Thursday, December 26, 2013

Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine

Wayne Thiebaud. Salad, Sandwiches and Dessert, 1960.
Wayne Thiebaud. Salad, Sandwiches and Dessert, 1960.

If in Chicago, make plans to visit the Art Institute of Chicago for "Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine," and interesting-sounding exhibit:
This exhibition brings together over 100 paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from the 18th through the 20th century, along with a selection of period cookbooks, menus, trade cards, and posters, to explore the art and culture of food and examine the many meanings and interpretations of eating in America.
Not sure that any one exhibit could actually capture the "many meanings and interpretations and eating in America.but I'm sure it's a lot of fun to explore. Then take an opportunity to eat one of the many great places to eat in the Chicago area. Through January 27th.

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

10 Great Wines for $10 or Less Infographic

The holidays are really upon us and now is the time when affordable wine becomes most important, be it as a thoughtful host(ess) gift or because all of your money has gone to presents for others. This infographic has 10 wines that won't break the bank - the recommendations come from well-known sites such as Snooth and Reverse Wine Snob, so buy with confidence.

10 Great Wines for $10 or Less
Courtesy of:

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

International Wine of the Month Club

Clichéd but true, wine clubs are a gift that keep on giving. One of the better known and interesting is the International Wine of the Month Club.

Simple in plan, the monthly club consists of wine being sent to the recipient, with information and suggested pairings. The wines we received to sample were the Valle Secreto First Edition Valle de Cachapoal Syrah 2010 and the Lorenzo Costantini Borgo del Cedro Frascati Superiore 2012. Both wines were eminently drinkable and we were particularly surprised by the Chilean Syrah. Who knew a good Syrah could come from Chile?

International Wine of the Month Club

If you're happy with the selection, there are options to reorder. You can see current and past selections on the Club's website. If you want to expand your options, you can mix and match from the other monthly clubs available:
"In addition to our wine club, we have five other exclusive clubs including beer, cheese, flower, chocolate and cigar of the month clubs. But what really sets apart is that you can combine any or all six clubs any way into a single membership to create a highly personalized gift. You can even pick the frequency with which you want to ship them. Essentially, you can send whatever you want to send, whenever you want to send it."
We were very pleased with the wines we received and, as mentioned, surprised by how good the Chilean Syrah was. I, for one, would be happy to continue receiving ongoing shipments, tasting new wines from around the world.

Disclaimer: This wine was provided for review purposes.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

La Crema Wines - Snooth Tasting

Due to an unexpected family matter, we were unable to attend (even virtually) the Snooth virtual tasting of La Crema Wines last night. Shame to have missed out on the conversation and especially what others tasted. Probably my favorite thing about tasting with others (virtually or not) is the breadth of flavors, aromas, and other intangibles people discover in wine. Luckily, we had pre-tasted the wines with dinner in preparation for the event - here are our notes.

La Crema Wines - Snooth Tasting

Tasting Notes:
2012 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast: pretty pale yellow color; floral, citrus, and caramel aromas; white peach, yellow apple, and citrus flavors; on lees in 18% new French oak or stainless 4 months; 100% secondary malolactic fermentation; cork closure; 13.5% ABV; SRP $23

2012 Pinot Noir Monterey: deep garnet with light ruby edge in color; plum, earth, and cocoa aromas; cherry, rhubarb, mocha, and sassafras flavors; beautiful balance - cherry and vanilla notes on subtly tannic finish; aged 6 months in 94% French oak (26% new); cork closure; 13.9% ABV; SRP $23
More information can be found on the La Crema Wines website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Disclaimer: These wines were provided for review purposes.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Great American Wine Festival 2013

This year, the first annual Great American Wine Festival was held in Portland. Since it was the day after the Wine Tourism Conference, we extended our trip so that we could take part and we are sure glad we did.

The festival showcased wines from all over North America, including Virginia, Oklahoma, and Delaware in addition to more well-known regions in California, Washington, and Oregon. The reps poured wines from up to 200 wineries including wines and even grape varieties not available in the Portland market. Excepting one woman who was wearing WAY TOO MUCH perfume (seriously, how can one think that's in any way okay?) and a few pushy people, this was the most mellow and friendliest wine tasting I've ever been to. Those pouring the wines were happy and informative, people mingled and talked about the wines being tasted, areas or wineries that were a must-visit, and most people patiently waited their turn.

Video souvenir of the Great American Wine Festival

Probably the only negative we could think of was the lack of food - I'm sure the people pouring must have been starving. The organizers have already said this will be a change in future iterations, which will make this festival even better.

The Great American Wine Festival is brought to you by Zephyr Adventures, which runs wine adventures around the globe in places like Tuscany, Rioja, South Africa, and Argentina. Zephyr is also organizer of the annual Wine Tourism Conference and Wine Bloggers Conference.

Cornerstone Cellars 2010 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

While we drank plenty of great wines, the definite standout of not only this festival but also the whole week of amazing wines was the Cornerstone Cellars 2010 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. A gift from Craig of Cornerstone during the Great American Wine Festival to enjoy with our dinner, this is one for the ages. Love that we met this incredibly nice guy who is so generous with his time, his explanations, and his wine. This is truly what Cabernet is meant to be - deep dark purple in color with lighter edges makes it seems mysterious, while the black currant, blackberry, and mocha hint at the flavors to come. We drank this with a crazy dinner of flavors: hickory smoked chicken wings, mushroom ravioli, mushroom topped burger, and it just welcomed all of it under an umbrella of perfectly balanced finesse. While completely drinkable now, this has the structure to keep getting better and better in the bottle. Buy a case and hold, maybe enjoying a bottle a year to enjoy the progress. On second thought, make that two cases.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Experiencing Colorado Wine

Experiencing Colorado Wine: The Dry Red Wines (Littleton, CO: Apex Publications, 2013) by C.S. Vin (a pseudonym) was sent to us for review recently. We have a special interest in Colorado wines because we have been going to Breckenridge for Spring Break skiing for a few years now. But, to our chagrin, we've only tasted one Colorado wine while there (though we did get to taste a few more at the Great American Wine Festival).

Experiencing Colorado Wine: The Dry Red Wines

The book is a guide to dry red wines made only from vitis vinifera grapes - no wines made from hybrids or other fruits were included). Its purpose is to introduce the Colorado winemaking industry to a larger audience, suggest wine and food pairings, and promote the idea that what we taste has less to do with taste buds and sense of smell and more to do with our emotions.

The book is filled with interviews (with winegrowers, winemakers, chefs, and more), the author's experience at each winery, and his personal favorite from each winery. Pains are taken to reiterate that wine is personal, with each person bringing different experience to the tasting table. Location is important as well: tasting wine while a bear strolls up to the deck you are standing on will certainly taste differently then other times!

We were especially excited to read the sections that have to do with Creekside Cellars, as we have connected with winemaker Michelle Cleveland and are planning on visiting the winery this Spring, on our way to Breckenridge. This book has certainly whetted our appetite for that upcoming experience!

This title is Volume I of "The Premier Guide to Quality and Styles." Volume II, covering white, rosé, and sweet wines is scheduled for release in 2014.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Rusty Grape Winery, Washington

One of our post Wine Tourism Conference outings was to Rusty Grape Vineyard, so that we could visit our 5th state winery for our ongoing project to visit a winery in each of the 50 states. We chose this one because it was relatively close to both Portland and the home of Alina, who writes the wine blog One Girl…One Glass…An entire world of wine to explore… We had first met at this summer's Wine Bloggers Conference, so it was a great chance to see her again and Laima to meet her.

Turns out there are quite a few wineries not too far from Portland, so if you're visiting, make time to head up to the Vancouver area and taste some Washington wine.
"Welcome to Rusty Grape Vineyard, located [in] Clark County’s scenic hills just east of Battle Ground, Washington. Our passion and commitment to produce an exceptional wine is evident in our finished product. But, we enjoy a laid back approach to producing and enjoying wine with family and friends. Rusty Grape is open year-round. Join us for Wine Tasting, a Vineyard Tour, our Music & Art Events, our Wine Maker’s Dinner or Summer Movies On The Lawn."
As we drove up, we could see that grapes were being pressed, were then introduced by Alina to the owner/winemaker, then headed over to the tasting room. Even though it was a cool and wet day, the winery's tasting room is cozy and comfortable. 7 or so wines can be tasted for $5 (credited towards a purchase of $20 or more).  Order some pizza and enjoy as you taste through their wines. They have several outdoors areas to enjoy as well, weather permitting.

Video souvenir of our visit to Rusty Grape

More information can be found on the Rusty Grape website, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

bread+bar, Benton Harbor, MI

This fall, after our visit to 12 Corner Vineyards, we decided to stop in and try a newish restaurant in Benton Harbor called bread+bar. It's the creation by the folks at bit of swiss, a well-known bread and pastry maker in the area. Casual with comfort food, we'd heard some good things about it, so we decided to give it a try.
"A comfortable, warm, casual spot on the riverfront, with unique food offerings and chef tailored wine pairings. Starting from scratch and crafting by hand, bread + bar by Bit of Swiss prepares healthy, fresh and flavorful meals. Dishes are paired with Bit of Swiss artisan breads that are made fresh daily for lunch and dinner. Craft cocktails are made fresh and micro beers are ice cold, poured through frosted taps."

Unfortunately, our path to the restaurant took us through what appeared a down-at-the heels area of Benton Harbor, lots of empty storefronts and vacant lots, so our initial thoughts were apprehensive. Our worries were for naught, however, as the restaurant sits across the street from the St Joseph River. There are minimal views, however, as the building, which appears to be a former post office (or similar), has a solid wall on the side facing the river.

The interior design is quite clever, with the kitchen and bar to the left upon entering, restrooms towards the back as well, with the remainder of the space relatively open for seating. It's funky and chic, but also inviting and cozy.

There's a full menu, but we'd suggest going the tasting route instead. Start by ordering the Meat and Cheese Plate (creminelli salami + serrano ham + spanish chorizo + old europe cheeses + marinated olives + grainy mustard + grilled bread), many, many good flavors. If the weather is cool, add some French Onion Soup, with buckets of cheese. Skip the large plates and go with sides, and try the Bacon Cheddar Biscuits with maple butter, Nana's Meatballs, and Brussels Sprouts with balsamic vinegar and bacon. While the wine menu unfortunately turns its back (for the most part) to local producers, there are plenty of decent wines by the glass for tasting.

bread+bar food

Don't forget to save room for dessert, especially if their decadent chocolate cake is available.

This is a nice addition to the other options for dining in the St Joseph area - come for the fun decor, tasty food and wine, and a menu with lots of options. Take a walk on the riverfront or drive over to the beach and jetty in St Joseph for a complete evening.

Find more information on the bread+bar website and on Facebook.

Bread + Bar on Urbanspoon

bread+bar on Foodio54

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Doña Paula Estate Wines

“Deliver the best that the Argentinean terroir can offer.”

Located in Ugarteche, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina, Doña Paula practices sustainable agriculture: no organic or synthesized fungicides and no pesticides. Sauvignon Blanc and the planting of Casavecchia, Ancellota, Riesling, Petit Verdot, Grenache, Touliba, and Aglianico, among other varieties show a willingness to take chances. These wines were part of a virtual tasting hosted by Snooth last month.

Tasting Notes:
Doña Paula Estate Chardonnay

2012 Estate Chardonnay

Golden straw color; tangerine, floral, and pear aromas; peach, lemon, and tropical fruit flavors; creamy mouthfeel into a luscious lemony finish; from vineyards in Finca Alluvia, Gualtallary at almost 4,430 ft in elevation; manual harvest, then grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks. 6 to 8 months of aging new French oak barriques; 14.1% ABV; twist-off closure; SRP $14.99.

Doña Paula Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

2011 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Dark red with ruby edges; blackberry, tar, and vanilla aromas; black cherry, sweet wood, and subtle green olive flavors; bright berries mid-palate into a soft tannic finish; from vineyards with clay soils in Finca El Alto (in Ugarteche) at almost 3,445 ft in elevation; manual harvest, gentle destemming, cold maceration before fermentation; post-fermentation maceration, then malolactic fermentation in barriques; 12 months of aging in first, second, and third-use French oak barriques; 9,000 cases made; 14.1% ABV; cork closure; SRP $14.99.
Disclaimer: These wines were provided for review purposes.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Bent Brick, Portland, Oregon

While in Portland for the Wine Tourism Conference, we had the opportunity to visit The Bent Brick for a restaurant review. We were pretty excited about it, as the restaurant is serious about sourcing locally for both their food and wine. Definitely something we support wholeheartedly. The other thing was the innovative menu -- lots of familiar and unfamiliar items, paired together or prepared in unusual ways. Always a good sign.

The Bent Brick

The restaurant is located in a beautiful old brick building, with outdoor seating that sparkled with lights and was nicely landscaped, though unfortunately it was too cool to experience. Walking in, the room opens up, with a Jenga-type sculpture in the corner that could serve as a waiting area or a more private place to drink and chat. The bar and kitchen sit in a corner of the building, with the kitchen partially open behind the bar. The decor is comfortable and youthful, though more hearkening back to youth rather than being young. Whoever put the album covers on the walls behind the bar (and CD covers in the bathroom upstairs) must be similar to me in age, as many of the items were from my own musical youth. The music playing was also to my taste, with a good mix of classics and alternative, keeping it familiar and upbeat. Plenty of space between the tables meant that, even as the place filled up, it never got too loud, but there was always a healthy buzz.


Keeping it as local as possible with the wines, we enjoyed the NV Treveri Sparkling Pinot Gris (WA), 2011 Boedecker Rosé (OR), and 2012 Whoa Nelly Pinot Noir (OR), an urban winery right there in Portland. It is so great to see a restaurant wholeheartedly support nearby wineries, both in the restaurant and with their take-out option. You can bring your own empty bottle or borrow one from the restaurant ($1 deposit) to fill with any of their wines - a great benefit to having the wines on tap.


I felt brave and ordered the BBQ Sweetbreads (with bacon braised hazelnuts, treviso, and chippolini), because if anything can make something more palatable, it's barbecue sauce. This was definitely a good attempt, and I enjoyed it to a point, but ultimately the texture of the sweetbreads just didn't do it for me. If you've never had sweetbreads, I definitely recommend this as your first essay, if you're as unsure as I was. Laima opted for the Sauerkraut Pierogies (with lobster mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, and radish), nicely done, especially with the interesting accompaniments. Lots of contrasting textures and flavors.

The Bent Brick Food

Main Course:

I couldn't decide between The Hamburger Dog (with cheese, bent brick sauce, and relish) or the Buffalo Chicken Sausage (with carrots, celery, and blue cheese dressing), so I had both! Kind of strange that one comes on a bun and the other without, but there you have it. Either is worth ordering and, if you're like me, order some extra buffalo sauce with that option, which wasn't quite spicy enough for my taste. When Laima wavered about trying the Cocoa Braised Beef Cheeks (with sauerkraut, beets, and horseradish cream), our server (also the Bar Manager) told her that if Laima didn't like it, she'd eat it herself and bring something else for her to try. No worries there - while the cocoa didn't make much of an appearance, the beef was to her liking and beets are always good to include.

On the side we tried their Charred Brussels Sprouts, very tasty if you're a fan, and I definitely am. The other side, while very tasty, was so similar to the Bacon Braised Hazelnuts I had with the sweetbreads that I wished I had tried another item. Duck Fat JoJos with ranch sound really good, as do the Ham Potatoes Au Gratin.

The Bent Brick Desserts


You can't go wrong with either the Chocolate Pudding Cake with Salt and Straw malted buttermilk ice cream (from a local producer) or the Huckleberry Icebox Cake with hazelnut brittle. What you'll have to do without, however, is an espresso drink after dinner, as the restaurant unfortunately doesn't have that option. This is a minor negative in an otherwise outstanding finish to the meal.

The Bent Brick definitely has the feel of a local hangout - it's noisy (in a good way), offers an inventive and fun menu, mostly locally sourced, along with a good wine list, then wraps it up with great service and a cool atmosphere. This a great place to go with friends, for a romantic dinner or to impress someone without being snooty.

the bent brick on Urbanspoon

The Bent Brick on Foodio54

More information can be found on The Bent Brick website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Disclaimer: This meal was provided for review purposes.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Wine Tourism Conference 2013

It's been several weeks since we were in Portland for the 2013 Wine Tourism Conference, giving us some time to reflect on how this compared to the Wine Bloggers Conference I attended during this past summer. This conference is geared towards the hospitality and tourism industry, but it's wine, so why not? :)

Wine Tourism Conference 2013

Travelling to Portland was appealing in a lot of ways, not least that we could visit an Oregon and a Washington winery, numbers 4 and 5 on our 50 states project to visit a winery in each state. Since I had made a lot of connections at WBC, it was interesting to see whether the same would hold true at WTC.

Turns out the conferences are quite different from each other, both in feel and in format. The Wine Tourism Conference felt a lot more static than the WBC, with a lot of listening rather than interaction (though the interaction was good when it happened). There seemed to be a lot more reliance on Powerpoint presentations at WTC, which made some of the time pass more slowly than others. A big part of this was that the material was geared towards the industry's business of attracting customers to wine areas, versus the idea of drinking and writing about wine.

Video Souvenir of the Wine Tourism Conference

Being in Portland had its benefits and its drawbacks. We had some outstanding meals at Genoa and The Bent Brick, which showcased the two ends of higher end dining in Portland - one a cerebral approach, the other lighter and more youthful feeling. The wines from the area were outstanding to a fault, with Portland urban wineries showing well when compared to their agricultural cousins. This was also one of the negatives of being on Portland - wine country is not that close; one would have to dedicate half a day or more to drive down, tour and taste, and then get back to the hotel. Not really feasible if one wanted to fully participate in the conference.

Post-conference, things got a little bit better - the dinner out at Willamette Valley Vineyards was truly outstanding, showing Oregon has the money and product to stand up to anywhere else in the world. The Great American Wine Conference was one of the most pleasant wine tastings I've ever been to, and it was great to taste wines from all over the United States in one place.

Video Souvenir of our visit to Willamette Valley Vineyards

Overall, I'd say it was a well-run conference, with lots of great information, but it didn't really fit what we were looking for. Not sure we'd sign up for another Wine Tourism Conference when the Blogger Conference suits us better.

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Genoa Restaurant, Portland

Heading to Portland for the Wine Tourism Conference, we reached out to the Portland restaurant community and were excited to get an invitation to dine at Genoa Restaurant, open since 1971 and part of Portland's restaurant history. Chef Jake Martin’s five-course tasting menu changes monthly and is expertly paired by Sommelier Michael Garofola. While the wine list is deep and broad, we'd suggest putting yourself in his hands by opting for the food and wine pairing menu available.

Genoa Restaurant Portland

We walked to the restaurant (in the dark), partly to prepare for all the food we were about to enjoy, but also to get a feel for the neighborhood. The area has a funky feel to it; we especially loved the fact that restaurants and other establishments sat side by side with homes and other uses, nothing quite like a mixed-use neighborhood. Approaching Genoa in the dark also gave us an unexpected benefit: seeing it lit up like a jewel box, revealing the beautiful design within. Almost sheer curtains shield most of the dining room from passersby, giving just a tease of what's inside. The exterior is also quite striking, blending the tradition of the old brick building with a more contemporary entry. Nicely done.

The interior is definitely on the formal side, though it is not stiff or uncomfortable. Plenty of dark wood, glass and mirrors, as well as textiles, were lit beautifully and made for a harmonious whole. Sitting by the fireplace was very pleasant on a cool evening. The tables are spaced far apart enough  to provide privacy, but not so far that you can't spy on your neighbors to see what they ordered. Conversation from other tables was audible, but not intrusive; the sound in the space remained at a pleasant level throughout our meal.

As we scanned the menu options, we sipped glasses of François Pinon,Touraine Petillant Rosé, Loire Valley, France NV, and you should too. I have yet to find a fine dining meal that has not started out auspiciously when sparkling Rosé is in one's glass. I have found that they are almost universally romantic and tasty wines and perfect aperitifs for the tastes yet to come.

Genoa Restaurant Food

After a tuna Amuse Bouche, here's what we had for dinner, along with the wines that were paired for each dish:
  • Hamachi - green apple, cucumber, suèdoise with Ermes Pavese, Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle, Vallée d'Aosta, Italy 2011
  • Carote - smoked carrot tartare, hay, yogurt, vadouvan with Agniolino Maule, "I Masieri", Veneto Bianco, Italy 2012
  • Capellini- brioche, whipped lardo, soft boiled egg, parsley with Ar. Pe. Pe., Rosso di Valtellina, Lombardia, Italy 2009
  • Tagliarini- vodka, sepia, roe, lemon with Taschlerhof, Kerner, Valle Isarco, Alto Adige, Italy 2012
  • Coda di bue - oxtail terrine, brioche crust, baby mustard greens, raspberry gastrique with Domaie de Vaccelli, "Granit", Ajaccio Rosé, Corsica, France 2012
  • Zucca - squash variations, pecan, maple with Edi Keber, Collio Bianco, Friuli-Venezia Guilia, Italy 2012
  • Fagiano - pheasant, smoked apple, celery root, kohlrabi with Montesecondo, "Tin", Tuscany, Italy 2011
  • Funghi - roasted porcini mushroom, carrot, fregola sarda, spruce with Franz Haas, "Manna", Vignetti delle Dolomiti, Italy 2010
  • For the life of us, we cannot remember what we had for dessert and it isn't on the menu, but we do remember it being very tasty. They accidentally brought us a dessert we had not ordered, so we ended up trying all three. One was named Financier, but beyond that...
If that list doesn't make you hungry, I'm not sure what would. While the descriptions are on the understated side, the food certainly is not. And nothing is as it seems -- every dish held a surprise or a taste that went well beyond expectations.  While we had hoped to have Oregon wines with our dinners, the mostly Italian options proved more than adequate. Presentation and information were top-notch, with everyone from the wait staff to the bus boy to the Sommelier helpful and knowledgeable; clearly, training is an integral part of the Genoa business plan.

Cerebral food with equally thoughtful wine pairing make this a great destination to be treated royally. Food presented very simply but nothing simple about it.

Genoa on Urbanspoon

Genoa Restaurant on Foodio54

Genoa Restaurant on Restaurantica

More information can be found on the Genoa website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Disclaimer: This meal was provided for review purposes.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Turkey Leftover Wine Pairings: Sweet and Savory Holiday Pizza

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and your fridge is packed full of leftovers. What to do? Wagner Family of Wine provided us with some recipes and a suggested wine pairing. We tested their offering along with a few others. Of course, any of these wines should definitely be under consideration for your Thanksgiving table!

2012 Meiomi Pinot Noir

This recipe is for Sweet and Savory Holiday Pizza, paired with the 2012 Meiomi Wines Pinot Noir (SRP $22.00).

Sweet and Savory Holiday Pizza
  • 1 lb pizza dough (we used Momofuku Mother Dough instead)
  • 8 oz small firm potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 C roasted turkey
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1/3 C dried cranberries
  • 8 oz Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 2-4 oz Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 C olive oil, reserve some for brushing dough
  • 6 fresh sage leaves (or 3/4 tsp dried)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Boil potatoes in salted water until centers are tender; after cooled, slice into chunks
  • Fry sliced onion until medium brown; set aside to cool
  • Roll out dough as thin as possible, then brush both sides with oil
  • Top pizza with all ingredients - we found it easiest to mix the toppings together, then spoon them on at once, but that may seem gauche to some :)
  • Bake pizzas 12-15 minutes or until done, slice, serve with the Meiomi Pinot Noir, enjoy!
First off, this is one of the most amazing pizzas I've ever had! Who would have guessed that recreating a Thanksgiving dinner on pizza dough would be so tasty - the potatoes as topping are an especially agreeable surprise. The Meiomi interacted with the flavors in so many ways, sometimes complementing a spice or ingredient, other times acting as a foil. Great choice for this pairing.

Other wines to consider:

There are so many facets to this pizza that I would suspect any of your favorite wines might work - experiment a little and see for yourself. Not sure? Try one of these:

Thanksgiving wines - reds
Re Midas Corvina 2011 (SRP $9.00) - made with Corvina grapes, this is a light bodied red that flatters but doesn't overpower any of the ingredients.

Pertinace Nebbiolo 2009 (SRP $18.00) - nicely balanced with a little more structure and fruit, great food wine that handles the pizza with aplomb.

Domaine Loubejac Willamette 2010 Pinot Noir (SRP $17.99) - herbs in wine reflect the sage and other flavors, subtle tartness brings to mind the dried cranberries.

Soléna Estate 2011 Grande Cuvée Pinot Noir (SRP $25.00) - floral notes add an additional layer of complexity to this pairing, while tannins and acidity add nice contrast to creaminess of potatoes and cheese.
This is recipe three of three in this wine and food pairing series - also includes:
Disclaimer: These wines were provided for promotional purposes.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Turkey Leftover Wine Pairings: Holiday Turkey Panini

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and your fridge is packed full of leftovers. What to do? Wagner Family of Wine provided us with some recipes and a suggested wine pairing. We tested their offering along with a few others. Of course, any of these wines should definitely be under consideration for your Thanksgiving table!

This recipe is for Holiday Turkey Panini, paired with the 2011 Conundrum Wines Red (SRP $22.00).

Turkey Leftover Wine Pairings: Turkey Panini with Conundrum Wines Red

Holiday Turkey Panini
  • Large yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp each dried paprika and cumin
  • 8 slices chewy brown bread (we substituted California sourdough for the extra bite of flavor)
  • 4-5 T softened butter
  • 2 T finely minced celery
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano leaves, chopped (we substituted dried)
  • 12 oz turkey
  • 8 thin slices bacon, browned and crisp (we used thicker, homemade bacon)
  • 1 oz pepper jack cheese (this seems low, perhaps 1 oz per serving makes more sense) (or we just like more cheese)
  • Arugula, washed and stemmed
  • More olive oil, salt, pepper for salad dressing
  • Fry sliced onion in 2 T olive oil until soft and medium brown; stir in spices and set aside to cool.
  • Butter a slice of bread for each panini and place butter side down.
  • Top with remaining ingredients, place other bread piece on top, butter exposed side.
  • Cook in panini press or in heavy skillet, using weight to compress sandwiches slightly.
  • Garnish each plate with arugula salad.
  • Add a glass of Conundrum Red, eat, and enjoy!
This meal worked on so many levels. We were glad that we substituted the sourdough bread in - the tanginess of the bread added yet another layer of good taste to a sandwich which had plenty of it. The Conundrum Red had the heft and fruit to stand up to the wealth of flavors, yet didn't overwhelm the panini either. Great all around food wine and a good addition to this meal as well as the Thanksgiving feast itself.

Other wines to consider:

Thanksgiving Wines
Cultivate Wines The Feast California Red Wine 2010 (SRP $17.99) - another big bodied red blend that stood up to the saltiness and spices of the sandwich without getting in the way of the food. Bonus: Cultivate gives back 10 cents of every dollar to help fund opportunity and hope in communities across the globe.

Cultivate Wines Dream Walking California Chardonnay 2009 (SRP $17.99) - A white wine with enough body, mouthfeel, acidity, and subtle sweetness to be a wonderful accompaniment to the sandwich. Really interesting that both this Chardonnay and their red blend worked with this meal.

Josh Cellars 2012 Chardonnay (SRP $13.99) - plush mouthfeel with appropriate oak and acidity make this a great complement, especially to the subtle spiciness of the pepper jack cheese. Bonus: For every bottle sold between November 1 - December 31, Josh Cellars will donate $1 (up to $50,000) to Operation Homefront, supporting military heroes and their families.
This is recipe two of three in this wine and food pairing series - also includes:
Disclaimer: These wines were provided for promotional purposes.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Turkey Leftover Wine Pairings: Po' Boys

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and your fridge is packed full of leftovers. What to do? Wagner Family of Wine provided us with some recipes and a suggested wine pairing. We tested their offering along with a few others. Of course, any of these wines should definitely be under consideration for your Thanksgiving table!

This recipe is for Holiday Turkey Po' Boys, paired with the 2012 Conundrum Wines White (SRP $22.00).

Turkey Leftover Wine Pairings: Po' Boys and Conundrum Wines White

Holiday Turkey Po' Boys
  • 1/3 C mayo (we substituted yogurt)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 T white wine vinegar (we substituted apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1/4 tsp each dry mustard, paprika, black pepper, salt
  • 2 T minced onions
  • 3-4 C shredded cabbage
  • 4-5 T salted butter, softened
  • 6-8 oz roast turkey
  • Large soft French rolls (we substituted homemade Momofuku Mother Dough rolls instead)
  • Stir mayo, sugar, vinegar, Sriracha and spices together. Fold in onion and cabbage and let sit at least 15 minutes to soften cabbage.
  • In a heavy skillet, melt butter and heat turkey.
  • Slice rolls, butter, then pan fry until golden brown.
  • Pile ingredients on rolls. (For our second round we cut turkey into small pieces, combined with cabbage mix, and found it easier to keep contained on rolls.)
  • Eat and enjoy.
The spiciness and crunch of the coleslaw, along with the chewiness of the turkey and bread paired beautifully with the slight sweetness and creaminess of the 2012 Conundrum Winery White. Definitely one to include on your holiday table and after.

Other wines to pair with this dish:

Thanksgiving Wines - whites
Soléna Estate 2012 Pinot Gris (SRP $20.00) - spices in the sandwiches reflected in the wine, with its tartness a nice foil for creaminess of yogurt.

Josh Cellars 2012 Sauvignon Blanc (SRP $13.99) - citrus and melon flavors married well with spices in coleslaw dressing. Bonus: For every bottle sold between November 1 - December 31, Josh Cellars will donate $1 (up to $50,000) to Operation Homefront, supporting military heroes and their families.

Mionetto Brut Prosecco (SRP $14.00) - dry, light-bodied, with apple notes make this a perfect foil to the yeasty bread and creamy coleslaw. And who can resist bubbles?

Rocca Sveva 2012 Soave Classico (SRP $17.00) - works with this as a sandwich and also with the filling itself, salad-style.
This is recipe one of three in this wine and food pairing series - also includes:
Disclaimer: These wines were provided for promotional purposes.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

E3 VIP Luxury Tailgating

E3 VIP Soldier Field

A few weeks ago, we were invited to tailgate for the Chicago Bears-Bengals game. Hold on though, this was not your typical tailgate experience, but an over-the-top luxury event put on by E3 VIP. While there is nothing wrong with opening your cooler, popping a few sausages on the grill, and kicking back by your car, why not step it up and have your own chef, bartender, and DJ?
"E3 VIP provides 3 types of travel and event services; VIP Luxury Mobile Tours for groups of 20 and more, offered as mobile cocktail parties; Custom Mobile Luxury Event Services, targeted at corporate event planners that have specific “luxury experience” requirements; and Luxury Tailgate membership and corporate sponsorship opportunities, for professional and collegiate football games offered by E3 VIP in the greater Chicago area."
E3 VIP food and drinks

We parked near the Planetarium, then walked over to the E3 VIP section, with its carpeted space, tent, Pop-Chips truck, and RV (the RV is used for inclement weather, but we poked our heads in for a quick glimpse - nice). So what does E3 VIP provide? Besides the private area (no riff-raff here, though they did let us in, haha), there is food on the grill (prepared by Guy Fieri! not really but fun nonetheless), almost a full bar, and a DJ (maybe I'm just an old curmudgeon, but the music was too loud, hard to talk). Laima opted to start with a  Bloody Mary while I enjoyed a Lagunitas beer. I wish they included mimosas, as 9:30 is pretty early for me to start drinking the harder stuff, though clearly most others have no such compunction. Available food included Polish sausages, pork tenderloin sliders (yummy),  grilled shrimp, lamb chops, and more. The benefits of the open grill are the freshness of the food, the enjoyment of watching it made right there, and the amazing smells. 

Laima and Otis Wilson

What could be better than a little star power to go with the rest of all this pampering? We got to meet Otis Wilson, who won a Super Bowl as a member of the 1985 Chicago Bears. That is a serious sized ring he wears! Gracious with all the guests, Otis chatted freely and posed for numerous photos. I'm sure it must have gotten tiring after a while, but he remained affable as long as we were there. Check out the Otis Wilson Foundation to see the good work he's doing.

Want to make a weekend of it? Hyatt Regency McCormick Place is offering a special: Stay for only $159 a night when you purchase a Bears E3 VIP Tailgate Pass, that includes an Executive Suite with breakfast and parking. Not bad!

E3 VIP has also tailgated at Northwestern games, so if you're a college football fan, you're in luck. Of course, they're happy to set up a custom outing or event for you as well - just ask. E3 is also taking the show on the road, with planned visits to the Phoenix Open, the Super Bowl, the Master's, and the Kentucky Derby.

This is serious fun, combining the luxury of a skybox say and the camaraderie of sitting in a parking lot with your buddies. Only better. We'd be happy to join them again any time they wanted.

More information on the luxury tours, tailgating, and mobile event services can be found on the E3 VIP website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Disclaimer: This event was provided to us for review purposes.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dressing the Part: Wine Casual

Before attending the Wine Tourism Conference last week, one of the things I thought about was how I needed to dress. Professional? Business Casual? Turns out, the answer is Wine Casual (I think that means wine stains on your shirt are okay). Also, being a blogger at a wine tourism industry event meant that I wanted to get noticed, but not look the fool. Hmmmmm....

Enter Allied Shirts - just in time, they offered to let me make a custom t-shirt to test out their services. After a few false starts, I decided on one of my favorite wine sayings: "I'm not a WiNO, I'm a WineYES!" Funny, but not too boorish. Long sleeve, because I wasn't sure how cool the weather would be. The hardest part was picking a color of shirt, so I went with light blue, to bring out the color in my eyes (also a simple black and white design showed up well).

I'm not a WiNO, I'm a WineYES

The process is simple. Pick a shirt. Add text or clip art, or both, in any order you want. Play with the sizes of font and art to make sure it's legible and laid out the way you like it. Finalize. Place order. That's it.

Allied estimated a delivery date range, then proceeded to beat it easily, which meant it arrived on time so that I could show it off at the Conference. I wore it to the Great American Wine Festival, where everyone seemed to enjoy it - one young lady even asked to take a photo of it!

Disclaimer: This shirt was provided to me for review purposes.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Willamette Valley Vineyards, Oregon

“Our mission in growing cool-climate varietals is to create elegant, classic Oregon wines from the Willamette Valley Appellation. As native Oregonians, we treasure our environment and use sustainable practices in growing and vinifying our winegrapes.”

- Jim Bernau, Founder/President
Willamette Valley Vineyards

As part of our participation in the Wine Tourism Conference, we opted for the final event: a wine and food pairing dinner at Willamette Valley Vineyards. This was also the 4th winery we've visited in our project to visit a winery in all 50 states. The winery, founded by Jim Bernau in 1983 and now celebrating its 30th anniversary, is making the tasting experience the main focus of customer visits, believing that wines should be tasted with food. We were the first group, the dress rehearsal if you will, of the newly built space.

Unfortunately, we arrived after dark and did not get the full experience of seeing the winery, but the new tasting room overlooks the estate and sits atop the newly constructed barrel storage facility, which probably is dynamite during the day. Even in the dark of night it is a magnificent space, with homey touches such as an open fireplace near the entry and backlit glassware that creates an inviting atmosphere. It is a large, open space on several levels, though it can be adjusted to create smaller, more intimate spaces as well.

The dinner was all we'd hoped it would be, though I was disappointed when I realized the first course was fish - I could have requested a vegetarian option, but didn't since I had been told there would be no fish courses. The food and wine pairings went thus:
Bread Service
2011 Pinot Blanc
Cascade Baking Rosemary Baguette
Whipped Butter with Juniper Salt

Course 1
2011 Estate Chardonnay
Columbia River Steelhead Cake, Monastery Mustard Aioli,
Fresh to You Roasted Corn Salsa

Course 2
2011 Estate Pinot Noir
Grilled Anderson Ranch Lamb Loin with Porcini,
Oregon Huckleberry Gastrique Jam and
Full Circle Creamery White Cheddar Cheese Scalloped Potato

Course 3
2010 Tualatin Estate Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley Rabbit and Dried Tart Cherry en Vol-au-vent,
Oregon Mushroom LLC Chanterelle and House Smoked Bacon Ragu

Course 4
2011 Tualatin Estate Semi-Sparkling Muscat
Gerry Frank's Konditorei Spiced Pumpkin Cake
Excepting the first course, an outstanding meal - I'm not usually a fan of rabbit, but it was presented amazingly well. Nothing overly artsy or contrived, the meal was a nice reflection of what the Willamette Valley has to offer gastronomically. While all the wine and food pairings were on the money, my favorite was the lamb with their Estate Pinot Noir, though the others were definitely not far behind. Chef Eric Nelson has a large commercial kitchen in the new tasting facility, along with a demonstration area featuring a wood burning stove, so plenty of great food will be had.

As I mentioned, we did not get a chance to see anything outside -- along with the dark, it was also cold, windy, and wet, so most of us explored the interior of the new space. After checking out the library tasting room, we headed upstairs to the mezzanine, then up endless stairs to the top of the tower. I bet the view during good weather is spectacular. I also nipped down to the barrel rooms in the basement, chock full of great wine and the unmistakable aroma of the angels taking their share. We'll definitely return if we get the chance, if only to check out the views from the steep hillsides (though the food and wine would be worth a trip alone).

Willamette Valley Vineyards video

The Estate vineyard, Tualatin Estate, and Hannah's Vineyard, all in the Willamette Valley Appellation, are certified sustainable, and are planted with Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Muscat, and Chardonnay. Elton Vineyards, in the Eola-Amity Hills Sub-AVA, is planted mostly with Pinot Noir, but also includes Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, a small amount of Grüner Veltliner grapes and is also certified sustainable.

Along with an emphasis on using biofuels, recycling, reuse, and reduction of materials, their vineyards have been certified sustainable through LIVE and Salmon Safe since 1997. Additionally, their Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir plantings were certified organic in October 2007 by Oregon Tilth.

More information can be found on the Willamette Valley Vineyards website, on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Grands Crus Classés of Saint-Emilion Chicago

When Balzac Communication invited us to a tasting of Grands Crus Classés of Saint-Emilion here in Chicago, we jumped at the chance. That the tasting was held at the Palmer House Hilton, a beautiful old hotel, was icing on the cake.

Grands Crus Classés of Saint-Emilion Chicago

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Saint-Emilion was founded in the 8th century and is about 25 miles Northeast of Bordeaux. Vineyards totalling about 13,500 acres produce approximately 6% of the red wine production in the Bordeaux area. Grapes are grown in a variety of terroir: southern slopes, plateau, northern slopes and gravely areas.

Saint-Emilion is made up of two appellations : Saint-Emilion and Saint-Emilion Grand Cru. In the second, there is also Classification of Grand Cru Classé and Premier Grand Cru Classé châteaux, reviewed every 10 years, which allows wineries to move up as they meet the criteria.

Most of the vintners present poured us bottles from the 2009 and 2010 vintages, both with subtle aromas, a full palate, and, for the most part, beautifully balanced (though some were quite tannic and need more bottle time before drinking). As is usual, Laima and I preferred opposite styles - she liked the 2009s, while I preferred the younger 2010s.

Grands Crus Classés of Saint-Emilion Chicago

While most of the wines were drinking quite nicely, we did agree on our favorite wines, and it turned out they are neighbors: Château Grand Corbin and Château Grand Corbin-Despagne - they share some great terroir!

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Eola-Amity Hills AVA - Oregon

Eola-Amity Hills AVA

The Eola-Amity Hills AVA (established in August 2006) is an easy 45-minute drive from Portland, located nearly in the center of the Willamette Valley. Approximately 6 miles wide and 16 miles long, the AVA encompasses almost 40,000 acres, with more than 1,300 acres of grapes. Upper elevations are predominantly basaltic clay/loams called Jory, Nekia, and Gelderman, among others, while lower elevations contain sedimentary Steiwer, Chehulpum, and Helmick types.

Bjornson Vineyard were kind enough to respond to our questionnaire and send us a sample of their wine.

"Care for the Land, 
Make Exceptional Wine, 
Enjoy the Journey."

Name: Pattie and Mark Bjornson
Title: Owners
Winery: Bjornson Vineyard
AVA: Eola-Amity Hills

What should people think of when they hear about your AVA?

Eola-Amity Hills: Where you go when you're in it for the wine.

Willamette Valley pinot noir is uniquely expressive of the land. And within this beautiful realm, Eola-Amity wines stand out. They benefit from the powerful and consistent winds that come through the Van Duzer Corridor, one of the only places for cool Pacific winds to cross the Coast Range. This keeps the temperature lower at night. Vines are forced to work harder, and grapes benefit with a balance and acidity that makes them both drinkable now and long-lived.

The Eola/Amity Hills AVA produces more pinot grapes than anyplace else in the Willamette Valley. Wine tasters and wine tourists who make their way a little farther south are richly rewarded when they visit this largely untamed, largely untapped corner of the valley.

How is your winery alike or different from others in the AVA?

Our winery is similar to most of those in our AVA, in that we are a family-owned facility designed to process small lots with minimal handling. Like many wineries in Oregon, we promote conservation by generating renewable energy; however, we are the only winery in Oregon that harnesses both solar and wind energy. We farm sustainably to promote ecological balance in our vineyard, surrounding creeks and woodlands. Our new winery (opening fall 2014) will be one of the most energy efficient in Oregon!

What sets us apart from other tasting rooms is that we pour and sell both our Bjornson Vineyard estate wine, as well as Bjornson Vineyard designates made by other winemakers who purchase our fruit. It is interesting to taste the different winemaking styles imparted on grapes from one vineyard. Our tasting room will also feature winemakers who make wine at our new facility.

This gives our guests an opportunity to taste and purchase wine from several winemakers in a single, beautiful setting.

What should people expect when visiting your winery?

When guests visit our winery, they will most likely be served by the owners, Mark and Pattie Bjornson, who are actively involved in all facets of the farming and winemaking processes, and who are more than happy to discuss our practices in as much detail as you are interested.

Tasting Room Hours:

Currently we are open the weekends of Memorial Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving. We welcome tastings at other times by appointment (503) 877-8189.

Stop by and check out the construction of our new winery scheduled to open for harvest 2014. At that time our hours will be changing, please visit the Bjornson website for details or like us on Facebook.

Other Comments:

Bjornson Vineyard is part of a scenic 107-acre farm, located in Eola-Amity Hills, AVA, a sub-AVA of the Willamette Valley Oregon. The vineyard is planted with 28 acres of vines on volcanic soils (Jory/Nekia) ranging in elevation from 450-550 feet. Our mission is simple: care for the land, make exceptional wine, and enjoy life's journey. Our label art, Fire and Ice, represents our Icelandic heritage, as well as the magnificent volcanic and glacial forces that created the soils of Oregon's Willamette Valley. We invite you to visit our vineyard and enjoy the fruit of our journey.

Tasting Notes:

Bjornson Vineyard 2011 Edward Barrel Sample Pinot Noir

2011 Edward Barrel Selection Pinot Noir: named after Pattie's grandfather, a reserved but intense man, with a strong work ethic reflecting his Midwestern heritage; vibrant ruby red color; smoke, wood, red currant, and violet aromas; truffle, rhubarb, oregano, and vanilla flavors; silky mouthfeel; very drinkable now, but supple tannins mean you can lay it down for several years without worry;aged for 16 months in French Oak; cork closure; 13.1% ABV, SRP $40.00.


Before we received the response from Bjornson Vineyard, we found a bottle of Bethel Heights Vineyard at our local wine store.

Bethel Heights Vineyard

Bethel Heights has stayed in the Casteel-Dudley-Webb family since their beginning in 1977. 70 acres planted to (and sustainably grown) Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Grüner Veltliner. Bethel Heights estate wines of the first vineyards to be certified Salmon Safe in 1997 and have been certified LIVE since 1999. Their winemaking emphasizes gentle handling and minimal intervention in order to best express the terroir of the vineyards sourced.

Tasting Notes
Bethel Heights Vineyard 2010 Estate Grown Pinot Noir

2010 Estate Grown Pinot Noir

Deeper dark ruby red color; cherry, violet, cinnamon, and oregano aromas; dark cherry, earthy green tea, subtle mint, and vanilla flavors; medium mouthfeel into a slightly tannic cedary finish; barrel aged 10 months in 33% new French oak; 3,042 cases produced; twist-off closure; 12.5% ABV; SRP $32.
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

McMinnville AVA - Oregon

Located in the Coast Range Foothills of Yamhill County, the McMinnville AVA is a sub-appellation of the all-encompassing Willamette Valley AVA. The McMinnville Winegrowers Association's eight member wineries include Brittan Vineyards, Coeur de Terre Vineyard, Coleman Vineyard, J Wrigley Vineyard, Maysara Winery, Noble Pig, Yamhill Valley Vineyards and Youngberg Hill Vineyards and Inn.

Comprising nearly 40,500 acres, with 600 acres or so of grapes, the region is known for its unique soils, are uplifted marine sedimentary loams and silts with a base of uplifting basalt. The Coast Range Mountains create a weather shadow, with lesser rainfall and more protection from chilling winds. The Van Duzer corridor adds drying winds, which helps control mold and mildew. These conditions allow the grapes to hang longer on the vine, so flavors intensify, and gain more layers of subtlety.

McMinnville AVA

Youngberg Hill

"Taste the Wine...Savor the View!"

Nicolette and Wayne Bailey are the owners of Youngberg Hill Vineyards, a 50 acre estate, having 21 acres of vineyards: 16 acres in three Pinot Noir blocks and 5 acres in a Pinot Gris block. The Natasha Pinot Noir block is 7 acres and located at an elevation of approximately 600 feet on marine sedimentary soil. The Jordan block of Pinot Noir is 4 acres in area and grows on a steep slope of volcanic rock at an altitude of approximately 750 to 800 feet. The Camelot block (at an altitude of approximately 525 to 600 feet) is the third block of Pinot Noir, has an area of 3 acres, is located between the Jordan and Natasha blocks, and is a blend of volcanic and marine sedimentary soils with a wide band of shale running through its middle. There is no irrigation in the vineyards, organic and sustainable farming (moving toward biodynamic), LIVE certified, and Salmon Safe. These practices, along with naming three of the vineyards after their daughters, show how important both the immediate safety and future health of both the land and their children are to the family.

Onsite, and an amazing amenity, the Inn features four suites and four luxuriously appointed guest rooms, with private in suite baths. The entire house is encircled by covered decks overlooking our vineyard and the valley to the Coast Range, Mount Jefferson, Mount Hood and the Willamette Valley.

Name: Wayne Bailey
Title: Owner/ Grape grower

What should people think of when they hear about your AVA?
  • More intense, structured and weightier wines, more black fruit orientated, more earthy components.
How is your winery alike or different from others in the AVA?
  • We are a little higher in altitude with older vine on owned root.
What should people expect when visiting your winery? 
  • The best views in the valley, a homey tasting room atmosphere, deck and picnic area, surrounded by vineyards, and an Inn to spend the night.
Tasting room onsite? Hours or by appointment only?
  • Onsite, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
More information can be found on the Youngberg Hill website, Facebook, and on Twitter.

Tasting Notes:

Youngberg Hill 2010 Jordan Pinot Noir
2010 Jordan Block Pinot Noir

Deep ruby red with lighter edges; cherry cola, rhubarb, and subtle raspberry aromas; dark cherry, sweet wood, black olive, and tobacco flavors; satiny texture into an oregano-tinged finish; beautiful balance, ensuring many more years of pleasure; 24 years old vines; 25% new oak for 10 months; 92 cases produced; twist-off closure; 12.9% ABV; SRP $40.
Soléna Estate

(See the Yamhill-Carlton AVA write-up for notes shared by owner Laurent Montalieu, who owns Soléna Estate, which makes wines from several AVAs and states.)

Tasting Notes:

Soléna Estate 2011 Pinot Noir Hyland Vineyard
2011 Pinot Noir Hyland Vineyard

Luminous ruby, almost pomegranate red in color; subtle tobacco, blackberry, and vanilla aromas; cherry, raspberry, rosemary, and subtle mint flavors; silky body, nicely balanced, cedary finish; grapes hand-harvested and sorted; cold maceration with 18 days of skin contact; gravity-fed into tanks; 100% maceration over 5 months; aged for 11 months in 28% new French oak; bottled unfiltered and unfined; 13.9% ABV; 175 cases; cork closure; SRP $50.
Hyland Estates

"...promise to provide wines that reflect
a sense of place and to honor the land"

Planted in 1971, the Hyland Estates vineyard spans over 200 acres with about 100 acres under vine and is at 600 to 800 feet in elevation. While in the past the grapes were sold to other wineries such as Sokol-Blosser, Erath, and others, the new owners, Laurent Montalieu, Danielle Andrus Montalieu, and John Niemeyer, are now creating the first estate wines.

More info available at the Hyland Estates website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Tasting Notes:

Hyland Estates 2010 Estate Pinot Noir
2010 Estate Pinot Noir

Deep ruby red in color; rhubarb, green tea, and oregano aromas; plum, earth, and tobacco flavors; brushed cotton mouthfeel with nicely balanced tannins; vanilla finish; vines from 24 to 42 years old; 18 months in 38% new French oak; could be laid down for a few more years; cork closure; 13.7% ABV; SRP $35.

Hyland Estates 2011 Coury Pinot Noir

2011 Coury Clone Pinot Noir

Deep ruby red in color; violet, musk, and dark cherry aromas; mushroom, earth, sarsaparilla, and smoke flavors; full-bodied, weighty, satiny mouthfeel; root beer and cedar finish; drinking beautifully now, but will stand cellaring and will probably improve; vines from 24 to 39 years old; aged 10 months in 56% new French oak; 13.3% ABV; SRP $60.
Disclaimer: These wines were sent for review purposes.

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