wine events

Wine Down Eugene

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Wine Down Eugene June 11-17

I had a post all planned out for today, one that will not be forgotten, but instead just delayed to be featured in next week’s Wine Down – and it’s all because of a truly incredible wine app I downloaded just yesterday: Wine4.Me

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I’m going to rewind a bit so I’m able to explain how I first learned about the Wine4.Me app, which was just about a year ago to the date of me downloading it.  It was in Murcia, Spain, while driving in a van filled with some of the best known wine writer’s in the U.S. – a group that was selected to learn and write about Monastrell, a red wine grape made up of small clusters that thrives in the semi-arid Mediterranean climate of the Murcia region and surrounding wine regions of Jumilla, Yecla and Bullas.  One of the wine writer’s in our group, Amy Gross, announced her excitement about creating a very different kind of wine app, one that would help casual wine drinkers identify wines that appeal to their own tastes.  I thought at the time that it was a really unique concept, but knowing absolutely nothing about what it takes to be part of a tech start-up company, that’s about as far as my brain went with that conversation.  Not long after our ride in the van, we visited multiple outstanding wineries in Jumilla and ended the day with an amazing exclusive tour of the ancient Jumilla Castle, which fortifications date back to around 3,500 years ago.  At the base of the castle, while our hostess was looking for her temporarily misplaced car keys, Amy and I sang and danced to Pitbull and Christina Aguilera’s “Feel This Moment,” a song Amy had downloaded on her iTunes.  There couldn’t have been a more befitting tune as we soaked in the reality of where we were standing.  Amy’s easy going, a ton of fun, and she leads an incredibly busy life.

Jumilla Castle dancing

Amy publishes 2 wine blogs: VineSleuth Uncorked and the Wine4.Me blog.  She’s been featured in Better Homes & Gardens and her wine and food pairing cookbook, “Dinner and Wine for $20 or Less” (a collaboration with the popular $5 Dinner Mom Erin Chase), has enjoyed more than 10,000 downloads on Amazon.com.  In addition to writing about wine and her experiences with it, Amy also publishes MomsToolbox.com and MomsTravelTales.com, cycles to raise money for the MS Society and serves as a Girl Scout leader.  Amy lives near Houston, Texas, with her husband and three children.

Fast forward to one year after we were dancing at the base of the Castillo de Jumilla, and Amy’s added CEO and co-founder of Wine4.Me to her list of extensive and impressive accomplishments. 

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Wine4.Me is an app that makes selecting and buying wine a breeze, which is done through analyzing characteristics of the user’s favorite wines to create a unique taste profile.  User’s can filter their results by grape type, color, food pairing and more.  And what’s really awesome, is the more wines a user tries and rates, the more the program becomes tailored to that user’s personal preferences.  It literally takes the guess work out of finding the right wines for each user.

I’ll be sharing in detail how Amy’s app Wine4.Me actually works (using an unrivaled sensory science) on my award winning website, WineJulia.com.  For now, I’d like to share my experience with downloading and using the app for the first time.

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Once downloaded, I created a profile by answering a few simple questions about wines that I like.  Easy to follow directions guided me step by step, until my taste profile was created – which could not have been more accurate.  I love earthy, medium bodied reds that are plush and dry, but not too dry.  What really surprised me was that the app even did a taste profile for my favorite wine, Pinot Noir, and it was absolutely spot on with identifying the types of Pinots I prefer most of all.  Same went for my white wine taste profile, as it nailed the fact that I love dry, crisp, light bodied whites.

When I clicked on “Find a Wine” and chose “Reds,” I was surprised when wines pulled up that I had already had; like, Domaine Drouhin’s 2009 Pinot Noir and Argyle’s 2011 Pinot Noir.  I rated each of the wines, and the app then listed more wines closely related to those that I rated and loved (I rated both with the highest rating possible).

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It was awesome to see the app tailor the list to my personal tastes.  And the more I used it, the more it learned about me and the wines that I will undoubtedly love- it’s ingenuity at its finest for wine enthusiasts at all different levels.

I’ve downloaded and tested out loads of wine apps over the years, only to have kept less than a handful.  Amy’s Wine4.Me discovery wine app is here to stay.

Check out Amy’s video on her app Wine4.Me.  The app is currently available for downloading on iPhones and iPads, and Amy is working on getting them ready for other devices.  And, it’s free.

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.

 

Wine Down Eugene

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Wine Down Eugene October 9-15

A few weeks ago, I helped harvest Pinot Gris grapes at Kramer Vineyards in Gaston, Oregon for their annual Oenocamp, and I wrote about my experience on a previous Wine Down Eugene; as well as, on my website, WineJulia.com.

During that same trip to Kramer Vineyards, which is about a two hour drive from Eugene, I was lucky enough to be able to stay two nights in one of the three gorgeous guest homes at Stoller Family Estate, located about 30 minutes from Kramer Vineyards, in Dayton.

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Our welcome gift in the guest cottage was thoroughly enjoyed on the back patio while watching a stormy sky above the Dundee Hills.

The luxury of wine country lodging in a home away from home simply can’t be beat.  Within walking distance to the winery and tasting room, the Cottage by the Pond is a cozy three bedroom house that’s welcoming and beautifully decorated.  A living room with a fireplace, a full kitchen, a dining room, a backyard brick patio and a welcome bottle of Stoller Pinot Noir are just a few of the impressive amenities.

Located on the southern slopes of the Dundee Hills, Stoller Family Estate was once the largest turkey farm in Oregon.  In 1993, the turkey industry ceased and the sloping hills, rocky terrain and low yielding soils that graced the Stoller farm looked to be an ideal location for a world-class vineyard.  In 1995, the first twenty acres of grapes were planted (ten to Pinot Noir and ten to Chardonnay), and they have expanded over the years to a total of 180 acres under vine, consisting mainly of Pinot Noir.  In 2005, Stoller became the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certified winery in the United States.  Gravity flow winemaking techniques, heating and cooling efficiency and waste-water reclamation all play a part in reducing negative environmental impact.

View of the rolling hill vineyards from the Stoller tasting room
View of the rolling hill vineyards from the Stoller tasting room

An absolute gem in the Willamette Valley, the tasting room at Stoller is simply stunning.  Large garage-style doors open up to a patio and lawn with a beautiful view, giving the inside of the tasting room an outdoorsy feeling.  Adirondack chairs strewn about the lawn invite wine enthusiasts to stay a while, and disc golf is just feet away. Wavy wood ceilings that mimic the rolling hills and a sleek modern tasting bar resemble art in their form and function – it’s truly an incredible place to enjoy a glass of wine.

On the patio just off the tasting room, I was able to sit down with Stoller winemaker of ten years, Melissa Burr, for a stellar wine tasting and a tour of the gravity flow state-of-the-art winery – what Melissa likes to call, “her kitchen.”

We tasted nine wines in all: six Pinot Noirs with vintages ranging from 2008 to 2011, a 2012 Riesling and two contrasting Chardonnays. Included are notes from my absolute favorites – the 2010 Reserve Pinot Noir and the 2012 Estate Exclusive Riesling (keeping in mind that all nine were excellent).

A vertical tastin of 2008, 2009 and 2010 Stoller Pinot Noirs. Fabulous.
A vertical tasting of 2008, 2009 and 2010 Stoller Pinot Noirs. Fabulous.

Stoller Family Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2010: Balanced and delicate, yet big, juicy and lush – this Pinot is outstanding.  Berry, earth and violet aromas are opulent and alluring.  Seamless layers of bright red fruits, earth and fall spices flow from the front of the palate to the back, where solid acidity and spice linger on the graceful, long lasting finish.

Stoller Family Estate Exclusive Riesling 2012: I loved the tropical key lime and orange zest aromas highlighted by the sweetness of stone fruit.  On the palate, however, there is no sweetness at all – it’s crisp, clean, focused and very dry with gorgeous, zippy acidity that gives it perfect balance.  My kind of Riesling.

Follow me over to my award-winning website, WineJulia.com for notes on the other stellar wines we tasted; as well as, a photo essay of the Stoller winery tour and my wonderful stay in the Cottage by the Pond.

Visit Stoller Family Estate at 16161 NE McDougall Road, Dayton, OR 97114.  Check out Stoller’s new mobile tasting room app – simply go to tastestoller.com. Be sure to click on the 720 degree tours, it’s a great way to virtually experience the tasting room and vineyard.

 

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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

Wine Down Eugene

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Wine Down Eugene September 18 – 24

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Kramer Vineyards

I just returned from the 2nd Annual Oenocamp at Kramer Vineyards, where I became part of the harvesting crew for a day.  Oenocamp takes place each year at the gorgeous hilltop vineyards at Kramer, where wine enthusiasts are given the chance to find out what it takes to produce sparkling wine at one of Oregon’s up and coming signature sparkling wine facilities.  With 30 years of Oregon winegrowing under their belts, the Kramer’s know what they’re doing when it comes to growing and producing fine Oregon wines.

Kim’s first success at producing a sparkling wine (from excess Chardonnay grapes) was at Salem’s St. Innocent Winery in 2006, where she had been working since 2000 – beginning in the tasting room.  Her time at St. Innocent encouraged her to think about pursuing a career in winemaking.  Kim joined the winemaking team at her family’s business, Kramer Vineyards, in 2008, and in 2009 the first Brut vintage was released.  In 2010, Kim worked harvest in Burgundy, France, and she brought her knowledge back home to Oregon and Kramer Vineyards, where she continues to produce not only excellent sparkling wine but still wine, as well.

KV Pinot Gris signAlthough the plan for Oenocamp was to pick the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes used for the production of their sparkling wine, last week’s spike in heat caused an earlier than planned harvest of those particular grapes, so our Oenocamp group headed out to the vineyards to pick Pinot Gris.

With buckets and sheers in hand, after enjoying coffee and delicious cinnamon rolls from Maggie’s Buns, we headed into the many rows of vines at the top of the vineyards, where valley and vineyard views were simply breathtaking.  Our group of Oenocampers picked enough grapes to fill 12 bins, equaling about 5.5 tons, which went straight to the sorting line and into the press – enough for three press loads and nine hours of pressing juice.

KV bins of Pinot Gris
The fruit of our labor at Kramer Vineyards – Oenocamp

After the first press load was done, Kim showed off her sabering skills by slicing off the top of a Kramer Vineyards 2011 Brut with a machete, and we all toasted the 2013 vintage with a glass of the Brut; dry, crisp, refreshing and down-right delicious – a stellar sparkling wine for a harvest celebration.   Ambrosial quiche, salad, fruit and bread (also from Maggie’s Buns) were served up for lunch next to the vineyards, and we were able to enjoy both the 2010 and 2011 Brut sparkling wines.

Since Oenocamp started early in the morning on a Monday, we stayed the night before and the night after the event at one of three vacation homes at the gorgeous Stoller Family Estate, located in the heart of Willamette Valley’s Dundee Hills.  Staying in Stoller’s Cottage at the Pond was an incredible experience and included an amazing tasting with Stoller winemaker Melissa Burr, Marketing Communications Manager, Betsy Hannnaford, and Stoller’s brand new Business Development Manager, James Falvey.  The one year old tasting room at Stoller is simply stunning.  Salvaged wood from a fire that took place in southern Oregon graces the ceilings and mimic the rolling hills of Dundee. A terrace just outside the floor to ceiling walls of windows (that lift up like garage doors) have views of the vineyard blocks as they gracefully climb up the rolling hills – it’s absolutely gorgeous.  As guests staying in the Cottage at the Pond, which can be booked through VRBO.com, we checked into our cozy house to find a welcome bottle of the 2009 Stoller Dundee Hills Pinot Noir.  Sitting under some tumultuous looking skies on the patio of the Cottage, we enjoyed every sip of the dark cherry, earthy, mushroomy, stellar Pinot Noir.

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Enjoying a delicious Pinto Noir at Stoller’s Cottage at the Pond

Follow me over to WineJulia.com for a fantastic photo essay of Oenocamp at Kramer Vineyards.  I’ll also be writing in detail about our time at Stoller and the many incredible wines we tasted during our stay.  Cheers.

Wine Down Eugene

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Wine Down Eugene September 4-10

Although September is harvest month for Oregon wineries, wine enthusiasts may be surprised to know that many of the state’s wineries and winery associations put on exciting harvest events during this Autumnal Equinox month.

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Ripe and ready to be picked Pinot Gris

I’ve always felt that the best way for wine enthusiasts to celebrate harvest is to get involved – literally.  One hands-on harvest event that I’m really looking forward to this year is Kramer Vineyard’s 2nd Annual Oenocamp.  From the vineyard to the crush pad, I’ll be joining in as part of the Kramer crew for a day and assisting in harvest for the 2013 méthode traditionelle sparkling wine.  The tentative schedule has guests arriving at Kramer Vineyards in Gaston, Oregon, for coffee and pastries between 8:30 and 9 am.  From 9-10 am, we’ll harvest the grapes, and then we’ll all meet at the Kramer crush pad to saber a bottle of Brut, toast the 2013 harvest, and load the press with the harvested grapes.  Once the press is started, harvest goers will enjoy a catered lunch and take home a souvenir bottle of the 2011 Brut.

Since I’m what some may call a bubblehead (meaning I love sparkling wine), Oenocamp is the ultimate harvest experience for me. Taking place on Monday, September 16, tickets for this event are still available and can be purchased by clicking here.

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Freshly harvested Pinot Gris clusters

Another fun harvest event taking place Saturday, September 14, is the Carlton Crush Yamhill County Harvest Festival.  Wine enthusiasts can participate in a grape-stomp, wine thief relay race and barrel rolling competition.  With Midway games, helicopter rides, a magician and a watermelon eating contest for kids, this is an event that is great for all ages. There’s no better place than Carlton for an event like this; it’s a small close-knit community that is totally wine-centric and one-of-a-kind. There’s no entry fee or admission charge for Carlton Crush, for more information visit CarltonCrush.com.

Willamette Valley Vineyards are the pros at hosting grape stomp competitions.  Their 23rd Annual Grape Stomp and Harvest Celebration, taking place on September 21 and 22, is their most anticipated event of the year. Attracting visitors all over the country to their grape stomping competition, the winners will earn a trip to Santa Rosa, California for the World Grape Stomp Championships.  Costumes or team uniforms are encouraged, and there’s even a Kids Stomp, making this event fun for the entire family.  For more information visit, wvv.com.

For wine enthusiasts who want to enjoy the bounties of harvest (without obtaining wine stained feet from grape stomping or back aches from hand-picking grapes), check out Sarver Winery’s Lowland Cajun Boil.  Live music and a dinner to remember, each September the Sarver’s host a Cajun themed feast offering traditional gumbo and a Cajun boil filled with prawns, sausage, corn and red skinned potatoes.

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sorting line at Willamette Valley Vineyards | photo: Willamette Valley Vineyards facebook

For those that are wine club members at King Estate, one of their best events of the year happens in September: Harvest Moon Celebration. A true celebration of the season’s bounty, the four-course prix fixe menu is paired with library and limited wines, including dishes like Salad of Grilled Melon made with Ferns’ Edge Feta, Roasted Corn, Strawberry, Smoked Pumpkin Seeds, Watermelon Vinaigrette and Olive Oil-Citrus Cake made using Estate Blueberries, Rosemary-Honey Sauce, Vanilla Ice Cream, Lavender Tuile.  With a menu that features fresh produce and foods from the King Estate orchards, gardens, charcuterie kitchen, and bakery; along with, high quality ingredients from local vendors, this is one event not to be missed for wine club members – it’s one of the many reasons why I’m a member, and the Harvest Moon Celebration is truly the ultimate way to celebrate the bounties that our beautiful region supplies for us.

For special wine related events happening in and around Eugene, check the Featured Events listings in the right hand column on Eugene Daily News often – these are updated as information is submitted to us.  For more wine events happening around Oregon, check out the Events tab on my award-winning website, WineJulia.com.

 

Wine Down Eugene

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Wine Down Eugene August 28 – September 3

sahalie falls and boys
Sahalie Falls

I am just beginning to recuperate from a whirlwind two weeks of adventure and good times with a best friend from my childhood days in New England.  Traveling from Scituate, Massachusetts with her two young boys, my friend visited the Pacific Coast for the first time ever, and two weeks was not enough time to show her everything the Pacific Coast (especially Oregon) has to offer; however, we certainly had some exciting and memorable experiences in those short fourteen days.

Their first few days were spent exploring Eugene and nearby attractions. With two boys of my own (about the same age as her boys), I thought a hike from Sahalie Falls to Koosah Falls would be a good time for all.  While heading up the McKenzie Highway to the Falls, we spotted Organic Redneck McKenzie River Farm.  Located right off of McKenzie Highway in Leaburg, a quick stop at their farm stand landed us a basket full of fresh fruits and vegetables – perfect for a picnic after the hike.  Although we didn’t get a chance to relax in the Organic Redneck beer garden with a glass of local wine or crafted brew, I plan on revisiting this unique farm not only to enjoy a drink, but to give their wood-fired pizzas a try, as well.

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Big Fire…and a big fire!

While my husband took on the role of babysitter in the evenings, I was able to take my friend out to enjoy some of the great restaurants and bars we have in Eugene. From Ninkasi and Territorial Vineyards in the Whiteaker to High Street Brewery and Ambrosia’s downtown, she was able to get a taste of some excellent local beer, wine and food.

Before departing for the Oregon Coast and California’s Redwoods Forest, I made sure my friend was able to visit some of the local wineries.  For someone who enjoys sparkling wine as much as I do, I knew Domaine Meriwether was a must; a bottle of the 2001 Brut Vintage Cuvee was crisp, refreshing and absolutely delicious.  We also visited King Estate Winery for the Tower Club Summer Release tasting and were lucky enough to stay the night in one of their incredible vineyard Ranch Houses.  My favorite wine from the tasting was the 2012 Backbone Pinot Gris. Peaches and pears were the core aromas and flavors of this wine, but the shot of lime zest was what I loved most of all.  It’s refreshing, yet has incredible elegance and depth – my kind of Pinot Gris.

Bandon Beach
Tide pooling at Bandon Beach

My friend’s new found love for Oregon Pinot Gris brought on many fun and exciting (truly exciting) evenings of enjoying some of Oregon’s well-known white wines.  While spending a couple nights in Bandon, Oregon, we enjoyed every sip of an outstanding Adelsheim 2011 Pinot Gris at the Wheelhouse Restaurant and the 2012 Kings Ridge Pinot Gris at McFarlin’s Bar and Grill.  Some rest and relaxation on the deck of the beach house we rented had us spoiled by an exceptional 2007 Lemelson Vineyards Tikka’s Run Pinot Gris, which I’m happy to report that it aged beautifully. Ironically, we were sitting by the pellet stove sipping the deliciously juicy R. Stuart & Company 2012 Big Fire Pinot Gris when the beach house we rented filled with smoke from the pellet stove’s soot-filled chimney. After calling 911 and watching the firemen frantically rip out the pellet stove and chimney of a house that didn’t belong to us, we calmed the children and decided our frayed nerves could benefit from another bottle of Pinot Gris; luckily, Sokol Blosser’s dry and invigorating 2012 Pinot Gris was on hand, and it was exactly what we needed.

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Avenue of the Giants – Redwoods, California

After a thrilling two days of seaside fun in Bandon, we headed to California’s Redwoods – a bucket list item we were both able to check off.  The Redwoods were breathtaking, and all of our jaws dropped at the sheer size and beauty of the trees along the Avenue of the Giants – it was amazing.  Two days in California was tough for us Oregon Pinot Gris enthusiasts; finding Oregon Pinot Gris in the small town we were staying in was impossible, and we had to make-do with what was available.  Let’s just say we were really glad to get back into Oregon, regardless of the cliff-side drive along US-199 that brought us back to the land of delicious Pinot Gris.

For detailed information on the many Pinot Gris’ we tasted, check out the In The Glass section on my award-winning website, WineJulia.com – I’ll be publishing loads of information on these spectacular wines.

 

 

 

Wine Down Eugene

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Wine Down Eugene August 21-27

IMG_9783As I’ve said many times before, “I love Pinot Noir.” More specifically, I love Oregon Pinot Noir.  Its diverse terroir driven characteristics and fresh, pure berry and earthy deliciousness; combined with, unmatched complexity, depth and elegance, enable each wine and vintage to be individually exciting, exclusive and unique.

Very often (as often as once a day) I’m asked, “What is your favorite Oregon Pinot Noir?” One of the toughest questions I continuously receive, I’m not ever able to answer with one specific Pinot Noir.  As previously mentioned, each and every vintage is different, and from year to year I enjoy countless amounts that simply can’t be answered with, “Blankity Blank is my favorite Pinot Noir.”

In an effort to offer Pinot Noir enthusiasts an insight to some of the Oregon Pinot Noirs I most enjoy, I’ve decided to focus on a specific vintage that has particularly caught the attention of my Pinot-loving taste buds: 2010.  Having freshly attended the world-famous 27th Annual Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) and the inaugural Chehalem Mountain Winegrowers Origin ’13 event, I’ve been blessed with some wonderful opportunities to sample some of Oregon’s finest and most stellar 2010 vintage Pinot Noirs.

Although each contains their own unique characteristics (based on their AVAs and winemakers styles), I’ve found that all 2010 Willamette Valley Pinots (regardless of their specific AVAs) are lush, juicy, round, silky, balanced and full of finesse.  Listed are just a few of the 2010 Pinot Noirs that I have completely fallen head over heels for.

IMG_9945R. Stuart & Co. 2010 Daffodil Hill Pinot Noir: The evening that I opened the Daffodil Hill Pinot I posted on Twitter, “After revealing what was under the glass closure of the R. Stuart ’10 Daffodil Hill, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Wow.”  Lush, juicy raspberries and cherries were highlighted by cloves and hints of earth while solidi acidity rounds out everything to perfection.  A beautiful, palate pleasing, lingering finish immediately beckons another sip.  It’s truly an outstanding Pinot Noir that is certainly a favorite of mine.

Quailhurst 2010 Pinot Noir: With pure Jory soils and a focus on Dijon clone Pinot Noir, their terroir driven estate wine is just as stunning as the property that boasts a revered Japanese garden, infinite spectacular varieties of roses and an unmatched panoramic view of the Cascade Range.  In addition to being treated with a sample of the divine 2005 Pinot Noir, the luscious 2010  complex, yet full of elegance and finesse.  Bright, juicy red fruits take over the senses in both aromas and flavors. Soft and round, classic hints of mushroom and earth linger on the finish that has lively, vibrant acidity.  I’ll be returning to Quailhurst in the near future to purchase more of this lovely Pinot.

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2010 Elton Pinot Noir: During my recent whirlwind weekend at the world-famous IPNC (International Pinot Noir Celebration), I was one of the lucky wine enthusiasts that had a tour and lunch at the beautiful Elton Vineyards – where fruit is often sourced for Willamette Valley Vineyard wines.  Alongside the vineyard, a dense, lush forest has been delicately landscaped into a garden that is the epitome of paradise.  With our lunch, we sampled the 2010 Elton Pinot Noir that was, well, the epitome of stellar Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.  Dark fruits and black cherries throughout, a smooth and lush entrance has mid-palate earthiness highlighted by fall spices and zippy acidity that lengthens the finish to perfection.

photo (8)Twelve 2010 Pommard Clone Pinot Noir: On the last day of IPNC, I headed to downtown McMinnville, where I first sampled 57 (seriously) Oregon Rieslings, later highlighting my favorites in my article on wineJulia.com: 57 Oregon Rieslings.  After the Riesling tasting, I headed to the Twelve Wines tasting room, where I tried a line-up of stellar Pinot Noirs, my favorite being the 2010 Pommard Clone.  Every component of this wine was balanced to perfection and the flavors and aromas were rich, lush and downright delicious. Berries galore were nuanced by earth and licorice, and the acidity was outstanding.

The Eyrie Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir: I love how this wine evolved and brought on new characteristics after as time went by after popping the cork.  Every twenty to thirty minutes, it opened up in aromas, flavors and characteristics.  Early on, aromas were earthy, mushroomy and funky – an awesome kind of funky that is often found in Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs, a quality I love.  The texture was luscious and opulent while the flavors were complex and round.  Thirty minutes later, it displayed opulent blackberry and dark fruit notes.  Even later, the earthiness had come back to complement the fruits with perfection.  I absolutely loved every sip and enjoyed the forthcoming diverse characteristics.

To discover many other 2010 vintage Pinot Noirs that have recently captured my heart, like Sokol Blosser’s Big Tree Block Pinot Noir and Adelsheim’s Elizabeth’s Reserve Pinot Noir, follow me over to my award-winning website, WineJulia.com.

 

 

Wine Down Eugene

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Wine Down Eugene July 31-August 6

salmon bake
World-famous Salmon Bake at IPNC

I am still on Cloud Nine.  Last weekend, I experienced my first International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) – a three day, Pinot-centric wine and food extravaganza that takes place annually in McMinnville, Oregon.  With a plethora of information and adventures to share, from a Champagne Growers seminar with legendary Champagne expert Terry Theise to witnessing countless fresh-caught filet of Pacific salmon slowly roast above open flames during the world famous Salmon Bake, IPNC was much like dying and finding myself in food and wine heaven.  Absolutely the most spectacular wine event I have ever attended, memories of IPNC will forever be ingrained – it was truly an unforgettable event that I’ll be sharing in detail on my award-winning website, WineJulia.com.

For this weeks Wine Down Eugene, a slew of congratulations are in order for some of my friends in the wine industry here: Buzz Kawders, Lorrie and Eric Normann, Ray Walsh and Mark Nicholl. Changes are happening all over the South Willamette Valley, and I’m a firm believer in change is good.

Buzz and Meriwether fans
Buzz Kawders (right) and Meriwether fans. | photo: Meriwether facebook page

Buzz Kawders, congratulations on retiring! Buzz Kawders of Domaine Meriwether, one of my favorite wineries in our area, has retired from his ownership in the South Willamette Valley’s only sparkling wine focused facility (the still wines are excellent, as well). In a letter to his friends and wine club members, Buzz mentioned health along with his love for certain activities, people and places, taking precedence over running a business that (as anyone who’s owned a business knows), can be very stressful at times.

But, retirement couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for Buzz – long time friends, Lorrie Normann and her husband Eric, have taken over Buzz’s ownership in Domaine Meriwether, and Buzz couldn’t be happier.

Lorrie Normann at DM
Lorrie Normann (right) and Meriwether goer Judith Conrad | photo: Meriwether facebook page

Congratulations Lorrie and Eric Normann on acquiring a well-established, wonderful winery!  Many Eugeneans know Lorrie through her extraordinary accomplishments at LaVelle Vineyards and Sweet Cheeks Winery, but what they may not know is that both Lorrie and Eric have been in the vineyard side of the wine industry since the ’90s – they’ve got a stellar five acre vineyard of Pinot Gris perfectly situated just steps outside their back door. There’s no doubt their involvement, along with Buzz’s long-time business partner Ed Kittrell, will bring Domaine Meriwether to new heights.  I am excitedly looking forward to the bright future of Domaine Meriwether.

Over in Eugene’s free-spirited Whiteaker Neighborgood, changes are happening at Territorial Vineyards & Wine Company (another one of my favorite wineries): they’ve got a new winemaker.  Congratulations to Ray Walsh (owner of Capitello Wines and winemaker at Domaine Meriwether) on becoming the new winemaker at Territorial!  Ray’s track record of solid, noteworthy winemaking capabilities has earned him super-star status in the South Willamette Valley.  First through bringing worldwide attention to Oregon Pinot Gris as the winemaker at King Estate Winery and then through his own label (Capitello Wines) by producing high quality, stellar Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Dolcino and the Pacific Northwest’s first and only Straw Wine, Ray’s solid reputation and years of experience will undoubtedly be rewarding for Territorial.

Territorial Vineyards and Wine Co
Whiteaker’s Territorial Vineyards & Wine Co. | photo: Territorial facebook page

Not far from Territorial Vineyards & Wine Company, a new incubator/ winemaking collective urban Tasting Room and Winery project is well under way, named The Oregon Wine LAB.  Providing an avenue for consumers to taste and buy wine from many of our local wineries without walls, The Oregon Wine LAB will also offer full winemaking services.  Due to open in mid to late August, this new urban tasting room and winery will be the home to another one of my favorite local winemakers, Mark Nicholl.  Long time winemaker at Sweet Cheeks Winery, Mark is now focusing on his already established line of excellent wine: William Rose and Bootlegger Wines, congratulations, Mark! 

There’s definitely an excitement in the air with the changes that are taking place – Eugene and surrounding areas just keep getting better and better.  Don’t miss a beat, check out the featured event listings on the right hand side of Wine Down Eugene.

 

 

Wine Down Eugene

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Wine Down Eugene July 10-16

horse heaven hills pretty photo from fb2
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.

jamie goodes IPNC photo
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!