“Kargi gogo! Kargi gogo!”
If while in Georgia McKinze Cook heard this once, she must have heard it dozens of times. When frequenting their kitchens she found that Georgian women “really liked this little American girl who wanted to learn their recipes.” And in translation “kargi gogo” means, “Good girl!”
For over two years during 2010 through 2012 Cook and her husband, Sean Fredericks, served in the Peace Corps in Akhaltsikhe in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region; there they did their best “to be a part of the community,” he explained in a recent Skype interview with both of them, and were involved in a wide variety of useful projects, from “increasing AIDS awareness” to “installing a shower in a boys gym.” They also received three months of training in the Georgian language upon arrival in the country, which turned out to stand them in good stead.
But both candidly confessed that they were real chowhounds from the word go. Beneficiaries of the hospitality on which Georgia prides itself, “We ate so much,” divulged Fredericks. “We ate constantly.” And now the couple has settled in Portland, Oregon, where they have opened a food cart pod called “Kargi Gogo” devoted to the cuisine by which they themselves were so taken.
When asked how they learned their new craft, Fredericks explained that for the most part “we just hung out informally in kitchens.” But it also seemed to serve the worthy purposes of community outreach, since for Cook it was a way for her to “bond with many of the women in my life.” Increasingly, also, they sought out various expressions of Georgian food, both in their town and in their travels, comparing notes on different dishes at different restaurants as often as they could.
Why Portland? Beyond it being a fine place to live, “it must have the most dynamic food cart scene in the country, or even the world,” avowed Fredericks. He estimates four to five hundred food carts are there. “Even in our block, you can take a culinary trip around the world,” Cook added, and near their downtown location is an inviting park where diners can go for a picnic as a pleasant alternative to returning with their victuals to an office, hotel room, or home.
Though what they offer is currently unique around town, their primary challenge is to cope with “the same problems all food carts have,” said Fredericks, how to make best use of the equipment in “a very small space,” and they “purposely kept the menu small so we could execute well.” But they have found an importer of Sulguni cheese, which helps add the sought-for savor to their khachapuri. That and the khinkali are the best-sellers so far, but when it comes to food, “Portlanders are very adventurous,” and the badrijani has turned out to be “the surprise hit.” All items on the menu – which also includes lobiani and Peasant’s Salad – sell for six dollars each.
Not only “adventurous” Portlanders, though, are lining up for Kargi Gogo … there are also members of what Cook called “a small but mighty Georgian community” who come by for home cooking several times a week.Wine from Georgia is also imported to the city, though that and Kargi Gogo may not be quite enough to make the Georgian expatriates feel totally at home in their new home, since, as Cook discovered in Georgia, where “we drank a lot of homemade wine, everyone thinks his is the best.”
Still, while in Georgia, she found that sentiments of that sort only added to the country’s appeal. “Georgians take so much pride in their food,” she enthused. Time and again she heard, “This is the best khinkali you will ever have … I love that.”
What she also loves about the new venture upon which she and her husband have embarked is how they are helping, in their way, “to build a more cohesive community;” she meets someone with a connection to Georgia every day. “I can share my love for Georgia, and meet people who share that love.”
By Robert Linkous
New York, NY — Homemade Wine, an established leader in homemade wine, today announced the launch of a new website to be a portal for information on the industry. Looking for a information on homemade wine.The experts at http://www.myhomemadewine.org do it. They will find the best wine making kits Offered on this informative, convenient website are unparalleled reviews of wine making kits.
Using a simple star rating system as well as an in-depth synopsis, the included reviews entail each company’s services, price, delivery time and guarantee details. The website can be viewed at http://www.myhomemadewine.org.
As the leading online source for authentic reviews of wine making systems http://www.myhomemadewine.org believes that adding how to make wine at home information to their superb and growing inventory collection will provide both new and returning customers with a superior shopping experience when it comes to purchasing an wine making kit. Explore the reviews and deals page for homemade wine systems.. The website can be viewed at http://myhomemadewine.org.
According to Homemade Wine Director of Operations Jonaton Jeremy, the website will officially go live on April 26,2013. The website is a true resource offering the best wine making kits at the best prices.
“We are very pleased with the look, feel and usability of our new website,” said Jeremy. “We have tested our website with focus groups to ensure it is easy-to-use and provides the information our customers will expect.”
About Homemade Wine:
Founded in 2009, Homemade Wine has helped many consumers with homemade wine. The company’s mission statement is “The website is a true resource offering the best information on how to make wine at home. To learn more about Homemade Wine, you should call (516)328-7541 or visit them online at http://myhomemadewine.org.
Company: Homemade Wine
Contact: Jonathon Jeremy
Phone: (516) – 328 – 7541
Sedona’s famous red rock vistas, oak-lined creeks, ancient cliff dwellings, and breathtaking beauty beckon all types of visitors – from outdoor enthusiasts, photographers and artists, to art buyers, nature lovers, and those seeking enlightenment and wellness. What many don’t realize is that Sedona also offers an incredible culinary scene, offering a variety of cuisines, such as French, Italian, Asian, along with delectable twists on classic American, Southwestern and Mexican dishes.
Reserve a table on an outdoor patio, then enjoy an old-fashioned cowboy style steak accompanied by a prickly pear margarita. Or visit one of Sedona’s many raw, vegan and vegetarian hotspots for heart-healthy plates made of wholesome ingredients served from garden to table. A meal isn’t complete without a locally crafted Hefeweizen or a Chardonnay from the area’s vineyards. Explore your foodie personality and check out where to wine and dine in Sedona.
Visit MySedona.com to plan your trip to one of the most beautiful places in the USA.
A Private Wine Experience
Enjoy sampling local wines on the best wine tours available while you are visiting red rock country. Choose from our Northern Arizona Scenic Wine Tour, “Wine Your Way Tour”, or Bachelorette Wine Chocolate Excursion. We can even incorporate a massage and dinner to give you the ultimate tour. All tours conducted in a fully enclosed and climate controlled van. Allow us to share with you an experience of a lifetime. For more information visit SedonaRedRockAdventures.com.
Grand Canyon Railway Announces Custom Wine Label
As part of an ongoing initiative to utilize local products and materials, Grand Canyon Railway is pleased to partner with The Grand Canyon Winery to showcase a new custom wine label featuring a unique hand-drawn image of 90-year old Steam Locomotive 4960 in a Grand Canyon setting. This special Grand Canyon Railway label wine, handcrafted and bottled locally at Page Springs Cellars, will be available onboard the Train, at the Grand Depot Café and at Grand Canyon Railway gift shops in Williams, Arizona.
For more information on the Grand Canyon Railway, please visit www.TheTrain.com or call 1-800-THE-TRAIN.
Sedona Winefest: September 28-29
Sedona Winefest celebrates the wine industry of Arizona and will feature great wines from the Verde Valley, Prescott and the Southern Arizona Regions. The event is located at the Sedona Airport Vista, where patrons will marvel in the spectacular mountain scenery and delight in tasting Arizona wines, local foods and the live music throughout the day. We will also be showcasing some great artists at the Annual Juried Art Exhibition featuring original art for sale.
Visit www.SedonaWineFest.com for more information.
Unwind, Relax and Rejuvenate
The Hilton Sedona Resort Spa is the perfect home base to explore Northern Arizona Wine Country. After a day of tasting, dine in the resort’s Grille at ShadowRock sampling the delicious creations of Chef Moscato as you select a fine wine from the Grille’s extensive wine list. The resort features spacious suites with balconies or patios, microwave ovens and refrigerators, three pools, golf course and spa. Call (877) 273-3762 or visit HiltonSedonaResort.com to make a reservation.
Grape Train Escape at Verde Canyon Railroad
On select Saturday evenings May through September, Verde Canyon Railroad’s Grape Train Escape takes you on rolling wine-tasting adventures where select wineries purvey their wines which we pair with delectable appetizers. History comes alive around every bend whether you’re relaxing in the comfort of a first-class car or on an open-air viewing car enjoying the true essence of the Arizona outdoors … with a glass of wine in your hand.
Visit www.VerdeCanyonRR.com for more information.
On a balmy evening in Highland Park, diners wearing Sunday attire filled seats around a long farmhouse table downstairs at E². Through the buzz of conversation, a tattooed waiter in heavy specs and a black Bucs ballcap delivered platters that flaunted the season’s colors. Purple, green and white filled a plate of farro and lentil salad, with finely chopped radicchio and arugula. Breakfast radishes lent crunch, while asparagus punctuated the theme of spring.
5904 Bryant St., Highland Park
5336 Butler St., Lawrenceville
733 Copeland St., Shadyside
2104 E. Carson St., South Side
1113 S. Braddock Ave., Regent Square
A grilled vegetable antipasto featured crisp baby carrots, still wearing green tops. Red roasted peppers wore a sheen of olive oil. Pages of hard Taleggio paired with translucent slices of prosciutto. On another plate, braided breadsticks served as handles to dip in San Marzano tomato sauce.
These are three of seven dishes served family-style at E²’s “Sunday Sauce” held the third Sunday of each month. The event, started by chef Kate Romane last fall, costs $30 plus tax and gratuity. The 40-seat dinner already is sold-out for June and July.
People like Sunday suppers because they serve up nostalgia, often in the form of comfort foods.
In homes around Pittsburgh, this ritual is alive and well, as many residents grow up and grow old in the region, gathering at the end of the week for the family meal. That explains why the region’s restaurants are just beginning to introduce their own variations, where plates are served family-style around a single table of old friends and new ones.
And yet as the city takes on newcomers and the dining landscape diversifies, more restaurants have been opening on Sunday and Sunday supper has gained footing.
Since he opened, Justin Severino, chef-owner of Cure has orchestrated Sunday supper as part of his butchering demonstration once a month.
Stagioni on the South Side offers a 30-seat, four-course dinner for $35 the first Sunday of the month. Chef Stephen Felder introduced the monthly dinner two years ago. “The motivation for Sunday suppers is they allow for another style of service,” he said. “It’s different to plate a pork chop for a single diner as opposed to a whole loin or a salt-crusted whole fish for a crowd.” There are still seats for the June 9 dinner (held a week later this month because of a scheduling conflict).
Girasole in Shadyside hosts its annual “Cooking With Nonna” on June 9. “It’s a reminder of how your grandmother used to cook,” said owner Jimmy Gerasole. The dinner starts at 1 p.m., costs $45 and is served with wine made by his family.
Over in Regent Square, Root 174 chef Keith Fuller just started what he’s christened the “Sunday Funday Family Meal”, a six- to eight-course affair for $36 that starts at 6 p.m. The reservation-only dinner sold out in the first round in April. The second is scheduled for June 16.
Sunday suppers can be a celebration of the essence of the season.
Spring and summer were served in two acts at E², beginning with linguini primavera brightened with lemon and garlic, while dressed greens arrived as the farmer’s salad. Next came hot sausage and shrimp in a paprika-infused reduction and a hearty spring cacciatore with Taleggio polenta.
The decision to call the event “Sunday Sauce” is, of course, an Italian thing, a reference to the long-simmering tomato sauce as well as a name for the day’s meal. Although all sorts of ethnic groups embrace Sunday supper, the tradition is especially dear to Italian Americans.
Owners of Brooklyn’s Frankies Spuntino and authors of the cookbook, “The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion Cooking Manual” speak in superlatives about Sunday sauce.
“The meal, the menu, the way of life,” wrote owners Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo in the chapter on the meal. “Sunday sauce is the source and summation” of their beloved restaurant and James Beard award-winning book.
Pittsburgher Frank Ruta, now a chef at award-winning Palena, a fine-dining Italian restaurant in Washington, D.C., still practices the Sunday ritual he learned growing up in an Italian-American family.
“It’s usually a little earlier than the time we normally eat during the week, maybe like 3 or 4 in the afternoon, with some sort of appetizer, or antipasto, then pasta, then meat with salad, perhaps some cheese as well,” he wrote in an email.
“The meat is usually braised in the sauce for the pasta, but could be something separate. Dessert and coffee at the end.
“Homemade wine is just a part of the meal as anything else and there are always a few bottles on the table. Although, I must admit to opening a few other non-homemade wines to boot.”
The dinner usually takes a few hours to cook and just as long to eat.
Having not lived near my family in decades, I had grown to appreciate Sunday suppers with friends at their home in Washington, D.C. I have yet to find a comparable ritual here and miss it dearly.
Every week, my friends would kick off dinner with a seasonal cocktail. And they would offer several varietals of wine from their vast collection. Homemade pizzas, roasted meats, healthful salads and elaborate desserts marked a meal that allowed us to debrief on the week, celebrate high points and comfort through challenges — all by the time it wrapped up before 8 p.m.
On occasions when I’d cook, I often referred to Suzanne Goin’s cookbook, “Sunday Supper at Lucques.”
After breakfast, Ms. Goin wrote, her father put on an apron and began to cook, while she joined him to prep.
“Though my father usually opted for dining at fancy French restaurants, when cooking at home, he suddenly became an Italian peasant.”
The book is organized in 32 menus by season. The one that would resonate for this weekend is the fourth in the series. It begins with a fava bean puree with olives, feta and garlic toasts — a spring hummus made with a seasonal cult favorite.
This course gives way to a crab salad with avocado, beets, creme fraiche and lime, as well as a saffron chicken entree with spring onions and sugar snaps. The meal finishes with coffee and a tarte au fromage, served with lemon cream and blueberry compote.
Printed in 2005, “Sunday Suppers” is part of a genre that illuminates the return of family meals, especially those at or inspired by restaurants.
This year alone produced “Come in, We’re Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World’s Best Restaurants,” and “Family Table: From Our Restaurant to Your Home.” In 2011, Modernist chef wrote the popular “The Family Meal: Home Cooking With Ferran Adria.”
These books illuminate family-style dinners of elevated ingredients, shared with kin and friends who might as well be family.
At the end of the meal at E², Ms. Romane came out in her black chef coat and chatted with a small group about life at Churchview Farm in Baldwin Borough, where she lives.
She told elaborate tales of raccoons and fox lurking near her chickens and why she leaves her partner to the task of protecting the food.
In the meantime, Ms. Romane sticks to cooking.
“Thank you so much, Kate,” said a diner as he left. She turned to accept his compliment.
“It was really delicious,” the diner said. “Tastes like home.”
WD 555 might sound like the name of a Star Wars robot, but it’s actually a welcoming wine shop and bistro off the beaten track on South Beach.
Sit at a wine-barrel table in the industrial-chic warehouse space or on the shaded patio, where a garden is planted with grape vines, basil and tomatoes. The menu offers tapas, charcuterie platters and grilled meats and seafood, and wood racks hold wines from Europe, the United States, Chile, Argentina and Australia.
Wine buyer Emmanuel Pelletier grew up in Paris. His parents were from Normandy, where his grandfather made Calvados, and at 17 he went to Saint-Emilion in Bordeaux to learn how to make wine. He worked for Club Med as a food and beverage director and chef in more than 30 countries. At WD 555, he specializes in rosé wines from Provence. Like South Florida, the south of France has a warm climate where a chilled glass of bone-dry rosé is always welcome.
Rosé is made from red grapes, but freshly pressed grape juice has contact with the grape skins for only a day or two, preserving its pink color. These young, peachy-pink wines go well with WD 555 menu items such as seared scallops on celery root remoulade with pistachios.
Crisp Chateau Maime rosé from the heart of Provence is especially good with spicy merguez sausage, tiger shrimp in saffron citrus butter and grilled Portuguese octopus. It also stands up to duck rillettes, fried halloumi cheese and Puy lentil salad with feta, artichoke, radish and orange. Thin apple tart with vanilla ice cream ends an interlude in paradise.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who blogs at FoodIndiaCook.com.
Uncork. Keith Crowell and Matthew Purdon (right),
partners in Les Voleurs winery, will share a sip of
their wines at the local Garden Tour May 11. Many of
their varietals were bottled by the Wine Thieves, a club
they started in Purdon’s garage. Photo
by Pamela Gerard
Building community around the
seasons and a fine craft—that’s what set friends Matthew
Purdon and Keith Crowell on their path to founding a Noe
Valley winemaking club, the Wine Thieves. In turn, the club
was the springboard for their own urban winery, Les Voleurs.
Crowell and Purdon met in
2006, while working at a social networking company for teens
called Piczo, which has since been absorbed by another
company. Their desks were next to each other, and they soon
discovered a common passion for two things—building what
Crowell calls “micro-community” and making alcoholic
“I’d been making beer for
years, and I wanted to learn how to make wine,” Crowell, 39,
“And I’d been making wine at
home for a couple of years,” Purdon, 41, adds. “I wanted to
try to expand and make a few barrels of wine.”
They decided to partner up on
this adventure in libation creation, and soon invited people
to join them in learning about the winemaking process.
Flash-forward seven years, and the Wine Thieves boasts more
than 100 members. The club meets about once a month to learn
about winemaking or do a wine-tasting, often in Purdon’s
Jersey Street garage or garden. Crowell lives out in the
Richmond District with his dog, “but I’m over here all the
time,” he says. He also makes sake.
“The name of the club comes
from the device that’s used to pull wine from a barrel,”
Purdon says. “It’s a pipette, and it’s called a wine thief. We
thought that was fun. We also take trips—sneaking up to Sonoma
to grab grapes at five in the morning, and most of our
meetings are in my garage, so there’s that sense of it being
an underground movement.”
“It feels like we’re getting
away with something,” Crowell says. “We’re bucking the system
with our micro-community, and now our local micro-business,
Les Voleurs. Lots of great wineries have been consolidated, so
about 50 percent are owned by three companies,” he says.
An Escape from Screens
Getting out into nature was
important for the club’s cofounders, who both still work in
social media. “We felt out of balance,” Crowell says. “We’re
doing a lot of stuff online every day, and not doing things in
the real world. The club brings back balance and ties
community to nature’s cycle.”
Winemaking is fixed to the
seasons—the fall harvest, the aging of the wine in winter, and
the bottling of the wine in spring. Though their cellar is in
the city, the club takes field trips to Sonoma to see
vineyards and pick grapes. This past year, the club picked
zinfandel grapes from Unti Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley.
They’ve also acquired cabernet grapes for several years from
Stonetree Vineyards in Glen Ellen.
“Winemaking is really
physical,” Purdon says. Using the tools of the trade—a hand
crusher for the grapes, a hand basket press to extract the
liquid, and a corker when it comes time to bottle the
wine—members of the winemaking club all get a chance to be a
part of the process. “Everyone puts a little muscle into it.”
The club’s annual haul has been about three barrels of wine.
In addition to the winemaking
skills, members get to take home bottles of the wine they’ve
made themselves. (Membership dues change each year, so if
interested, contact the club.)
Raze, Crave and Amaze
The bottles’ labels are
designed by Chuck Whelon, a San Francisco illustrator, and
depict the silhouette of a figure running away with a
bottle…like a thief. The wines have fun names—Crave
Chardonnay, Amaze Zinfandel, Misbehave Sangiovese, Raze Rosé
of Zin, and Praise Pinot Noir.
Naturally, Crowell and Purdon
started talking about taking their interest in winemaking to
the next level. Their wines had won awards at the Marin County
Fair and the California State Fair, and their underground club
had become so popular that people were asking where they could
buy some of the wine it produced. They got advice from
winemakers, who all said the same thing: “We wish we had
started our business earlier.”
“We were coming back from
Sonoma with a U-Haul full of grapes, and we decided, let’s not
wait. Let’s start now,” Crowell says.
“It took a year to get the
paperwork done,” Purdon adds. But the results were worth it.
They chose the name Les Voleurs—French for “the thieves”—and
became a bonded, licensed urban winery. Their facilities are
on Bluxome Street in Mission Bay. For now, the label produces
two wines—a pinot noir ($32) and a chardonnay ($22).
“We want to get really good at
making these wines before we try anything else,” Purdon says.
“We use the club to experiment.” He and Crowell are partners
in the winery and continue to head up the club.
Tasting at Garden Tour
Want to get a sip of this
underground wine? The Thieves will be taking part in the Noe
Valley Garden Tour on May 11, sponsored by the Friends of Noe
Valley. Participants can see Purdon’s Jersey Street garden,
which he tends with his wife Liz and new baby girl Olympia.
Those 21 and over will get a glass of wine to sip. They will
also take part in the Noe Valley Wine Walk (next one is in
August), offering wine tastings at Just for Fun
on 24th Street.
To find out more about the
Wine Thieves club, visit the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/winethieves.
For more on Les Voleurs, go to http://www.lesvoleurswines.com/.
To get tickets for the Garden Tour, visit www.friendsofnoevalley.com.
Crowell and Matthew Purdon and the members of their
popular club, the Wine Thieves, enjoy pressing the
grapes, filling the bottles, and packaging the wines
themselves, often in Purdon’s garage on Jersey Street.
They also like tasting the fruit of their labor.
Photo by Pamela Gerard
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More and more states are producing wines, but Oregon’s industry is unsurpassed for quality. Yet sometimes it’s easy to take such abundance for granted when it’s in your own backyard. Don’t let that happen to you. May is Oregon Wine Month, which culminates in the Memorial Day weekend celebration at many of the state’s 450-plus wineries. Many of these wineries are open only two or three times a year, or by appointment, so don’t let this opportunity slip away without sampling a little of what makes Oregon so special.
Use our maps of the state’s key wine regions and AVAs (American Viticulture Areas) to help select an area to visit (note that it’s hard to enjoy more than five wineries in one day), and then check with each winery to make sure it will be open during the hours you want to visit. Our list of websites for each region or AVA will help you connect with each winery.
The curious as well as the thirsty should also consider taking one of the in-depth winery tours described by The Oregonian’s travel writer, Terry Richard.
Also in this issue, Katherine Cole, who writes the Wine Notes column for The Oregonian, profiles a winery that was crushed by the recession only to be reborn as a co-op for several winemakers.
And don’t miss Oregonian staff writer Dana Tims’ profile of Oregon’s newest AVA (its 17th), Elkton, located in the Umpqua Valley. While southern Oregon is known for its warmer weather, the Elkton AVA is able to grow cool climate varieties such as pinot noir, pinot gris and gew£rztraminer.
Grant Butler returns with his indispensable snapshots of wine country restaurants, because wine tasters shouldn’t taste on an empty stomach.
This year we’ve also included a map of 13 wineries in Washington state’s Clark County, which is closer to Portland than several Oregon wine regions.
Finally, once you’ve made your grand tour, we invite you to go to oregonlive.com/wine to vote for the winery with the best view. This year’s poll brings together the top 12 finishers from the past two years, when more than 6,000 votes were cast after stories were published in The Oregonian.
Have a taste of what Pennsylvania has to offer at the Mount Hope Estate and Winery.
But what would a huge selection of free wine be without entertainment to go along with it? Chefs and food experts will be presenting cooking demonstrations, entertainment venues will have booths prepared with info, and music performances will be presented throughout the two-day event.
There will also be craft vendors set up with wares for sale and display. And the wine selection gets even better with the addition of the 2013 Homemade Wine Competition. For details on all of the events and vendors, visit the Great PA FlavorFest website.
IF YOU GO
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There’s a better way than elbowing for space at the wine tasting bar.
Do your tasting in the vineyard.
That’s what Sokol Blosser Winery in the Dundee Hills offers during its vineyard hikes.
You won’t be going on a scavenger hunt, because the tour leader knows where she has stashed the wine, but it is quite refreshing to discover an insulated case containing pinot noir and glasses to pour it in.
A chorus of “salud” never went down so well.
A hike in a vineyard is one of many ways to experience Northwest wine beyond the tasting room.
Some wineries give free behind-the-scenes tours to show their rows of stainless steel tanks and oak barrels stacked to the ceiling. Others sell guided tours, including Sokol Blosser, to better educate and entertain an increasingly sophisticated clientele. And some are small enough that the owners can talk about the wine business with people who buy their wines.
Come along for some tours:
Sokol Blosser: The vineyard hike shouldn’t leave you sweating, but it does cover 400 feet of elevation in one of Oregon’s most beautiful landscapes, the Dundee Hills. The hills are pretty much off limits to other off-pavement foot traffic because of private ownership and intense cultivation.
The hike begins in the winery tasting room, which as of July will be brand new. Sokol Blosser is one of Oregon’s long-established wineries, with a first planting in 1971 and the opening of a tasting room in 1978. It’s a very busy and popular place.
As the vineyard hike begins, that day’s tour leader, Elise Kubisiak, looks at the shoes group members are wearing and issues a warning (“You will be drinking and there are gopher holes”), then leads the way into the vineyard. But don’t worry, she says, “No one has been lost or injured and no one run over by the tractor.”
With that, everyone is ready for an adventure among the grapes.
She leads the way to the high point of the vineyard, while explaining the importance of the red clay loam soil, named “Jory” for a pioneer family. It’s the official state soil.
“It’s unique to parts of the Willamette Valley,” she says. “It’s not especially fertile. It makes the vines struggle, but that builds character, just like people who have lived hard lives have more stories to tell.”
Then she finds one of the insulated cases and proceeds to pour tastes of 2010 Dundee Hills pinot noir, which was “just released today.”
The tour continues pretty much in that vein, with a side trip to sample olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salts from around the world at neighboring Red Ridge Farms. The tour ends in a shady outdoor picnic area with a catered lunch — wine included.
The winery also has a schedule of ATV vineyard tours and shorter walking tours. The vineyard hikes cost $75 for non-wine club members. Check the schedule and register in advance at 503-864-2282, ext. 10, or sokolblosser.com.
Domaine Serene: Another of the major wineries of the Dundee Hills, Domaine Serene offers tours and tastings to small groups. Cost is $35 per person for the Estate Tasting, or $50 for the Exquisite Oregon Wines Experience.
To begin the latter tour, Lucas Willett leads the way to the vineyard while explaining the challenges a winery faces.
“In 2010 we were slammed by migrating birds,” he said. “We installed tape on rows, shadow hawks, air cannons and had people riding the vineyard in ATVs. We were more ready in 2011, but the birds never came. Every year is a different circumstance in the vineyard.”
Inside the five-story winery, he explains how a gravity-flow system is used to move the juice through the process with a minimum of pumping. Oregon’s signature pinot noir grape has a reputation for being sensitive to excessive movement.
The tour moves past the destemmer, then the vacuum that removes insects and unwanted debris from grape clusters. The barrel room is stacked with $1,500 French oak barrels, which are used for three years and then sold for $50 as planters or outdoor decorations.
The tour winds up with a tasting of four wines, including the winery’s signature Yamhill cuvée pinot noir, accompanied by local cheeses. Lunch can be catered for an extra charge; 503-864-4600, domaineserene.com.
King Estate: The free 45-minute walking tour of this winery, largest producer in Oregon and located southwest of Eugene, is as much about organic farming as about its annual production of 200,000 cases. The estate grows or processes much of the food served in its busy restaurant.
The tour shows off dozens of 38,000-gallon stainless steel tanks where the winery’s signature pinot gris is made. The estate lays claim as the largest producer of that premium white varietal in the world.
Red wines are aged in as many as 3,000 oak barrels, one of the largest collections in the state. Tours leave on the hour from noon to 5 p.m. The grounds around the winery are also lovely for strolling; 541-942-9874, kingestate.com.
Harris Bridge: This tiny winery west of Corvallis has a limited output of 150 cases of dessert wine a year, so what would there be to show on a tour? Owners Nathan Warren and Amanda Sever share stories of the pioneer history of their valley (Warren grew up nearby) and walk with visitors to the Marys River and a covered bridge.
The bucolic setting is one of the most pleasant (at least on a nice day) in Oregon wine country. If you’re lucky, a four-car train from Toledo to Corvallis may even toot its horn as it passes; 541-929-3053, harrisbridgevineyard.com.
Columbia Crest: Weekends have free guided tours at this, the largest producer of wine in the Pacific Northwest. The scale of this winery, located in the Horse Heaven Hills near Paterson, Wash., is mind-boggling compared to anything in Oregon. The footprint of the production facility covers 21 acres. During harvest, trucks filled with grapes arrive around the clock for days on end.
Stainless steel tanks seem to go on forever, while another room contains thousands of oak barrels with chardonnay that gets hand stirred once a week. The tour guide explains petit chai, a French term that translates as “little barrel room,” meaning a small winery where premium wines are made within the much larger winery.
The tasting room and wine store are in a French-style chateau that has an intimate feel but can offer more space when tour buses arrive. Self-guided tours are available daily; 888-309-9463, columbiacrest.com.
Chateau Ste. Michelle: The flagship in a wine empire that includes Columbia Crest, this winery in Woodinville, Wash., has been the top wine tour destination in the Northwest since it opened in 1976. In addition to the winery, there is a summer concert venue that accommodates 4,300.
Free tours of the production facility are offered daily, reservations not required. A number of other special tours and tastings are available for a fee.
The tour guide explains that the chateau is the largest producer of riesling in the world. With its estate partners, which include six of the seven largest wineries in Washington, the Ste. Michelle team is the seventh-largest winemaker in the country.
The 30-minute tour of the production facility winds up in the tasting room, where samples of muscat canelli, Eroica riesling and Cold Creek chardonnay (or similar) are free; 425-488-1133, ste-michelle.com.
To see a photo gallery and videos, go to oregonlive.com/wine.
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