Monday, March 30, 2009

Video of Sweet Cheeks Coming Soon

We are taping an interview with the staff at Sweet Cheeks Winery today and will post it as soon as it is edited.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Car Full of Wine and a Japanese Bridge

When I drove back to Portland on Wednesday I stopped at Drakes Seven Ds and picked up a 5 foot by 3 foot wooden Japanese Bridge Linda and I had purchased last weekend. Yes, it JUST fit in the back of my Subaru wagon! So the wine case goes to the front seat and away we go. I went straight to the hotel in Newburg, ate at the local diner and caught up on email as THIS hotel has internets and googles.
Up and out early for breakfast in the lobby with twenty school kids attending some event at George Fox. Love the automated waffle machine!
I drove around a great deal looking for open wineries and just enjoying the drive. Forest Grove and the area is really interesting and the view from David Hill is breathtaking.
Lunch in Gaston and went up to Kramer Vineyards for a bottle of 2005 Chardonnay and a visit with the dogs. Thistle also makes wine there so I picked up their 2003 Pinot Noir and took off for McMinville. Panther Creek was holding a Stevenson-Barrie 2006 Freedom Hill Pinot Noir for me and as luck would have it Michael Stevenson, the winemaker, was there to hand it over himself.
I found Walnut City Wineworks a real joy. Jennifer was great to deal with and I added Z'ivo's 2002 Pinot Noir, 2006 Walnut City Reserve Pinot Noir, and Bernard Machado 2005 Pinot Noir to the list.
Next week is Carlton, Medford, and a few more random stops along the way.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Got Naked...Got Argyle and Machesi To

Tuesday was slow and gentle. I met with Rebecca and had lunch at The Filling Station in Carlton with the owners of Ghost Hill. They gave me their 2007 Pinot Noir in the new bottle. Looks great! Nice label. We drove out to the house and I looked for the ghost but alas, all I saw was some guy atop the hill with a pickup sitting in a lawn chair gazing out over the wineries. We tasted the 2006 Pinot Noir and I was impressed by the lean, cool elegance it displayed unlike the big fat fruity wine that some produced.Wine Spectator rated the 2006 Pinot Noir a 91 in their December 15, 2008 issue. The wine is described as "Silky and open-textured, glowing with cherry and raspberry character. Orange cream overtones add interest as the finish rolls on with refinement."
Rebecca gave me a tour of the Abby and of her business, Northwest Wines to You. What an interesting and complex person. She wears as many hats, well, as anyone I have ever met.
I stopped in McMinnville and picked up a 2006 Dukes Family Vineyards Thomas Pinot Noir.
Rolling out after having my breath taken away by the amount and range of wines in the Abby, I went to Dundee for a stop at Argyle and a bottle of 2006 Brut Rose'. I love their sparkling wines and this one really hits the mark. 90 points in Wine Spectator!
I drove straight through to Hood River and found a place to stay and found a great meal at Celilo. I had eaten there once before while wearing my curator hat. I stopped in for a dinner and saw the amazing artwork adorning the walls and ask after the artist. Ellen Dittebrandt became one of the artists at OPUS6IX and when we hung her work the next day, a piece sold 8 minutes after it went up! A record I am sure.
I called it an early night and went back to the hotel for really bad TV reception and no computer.
Morning came early and I made the most of the free breakfast, read the maps of the wineries, and prepared my plan of attack.
The Dalles was first. I drove down the Gorge past white capped river and driving wind until the sun came out and presented a spectacular view of the hills. The visitors information center had a great deal of info on the wineries and the area in general and I thought it was very funny how the first words out of them when I ask about wine was "Washington"!
So much for state pride. Bolton Cellars left a 2006 Great Southern Pinot Noir for me at Sigman's, the flower shop next door. I left messages with the other two wineries in The Dalles but heard nothing back so I took off to Hood River.
First stop was Phelps Creek, where the owner had left a bottle of Becky's Cuvee' 2007 Pinot Noir in a bag with my name on it in the basket in front of the tasting room. Rural Oregon at its best.
On the way back to town I stopped at Hood River Vineyards for a special treat, a 1998 Oregon Zinfandel Port! On down the road to Cathedral Ridge Winery. Voted Oregon winery of the year in 2007 by Wine Press Northwest, it has a lot to live up to and from the tastes I had there, it does. I walked away with a 2006 Columbia Valley Sarah. A nice family from Colorado was there tasting when I was there and it was fun hearing their tasting notes. "I smell pine tar and berries!"
Teresa, with help from Lisa,
shows what they gave

I made a quick stop at a new winery called MarchesiVineyards a few block away and met Franco, the owner (pictured here filling out my paperwork). Italian and very proud of his wines, he gave me a 2007 Barbera.
I drove in to downtown Hood River and found The Pines 1852. The Pines Vineyard's Old Vine Zinfandel was first planted by an Italian stone mason in the late 1800s. Louis Comini made his home in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge, bringing with him grape vines from his homeland in Genoa, Italy.This is one of the oldest vineyard in Oregon.
Here is Sierra holding our bottle of 2007 Sarah

They also have a very nice art gallery that is worth the stop even if you don't like wine. I ran down the street and around the corner to Springhouse Cellars and caught James as he was about to go shopping. He handed over his Homestead Red.
Last stop for the day: Naked! I had missed them at the Newport Fest. because there were so many people surrounding the booth. I got lucky this time. It was slow day so I got to taste and visit and relax.
Jody gave me taste of all the wines of Naked Winery from Foreplay to Penetration, a fine Cabernet Sauvignon (banned in two states).
Very clever marketing and a great sense of humor. All the prices end in .69.
I visited the gallery next door, Benjamin Benjamin and was impressed by the quality of work. I suggested Barry Geller for the walls of the Winery. I think he will be a good fit.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Carlton to Hood River

Just a note to let you know I am still on the road. I spent Tuesday in and around Carlton with friends and picked up a wonderful bottle of Ghost Hill 2007 Pinot Noir, tasted the 2006 (eligant and lean) and got a tour of a jaw dropping collection of wine at The Abby in Lafayette.
I stopped in Dundee and was treated to a bottle of Argyle's finest.
Up the gorge to Hood River and a new adventure in the morning.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Adventures in Southern Oregon

Never pick up hitch hikers! Unless they are a young married couple touring the western states working in vineyards and on organic farms. I stopped on the way through Cottage Grove and gave them a lift all the way to Medford with a stop at Del Rio and a "thank you" for thier donation and a taste of the outstanding Pinot Gris!
Then, on a whim, I ask if they had ever heard of "The Oregon Vortex"?
Away we went. A short drive up a winding road to the weirdest and kitchiest place I have been since I was there last time. 1950's here we come. I have been going there since I was a little boy and have gone back at least 15 times. Always confused and it makes the rational part of my brain, small though it is, hurt. I do like watching the eyes of new
people when they start seeing the weird stuff that goes on.
There are places where you shrink and grow... Like here-
and all sorts of optical oddities. If you have not been, go. Just for the fun of feeling like you just got off a ride at the carnival. (I am 6 foot, Jack is about 5'5")

Off to Medford where I dropped them off at a mall to wait for their couch surfing connection.
I wandered around Medford looking for a friend's restaurant on Central, the main south street through the downtown area. I took me a while to find it because it had a big, obvious sign...
I stopped and ask directions at a wine shop, Corks Wine Bar
where Fred gave me tips on what wineries to visit and sampled up a few great Southern Oregon wines.
When I finally found "38 Central" next door, I drove over two blocks to my idea of camping, Red Lion, checked in, and walked back to the restaurant.
I had met David Graham on facebook through one of the wine groups, Must love wine, and was impressed by his motivation and knowledge so I had to try out his food.
There are few things better than finding a great meal, a good friend, and an excellent wine! I sat at the bar and ordered a salad - A True Chop Salad full of Seasonal Vegetables and Lettuce with Things a Rancher Would Add: Rogue Creamery Bleu Cheese, Hard Boiled Egg and Crumbled Bacon. OMG!
As I ate this wonderful dish, a busy David recognized me and with a big smile welcomed me. We chatted about food, wine, the economy, and his plans for the place. We also arranged fop me to bring paintings by Allen Cox to hang.
I ordered the ribs and as I sat there sipping a wonderful gris, David presented me with what has to be the best Mac and Cheese on the planet! I took one taste and could not much for the ribs though I did manage to get all the meat taken care of. I met Chriss Dennett, the proprietor of Elements Tapas Bar nearby and promised a visit next trip down. This is not the scary, John Birch, right wing crazy Medford I remember from my childhood. There is an air of sophistication and richness of food that Eugene unfortunately lacks downtown, except for a few places like Marche' , Adam's, and Perugino. Must be the climate.
David was nice enough to email some of the wineries and let them know I was on my way to beg for wine. Out early and on the road to Cowhorn Vineyard and Garden
where Bill Steck told me the story of the land and why grapes do so well there. Bottom river soil with lots of rock, not good for much except alfalfa and you can't make wine out of that so grapes it was. I was presented with a 2006 Sarah from Estate grown grapes. I can't wait to go back with Linda during our Ashland visits this year.
I missed Cricket Hill as no one was around but I will visit them on the return trip.
Next came a double header: Fiasco winery and Jacksonville Vineyards, both owned by Dave and Pamela Palmer. I stopped in at Fiasco and sampled the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, that years ago wine "experts" said would not grow well in Southern Oregon due to the volcanic soil. So much for that. The wine had a mellow, big mouth feel and lots of dark fruit, vanilla and hints of raw chocolate. Plum aftertaste. Very good! I left with a bottle of that and with a bottle of Jacksonville Vineyards 2005 Claret, a blend of 50%cab sauv, 36%Merlot, 10% cab franc, and 4% Malbec.
On down the road to Longsword. I always enjoyed stopping there for a taste and a few bottles of incredible Chardonnay (no oak) when they had the little stand at the front gate and a couple of tables. Now they have a real tasting room but I hope you can still sit out by the road and sip. Melinda gave me a bottle of the 2007 Chardonnay for the auction. Thank you Matt, for your nice gift!
John Michael Champagne was the next stop and I left with a bottle of the Sparkling Red 2002. I have had his wine before and it is REALLY good. A nice surprise on a hot summer day.
And yes, I know you can't call it champagne...
A real treat, if you have some time and want to learn all about wines, grapes, bottling, et al, you have to visit The Academy of Wine of Oregon and talk to Bernard. I was in a rush this time but plan on some long tasting later in the year. He gave me, after much hesitation about what to hand over, a 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a bottle worth bidding on by its self!
I visited Valley View and tasted some of the wonderful wines they make. The donated a 2005 Merlot last month at the Newport Wine Fest. I stopped and had lunch and met with Bruno Pedro of CMG, Lda.
He had flown in to SF and driven up to visit wineries and show them his corks. The next time I am in Portugal I am promised a tour of the wineries!
Rossella's was next for a bottle of their rich and ripe 2006 Merlot.
I was disappointed to miss Schmidt, Wooldridge, and Bridgeveiw but will see them on the First of April.
I also stopped by Troon and tasted what they had out. I have heard from people that they make great wine. I will be picking up a bottle of 2004 Old Vine Meritage!
Last stop of the day was indeed a treat!
RoxyAnn has many things to offer: Great wines, enthusiastic staff, food, nice outside and inside seating, and Michael Donovan who, for those Ashland visitor who have had the pleasure over the years to eat at Chateaulin, will recognize. He sold it to his employees and went in to retirement, until he was recruited by RoayAnn to run the show. And can he run a show!
I was there for about two hours, tasted, eat Rouge Valley cheese, sample chocolate, and was generally entertained. Michael gave me a bottle of 2006 RoxyAnn Claret. I also met the new winemaker, John Quinones.
A day well spent and 9 bottles to show for it!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Friday: On the Trail of the Elusive "One Bottle"

Lost? Men don't get lost, they just don't like to turn around... I consider myself to be rather above average, smart, capable, all that, until I read a wine donation form as Dallas instead of The Dalles. Who knew there was a Court Street in both towns? A phone call and an embarrassed Robert led me to head out of town in a direction I swore was North. After driving for miles on gravel roads and watching the clock pass noon I found a paved road and headed...back to town.
I am sure there is a winery in Falls City but I really had no time.
On to Van Duzer Vineyards by way of another graveled road though this one led to a rich reward! They gave me a bottle of Homestead Block Pomard 2005 Pinot Noir. I have tasted many wines in Oregon and this is one my personal favorites. The grapes come from one block of vineyards just east of the tasting room and are the oldest they have.
"For several years, we’ve been beguiled by the powerful fruit coming off this small vineyard which, as its name suggests, was the site of the homestead on the property. The plot was planted in 1982 to vines of the Burgundian Pommard clone which have responded to conditions on the south-facing elevated benchland site with remarkably concentrated flavors of dark cherry".
quick trip over to Amity and a visit with Susan at Coelho Winery for some tatses and a bottle of 2006 Divertimento Pinot Noir Rose'.
Traveling north I headed for Maysara Winery and found Mathew Sweet working away and decided to give him a break and taste some wine. The winery is hidden back in the hills and is a gem. I left with a bottle of 2005 Delara Pinot Noir. Superb and just about ready to drink. They make wines to lay down and wait for the right moment. It garnered90 pts. in “WINE ENTHUSIAST (November 2008)
I drove in to McMinnville and stopped at Eyrie Winery for a bottle of history. They were the first to plant and harvest Pinot Gris here in Oregon and the 2007 Pinot Gris is a celebration of that fact. Brianne was so sweet and full of knowledge about the wines I ask what led her to this life. Turns out she has traveled the world working in wineries and learning about wines and is now in the program at Chemeketa. She will be a star someday. I plan to go visit her and buy the first wine she makes.
I made for Carlton to the Winemakers Studio to pick up Andrew Rich's 2006 Pinot Noir, J.Daan's 2006 Pinot Noir, and after talking to Phill, a bottle of The Studio 2006 Pinot Noir. I plan on going back and seeing if the other winemakers will donate as well.
I ended the day at ADEA Wine Company and had nice glass of 2005 Dean-o's Pinot Noir. Lush, fruit forward, nice acid balance and earthy back of the mouth feel. Lots of layers to explore. Took a bottle of this one for the auction!
I stopped at The Dundee Bistro and had a burger sans bun and a strip of thier famous bacon with apple and farmers cheese along with a glass of Hamacher's Pinot Noir.
A rest and some coffee and back to Eugene.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wednesday at a Dead Run!

I left Winderlea with a bottle of Inaugural 2006 Reserve Pinot Noir and headed up the hill to Aramenta where they gave me their very fine 2006 Chardonnay. I then dashed to Willakenzie Estate and had a nice relaxing talk with Ronnie about the winery and it's history and a taste of their four top Pinot Noirs. I left with a bottle of 2006 Pierre Leon Pinot Noir!
Off to Elk Cove for a promised 2007 Pinot Gris( 91 points W.E. editors choice). I never get tired of a well made Pinot Gris. There is a mix of delicasy and power in that wine and when made right, it is great!
Deep breath! Off to Carlton where I stopped for a really nice chat at Cana's Feast with Patrick and left with a bottle of 2006 Bricco Reserva, a Sangiovese that is excellent!
I stopped by the wine studio but nobody home so I went down to Scott Paul and found them doing paperwork and after some pleading, left with a wonderful 2007 Cuvee Martha Pirrie Pinot Noir.
Down the street Solena Cellars had a big surprise waiting in the from of a Magnum of 2006Dommaine Danielle Laurant Pinot Noir . This is a very good wine and should be held for 8 to 10 years and will be a singal item at the auction.
A short hop to McMinnville and the next stop, Panther Creek for a bottle of 2007 Winemaker's Cuvee Pinot Noir. This is one of the wines that prove 2007 was good year after all. It hearkens back to a cool climate Pinot Noir that is delicate yet strong and has a fine quality.
Alas, I am almost 60 and happily married...My last stop of the day was at R. Stuart& Co where Nicole entertained me through a glass of Pinot and a relaxed end of gathering for the day. She gave me a bottle of 2007 Autograph Pinot Noir.
Home and a rest, then off again Friday!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Rushed, Yet Pleasant Journey

Tuesday morning, after a 2 hour board meeting and three more hours of getting things put in place for the trip north, off I went. My first stop was Stoller Vineyards and Winery near Dayton. They are a real treat for both tasters and techies as the have a Gold LEED award for solar and energy management, also, they are very nice. I count that a lot in my travels gathering wine. Grace not only gave us a Stoller SV Pinot Noir Dundee Hills 2006, she also gave a copy of "Passion for Pinot" a very cool book about Pinot Noir.
Off to Archery Summit Winery and a meeting with Chris Nagy and a bottle of their 2006 Red Hills Estate Pinot Noir. Wow, what a wine! I tasted all four Pinots they had open: Premier Cuvee' 2006 was black cherry and spice in the nose with current and flowers on the front and minerals and dark cherry in the back. A very good wine by its self but I think spicy meats and tomato sauces are in order.
All the Pinots were very different in taste and complexity but the one she gave us was my favorite. The nose had big ripe cherries and spices with currents. The first sip was raisin and spice with sweet cherry and it kept opening up in to layer after layer of minerals and spices with soft fruit. I could have stayed there all day.
Down the road was Vista Hills Vineyard where Dave Peterson presented me with a 2006 Treehouse Pinot Noir. I was struck by the beauty of the area and by the stunning tasting room pictured here.
Wine Country Farm cellars was a very nice surprise. I have been trying to get up there for three weeks and always ran out of time. Meeting Joan was as pleasant as tasting the wines. She donated a2006 Estate Pinot Noir. She also has a B&B that Linda and I will be visiting soon.
Suzanne at De Ponte Cellars presented a bottle of 2007 DFB Estate Melon, a rich white with apples and pears, apricot and a light touch of vanilla.

Off to a nice meal at Bistro in Dundee and a glass of
LANGE Pinot Noir 2007. I treated myself to a burger sans bun with trufled fries with hand made mayonnaise. For desert I had two types of bacon, yes, bacon and a soft cheese with green apple. SMILE!.
Off to the motel and thoughts of finding a nice wine bar and relaxing for the night...Shilo Inn , in and down for the count.
I woke up at 2:45 and watched some movie on showtime, then 8:00 came and I was up and out. Breakies at J's and off to Winderlea and a really nice hour with Bill Sweat. Great tasting room with a view of all the vineyards down the hill and off into the distance. Bill showed me around the new building and its chef designed kitchen. The building is equipped with a solar system and has glass garage doors and decks, and energy efficient design
by Ernest R. Munch, Architect & Urban Planner, LLC. I was struck driving up how it "fit" in the side of the hill.
Bill handed me a bottle of 2006 Inaugural Reserve Pinot Noir in a box made by the Opportunity Foundation of Central Oregon
More in the morning...I am tired and am sipping the rose' bought at Pennar-Ash while giving them my paperwork and hoping they can give ONE BOTTLE. No word yet...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

New Auction Items to Go With the Wine

Last night at First Friday I ask for some special gifts for our auction and got more than I could have imagined!
You may bid on becoming a character in the world famous cartoon series, "Stone Soup" created by Jan Eliot. She will create a "you" in one of her published strips and you will get to travel the world on the pages of hundreds of newspapers, in many languages and be seen by millions of readers!
Justin King will play a private concert in the Barrel room of King Estate, where he began to play his guitar as a young boy!
Jerry Dame , one of Oregon's most renowned artists, will work with you to create an oil painting of your choice from his vast repertoire!
And there is much more to add to the list!
April 10th will be quite a night!

Friday, March 6, 2009

"Surprise! Surprise!" to quote Gomer, A Magnum for Auction!

I just received our second magnum,(the first was from La Cadeau), this one is from Ray Walsh of Capitello Wines. He strolled in to OPUS6IX with a huge bottle tucked under his arm and handed it over, signed "1 of only 12! Enjoy". The 06 Pinot Noir got a 90 in Wine Spectator and all of his 06 in regular bottles are gone gone gone!

A Very Nice Offer

I was so pleased to receive a Facebook message from Ghost Hill Cellars up near Carlton, Oregon.
They "would be happy to supply" us "with a bottle of 2006 Ghost Hill Cellars Pinot Noir for this event. Check out the Ghost Hill Cellars page for the story on this wonderful vineyard, family and wine."
It is so wonderful and amazing that wineries here in Oregon are willing to share the fruits of their labor and love with others so graciously!
Here is a link to Ghost Hill Cellars.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hanging a Show, No wine Gathering Till Thursday!

I am the curator of OPUS6IX gallery in Eugene and I am hanging a very exciting, if small, show called Artists in Cars by an artists named Barry Geller. He has been an illustrator for many, many years and has worked with every major NY mag including illustrating for Ian Flemming's Bond series for Playboy.
At right-"Andy and Marilyn go for a Ride", 32x32, $3.000
and "Fiddlers on the Roof", 32x40, $3,500