News Briefs for June 2009
Here We Go Loop de Loop
The Hood River County Fruit Loop isn’t just about some of the world’s best apples, cherries and pears; it’s also home to a growing number of fine vineyards and wineries. Micro-climes created by soil, slope and elevation allow the growing variety of kinds of grapes, and the area’s quality fruit and berries get into the act, too, as primary ingredients in delicious specialty wines.
The Fruit Loop Wine Celebration, June 20–21, focuses on all the wonderful wines produced here. Visit welcoming tasting rooms, talk to winemakers, tour vineyards and delight in the valley’s gorgeous scenery and all the wonderful wines produced there.
The Columbia Gorge Appellation became a federally designated grape-growing region in July 2004. Local winemakers have never looked back. Their efforts have been recognized with growing lists of awards and recognition.
Cathedral Ridge Winery was named “Oregon Winery of the Year” by Wine Press Northwest in 2007. During the Wine Celebration weekend, they’ll be offering special wine selections on Saturday and will observe Father’s Day and the Summer Solstice on Sunday, with special wines and food.
Also proud holder of a long list of wine awards is Hood River Vineyards. It is the Gorge’s oldest winery and has Hood River’s oldest commercial vineyard. During the Wine Celebration, they will be hosting a “Fruits of Summer” tasting, featuring their fruit wines, ciders, Ports and sherry at special prices. They’ll pour their regular wines, too.
Marchesi Vineyards & Winery is a boutique winery specializing in Italian varietals reminiscent of Piedmonte, Italy, where the founder was born and raised. They grow Barbera, Dolcetto, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. There is no tasting fee during the Wine Celebration.
Pheasant Valley Winery and B&B offers a beautiful vineyard, spacious tasting room with a magnificent view of Mt. Hood and a gift shop, as well as an on-site inn for overnight stays. Their wines have earned an impressive list of awards, and the winery is the site of frequent special events. Join them during the Fruit Loop Wine Celebration.
Phelps Creek Vineyards toasts the beginning of summer with their favorite summer sipper, Rosé. There’s something about that crisp, refreshing and oh-so-pretty pink wine that transports the taster to a terrace overlooking the Spanish coast. To complete the illusion, Phelps Creek will be serving an assortment of delectable tapas and their own version of Sangria.
Mt. Hood Winery is growing, developing new vineyards along Highway 35, and looking forward to a busy season. Taste their wines, and take in the views. Meet the winemakers, and enjoy the results of their efforts.
Wy’East Vineyards has a delightful country tasting room and views of their Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay vineyards. Other varieties are made from grapes grown in top regional vineyards.
The Gorge White House is also a must visit for the wine enthusiast…or the person enthusiastic about numerous other local products. Situated in a 1910 Dutch Colonial home listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the Gorge White House is a landmark. Since it’s recent conversion from private home to a popular gathering place, the Gorge White House features wines from two dozen area wineries, a selection of microbrews, as well as other special products, including fresh fruit, artisan cheeses, dried fruit and more. During the Wine Celebration, they will be formally releasing their first wine: a refreshing, crisp, light and semi-sweet wine made from Bosc pears. Named “Heritage Pear,” this wine’s appropriately named, since the site has had a working pear farm since 1902.
In addition to participating wineries, other Fruit Loop farms will be serving up special activities and attractions for the Wine Celebration. Events at most Fruit Loop businesses are complimentary.
This summer’s future Fruit Loop celebrations include: Hood River Cherry Celebration, July 11–12; Gravenstein Apple Celebration, Aug. 22–23; Hood River Pear Celebration, Sept. 19–20; and the Heirloom Apple Celebration, Oct. 24–25.
For more information on the Hood River County Fruit Loop, visit www.hoodriverfruitloop.com. ◊
SOWA Trade Tasting Notes
Retailers, wholesalers and restaurants were excited to sample the wines of a rapidly growing number of wineries at the Southern Oregon Winery Association (SOWA) tasting in Medford in early May.
The annual trade tasting, featuring 33 wineries this year, prepares retailers who connect with consumers, educating them about how to buy, talk about and sell the product, said Michael Donovan, managing director of RoxyAnn Winery in Medford and former president of SOWA.
“We’re one of the lesser-known regions in the world, but we have almost 70 wineries here now, compared to 25 only five years ago,” said Donovan.
Jake Allmaras and Kristi Haavig, owners of Kaleidoscope Pizza in Medford said they’re stocking 150 different wines—one-third is local.
“There are so many great wines now in this region, with new ones coming all the time,” said Haavig, sipping a 2006 Pinot Noir from Misty Oaks Vineyard in Oakland. A popular pour at the event, it won the platinum from judges at the recent Greatest of the Grape in Canyonville and the gold at World of Wine at Del Rio Vineyards in Gold Hill.
William Koch, wine buyer for Market of Choice in Ashland, said the region has made “great strides” in the past five years, not just with good vintages, but also from the evolving practice of working together to promote each other’s wines, rather than thinking of them as competitors.
Blaine Nisson, president of Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, said the school’s new viticulture and enology programs are booming in enrollment, not just because recessions bring people back for refresher courses, but because the demand for wine remains strong, even though buyers are shopping for slightly less expensive wines until the economy bounces back. ◊ —John Darling
Food Alliance Goes Grapes
The nonprofit Food Alliance has certified Temperance Hill Vineyard, Wren Vineyard and the Lumos Wine Co.
Under standards for social and environmental responsibility, the vineyards have been audited for safe and fair working conditions, soil and water conservation, pest management, nutrient management, protection of wildlife habitat and other agricultural concerns.
The winery has been audited for safe and fair working conditions, conservation of energy and water, waste management, elimination of toxic and hazardous materials and other facility management concerns.
Lumos Wine Co. and the two vineyards are the first of their kind to be certified by Food Alliance, with audits of the vineyards and the winery, and for social as well as environmental issues.
Temperance Hill Vineyard is located in the Eola Hills just west of Salem. Wren Vineyard is the Lumos estate site and is located about 15 miles west of Corvallis in the foothills of the Coast Range. Both of these farms are also certified Salmon Safe. The winery itself is in McMinnville. ◊
A Crystal Ball
Georg Riedel, owner of the eponymous world-renowned stemware company, will host an evening tasting event at Willamette Valley Vineyards on June 11.
The evening will begin with a seminar by Riedel on how high-quality crystal stemware enhances the wine drinking experience. Attendees will have the opportunity to taste delicious and sustainable Willamette Valley Vineyards wines out of high-quality Riedel glasses from the newly introduced Vinum XL line—an experience not to be missed.
Space is limited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Tickets are $75 and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. The cost includes the seminar, wine and a four-pack of Riedel crystal. The event begins at 7 p.m. sharp, late arrivals will not be accepted. To request a reservation, please contact Willamette Valley Vineyards at 800-344-9463.
Willamette Valley Vineyards is located at 8800 Enchanted Way S.E. in Turner. ◊
Wings & Wine Classic
If you like fine wine, good food, exceptional music and yearn to talk directly to the winemakers themselves, you won’t want to fly by this one.
On June 20 (2–8 p.m.), take flight at the Wings & Wine Classic at the Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver, Wash., with the latest wines from Oregon and Washington AVAs.
Included in the inaugural event is a series of educational sessions, featuring topics such as how to make your own wine and the rules for decanting, and more. Food, live music and vendors as well as sponsors also will be highlighted at the festival.
The Pearson Air Museum is located at 1115 E. Fifth St., Vancouver, WA. Tickets are $45 per person. For more information, call 800-422-0251 or visit www.wingsandwineclassic.com .
Proceeds from this event will benefit Pearson Air Museum. ◊
Linfield Honors Lett
David Lett was honored posthumously at the 2009 Linfield College commencement on May 31 in McMinnville.
Lett, founder of The Eyrie Vineyards, was presented with an honorary doctor of science degree for his pioneering efforts to establish the wine industry in the Willamette Valley. His son, Jason Lett, accepted the degree on behalf of his father and family and presented the commencement address, “Castles in the Air.”
Linfield President Thomas L. Hellie presided over the ceremony in which 627 candidates for degrees were presented. ◊
Geology of the Gorge
On Saturday, June 13, join other wine enthusiasts for a daylong field trip to examine the geology of the Columbia Gorge and the terroir of its vineyards.
The trip will depart from Hood River Indian Creek Campus in Hood River, with stops along the Columbia Gorge AVA and the adjoining western part of the Columbia Valley AVA. Transportation, lunch and wine tasting is included. The trip is led by Dr. Alan Busacca, a professor emeritus at Washington State University in the Department of Crops and Soils, and the Department of Geology. He is also the owner of Vinitas Vineyard Consultants.
The trip is sponsored by Columbia Gorge Community College. Register at 541-506-6011; Cost: $94 per person. ◊
Volcano Leaves Downtown Bend
Liz and Scott Ratcliff recently announced that Volcano Vineyards’ downtown tasting room will close; but have no fear: They are still in the bottle business.
They will reopen the tasting room at their new Bend winery, which is still under construction. ◊
Craig Anderson is Associate Dean at Chemeketa’s Northwest Viticulture Center in Salem. ◊