Oregon Wine Lab

What’s In My Glass? William Rose Riesling

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My obsession with Oregon wine has only continued to grow over the past few years. There are so many amazing options to choose from, and at such great prices! I have loved William Rose wines for a long time. I remember my first wine I tried that was produced by Mark NicholI, the 2012 “Prohibition Rosé”. I knew right then and there I’d be seeing more goodness from this talented winemaker! I actually reviewed the most recent release of this rosé here, the “Prohibition Rosé” made of 100% Sangiovese grapes. If you haven’t stopped by their location on 5th and Lincoln – do yourself a favor. Go there and try everything! They have an incredible selection of local options, including those by owner and winemaker Mark Nicholl.

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A plethora of wines to choose from! (Source: Oregon Wine Lab)

On a particularly sunny day here in the southern Willamette Valley I stopped by the Oregon Wine Lab to pick up a wine that fit the day we were having. I love a good dry Riesling so I picked myself up a bottle. I cannot emphasize enough how delicious this wine was. The color was light and the nose had tropical scents that really showed me that this wine came from a warmer year. The wine itself was light, crisp, and slight effervescent in my mouth. Citrus flavors like lemon peel and floral notes popped. The finish was smooth and balanced. I drank this wine solo but it would pair really well with Thai food or something with a bit of kick.

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Loving this label! Here it is folks: The 2012 Dry Riesling by William Rose

The Oregon Wine Lab is open 7 days a week, and is right off 5th and Lincoln. Check them out and try some of their diverse options for yourself. Cheers!

What’s In the Glass?

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I have had to privilege of taking the “Culinary Adventuring: Oregon Wine Country” class this term at Lane Community College. This is a class dedicated to talking about and meeting with different wine makers throughout Oregon. Basically, it is the class of my dreams. This past week we had the opportunity to hear Mark Nicholl of Oregon Wine Lab and William Rose Wines speak. What a great experience! He was so insightful on the wine industry in Australia (where he is from) and Oregon. I also had the opportunity to try a few new wines. One that really stuck out was the William Rose Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend.

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This blend was crisp, and full of grapefruit and lemon zest flavors. There were also hints of greenery, like fresh cut grass. It was fantastic. Meant to be an “Omage to the wines of Bordeaux”, I highly recommend trying this blend. Although we didn’t get to pair it with this, Mark highly recommends pairing it with Oysters and seafood in general. Cheers to new adventures!

Memorial Weekend at the Wineries

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Local wineries will be swinging their doors open for one of the South Willamette Valley’s most celebrated 3 day weekends: Memorial Day Weekend.  Winery Open Houses will be happening throughout the valley, it’s the official kick-off to the summer season.  Featuring, special releases, barrel tastings, live music, artisan treats and an endless flow of the areas hand crafted wine, from Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris to Brut Rose and Chardonnay, each winery entices us to head their way for a number of reasons.  And with the recent openings of several urban wineries, it’s no longer necessary to head into wine country to celebrate the official kick-off of summer – some of the areas most prized wines can be conveniently experienced in town.

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Oregon Wine LAB – one of the urban winery stops on the Eugene Urban Wine Circuit’s: Wine in the City!

Whether you decide to head out to the gorgeous rolling hill countryside of the south Willamette Valley or hit the streets of downtown Eugene to check out Eugene’s thriving urban wine scene, here’s a list of some of the events not to be missed.

  • Wine In The City – Sun. May 25, 2-6 pm. Presented by Eugene Urban Wine Circuit and South Willamette Wineries Association, six urban wineries and tasting rooms will be kicking off summer in style. Each tasting room location will be pouring 3 artisan small batch wines, showcasing live music, and featuring a local caterer or food truck. A guest winemaker/winery will also be featured at each location. Host Wineries include: Capitello featuring Stanton Vineyards, Eugene Wine Cellars featuring Opine Cellars, J. Scott Cellars featuring Gelardi Vineyards, Noble Estate Wines featuring Camp Creek Cellars, Oregon Wine LAB featuring Abbelone and Territorial Winery featuring 5H Cellars. Tickets can be picked up at one of the 6 particpating winery locations (must be 21 or older to participate) or purchased online at EventBrite.com.  Wine circuit goers can check in at one of the 6 locations to pick up their logo wine glass and stamp card. Ticket holders MUST present either their online ticket confirmation sheet or their stamp card in order to participate. Eugene’s own My Party Bus will also be providing shuttle service between wineries/tasting rooms for $10 per person. You must be a ticket holder to use the shuttle service. To reserve your space on the shuttle, call My Party Bus directly at 541 554 7979.
  • Domaine Merwiether – May 23-26, Celebrate Memorial Weekend at Domaine Meriwether beginning May 23, Friday night, for Sparkling Nights (6-9 pm) with music by the lovely Jen Sennett. Decorate your memorial lumineer in honor of loved ones who are no longer with us. A tribute walk through the vineyard starts at dusk. Enjoy food from Comforts Mobile Cuisine (available for purchase), and complimentary tastings of Domaine Meriwether Winery’s fine wines. This Sat.-Mon.: Come back for more Memorial Weekend festivities from 11am-6pm, admission is free, all food and drink is for purchase.
  • Capitello Wines – May 23-24, 12-9 pm & May 25, 12-6 pm. Wine and Swine Memorial Weekend with exciting new wine releases, exclusive tastings of Capitello limited Reserve Pinot Noir & Brut Rose’ & and they’ve labeled up and re-released their popular (and extremely limited) 2012 Sauvignon Blanc Straw Wine! May 23, 6-8 pm Friday Night Live Music Series featuring Americana artist & folk blues singer Tyler Fortier. No Cover & Happy Hour extended to 8 pm (save $1 on any glass purchase). Artisan Fruit, Cheese & Cured Meat plates available all day & night. Sat.-Chef Elizabeth Stuart of Elizabeth Stuart Catering & Co will roast a whole hog in their lot and serve it up Cuban style with black beans, rice & salad for just $10 dollars. Sun.-Elizabeth is serving it up Suthahn style featuring pulled pork sandwiches with vinegar slaw and chips.
  • Silvan Ridge – May 24-26, 12-5 pm, enjoy live music each day from 2-5 pm, free wine tasting, sale prices on wines and free admission.
  • Chateau Lorane – May 24-26, 12-5 pm. Wine at the Lake – enjoy this special event at our facility on the shore of beautiful Lake Louise. Sample over 15 different wines, bring a picnic or purchase picnic supplies.
  • Bennet Vineyards and Wine – May 26, 12-6 pm, GRAND OPENING. Enjoy food, entertainment and of course wine. Check out the south Willamette Valley’s newest winery and tasting room. 25974 Highway 36, Cheshire, 97419. 541-998-3336.
  • Brigadoon Wine Co. – May 24-26, 12-5 pm. Enjoy an assortment of tapas and local artisan cheeses with the family produced wines. The 2012 Pinot Noir “Lylee”, 2013 Riesling, 2013 Rose of Pinot Noir, and the newly released 2013 Pinot Blanc will all be available for tasting and purchase. There will be a $5 tasting fee for the weekend. Bring a picnic and enjoy the family’s vineyard views and hospitality – a natural, peaceful setting like none other.
  • Benton-Lane Winery – May 24-26, 12-5 pm. Have your palate seduced by silky Pinots at the picturesque, family-owned estate Winery & Vineyard. Estate Tasting Fee – $7.00 for four wines, First Class Tasting fee – $7.00 for two wines. Each tasting fee is refundable with $20 wine purchase.
    Meat and Cheese plates available for purchase daily. May 26 ONLY – Noon to 4 pm, gourmet pizza’s from our wood burning oven – $10 each. May 24-25, 1-4 pm live music with Jerome Monaco and band.
  • LaVelle Vineyards – May 23, 6-9 pm, Friday Night Flights are back! Enjoy live music by Michael Conley and food offerings from VineCuisine. Each guest will receive a complimentary flight of 3 wines to start off the evening. Additional wine will be available for purchase. All guests are welcome to walk to the grounds, and even up to the Deck that overlooks the vineyard. As always, guests are welcome to bring their own food if desired.
  • Sarver Winery – May 23-26, 12-9 pm. Enjoy live music a wood-fried pizzas all weekend. Open 7 days a week starting Memorial Day.
  • RainSong Vineyard – May 24-26, 12-5 pm. Enjoy new releases like ’12 Allie’s Rose’ of Pinot Meinier, ’12 chardonnay and ’11 Sparkling Rose’. Free tasting and complimentary appetizers. Tasting of their Barrel Bottling Wines. 20 percent case discount on all wines.
Heading out to wine country? Enjoy bubbles with a view at Domaine Meriwether
Heading out to wine country? Enjoy bubbles with a view at Domaine Meriwether

With three, and often four, days of events going on at the wineries and tasting rooms, this is a weekend packed with countless wine-centric events.  It’s truly the ultimate way to kick-off a summer-long celebration of artisanal wine and Oregon wineries.  But, know this: before I blow off the dust from my flip flops and sun-glasses, and unpack the boxes that have housed my favorite t-shirts and shorts for the last 8 months, I’ll take a moment to remember those who have fallen in battle fulfilling their obligation to the great country in which I live, and I’ll also be lighting a special lumineer at domaine Meriwether for my late father, “Colonel Maurice H. Leiser, USMA Class of ’54 – the wind beneath his daughter’s wings.”

The freedoms that I enjoy everyday are protected and ensured by men and women who have put their lives on the line to protect my country and what it stands for.  After a moment of silence and heartfelt gratitude so deserving of our military, I’ll be ready to swirl, sip, and savor all that our stellar local wineries have to offer, and I will raise a glass to our American heroes.

 

 

Wine Down Eugene

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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.

 

Armchair AVAs

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As new-comers to Oregon, we haven’t known what to expect – especially weather wise.  A chilly winter day found us on a road trip from Salem to Eugene and we were surprised at the scenery.  Yes the sky was gray, but a magnificent expansive gray.  Yes the fog was thick, but by midday it floated above forested hillsides revealing evergreens that looked almost black in the overcast.

Shop for wines b yt the AVA - Route 5 NW Wine Bar
Shop for wines by the AVA at Route 5 NW Wine Bar

The reason for the trip was a vineyard and winery tour.  We, at Tasting Pour, love visiting vineyards.  Nothing beats experiencing the soil first hand, gazing at the hillsides, and passing sheep peacefully grazing in pastures along the journey.  There are only so many vineyards one can visit in a day – especially the shorter days of the Pacific Northwest fall and winter.  And for those not lucky enough to live here, a very long vacation would be required to really experience the wine offerings. We found an alternative at Route 5 NW Wine Bar in Eugene.  Here visitor’s can experience armchair AVA (American Viticultural Area) tasting. Route 5, a recent addition to the Marche line of restaurants, is designed to allow guests to taste the wines of a number of AVAs in one location.  Featuring North West wines, the retail shop and wine list are divided as Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill Carlton, Walla Walla, Columbia Valley, etc.  “This is an affordable way for people to teach themselves about Northwest wines, tasting AVAs by the glass,” shares “Wine Queen” Kirsten Hansen.  Drinks are available in sizes from “splash” to “the flask.”  Kirsten is a wealth of wine knowledge explaining vintage differences and sharing detailed information about individual producer practices.  In addition to casual chats with guests, Kirsten plans to offer fun wine education tastings beginning in 2014.  Route 5 NW Wine Bar also features snacks ranging from spicy roasted hazelnuts to light meals such as flat bread pizzas.  In keeping with the Marche Restaurant Group philosophy, ingredients are sourced locally when possible.

Territorial Vineyards & Wine Company
Territorial is located in the eclectic Whiteaker Neighborhood

For an urban winery experience, we visited Territorial Vineyards and Wine Company.  You still get that fermented juice and barrel smell, yet you are a short drive or walk from other fun stops. Owner and “Oregon Grape Herder” Alan Mitchell produces all of the fruit from Bell Pine and Equinox Vineyards- winery owned vineyards about 20 minutes away.  This is a small production winery, 3-5K cases a year, with a cool neighborhood vibe.  Artwork adorns the building inside and out and Thursday and Friday nights are cozy with regulars coming for the wine and the local live music.  We did a barrel tasting of their soon to be released 2012 Stones Throw Pinot Noir and you might have to get in line behind us for a bottle.

Mark Nicholl of the new Oregon Wine LAB
Mark Nicholl of the new Oregon Wine LAB

There is a new kid on the block in Eugene, Mark Nicholl’s tasting room called Oregon Wine L.A.B. – Local Artisan Brands.  Mark greets visitors with a lovely Australian accent and a casual welcome. The bar is a gorgeous piece of polished maple and decorations include a turntable and kitschy mid century lamp.  An honors graduate of the University of Adelaide’s wine making program, Mark offers food friendly wines and a comfortable but chic place to hang out and taste.  Only open a short time, his future plans include an on-site production facility, a sensory classroom, lounge area and a dart room – because he likes darts.  Mark’s personality, and the atmosphere of his tasting room, are reflected in his brand William Rose.  The label features a 1930’s Bentley, name Demon Bird, which is the preferred mode of transportation for William Rose – a general troublemaker who roams the countryside.  We left with two bottles of Gewurztraminer and an unusual 50/50 blend of Barbera and Syrah. Also available are local brands such as Bodner Wine Company.

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Ray Walsh of Capitello Wines thieves some wine from a barrel at Territorial

Why not take the opportunity to do some international wine comparisons.  Capitello Wines has opened a new tasting room in the former Lord Leebrick Theatre building.  Owner and winemaker, Ray Walsh, offers both Oregon and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.  Dessert and sparkling wines are also on the menu.  Ray started his winemaking career in New Zealand and has lived in Oregon over 20 years.  His New Zealand grapes come from his aunt and uncle’s vineyard.  Ray’s Oregon grapes come from vineyards with a focus on organic or sustainable practices.  “I work with growers I have known many years. I like to work on a handshake.”  And that is the vibe you get from Ray.  A visit to Capitello Wines Tasting Room usually means running into Ray or his wife Jennifer.  They invite you to grab a book from their small library and relax over a glass of wine.  By the way, Ray is the winemaker at Territorial.  The wine world can be small and wonderful.

The wine world can also be very welcoming, especially in Eugene.  A large local wine club is just one of the reasons that Pyrenees Vineyard and Cellars expanded into the area.  From Umpqua Valley, Pyrenees is the first Southern Oregon winery to open a tasting room in Eugene, and the location will be a fusion featuring wine tasting during the day and a lounge experience in the evening.  They have hired a mixologist to concoct wine based cocktails.  Expect unusual combinations like Sauvignon Blanc, Cava, rosemary and mint.  In addition to Pyrenees’ artisan wines, you can enjoy a selection of beer or sparkling wines.  “When people visit the tasting room at our winery it is like being in our living room,” says proprietor Robert Stryk.  “We want to bring that atmosphere to our tasting room in Eugene.”  Pyrenees wines are only available through the winery, tasting room, and online.  Just another reason to visit Eugene and experience a wide variety of wines in one tasting trip.

Editorial Note: The Lounge at Pyrenees will be celebrating their grand opening February 7, 5-10 pm, 946 Willamette Street, in the old Woolworth building – downtown Eugene.

Wine Down Eugene

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Wine Down Eugene October 2-8

A couple days ago, I received a tweet via Twitter from @16TonsCafe (we all know and love 16 Tons), and here’s what it read: “@WineJulia you must be in wine heaven with all these new places opening.  It’s kind of epic for Eugene’s urban wine scene.”

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Oregon Wine Lab logo glass filled with a lovely William Rose Gewürztraminer

There’s no denying it, I am indeed in wine heaven these days.  There’s the new Tap and Growler, where a plethora of wines are on tap just waiting to fill either a wine glass or four different sized growlers.  We’ve got the new Route 5 Wine Bar at Fifth Street Market, and I know of two other wine-centric places that are in the works in the same general area.  Territorial Vineyards and Wine Company and Eugene Wine Cellars are no longer Eugene’s only urban wineries, the new Oregon Wine Lab, which I checked out for the first time just yesterday, is now open daily.

Owned by Mark Nicholl of William Rose Wines, who was also the previous winemaker at Sweet Cheeks Winery, the Oregon Wine Lab is all about Local Artisan Brands – the Lab portion of the creative name Mark came up with for his new business.  Located on Lincoln Street, just behind Utopia Salon on 5th, Mark has found the perfect location for an urban winery and tasting lounge.

OWL bar
Check out that gorgeous bar top

With plenty of room for a crowd of wine enthusiasts, the tasting lounge is large, open and airy, with high ceilings and polished concrete floors.   Vinyl records and mood lighting (that changes color at the touch of a button on Mark’s phone) create a uniquely inviting, comfortable and unpretentious environment.  A gorgeous recycled barrel stave tasting bar is the center of attention.  Made by Mark with help from his father-in-law, the tasting bar boasts a salvaged wood bar top from Urban Lumber Company that is naturally cut and beautifully refinished.

There’s an area off the tasting room that’s been designated for wine education and classes, where AVA maps and aroma wheels will adorn the walls. Upstairs, there’s a special events room with a floor to ceiling window that looks down over the tasting room.  But what convinced Mark to sign on the dotted line for this particular building was the space that is accessed through a single door in the tasting lounge – a space perfect for a soon-to-be full-blown winery that will be bustling like mad come harvest 2014. 

OWL record player
Mark is building a collection of vinyl records to play in the Tasting Lounge

With a focus on supporting local businesses, Mark will be working with a local restaurant to create small plates to offer guests, he plans to have local art throughout, and he’s working on bringing in other local wineries without walls so they can make and sell their wine at the Oregon Wine Lab.

Before departing, Mark gave me a sample of his not-yet-labeled 2012 Illinois Valley Gewürztraminer – one I tried months ago while it was still in a stainless steel tank.  Housed in a 500ml bottle that is sleek and lean, the William Rose Gewürztraminer is truly a treat.  With just 8.5% alcohol and 4.5% residual sugar, the Gewurztraminer is sweet, but not too sweet, with a lovely faint acidity and solid structure.  Aromas and flavors of white peaches, rose petals and ginger roll in waves from the front of the palate to the lengthy, delectable finish.  It’s a must-try wine.

OWL tasting lounge
Looking down into the tasting lounge from the upstairs special events room

Read more reviews on Mark’s line of William Rose wines on my award-winning wine website, WineJulia.com.

Visit The Oregon Wine Lab 7 days a week from noon to 8 pm.  488 Lincoln St., Eugene.