NEWS / FEATURES

News Briefs for July 2009

July 2009

A Green Thumbs-Up

Sokol Blosser Winery was honored by Oregon Business magazine at the Gerding Theater on June 1 as one of the “100 Best Green Companies to Work for in Oregon” based on the sustainable practices section of the “100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon” survey process, completed by 372 employers last fall.

Founder Susan Sokol Blosser gave the keynote address. In her speech, she emphasized the importance of recognizing change in today’s business model.

“The urgency of today’s crises is our opportunity to do something equally courageous, profound and difficult—to create a lifestyle based on an economic structure that incorporates the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.”

 Other winners in the top 10 included Gerding Edlen Development, Kimpton Hotels, Doubletree Hotel and Elephant’s Deli. Honorees were selected based on a 2008 survey of nearly 30,000 Oregon workers and a benefits survey completed by Oregon employers.

After accepting the award for sixth out of 100 employers nominated, Alex Sokol Blosser, unlike his mother Susan, was nearly speechless. 

“We are so honored. This means a lot to us, not just as business owners but also as employers and stewards of the land. We see this as a win-win all the way—running a successful business that our employees are proud to work for, and doing it in a sustainable manner.”

 Alex and Alison Sokol Blosser, who are siblings as well as second-generation winegrowers and current co-presidents of the winery, encourage their 22 employees to discuss ideas openly and think critically about sustainability in the workplace. 

Sokol Blosser holds monthly “green bag” lunches to encourage team members to talk about green ideas and has used those ideas to recreate office spaces to maximize more natural light and purchased eco-friendly office furniture and paints with no offgassing. This spring, the staff also founded a half-acre community garden to provide fresh produce for employees.

The winery pursues environmentally friendly practices in all phases of its business, including farming their estate vineyards to USDA-certified organic standards, using biodiesel in farm tractors and purchasing unbleached paper products for labels and wine boxes.

Sokol Blosser’s 25kW photovoltaic solar panel system provides for one third of the winery’s energy needs, and their underground barrel cellar—built to U.S. Green Building Council standards—became the first winery building in the country to earn the prestigious LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. ◊

2009 Oregon Wine Awards

On March 28, the Waverley Country Club in Portland hosted the inaugural Oregon Wine Awards, featuring a prominent panel of respected Oregon wine professionals, buyers, writers and sommeliers who tasted and evaluated 257 Oregon wines in a single-blind format—grape variety or wine style is known but not the price and producer—and awarded the top wines. Consensus wines that did not receive a medal earned the Vintner’s Honor (Outstanding Oregon Wine Award).

The tasting panel consisted of Cole Danehower, editor of Northwest Palate; Andrew Fortgang, sommelier at Le Pigeon in Portland; Marcus Goodfellow, sommelier and winemaker of Matello Wines in the Willamette Valley; David Holstrom, owner of www.guy duvin.com; Scott Julien, CEO of Waverley Country Club in Portland; David LeClaire, owner of Portland Uncorked; Gaironn Poole, sommelier at Bluehour in Portland; Debbie Rios, owner of Santiam Wine Co. in Salem; Robert Wolfe, owner of the Oregon Pinot Noir Club in Eugene; and Ron Wolf, sommelier and wine director at Lucier in Portland.

Christopher Chan, Oregon Wine Awards founder and owner, was happy with the inaugural event.

“Evaluating over 250 entries, the tasting panel was really impressed with how flawless the whole thing worked,” Chan said. “My goal is to become the number one wine recognition program in Oregon. If the economy turns around, I hope to create a consumer event to accompany the awards next year.”
Click here for the OWA 2009 results . ◊

Taste Mac

Oregon’s newest wine industry organization, the McMinnville Winegrowers Association, was formed in January 2009. On Saturday, July 18, the group will present its first-ever tasting seminar, a daylong event hosted by Yamhill Valley Vineyards.

Currently, the association has eight winery members—Brittan, Coeur de Terre, Coleman, Maysara, Seufert, Stony Mountain, Yamhill Valley and Youngberg Hill—all of whose wines will be poured at the event.

Vineyard members are Bass Hill, Bellevue Cross, Four Winds, Hyland, J. Wrigley, Meredith Mitchell, Mystic Mountain and Sunny Ridge.

The day’s schedule of activities begins at 10 a.m. with a seminar on the AVA’s geology, terroir and viticulture. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., seminar attendees will taste wines paired with appetizers and samples from local artisan food purveyors.

From 2 to 5 p.m., participating wineries and vineyards will conduct barrel tastings, library tastings and vineyard tours.

AVA sampler cases will be available for purchase along with raffle tickets, which afford the opportunity to win magnums of wine, gift baskets, and winery tours and tastings. All proceeds from the raffle benefit Juliette’s House Child Abuse Assessment Center in McMinnville.

Tickets are $25, which includes the AVA tasting with paired appetizers, an etched souvenir tasting glass and all planned activities. For advance tickets, call 503-857-3070 or go to www.mcminnvilleava.org . ◊

Grab Your Sparklers!

The 150 Days of Wine in the Willamette Valley kicks off summer in wine country at the inaugural Red, White and True Oregon Wines, a Wine Country Fourth of July. Enjoy special releases, picnics, barbecues, lawn games and live music.

As a proud partner of Oregon 150, “A 4th for the 4th” events will benefit Ecotrust’s Farm to School initiative and efforts to educate children about Oregon agriculture, bringing more locally grown products to the school lunchroom. Bring the whole family and help us support local schools and farms. Visit www.willamettewines.com for a full listing of events and participating wineries. ◊

The Secret’s Out

Domaine Meriwether of Carlton has purchased 54-acre Secret House Vineyards (in Veneta), which has become a popular venue for summer concerts and other events.

Buzz Kawders, owner of Domaine Meriwether, said the winery has been operating out of the Carlton Winemakers Studio since 2002.

He said he has been looking for a place to develop a stand-alone winery, preferably in the southern Willamette Valley, closer to his Eugene home. He noted Domaine Meriwether’s first harvest was grown at LaVelle Vineyards, near Secret House.

Dr. Jack Bagdade, a Eugene endocrinologist, founded the winery in 1986. Kawders took over in 2005.

The existing production facility at Secret House will be renovated and expanded. A 2,500-square-foot tasting room and 2,000-square-foot barrel room will be added, with the barrel room doubling as a venue for tastings, wine club events and winemaker dinners.

A medium-sized winery by Oregon standards, Domaine Meriwether produces 8,000 to 10,000 cases a year. It is known for sparkling wines, which account for about half its production and sales.

For more information, visit www.domainemeriwether.com . ◊

Lots-o-Lavender

Enjoy the Oregon countryside at its fragrant best during the 2009 Oregon Lavender Festival, July 11–12.

More than 20 different lavender destinations will welcome visitors to experience the flowering plant firsthand with lavender farm and nursery tours. At the lavender-based Artisan Fair in Yamhill, you’ll find fine arts, crafts, local lavender products, lavender oil distillation demonstrations, live music, craft classes, lavender food, activities for the kids, master gardeners providing gardening advice and more. Plus, plein air artists will display their works.

Plan your day by visiting www.OregonLavenderDestinations.com for a complete listing of participating farms, activities and maps.

Every year, a portion of the proceeds from the festival is donated to charitable and/or community organizations. This cooperative event brings together local growers and community volunteers to educate the public about the delightful and beneficial uses of lavender.

The Oregon Lavender Association is a nonprofit horticultural organization designed to support the promotion of lavender as a viable, thriving agribusiness. ◊

Lux Goes Online 

Lux Wines is pleased to announce the launch of its online wine store and bridal registry based in Portland. The online wine shop features top-rated wines hand picked by its owners and offers customers the convenience of shopping online by region, varietal or price. Lux Wines also offers many unique wine club options and can ship wine directly to customers. www.lux-wines.com . ◊

A Dapper Dandy

A half-dozen prominent glass artists, including both regional and national figures, will be appearing in a series of events at The Dapper Frog galleries in Nye Beach, Salishan and Dundee from July through October. Check out www.dapperfrog.com for more information. ◊

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