News Briefs for February 2009
Cacao for Cacao Buffs
Whether you like it bitter or sweet, one thing is for sure: Chocolate is indulgence. And for those who salivate at the simple mention of it, there’s a fest made just for you.
At the fifth annual Oregon Chocolate Festival, March 6–8 at the Ashland Springs Hotel, you can quench those cacao cravings and further your fanaticism for the good stuff.
Over 20 Oregon chocolatiers will sample a wide variety of chocolate bars, truffles, toffees and fudge, including unusual combinations, like Silly Rabbit Chocolates’ Southern Oregon Syrah Szechuan Pepper Flower truffles and KeKau Chocolatier’s Habañero Tequila and Thai Curry chocolates.
Besides sampling and buying chocolate at the Hotel, guests can enjoy the “Wine & Beer Garden” filled with local sips, as well as the “Beyond Chocolate Gifts Market.” Vendors will showcase chocolate-scented body products, soaps, candles, chocolate truffle pottery and more. Plus, seminars will be presented by experts in the field along with a multitude of other activities throughout the weekend.
Friday kicks off the fest with a variety of activities. Damon Jones, executive chef at Larks Restaurant, will create a delightful three-course dinner with presentations by two Oregon chocolatiers at the “Chocolate Maker’s Dinner.”
During the “Chocolate & Art Walk”—organized by the Ashland Gallery Association—guests can stroll downtown Ashland on Friday evening to enjoy unique art, local wines and, of course, chocolate. And for those who like to get their hands dirty, the “Chocolate Workshop” at the ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum is the perfect affair. Attendees will spend the evening with one of the chocolatiers, learning the chocolate-making process.
On Sunday, festival-goers can meet the makers at the “Brunch with the Chocolatiers.” They’ll learn about the craft and enjoy chocolate chip pancakes, Dagoba house-made S’mores, chocolate-dipped strawberries and more.
And new to this year’s fest is Sunday’s 5K run/walk titled: “After All That Chocolate.” People young and old can walk or run off some of the calories consumed from the two previous days of decadence.
To purchase tickets to the Oregon Chocolate Festival, contact the Ashland Springs Hotel at 888-795-4545. Ticket prices: One day: $15; both Saturday & Sunday: $25. As in prior years, the Hotel will donate 10 percent of ticket proceeds to a local charity.
Mention “chocolate festival” and receive a 50 percent discount for all Oregon Shakespeare Festival plays staged March 6–8.
For more information about special hotel packages during the Festival weekend, please call 888-795-4545 or visit www.ashlandspringshotel.com .
Mark Your Calendar
The Columbia Gorge Winegrowers Association recently announced its 2009 celebration lineup made up of two new, exciting events and returning classics, too.
On March 23, the association will host its first Grand Tasting in Portland at the Hotel Vintage Plaza. Open to the public, the CGWA tasting will feature winemakers and winery staff pouring a variety of wine and mingling with attendees.
The second event is the much-anticipated Gorge Passport Weekend, March 27–29. Passport holders will be entitled to a variety of benefits, including special reserve tastings, wine discounts and discounts at Gorge-area merchants, including hotels and restaurants. Passports are $15 each and will be available Feb. 13 at area wineries and www.columbiagorgewine.com . This event is made possible in part from a matching grant from Travel Oregon.
In addition to these two new tasting events, the CGWA will kick-off this year’s series of Open House Weekends during the Valentine’s Day/Presidents’ Day Weekend, Feb. 13–16. Guests can enjoy red wine and chocolate pairings, as well as barrel tastings, live music and more. Other Open House Weekends include: Memorial Day (May 22–25), Labor Day (Sept. 4–7) and Thanksgiving (Nov. 27–29).
This year’s Gorge Wine Celebration for Hospice will be held Aug. 8, but it has moved to a new location, The Gorge Room at the Hood River Inn. At the 2008 event, CGWA—along with community business partners—raised over $25,000 for Hospice of the Gorge. The event in 2009 looks even bigger with exclusive auction packages from area wineries and businesses.
For more details about CGWA events, visit www.columbiagorgewine.com or call 866-413-WINE.
RoxyAnn Winery recently announced the appointment of John Quinones as the new winemaker of the Rogue Valley winery. John’s background encompasses over 20 years experience in the fields of enology and viticulture. He graduated from the University of California at Davis in 1986, with a degree in fermentation science and enology, and he began his career at Lyeth Estate Winery, a Sonoma County pioneer in the production of Bordeaux varietals.
Following Lyeth Winery, Quinones joined Clos Pegase Winery in Calistoga, Napa Valley. As John rapidly gained a reputation for producing outstanding wines there, he was sought out by numerous wineries wanting his expertise. In 1996, Quinones began a winemaking consulting practice serving small ultra-premium producers from the hillsides of Diamond Mountain in Napa to the steep ridges of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Quinones is taking over the winemaking reins from Gus Janeway, longtime winemaker at RoxyAnn, who leaves to focus on producing his own brand, Velocity Cellars.
“I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Gus Janeway and for the wines he has produced at RoxyAnn,” Quinones said. “I look forward to working with the grape growers in the Rogue Valley and making my contribution to the growing reputation of Southern Oregon wines.”
Quinones’s winemaking philosophy is simple. “A winemaker can’t craft wines that surpass the quality of the fruit—it’s our job to fully develop, preserve, and showcase what comes from the vineyard. With appropriate viticulture practices, desired flavor profiles, balance, and texture can be developed in the vineyard, long before the grapes are brought into the winery.”
Quinones’ stylistic hallmark among his wines is balance and texture.
“I am very focused on the texture of a wine. The balance of the fruit, acidity, tannins, etc., is what creates a wine’s texture. When the balance is right, the wine is in harmony, and will simply feel good in your mouth.”
Thirst for Learning
PCC Community Education brings you hundreds of non-credit classes to choose from—all held in convenient locations right in your own neighborhood. You can even learn from home with our online learning program.
In the wine segment of PCC’s community education, seven classes are offered in the months of February and March: Wines of the Northwest: Whites (Feb. 3); Wines of Piedmont (Feb. 11–25, Wednesdays); Valentine’s Champagne & Chocolate Tasting (Feb. 13); Valentine’s Vices (Feb. 14); All About Oregon Pinot Noir (Feb. 28); Italian Wine & Cheese Pairing (March 3); Wine with Other Good Vices (March 13 or 14).
Students need to register and sign up before attending any class. Please visit www.pcc.edu/pcc/pro/comed or call 503-977-8888 for registration and location and time of classes.
Social Network Goes Live, Goes Local
The buzzword “local” often refers to food, shopping, vacations and more, but what about online social networking?
The big guys, like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, have millions of users from all over the world. These sites have smaller groups you can join, but the connection between site members and their own “Main Street” seems to be missing.
Enter poshCircle (www.poshcircle.com ).
Owner/founder Brandon Kirkland created the social networking website for people and their favorite businesses in a specific area. The first site is dedicated to Southern Oregon, Kirkland’s own stomping ground.
Similar to the international sites, it offers many of the same tools, but what sets poshCircle apart is its ability to connect members with local events and meet-ups with friends, and its ability to encourage users to frequent local merchants.
“Niche social networks are the future,” Kirkland said. “Businesses and their customers get lost in the sea of Facebook or MySpace. There is nothing special about that. To say you are a ‘Poshie,’ has meaning. To say you are on Facebook means you are one of 200 million. Businesses and their customers find meaning on poshCircle; it is more than just a place to connect with old friends.”
Like a “foodie,” a lover of fine food and drink, a Poshie is a socialite who adopts the same passions for food and drink, but also encompasses design, fashion, style, art and local and organic sustainability.
On the site, Poshies can stay up to date on exciting events happening at local businesses, get invites to special Poshie VIP events and sales, create their own events with friends, ask businesses questions, upload music, images and videos, and more.
The network is as much for those looking for social outings and networking as it is for business owners looking for quality customers and increased revenue.
“I can give businesses free information in advance so they can use it to better serve their customer and make them feel like queens or kings,” Kirkland explained. “It’s a new form of customer service that has never been explored, and with technology today, we can explore it. All businesses have to do is use it.”
Being a small business owner himself—Kirkland and his wife own Enchanted Florist in Ashland—he saw the need for such a site.
“I was teaching one of my chocolate tasting classes, and a guy from the crowd said, ‘You should have wine next time,’ and then a lady said, ‘And have Leslie (my wife) do a flower arranging class,’” Kirkland recalled. “Something clicked: Customers creating their own flavor of event with their favorite fine business. Traditionally the business makes the event and people come. What if customers could make the events?”
The website officially launches Feb. 1, but in order for the site to succeed, businesses and Southern Oregonians need to sign up and sign in.
“There is nothing in the world like poshCircle,” Kirkland said. “And I hope it will help small local businesses, sustainability and evolve customer service to a new level in these poor economic times.”
Plum Hill Vineyards will celebrate its grand opening with food, music and other entertainment, plus arts and crafts from local artisans, Feb. 14–15 (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Join owners RJ and Juanita Lint as they toast their new facility (located at 6505 S.W. Old Highway 47, Gaston). For more information, please visit www.plumhillwine.com .
Wrap It Up
Bonneville Hot Springs Resort and Spa, located in the scenic Columbia River Gorge AVA, recently announced complimentary mineral baths and wraps to overnight guests through March at its full-service luxurious spa, which uses natural therapeutic mineral waters.
Located just 35 miles east of Portland on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, Bonneville is the perfect winter warm-up getaway. All rooms feature private balconies, many with private hot tubs filled with therapeutic mineral water. Fine dining is available in the Pacific Crest Dining Room with regional specialties and healthful spa cuisine. Casual dining and exciting libations are found in the Cascade Lounge, along with a big screen television for sports fans.
Friday and Saturday nights, guests enjoy wine tasting in the Great Room. Wines are carefully selected from local wineries by General Manager Gary Sorrels, who prides himself on the extensive wine list offered at the Resort.
For room rates and more information, visit www.bonnevilleresort.com or call 866-459-1678.