Friday Night Blitz – October 10

For the October 10th edition of Friday Night Blitz, watch highlights from 12 games, including Willamette at Thurston, North Medford taking on Grants Pass and our Game of the Week, Marist at Eagle Point.

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Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene December 18-24

I love Oregon Pinot Noir.  The cherry, woodsy, earthy, mushroomy, baking spice qualities are just a few of the binding characteristics that stole my wine-loving heart and palate years ago.  I also love that those binding characteristics differ with each and every vintage and no two wines are ever alike.

I’ve even become so familiar with the different AVAs of the Willamette Valley that I can often taste a Pinot Noir and correctly identify the AVA where the fruit was grown.  Some of the AVAs that I feel really showcase specific essences, flavors and components are Yamhill-Carlton, Chehalem Mountains and McMinnville.  Then you throw winemakers into the mix, and there are certain Willamette Valley winemakers that exhibit their winemaking styles with each vintage, assuring me that each vintage will be thoroughly enjoyed regardless of the changes in weather patterns and possible nail-biting growing seasons.

Hyland Estates Pinot vines
Hyland Estates Pinot Noir vines in the McMinnville AVA | photo: Hyland facebook page

But, just when I think I’m oh so “in the know” about the best of the best Pinot Noirs from my beautiful home state of Oregon, the UPS man drops off a box containing two Pinot Noirs that I’m not familiar with at all.  And after reading about the historic vineyard where they came from, I was truly surprised that I hadn’t yet tried wine from Hyland Estates.  I wasn’t surprised, however, by how incredibly stellar the two Pinot Noirs were that I had received: Hyland Estates 2010 Pinot Noir and 2011 Coury Pinot Noir.

Hailing from my beloved McMinnville AVA (other wineries here that I love include Brittan Vineyards, R. Stuart & Co., Remy Wines and Younberg Hill), the vineyards at Hyland were first planted in 1971, just 5 years after the very first Pinot Noir was planted in the Willamette Valley – making it one of Oregon’s pioneering vineyards.  Nestled within the foothills of the Coast Range, Hyland now has a total of 260 acres planted in the area’s well-known Jory soil, and it is one of the oldest and largest vineyards in the McMinnville AVA.

Hyland two bottles

Originally owned by four families working together, Hyland was purchased in 2007 by Laurent Montalieu and Danielle Andrus Montalieu in partnership with John Niemeyer who work together to optimize the existing vineyard quality and honor its past by introducing the first estate wines, Hyland Estates.  For many years, the fruit at Hyland was produced into numerous award winning-wines by world-class wineries like Penner-Ash, Antica Terra, King Estate and Tendril, to name a few.

Along with the Pinot Noir, there’s Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay planted on the vineyards at Hyland, used in the production for those estate varietal wines; including, exclusively harvested fruit from the old growth portion of the vineyards for wines like the  2011 Hyland Estates Coury Pinot Noir that I sampled and absolutely fell in love with.

With Christmas right around the corner, either of these Hyland Estates Pinot Noirs would undoubtedly put a huge smile on the face of any Pinot enthusiast.

My tasting notes:

Hyland Estates Pinot Noir 2010 ($35): Another super-lush 2010 Pinot Noir out of Oregon – what a phenomenal vintage it turned out to be.  Cherries, cranberries, earth and spice in both aromas and flavors are highlighted by crisp acidity on the palate with well-integrated tannins.  Luscious, scrumptious, delicious.

Hyland coury

Hyland Estates Pinot Noir Coury 2011 ($60): Made from the Coury clone Pinot, this is one of the best 2011 Oregon Pinot Noirs I’ve had, and I have been thoroughly enjoying the 2011 vintage lately. This is what Oregon Pinot is all about: it’s elegant, structured. focused and down-right divine. Beautifully intense aromas of berries, earth and mushrooms transform on to the palate into seamless waves of ambrosial red fruits, forest floor, all-spice and toasted caramel.  Solid acidity and supple tannins create a lovely, well balanced, long lasting finish. Wow.

Follow me over to my award-winning website for more great reads on many stellar wines from around the globe.

*These wines were provided to me for review purposes



Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene April 24-30

bloggers blend gratitudeI just returned from an incredible two day trip to the picture-perfect town of McMinnville. I barrel tasted several 2012 Pinot Noirs, spent the night in a luxurious loft apartment, ate some seriously decadent foods, and finally got a taste of the Pinot Noir cuvee that three other wine writers and I created back in August of 2012.

During the Wine Bloggers Conference last year, Maria and Rob Stuart, owners of R. Stuart & Company, invited me and about thirty other wine bloggers to their winery for a blending session.  We tasted six single vineyard 2011 Pinot Noirs (straight out of the barrel) before we broke into five separate groups.  Each of the five groups sat down at tables that had everything needed to create our own blended wines, and we immediately began mixing what we thought would make the best blend of Pinots ranging from super fruity to solidly acidic – we had great fun.  In the end, each group described what aromas and flavors their wine showcased and all of our data was recorded. Our blends were then bottled and aged.

photo (13)Fast forward to April 2013, and we met (some of us physically and others virtually) at the R. Stuart Wine Bar in downtown McMinnville.  Joining up via Twitter and using the hashtag #bloggersblend to share our tasting notes, everyone that had attended the blending session back in August was about to open their finished product for the first time.  Each group had given their wine a name, resulting in five different Pinot Noirs from the five different groups: Longtail, Half-Assed Red, Foreign Affair, Reverence and Gratitude (Gratitude was my groups wine).  For those of us that were actually able to attend the event at the Wine Bar in McMinnville, we were lucky enough to try all of the blends – we were definitely the lucky ones.

Armed with our computers, iPhones and glasses of Pinot Noir, we tasted through each of the wines taking pictures and sharing notes, live, through Twitter. It was interesting to discover the unique characteristics of each of the vineyards, and how combining these characteristics created distinctively complex wines. In fact, our on-line Twitter chat about our #bloggersblend wines became the number two trend around the world – our conversation created quite a global buzz.

bloggers blend gratitude bacl labelI was really impressed with the blend my group had come up with – our Pinot was a beautiful cranberry red in the glass and offered well balanced aromas and flavors of cherries, raspberries and pomegranate. The mouthfeel was lush and the tannins were silky, resulting in a really fine Pinot Noir. With each of us receiving two bottles of our own blend, I plan to save one of mine for Thanksgiving this year, and one for next year.

To read about all of the Blogger’s Blend wines we tried, and to learn more about the most incredible place to stay the night in McMinnville (3rd Street Flats), follow me over to my award-winning wine website, I’ll also give you a sneak peek into the 2012 vintage Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs – I tired more than a handful, right out of the barrel, at R. Stuart & Company.

Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene December 5-11

Remy Wines | photo: A Theology of Wine

I’m off to McMinnville Wednesday morning for a two day wine tasting extravaganza, where I will be focusing on two Willamette Valley AVA’s (American Viticulture Areas): McMinnville and Yamhill-Carlton. The first day will be spent visiting some of the McMinnville AVA urban wineries, located in the Granary District, in downtown McMinnville. Grochau Cellars, Remy Wines and Biggio-Hamina are three wineries that I’ve never previously visited, so I am really looking forward to learning about their wines and meeting the owners and winemakers.

From McMinnville’s Granary District, along with my host and excellent planner of this two day visit to the north, Carl Giavanti, of Carl Giavanti Consulting, we’ll be heading over to Youngberg Hill Vineyards and Inn, where we’ll join some of my Oregon-based wine writing colleagues, and Youngberg Hill owners, Wayne and Nicolette Bailey. The Bailey’s will be pouring us their line-up of fantastic wines, including a few library wines, while educating us on their holistic approach to farming.

Youngberg Hill Vineyard Inn : photo:

After we sip the delicious wines of Youngberg Hill, we plan to have dinner at the famed Nick’s Italian Restaurant in downtown McMinnville, and then end the day with a night stay back at Youngberg Hills, in their incredibly gorgeous Inn at the top of the vineyards that boasts a gorgeous panoramic view.

On Thursday, my tour guide extraordinaire, Carl, will be taking me to Carlton for a full day of tasting and touring, starting with a tour of the Carlton Village with Jeff Lorton of Valley Emporium. Lunch will be with Ken Wright of Ken Wright Cellars; including, a tasting along with a tour of Ken Wright Cellars and some of the other Yamhill-Carlton wineries. From Ken Wright Cellars, we’ll visit Lenne Estate and Blakeslee Vineyard, where the two day tasting and touring extravaganza will sadly come to an end.

Indeed, I am very much looking forward to the next two days, and I can’t wait to share my adventures when I return. Follow me over to my award winning wine blog,, for updates and everything wine!

Wine Bars, Shops and Restaurants


The Barn Light: New coffee house/bar downtown that features local wines and brews. 924 Willamette St., Eugene.

Heidi Tunnell Catering Company: Tue. Bakery 10 am- 6 pm, lunch from 11 am – 2 pm and dinner from 4-7 pm; Thur. 6 pm, Thursday Night Dinner – Braised Chicken [raised on their own Furrer Farm] with bourbon mashed sweet potatoes and sauteed Fall vegetables. Doors open at 6 pm with appetizers, excellent selection of beer and wine available for purchase.  Read about the Thurs. family-style dinners on 182 South Second St., Creswell.

16Tons (Supreme Bean): Wed. 7-10 pm, Trivia Night; Thu. 5-7 pm free wine tasting and happy hour & movie begins at 8 pm; Every Fri. 6 pm, free live music; Fri. 5-10 pm. Sierra Nevada Tap Takeover -Sierra Nevada Ovila beers as well as other special releases on tap.The first 30 people to get an Ovila will receive a stemmed Sierra Nevada glass; Sat. 5:30 and 8:30 pm, Cheese War IV: Block 15 vs. Champagne, details here. Every Sun. and Mon. 4-10 pm deals on growler and mason jar fills. 2864 Willamette St., Eugene.

16Tons (Taphouse): Great selection of beer and wine. Hours of Operation: Sun.-Wed. noon – 10 pm, Thu.-Sat. noon – 12 am. Great selection of beer and wine. 265 East 13th Ave., Eugene.

Broadway Wine Merchants: Wed. 6-8 pm,  Kopke Port Tasting. $25 sit down tasting with appetizers and chocolate paired with the Ports. Sign up in advance; Fri. 5-7 pm, Free Friday Wine Tasting;Tue. 4-6 pm, First Tuesday of each month – Cheese & Wine Tasting, $20 per person. Read about their wine and cheese events here. 17 Oakway Center, Eugene.

Wineries without Walls (wine shop & tasting room): Fri. 5-7 pm, Shop pours; Sat. 4-6 pm,  Wine tasting with Stanton Vineyard; Fri. and Sat. 4-7 pm, Shop Pours available for purchase on nights there is no featured winery. This wine shop and tasting room showcases local wines and is located inside the Fern Ridge Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center in Veneta. 24949 Hwy. 126, Veneta.

Marché Provisions: Fri. 5-7 pm, Holiday Gala – customer appreciation Event – chocolate tasting, wine tasting and trunk show. 15% percent off purchases; Free Friday wine tasting. 296 E. 5th Ave., Eugene.

Tom & Johnny’s: Thu. 7-10 pm, Wine & Jive (wine tasting and live music). 471 South A St., Springfield.

Territorial Vineyards and Wine Co.: Thu. 5-11 pm, live music starts around 7 pm with Tim McLaughlin; Fri. 5-11 pm, live music starts around 7 pm with Strange Charm. 907 West Third Ave., Eugene.

LaVelle Tasting Room at 5th Street Market: Mon. – Sat. 12-7 pm, Sun. 12–6 pm;  Thu. 5-7 pm, Gus Russell; Fri. 5-7 pm, live music. 296 E. 5th Ave., Eugene.

Ninkasi Brewing: Wed. 12-9 pm, Benefit for Cahoots Whitebird Eugene; Tasting room hours: Sun.-Wed. 12-9 pm, Thu.-Sat. 12-10 pm. Indoor and outdoor seating, food available for purchase from varying food carts. 272 Van Buren St., Eugene.

The Wine Place (Yachats): Sat.1-4 pm Foreign, Fun and Frugal wine tasting of foreign wines that are easy on the wallet. 373 N. Hwy. 101, Yachats.

SweetWaters at Valley River Inn: Every Thu. 4 – 7 pm, Free wine tasting on the patio featuring a different winery each week. 1000 Valley River Way, Eugene.

B2 Wine Bar: Happy Hour Mon.-Fri., 4-6 pm, and 9-10 pm. 2794 Shadow Dr., Eugene.

Long’s Meat Market: Fri. 4-6 pm, free wine tasting with some cheese from their deli; craft beers and Oregon wines available. 81 East 28th Ave., Eugene.

Authentica Wines: Tue. – Fri. 11 am – 6 pm, and Sat. 10 am – 5 pm. Wine tasting available every Saturday at the Wine Bar, and on the first Friday of each month during the Art Walk.  766 W. Park St., Eugene.

Sundance Wine Cellars: Wed. 5-7 pm, special wine tasting of Italian wines from distributor Small Vineyards; Fri. 5-7 pm Mario’s Frugal Friday free wine tasting; Sat. 5-7 pm, wine tasting. 2441 Hilyard St., Eugene.

Koho Bistro: Wed. Wine Wednesdays – 25 percent off bottles of wine. Happy Hour daily from 5 – 6:30 pm $1 off beers on tap, well drinks and wine. Read the Local Lunch Gals review. 2101 Bailey Hill Rd, Suite L, Eugene.

Café 440: Wed. 5 pm, Wednesday Wine Flights. Taste three whites or reds for $10.50; Mon. – Sat. 3-6 pm Happy Hour specials. For the Local Lunch Gals review, click here. 440 Coburg Rd., Eugene.

The Side Bar: Wed. Ladies Night, $1 off any glass of wine and $5 off a bottle of wine.  1680 Coburg Rd., Eugene

Ring of Fire Restaurant: Mon. 5 pm Wine Night Mondays-35 percent off all bottles of wine; Daily Happy Hour 4-6 pm. 1099 Chambers St., Eugene.

Soriah Cafe: Wed. 5 pm, *last Wednesday of the month only* Celebrate Wine Wednesday. Half off bottles of wine. 384 W. 13th Ave., Eugene.

Mac’s at the Vets Club: Wed. 6-9 pm, Wine, Jazz & Variety Show with Gus Russell & Paul Biondi. A different Oregon winery is featured each week. 1626 Willamette St., Eugene.

Cork and Bottle Shoppe: Fri. 4 pm, free weekly wine or beer tasting. The Cork & Bottle Shoppe is one of Oregon’s only liquor stores that carries a large selection of local and international wine and craft beer, in addition to liquor. 812 Beltline Rd., Springfield.

Café Zenon: Tues., Fifty percent off bottles of wine; Mon-Fri. 5-6:30 pm, $1 off glasses of wine and pints of beer. 898 Pearl St., Eugene.

Café Lucky Noodle: Tue. 5:30-7:30 pm Wine Night – all bottles 35 percent off; complimentary wine tasting in the lobby. 207 East 5th Ave., Eugene.

Granary Wine Bar:Wed. 5 pm, $5 glass pours of house white or red. 259 E. 5th Ave., Eugene.


Wineries & Vineyards


LaVelle Vineyards (winery in Elmira): Visit the winery daily, Mon.-Thu. 12-5 pm, and Sat./Sun. 12-6 pm. 89697 Sheffler Rd., Elmira.

Sweet Cheeks: Fri. 6-9 pm, Twilight Tasting, sample pairings of Sweet Cheeks wine with Oregon-made artisan cheeses while listening to live music from 6:30-8:30 pm with Michael Conley; Sun. 12-6 pm, Mimosa Sunday with live music from 2-4 pm with Jen Sennett-Franklin. 27007 Briggs Hill Rd., Eugene.

Silvan Ridge Winery: Open Daily 12-5 pm. Complimentary taste of five wines in addition to several limited wines that may be tasted for a fee. 27012 Briggs Hill Rd., Eugene.

Domaine Meriwether:  Fri. 6-9 pm. Sparkling Nights – wine tasting and live music. Open Daily 11 am – 4 pm, except Fri. for Sparkling Nights. 88324 Vineyard Lane, Veneta.

Sarver Winery: Open daily 12-6 pm except Fri 12-9. 2600 Mayola Ln., Eugene.

King Estate:  80854 Territorial Hwy., Eugene.

Saginaw Vineyard: Fri. 6-9 pm, Friday Night LIVE featuring W.J. McEachern (Dreamdog). Friday Night LIVE is held indoors for the winter months and minors are not permitted. For more information, please click here; Open daily, 11 am – 5pm. Sample their traditional style wines in their tasting room located in the original building of a 1905 farmstead. They also specialize in farm fresh fruit wines. 80247 Delight Valley School Rd., Cottage Grove.

RainSong Vineyard: Two open houses a year: Memorial Day Weekend and Thanksgiving Weekend. Unique barrel bottling program. 92989 Templeton Rd., Cheshire.

Chateau Lorane: Open daily, 12-5 pm. 27415 Siuslaw River Rd., Lorane.

Pfeiffer Winery: Open Mon.-Thu. 11 am – 5 pm and Fri./Sat. 11 am – 9 pm. Try their hot mulled wine. 25040 Jaeg Rd., Junction City.

Brigadoon Wine Co.: Fri. – Sun. 12-5 pm wine tasting in their tasting room. 25166 Ferguson Rd., Junction City.

Benton-Lane: Open Daily Noon to 5pm; For a relaxed one hour wine tasting with the owner in a special wine room overlooking the vineyards, call the winery for details 541-847-5792. 23924 Territorial Hwy., Monroe.

Noble Estate: Open daily 12-5 pm. 29210 Gimpl Hill Rd., Eugene.

J. Scott Cellars: Tasting room located in The Wine Place in Yachats. Be sure to stop by and taste these excellent small boutique handmade Rhone varietals from the Pacific Northwest. 373 North Hwy. 101, Yachats.

Spencer Creek Cellars/McBeth Vineyards: Wine Tastings in the Barn by appointment only. 541-521-4381. 85162 McBeth Rd., Eugene.

The south Willamette Valley is home to many stellar vintners that do not have tasting rooms. Check back frequently for tasting/event information on the following wineries without walls: Capitello Wines, William Rose Wines, Patchwork Cellars, Abbelone Vineyards, Stanton Vineyards, Kandarian Wine Cellars, Oakdale Cellars, Briggs Hill Winery, Iris Vineyards, Dylan’s Run, Fractal Cellars.

Upcoming Events


Heidi Tunnell Catering Co: Thursday night dinners in their on-site event center. 6:30pm, doors open at 6pm. Extensive wine list by local, handcrafted Oregon winemakers and local beers as well. 182 South Second St., Creswell.

16Tons (Taphouse): Dec. 15 and 16, 12-10 pm. Winter and Strong Ale Fest. 70+ beers on from Oregon and beyond. Special drafts and rare bottles, free entry, cash only for 3 oz. tasters from $1 dollar each. 265 East 13th Ave., Eugene.

Marché Provisions: Dec. 15, 8:15 pm. Annual Bubbly Party – Caviar, triple crème cheese, smoked salmon and enough sparkling wine to float a Buick, all yours for $35. This is no class, this is a party where we’ll try sparkling wines from all over the world, from $9.00 Prosecco to triple-digit, serious Champagne. 296 E. 5th Ave., Eugene.