Origin 13

Wine Down Eugene

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Wine Down Eugene August 14-20

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Stormy weather over Arborbrook for the Origin ’13 event

I just returned from a weekend excursion to the Chehalem Mountains AVA (American Viticulture Area) and the Ribbon Ridge AVA, both of which are located in the surrounding hills of Oregon’s picture-perfect small town of Newberg.  The Chehalem Mountains and Ribbon Ridge AVAs are part of the larger Willamette Valley and each are climatically and geologically unique with their differing micro-climates and soils. The extreme weather and disastrous geological events that took place years ago; including, Cataclysmic floods, earthquakes, extreme winds and volcanic eruptions are what shaped the landscape of the Chehalem Mountains into an ideally magnificent place for farming.

The purpose of my trip to the Chehalem Mountains was to attend the Chehalem Mountains Winegrowers inaugural Origin ’13 event – a celebration of Oregon’s tumultuous history and the people that now farm the idyllic lands of the Chehalem Mountains, which grow the fruit that produces wines with incredible depth, complex characteristics and unmatched finesse.

photo (4)Ironically, as we celebrated Oregon’s awesome turbulent and stormy history, a summer lightening storm rolled in just as the Origin ’13 event began.  Taking place among the vineyards at Arborbrook (a family owned winery located in the heart of where some of the historically intense geological episodes took place), observing the lightning bolts and hearing the roar of the thunder was extraordinary and, frankly, quite profound.

Although the storm was all around us, it never came too close to shut the event down; therefore, we imbibed in stellar wines from over 60 wineries and delectable small plates from some of the areas well-known restaurants and caterers while the earth rumbled and shook.

My favorite wines from the event included a 2012 Grüner Veltliner from Chehalem Wines, Beckham Estate Vineyard 2012 Pinot Noir Rosé, 2010 and 2011 Estate Pinot Noirs, Bergström Wines 2011 Old Stones Chardonnay and 2011 De Lancellotti Vineyard Pinot Noir, K&M Wines 2011 Alchemy Vineyard Chardonnay, Le Cadeau 2010 Rocheaux Pinot Noir and Dion Vineyard 2012 Pinot Gris. One of the wines that was being raved about that I somehow missed was Adelsheim’s 2011 Pinot Blanc – one I’m now on the look-out for.

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The “pool” at the stunning Quailhurst

Absolutely delectable small plates of foods were provided by EaT: An Oyster Bar with The Parrish, Bollywood Theater with Coquine, Wildwood Restaurant, Subterra and Olympic Provisions.  My favorites were the Grilled Albacore from Coquine, The sausage and fresh salumi from Olympic Provisions and Subterra’s Berry Stir-Fried Tempura Cheesecake w/ Chocolate Sauce – the most delectable dessert of all time.

Before the event started, I met up with friend and wine marketing and sales support extraordinaire Carl Giavanti, of Giavanti Consulting, at Rex Hill Winery (also home to A to Z Wineworks) and headed out for a half day of visiting several of the Chehalem Mountain wineries. Starting with a tour and tasting of the truly breathtaking and stunning property at Quailhurst Vineyard Estate, which boasts a pool the size of a small lake, a view of all six mountain peaks from Canada’s Mount Baker to eastern Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor and the most diverse selection of roses in the state, we then headed to another gorgeous vineyard property at Blakeslee, where I tried my first ever – and very delicious – Estate Blueberry and Pinot Noir Popsicle; as well as, enjoying a tasting of their stellar wines. After Blakeslee, we headed back to Rex Hill and A to Z Wineworks for an incredibly informative tour of the winery and vineyards along with a tasting of the Rex Hill line of wines, and then visited and tasted wines from Anam Cara, Vidon and ended with a tasting at Arborbrook Vineyards, where the Origin ’13 event took place.

It was an incredible trip filled with exquisite wines and ambrosial foods, and I’ll be writing in detail about the vineyard tours, the event, the wines I sampled and the foods I devoured on my award-winning wine-centric website, WineJulia.com.

Wine Down Eugene

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Wine Down Eugene July 10-16

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Horse Heaven Hills | photo: Horse Heaven Hills Wine Growers Facebook page

I’m feeling like a very happy wine gal these days; blue skies, warm air, and a summer full of stellar wine events and media trips throughout Oregon and Washington – life couldn’t be better. There is much to look forward to, much to be excited about, and a whole lot to write about.

Next week, I’m off to Washington State for a media tour of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA – an American Viticulture Area (located within the larger Columbia Valley AVA) that is world renowned for having some pretty incredible wines. We’ll not only be attending a media tour, where we’ll visit wineries like Columbia Crest, Alexandria Nicole Cellars, McKinley Springs and Mercer Estates (to name a few), but we’ll be attending the 8th Annual Horse Heaven Hills Trail Drive, Wine Tasting and BBQ event, taking place on July 20.  Horse Heaven Hills is about a five hour drive from Eugene, but with a recent sampling of some seriously stellar wines from this area, the drive is going to be well worth it.

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Wine writer Jamie Goode of Jamie Goode’s Wine Blog was lucky enough to attend the famous IPNC | photo: wineanorak.com

Right after I return from Washington, I’ll be packing up once again.  This time I’ll be taking a short drive north to the beautiful town of McMinnville.  I won’t be staying in the place I fell in love with last time I visited McMinnville, (3rd Street Flats), but I’ll be staying in the dorms at Linfield College.  Not without good reason:  the Oregon Wine Board is hosting me for the world-famous IPNC (International Pinot Noir Celebration), which takes place on the Linfield campus.  To be able to grasp how awesome the IPNC is going to be, and because this will be my first time attending, the IPNC website describes this annual event best:

The IPNC is a three-day event, famous around the globe, as a mecca for lovers of Pinot noir and northwest cuisine. During the weekend, world-renowned winemakers, northwest chefs, esteemed media, epicures and wine lovers will gather in McMinnville, Oregon, for three days of exploring Pinot noir, savoring unforgettable meals, and learning and celebrating with luminaries of the food and wine world. Along with the speakers and chefs, it is the relaxing and festive atmosphere that sets the IPNC apart from all other wine events. Whether tasting Grand Cru Burgundy or walking through Oregon vineyards with the grower who planted them, guests find themselves unwinding in picturesque Oregon wine country for what wine legend Jancis Robinson described as “one of the most enjoyable wine weekends in the world”.

Origin 13Another event that’s happening this summer that I’m all charged up about is Origin 13: Feasting with the Wines of Chehalem Mountains and Ribbon Ridge.  With a history that resembles a disaster movie; simultaneous cataclysmic floods, tumultuous winds, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, this movie ends with the creation of soils and qualities that are perfect for growing grapes needed to produce world-class wines. This event will celebrate the accomplishments of all the characters (farmers, doctors, teachers, scientists, artisans) who have made the Chehalem Mountains AVA and Ribbon Ridge AVA the amazing wine regions they are today. Taking place on Saturday, August 10, at ArborBrook Vineyards in Newberg, Oregon, with over 30 wineries showcasing their wines and featured chefs from EaT: An Oyster Bar with The Parrish, Bollywood Theater with Coquine, Wildwood Restaurant, Subterra and Olympic Provisions, this is an event that should not be missed. Just check out the cool poster for this event – the captured theme in the artwork is truly remarkable.

There are a number of exciting wine events going on this summer, and I could continue with few thousand more words in just this single Wine Down! Because I need to sleep at some point, be sure to check the featured event listings on the right side of Wine Down Eugene at least once a week – wine events are emailed to me on a daily basis.

Cheers!