balance.  So precious are these stones that those which slip into the river are carefully carried back up the treacherously steep vineyard slopes and returned to place.  Reflecting and retaining heat, the slates are essential in riperning grapes in this cool climate, developing the wine’s peach, crisp lime and subtle mineral flavors.

For someone turning over a new leaf, Clean Slate is not only refreshing but boasts a name that is quite relative
For someone turning over a new leaf, Clean Slate is not only refreshing but boasts a name that is quite relative

Keep up with me on WineJulia.com for a soon-to-be published featured piece on the best Sparkling Rosés for Valentine’s Day.

Just getting into wine and want to learn more? Check out these two upcoming local classes:

January 23, 6:30-8 pm, Wine Exploration for Women: Demystifying Wine Tasting

In this inaugural class, students will learn how to use language to describe their personal experiences with wine. The goal of the class is to guide students toward building a personal, reflective wine memory to enhance their future wine tasting experiences. Taking place at the Oregon Wine LAB, 488 Lincoln Street, Eugene 97401. Explore how to develop your wine palate. Register here.  Only 2 seats remaining!

February 15, 5:30-7 pm. Wine Tasting 101 with Wine Events Oregon

Take the intimidation out of wine tasting with this interactive and informative class. Why do we swirl? Is it OK to spit? Why do they say they smell coffee and plums when I just smell wine? This class is for anyone who would like to learn more about wine and wine tasting. Join Denise Rossetti and learn that wine is not rocket science while enjoying some of the valley’s most fabulous wines at J. Scott Cellars tasting room, 520 Commercial Street, Eugene, 97402.  Register here.

Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene January 8-14

Thanks to one of Portland’s awesome PR and marketing companies, Watershed Communications, I’ve been one of a lucky few wine writers to receive two cases of wine, each case filled with 12 bottles of wine that have a common theme.  Dubbed “Best Case Scenario,” Watershed Communications teamed up with participating Oregon wineries to put together a case of Pinot Noir and a case of Riesling.

12 Oregon Rieslings await to be sampled from the second Best Case Scenario shipment

The theme of the first case I received was, “From Blockbuster to Beauty: The Evolving Style of Oregon Pinot Noir.”    With twelve stellar Pinot Noirs, coming from wineries like Brandborg, Brooks Winery, Montinore Estate, Atticus and Johan Vineyards (to name just a few), I was able to explore and review each Pinot while sharing information on the wineries, quotes from the winemakers, winemaking philosophies and, of course, the quintessential wine-geek information.  Each wine was highlighted in separate articles under the Best Case Scenario tab on my award winning wine-centric website, WineJulia.com.

The theme of the second case I received, which I’m just starting to explore now, is “Oregon Riesling: Our Best Kept Secret.”  An information sheet on the Riesling theme was included inside the box of wines:

We at Watershed have put together a mixed case of Oregon Riesling to illustrate its eloquence in translating Oregon terroir.  With its racy acidity and versatility, Riesling is one of the world’s best food pairing wines.  So we’ve asked our producers to share their favorite recipes to serve with the wines they’ve submitted.  We encourage you to make one of these dishes, invite a few friends, taste through the line-up, and share your thoughts.”

BCS IRF chart for Rieslings
International Riesling Foundation Sweetness Scale

They also recommended that the wines be tasted from dry to sweet, as they laid out on the International Riesling Foundation sweetness scale:

I am super excited about discovering these twelve Oregon Rieslings – I have always been a fan of the Riesling varietal, especially with the drier style, terroir driven Rieslings that are commonly produced by Oregon winemakers.

As I did with the Best Case Scenario Pinot Noirs, I’ll be highlighting one of the Rieslings every couple of weeks and sharing my tasting notes along with information on the wineries and winemakers under the Best Case Scenario tab on WineJulia.com.  Since recipes have been added in with the Rieslings, I’ll also be enjoying some great meals with these wines, and I’ll be writing about the food and wine pairings under the Pair This tab on WineJulia.

BCS Argyle Riesling 2011
The driest of the 12 Rieslings: Argyle’s 2011 vintage

The first Riesling I’ll be sampling is Argyle’s 2011 Riesling.  Produced by winemaker Nate Klostermann, who says the 2011 vintage can age 20+ years, endless technique’s and styles are used to experiment with what he believes to be the most age worthy varietal in the world.  The recommended recipe for the 2011 Argyle Riesling is Cochinita Pibil, pulled pork shoulder marinated and braised in achiote paste, orange juice, and lime.  Wish me luck with that one!  It sure sounds tasty, however, and I’m certainly looking forward to beginning this Oregon Riesling and food adventure – keep up with me on WineJulia.com.

Wine Down Eugene: Special New Year’s Eve Edition


Wine Down Eugene December 30 – January 7

Every New Year’s Eve, family and friends gather at my house for a feast of tasty appetizers and filled flutes of shimmering sparkling wine.  We eat, sip and celebrate while watching the festivities unfold in New York City’s Times Square via Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.  It’s become a tradition – one we look forward to each year.  With tradition comes appetizers that are so immensely enjoyed that they must be made each year.

The three dishes that guests rave about most each and every year are Neuchatel Cheese Fondue, Chunky White Chocolate S’mores and Hot Caramelized Onion Dip with Bacon and Gruyère – the ultimate crowd pleasers, and all three delectable goodies are stellar with any Dry or Brut style sparkling wine or Champagne.

Below are two of the three recipes.  For the third and most popular recipe of all, follow me over to my award-winning website WineJulia.com for Hot Caramelized Onion Dip with Bacon and Gruyère

Cheese FonduNeuchatel Cheese Fondue


8 ounces each Gruyère, Emmentaler and Appenzeller
1 pound loaf of good rustic Italian bread like Pugliese
1 garlic clove
1 & 1/4 cups of dry white wine (I use dry Gewürztraminer)
1 tbsp cornstarch
6 tbsp Kirsch (I use Calvados Apple Brandy)
Freshly grated nutmeg


Trim rind from cheese; cut into very small cubes. Cut bread into bite-size cubes.
Peel and halve garlic; rub the inside of the fondue pot with it. Pour wine into fondue pot and heat slowly on the stove. Gradually add cheese, stirring constantly in a figure 8 with a wooden spoon. Let cheese melt over low heat, then bring to the bubbling point.
Whisk cornstarch with kirsch until smooth, pour into cheese and let bubble. season with pepper and nutmeg. Stir only until thickend and smooth.
At the table, keep fondue hot on the burner over a small flame. Have bread ready. Stir the cheese mixture while dipping the bread cubes to keep its consistency creamy.
Tip: High quality cheese is the key to a successful and delicious cheese fondue.


IMG_3705Chunky White Chocolate S’mores


1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg $
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup uncooked regular oats
3/4 cup crisp rice cereal
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 (4-ounce) bars white chocolate, broken into chunks, or 1 1/2 cups white chocolate morsels
12 large marshmallows


Beat shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; add sugars, beating well. Add egg, beating until blended.
Combine flour and next 4 ingredients in a separate bowl; gradually add to sugar mixture, beating after each addition.
Stir cereal, vanilla, and white chocolate into mixture.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets; flatten with fingertips. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool slightly on cookie sheets; remove to wire racks to cool. Store in tins.
Place marshmallows on a long stick or skewer; toast over low heat (below 300°), 3 to 5 minutes or until golden. Place 1 marshmallow on a cookie, and top with a second cookie.
Note: I used Lindt Classic Recipe White Chocolate Bars




Wine Down Eugene: Special Sparkling Edition


Wine Down Eugene December 25-31

‘Tis the season for bubbles.  Whether enjoying an American Sparkling wine, a Cava from Spain, Prosecco from Italy or Champagne from France, there’s just something about celebrating the holidays with a glass of wine that shimmers and sparkles with its millions of tiny bubbles.  There’s truly no other wine out there that expresses celebration quite like sparkling wine does.

sparkling Kramer Rose of Carmine

With a recent influx of family and friends visiting from out of town for Christmas, I’ve had my fair share of popping the corks on some stellar sparkling wines from around the globe – glasses filled with bubbles and the clinking of cheerful toasts have been a constant flow at my house these past few days.  From a one-of-a-kind Rosé of Carmine produced by Oregon’s Kramer Vineyards to a well-known Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut Champagne from France, here’s a list of some my favorites that will be perfect for ringing in 2014.

Zardetto Prosecco Brut Treviso DOC Non Vintage ($16) – Tropical fruit aromas and flavors abound in this juicy, refreshing Prosecco, but the long lasting finish was what really stood out with its delicious pineapple and lemon characteristics. Hailing from the Veneto region of Italy, Zardetto is an easy find at wine shops and grocery markets since there were 1,200,000 bottles produced.


sparkling zardetto

Kramer Vineyards Celebrate! Rosé of Carmine ($30) – Unlike the Zardetto, the Rosé of Carmine is not an easy find – only a total of 528 bottles were produced.  To the Kramer’s knowledge, this is the only sparkling wine produced from the Carmine grape anywhere in the world.  Intense fruity aromas of cranberries, raspberries and watermelon flow onto the palate in pleasing, complex layers of crisp, refreshing and lush waves.  Bold, yet elegant and absolutely unique – and an ambrosial pairing with Bourdin fresh chèvre cheese.

Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut ($50) – Perrier-Jouet is one of France’s well-known Champagne Houses that produce stellar sparkling wine year after year, with their very first vintage dating back to 1825 – they’ve even got some from that first vintage conserved.  The Grand Brut is simply divine with elegant aromas and subtle flavors of apples, citrus and buttered toast.  Delicately rich and well rounded, the zesty lemon finish leaves the palate truly refreshed.

sparkling perrier jouet

Ferrari Perlé 2006 ($35) – Ferrari was founded in 1902, and is located in the mountainous foothills of the Alps in Trento D.O.C., not far from the Trentino region of Italy. Produced from 100 percent Chardonnay, the ’06  Perlé Blanc de Blancs Brut displayed alluring aromas of apple, pear and lemon with a lovely hint of fresh baked sugar cookie and slow roasted almonds.  Creamy and lush on the palate, this bubbly beauty was perfectly balanced by crisp acidity, and it finished with lingering notes of fresh pastries.

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige ($25) – Sourced from more than 50 prime Napa Valley Vineyards, the Brut Prestige is Mumm Napa’s signature cuvée sparkling wine.  Apples and pears on the nose transform on the palate into dancing fruity bubbles highlighted by vanilla and spice.  Excellent acidity rounds out the fruity characteristics to produce an outstanding balance with a crisp, vibrant finish.  Delicious.

sparkling mumm napa

I was a lucky wine gal in 2013 – I traveled quite a bit and had many opportunities to taste incredible sparkling wines from well-known to little known wine regions around the globe.  The sparklers mentioned above are just 5 of over 15 sparkling wines that left me highly impressed, follow me over to WineJulia.com for the full list. 



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