Sunday, May 26, 2013

How Many Breweries in YOUR County?

Lane County has an abundance of beer to go along with all the wine grown here.
Up in Oakridge is Brewers Union 180,  Oregon's only Ale House and Brewery, and the do have the best ale I have ever had in the states.
Next stop would be Plank Town Brewing Company located in up and coming Downtown Springfield.
Also in Springfield Is Hop Valley Brewery north side of town in Gateway but they are opening a new production facility in the Whiteaker area of Eugene near other breweries and I do not know yet if they will still be brewing at the Gateway location.
Heading north on I-5 to Coburg then to 31115 W Crossroads Ln, Eugene find us at Agrarian Ales Brewing Company, the only brewery in the state that grows hops for production.
Back toward town you may be fooled by BJ's Brewhouse. They do brew beers (and pretty good ones) at BJ's, just not this one) so on we go in to Eugene and over the Ferry Street Bridge and take a right just past the bridge to 3rd street, past The Gallery at the Watershed and left to 4th and right to Pearl Street and left to Steelhead Brewery,   one of the first the in town some 20 years ago. Great food and a welcoming feel. Original home of Glen Hay Falconer until his untimely passing. It is a bit confusing that McKenzie Brewing Company is the bottled beer from Steelhead.
Down 5th Street all the way to Blair and a right turn takes us to beerville! Ninkasi is the first stop, with an inviting outside seating area and a different food cart right at the door every day. Go inside and try to choose among the many outstanding brews.
Over to 1st Ave. and turn right and we see the new tasting room and facility of Hop Valley then on to Madison where a right turn takes us over to 3rd and to the Oakshire Public House where they serve he great beers they make at the Brewery.
Near by, at 254 Lincoln Street is a blast from past, VERY past. Blue Dog Mead makes one of the oldest drinks known to humans. They do not have a tasting room but click on the link to learn more about their product and where to find it. And it IS worth finding.
Downtown Eugene hosts Rogue Ales Public House on Olive street between 8th and Broadway in the building that housed the Eugene City Brewery, founded in 1866. Great food, always a smile and some really good beers made on the spot and more from he Parent Brewery in Newport.
Now we take a ride over to the east side of town and visit Falling Sky Brewery at 1334 Oak Alley. Small place, warm heart. Much loved by the locals and the food is amazing!
Over a few blocks is an old standard, High Street Brewery and Cafe. Try the Terminator. I used to hang out there during school as it was close to my apartment and affordable.  There are two other McMenamins in town, one at 19th and Agate and one on the River near the Ferry Street Bridge but the are only tap rooms with food.
Now we head to Claim 52 down on West 11th . I have not been there but have heard good things so it is worth a stop on the way to Florence and a taste of some Central coast beers at Wakonda Brewing Company at 1725 Kingwood St #4.They are making great beer from what I read in the reviews so stop over and give hem a shot.
That about does it unless someone knows of another one or two.
!!! Brewery Alert!!!
As of last Friday, there is a new brewery in Lane County: Viking Braggot Co started by Danial McTavish and Addison Stern. Read about them in the RG. Here is the link.
This make 15 Breweries in Lane County.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Great Video

Just saw a wonderful video about wine making that had to share.

Even though it is a wine from a foreign state, it is still a good lesson in growing and caring for the vines.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend and Wine

We seldom venture out on Memorial Day for tastings as it is too crowded and too many people forget to spit, or at least that was how it has been. But now there seems to have been a shift in culture. There seam to be a more studied and serious climate around our fine wineries. Are the wineries taking themselves a bit more serious? Are people becoming a bit more finely tuned to the tastes of wine?
There is a lot more well written, knowledgeable and valid writing appearing about farm to table, about wines and beers, and about how important Oregon is in the mix. A great example is Wednesday's Register Guard"Tastings" section. I usually glance through and glen what I can from a few so so articles they pull from the AP or other publications but this one impressed the hell out of me! The editor, Joel Gorthy, has nailed the local feel and covered wine, food, beer, mead, and everything related and he chose good writers to do it.
There are a range of articles, a crafted placement of related issues, and it feels like a big city publication. Read about Ray Walsh and his adventures in wine, Mouthfuls and Misconceptions by Paul Omundson made me laugh, and the piece on Truffles made me hungry.
Take a look and give them some positive feedback!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Paintings in National Magazine

The gallery I show at, The Gallery at the Watershed, is in the June issue of American Art Collector and they gave me a page with my paintings and a small interview.
"The strong have will, the weak have wishes" 48x60 oil/wax

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Wine Label Art

Two years ago, when I was storing the wines I gathered for he Mozart Players auction at the Trappist Abbey near Lafayette, Rebbecca Pittock Shouldis , who is the winemaker for Ghost Hill Cellars and helped create Northwest Wines  To You ( and is an F-15 jet mechanic and mother to two teenagers) ask me to make a label for a wine she had made with help of her two children. Of course I agreed and we set about making a time to shoot photos for me to work with. We took a few shots of hands and settled on a picture of the Syrah pouring through the hands of her kids in to the barrel. The name of the wine is "a la main" or Made Buy Hand.
After it was done the Abbot saw it and ask her if she thought I could make one for them and what I would charge.
I had been storing 300+ bottles of wine there for 3 years at no cost so I said I would do the label for twice what they charged me for storage: $0
The wines just came out through Northwest Wines To You.
The Viognier is delicate and aromatic with melon and gooseberry hints with mango and is just perfect by itself or with spicy foods. The Syrah is a northern Rhone style made  from cool climate grapes grown by the Dukes Family Vineyard. Eric Asimov says , about Rhone Syrah: “Olive, thyme, violet and sizzling bacon-scented glory,’’ I wrote, with full awareness that the words I choose to describe the aromas and flavors I sense in the wine are not only a possibly misguided effort to break a complete unit down to myriad components, but perhaps very different from what you experience in the wine."
Pretty much nails it.
I am so proud to have my art on their label that I have become insufferable I am sure. But how many people get to look at their artwork on a bottle of great wine!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

White wines: Ice cold, or flavorful?

How many of us have gone to modern, upscale restaurants and ordered a white win other than a Pinot Gris, Riesling, or Muscato (or variations) and had it served ice cold?
I have had it! The American public has been sold the idea the all wines white are served so cold that any taste that may escape is purely accidental. Now, when I go to a restaurant and order a white burgundy, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Sauterne, et al, I am DEMANDING it be served slightly below cellar temperature. I will not pay $$$ for something that tastes like water until it has been setting on the table for 45 minutes. I can understand small town diners, chain restaurant, or cheep dives not bothering to educate their clients, but the big boys need to step up and serve wine at a temperature that allows the hard work of the vintner, the love of the winemaker, and the essence of the grape to shine through!
Please ask you local upscale dining place to serve the wines at a proper temperature and lets start educating people about how wonderful white wines can be if you just stop killing them with coldness.
From Basic Wine Knowledge
White Wine Serving Temperature
For white wines, the opposite may be true. It’s better to serve a white wine too warm than too cold. White wines served too cold (under 45°F) lose many of their flavors and aromas.
However, you still want to serve your white wines colder than your red wines. Serving white wines at a lower temperature brings out their natural fruity, fresh, and sweet characteristics. You will want to serve your white wines at 45-55°F, depending upon the wine and your personal preference. A Riesling will be better a bit colder than a Pinot Gris or a Chardonnay.
Since most home refrigerators are kept at between 35-40°F, it’s best not to serve your white wines right out of the refrigerator.
Removing your white wine from the refrigerator 30-60 minutes before serving should bring them to about the right temperature. And, you can always warm the wine up by cupping your hands around the glass as you swirl.
If your white wine has been kept at room temperature, place it in the refrigerator or ice bucket for 30-60 minutes before serving.

Do NOT stay silent! If you are served a white wine that it not a Riesling or champagne ice cold, speak up! Why should you be paying a premium price for something that tastes like flavored water when you can actually have a wonderful wine experience?
Please send me you comments or experiences and I will post them.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Finding Olive Oil

Had a nice surprise today! We were low on our much loved Lemon Olive Oil (We have two kinds, one from Red Ridge Olive Farm, and one from Olive Grand) so I drove down to where Olive Grand had been, dreading all the while finding a spot to park, and when none were available, I headed home, thinking I would stop by Red Ridge when I was up north Thursday. To mt delight I saw that Olive Grand had in fact moved to 8th Street in the 100 East block, where Imagine Gallery was! Parking right in front! I bought the lemon olive oil, and as an extra treat, the Chilli Olive Oil. They do such a great job! Due to the lack of parking before, I bought most of their product at The Adventure Center at Gateway, which might as well be called "Made in Lane County" for all the local wines, beers, food, and other products they carry, so now I have two places to buy:)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Real Adventure, Real Clones

 Today I had an adventure at one of the newer wineries in Lane County. Abbelone Vineyard is very close to Eugene out Fox Hollow past the Raptor Center and the trail head parking lot. A beautiful setting and a perfect slope for 5000 plants. Kris Ferry says they grow Pommard (Pinot Noir Pommard : More vigor variation from year to year, smaller clusters, ripens earlier), 114 (Pinot Noir Dijon Clone 114: Lower yielding, vigor and vegetative growth can vary greatly from year to year, early ripening.  Floral notes and berry, cherry, and dark plum, fruit-driven spicy pinot.) , and 777 (Pinot Noir Dijon Clone 777: Most site dependent.  The vegetative growth, yields, cluster size are deeply influenced by the location, early ripening.  Noted for fleshy, black-fruited wines with tropical notes). The 777, along with the rich soil, is evident in the wines.
Angela and the new plants
Right now they are working on completing their tasting room and setting up the wine making facilities. Chris is making the wine at Eugene Wine Cellars until he has everything in place.He showed me some of the things he would be adding, like a 200 year old terracotta and porcelain sink he is building a sand for out of soapstone and a welded base for the lab area. His skill as a welder and his creative side show up all over the house.
We tasted the 2009 from the bottle and barrel tasted the '11. The '09 was released last year and is the first one on the market for them. It has a nose of roasted game, black berry, and must in the first smell, then opens to cola and spice, with all sorts of black fruit and hints of jam. There was a bit of earth and leather peeking around the edges and some plum and strawberry on the finish.
We then barrel tasted the '11 and though Chris thinks it is slowly coming up but has great promise, and what I tasted has legs and by the back of the mouth richness and long finish I detect a 4-5 year surprise. It is still in barrels and will be for a while but it is showing a great  evolution. It is lighter but has a beautiful clarity and the 777 reads well. The structure is there and the rich nose, the complexity, and the finish says good things for the future. The '11 harvest, state wide, was hard, late, cool year, low brix, long hang time, and generally difficult, but I think that due to the long hang time and the concentrated flavors, we will see a fine wine in a few years. Of course I said the same thing about the '07s so what do I know...Oh wait! I was right!
Out in the vineyard with Angela, after Kris went back to clearing his property, I met the dogs, Zoe and Romi. They are Huskies and live in comfort in the vineyard where the deer do not bother to roam, nor would the antelope, if we had any. Great idea, and they are so friendly and sweet, though I would not like to be a four legged beast around them. The other dog, a little white ball of Bijon Frise fur named George, who I wanted to take home, stays at the house and rolls in the dirt outside the door so Angela has something to clean up;)
She sent me home with  some '08, '09, and '10 so for dinner, starting with seaweed and cucumber salad, then roasted corn, grilled chard, grill marked asparagus, a mushroom for Linda and a nice salmon for me, followed by fennel, onion, and cabbage shredded salad. he finish was fresh strawberries. At each course I tasted both the '08 and the'10. The '08 held up and complemented everything, even the strawberry while the '10 worked with the chard and asparagus best.
 Now, two hours later: The nose on the '10 is a bit hot, perhaps 14.5 alcohol and it has a characteristic hint of roasted game, very slight, and high notes of persimmon and current. In the mouth I get soft front and a bit of a rough finish, lots of developing flavors of current, blueberry, and a hint of cola. It needs more time in the bottle and I will try it again in a year.
All in all the wines I tasted from them have a real promise of great things to come. The '09 was a hit and is sold out and the coming '12 will amaze!
I took a photo of their house and plan on doing one of my etchings for them as a thank you for their hospitality.
A great day for an adventure close to home for a change!

Friday, May 10, 2013

This Video Kicks ASS!

I wish that every major town in Oregon would show "pride in place" the way Portland does. Eugene is a good example of go along get along... THIS is what they need to do!

Where Boxes Come From

This video is worth watching for so many reasons. Craftsmanship, care of detail, and just plain hard work are used to create boxes for just about everything, including Rogue Ale and Henry Estate Wines
Take a look at this and smile.

Oregon Does it AGAIN

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tweet-up at Travel Lane County

Social media and wine enthusiasts are invited to take part in a special Tuesday Tasting event designed to generate excitement about the region's wine industry and upcoming Memorial Day winery events.

Travel Lane County will host a Tuesday Tasting Tweetup on Tuesday, May 14, from 4 to 6:30 p.m., at the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Adventure Center located at 3312 Gateway St., in Springfield.

Representatives from Sweet Cheeks, J. Scott Cellars and Territorial Vineyards will be pouring tastings of a variety of their locally-produced wines.

Social media experts and bloggers, who specialized in the wine industry, have been invited to participate. Anyone, however, with an interest in wine tasting and social media are encouraged to take part and join in the conversation about the wines of the South Willamette Valley.

A special Twitter hashtag, #Wine30, will be used during the evening. Tastings are free.

Travel Lane County is a private, nonprofit association dedicated to economic development through visitor spending. In 2011, visitor spending pumped $548 million into Lane County’s economy supporting a variety of local businesses and jobs. Travel Lane County is funded by room tax paid by visitors using area lodging facilities and campgrounds.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Lunch at King Estate

I went to King Estate for lunch with Linda Lawrence and her mom, Sandra Lawrence to celebrate our three May birthdays. Great food and I tried the '10 Pfeiffer Vineyard Pinot Noir (deep rich  strawberry jam, citrus notes, and a hint of anise and cola. Very tasty) while Linda had the '11 Signature Pinot Noir. She was very pleased with the depth of its character and aroma, and it paired very well with her pasta dish. Full of baked cherry and raspberry with hints of cola. I then treated myself to the '07 Signature...OH MAN!!! As are most '07s right now, this one absolutely rocks. a multitude of levels with a mature, elegant taste. The tannins have long chained and the mouth feel is perfect. Long beautiful finish. I was sad to see it go and almost ordered another glass but was driving...
The food was very good and the service was "just in time", my favorite. Our server looked as if she would be more at home on a runway, modeling. She was poised and obviously in charge. She performed like a seasoned restaurant professional and had a ready smile, was very helpful but never intrusive.
This was one of the best meals I have had there. Flank Stack over grits and veggies. Yum!
One note: The first '07 smelled of wet cardboard (corked) and they took it back quickly and brought me  the new beauty. Remember: Never, ever be afraid or intimidated if your wine does not smell right or taste right. Every good winery will replace it without blinking an eye!
Can't wait to go up again.

Benton Lane, OMA, and Ghost Hill

Linda and I had the honor to attend a vertical tasting at Benton Lane lead by Steve and Carol Girard, the owners. They talked about the history of the winery and their motivations to move to Oregon. Steve told the story of how the soil here was deposited and has continued to develop and how the iron rich Jory dirt feeds the important nutrients to the plants. They grow clovers and other crops between rows and till them in to feed the bugs and they run sheep that keep the weeds and grass down while at he same time adding nitrogen to the soil.
One of the things they mentioned that they add to compost every two years is rock dust. I have long been an advocate of re-mineralization of soil through rock dust. he gravel plants end up with a huge amount of the soft fine dust the easily is broken down by enzymes and biologicals in the soil.
After St Helen's erupted everyone thought it would be a disaster for the cherry and apple growers up the gorge. Not so! They had the best crops ever after a few years with new mineral rich deposits in the soil. It works for grapes just the same way but without the volcanic eruption.
We tasted three years: '09, '10','11.The first was the '09 First Class Pinot Noir. Light and subtle, strawberry on the nose with a bit of dark chocolate with plum, dark cherry and mocha in the mouth. This wine will increase in complexity and mature in a few (3-4) years and will be even better that it is now.
Next, out of order, we tasted the '11. 2011 was a problematic years for many in the valley as it was an extremely late harvest year. Many I know harvested in November, one on the 17th! That said, if the hang time did anything, it increased the flavor profile of the grape while, due to the lack of heat, not adding the levels of alcohol. This one is a wine I would watch. See Wine Julia's take on Benton Lane's '11 harvest.
 In '07 people had disparaging things to say about the year and were dismissive of the wine. A friend in the Dundee hills said, in her very French accent "Buy all you can get! These people have no idea what they have!" so I did;). As any of you who know now realize, the phenolic chains and other components of the '07 have, in bottle and over time, developed in to an amazingly great wine! I still love going around to the little back woods stores and buy the post off '07's for $7 or$8 dollars!
Don't tell anyone!
So underestimate the '11 all you like: I will be buying it up and you can come see me in 5 years;)
Last and certainly not least was the award winning '10. This wine is still not mature and has a long way to grow before it has reached is peak but it is already a 93 in Wine Spectator so in a few years in the bottle, well, hold on to your hat!
The flavors in this one were amazing! Nose: hints of butterscotch and chocolate with mint/anise and hay/humus (forest floor, not food). The taste developed from dark cherry, cola, and plum, with a soft mouth-feel and a beautifully long finish. For much more on Benton Lane click here.
After the tasting we picked up our wine club wines and headed to town for a visit to Linda's favorite store Talbots at Oakway, where I dropped her off to play while I went to the Gallery at the Watershed to see if clients had decided on a large Lillian Almeida work. They had, so I went to out storage facility and selected a replacement.
After a little wait, and admiring Linda's selections, we were off to Market of Choice to stock up for the week. While we were at checkout a very sweet young woman came over and ask if I would like a sample of her chocolate. Indeed! I am always up for a taste of something new and in this case, I was astounded! This was possibly the best chocolate I have ever had the pleasure to try. Layers of flavors and complexity, like a really fine wine, swirled around in my mouth as my nose was teased by saffron and cardamom. Amazing! OMA is the name and she, Kara Blandi, is the creator. Available at Market of Choice in the chocolate section. Try some and see what you think. I think she has found a new level of taste in this wonderful concoction!
So all in all a great day of sunshine, sold art, great wines, great chocolate, and new clothes for Linda, with a nice dinner on the deck finished off with Ghost Hill '11 Rose' ( a must have for warm afternoons in the sun). Made by my best friend Rebecca, this is an all star Rose' that can NOT be missed!
Signing off: Lunch at King Estate coming in a couple of hours!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Happy Wine Month!

Oregon has chosen May as Oregon Wine Month and we at The Gallery at the Watershed will be doing tastings to help celebrate. Ghost Hill will be coming down and we will have a couple of locals during the month. I will post the dates and times.
Celebrate by visiting one of our wonderful Oregon Wineries!
Check out some of the possibilities:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

NEW in Eugene,The Cannery

Met with some relatives from other branches of the tree dating back to the 1700's last night and has a great time comparing histories.. Nice night, but the best part was discovering The Cannery! Though it has slightly more charm than the mess hall of your local gulag, an all black landscape, and little color, it DOES have great food! Admittedly I was put off by the starkness (they would do well to utilize a little local floral enhancement to break the noir de noir interior) but the food was a real surprise. I had one of, if not the BEST chicken sandwiches EVER! Everyone else was well pleased by the fare. I would make another small suggestion: tasting menu for the beers. Small glass tastes of say 5 of the beers of your choice. Great way to show off product and not lose money and time on individual tastes. Just a thought.
They have a 20 beer selection and lots of locals:Ninkasi, Oakshire, etc and they have HUB out of Portland. They also have a full bar and a Happy Hour till six.
Try it out and see what you think. We WILL be back!