Pinot-Poached Pears with Blue Cheese from Abbey Road Farm B&B & Winery and Chefs Eric Bartle and Sara Kundelius ##Photo provided
Blackberry Ice Cream with
Pinot Noir Reduction from Left Coast Estate and tasting room associate Emma Foster. ##Photo provided

Late Summer Sweetness

Oregon wines enhance decadent fruit desserts

By Annelise Kelly

Although fall may be right around the corner, the long warm days of summer are still delivering their final payoff: the luscious fruits of Oregon’s orchards, vines and canes. Late summer’s final hurrah tastes sweet, indeed. Peaches dripping with juice, figs sweet like honey, lush dark berries, crisp apples and fragrant pears abound as September unfolds.

This fruit harvest cascades into the kitchen, inspiring delicious desserts. Chefs at Oregon wineries view the bounty through rosé-colored glasses, enhancing fruit-based summer desserts with the rich, complex flavors of wine.

We spoke with chefs from five local wineries about incorporating wine into fruit-focused desserts for extra “wow” factor.

Eric Bartle and Sara Kundelius, chefs and innkeepers at Abbey Road Farm in Carlton, were happy to return to the farm after recently traversing the country cooking. “We couldn’t wait to get home for summer fruit. Oregon fruit is unmatched in all our travels, and the sheer amount is overwhelming.”

“It’s a very classic French thing to do, to have wine in dessert.” Kundelius said. “We’re lucky to have Pinot Noir.” Together, they’ve perfected a poached pear dessert, incorporating Pinot along with Oregonzola cheese from Rogue Creamery and chopped hazelnuts.

“Pinot Noir is the perfect wine for poaching and reducing to a syrup, which really showcases its characteristics,” Bartle said. “The reduction brings out the spiciness, the black peppercorn. It’s so elegant, it accentuates everything.” They like to serve the same wine, or at least the same varietal, to accompany the dessert, to highlight the contrast between its out-of-the-bottle qualities, and the complexities and aromatics transformed by cooking.

This versatile recipe can shift from quasi-cheese course to traditional dessert by substituting vanilla ice cream for the cheese, and even elevating it by including fresh berries to accentuate the berry qualities of the Pinot Noir.

At The Kitchen at Aurora Colony Vineyards in Aurora, Chef Vance Wilson recently inherited nine fig trees, so he’s motivated to transform them into delectable desserts. Inspired by his grandmother’s original recipes, he’s crafted a fig cobbler enhanced with Aurora Colony Vineyard’s white Port-style wine.

Wilson says wine can be incorporated into fruit desserts in a number of ways: “You can substitute it for other liquids in recipes; you can reduce it and make a sauce; or, my favorite: You can make a coulis with fruit. That’s basically a fresh fruit sauce, and you can add a really nice wine to it. For example, a blackberry coulis could be used as a garnish, poured over ice cream or drizzled over any type of pie à la mode to add another contrasting flavor.”

Wilson also puts summer fruit to savory use on his pizzas, serving a peach prosciutto pizza during peach season. “It goes very well with a nice, dry rosé like our Provénce, our Primitivo called Cooper’s Red or an old-vine Zinfandel, which is beautiful with it.” He also cans pears to serve with blue cheese on pizza throughout the winter.

VINFARM, the sister property of Wooldridge Creek Winery, is a restaurant and tasting room in Grants Pass. Manager Gabrielle Hahn says peaches are her favorite summer fruit. “Summer fruits are a natural pairing with maceration, whether you want to go with a dessert wine or bring in some acidity with a dry wine. Southern Oregon Viogniers are rich and peachy anyway. Our Oso Frio ice wine makes an absolutely beautiful pairing with peaches in a trifle.” She suggests macerating the peaches in Oso Frio and assembling a traditional trifle with sponge cake and very lightly sweetened whipped cream, boosted with some ice wine — about a quarter cup for each pint of cream.

Chef Chad Hahn, her husband, is planning to serve a vegan chocolate pudding with black currant sorbet at an upcoming private dinner. “He’ll macerate the currants, and then turn them into sorbet,” she added. “He’s thinking about using our Port-style late harvest dessert wine, which has really beautiful cinnamon flavors.”

Emma Foster, a tasting room associate and harvest-hand at Left Coast Estate in Rickreall, relishes Oregon summer fruit. “I love it the most when I get to grow it. Most of the berries we’re using are from the estate — blackberries, strawberries, raspberries. I like to do a wine reduction; it adds intense flavors without excess liquid, which can impact the chemistry. Also you can have that wine with the dessert and it complements it really well.”

She says Pinot Noir remains an excellent match for the dark fruits ripening now, but recalls making strawberry ice cream with a reduction of Left Coast’s Viognier, boasting notes of pear and apple. “It was a gorgeous dessert, served on its own, although I often like to make ice cream sandwiches for a little more fun.” Left Coast also merges sweet and savory in a strawberry and goat cheese pizza with basil and balsamic reduction for staff meals.

At Maryhill Winery on the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge, Chef Michael McFarland and tasting room manager Collyn Scott both treasure summer fruit. Scott rhapsodizes about Rainier cherries and Pinot Noir grapes, while McFarland enjoys “the freshness of the peaches, all the new berries — incorporating them into recipes, putting them on charcuterie boards. And, of course, taking my kids berry picking.”

“Some of the desserts we’ve come up with have featured house-made ice cream, using our reduced Port as a glaze over top along with fresh berries,” Scott said. “A chocolate ganache made with the same Port wine is another favorite of ours,” McFarland added.

McFarland shares a recipe for tarts with grilled peaches, which pairs well with one of Maryhill’s new wines, a Grüner Veltliner with a luscious, juicy palate. He advises cooks should start with somewhat firm peaches. The fruit starts wrapped in foil to cook gently in its own juices; then it goes on the grill for some light grill marks and caramelization.

“We like to come up with wine and food combinations someone might not think to pair, so the resulting flavors wouldn’t have been discovered otherwise,” Scott said. “That’s a rich, wonderful aspect of the wine and culinary worlds.”


Pinot-Poached Pears with Blue Cheese

Abbey Road Farm B&B & Winery | Recipe by Chefs Eric Bartle and Sara Kundelius


1 bottle Abbey Road Farm Pinot Noir (or favorite)

3 Bosc pears, peeled

½ cup white sugar

¼ teaspoon (or 20 berries) whole black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, peeled, finely chopped

* blue cheese, room temperature (try Rogue Creamery Oregonzola)


1. Place peeled pears, wine, sugar and peppercorns in non-reactive saucepot and bring to a simmer (about 180°F). Poach for about 45 minutes, or until a knife slips in easily and pear is cooked all the way through. Do not boil wine. 2. Remove cooked pears from wine and cool. Continue reducing wine to 4 ounces (½ cup) of syrup. Again, do not boil wine. As wine reduces, bubbles will change to thicker, sugary bubbles, which means you’re almost there. 3. Strain out peppercorns and bay leaf; cool to room temperature. 4. Assemble: All ingredients should be at room temperature. Spoon small pool of Pinot Noir syrup on dessert plate. Cut pears in half and remove core with melon baller; coat flat side of pear with chopped filberts. Using cookie scooper, fill core cavity with blue cheese. Gently place in pool of syrup. If you have extra syrup, drizzle on top.


Fresh Fig Cobbler

Aurora Colony Vineyards | Recipe by Chef Vance Wilson


3–4 cups figs, quartered

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

2 eggs

¾ cup sugar, divided

2 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter, cooled

2 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon butter

½ cup Aurora Colony Vineyards Velocity White Port (or favorite Port-style white wine)


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cast-iron pan is recommended, but springform pan will work. Cut and quarter figs. Toss in cinnamon and set aside. 2. Mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. 3. Beat egg until just mixed, adding ½ cup sugar, butter and milk; mix ingredients until well blended. 4. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients. Stir gently until everything is combined. Set batter aside. 5. In medium saucepan, boil Port wine and ¼ cup sugar for 5 minutes. Add figs; turn them over in hot syrup. 6. If using cast-iron: Heat pan in oven for five minutes while making figs. Remove pan from oven and melt 1 tablespoon butter in pan, quickly swirling to cover bottom and sides. Immediately pour batter into pan. Pour fig mixture over batter. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. 7. If using springform: Butter insides and bottom of pan. Pour in batter followed immediately by fig mixture. Bake 30 minutes. 8. Serve warm or room temperature.


Blackberry Ice Cream with Pinot Noir Reduction

Left Coast Estate | Recipe by Emma Foster, tasting room


1 pint fresh blackberries

½ cup white sugar

½ teaspoon lemon zest

2 cups heavy cream

½ cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons reduced Left Coast Pinot Noir (or favorite Pinot)


1. Combine blackberries, sugar and zest in bowl of food processor; process until puréed. Let sit for 10 minutes. Strain seeds (optional) and return to processor, adding cream, milk, vanilla and reduced Pinot Noir. Pulse until whipped, about 30 seconds. 2. Pour mixture into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to airtight container. 3. To make ice cream sandwiches, transfer to sheet pan, freeze and use cutouts to make sandwiches. Experiment with your favorite cookie: the one pictured is made with a snickerdoodle.


Vegan Chocolate Pudding with Black Currant Sorbet

Wooldridge Creek Winery & VINFARM | Recipe by Chef Chad Hahn

Sorbet Ingredients

4 cups black currants

* Wooldridge Creek Winery Late Harvest dessert wine (or other Port-style wine)

1 cup sugar

* pinch of salt

Pudding Ingredients

2 cups canned coconut milk

* large pinch of salt

¼ cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup sugar, pure maple syrup or honey

¼ cup plant milk of choice

3 tablespoons cornstarch

4 ounces dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

¼ cup currant-infused Port-style wine   

* grated dark chocolate

* mint sprigs


1. Sorbet: Place currants in container and pour enough Port-style wine over them to cover. Cover container and place in fridge at least overnight, no more than 3 days. 2. Strain off wine (reserving ¼ cup for pudding) and blend currants in food processor. Strain purée through sieve (to remove fibers and skins). Mix in sugar and salt with purée, plus any surplus wine (after reserving the ¼ cup for pudding). 3. Refrigerate until ready to churn into sorbet. When ready to churn, follow machine’s instructions until mixture is smooth, creamy and thickened, but not entirely solid. Pour into a freezer-safe container and freeze until solid. 4. Pudding: Heat 2 cups coconut milk in saucepan with salt, cocoa powder and sugar (or sweetener). Meanwhile, whisk cornstarch and ¼ cup plant milk in small bowl until dissolved. 5. When coconut milk is warm, add cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir constantly for 2 minutes. Lower to a simmer for an additional minute. Turn off heat. 6. Stir in chocolate until melted. Stir in Port-style wine. Transfer pudding to refrigerator to thicken, 4 to 6 hours. 7. To serve, place ½ cup pudding in dish, scoop currant sorbet on top, and garnish with grated dark chocolate and sprig of mint.


Caramelized Peach Treats

Maryhill Winery | Recipe by Michael McFarland


3 peaches, ripe but somewhat firm

3 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons cinnamon

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

12 baked tart shells, 3-inch diameter

12 tablespoons freshly cooked white rice, room temperature

* mint leaves for garnish


1. Cut peaches in half, removing pits. Place on squares of foil. Add honey and cinnamon. Wrap in foil and grill for 5 minutes, until caramelized. Remove from grill and open foil packet. (Optional: Remove peaches — reserving any juice — and grill for a few minutes longer until they are lightly marked by grill lines.) 2. Chill peaches with juice. 3. Make whipped cream by whipping together sugar and vanilla. Chill. 4. Assemble: Slice peaches and return to juice. Lay out tart shells. Place 1 tablespoon rice in each tart shell and top with whipped cream. Divide caramelized peach slices and juice among tarts. Top with fresh mint and serve.

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