Monday, April 26, 2010

Sokol Blosser Winery Featured as Environmentally Sound

Great piece by  Organic Wine ExaminerKimberly King about Sokol Blosser:
The winery spotlight today is on Sokol Blosser Winery in Dayton, OR. Susan Sokol-Blosser and her family have played an important part in shaping and helping develop the Oregon wine industry while being a champion of environmentally friendly wine making and sustainable practices in the industry. In 2007, Sunset Magazine honored both Susan and Sokol Blosser with their prestigious "Green Winery of the Year" award.

Sokol Blosser strives to create wines that are of world class quality while being made with sustainable, environmentally conscious methods. Here are some facts about how Sokol Blosser's green efforts at the winery (courtesy of the SB website):
More here

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Great Trip Planner if Your in the Mid-Valley

Click the map for details:
Click for details.
Corvallis Wine Trail:
(they have it miss labeled as Eugene wine tour) but it is handy non the less.
A small town with big city culture, Corvallis, Oregon has an abundance of arts and culture, and what better way to drink it all in than a tour of local art galleries and local wineries? Join us as we meander across Benton County from the heart of historic downtown Corvallis to the tiny town of Wren. Indulge your creative senses and your palate in the heart of the Willamette Valley. The route is approximately 30 miles round-trip and one hour driving time.


  1. Tyee Winery – Located on a Century Farm just south of downtown Corvallis, Tyee Wine Cellars is a family owned and operated vineyard and winery. Once a dairy farm, the vintage milking barn still stands today and serves as an art gallery adjoining the tasting room.
  2. The Wine Vault – Housed in an old bank in the small town of Philomath, Oregon, the Wine Vault is Pheasant Court Winery's official tasting room, and the old bank vault is still there!
More here

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Girardet at Astoria

Join Girardet Winery and many more this weekend--April 23rd-25th--for the 28th annual Astoria Warrenton Crab, Seafood & Wine Festival! Enjoy a great spread of northwest cuisine, myriad arts and crafts, a selection of Oregon and Washington’s finest wineries, the beer garden, live music and more!
If you are a member you can visit them at their booth you can enjoy a free wine tasting --one of your many perks as a member.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Good News for Some Very Good Winemakers

From Wine Enthusiast comes good news for some of our friends:

95 Chehalem 2006 Statement Pinot
Noir (Ribbon Ridge);
$99. This one of-
a-kind offering from Chehalem celebrates
what they are calling a “great” vintage. The wine
is dark, supple and immensely rich and dense,
yet retains a lightness that captures the elegance
of the Pinot Noir grape while propelling it to rarified
heights. The mix of red and purple fruits,
herb, spice and earth all come together in a
smooth and seductive wine that drinks like a
dream. Cellar Selection. —P.G.
95 Scott Paul 2008 Audrey Pinot Noir
(Dundee Hills);
$65. All Maresh vineyard
grapes are behind this gorgeous and feminine
Pinot, with soft and evocative scents of
truffle, chocolate and raspberry. Brilliant winemaking
that takes all the elements of great Oregon
fruit and puts them into unique focus, with
winemaker Kelley Fox’s trademark blend of biodynami
c e a r thy /fung a l f l a vor s , e legant
berry/cherry fruit, and just a touch of milk chocolate.
The alcohol just reaches 13%. —P.G.
94 Kelley Fox 2007 Maresh Vineyard
Pinot Noir (Dundee Hills)
; $50.
This has a surprising amount of vanilla cream in
the flavors, plus soft, seductive raspberry fruit.
The fruit comes from the oldest part of the
Maresh vineyard—38-year-old self-rooted vines.
The wine is a pale rose, yet substantial in the
style of a classic Pinot from Eyrie. After some
hours breathing it opens up with elegant, seductive
aromas and some caramel streaks, delicate
and perfectly proportioned. —P.G.
94 Ken Wright 2008 Canary Hill
Vi n e y a rd Pinot Noir (Eola-Amity
; $50. The top wine from Ken Wright in
2008, this beautifully elegant wine clocks in at
just 13.3% alcohol, yet delivers a mouthful of
delicious flavors. A lovely mix of cranberry,
pomegranate and wild raspberry is annotated
with dusty herb. Excellent midpalate concentration
and length. Cellar Selection. —P.G.
93 Evening Land Vineyards 2007
Seven Springs Vi n e y a rd La Source
Pinot Noir (Eola-Amity Hills)
; $67.
Dominique Lafon consults on these wines,
sourced from a vineyard now almost 30 years old.
Evening Land is among the wineries who sense
an opportunity to make refined, elegant wines
from the terroir of this little-known region.
Lovely aromas, complex scents and flavors, pine
and herb, cranberry and raspberry, earth and
seafoam—lots of nuances here. Editors’ Choice.
93 Kelley Fox 2008 Maresh Vi n e y a rd
Pinot Noir (Dundee Hills);
$50. This
has pure fruit – strawberry especially – creating
an elegant, light, delicate, complex, though still
quite young wine. Some caraway seed flavors
come into play, and bolder black cherry fruit.
— P.G.
93 Longplay 2 0 0 8 Jory Bench
Reserve Lia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir
(Chehalem Mountains); $
30. Longplay’s
2008 reserve is quite different from its nonreserve
stablemate. The aromas include more
earthy barnyard scents, the color has a hint of
maturity, and no new oak was used. As a result,
this wine could pass for one with a few more
years under its belt; its flavors more suggestive of
fruit pastry, figs and plums, leather and compost.
Complex and detailed, it’s a lovely effort. —P.G.
93 Scott Paul 2007 La Paulée Pinot
Noir (Willamette Valley);
$30. Four
vineyards – Ribbon Ridge, Momtazi, Maresh and
Shea – are included here. Soft and seductive, this
wine caresses the palate with silky fruit. Aromatically
it weaves together red fruits, truffles and
clean, earthy scents. It reaches just over 13%
alcohol; truly Burgundian yet with an Oregon
flair to the fruit flavors. It puts the lie to any
notion that this was a poor vintage. Challenging
to be sure, but great wines were made in 2007,
and this is one of them. —P.G.
92 Adelsheim 2008 Elizabeth’s
Reserve Pinot Noir (Willamette
$48. This barrel selection from the best
estate vineyards is given just 10 months aging in
30% new oak. The fruit is exceptional – a mix of
red berries with tasteful threads of caramel sneaking
into the finish. Let it breathe—it’s a baby—
but very nicely proportioned and showing layers
of detail throughout a lingering finish. —P.G.
92 Anne Amie 2006 L’iris Pinot Noir
(Willamette Valley)
; $75. Drinking
very nicely, this wine bursts from the glass with
rich aromas of cherry, chocolate, truffle and
loam. The fruit factor is ramped up, delicious and
coats the palate with bright cherry candy flavors.
But this is more than a fruit bomb; the acidity
and ripe tannins balance it out as it runs into a
clean, lengthy finish. —P.G.
92 Brittan Vineyards 2006 Basalt
Block Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley)
$45. The private project of veteran winemaker
Robert Brittan, the limited-production
wines under his own label are treasures. This is
his inaugural release. Both fruit ripeness and
meaty depth are here in abundance, with a complex
mix of tree fruits and stone fruits, streaks of
earth and a fine layering of chocolate. This is a
wine you excavate as much as drink; it’s full of
surprises. —P.G.
92 Ken Wright 2008 Abbott Claim
Vi n e y a rd Pinot Noir (Yamhill- Carlton
$50. The 2008 Pinots from Ken
Wright display their individual terroirs quite succinctly,
with little evidence of the (roughly) 30%
new oak they receive. The Abbott Claim has a
bit more of a chocolaty flavor, with full, spicy
cherry fruit at its core. In fact there is so much
fruit, spicy and candied, that it is a bit like fruitcake,
in a good way. —P.G.
92 Ken Wright 2008 McCrone Vineyard
Pinot Noir (Yamhill- Carlton
; $50. Still quite young, but showing
real depth and layering, the McCrone vineyard
designate offers pomegranate and raspberry fruit,
dusted with baking spices, and finished with a
tasty vein of mocha. This is a wine to enjoy in the
full bloom of its youth. —P.G.
92 Soléna 2007 Hyland Vi n e y a rd
Pinot Noir (Eola-Amity Hills)
; $45.
Laurent and Danielle Montalieu acquired this
high-profile vineyard in 2007; this is the first
Hyland release under their Soléna label. It’s a
beautiful Pinot, with the elegance of Burgundy
and the freshness of New World grapes. Fermentation
in rotary barrels (for color extraction
and tannin management) yields a silky, perfumed,
feminine wine that penetrates subtly and
lingers gracefully. Editors’ Choice. —P.G.
For a complete rating click here

Sunday, April 11, 2010

We Are Selling The Hat

Howard Hughes' "Lucky Fedora" 

Howard Hughes' Hat!
One of our board members gave us the hat for the auction. 
In his letter about the hat, he says:
For 35 years I was a practicing Medical Specialist in the Los Angeles area.  During that time my wife and I became very friendly with JOHN SLEETER,  a general practitioner in a neighboring community, and he and I developed a professional relationship as well.
One evening while my wife and I were the Sleeters' dinner guests,  John told us that while he was training at Los Angeles County Hospital, he came to care for HOWARD HUGHES, who was a patient there. Hughes had been taken to that hospital following a plane crash of his on July 7th, 1946. John,  for a period of time, became Hughes' physician.
That evening, knowing that I was a private pilot,  thinking I would appreciate it, John offered me a hat that Hughes had given him.  Was this the only such hat that Hughes had, since a famous photo of him showing him in the pilot seat of the Spruce Goose shows him wearing what appears identical to this one , or did he have multiple such hats, I do not know.
I kept it ever since and even considered donating it to the Smithsonian Museum Aviation Section at one time.  It now seems an appropriate time to make it available to a person or entity seriously interested in possessing what I consider to be a valuable and real bit of memorabilia.
  (John died in 2009. I downloaded his obituary from the Internet. It was from the Tama, Iowa local newspaper, the place of his birth, and it states that he had been Hughes' personal physician).   by Anonymous board member

Now that I have done a bit more digging, I have found that Sleeter was a Lt. and had indeed treated Hughes after the crash, and hitched a ride with him on his first flight after the ordeal. Read the book starting on the bottom of
I have also found reference to the hat being recovered and taken to a police station, then rushed to Hughes at the hospital. It kind of gave me chills, reading about the crash and his connection to Sleeter, and having the hat sitting here in front of me.
If you have any aviation fans (with money) please let them know about this. Click here to see some of the other items up for auction.
We now have a letter from Dr Sleeter's wife attesting to the authenticity of the hat. 
To quote the letter: To whom it may concern,
Approximately 15 years ago my husband, Dr John W. H. Sleeter while guests at our home at 1200 S, Orange Groove Blvd, Pasadena, gave to Dr Charles Tannenbaum the hat that Howard Hughes gave him while he was under John's care after he was discharged from Good Samaritan Hospital after his plane crash.
I witnessed this gift being given myself
Patricia G. Sleeter
There is also a certificate verifying his service at the hospital that makes direct reference to Hughes case.
These may be sent by email upon request.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

OK, Last Trip

This morning after a pleasant drive past Fern Ridge reservoir to LaVelle Vineyards I got to taste one of the most promising wines yet for the '08 vintage. Mathew LaVelle let me sample his '08 Reserve Pinot Noir($40) and I am impressed. This is realy his first attempt at making the wine himself and he picked a good year to start.
The wine was of course not ready to drink as it has only been in the bottle for a short time but it has so much character already that I can only imagine what it will be like in 2 or three years.Mostly made with 777 and Pommard with a little estate grown 115, it has great combination of dark aromas and delicate flavors.
The nose right now is filled with chocolate, earth, and warm fruit. Very aromatic and lush. The taste goes quickly from a tart cherry to a sweet berry. Delicate and long lasting with hints of sweet strawberry on the back of the tognue. The finish satys with you for a very long time and each sip brings up a new layer of flavors and complexity.
This wine has that rare quality of strength and delicacy and is, as Mathew put it, " much going on yet still is very feminine"
After leaving LaVelle I made a quick trip around the corner to see Buzz at Domaine Meriwether and pick up his wonderful donation of a magnum of '99 Captain Clark Vintage Cuvee'($75).
His new building is coming along fast and the epoxy is on the floor of the winery. As soon as that is all done they start on the front, which will be a large and modern tasting room with office space and storage. It has been designed by a friend who also does some architectural work in Las Vegas.
I can't wait to see waht it looks like when finished.
Wee, That about does it for the year. I have driven more miles and visited more wineries than I ever could have imagined.
Starting soon I will be doing more in depth interviews and will be filming some of the winemakers as the year progresses.
Hope you enjoyed this year as much as I did!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

14 Cases, 7 Magnums, and a Very Careful Drive

This morning I set out to pick up the rest of the wine from the Abbey and get a bottle of Amity Vineyards '06 Winemakers Reserve Pinot Noir. Both tasks were successful.
When I arrived at the Abbey I started packing in the cases, three in the front, 6in the back seat, and 5 in the back. The ride was very solid and I was a nervous wreck worrying about having something happen.
I stopped for lunch at Farm to Fork and spoke to Kendal about having them do an auction Item for next year. Her husband Paul gave us a bottle a few weeks ago of his wonderful wine, De Lancellotti Pinot Noir.
I had the Duck Confit salad and a glass of Maysara '08. It was perfect match. The tartness of the Rose' with its overtones of cherries and rhubarb worked perfectly with the blue cheese, figs, and dressed greens, and enhanced the flavor of the crisp duck. Wonderful!
I went carefully south and stopped at Amity Vineyards for a bottle to complete the founders case, wines with a long history, in this case 1971! I selected a bottle of the Winemakers Reserve '06 Pinot Noir($50), what they donated last year, and by pure luck, I bought the case it was in!
Jill let me taste all the Pinot Noirs they had out and I really enjoyed them, especially the '07 Crannell Single Vineyard, Pinot Noir: Earthy, big fruit, tobacco, pepper, and spice on the nose and a soft warm mouthfeel that has lots of subtle blackberry and spice. Long after with tangy citrus and berry.
And of course the devastatingly good '06 Winemaker's Reserve: Lighter than some of the '06 Pinot Noirs but with a cool steady raspberry and earth nose and a warm, mouth-filling berry, vanilla, coco, and black cherry pallet. Love it!
Now I am home and have to sort wine...
In the morning I am going out to pick up a bottle of wine that LaVelle has for me and  for a magnum of Merriweather's '99 Cuvee'!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Territorial Comes Through!

From Territorial Vineyards and Winery's notes about the '06 Capital "T" Reserve Pinot Noir:
This Silky Pinot is so smooth it's like ice skating behind the Zamboni. It starts with room-filling aromas of dark and red fruit, vanilla and toast, followed by multiple layers of mouthwatering fruit, berry and spice notes. Like its little brother Stone's Throw, Capital T is not produced every year. Its last sighting was from the 2003 vintage.
This is close to the last bottle though I must admit, this is like an addiction: "Just one more, I swear I'll stop, but just one more, please?"
Kind of silly but when you have driven x thousand miles and collected so much wine from so many wonderful people, you do miss it.
Looks like I may have to start again soon for next years auction!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Long and Winding Road

The last few months have given me a perspective on Oregon wines that I could never have achieved in any other way. From the difference in soil types, the slope, the micro climates, and the winemakers to the tasting rooms, the customers, and of course, the wines, there is such a huge amount of complexity, difference, and wonder one realy can't know it all, but its fun to try!
For the rest of this year I will be doing video interviews and more tastings leading up to next years auction.
For now, I have a couple of trips planed before Friday: One to oick up the Sake "G" up in Forest Grove, and one to haul 20+cases of wine.
Today I drove out to Sweet Checks and picked up a bottle of the '08 Reserve Pinot Noir as thier donation. The wine is very promising and needs to stay down for at least 3 years before it hits its stride. Lush, complex, and bold with that "just wait" feel to it. They also donated a barrel tasting for 8 that will go in to a package with two other wineries and a limo ride. Here Sasha, Jake, and Jen show off the wine and certificate.
I delivered a painting "Andy and Marylin Go for a Ride" by Barry Geller to replace the one that just sold , Fiddlers on the Roof" I have always thought that a good place for high art is a well appointed tasting room. It is the perfect formula for art enjoyment: Good wine, good people, and the relaxed feeling of informality and pleasure.It seems to work as we have sold many paintings there by both Anne Teigen, and Barry Geller.

Friday, April 2, 2010

At Long Last, Pinot!

After many visits and tastes, not an unpleasant course of events by any stretch of the imagination, victory has been achieved! One bottle from Lavelle winery here in the heart of Lane County.
Lorie gave me a bottle of the '07 Pinot Nor ($24), one of Mathew's first wines I believe, and a good one at that.
Very light in structure, fine in texture, baked fruit nose with a hint of choc and earth, a little hard in the mouth at first but gives way to cherry, strawberry, and vanilla, long finish of dry fruit. Best with roasted vegetables and hamburger.
The tasting room at Fifth street is one of the best around. Good food and music on occasion, with nice people hosting. Visit often!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Snow in the Coast Range, Wine on the Coast

The month of March had a few surprises left. I took off early for the coast, trying to make it to Ocean Dunes Golf Links to pick up  a certificate for 18 and one for 9, then head north. My Subaru got a work out. There was about 4 inches of brand new snow on the road , a truck had jack-knifed on a curve, and when we finally got going, the non-Oregonians were driving 8 mph out of fear. Fun day!
When I finally got to Florence I stopped by the Golf course for a visit with Randy, then headed to Flying Dutchman Winery up above Newport. Very stormy day, waves crashing, wind blowing, a perfect day to taste some wine. Dan High was pouring and we (there was a crowd) tasted through his whites, including a blend of Pinot Blanc and Riesling called "Mighty Fine White"($14)  and some of the reds. My favorite was the '06 Cabernet Sauvignon ($36): Deep red, big fruit, leather, earth, and chocolate nose with a milder mouthfeel and a wonderful plum and dark cherry palette.
I think that Dan should be cloned and put in every tasting room in Oregon. He NEVER lets a customer out the door without something in their hands, even if it a post card he gives them for free. Amazing salesman!
I did not have time to go next door for some chowder so I had to hold out till I got to Tillamook and the Blue Heron French Cheese Company where I picked up two rounds of Brie cheese for the auction from Sherryl, had a glass of Oregon Pinot Noir from August Cellars, who's wine I did not collect this year, and some cheese. After an hour of wandering around looking at cheese, sipping my wine, and sampling, I went in to town and poked around. Been a long time since I have been there. They have a great aircraft museum in the old blimp hangers, a must see!  I drove the windy road through the hills to McMinnville and just about did not make it. There is a very tight double corner about 12 miles along that was slippery and I took it just a little to fast: sideways three times, 180 each way, correcting all the way, snapped back and continued. You know how things slow down when you get in situations like that? Well know I remember that feeling.
I met friends at The Golden Valley Brewery and shared a bunch of appetizers then headed for bed.
Early rise and up to the Starbucks in Safeway for a scone and , due to a broken espresso maker, a cup of normal coffee; not bad!
When I got to Duck Pond Cellars, Connie was prepping for the day and though I was early, greeted me and handed me over to Lisa (what have I said about good looking people in the wine business?), daughter of the founders, now in charge of marketing, gave us a bottle of Pinot Gris ($12);Pear and island spice on the nose and a dry fruit, smooth pallet, great finish. I bet it would go really well with halibut or sole. The '08 Pinot Noir($20) she gave us is is the first wine that I have tried that smelled like berry pie! Warm, fesh baked berry pie, with choclate, then a red berry, spice, and pepper pallet and a long finish of soft spice and tart berry. Very nice and a real surprise!
Off to Tigard and a chance to try out my Android GPS...Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT depend on it to get you where you want to go. I ended up in someones driveway very flumuxed. I finally found the place by dumb luck, on the other side of town.
The Pacific Northwest Wine Club ships a variety of wines throughout the year and Dan, the owner, gave me a tour of the facility and handed over the bottle of Zerba Cellars wine that I had left on the counter in McMinnville a few weeks ago at SIP!.
From their notes on the Wild Z Table Wine: 2007 Wild Z returns us to our "Wild Thing" roots, showcasing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah from the heart of the rocky floodplain on the Walla Walla River. It contains cedar, strawberry, and white pepper aromas that lead up to tantalizing flavors of blackberry, blueberry, cedar, and hints of earth and olive. This is a balanced, medium-bodied red table wine that will pair well with a wide range of foods. 
Variety: 37% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Syrah, 4% Cabernet Franc
On the way back down to the Abbey I stopped by Ponzi and picked up a bottle for the founders case, an inexpensive Pinot Gris that put me out of pocket $19 but I really wanted to have something from an older winery.
Back at the Abbey i dropped off the few bottles I had and made a bee line for home, cats, my comfy chair, and a real good glass of Oregon Syrah.
One more journey to pick up a bottle of G Sake and we should be done for the year. Now I hope someone comes to the auction!

A Visit With Oregon Wine Histoy

Doyle Hinman greeted me at the door of his Eugene house, tucked in a secluded corner of town, where he does marketing for Henry Estate Winery and for his own company, DW Hinman Cellars,LLC. He named the wine Five H for a couple of reasons: to avoid confusion with the winery he founded in 1979, and to honor the other four family members involved.
We spoke for an hour about the history of wines here in Oregon and how when he and partner David Smith planted back in1979 he made friends with David Lett, Bill Fuller, and Bill Blosser. He spoke of opening the market in China and about the challenges facing wineries today: price point, volume, perceptions, and costs.
I plan on doing a series of interviews with him over the next year and posting the videos here so keep an eye out.
Their '08 Riesling is made in a very German style and has just a hint of the petrol nose famous in the best Rhine Rieslings and a crisp dry fruit on the pallet. Very good!
The '07 Syrah is full of tobacco, leather, dark fruit,and chocolate in the nose with a plum, black cherry, and coco pallet. Nice lond aftertaste. Like this one a lot.