Mouth & Heart South, Drink North

By Gail Oberst, Interim Editor

If it seems like there’s a lot of Southern Oregon in these pages, blame it on Roseburg High School, my alma mater. I may prefer Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs to any other liquid in the world, but my heart is in Southern Oregon, where I was raised. While I’m in this chair, I fully intend to overplay the role my peeps have in the industry. Don’t judge me! We southies are known to be volatile. April Fools!

And speaking of April Fools Jokes, be sure to read Riggs Fulmer’s hilarious story on Page 19. Although Riggs is the storymeister, the idea came in a roundabout way from our own Nelli Vanderburg, the mistress of creative tasting notes. I passed it on to Riggs, who made it his own.

Anyway, enjoy this issue, because I have thoroughly squeezed my short term here for all its worth. Right up front I will admit to accepting free tastes of food and wine, and for those morsels, it was worth all the sunny spring days I had to spend holed up in my darkish office, playing editor while spilling crumbs from a hasty lunch on my keyboard.

Tops on my list of perks was a visit to Portland’s Fenouil, a new French Restaurant in The Pearl District. The chef there, Jake Martin, prepared for my delight a sample of the “Chef’s Choice” dish featured in this month’s column. I was especially charmed that Chef Jake chose to use nettles in a dish, which means you all have to take a spring hike in the woods to find some young nettles. So I had to work that weekend. Sometimes, work doesn’t suck.

It also wasn’t so bad working the booth at the McMinnville Sip event last month, considering that when I was done with my stint, I got to taste my choice of 60-some wineries. My friend Stangler, by the way, complained that there were too many wineries at the Sip. God love him, he’s a southie. How can there be too many?

What I do miss this year is that I couldn’t go to the 40th Anniversary of the Greatest of the Grape in Myrtle Creek. Having a great love for the Umpqua Valley, it would have been heaven for me to hang with my homies. To make matters worse, Holly Goodman, our ad sales representative, dropped by my office and said goodbye on her way there. Grrr.

On the bright side, there are a ton of festivals coming up this month. Just read these pages and look for me there!

You might also notice that I talked my son, John, into helping with a few stories. A 23-year-old student of fermentation science, he didn’t have a lot of time, especially because most nights, when he’s not studying, he’s out there sampling potential recipes, as he refers to his carousing. But I’m trying to keep the ink in our family tree, so I asked him to check on a few stories in our home county, Polk. He obliged, but he’s obviously smart enough to study something with a future.

Meanwhile, don’t do as I do, do as I say – Get outside and enjoy the spring!

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