Friday, March 26, 2010

Bend to Bonanza to Ashland to Cave Junction, then Home

Got a late start on Tuesday but made good time with a stop in Blue River for a burger. Arrived in  Bend about 2:00 and headed straight for Volcano Vineyards new tasting room where Scott greeted me with a glass of Viognier. Very nice, unfined and unfiltered and in a box no less. Tasty, so much so that I ended the evening much later with (?) glasses. Lots of white peach, pear and floral nose. Soft  and pleasant on the pallet with an appealing aftertaste. 15 months in neutral French oak, finished on the leas.
Tasted the '06 Syrah ($29) also. Liked the smell of hard sweet plums, nice and spicy with a black cherry, plum, and coco taste and a long complex finish. This is the wine I selected for the auction.
The blend of '06 and '07 Merlot was really interesting. Lots of black fig in the nose and a soft plum and fig taste with a spicy finish. Great food wine.
They have been looking at a new space for both the winery and tasting room and should have some progress to report soon.

I was impressed by what Bend has become even as the economic downturn has hit very hard there. The industry in Bend and the surrounding areas has been, as far as I can ever recall, housing. The growth they experienced in the 70's through the 2000's had been remarkable, but now that the market has slowed, there are signs of distress everywhere. Galleries seem to be the first to go and I saw some empty spaces. But, I also saw hope and there was an element of hope in the air. The new hotel, The Oxford, makes quite an impression indeed. Located in the heart of downtown it fills the need for a truly upscale venue, lacking in Bend proper, and it is much nicer than any of the outlying "resort" hotels.
The lobby is modern yet warm, with nice use of color and shape, cool and calm says it all. The rooms are perfectly appointed and have a stately feel, akin to some of the more elegant Swedish or Danish upscale hotels. They have a beautiful workout room overlooking the town from the top floor, and a restaurant, Ten Under, that looked as if it were a well kept secret for those in the know.The concierge, Julie, is knowledgeable and friendly, with suggestions for places to visit and places to eat. She is a native so she knows all the best places, and is very smart, so she can glean for your manner and demeanor what you might like, a very handy but usually lacking quality in a concierge.
I have not had as pleasant a nights sleep in a hotel in years. Highly recommend a visit!
After getting settled, I strolled through downtown and enjoyed a relaxing visit with the owner of Mockingbird gallery, Jim Peterson. One of my all time favorite artists,  Ed Koch, formally of Eugene, shows his work there (over Jim's shoulder) and is worth the trip over just to see his work.Beautiful gallery! Lots of bronze and many good northwest painters.
I walked out and ran in to two young girls who were doing a street art project for school, randomly photographing people on the street in front of a sheet pinned to the wall. I turned the tables on them.
Next was a stop at a cute little wine shop called  The Good Drop. Well stocked with Northwest wines and a collection of rarities in the basement.
Back to the Hotel and then back to Volcano for a few sips.
Fish and chips at some bar next door to the hotel, then off to a night of bad TV and a good rest.
Morning came with a soft gray sky and I thought I was in for a dank day. After checking out and stopping for breakfast down the block, I headed south to Klamath Falls, then to Bonanza.
There is good reception down there so I was able to get good directions and get to the winery without much trouble.
This is really not where you would exspect to find a winery, but boy do I like the wine!
12 Ranch was at the Newport show and I was told that if I came down to visit and I think they were a bit surprised that I did.
Ken and Connie use Hungarian oak and it imparts a very unusual nose and richness to the pallet.
If you have ever been on a farm and smelled the wonderfully rich and pleasant aroma of freshly opened bale of straw hay, you know the smell I am referring to. That is a close as I can come to describing the first notes I got on the nose along with a deep rich dried fruit and a soft, elegant mouthfeel of the '05 Syrah ($25).
I also tasted the Merlot and was equally impressed: Same nose with more plum and spice. So good!
They are building their tasting room and winery and looking at the progress, I bet they will be done by the end of Summer. Landscaping is lovely also.
They gave me directions on how to get to Ashland the best way. To bad I did not listen... I ended up on the curviest road in Oregon! I would not advise anyone who gets car sick to even look at on a map!
When I got to Ashland and Weisingers of Ashland winery it was 4:30 and I needed a glass of wine!
I got in just as they were beginning to close up and so did a few other folks so they staid open till 6:00. I tasted all the wines and was especially taken with the Mescolare Lot 17 '05 ($26).
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Nebbiolo and has a deep purple color that speaks of things to come. Rich dark berry with hints of spice and anise. Long finish with a sweet note on the sides of the tongue. Robert gave me this one for the collection.
I also had to agree with Katie and Stephen Wagner that the '05 Cabernet was outstanding; Lots of Chocolate, coco, leather, black cherry and soft spice. really  nice wine.
Hope they make it to the auction.
I drove north to Medford and to my go to hotel there, Red Lion. Cheap, clean, quiet, and most of all, close to 38 Central.
I walked over and had a great hamburger with a perfectly dressed salad paired with Pebblestone's '07 Merlot. Perfect!
Sad news in the morning. One of my oldest and dearest friends, Charles Dowd, passed away. My wife gave me the news and I had a somber drive in the pouring rain out to Cave Junction.
First stop was Bridgewiew Winery for a six pack of thier Blue Moon wines:
1 bottle each
'06 “Blue Moon” Chardonnay, '08 “Blue Moon” Pinot Gris, '08 “Blue Moon” Riesling, '07 “Blue Moon” Merlot       '06 “Blue Moon” Cabernet/Merlot'06 “Blue Moon” Cabernet Sauvignon
Here is Lelo posing with a bottle of the Blue Moon Riesling.
I stopped to visit with the swans that live in the pond outside.
Last stop:
Foris Vineyards and Winery for a bottle of perfectly developing '06 Pinot Noir($30) from .
Forest floor, maple, sweet spice, and black cherry on the nose with lots of dark fruit with notes of fresh strawberry. Lush mouthfeel with a shorter but very pleasant finish. This wine has change over the last year in the bottle in to an even more complex and interesting, food friendly (roast pork?) wine. Dena said that the '07 is going like mad in Manhattan, where they sell a lot of their wines. If you have not been to the Oregon Caves, make the trip and make the stop at Foris.
I only have a few more stops to make for the rest of wines. but I plan to keep the blog going with video interviews with the winemakers and owners as well as the folks who work the tasting rooms.

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