Kramer Vineyards

Wine Down Eugene

///

Wine Down Eugene April 2-8

Spring has arrived in the Willamette Valley.  Along with the usual rain, blue sky one day, grey sky the next, enhanced by massive diurnal swings in temperature from day to night – everything is pretty normal around here this time of year.  Except one thing: I usually fill my glass with Pinot Noir up until the day I dust off my flip flops, but this spring, I just can’t seem to keep my hands off of Oregon’s Chardonnays.

photo: Julia Crowley
photo: Julia Crowley

Those who know me well, know I have always been a fan and advocate of the Willamette Valley’s Chardonnays.  My devotion and appreciation for the Chardonnays produced in the Willamette Valley has a lot to do with the region’s cooler climate.  Wine grapes grown in cooler climates produce less sugar; therefore, the grapes retain a greater natural acidity than wine grapes grown in warmer climates.  Natural acidity in wine creates crisp and refreshing characteristics that I simply love, and Chardonnays that have that natural acidity tend to be very food friendly – making them a staple at the lunch or dinner table.  No matter how food-friendly they are, however, I often find myself sneaking in a few moments of spring’s occasional sunshine and warmth while simply sipping a chilled glass of Chardonnay all on its own.

I recently participated in an on-line virtual tasting of three absolutely outstanding Oregon Chardonnays produced by one of my favorite Oregon winemakers, Kim Kramer (of Kramer Vineyards), located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA of the Willamette Valley.  With three Dijon clone Chardonnays, each produced from grapes grown on the estate vineyard, we tasted Kramer Vineyards 2009 Cellar Door Club Reserve, 2011 Chardonnay Estate and 2012 Chardonnay Estate.

photo: Julia Crowley
photo: Julia Crowley

Each of the three Chardonnays were unique thumbprints of the weather patterns of their harvested years – showcasing excellent varietal characteristics special to their vintage, terroir and Kim’s impressive winemaking style.  In all three vintages, Kim used basically the same winemaking techniques (with some variation in new, older and neutral French oak selection): harvested by hand and whole cluster pressed in October, primary fermentation in stainless barrels, aged on the lees with bi-monthly stirring until spring racking, heavier lees discarded and returned to barrels to age (and to undergo malolactic fermentation) until bottling in the fall.

All three were incredibly different, yet similar in quality and deliciousness. 

Kramer Vineyards 2009 Cellar Door Club Reserve ($20) offered rich and beautiful aromas of pears, apples, pineapple. On the palate, that richness was matched with a lovely, velvety texture that finished with the perfect amount of acidity to round out the rich fruit flavors to ideal precision.  The Willamette Valley had almost record long hang time in 2009, and the fruit was riper than usual because of a heat spike in late September.  Overall, most vintners considered it a warmer than average season.  Brix at harvest for the Cellar Door Club Reserve was 22.5, alcohol is 13.5% and the TA (total acidity) is 6.3 g/l (grams per liter)

photo: Julia Crowley
photo: Julia Crowley

Kramer Vineyards 2011 Chardonnay Estate ($18) displayed alluring tropical aromas and flavors of Key limes, mangoes, orange blossom and pineapple topped off with hints of mouthwatering white pepper.  Super refreshing and crisp on the palate, I loved the solid acidic backbone that rounded out all of the components in excellent harmony.  The weather in the Willamette Valley in 2011 was a huge challenge for vintners.  Spring came late and summer never really warmed up.  According to the 2011 Oregon Vineyard Report, “sugar levels developed slowly, but heavy pruning and favorable fall weather led to a quality crop. Many growers harvested later than ever before, risking late-season disease and animal exposure…the consensus was that 2011 will be a memorable vintage.”  Brix at harvest was 19.3, alcohol is 12.5% and the TA is 8.0 g/l.

Kramer Vineyards 2012 Chardonnay Estate ($20) was like tropical paradise in a bottle, I had visions of sandy beaches and swaying palms.  Star fruit, pear, coconut, pineapple, grapefruit, limes and peaches all take over the senses, but aren’t overpowering – giving it elegance and delicateness. Seamless, soothing waves of fruit balanced by awakening (but not jolting) acidity gave it a really smooth, fluid and tranquil quality that I absolutely loved.  I just wanted to be on a beach somewhere.  Some called the 2012 growing season in the Willamette Valley “epic,” and many of the most notable quotes from vintners around the Willamette Valley were compiled for a piece I wrote on my website, WineJulia.com: 2012 Harvest Quotes – Willamette Valley.  Brix at harvest were 21.9, alcohol is 13.2% and TA is 6.7 g/l.

photo: Julia Crowley
photo: Julia Crowley

It’s a fact, I’m attracted to acid driven wines, and the Willamette Valley’s cooler climate and unique terroir (depending on the AVA) acidity is showcased, along with many other characteristics with each growing season.  And because our weather patterns vary greatly year in, year out, I look forward to every vintage with anticipation – excited for a whole new experience.

I try a lot of Oregon Chardonnays, and I recently attended the Annual Oregon Chardonnay Symposium.  Read more on my award-winning website, WineJulia.com. 

 

 

 

Wine Down Eugene

///

Wine Down Eugene February 19-25

It’s been an exciting few weeks in my wondrous world of wine.  First off, I am so completely thrilled about being invited to fill a position on the judging panel for the SavorNW Wine Awards.  This will be my first time judging, and I am truly honored to take part in such a prestigious event; one that focuses on the wines I love most of all – the wines of the Pacific Northwest.

savor nw wine awards medal
I am honored to fill a position on the judges panel for the SavorNW Wine Awards | photo: SavorNW Wine Awards Facebook page

Over the course of two and a half days (while lodging at the beautiful Hallmark Resort & Spa in Cannon Beach, Oregon), our group of judges will be sampling a whopping 550+ wines.  The winners will be announced during the Savor Cannon Beach Wine and Culinary Festival, taking place March 6-9, 2014.  Savor Cannon Beach is four days of wine tastings, culinary events and a wine walk that showcases the fabulous wineries of the Northwest.  Approximately 40 Northwest wineries will be pouring tastings during the Wine Walk on Saturday, March 8; in addition to many other special tastings, a 4 course winemakers dinner at the Stephanie Inn and multiple events that will be happening all around town at galleries, shops and restaurants during the four day festival.  For details on all of the events and to purchase tickets, visit SavorCannonBeach.com.

To add to the excitement of the monumental invitation to join the SavorNW Wine Awards judges panel, I also received a couple invites to participate in virtual tastings this week. And as I’ve said before, one of my favorite wine-writing perks is having the privilege to join-in on live virtual tastings with winemakers from across the globe.  Sampling and discussing featured wines during virtual tastings is the next best thing to actually being there – the learning is perpetually boundless.

lodilive tasting with cheese
An excellent line-up of Lodi wines paired with regional and international cheeses

Last night I was lucky enough to participate in a #LodiLive (check out this hashtag on Twitter) tasting that was broadcast live on yourbrandlive.com featuring four, fantastic wines from the uniquely diverse Lodi wine growing region of California.  this was not your average virtual tasting, however.  Along with the box of four wines I received for the tasting, there was also a box containing four different cheeses – each one diligently chosen by cheesemonger Cindy Della Monica, owner of Cheese Central in Lodi, who paired each of the cheeses with a wine.  The wines ranged from a crisp and zesty 2012 Albaiño produced by Estate Crush wines to a lush and robust 2010 Petite Sirah from Viñedos Aurora – all of which I’ll be writing about in detail on WineJulia.com.

Beginning at 6 pm tonight, using the hashtag #tastekramerwine on Twitter, winemaker Kim Kramer of Kramer Vineyards (and those participating in the virtual tasting) will be popping the corks on four different vintages of Pinot Noir from the Kramer Vineyards Cardiac Hill block of vines – the steepest hillside of vines in their vineyard.

kramer vt vertical cardiac hill
Kramer Vineyards Cardiac Hill Pinot Noirs 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011

Topics of discussion during this very special virtual tasting will largely focus on the conditions of each vintage and how the Kramer’s winemaking has adapted and evolved to the unique circumstances of each year.  The vintages we’ll be sampling and discussing are 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Cardiac Hill Pinot Noirs.

Back in early December, I wrote about a Kramer Vineyards virtual tasting I had participated in where we tasted the 2010 Cardiac Hill Pinot Noir alongside the 2010 Rebecca’s Reserve Pinot Noir.  Both were excellent, and I remember the Cardiac Hill had intensely alluring aromas and flavors of cherries, violets, earth and herbs that were highlighted by a hint of creamy caramel.  The balance was superb and I loved the subtle acidity and soft integrated tannins.  I am so looking forward to sampling the 2010 again.  But to sample it side by side with the 2007, 2009 and 2011 is truly a treat, and 6 pm can’t come quick enough.  Join me for some wine tasting fun!

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: 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. 

 

 

Wine Down Eugene

///

Wine Down Eugene December 4-10

One of my favorite perks of being a wine writer is that I get to participate in virtual tastings on a regular basis.  Virtual tastings take place in real time, on-line, and they always involve at least one social media outlet – usually Twitter.  These virtual tastings are often broadcast live through streaming video on Ustream, Google + Hangout and many other video options.

Kramer PN VT corks
Kramer Vineyards virtual tasting | photo: Julia Crowley

During these virtual wine sipping events, a select group of wine writers will receive samples of the wines being featured during the tasting.  Those writers will help spread the word about the tasting, in hopes that wine enthusiasts around the globe will pick up a bottle of their own, join in on the tasting, and learn about the wines being discussed.  The tasting events are usually hosted by the owners of the wineries being represented and/or the winemakers of the wines that are being showcased and sampled.  Interaction between tasters and owners/winemakers is encouraged through questions and thoughts on each of the wines that are sampled.  It’s truly a brilliant interactive marketing tool that shines the light on wine tasting and education.

The most recent virtual tasting I participated in was with winemaker Kim Kramer of Kramer Vineyards in Gaston, Oregon.  Gaston is located in the Yamhill-Carlton appellation, a part of the larger Willamette Valley AVA.  A group of us joined together on Twitter, using the hashtag #tastekramerwine, and we popped the corks on the wines we’d be discussing.  Being a huge fan of Kramer wines, I’ve participated in several virtual tastings with Kim Kramer; as well as, joining her for a day as a part of the Kramer Vineyards harvest crew during the super-fun, annual Oenocamp.

Kramer PN VT 2 bottles
Cardiac Hill 2010 vs Rebecca’s Reserve 2010 | photo: Julia Crowley

This particular Kramer virtual tasting focused on two 2010 vintage Pinot Noirs (Cardiac Hill and Rebecca’s Reserve) from two different blocks of Pinot at Kramer Vineyards: Cardiac Hill block and Rebecca’s block.  Although both blocks of vines contain the same clones of Pinot Noir, Pommard and Dijon 115, the two bottled Pinot Noirs have very different qualities and characteristics – reminding me how terroir (the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate) plays a major role in defining each and every wine.

Planted in 1995, the Cardiac Hill block of vines (on Willakenzie soil) are 18 years old and sit at an elevation of 662 feet above sea level – sloping at 17.5 percent.  The spacing between the vines is 4 feet by 10 feet.  The Rebecca’s block was planted in 1992, so the vines are 21 years old and planted in Peavine soil, sitting at an elevation of 727 feet with an 11 percent slope.  Spacing between rows of vines is 4 feet by 4 feet with a 10 foot tractor break every fourth row.

Both the Rebecca’s Reserve and Cardiac Hill Pinot Noirs were excellent.  The Rebecca’s Reserve showcased aromas and flavors of raspberries, cherries, mushroom and earth.  As time went on, the mushrooms and earth would intensify – 30 minutes later, the fruit would be more prominent. And then the mushrooms and earth would take over again, while a white pepper finish would linger – it was a super fun wine to drink.  The Cardiac Hill had intensely alluring aromas and flavors of cherries, violets, earth and herbs with a hint of creamy caramel.  Soft integrated tannins and lovely acidity created a harmonious balance.

Kramer PN VT pouring
Pouring the Rebecca’s Reserve for the virtual tasting | photo: Julia Crowley

Set apart in mouthfeel and characteristics, they still displayed binding qualities of fruit and earth. Both were outstanding and showcased the diversity and complexity of the Willamette Valley to perfection – this is why I Iove Oregon Pinot Noir.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter and Snooth; as well as, my award-winning website WineJulia.com for notifications of upcoming virtual tasting events.

 

Wine Down Eugene

///

Wine Down Eugene September 18 – 24

KV barrels and vines
Kramer Vineyards

I just returned from the 2nd Annual Oenocamp at Kramer Vineyards, where I became part of the harvesting crew for a day.  Oenocamp takes place each year at the gorgeous hilltop vineyards at Kramer, where wine enthusiasts are given the chance to find out what it takes to produce sparkling wine at one of Oregon’s up and coming signature sparkling wine facilities.  With 30 years of Oregon winegrowing under their belts, the Kramer’s know what they’re doing when it comes to growing and producing fine Oregon wines.

Kim’s first success at producing a sparkling wine (from excess Chardonnay grapes) was at Salem’s St. Innocent Winery in 2006, where she had been working since 2000 – beginning in the tasting room.  Her time at St. Innocent encouraged her to think about pursuing a career in winemaking.  Kim joined the winemaking team at her family’s business, Kramer Vineyards, in 2008, and in 2009 the first Brut vintage was released.  In 2010, Kim worked harvest in Burgundy, France, and she brought her knowledge back home to Oregon and Kramer Vineyards, where she continues to produce not only excellent sparkling wine but still wine, as well.

KV Pinot Gris signAlthough the plan for Oenocamp was to pick the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes used for the production of their sparkling wine, last week’s spike in heat caused an earlier than planned harvest of those particular grapes, so our Oenocamp group headed out to the vineyards to pick Pinot Gris.

With buckets and sheers in hand, after enjoying coffee and delicious cinnamon rolls from Maggie’s Buns, we headed into the many rows of vines at the top of the vineyards, where valley and vineyard views were simply breathtaking.  Our group of Oenocampers picked enough grapes to fill 12 bins, equaling about 5.5 tons, which went straight to the sorting line and into the press – enough for three press loads and nine hours of pressing juice.

KV bins of Pinot Gris
The fruit of our labor at Kramer Vineyards – Oenocamp

After the first press load was done, Kim showed off her sabering skills by slicing off the top of a Kramer Vineyards 2011 Brut with a machete, and we all toasted the 2013 vintage with a glass of the Brut; dry, crisp, refreshing and down-right delicious – a stellar sparkling wine for a harvest celebration.   Ambrosial quiche, salad, fruit and bread (also from Maggie’s Buns) were served up for lunch next to the vineyards, and we were able to enjoy both the 2010 and 2011 Brut sparkling wines.

Since Oenocamp started early in the morning on a Monday, we stayed the night before and the night after the event at one of three vacation homes at the gorgeous Stoller Family Estate, located in the heart of Willamette Valley’s Dundee Hills.  Staying in Stoller’s Cottage at the Pond was an incredible experience and included an amazing tasting with Stoller winemaker Melissa Burr, Marketing Communications Manager, Betsy Hannnaford, and Stoller’s brand new Business Development Manager, James Falvey.  The one year old tasting room at Stoller is simply stunning.  Salvaged wood from a fire that took place in southern Oregon graces the ceilings and mimic the rolling hills of Dundee. A terrace just outside the floor to ceiling walls of windows (that lift up like garage doors) have views of the vineyard blocks as they gracefully climb up the rolling hills – it’s absolutely gorgeous.  As guests staying in the Cottage at the Pond, which can be booked through VRBO.com, we checked into our cozy house to find a welcome bottle of the 2009 Stoller Dundee Hills Pinot Noir.  Sitting under some tumultuous looking skies on the patio of the Cottage, we enjoyed every sip of the dark cherry, earthy, mushroomy, stellar Pinot Noir.

SV 09 Pinot Gris
Enjoying a delicious Pinto Noir at Stoller’s Cottage at the Pond

Follow me over to WineJulia.com for a fantastic photo essay of Oenocamp at Kramer Vineyards.  I’ll also be writing in detail about our time at Stoller and the many incredible wines we tasted during our stay.  Cheers.

Wine Down Eugene

//

Wine Down Eugene September 4-10

Although September is harvest month for Oregon wineries, wine enthusiasts may be surprised to know that many of the state’s wineries and winery associations put on exciting harvest events during this Autumnal Equinox month.

IMG_2473
Ripe and ready to be picked Pinot Gris

I’ve always felt that the best way for wine enthusiasts to celebrate harvest is to get involved – literally.  One hands-on harvest event that I’m really looking forward to this year is Kramer Vineyard’s 2nd Annual Oenocamp.  From the vineyard to the crush pad, I’ll be joining in as part of the Kramer crew for a day and assisting in harvest for the 2013 méthode traditionelle sparkling wine.  The tentative schedule has guests arriving at Kramer Vineyards in Gaston, Oregon, for coffee and pastries between 8:30 and 9 am.  From 9-10 am, we’ll harvest the grapes, and then we’ll all meet at the Kramer crush pad to saber a bottle of Brut, toast the 2013 harvest, and load the press with the harvested grapes.  Once the press is started, harvest goers will enjoy a catered lunch and take home a souvenir bottle of the 2011 Brut.

Since I’m what some may call a bubblehead (meaning I love sparkling wine), Oenocamp is the ultimate harvest experience for me. Taking place on Monday, September 16, tickets for this event are still available and can be purchased by clicking here.

IMG_2474
Freshly harvested Pinot Gris clusters

Another fun harvest event taking place Saturday, September 14, is the Carlton Crush Yamhill County Harvest Festival.  Wine enthusiasts can participate in a grape-stomp, wine thief relay race and barrel rolling competition.  With Midway games, helicopter rides, a magician and a watermelon eating contest for kids, this is an event that is great for all ages. There’s no better place than Carlton for an event like this; it’s a small close-knit community that is totally wine-centric and one-of-a-kind. There’s no entry fee or admission charge for Carlton Crush, for more information visit CarltonCrush.com.

Willamette Valley Vineyards are the pros at hosting grape stomp competitions.  Their 23rd Annual Grape Stomp and Harvest Celebration, taking place on September 21 and 22, is their most anticipated event of the year. Attracting visitors all over the country to their grape stomping competition, the winners will earn a trip to Santa Rosa, California for the World Grape Stomp Championships.  Costumes or team uniforms are encouraged, and there’s even a Kids Stomp, making this event fun for the entire family.  For more information visit, wvv.com.

For wine enthusiasts who want to enjoy the bounties of harvest (without obtaining wine stained feet from grape stomping or back aches from hand-picking grapes), check out Sarver Winery’s Lowland Cajun Boil.  Live music and a dinner to remember, each September the Sarver’s host a Cajun themed feast offering traditional gumbo and a Cajun boil filled with prawns, sausage, corn and red skinned potatoes.

sorting line at wvv
sorting line at Willamette Valley Vineyards | photo: Willamette Valley Vineyards facebook

For those that are wine club members at King Estate, one of their best events of the year happens in September: Harvest Moon Celebration. A true celebration of the season’s bounty, the four-course prix fixe menu is paired with library and limited wines, including dishes like Salad of Grilled Melon made with Ferns’ Edge Feta, Roasted Corn, Strawberry, Smoked Pumpkin Seeds, Watermelon Vinaigrette and Olive Oil-Citrus Cake made using Estate Blueberries, Rosemary-Honey Sauce, Vanilla Ice Cream, Lavender Tuile.  With a menu that features fresh produce and foods from the King Estate orchards, gardens, charcuterie kitchen, and bakery; along with, high quality ingredients from local vendors, this is one event not to be missed for wine club members – it’s one of the many reasons why I’m a member, and the Harvest Moon Celebration is truly the ultimate way to celebrate the bounties that our beautiful region supplies for us.

For special wine related events happening in and around Eugene, check the Featured Events listings in the right hand column on Eugene Daily News often – these are updated as information is submitted to us.  For more wine events happening around Oregon, check out the Events tab on my award-winning website, WineJulia.com.

 

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 June 19-25

kramer carmineMy schedule for the next week is packed full of all sorts of exciting wine events, from a virtual wine tasting of a varietal I’m completely unfamiliar with, to literally exploring and tasting wines from several wine regions located on the Mediterranean coast of southern Spain.

Starting this evening, with a virtual wine tasting taking place on Twitter with Oregon’s Kramer Vineyards. Produced by second-generation winemaker Kim Kramer, the two wines we’ll be sampling and discussing in the live virtual tasting were made using the obscure Carmine grape: 2012 Rosé of Carmine “Little Red” and 2009 Carmine “Big Red.”

A brief background on the Carmine grown at Kramer Vineyards:

“Developed in the 1950s for cold-tolerant growing regions, this grape is a vinifera cross of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane and Merlot.  The Kramer’s first planted Carmine in 1989, after discovering it at Courting Hill Vineyard in Banks [Oregon].  They soon learned that Carmine requires adequate vine maturity and a late harvest in order to achieve full ripeness.  This was the case in 2009, the last vintage a red wine was produced from this grape.  The late bloom in 2012 prompted them to make a direct press Rosé.”

Carmine roseAlthough the official Twitter tasting will be happening live this evening, from 6-8 pm, and can be tracked using the hashtag #tastekramerwine; admittedly, I popped the cork on the Rosé of Carmine “Little Red” last night because the gorgeous color simply lured me in.  Aromas of orange zest, raspberries and limes beckon a taste, and on the palate these flavors explode and are prefectly rounded out with solid and zesty acidity – wow.  It’s crisp, refreshing and has a great depth of character, unlike some Rosés that can be too light and fruity.  Find a bottle and join me, along with winemaker Kim Kramer, and learn about Kramer Vineyards, facts about the Carmine grape and have some fun.

It’ll be nice to join in on the virtual tasting tonight – to get myself out of the packing and preparing mode I’ve been in all week, getting everything in order for my next out-of-town, (or should I say, out of country) adventure.

In just a couple days, I’ll be starting my transoceanic journey to the Mediterranean coastal city of Murcia, Spain.  Having been to Spain before (Barcelona and Ibiza), I can say with full confidence that Spain is one of my favorite countries in the world.  The food, wine, culture, scenery, history and people are simply brilliant, marvelous and magnificent.

Casa de la Ermita
Gnarled and knotty vines at Casa De La Ermita – Jumilla | photo: casadelaermita.com

Murcia (pronounced Murthia), is situated along the Mediterranean coast, south of Alicante and north of Cartegena – in the Costa Blanca area.  A red wine known for high tannins, red berries and gamy, earthy qualities, Mourvèdre (also known as Monastrell) is Murica’s prized red wine grape.  We’ll be focusing on Mourvèdres while visiting three different wine regions near the city of Murcia: Jumilla, Yecla and Bullas.

With my unfamiliarity and curiosity of these regions, I’ve been surfing the internet attempting to scour up as much information as possible about the areas and wineries we’ll be visiting.  Surprising me the most during my research is the terrain in some of the vineyards, where vines seems to majestically grow and thrive with just rocks and boulders beneath – an incredible contrast to the Willamette Valley’s moist soils and grasses that usually need no irrigation.

The architecture of the wineries in Jumilla, Yecla and Bullas remind me a lot of the style of buildings commonly seen in Alexandria, Egypt, where I lived for several years.  Not surprising since both Alexandria and Murcia are located on the Mediterranean and offer warmer than average climates; especially, in the summer months.

Bodegas Bleda
Bodegas Bleda – Jumilla | photo: bodegasbleda.es/en

Some of the many wineries we’ll be visiting include Bodegas La PurismaSeñorio de Barahonda, Bodegas Bleda, Casa De La Ermita and Bodegas Luzon – to  name a few.  It’s just all so exciting, and I can’t wait to bring my readers next weeks Wine Down Special from SPAIN!!

Also, keep up with my adventures as I visit Murcia, Yecla, Bullas and Jumilla on my award-winning wine website, WineJulia.com.  As usual, all of our local wine events can be found right here on Eugene Daily News’ Wine Down Eugene!