Snow, Rain & Wine

Three things I inevitably – and sometimes joyfully – look forward to each winter is snow, rain & wine. Unless one of the three stop me from enjoying the others, such as with this photo. I attempted to take my family out wine tasting while they were in town last weekend, yet the weather like a mean step-sibling, howled, blowed and snowed us out of the delicious warm tastings we so desired. But stuck in the snow trying to reach one of my favorite vineyards, I still snapped this awesome stormy photo.

Blizzard Vineyard

Best Photos of 2011

Wow is 2011 really almost over?

I can hardly remember what happened last week then last April, so lets take a look back at my favorite blog photos from 2011.

What month’s photo is your favorite? Comment below or on my Facebook page.

April – One of my first photos on my blog

April 20, 2011 - Porch Faucet

May – Explored the Ford Alumni Center at the University of Oregon

May 30, 2011 - Glass Globes at the Ford Alumni Center

June – USA Track and Field Championship at Hayward Field, University of Oregon

June 27, 2011 - USA Track Champs

July – Finally summer, went hiking every week. This photo is from hiking to Trestle Creek Falls.

August 9, 2011 - Cascade Greens

August – Hit up the Oregon Coast this summer for a two day road trip. Day 1, Day 2

Doing cartwheels on the beach - August 21, 2011

September Snapped this photo while training for my cycling adventure along the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway.

Day 1a, Day 2a , Day 2b, Day 3

McKenzie View Drive - Sept 21, 2011

October Visited my friend Amy in Washington D.C. and had the opportunity to see the new Martin Luther King Jr. Monument.

Oct. 29, 2011 - Martin Luther King Jr. Monument

November – Found the Pacific Ocean right at sunset on my road trip to Napa with #BuickTweetHouse for the Napa Valley Film Festival.

Nov 11, 2011 - California sunset

December -The weather has finally started to turn cold and dreary. Learn how to survive the winter in the PNW.

Dec 17, 2011 - The Willamette River through the fog and trees

For more photos from the year, review my Photo of the Day archives.

Happy Holidays and New Years!

Wineries Without Walls

Bringing the wandering winos of Lane County in from the cold, Wineries without Walls at the Fern Ridge Chamber of Commerce spreads holiday warmth for palate pursuers around the area.

J. Scott and Noble Wines

In a cozy tasting space with a beautiful brown and black marbled counter balanced on top of wine barrels just 15 minutes west of Eugene, the Fern Ridge chamber visitor center showcases local bounty frequently less seen. Hosting local wineries without traditional tasting rooms and other special guest wineries, the chamber is connecting the consumer to some of the area’s smaller wineries and wine makers.

I popped over to Veneta last Saturday before the big University of Oregon vs. USC football game to sample, sips of J. Scott Cellars and Noble Estate Vineyards‘ wines. Two stellar, small wine producers with drastically different tasting line ups – the samples featured some of the best varieties of the Willamette Valley including Pinot noir and some lesser known types including J. Scott’s Viognier and Roussane.

I like making wines that people don’t always taste in this area, described Jonathan Oberlander, the winemaker, when asked about his wine variety. A range that I greatly appreciated and that other visitors seemed to enjoy as well.

There is still time this season to taste some new wines before the holidays. Stop in for a sip and savor the local wonders of Oregon wine.

Upcoming Wineries without Walls Tastings at the Fern Ridge Chamber of Commerce:

November 25, 2011

  • Friday, 2-6pm
  • Grand opening and wine tour weekend. Enjoy tastes from three winemakers: Kandarian Wine Cellars, Spencer Creek Vineyard and Abbelone Vineyard

November 26, 2011

  • Saturday, 2-6pm
  • Taste Abbelone Vineyard, William Rose and Kandarian Wine Cellars

December 3, 2011

  • Saturday, 2-6pm
  • Wine tasting with 5H.

December 10, 2011

  • Saturday, 3-6pm
  • Celebration of the release of the Territorial Wine Trail map. Ribbon cutting at 4pm. Enjoy tastings by Stanton Vineyard and Kandarian Wine Cellars along with music and food.

December 17, 2011

  • Saturday, 4-6pm
  • Wine tasting with 5H.

December 23, 2011

  • Friday, 2-6pm
  • Last day the wine shop is open for the year. Taste samples of Cottonwood Winery.

Fern Ridge Chamber of Commerce – 24949 Highway 126  Veneta, OR – (541) 935-8443

Tasting Wine Older than Me: 1974 Stag's Leap, 1977 Grgich Hills, 1976 Chateau Montelena

1974 Stag’s Leap

Lifting our glasses for a toast, my heart pounded as the rich, red liquid – 14 years my elder – awaited its fateful tasting high in the air. Cameras flashed to catch the 1974 Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon’s historic opening both for its age and story, while I fidgeted with excitement and salivated for a sip.

A surreal journey, I could hardly believe I was even there and this was only one ounce of the adventure.

The trip began with a tweet. Continue reading

Buick Tweet House Road Trip: King Estate

What do you get when you invite four social media enthusiasts together for a wine road trip? – a tweeting good time.

Joining the journey south, I met the #BuickTweetHouse group for dinner Tuesday night in Eugene at King Estate. Packing in some serious social media power, the crew rolled in a tad late but in style in the burgundy, Buick Enclave that we would be driving to the Napa Film Festival over the course of the next few days.

Holding social media luminaries like Tweet House founder, Steve Broback @sbroback, wine enthusiast, Barbara Evans @SeattleWineGal, and innovative social media strategist for GM, Lisa Gilpin @lisagilpin – it was an understatement that I was nervous. But my excitement for the awaiting adventure ousted the clammy hands and trebling toes. And after a sip of King Estate’s, soft pink rose, Luminous, the conversation settled in like the comfort of friends and the trip really began for me.

Though I’ve been to King Estate a few times for food and wine, this was my first dinner at the restaurant.

Starting with a dollop sized crab cake that was flawlessly crispy on the outside and meltingly delicious within, the food and hospitality shined from first bite. Paired with the Luminous, the crab cake’s saltiness balanced well with the very light sweetness of the wine.

For dinner I enjoyed the Oregon Albacore Tuna, seared rare. It was phenomenal. The outer edges of the tuna were lightly cooked giving each bite a touch of flaky goodness and then the soft, pink inside exemplified the fresh taste of the tuna. Served over carrots and other vegetables with a rich – yet not over powering – buttery sauce, and paired with the new release, 2010 Signature Pinot noir, my entrée disappeared as if I hadn’t eaten in days.

A consensus that each dish was mouth watering worked its way around the table with the buzz of swift moving forks and deep satisfying ummms and ooohs.

To top it off, The Restaurant at King Estate, led by Executive Chef Michael Landberg, uses seasonal, organic ingredients in every dish whenever possible. Mostly grown in the estate’s organic gardens and orchards and then deliver to the crafting hands of the chefs, the food used to build King Estate’s delicious menu shows off the fantastic regional offerings and are artfully paired with the winery’s award-winning wines.

Between sips and folk shoveling of the gourmet dinner, iPhones snapped twitpics and sent exclamations to the twitterverse of the royal quality of the food and wine. Lifted like a celebratory clanking of glasses, we gave a social media cheers to King Estate.

King Estate tour