Wine Down Eugene August 14-20
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.
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.
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.