idaho winery

The New Frontier of American Wine

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PICTURE BREATHTAKING RIVER VALLEYS and rolling hillsides rich with ancient but fertile volcanic soil, the type of soil that results in wines of remarkable character and exceptional quality. There’s only a few places in the U.S. with soil like that, and one of them is Idaho.

Understandably, wine grapes probably aren’t your first thought when thinking about a state known for growing potatoes. However, in addition to lush, volcanic sediment that’s chock-full of minerals, Idaho enjoys temperate weather, abundant sunshine and plentiful water?all things perfect for vinifera. For information about Idaho wineries, and specifically where to visit, read the full article on NW Travel & Life magazine, here.

san juan island winery

It’s Time to Savor the San Juans – #savorthesanjuans

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I know it’s not fall yet, but it’s never too early to plan. And if you can’t go this fall, you must put the San Juans on your radar for a future visit.

Bigger and better than ever, the 10th Annual Savor the San Juans is a delicious medley of food, farms, and film. From September 22nd – November 11th, 2017, visitors can taste the food and farm culture of Lopez, Orcas and San Juan Islands.

Beer, barns, and bikes! The gourmet archipelago celebrates a decade of great food, local farms, and independent filmmaking. Savor the San Juans is ten years old this year, and has grown to encompass three film festivals, farm tours, two vineyard harvest events, harvest dinners and much more. Savor is a great way to ease into a slower time of year, while indulging in the food, spirits, music, and natural beauty of Orcas, Lopez and San Juan Islands. Sample the artistry of chefs like Food & Wine Best New Chef Jay Blackinton on Orcas or Nick Coffey at Ursa Minor on Lopez.

Take advantage of lodging, dining and transportation specials to affordably savor farm tours, demonstrations and workshops on Lopez, Orcas and San Juan Islands during harvest season. More farmers than ever are offering visitors the chance to open the barn door to see behind the scenes at some of the islands’ most beautiful farms, creameries, wineries, flower gardens, shellfish farms and more. Taste Island Grown foods and wine, beer, cider and spirits, during a selection of farm-to-table dinners by local chefs.

Events:

  • Join the Orcas Island Historical Museum for an unforgettable Heritage Harvest Feast at Red Rabbit Farm on September 30th. Bowls and platters will be filled with the best items from the bounty of the fall harvest by James Beard Award-winning chef Christina Orchid, and all proceeds go to supporting the ongoing stewardship of island history at the Historical Museum in Eastsound. ? •
  • TEDxSanJuanIsland returns for it’s 3rd year, striving to create a community where conversations about diverse ideas that inspire others to make a difference. This year’s theme is “What’s Next,” and will include a diverse lineup of speakers on a range of emerging issues.
  • The San Juan Lions Foundation in Friday Harbor will sponsor the 1st Annual Friday Harbor Bike-n-Brew on September 23rd. This event will bring together visitors with islanders on a fun biking tour followed by an evening of relaxing and local island and Northwest microbrew-tasting.
  • All three islands will hold special all-day Farm Tours that include activities such as sheep shearing demonstrations, a fermentation workshop, cider pressing and great snacks such as Orcas pear and fresh chevre sampling and goodies from an outdoor wood-fired baking house. The Orcas Island Farm Tour will be October 1st, San Juan October 8th, and Lopez October 15th.

Pack your spirit of adventure and discover a moveable feast for the senses. For more details and a complete list of events, visit www.visitsanjuans.com/savor

Twitter: @visitSJIslands
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#savorthesanjuans

Battle Ground: Off the Beaten Wine Path

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Over the River and Through the Woods?

It?s true, I can be something of a wine snob. And a food snob, and a beer snob, and a coffee snob, and a music snob? I?m not proud, but at least I’m honest. What I am a sucker for though is high quality. So, when a good friend asked me where in Washington I was going wine tasting, my reply was Camas? Vancouver? I don?t know, it?s all the same, right? And in my narrow Portland bubble mind, if it wasn?t Eastern Washington or the Columbia Gorge, and I had to cross the Columbia River, it was all the same to me. That was until I visited SW Washington area for myself and discovered the rich tapestry of vineyards and burgeoning wine community in the rolling foothills around Battle Ground, Washington.

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Three Brothers Vineyard and Winery (Ridgefield)
You are immediately welcomed by the sounds of the cows mooing and the geese honking. As the farm country setting begins to soothe your weary city bones, you become acutely aware of how time seems to have slowed down from the moment you arrive. This family-friendly winery, with summer concert series and picnic grounds, is open for tasting Fri-Sun. Owner Dan Anderson, who has 25 acres planted, and grows six different types of grapes admits, ?The soil in SW Washington is just lousy enough for growing grapes.? And if you think about the rocky soil in parts of France and the caliber of wines produced there, you understand. With production ranging from 2000-3000 cases, depending on the vintage, guests will find something for everyone including sweet and vibrant whites to the boldest reds.

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Bethany Vineyards & Winery (Ridgefield)
Combine winemaker tradition with the ideal climate of SW Washington and what do you get? You get Bethany Vineyards and Winery. Owned by Walt Houser, who?s affectionately known as the grandfather of wine in Clark County, Bethany is situated on an 80-acre estate, half of which is planted to vine. Planted in 1999, Houser is now growing 10 varieties of vinifera, including Pinot Noir cuttings provided by Mo Momatzi of Oregon?s presitigious Maysara Vineyard. Bethany is experimenting with grapes not typically found in this area but well-suited for the climate, like Zwiegelt, an Austrian high-yield variety tasting of cherries, pepper, and currants. The stunning grounds, which include the vineyards, a lake, and an outdoor pavilion space crafted using mortise and tenon joint (and not a single nail), is the perfect spot to purchase lunch from the onsite caterer, buy a bottle of wine, and while away the day.

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Dolio Winery?(Battle Ground)
Dolio which is latin for ?barrel? is a great name for a winery that focuses on offering the five esstential Italian wines in one place; Sangiovese, Barbera, Dolcetto, Primativo, and Nebbiolo. And because whites do so well in Washington, they also produce Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Gruner Veltliner. Less than one acre of the five-acre estate is planted (with cuttings from Bethany Vineyards), sp owners Don and Pam Klase (who were actually high school sweethearts) buy 90% of what they produce from Benton City and the tri-cities, Washington. The Klases produced their first commercial vintage in 2013 and just opened their tasting room in 2015. Don will tell you he makes the wine he likes to drink. And much like this saying on the tasting room menu ?Wine, because no good story started with a salad?, Don and Pam will happily share stories with you all day long.

Olequa Cellars?(Battle Ground)
If you?re looking for unpretentious, I?ve got just the place. Olequa Winery (named for the type of soil the vineyard is situated on) is a small family run winery located due north of Main Street in Battle Ground. With a small tasting room adjacent to the owner?s home, it?s like tasting wine in the winemaker?s backyard. The dog, the kid, and the wife act as an informal greeting committee. Owner/winemaker/vineyard manager Brian Tansy is a chemist in the real world, bringing his scientific approach into the vineyard and cellar. The estate is planted to Marechal Foch, which is right in line with Tansy?s desires to work with more unusual grapes. Expect to taste wines like Cayuga, a crisp and citrusy food wine made from the French/American hybrid grown in Woodland Washington that Tansy finds to be high yield and settles well in the cellar. He also makes a delightful Ros? of Grenache/Mouvedre, Gr?ner Veltliner, Pinot Noir, Viognier, Chardonnay, and Dry Riesling, but beg him to taste the 2015 Gewurtraminer, if he has any left. Its captivating and hypnotic aromas of apricot, peach, and grapefruit will win every inch of you over.

Rusty Grape Vineyards?(Battle Ground)
A visit to Rusty Grape, the closest winery to Battle Ground, feels a bit like you?re a cool teenager hanging in your parent?s basement. It?s a little rough around the edges, but its homestyle atmosphere is welcoming to all and will immediately put you at ease. Owners Jeremy and Heather Brown have gone to great lengths to convert a former horse barn into a community gathering place where the whole family is welcome (kids included). And it?s the only winery in the county that?s open 7 days a week. With a large deck, community events, and daily food specials?like Mac n Cheese Monday, Taco Pizza Tuesday, and free pizza for wine club members on Sunday?it seems like there?s always something going on, and easy to see why they were Voted best of Clark County for six years running. Rumor has it they?re getting ready to remodel, building a separated designated tasting space and community areas. The Sailers have 2 acres of Pinot Noir planted at the winery, but source most of the grapes for their wines from Waving Tree Vineyard in the Gorge, as well as Prosser and Yakima, Washington. No visit to Battle Ground is complete with a visit to Rusty Grape. Fill your hungry bellies with scrumptious thin crust, wood-fired pizza and a tasty bottle Patina?s Recession Red or Rusty Grape Cider. Leave your inner wine snob behind, you?ll be glad you did.

Click here to read?more about the memorable wineries along the SW Washington Wine Trail.

moulton falls cider

The SW Washington Wine Loop?Not Just For Locals Anymore

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The locals might hate me for letting their best kept secrets out, but I just can’t keep this?to myself any longer! Poised at the precipice of Washington?s rugged Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Mount St. Helens wilderness area lies an unlikely and emerging wine region. Scattered throughout the land and separated by rushing rivers, whimsical (and sometimes whopping) waterfalls, wild woods, and an abundance of hallowed hiking trails, lies the unassuming expanse of the SW Washington wine region.

From Vancouver to Camas, and Ridgefield to Battle Ground, the expanse includes urban wineries, suburban wineries, and those situated off the well-beaten mountain path. These wineries are all modest, down-to-earth, and completely unpretentious, so don?t be expecting palatial Napa estates. But don?t let the wineries? humble nature fool you, the wines speak for themselves, appropriately and with pride.

First stop (or last, your call)? sustenance. Whether it?s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, a visit to the neighborhood Mill Creek Pub in Battle Ground will fill your body with hearty good food. Guests should expect a broad menu that supports local farms, breweries and distilleries, and consists of salads, pasta dishes, chef crafted burgers, and plenty of healthy vegetable-centered options. Yes, plant-based foods can be the star of the plate! The motto: Sustainable foods that are good for you, good for local business, and good for the earth. Insider tip: The weekend Bloody Mary bar is practically a meal in and of itself (with just about every hot sauce you can imagine)!

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The wineries await?

Heisen House Vineyards ? It?s like the little winery that could. Located on the magnificent historic 15-acre Heisen homestead, the winery is the past and the future of the land, all rolled up into one. The history of the estate is astounding. Built in 1866, the home and land had all but succumbed to the area?s encroaching blackberries. Owner Michele Bloomquist, who considers herself a historic preservationist first (though she?s also a winery owner, winemaker, and mother), saw the beauty and potential of the estate, and was inspired to rescue it from disrepair and the bramble that was swallowing it whole. She jokingly calls it a MacGyver winery, making wine with rocks and a couple of sticks, though you?d never guess that when you taste them.

Bloomquist?living in harmony with nature?makes wines by instinct and intuition, with a focus on natural winemaking and sustainability, minimal chemical intervention, and without the use of harmful pesticides. Which all boils down to the simple fact that you can feel good about the wine in your glass. Enjoy beautifully refreshing white wines, like Dry Muscat and Sauvignon Blanc, and swoon over the absolutely tantalizing reds, including Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon in the casual and comfortable tasting room. Your visit won?t be complete without a little conversation with the enthusiastic and friendly turkeys (Henry VIII and his two merry wives), and if you?re lucky, you?ll spot the elusive barn owl that resides in the lofty 100-year-old barn (one of the oldest in the county!). Bloomquist is a dreamer, and we should thank her for her vision. She?ll be the first to tell you that Napa started with a bunch of crazy dreamers too.

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Pomeroy Cellars ? Nestled in the enchanting Lucia Valley, along the Lewis River in Yacolt just beyond Battleground, experience a slice of the region?s history on this historic 100+ year old farm on a 677-acre estate (mostly used for cattle, hay, and timberland). Featuring an interactive living museum that depicts farm life prior to modern inventions like electricity, several times a year, children can experience what it was like to live in the early 20th century.

Winemaker Dan Brink crafts big red wines sourcing fruit from both the estate as well as prestigious vineyards like DuBrul in the Yakima Valley. Enjoy the well-balanced wines in the Brink?s grandparents? parlor, inspired by the 1920?s and featuring antiques from that time period. Though the family has a long history making fruit wines, Brink admittedly has no formal wine education. He says he?s driven more by artistry, experimentation, and experience. The family invites guests to bring their own picnics and enjoy them on the grounds during the warmer season.

Moulton Falls Winery and Cider House is situated on a pastoral setting in Yacolt. The spacious rustic barn is laden with wood and features antlers of all kinds. Big Jake the Cascade Mountain Dog will warmly welcome you to the family-friendly space that?s warmed by a classic potbelly stove and comfortable seating areas. Kids and grownups alike will enjoy the woodfired pizzas, music events (Friday and Saturday nights), expansive grounds, country setting, deer, elk, and even eagles. In fact, it?s become something of a neighborhood gathering place.

Owners Joe and Susan Milea started the winery on a whim (or was it a bet), and now source all the fruit for their wines from Red Mountain in eastern Washington. Wine highlights include: Big Jake Chenin Blanc, a Lemberger, a wine with an almost cult following from Kiona Vineyard, and Syrah and Sangiovese blend called Siouxon Red. And for those who aren?t interested in wine and offering something to appeal to everyone, Moulton Falls makes some damn tasty handcrafted ciders. Hang out long enough to learn the meaning of ?Yacolt? and the ancient stories of Ghost Valley.

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Instead of blowing through town on your way to or from the mountain, plan to stay for the day, or even a weekend, because there is plenty to see, taste, and explore. Recreational activities aside (because that?s a whole other article), there?s an abundance of boutique wineries (the small, laid-back kind where the winemaker is waiting behind the bar to tell you stories about the history of the county and about the wines), home-style restaurants, and craft breweries that make the area ideal for foodies, winos, as well as cider and beer hounds. Especially those who enjoy the?less touristy and under-explored areas. Squeeze in a few of those picturesque waterfalls to your agenda, and it?s a feast for all the senses.

If you really want to have some fun and let loose a little, bring some friends, rent a limo from Silver Limousine, and tour the area in style! And when you?re ready to call it a day, check into the unexpectedly charming Best Western Plus in downtown Battle ground. The comfortable, large, themed suites (I stayed in the Log Cabin Suite) give you a delightful place to call home while you see and do everything there is to see and do in SW Washington. So, don?t be afraid. Go on, cross the river, discover the undiscovered, and see what treasures await you. You?ll surely return again soon.

For more hidden gems along?the soon to be well-known?SW Washington wine region, click here!

Domaine Divio: A Touch of Burgundy in the Willamette Valley

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Nestled on a pastoral hillside in the prestigious Ribbon Ridge AVA of Oregon?s Willamette Valley, lies Domaine Divio, a quaint little farm-style tasting room sharing exceptional wines and the stories behind them.

barndoorsShe wanted the doors, he wanted the fireplace, so they designed everything around those elements.

It might look like a large wooden barn, as it blends seamlessly into into serene surroundings, but inside, you?ll find composed grandeur in the heavy wooden barn doors that open to bring the outside in, the high ceilings with extensive windows inviting in the sunlight, and the massive stone fireplace to welcome guests with its cozy warmth.

barStep up to the apothecary-style bar and let the owner winemaker Bruno Corneaux pour you tastings of his superbly made wines. Bruno?s philosophy for making Domaine Divio wines is done in the style he learned growing up in France. He is passionate about growing his grapes biodynamically, making small production wines that are true to his 4th generation French winemaking roots, and crafting his pinot noir and chardonnay with as little intervention as possible.

Bruno speaks lovingly about his little 23-acre spot on Ribbon Ridge. He appreciates the recognizable marine sediment in the soil and the spicy flavors it gives the wines grown there. Though his estate is currently planted to 12 acres of pinot noir and chardonnay, until the grapes are ready for wine production, he?s sourcing fruit from neighboring regions, including the Dundee Hills, Chehalem Mountains and Eola Amity AVAs. And tasting these all side-by-side is a great opportunity to learn about the different areas and what impact the varying soil types and conditions have on those wines. You may consider it an important lesson in terrior. According to Bruno, ?he wants to make sure that the fruit is giving him what the soil is all about.?

The wines are flawless and captivating, but it?s Bruno?s passion and generous hospitality, telling stories in his charming French accent of his heritage, growing up in Beaune France, and how he met his lovely wife Isabelle in Dijon where he studied that will ultimately connect you. You?ll understand how the name Divio, which is the Roman name for the town of Dijon, and the congruence of all their experience has become an icon for their brand. Even the logo is modeled after the handcrafted painted roof tiles from Dijon. Ask them the stories for yourself. They?ll wax poetic about France, about wine and you?ll feel like a part of it all.

chard2013 Willamette Valley Chardonnay ? With a mere 25 cases of this heavenly wine in existence, I suggest you make your visit soon. Showing classic citrus with flinty minerality, and caramel notes without being buttery, it?s bright and brilliant acidity is focused and laser sharp. Its versatility makes it perfect with a variety of dishes such as butter leaf salads, crab, corn, and risotto.

2012 Pinot Noir Dundee Hills ? Cherry, raspberry, moist earth, dried herbs and milk chocolate notes emanate from the glass. It?s elegant and light in color, with both clarity and finesse. Sourced from Thistle Vineyard (ask Bruno to say this just for fun ;).

2012 Pinot Noir Eola Amity Hills ? You?ll be lured in by dark berries, baking chocolate, violet, and white pepper. Far from simple, the structure and complexity of this wine will continue to evolve for years.

2013 Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountain ? One of the earlier ripening areas in the Valley, this wine is full of red currant, ripe strawberry jam and juicy but tart cherry flavors complemented by steely minerality and earthy components.

 

winery view tastingroom

 

Get Your Calendars Ready: Announcing the 2016 “Dinner in the Field” Events Schedule!

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If you?re anything like me, you?re already thinking about summer. A time of the year when?long summer days seem to go on forever, and evenings are filled with dinners that encapsulate all the flavors of the season, exciting your senses with every flavor. We?share time with friends and family lingering into the colorful sunset with glasses of wine in hand and conversation and the memories of dinner drifting into the air, as the warmth of that connection matches the warmth of the sun on your backs.

It may just be February, and the days still cold and dreary gray, but it?s never too early to be thinking about the bounty of the upcoming summer. In fact, all the more reason. And since Field and Vine Events just released their 2016 Dinner in the Field schedule, it?s?just the right time?to be planning for it. Check out this list of?amazing events from Spring through Winter, that include some of the Willamette Valley?s best farms, wineries, breweries and cideries, and get your planning underway. There?s certainly so much to look forward to.

April 12th ?-SE Wine Collective with Pitch Dark Chocolate
May 14th ??Kestrel Barn with Owen Roe
May 21st ??Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm & Vineyard w/Portland Cider Company
June 4th ?-AlexEli Vineyards with Portland Creamery
June 11th ??St Josef?s Estate Vineyard & Winery
June 18th ??King?s Raven Winery
June 26th ??Pete?s Mountain Vineyards
July 9th ??Stoller Family Estate with Chef Jaco Smith of Lechon Restaurant
July 16th ?-WillaKenzie Estate w/Goldin Artisan Creamery
July 23rd ??Lange Estate Winery with Portland Creamery
July 30th ? Lee Farms with Methven Family Vineyards
August 6th ? Christopher Bridge Winery
August 13th ? Fiala Farms with Erath Winery
August 20th ? Beckham Estate Vineyards
August 28th ? Rare Plant Research Center and Villa Catalana Cellars
September 3rd ? Fir Point Farms with Ecliptic Brewery and Ribera Wines
September 10th ? Terra Vina Wines
September 18th ? Alpacas at Marquam Hill Ranch with AlexEli Vineyards
September 24th ? Ardiri Winery & Vineyards
October 22nd ? Stoller Family Estate
November 5th ? Rosse Posse Elk Farm and Forest Edge Vineyard
December 3rd ? Dobbes Family Estate
December 1oth ? WillaKenzie Estate

For more information, and to purchase your tickets, visit their website here.

Chaberton Siegerrebe?Don’t Say it, Just Drink it.

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chabertonIf you thought gewerztraminer was hard to pronounce, try siegerrebe. Pronounced zee-ga-rey-buh, it literally means ?victory vine? in German. Siegerrebe is the result of cross breeding between Madeleine Angevine and Gewurztraminer in the early 1900s. So, kind of a victory. Today, it is grown throughout Germany, Washington State, and British Columbia. Maybe that’s the real victory.

Siegerrebe is a delicate and aromatic grape best suited to cool climates. Though the grapes are blush colored, the pressed juice runs clear and bright. Bud break comes late and the sweet smelling fruit ripens early, making it vulnerable to birds and pests. Highly aromatic, similar to Muscat and Gewerztraminer, the finished wines tend to be lower in acidity and alcohol and have historically been used in blended white wines. Fortunately, despite this wine not being particularly well known for high quality fruit, there is an emerging trend (perhaps from wine lovers seeking something a bit different) in producing the varietally pure versions.

I remember tasting Siegerrebe for the first time many years ago at Purple Cow in Oregon and being completely dumbfounded by the sweet nose and then the bone dry wine in my mouth. Sadly, I don?t think they are still producing it. Since my visit to the Fraser Valley in British Columbia early this year, Siegerrebe has become a personal favorite of mine.

Siegerrebe might trick you into falling in love with its austere and elegant appearance, but its robust aroma and flavor profile is what will ultimately woo you. It?s these qualities that make it perfect to pair with food. It?s vibrant, clean, off-dry and yet incredibly well balanced. My advice to you?don?t be afraid of wines you can?t pronounce.

2014 Chaberton Siegerrebe:?Aromas of honeysuckle, candied apricots and lychee fruit tickle your sensations. Sipping this wine will reward your mouth with flavors of peaches, mandarin oranges, meyer lemon and a kiss of honey. The tropical flavors reveal hints of residual sugar in perfect balance with the wine?s acid.

Serve it as an apertif or with spicy prawns, thai food or strong cheeses. I paired it with Curried Cauliflower Soup (click for the recipe), which was uplifting and completely satisfying.