Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Examiner Features Ghost Hill

My friend Rebecca, the wine maker at Ghost Hill, told me about this:

Trick or Tweet: Ghost Hills Cellars Pinot Noir

It’s been inexplicably reported that there is nothing more frightful than a empty glass of wine on Halloween. Whether you’re by your lonesome stuck in some haunted house or with a bunch of zombie-clad costumed characters, no one is happy when the wine bin is bare. read the whole article here

Monday, October 29, 2012

Ashland for Plays, Food, and Wine

We made a short trip down to Oregon's mecca for theater, food, and more and more, wine. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has been growing and changing under the direction of Bill Rauch and we have enjoyed watching the transition. We try to see at least 7 plays a year and our last three of the season were both dynamic, quirky, and one was just odd.
We stayed at the Winchester Inn two blocks from the theaters Saturday afternoon we started with and order for a bottle of Torii Mor's 09 Dundee Hills Select Pinot Noir  to be sent to our room for apres play, remembering late night in Ashland..., then we strolled down to the shoe store, Village Shoes, and scored a pair for Linda and a new set of John Fluevog's for me. Next, a stop at Liquid Assets for a flight of reds for Linda and whites for me. We both went off the plantation for some exploration. Linda did a flight that included a Ben Marco '10 Malbec, a David Bruce '10 Petite Syrah,(thank God his wine is better than his web site) and the '10 Ken Wright Pinot Noir (her fav). My whites were the Wente '10 Chardonnay, the Trium '11 Viognier, and the Gruet Blanc de Noir. I was most surprised by the Viognier! It was bone dry and had few of the fruity pears and associated tastes I am used to. Lovely in a very different way. Great match to Asian foods. While sipping we saw a new set of photos by Dan Elster and bought one! Of course this had nothing to do with our second glass of our favorites.
We strolled over to Sesame for a great meal of Thai food and we were treated to "just in time for the play" service. We walked up to the New Theater for "Party People", an exploration of the then and now of the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords. Amazing play! Moving and exciting, and controversial enough that a few old white guys fled during the first act. They missed not only the point but also the dramatic ending.
 When we got back to the Inn we poured a glass of the wonderful Pinot Noir from Torii Mor and sipped it while discussing the play. I really enjoy their wines. They have mastered the art of the elegant and the '09 is no exception.
The next morning we arose early for a breakfast down stairs in the main dining room. Very elegant and refined, and they have great Latte'. We spent most of the day window shopping and again had a small lunch at Sesame before our first play, "All the Way". The reference of course is to LBJ's slogan All the Way with LBJ, and it was the second best play I have seen in years, the first being Equivocation, truly the finest work I have seen performed by any ensemble, anywhere, ever!
We had a wonderful dinner at Amuse and we split a half bottle of Belle Pente '08 Pinot noir. I have had this one a few times and loved the that it had some elegance and well balanced, with nice acidity  with complex aromas of mint, red berry, and smoke. Now it has taken a few steps back and is softer and more subtle, setting very well with the hanger steak and roasted root veggies I had, and also with Linda's Gnocchi.
Then...then, we saw, how should I phrase this? A play or three, all at once, all on top, stack up only to fall crashing, over and over, and over, melding and separating, blending and being blender-ed, then shaken and thrown back on to the stage. I do not recommend this play though I did find a few moments of pleasure wound up in it. Media, Macbeth, and Cinderella have as much in common and , well, imagine watching A fish Called Wanda, The Odd Couple, and The Matrix all at once. You do the math. My first inquisition upon leaving the Bowmer was "Why?"
We finished our bottle of Torii Mor in the room and I sat out on the balconey watching the full moon and stars.
In the morning  it was a slow trip north with a stop for  a latte' and to enjoy the amazing colors of fall.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Revisiting Old Wines

Tonight I felt adventurous and wanted to treat my wife to a great meal. I went to the store and picked up  a  nice large Portobello mushroom cap, some heirloom tomatoes and a chunk of hand pulled Mozzarella, then came home and turned on the grill at low. I dressed the shroom with Red Ridge Farms Koroneiki Olive and fig balsamic and sprinkled some red pepper flakes on for good measure, the took the last two egg plants we grew and sliced them to 1/2 inch and drizzled them in olive oil, lightly salted them, and put on some while pepper. I took one of the heirloom tomatoes and cut it in 1/4 inch slices and sat it in some oil then took the whole lot out to the grill snd put it on the raised part behind the burners I had on.
My steak was marinating in olive oil and fig balsamic so I took it out of the warming oven and sat it on the front burner of the grill. Now I set the timer for ten minutes and opened a bottle of Ghost Hill '08, our second to last, and poured it in to two Oregon Pinot Noir glasses. I then sliced up the heirlooms and mozzarella and tore up some fresh basil from the herb garden and dressed our salads with a little oil and balsamic.
Nice meal with little fuss. Everything was done just right and the wine was great.
Oregon '08's have a kind of weakness that shows up in "big" wines. They drink great for the first couple of years then diminish rapidly, but the Ghost Hill held on to the rich complexity and intense pallet it had while mellowing. Great choice for the meal.
Just got a note from Rachel Shepherd, the retail manager at Willamette Valley Vineyards:
  Please mark your calender for our upcoming Thanksgiving festivities. You'll have a chance to taste and purchase limited library wines and mingle with our Winemakers in the cellar. I'm especially excited as each event offers a unique Pinot noir and food pairing experience. Please find the details below. 
Library Tasting
Sat & Sun | Nov. 17th-18th, 2012 | 11:00am-6:00pm
$10 per person (admission waived with 6 bottle purchase) 
Wine Club Members are complimentary

Willamette Valley Vineyards has kept some of the best vintages and wines we have ever made under lock and key in our Library Wine Vault. You are invited as we unlock the doors and offer a rare opportunity to taste these very limited wines that have been aged to perfection.  Don’t miss the chance to take home these rare wines to share with family and friends over the upcoming holiday season. This is an open house style event. Admission includes tasting.
Barrel to Bottle Pairing Dinner
Saturday | Nov. 17th, 2012 | 7:00pm (Following the Library Tasting)
$60 (Includes dinner, wine, and gratuity)
$50 for Wine Club Members

Experience wine on its journey from barrel to bottle. The evening will begin with hand-passed hors d'oeuvres in our cellar and a barrel tasting of 2011 Hannah Pinot Noir. We will then move to our grand Estate Room for a 3 course dinner paired with pre-release, current, and library vintages of the Hannah Pinot Noir. This is a tasting experience you won't want to miss. Seating is limited. Please call 800-344-9463 for reservations.

Thanksgiving Weekend Barrel Tasting and Open House
Fri, Sat & Sun | November 23rd-25th | 11:00am - 6:00pm
$10 General Admission (Includes Riedel wine glass)
Additional $10 for "Pairing Passport" Upgrade
Upgrade is complimentary for Wine Club Members

Library wines, decadent chocolates, gourmet cheeses, and more from local artisans.  Bring your family, loved ones, or adventure out on your own and experience Oregon Bounty. Upgrade to the “Pairing Passport” for an additional $10 and join our winemakers in the cellar for an exclusive barrel tasting experience and gourmet bites paired with each wine.


Good News from Alexana

New Release 2010 Signature & Shea Pinot Noir

In celebration of Fall, I am thrilled to announce the annual release of our premium bottlings of Pinot Noir. The 2010 Alexana Signature Pinot Noir and the 2010 Alexana Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir are now available in time for holiday celebrations.
The lush texture, juicy acidity and ripe flavors of Pinot Noir make it a natural fit with Thanksgiving dishes. With less than 300 cases produced of both the Signature and Shea Pinot Noir, these wines are extremely limited.
  Have a wonderful holiday season!

Madaiah Revana

2010 Signature Pinot Noir

The 2010 Alexana Signature Pinot Noir is a stunning selection of the best barrels from the estate Revana Vineyard. Aromas of Asian spice and minerality combine with the fresh blue and black fruit, which is the hallmark of the beautiful 2010 vintage. On the palate, the Signature is forward and juicy, but maintains its elegance. The massive black fruit is balanced with a delicate earthiness and has a silky, sophisticated mouthfeel with a long lush finish. The 2010 Signature is a definite must for your cellar. 236 cases produced.

2010 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir

The 2010 Alexana Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir is once again a timeless beauty. Classic Shea aromas of blueberries and earthy mushroom integrate with clove, brown sugar and Christmas spice. The silky smooth texture with fine grain tannins is a stunning platform for the black pie cherry, mocha and spice box that usually is associated with the Shea Vineyard. We highly recommend hiding this Pinot in your cellar for quite some time. 263 cases produced.

Friday, October 19, 2012

New Cocktail to Try

Last night I was trying out, and liking, Blue Dog Mead. I was intriged by the taste and thought it might mix well. I poured 6 oz into my shacker and added 1 oz of Buffalo Trace and a dash of bitters. A little ice and a hard shake and WOW! No name for it yet but try it out and let me know what you think.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Blue Dog Mead

Well, I have been sipping some very good Sarah with dinner, Cowhorn's '07. Pruney and lush with a great balanced feel. Soft and unique. Great by its self and with strong BBQ tastes.
Now, the game (Oregon vs some team in Arizona) is on so I need some local libation. I pulled a bottle out of the chiller and saw a Blue Dog staring back at me. I pulled the cork and am smelling cream sherry, apples, saffron, and hints of poppy.
After it calms down a bit I will give it a taste. Oregon is up three TDs so no hurry.
Starting to warm up a bit and the nose is getting bigger and sweeter, more over ripe apple and mung beans that have aged (slight cinnamon and nutmeg small). Now darkening as it warms so time for a taste: Oh my! Dry and sweet all at once. Nice tartness on the finish that makes the second sip a must. The taste stays on the top of the tongue and there is very little side mouth taste. Soft and smooth. And it looks beautiful. Amber and clean. Ripe Bartlet pear and a perfect finnish. Most of the European meads and other American Meads I have had finnish with a harsh back of the mouth feel but there is none here. Very happy with this. Glad I have more.
They are here in Eugene and I am sure they would love to have you come and sample on your own.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chamber Music and Wine!

Is proud to present
Chamber Ensemble “Tres Donnes & Amica”
7 PM Saturday, October 20
We hope you can join us for a truly wonderful and diverse evening of chamber music!
Tres Donnes & Amica brings together musicians from the rich Eugene music scene in a wonderful evening of chamber music. This concert will showcase for the first time an ensemble that includes the oboe and English horn, along with the flute, violin and piano. They will be performing duet, trio, and quartet music from the works of Mozart, Bach, Telemann, Ibert and others!
Cheryl Wefler brings her experience with the oboe and English horn from years of performance with Eugene Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Mozart Players, Eugene Opera Orchestra, and the Oregon Bach Festival. Flutist Alice Burke and violinist Lisa Bieber share their experiences in many of these groups and have performed as a trio on many occasions with Cheryl. Dr. Rebecca Gordon joins the ensemble as pianist.
The evening’s performance will take place in the Gallery at MarshAnne Landing, the winery’s tasting room which showcases the extraordinary talents of over 20 local artists.
Due to limited seating, reservations are required (Please call 541-459-7998). MarshAnne Landing is located at 175 Hogan Rd, just 3 miles off I-5 Exit 142. Admission of $30 incudes abundant appetizers.

Nice News From Jim

Snooth GraphicDear Robert,

We have picked all of our Pinot noir and the lots are fermenting now. The grapes taste delicious and the numbers (24-25 Brix and 6-7 TAs) are excellent. Given how ripe they are, we should see lots of color from the skins. We just got some other wonderful news about a previous vintage.

The editor of, Gregory Dal Piaz, has just posted his top 15 Pinot noirs, listing our '09 Estate as #2 with 92pts.

He is also running a reader poll as well called the "People's Voice Wine Awards." Two of our wines have made it to the final round and the deadline for voting is quickly approaching (Oct. 22). Please vote by following the links below.

Click on the "vote now" button near the middle of each page. You can easily vote by registering with Snooth or by logging in with your Facebook account.
Note: votes from the first round don't count for the final round.

2008 Estate Pinot Noir:

2009 Pinot Gris:

Thank you for your support. Hope all is well with you and your family. Am looking forward to seeing or hearing from you this holiday season.

Jim Bernau - Headshot - lighter 3
Warm Regards,

jim_signature 3

Jim Bernau

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Geocaching Comes to Lane County

ImagesOct. 16, 2012
For Immediate Release

Contact: Lisa Lawton, Director of Community Relations
(541) 743-8762; (800) 547-5445;

Travel Lane County to Launch First Geocaching Tour
on the West Coast - Kickoff Event - Saturday, Oct. 20, 9 to 11 a.m.
Eugene, Ore. Travel Lane County will launch Oregon's first official geocaching tour this Saturday--one of only ten worldwide.

While geocaching has been around since 2000, GeoTours, featured on, are now being created as a way to guide sightseers to special scenic landscapes, attractions, historic sites and other points of interest located within a specific destination or territory.

Stretching from Springfield to the crest of the Cascades, Travel Lane County’s first GeoTour, focused on the McKenzie River region, will officially launch on Saturday, Oct. 20, between 9 and 11 a.m at the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Adventure Center in Springfield. More than 30 geocaching sites have been selected and prepped for the new tour, officially named the Eugene, Cascades & Coast GeoTour – McKenzie River Edition. The tour will lead cachers to everything from trailheads to waterfalls.

Armed with smartphones, or dedicated GPS (Global Positioning System) devices, both expert and novice geocachers can hunt for the hidden caches. The caches, which are typically small, waterproof containers or canisters, are filled with treasures and trinkets, along with an official logbook that cachers sign and date.

Travel Lane County is challenging people to complete the tour’s accompanying passport, which will require treasure hunters to find a minimum number of hidden caches in order to earn one of the 200 limited-edition trackable geocaching coins. Coins, as they are called among cachers, serve as trophies, collectibles, souvenirs or trading objects. Travel Lane County’s locally designed and produced wooden geocoin will be one of a two-part series. Those cachers who complete the passport will be entered to win a free McKenzie River getaway.

During the kickoff, the trackable geocoin will be displayed and interested geocachers can pick up an official Eugene, Cascades & Coast GeoTour-McKenzie Edition passport. The passport may also be accessed online. For more information, contact Travel Lane County at (541) 484-5307 or visit

Travel Lane County is a private, nonprofit association dedicated to economic development through visitor spending. In 2011 visitors to Lane County generated more than $543 million in spending for Lane County’s economy. Travel Lane County is funded by room tax paid by visitors using area lodging facilities and campgrounds.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Catching Up

Man, where to begin? I have been off line for such a long time I feel I should say "I am sorry" to those who had been following my missives.
Some quick notes:
Luminous Hills 2009 Estate Pinot Noir---BUY IT NOW!!! It is beyond good. Creamy mouthfeel, layer upon layer of dark fruit with a lasting finish.
Ghost Hill Pinot Noir Blanc: Get off your dead ass and FIND THIS WINE!!! Nothing you have had for years compares.
King Estate Signature '09...Ok, not so much, but good with food. Very complex and goes well with grilled vegies and light meats. It seems to have "settled" and become softer and less defined over time.
My show of etchings on wood panels hanging now at Horse Radish in Carlton is going to be auctioned off for Salaud! on the 9th and 10th of November. Go take a look. I will be up to take a few real pics and will post them.