oregon wine

Wooldridge Creek Winery & CrushPad Creamery in Oregon’s Applegate Valley

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Wooldridge Creek Winery Grants Pass, Oregon Applegate Valley wine tasting and tour, on UrbanBlissLIfe.comWooldridge Creek Winery is about more than just wine – they are also a creamery and charcuterie, set in the midst of Oregon’s beautiful Applegate Valley. For as long as I have lived in Oregon, I still find Oregonians who manage to out-Oregon even the most Pacific Northwest resident I’ve met. And I love it….

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FOOD WINE BLISS: Feast Portland 2017 Best Bites and Sips

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Feast Portland 2017 Best Bites and Sips Brunch VillageFeast Portland 2017 was a whirlwind of nonstop food, libations, and fun. This was my fifth year attending the 6-year-old, four-day food & beverage festival, and I can honestly say it was one of my favorites yet! Be sure to read my past Feast Portland posts in the Urban Bliss Life Feast Portland Guide. Best…

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Wine Bliss: Rain Dance Vineyards in Newberg, Oregon

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Rain Dance Vineyards wine review on UrbanBlissLife.comLlamas, an artisan shop, and wonderful wines… if you’re visiting the Willamette Valley in Oregon, be sure to stop by Rain Dance Vineyards for a truly unique wine tasting experience! When headed out toward the heart of Oregon Wine Country along my favorite main back road, Bell Road, you can’t miss the big red barn…

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WINE BLISS: Woven Wineworks Pop-Up Series & Events

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Woven Wineworks Pop-Up Series on UrbanBlissLife.comFamily-owned and operated Woven Wineworks offers delightful Oregon wines at several pop-up series events and tastings throughout the summer.  Summer in Portland, Oregon is magical. Every week and weekend is filled with food and beverage festivals, pop-up series events, cellar series events, concerts in the vineyards, movies in the vineyards… Oregon wine country blooms with…

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Tasting Adventures at Remy Wines

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This past weekend, I caught the traveling bug and decided to head up north to do some wine tasting. I have quite a few places I like to stop, but I always make a point to taste at Remy Wines. This is a small production winery that specializes in italian varietals. Yes, you heard it right. Remy Drabkin, the winemaker, has a passion for italian grapes in the heart of McMinnville. She of course sources her grapes from warmer regions, but there is something about the wines she makes. There is a sense of warmth and love with each sip.

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Remy makes many different varietals (mostly reds) but they sell out so fast that sometimes it is hard to get them in time! This particular occasion there were a couple that really jumped out at me. Remy has a second label that is meant to be an “every day” type of label, known as Three Wives. This second label has some incredible options at very nice prices. As a person who drinks a lot of wines in and around the $20 range, I can say that Three Wives is one of my favorite labels. I started by sipping on her “Remy’s Red” many years ago, and have tried almost every release since!

There is only one white that is currently available at Remy, the Fischerman’s Pinot Gris. It was incredible and it is sold at only $17 a bottle. Flavors of honey crisp apples and hints of lemon peel popped. It had incredibly smooth balance though, with just the right amount of acidity. There was even a hint of oak contact that created almost a buttery mouth feel. This wine is an example of Oregon Pinot Gris at it’s finest.

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I love that color!

 

I’ve always been a fan of Remy’s red blends. The Remallaia is a blend that was recently released and is made of 50% Sangiovese and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was so delicious! It was medium bodied with flavors of ripe blackberries and vanilla. On the end I was left with hints of smoke and cracked pepper. The whole taste from beginning to end had a nice toast to it. In traditional old world style, this wine had a good amount of oak contact. This method of winemaking creates smooth tannins, and complex flavors throughout. For an aspiring winemaker, this wine was an inspiration!

There are so many tasting rooms in McMinnville that it can be overwhelming. The Remy Wines tasting room is more than worth the visit. The ambiance is beautiful and wines are delicious – what more do you need? They are open every Thursday to Sunday from 12 to 6ish. Cheers!

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I loved this little seat – all I needed was a glass of vino!

 

 

What’s In My Glass? Portlandia Pinot Gris

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Portlandia is not just a great show anymore – it’s a winery producing some award winning wines! I picked up a bottle of this very hip looking wine and opened it on a beautiful summery evening. I loved the golden color and crispness throughout. Oregon Pinot Gris is truly delicious and a perfect grape to be grown here.

WINEThe 2013 Portlandia Pinot Gris was such a treat! Very true to Oregon style, I got flavors of crisp green apples and fall pears, with a hint of meyer lemon (not too much citrus – just right!). Produced in Dundee by winemaker Jody Thoet, this wine really stands out in terms of its quality and its mission to produce nicely priced Oregon varietals. I loved that the grapes were sourced from vineyards all over the state (from Willamette and Rogue Valley specifically). Sourcing from many vineyards creates a wine that truly represents our gorgeous state.

I found this at my local grocery store, although you can find it at many places including their website. Enjoy with fresh seafood, grilled chicken, or on it’s own. Cheers!

Behind The Wine: J.Scott Cellars

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On a ridiculously gorgeous Friday I had the privilege of sitting down with Jonathan Oberlander, winemaker and proprietor of J.Scott Cellars. I’ve been a fan of his wines for many years, after initially working winemaker dinners with him through the Heidi Tunnell Catering Company (now the delicious Creswell Bakery, just south of I-5). If you want to talk about diverse wineries, J.Scott has it all. He produces over 20 varietals, with grapes from all over Oregon. Officially launched in 2003, J.Scott Cellars truly has something for everyone to enjoy!

J.scott Cellars

Jonathan didn’t start out his career here, but in California. He originally received a Bachelors Degree in Finance. He started out his wine career in San Diego doing wine sales. While visiting his now wife, Bonnie, at UC Davis he tried some Fetzer and Korbel wines. The scent of the wood, cedar and wine in the cellar really kick started a love of wine. It was at that time he thought to himself, “I could do this”. He then took the leap to going to UC Davis, and eventually transferred to Fresno State. After working in California for many years at Bernadus Vineyards and Winery as an Assistant Winemaker, then Associate Winemaker, both he and his wife needed a change. Eugene, Oregon was the perfect fit for their family.

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Jonathan Oberlander of J.Scott Cellars

The move to Oregon was pretty sudden for them. After applying to a position as Assistant Winemaker at Silvan Ridge, they sold their home in California in less than a week! The draw of Oregon truly was the fantastic wines, the lush green landscapes, and the friendly people. After being at Silvan Ridge for many years, Jonathan started his own label. J.Scott Cellars has high quality, delicious wines that truly have an Oregon spirit.

 

How would you describe your approach to making wines?

Really I’m looking to make a balanced wine out of each one and I want each wine to have its own personality. So I don’t want Pinot to taste like Syrah, you know. I want Pinot to be pretty and delicate and feminine. I want Syrah to be kind of meaty. And I want Cab or Petit to be kind of fat and manly. I try and let the grape express its typicity and natural characteristics and just build on those a little bit. The use of oak and what percentages.

How many varietals do you make? 

Right now we currently have 22 in house. Sometimes we blend. Our sirens is a blend of Muscat and Gewurztraminer. We do a sweet Rosé that’s a blend. We do a red blend that’s always different every year. I think we have 22 different wines right now, and 16 of those are single varietals.

Do you think blends are catching on?

It’s tough. The blend category I notice in stores like Safeway and other places, it’s definitely growing. So there are more people looking for it.

[Speaking about his Avanté red blend] With the Avanté I try to hit a certain style every year. I want it to be an inky dark wine that’s got some muscle to it but not overly tannic. I find that sometimes blends sit because people don’t know what they are. Everyone knows what Cabernet is, everyone knows what Chardonnay but they don’t know what Avanté or Red Truck are. However, I think that acceptance of the blends is coming around more. People are tempted to experiment more, which is really nice. I like to say that there are only three kinds of wines out there wines you like, wines you don’t like, and wines you haven’t tried. So I want people to get out and experiment. So you haven’t ever tried a wine, Try it! If you don’t like it that’s okay. You aren’t going to hurt my feelings. But why not at least run it up the flagpole.

Do you have a favorite wine you like to make?

That is really, really, really hard. I honestly don’t have a favorite. It’s like asking which is your favorite kid! I love them equally but in different ways. I was super excited to get Grenache Blanc in, I’d been trying for a couple of years. I love Pinot, I love inky reds, I love Syrah and Petit Syrah, but I love playing around with new stuff. Just seeing what does well. Different wines stand out in different years. Which wine I’m in love with, it changes from year to year because some years you just hit it right on. It’s tough!J.scott

Have you seen any drastic changes in the wine industry since starting? Whether it be styles that are selling better, or the way wineries are operating?

I would say that one thing is that overall quality is gone up across the board, just in winemakers ability. The other thing is that it’s gotten a lot more competitive. It seems like everybody and his mother wants to own a winery. All the rock stars want to be winemakers, movie stars want to be winemakers. Everyone needs a wine brand. It was already a competitive business. Because unlike my wife who competes with only vets in Lane County, we compete with wines from California, Spain, France, New Zealand, and Australia. All of those wineries produce multiple things and everyone is competing for the same shelf space.

What are the benefits of an urban winery?

I find in the wintertime it is one of our busiest times because people don’t have to brave the icy roads. Because even if it doesn’t snow it’s cold enough that it can get slippery out there and it gets dark early. People who live in the south hills can drive down here and have a nice glass of wine, listen to some music, and be home in 5 minutes. It’s very practical.

Do you have a favorite wine or winery here in Oregon?

Boy, I have a lot. I like Elk Coves wine, they do a nice job. I love Willakenzie’s Pinot Blanc. I like Cowhorn Viognier down in Southern Oregon. I’m a big fan of Southern Oregon stuff. Red Lily, they do some spanish wines. They make a nice Tempranillo.

Do you have any regular or special events coming up at your winery?

We have a couple. This is our second year running it, the Block Party that we do. The block party is in the summertime and we basically block off the entire parking lot. Last year we had 800 people here. It is on July 18th from 2 to 10 pm this year. We will have a stage, live music, three food trucks, and red wagon creamery out. It’s a big party! We just crank the tunes.

We are also open every Friday from 4 – 9 and Saturday 1 – 8. Or longer, depends on the crowd. Fridays we always have live music and then some Saturdays we do if we are doing special events.

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Gwen pouring some of the fabulous 2014 Grenache Blanc

Where can we find your wines here in Eugene? Are there any around the $20 range?

Yeah, there are quite a few. We have one red, that’s the Avanté. It’s $22 right now. But I think you can probably find it less because different places have different mark ups. Market of Choice, there are three or four them in Eugene. They all have different stewards, all with different tastes. Some have some of our wines, and some have other wines. Sundance, Jiffy Market, those are good choices. Capella has a couple. Creswell Bakery has a good selection.

We’ve got a bunch of wines under $20. Mostly our whites. They don’t require barrel or extended aging so they are at a better price point. So right now we have a killer Pinot Gris out that’s a new wine for us, for $16. We’ve got the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc at $18. The 2013 Pinot Blanc is $17. We have a new sweet Rosé we are doing that is actually a blend. It’s got Viognier, Muscat, some Pinot Gris and a little Petit Syrah for color. That one is $14. Roussanne is $19. The Sirens song is $16, that’s a blend.

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Do you have any predictions for the 2015 season?

It started out just as good [as 2014] , we had a super mild winter. An early bud break, which is good. Then it got a little cool, which there is a potential for frost. I think right now, my rule of thumb is usually once you make it to mothers day you are probably safe from frost so that’s coming up in a few days. You always have fall frost too. If you can get past the spring frost, those are the ones that will really damage your crop. Because it will reduce your yields. Spring frosts if they fry your leaves.

I think it’s going to be good though. It’s been beautiful. This is the mildest winter that I can even remember. I got to wear shorts all winter long. Normally in December, January, and February I have to wear pants. I don’t like that.

That must be the Californian in you.

I think so!

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Where you’ll usually catch Jonathan, working hard with a smile on his face

What’s In My Glass? 2014 Chehalem Rosé

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On a drizzly Tuesday I was exploring downtown Newberg, and I was lucky enough to do some tasting at Chehalem. I’ve had a few of their wines before, (the Inox Chardonnay is fantastic, and right in my frugal price point!) but only after doing a full tasting was I able to see just how many amazing wines they are producing. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t know that they had a Rosé in their line up. When I was able to try it, I knew I just had to share!

Chehalem

Chehalem is a winery that focuses on quality in every varietal. They officially planted grapes back in 1980, and officially launched the Chehalem label in 1990. The name Chehalem comes from the Calapooia Indian tribe’s word translating roughly to “valley of the flowers”. The current winemaker is Wynn Peterson-Nedry, who studied Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis. She has experience working at wineries around the world, and this skill is shown in each varietal produced. Her father, Harry Peterson-Nedry, was one of the founders (and winemakers!) of this winery. In the case of Chehalem, winemaking runs in the family!

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Look at this stunning color – it is just perfect!

One of the best parts of drinking Rosé is how diverse each one is. The 2014 Chehalem Rosé of Pinot Noir was gorgeous. Even the color of this wine made me happy. This wine had a good amount of skin contact, which made it a richer hue of pink. On the nose there were scents of ripe red delicious apples. The first sip was full of strawberry, cherry, and rhubarb flavors. This was a medium bodied and very balanced wine. It was bigger bodied than other rosé wines I have had, so it could easier help balance out a richer meal as well.

This wine had limited production, but it is out there. Pick a bottle up for yourself! If you enjoy a good Oregon Rosé, you’ll love it. Cheers!

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This is the newsletter they put out each year that talks about everything from current harvests to soils. Very cool read!

The Frugal Wine Gal: Sparking Wine 101

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Sparkling wine is one of life’s greatest treasures. There is just something about hearing the cork pop out of the bottle and seeing those tiny bubbles in the glass. Many people like to reserve these kind of wines for special occasions, but I say drink bubbles anytime! There are many affordable options that are just too good to save.

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(Photo Credit: Sam Howzit)

Recently I discussed just what exactly is in a glass of wine here. The process is of course complex and one that is constantly changing and improving. When it comes to sparkling wines though, there is a whole different approach to how they are made. The process is a long one indeed. Here in Oregon we have quite a few wineries that make this type of wine, like Domaine Meriwether, Sokol Blosser, and Argyle (just to name a few!). Another one of my favorites is the Michelle label by Chateau St. Michelle. Their brut rosé is just to die for!

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A delicious example of “Méthode Champenoise”

 

The bubbles in the glass may look beautiful and the wine itself may be crisp and delicious – but how is this kind of wine actually made? There are few ways to do it of course. Sparkling wines are essentially wines that have additional CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) in them to create bubbles. One way to achieve this type of wine is to add yeast and sugar to an already fermented wine to create a secondary fermentation. It can be done in big batches and then bottle under pressure. Wines like Prosecco are made this way.

There is another way that sparkling wines are made. This method originates from the Champagne region of France, dating back all the way to the 1600’s. While complicated and a bit time consuming, this method produces a very high quality product. Fun fact! Only wines made in Champagne can be called “Champagne” on a bottle – so that is why when you go shopping for sparkling wines most of the time they will have different names. Sparkling wine is the most common name here in America though. Many wineries still use the practice that was originally started in France. They simply put on the bottle that it the wine was made by “Méthode Champenoise” to indicate how the wine was made.

The start of “Méthode Champenoise” is picking grapes at the optimal ripeness for this type of wine – a little less sweet. They are picked a little earlier to ensure higher acid and lower sugar content. The grapes are picked, the musts are fermented and turned into wine, and are aged for a time. After they are aged for a while, they are then blended. This blend is called a “Cuvée”. The blend then has sugar and yeast added to it and placed the bottle with a soda cap on it. The addition of sugar and yeast to this blend creates the secondary fermentation. These are aged for a minimum of 3 years, but many age longer. It is required that Champagne have contact with the lees. Lees are the yeast and sediment left from fermentation.

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Bubbles in the glass

 

Once the winemaker feels the the wine has aged enough, they move onto the next step. Just to get to this step can take many, many years. For example, many of Domaine Meriwethers sparkling wines (that are made with this method) started the process back in 2000 and 2001. Good quality takes time, that’s for sure. The next step in the process is “riddling”. This is a fairly simple step. Basically the wine needs to be free of sediment. By slowly moving the bottles over a long period of time in a vertical “riddling rack”, the lees start moving toward the top of the bottle.

Once they are all in at the top, the “disgorging” process can happen. Put simply, the bottle needs to be flipped upside down and the lees need to be removed without losing any of the wine. There are many ways to do this but one common practice is to freeze the top of the bottle to form a “plug” – then eject it from the bottle. I haven’t seen this process myself but I would love to someday!

There is still one last big step until the wine is ready to go. At this point it is close but the winemaker decides whether or not to add a “dosage”. That is, to add sugar to the wine the bottles. This process creates a very dry wine usually, so sugar can be added if desired. Many producers keep their wines bone dry, while others go for a sweeter end product.

There are different levels of sweetness. “Naturel” is the most dry, with no added sugars but low acid. “Brut” means that there is some sugar added but it is still very dry. Ironically, “Extra Dry” means that the wine is slightly sweeter than a “Brut”. Two other options you’ll see are “Demi Sec” (slightly sweet) and “Doux” (medium sweet).

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Brut Rosé – up close and personal (Photo Credit)

Now that the wine has had secondary fermentation, sat on the lees for a long time, and been “disgorged” and “dosaged” it is ready to be corked. The cork goes in and is pushed into a mushroom shape for safety in storage. The pressure in the bottle can pop corks if not sealed properly. That is why when the metal cap is on the top as well, for an extra safety measure.

The first time I read about how sparkling wines and Champagne were made I thought to myself, what a process! The amount of thought, love, and skill that goes into a normal bottle of wine blows me away but this takes it to the next level. The next time you are thinking of a new bottle to try, pick up some bubbles. Not only do they look good in the glass, but they are oh so delicious. They also pair well with popcorn, so it is the perfect movie accompaniment. Cheers!

Local Winery Alert! Bennett Vineyards

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This past week in my Oregon wine class, I was able to try some wines from a winery I hadn’t tried before – how exciting! Bennett Vineyards is a relatively new winery. It was started in 2007 as a retirement plan for Gene and Lisa Bennett, who originally hail from San Diego. They picked this part of Oregon specifically so that they could plant some delicious Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Riesling. They planted 20 acres in Cheshire, Oregon and learned the trade of grape growing through hard work and a lot of love.

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A few of the Bennett’s selections. (Photo Credit: Bennett Vineyards Site)

 

For the most part they sell grapes to local wineries, but they do keep some of the grapes for themselves to make wine. Gene manages the vineyard himself, but has local winemakers come out and do what they do best. Ray Walsh and Matthew Lavelle both make the Bennett’s wines.

I had the privilege of trying a few wines from these fantastic producers, but one stuck out as my favorite, the 2014 White Pinot Noir. What is white pinot noir you may ask? It is a Pinot noir that has had minimal skin contact. It is very similar to a rosé, but had a lot less color than a rosé might have.

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In the Glass – I love that color!

 

I loved this wine from the minute it hit my glass. It poured a beautiful color that reminded me of a summer sunset. The nose was super aromatic and had notes of strawberries and cream. It smelled incredibly sweet, and while I was expecting it to taste sweet it was more on the dry side. It was well balanced with crisp green apple flavors. There was almost a hint of carbonation to it as well and it was extremely light but very fruit forward. This one is a must try!

Check out their tasting room in Cheshire, just a 25 minute drive from Eugene. They are open on Saturday and Sunday from 12 – 6 pm. I know I can’t wait to go check out all of their selections, and of course stock up on the 2014 White Pinot. Cheers!

 

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