Monday, May 31, 2010

Day Two of Willamette Valley Wine Tasting (Part 2) on to Anne Amie Winery! I was looking forward to this stop because I loved the wine I sampled at the Educate Your Palate event. When we finally arrived, the view from the entrance was incredible. The tasting room and winery looked so whimsically from down below, I loved it. I could not wait to get up to the top. I got funny looks as I hung out of the sunroof for a photo op.

When we got to the top of the winery, the view was just stunning. You could see all the vineyards, the coast range and the beautiful Chehalem Mountains. There were tables outside on the patio for picnics and the staff highly encourages using them. You can bring your own food or you can enjoy one of their small cheese plates.

We went inside to do some wine tasting and Ksandek, the Director of Hospitality was more than accommodating. We tasted the '08 Cuvée A Amrita, '08 Pinot Gris, '08 Pinot Blanc, '09 Riesling and a couple '07 Pinot Noirs. Also to break up the tasting, since there were so many wines to sample, Annie Davis was kind enough to give us a tour of the property. We learned there are 40 acres of vineyards and it used to be the Chateau Benoit Winery, but in 1999 was purchased and later changed to Anne Amie.

We spent a lot of time here and overall just a fun place to be - I will return for sure.

After we left Anne Amie and got some food in our bellies, we headed on to Domaine Serene, which is in the heart of the Dundee Hills. Talk about a grand entrance! This place is more than a winery, it is an entire estate! We drove up a long driveway until we reached the parking lot and then followed the signs around the building until we reached the tasting room.

The tasting room was very nice with a lot of space for guests and private parties. They also had outdoor seating on a patio that extending off the tasting room. This was our last stop, so we only tasted a few wines.

We tried a few different Pinot Noirs, a Rosé and a Syrah. These Pinots were a bit heavier tasting to me and it was my first time trying a Syrah. I was not crazy about it, but of course, I am still impartial to some red wines and trying to develop a palate for them. Would it surprise you if I said I liked the Rosé? Well I did like it and was ready to go back for seconds. Overall, a beautiful venue and a fun place to visit.

That wraps up my second day of wine tasting and I plan on visiting more as soon as the weather starts to get nice. I am hoping soon since we are approaching June! Next on my agenda are The Four Graces, Adelsheim and Archery Summit. Let me know if you have any suggestions for my next day of tasting!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day Two of Willamette Valley Wine Tasting (Part 1)

Ever since my first day of wine tasting, I have been anxious to get back out there and do some more! This time, I recruited my boyfriend to come along with me. Our stops this time were - Bergstrom, Laurel Ridge, Anne Amie and Domaine Serene. (This post I will just write about Bergstrom and Laurel Ridge, I have too much to say!). Fortunately for us, it was a beautiful day so we were able to spend plenty of time at each of the wineries.

We stopped by the front desk at The Allison Inn and Spa for a winery map and some tasting cards and we were on our way!

I have been told to visit Bergstrom many times because it has a beautiful view, great Pinot Noirs and an even better Chardonnay. We drove up there and were in good company with a lot of other people. I think the nice weather brought a lot of people out wine tasting. The tasting room is not very big, but they have a patio with table and chairs for enjoying your wine. The view is quite spectaculor and you can see 33 acres of the Bergstrom and De Lancellotti Vineyards from the tasting room. I also learned that their winery is biodynamic which is becoming more common among wineries in the Willamette Valley.

We tasted the '07 Bergstrom Pinot Noir, '07 Nysa Vineyard Pinot Noir, '07 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir (Pommard Block) and the 2008 Sigrid Chardonnay. I think we might have tasted another, but I can't seem to remember. Surprisingly, I loved the Chardonnay and I say this because the first wine I ever tried was a Chardonnay and I hated it. But, Bergstrom's Sigrid was fantastic! Dylan liked all the Pinots, I don't think he had a favorite at this winery. Overall, we loved it up there!

Next stop was Laurel Ridge Winery and we just sort of stumbled upon this winery on our way to Anne Amie. We recognized the winery name because we tried their dessert wine at the Educate Your Palate event. We pulled up and the property was very flat, unlike Bergstrom, which was up on the hilltop. Their were vineyards in the distant, but also wheat fields on property (at least I think that is what it was). The tasting room was very spacious and they had lots of other items for sale besides wine.

After looking around for a bit, Dylan decided he wanted to try the 2004 Laurel Ridge Port again. Did you know that Port originally came from Portugal, just like Champagne came from France? Well after the 2007 vintage, Portugal asked wineries to stop calling their dessert wine Port unless it is actually from Portugal. Interesting fact we learned.We tried the Port again with some fantastic dark chocolate and then I got to try the 2007 Riesling, which is not out for tasting yet! I lucked out, so tasty! But, remember...I love white wines, so everything might be tasty to me. :) It was well worth the stop and I am glad we saw their sign!

We then headed over to Anne Amie Winery...check out my next post to read about the rest of the day!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day One of Willamette Valley Wine Tasting

Last Wednesday I had a day off and it was a gorgeous day, so I thought I would go check out the Willamette Valley and do some wine tasting. I work in the heart of wine country and I am constantly sending people to these incredible estates and vineyards and I have never been to any of them. I figure if wine tasting will help my career, then I must have it pretty good. :)

My first stop was Beaux Frères and I am so lucky I had the opportunity to visit this winery. Beaux Frères translates to brother-in-law in French (not beautiful brothers, as some might think). Michael Etzel is the winemaker and proprietor and started this winery with his brother-in-law Robert Parker. Both are incredible men. Michael Etzel took time out of his busy schedule to give us a tour of his beautiful property and explain his wine making process. His knowledge, love for growing the fruit and passion for his trade is amazing. I could have listened to him speak for hours. We tasted three different wines after our tour, all Pinot Noirs from different grapes and different vintages. The tasting room is small, but very quaint and just enough space to taste some delicious wine. This is only the second time I have been wine tasting and I truly appreciated every minute of it.

Next we went on to visit Penner-Ash Wine Cellars. What an incredible tasting room they have!

I wish I would have taken pictures of the special events space and the gorgeous view. When you walk in, there are open windows so you can see all the wine vats and barrels and then the tasting bar is directly to your right. We tasted about five different wines and I tried the 2009 Roseo wine, which was a first for me. It has a lot lighter body than their Pinot Noirs and is a lot more refreshing, but it still comes from a variety of Pinot Noir grapes. Perfect for a warm summer afternoon!

Next, we ventured on down the hill back into Dundee and decided to check out the Argyle tasting room. We just stumbled upon it because it is literally right off the 99W Highway. I like the convenience of it, but it did not have the view like Penner Ash. I would recommend this winery to finish the day because it is such a quick stop. They have a gift shop area too, so if you are looking for wine souvenirs, this is your place. I was excited to try their sparkling wine because we deliver bottles of the Argyle Brut to guest rooms as part of one of our packages. I tasted the 2006 Argyle Brut and the 2007 Argyle Brut Rosé. Yummy! I love bubbly wine...makes me feel like I am celebrating something.

That was the end to my day of wine tasting, but I would call it a success. I visited three great places but all of them had their unique qualities and atmospheres. I think I have about 300 more wineries to go...and the fun begins!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Grilled Brown Sugar Pork Chops

Beautiful days in the Northwest always call for some outdoor grilling on the barbecue. On last night's menu were some good looking pork chops so I decided to find a quick and easy glaze to whip up that was light but had some good flavor. On I found an easy brown sugar glaze that got excellent reviews. It had of course two of my favorite ingredients, brown sugar and ginger (but, who am I kidding? I have a lot of favorite ingredients!). Oh and we also cannot forget the 1/2 cup of apple juice, which was the selling point for me on this recipe. You can't go wrong with pork and apples.

I did not do much modifying to this recipe because I liked all the flavors, so I will just list the ingredients below:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

  • 1/2 cup apple juice

  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 6 boneless pork chops

All you have to do is combine the oil, soy sauce, juice, ginger and brown sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once you do this, mix the cornstarch and water in a separate blow and then add to the sauce slowly until you get your desired thickness. I just kept adding the cornstarch and water mix until my sauce had a consistency similar to maple syrup.

Of course while you are making the glaze, sample it a few times to make sure it has the flavor you want. I added a little more apple juice for flavor, but that was about it.

For a marinade, eliminate the cornstarch and water and just marinate the pork chops in the sauce for 30 min and then place on the grill. Yum!

Here is the full recipe and reviews at - Grilled Brown Sugar Pork Chops


Friday, May 7, 2010

Eat, Drink and Bid – Supporting the Newberg Education Foundation

This weekend I got to do two of my favorite things, eat and drink. Usually when I am drinking, it is not fine food and wines, but thanks to the annual Eat, Drink and Bid event at August Cellars, I was able to do both. This annual event is a fundraiser to support The Newberg Education Foundation featuring 22 wineries and 15 restaurants.

I must say I am very new to the wine world, so I went with the hopes to try all different types of wines and I certainly was not let down. At August Cellars, there are three levels of the winery and on each level there were different wineries and restaurants represented.

Our first two stops were Trisaetum and Dobbes Family Estate. I have sent guests to both of these wineries, so it was nice to finally taste the wine and put a name to a face. I then ventured over to Bon Appétit Catering and tried the seared ahi tuna with fresh orange on a won ton crisp. How was it? Well, let’s just say I went back for seconds. But, the second time around I took it in one bite instead going through the embarrassment of trying to be polite and take two bites.

Next, my boyfriend pointed out the sign for Sweetest Thing Cupcakes because he has heard me rant and rave about their tasty treats. Obviously, I insisted on him trying all three flavors – Peachy King, Strawberry Kiss (made special for this occasion) and Cowboy. I loved the Strawberry Kiss cupcake; it was filled with a chocolate ganache and topped with a sweet strawberry frosting. I request this become a permanent flavor at the bakery.

Of course I can go on and on about all the wineries and restaurants that were featured at the event, but there are just a few I tables I spent more time at than others. One was Anne Amie Winery. There were four wines featured – 2008 Cuvee A Amrita, 2008 Pinot Gris, 2006 Winemakers Selection Pinot Noir ( I learned that ’06 was a good year) and a pinot blanc. I am for sure a white wine kind of girl and I loved the pinot blanc! My boyfriend is more of a wine guy and likes reds, but even he liked their featured white wines. Their 2008 Pinot Gris was recently named the best pinot gris in Oregon by The New York Times.

Here are a few of our other favorites:

SubTerra - Try their version of mac n’ cheese! It was cavatappi pasta with candied bacon, oven-dried tomatoes and four different cheeses topped with sautéed arugula. Fantastic!

Honest Chocolates – A dark chocolate truffle with a caramel filling and topped with sea salt. The best truffle I have every tasted…honest. I stole my boyfriend’s sample because I needed seconds.

Fanucchi Oils – I think we were sampling savory olive oils and spreads for a good twenty minutes. These extra virgin olive oils are imported from Greece, Italy and the Mediterranean. We liked the basil garlic infused dipping oil and the Traditional Organic with a pepper finish the best.

Laurel Ridge Winery – The 2003 Pinot Noir Port was wonderful and went well with my raspberry dark chocolate from Honest Chocolates.

Golden Valley Brewery – So happy to see something familiar, a microbrew! Beer tasting is a little more normal to me, so I was happy to sample a refreshing blonde ale.

We had a blast and it was a great introduction to the Willamette Valley’s wine and cuisine. I highly recommend attending next year’s Educate Your Palate – Eat, Drink and Bid event!