Tag Archive | Oregon wine

Anne Amie: 2011 Prismé Pinot Noir Blanc

I love this wine. No, that doesn’t sound enthusiastic enough… I love THIS WINE! Jon and I tried it for the first time when we visited Anne Amie in 2009, and bought a bottle, even though it was a bit pricey for our budget at the time. Jon opened it one evening by mistake, when he thought he was opening one of their less expensive Pinot Blancs. Instant special occasion! It was fantastic, even if we weren’t planning to drink it that night.

Fast forward to February, when we were at Anne Amie for their Bubbles Fest, a small wine festival with just sparkling wines from eleven Willamette Valley producers. Now that was a fabulous Valentine’s Day!

When we were making our purchases from the festival, I asked the folks if they had any of the current release of Prismé, and they did! Untasted, I had them put one in the box. A few days ago Jon and I celebrated the 7th anniversary of the night we met, and to celebrate, I opened this bottle. Again, it knocked my socks off!

Anne Amie Prismé

Anne Amie Prismé

The Prismé is made with some of their best blocks of Pinot Noir, and the juice is pressed and aged without the skins in French Oak Barrels on the lees for 18 months. It has aromas and flavors of apples and vanilla, and a long creamy finish with a light, yeasty, oak flavor. They are certainly doing something right with this wine. Fabulous!

Have you had Anne Amie’s Prismé Pinot Noir Blanc? What did you think?

Oregon Coast 2015: Cape Meares and Wine

After we filled our tummies at Pelican Brewery, we were ready for an afternoon of sightseeing!

Cape Meares State Park

Next we headed to the Cape Meares Lighthouse. It was built in 1890, and has a first order Fresnel lens – it is 38 feet tall.  It is the shortest lighthouse in Oregon, and is constructed of bricks made on site, with iron plates covering them.  It originally had two keeper’s houses, which were connected to the light by a 1,000 foot boardwalk. The mechanism had to be wound every 2.5 hours!  The oil houses were removed in 1934 when the light was electrified – it was deactivated in 1963.

The Cape Meares Light - built in 1890 - 38' tall

The Cape Meares Light – built in 1890 – 38′ tall

There was talk at the time of demolishing the light, but public outcry caused the light to be turned over to the county. Sadly, during the period when the light and its keeper’s houses were vacant, there was a significant amount of vandalism to both, and in the end, the houses had to be torn down. All four bull’s eyes in the Fresnel lens were stolen too – but three have since been recovered. The tower was opened to the public in 1980.

Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the vandals. In January 2010, two drunk young men visited the lighthouse and took several potshots with a gun, breaking 15 of the lighthouse’s windows and significantly damaging the historic lens – damage to the lens is estimated to be more than $500,000 to repair.

The good news is that the men were dumb enough to also fire at and damage the nearby Coast Guard Station, which made their offenses a federal crime. They were caught and convicted, and the judge gave them an interesting sentence. In addition to $100,000 in restitution, the men were sentenced to 48 days in jail, which were served 16 days per year for three years – coinciding each year with the date of the vandalism.

We were able to tour the lighthouse, and see the damage to the lens. It breaks my heart when people don’t have respect for the historic treasures of this world. On a positive note, the tower of the light offers phenomenal views of the ocean and the nesting seabirds.

The view at Cape Meares - perfect for watching seabirds or the annual whale migration

The view at Cape Meares – perfect for watching seabirds or the annual whale migration

A closer look at a Cormorant colony

A closer look at a Cormorant colony

After the lighthouse, we also checked out the Octopus Tree at the park. It has no central trunk, instead having multiple branches that extend outward for as many as 16 feet before heading skyward. No one really knows why it grows this way, but assume that the strange phenomenon was caused by people. Native Americans consider it a sacred tree, but it is different than other Native American marker trees found throughout the United States, which are thought to be directional path markers.

The Octopus Tree

The Octopus Tree

The tribes in the area say that it was shaped in order to hold a canoe with the body of a tribal member, as a part of their funeral service.  However it was shaped in this unusual way, it sure is neat to look at!

Nehalem Bay Winery

There’s a funny story about this place. I have long made it known that one of my favorite wineries is Chehalem Winery in the Willamette Valley – I have blogged about their wines numerous times. My girlfriend Allysa took a vacation down the Oregon Coast a few years ago and texted me one day saying that she was at Nehalem Bay Winery. I responded, “Have fun! Take pictures!” which she apparently thought was odd, since why would I want to see pictures of a place that I had visited often?

Well, once she got back she mentioned having visited “Camille’s favorite winery,” and in the conversation that followed it became clear that there was a mix-up between Nehalem and Chehalem – I can’t imagine why! I had to tell her that I had never been to Nehalem Bay Winery! Since then it has become a running joke, and I can now tell her I have visited Nehalem Bay.

Nehalem Bay Winery

Nehalem Bay Winery

Nehalem Bay has a Bavarian style tasting room, and a line up of about a dozen grape wines and half a dozen fruit wines. They have been in business since the 70s. I really liked Nehalem Bay’s fruit wines, but I thought their grape wines were just ok.

I got to try a new grape too – Niagara – I didn’t like the wine at all! It was really sweet, which is a characteristic of the grape (after all it is predominantly used to make grape juice), but it had a very high alcohol smell too (some compare the smell to diesel fuel – but I didn’t get that from this wine). Jon enjoyed some of their reds though, so they really do have something for everyone. The owners served us, and they were warm and friendly.

Back to the Beach

After our visit to Nehalem Bay, we headed back to camp for a spaghetti dinner, and of course, smores… Paired with a lovely Nehalem Bay Cranperé wine, a light, sweet blend of Cranberry wine and Riesling. The evening activity was a couple mile bike ride with my brother, sister in law and all the kids. We had a lot of fun riding down the 2 mile bike loop around the campground.

We were also greeted with the most fabulous pink sunset – we missed seeing the sun go down but when I saw the pink in the sky I ran out to the beach with my camera in hand to catch the lingering light in the most gorgeous pink hues. It was one of the prettiest sunsets I have ever seen!

A stunning sunset at the Nehalem Bay Campground.

A stunning sunset at the Nehalem Bay Campground.

Have you ever camped on the northern Oregon Coast?  What did you see and do?

2011 Anam Cara Pinot Noir

The temperature here on the Washington coast is back up.  At 8 pm, it is still 81 degrees!  Plus I was foolish enough to spend the day loading a couple of pick up truck loads of branches and other yard debris, the latest results of our attempts to clean up our overgrown woodsy yard.

All that sweating calls for some Pinot Noir!  I opened the 2011 Anam Cara Pinot Noir – Nicholas Estate.  Anam Cara is a relative newcomer to the Willamette Valley wine world, after owners Nick and Sheila moved to Newberg, Oregon from Napa in 2001.  Anam Cara means “friend of my soul” in Celtic, and represents the friendships that transcend time and place, as well as the long journey the couple made in order to reach their winemaking dreams.

2011 Anam Cara Pinot Noir - Nicholas Estate

2011 Anam Cara Pinot Noir – Nicholas Estate

We met Sheila when we were down in the Willamette Valley in February, upon the recommendation of another server.  The tasting room is just off the main street, and warm and inviting.  The wine is fabulous.  In addition to Pinot, Anam Cara also makes Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay.

The 2011 Nicholas Estate Pinot Noir is made from a blend of all five original blocks of their Nicholas Estate Vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains AVA.  It is aged in 21% new French oak, 8% once filled French oak, and the remainder neutral oak.

The wine is a beautiful garnet color, with aromas of spice and blackberry.  On the palate, it has wonderful flavors of strawberry, blackberry, and white pepper.  The light tannins have mellowed with age.  It is a great summer sipper, perfect for relaxing after a hot day’s work.

Have you had any of Anam Cara’s wines?  Cheers!

Anne Amie Vineyards 2011 Marilyn Brut Rosé

Tonight I decided to open a good bottle, in celebration of…  Well, maybe we should celebrate the cooler weather!

The Anne Amie Vineyards 2011 Marilyn Brut Rosé comes from the Twelve Oaks Estate vineyard located in the Chehalem Mountains AVA. The Marilyn sparkling wine contains 100% Pinot Noir.

Anne Amie Vineyards 2011 Marilyn Brut Rosé - with a background of petunias and asters.

Anne Amie Vineyards 2011 Marilyn Brut Rosé – with a background of petunias and asters.

The wine has aromas of raspberry and flint, and on the palate opens up to flavors of strawberry and tart lime.  Tiny, delicate bubbles add some additional interest.

Jon and I first had this wine when we were down in the Willamette Valley for Valentine’s Day at Bubbles Fest, a sparkling wine event sponsored by Anne Amie.  With 11 different Oregon sparkling wine producers, chocolate, hazelnuts and oysters, this festival did not disappoint.  And neither does this wine!

 

2012 Chehalem Three Vineyard Riesling

It’s been a long week…  I am nearing the home stretch of a big recruitment process to hire my next boss, but that has meant several long days.  I’m ready for the weekend now!

To relax after my long day, I’m sipping on the 2012 Three Vineyard Riesling from Chehalem Winery.  It has a crisp minerality that is balanced by sweetness, something that is unusual in Northwest Rieslings.  There are flavors of tropical fruit – I picked up pineapple – with wet stone.

Even though it was raining and I was feeling the need to get bundled up against the cold, this crisp wine really hit the spot and reminded me that summer is on its way.

This wine contains 10% alcohol and 1.1% residual sugar, and is sourced from all three of Chehalem’s estate vineyards: Ridgecrest, Stoller and Corral Creek.

Have you had the 2012 Chehalem Three Vineyard Riesling?  What did you think?

Walnut City Wineworks 2012 Rosé

I was looking for something more summery to drink and I pulled out a bottle that I had purchased a couple years back when my cousin was visiting.  We had gone down to Portland for a long weekend to visit my brother and his family and spend an afternoon wine tasting in the Willamette Valley.

Walnut City Wineworks is located in McMinnville, Oregon, in a re-purposed walnut processing plant (hence the name of the winery).  They share their space in a cooperative venture with Carlton Hill Vineyards, Bernard-Machado, Lundeen and Robinson Reserve.

The Walnut City Wineworks 2012 Rosé is made from 100% Pinot Noir.  It is a dark, pink salmon color, with a crisp, tart strawberry flavor.  This Rosé has aged beautifully, maintaining a lot of structure over the last couple of years.  It is certainly drinking well!

This wine certainly hit the spot for an evening spent with Jon and a friend, and was delicious over the next couple of days as well.

Have you tried any of the Walnut City Wineworks wines?  What did you think?

2014 Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon

Last year was the second year that I did the Oregon Wine Country Half marathon (when I tell you it was Labor Day weekend, you’ll know how far behind I am on posts!).  In 2013 it was just me and Shelley, but in 2014 I was able to sucker convince several friends to join in the fun! In all, it was me, Jon, Katie, Katy, Allysa, Angela, Renee and Jean. We all made our own way down to Oregon, because some of us were just staying the weekend, some were heading off on further adventures afterwards, and some were on the way back from vacationing! Jon and I drove separately, because Jon had to work on Monday afternoon, but we caravanned with Angela and Renée.

We met up at the Ponzi Wine Bistro in Dundee and enjoyed lunch and a bottle of Pinot Noir. Everybody was pleased with their choices; I had a delicious grass fed burger. The wine was fabulous, and it was wonderful to just be able to relax and laugh with good friends.

Jon and me having lunch at Ponzi, the day before the race.

Jon and me having lunch at Ponzi, the day before the race.

After that, we braved more of that terrible Highway 99 traffic to make our way to McMinnville for the packet pickup at the Evergreen Aviation Museum. After we got our packets, we sampled some wines from the two wineries that had tasting stations on site. More and more of us kept rolling in, so we chatted and laughed and enjoyed the bright sunshine outside the museum.

That evening, it was “do it yourself” dinner night – some went out for dinner, some just grabbed a quick bite at the diner next door to our hotel. Katie and I went to the grocery store and grabbed some eats for ourselves and families – Katie had come with her husband and two littles. A hodge podge of fruit, meats, cheeses and breads was the perfect pre-race dinner, in my opinion.

The race was very similar to the year before – I think there was one minor course change. For more info on the course and the mile by mile experience, check out my post from 2013. I feel good about my race; I came in fifth among my friends, behind Jon, Jean, Allysa and Katy, and in front of Katie, Angela and Renee. My time was a little slower than last year – a 3:03:08 (a 13:58 per mile pace).  Our finish order was exactly where I expected us all to be!

The Gang - Pre-race - at Stoller Winery

The Gang – Pre-race – at Stoller Winery

It was fun to see us all do it at our own pace and in our own way – we were competing with ourselves and not each other. I was about 5 minutes behind my personal best from the 2013 race, but I had been having a wee bit of trouble at the beginning with my shin splints, so while a little disappointing, it wasn’t surprising. I feel like I finished strong.

The post race festival was fabulous again – the group of us joined together and broke apart and joined together again, as we went to get wine, came back to compare notes, and went off again in search of the best wines to be had.  It was way too long ago to remember the specifics, but my post on the wine festival from last year should give you a good idea…  Lunch was again at the little sandwich shop – a fantastic Reuben.

Later in the afternoon, after getting a much needed shower and change of clothes, a group of us wandered around downtown McMinnville poking in shops, and enjoying some huckleberry ice cream.  Dinner that night at La Rambla (a tapas restaurant) ended a wonderful day. Good friends enjoying good food…

Foris Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir

I came home yesterday after a long day at work to find a full glass of this – the Foris Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir.  Jon had wanted a Pinot, and this one fit the bill.

Foris 2010 Pinot Noir

Jon and I visited Foris in August, and enjoyed the great wine and laid back atmosphere of the tasting room.

It is a deep strawberry red – a truly beautiful color.  On the nose, it is fairly mellow, with scents of ripe sweet cherries and sun-warmed blackberries.  On the palate – it was delicious.  It is a nice medium-bodied Pinot, with predominantly cherry flavors but enough earth and spice to make it really interesting.

It was aged in a combination of once-used and neutral oak French barrels, which really displays the fruit flavors.  It is lovely at 13% alcohol, but if you are like me and find that your husband poured a larger glass than you expected, and you didn’t eat much for dinner, you might find yourself a little tipsy!  Not that you would admit it, of course…

If you have tried this wine, I hope you will let me know what you thought!  Cheers – it’s almost the weekend!

The Applegate Valley Wine

After our visit to Jacksonville, Oregon, we decided to check out a couple of wineries!  The Applegate Valley is one of the most overlooked wine regions in the country, with outstanding wines and a quiet, relaxed atmosphere.  Our first winery stop was Wooldridge Creek Winery. We pulled in to find an amazing covered seating area with cushioned patio furniture, a classy yet inviting tasting room with several books available to read, and another outdoor patio with tables and chairs. Jon’s dad wasn’t interested in wine tasting so he plopped down outside in the shade to read his book.

The winery named after the Wooldridge family who first settled on the property in the 1850s – this isn’t the same family that owns the property and the winery now though.  The first grapevines at Wooldridge Creek were planted in the 1970s; it has now expanded to 56 acres planted in twelve varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Viognier, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Tempranillo.  However, until 2002, the owners sold all their fruit to other wineries; at that point they met and partnered with a wine-making couple to start the winery.

We began our tasting in the tasting room, but soon the draw of the warm sunshine was too much. Our server was very gracious about loading up our tasting on a tray with mini decanters and tasting information for each wine. As I think back on it now (on a gray, rainy day in frigid January), I wish I were back there soaking up the warm rays of the sun!

Wooldridge Creek Winery

Wooldridge Creek Winery

The wine was delicious – I did find that I liked the reds more than the whites though.  The French oak aged Chardonnay was a hit with Jon, but a little too oaked for my taste – good for a taste but too much for a whole glass. There was a Viognier that was quite enjoyable – which was a bit unusual because I don’t typically like many Viogniers. Jon’s mom really enjoyed that one. The reds were wonderful – balanced and approachable while still having lots of structure.  We tasted Merlot, Pinot Noir and Malbec.

After Wooldridge, we visited Troon Winery. Jon and I had been there before, and Jon had wanted to go back. We wanted to be outside again, so we shuttled back and forth between the tasting room and the seating area outside. That was a little bit awkward, but it was to be expected as the server had her hands full with other customers. She did tell us a bit about each wine when we came in to get our sample, but it seemed a bit more impersonal than our visit in 2011.

Troon Winery from our covered seating

Troon Winery from our covered seating

That said, Troon’s wine is excellent – not a bad one in the bunch. Ironically, when we visited in 2011 the Druid’s Fluid red blend was my least favorite wine, but it is the biggest seller for the winery. This year, they didn’t have Druid’s Fluid on the tasting menu, so I don’t know if I would have liked it more now.  We ended up getting several wines to bring home with us.  For some reason though, I always forget that Troon now has a tasting room in the Willamette Valley, so we will have to stop by there sometime when we are down that way.

After our two tasting room visits, we wrapped up our day and headed back to the rental house to enjoy one last quiet evening on the river before heading home.  We swam in the pool, read books, watched the Canada Geese flying overhead to their night roosts, and heard the hum of the jet boats as they took tourists back home after the dinner tour (I so want to take that jet boat tour one day!).

Canada Geese flying home for the night

Canada Geese flying home for the night

We had to be up before dawn in the morning, because Jon had misunderstood what days he was supposed to get off from work.  I had planned for us to spend a leisurely day Tuesday driving home and then go back to work Wednesday, but Jon thought we were coming home on Monday.  He had scheduled himself to work at 2 pm on Tuesday, expecting that he would have a quiet morning at home to sleep in and get some things done.  Obviously that wasn’t going to happen!  Considering that the drive home (without traffic) is 8 hours, we set the alarm for 3 am to get home in time.

We were on the road at 3:17 am! It’s not often that I watch a summer sunrise from the road, but I caught this one. Our early morning travel all worked out in the end though, as we made it home with enough time to get some lunch and essentials at the grocery store before Jon had to go to work.  And I had the whole afternoon to take a leisurely nap, unpack and relax for going back to work on Wednesday. It was a nice end to a great long weekend…

 

An Impromptu Stop: Foris Vineyards

You want to know one of the best things about Oregon Wine Country?  The signage!  Well, that, and the wineries!  Oregon has some of the easiest wine country to navigate, thanks to hundreds of little blue roadsigns pointing you to the wineries.  Even if you didn’t have a map, or a GPS, or a guidebook, you could find some wine!

On our way back from a satisfying day trip to Oregon Caves National Monument, we saw a few of those winery signs and decided to make an impromptu stop at Foris Vineyards.  Of the four of us, Jon was the only one who had heard of Foris – but his dad doesn’t really pay attention to wineries or wine so really, only three of us count on this score.  But Jon had heard good things, so drove a few miles down the country road, following the signs and ended up at a little tasting room in the front section of a wine production facility.

Foris Vineyards is family owned and operated by the Gerber family, and has been since 1971.  That’s when Ted Gerber and his wife purchased the property; they planted the first vines in 1974.  For awhile they sold their grapes to other wineries, but in 1986 they began using their grapes to make their own wine.  Currently about 80% of the grapes they use are estate grown.

My fabulous mother in law at the Foris Tasting Room

My fabulous mother in law at the Foris Tasting Room

When we went into the tasting room, we were warmly greeted by our server.  When we told her that we had just been to Oregon Caves, she asked which ranger had given our tour.  When we told her, her eyes lit up and she explained that he frequented the tasting room on his days off.  Just another reason why National Park Rangers are so awesome!

We were guided through the lineup, and I found myself really enjoying the reds.  We were able to do a side by side tasting of their two Pinot Noirs; one their flagship Pinot and the other the single vineyard Pinot from the Maple Ranch vineyard.  Both were delicious!  Their Cabernet Sauvigon and Cab Franc were also very good.

My mother in law really enjoyed the Fly Over Red blend and their sweet Moscato.  The Fly Over wines show that this wine-making family has a great sense of humor; these wines are named for the fact that because the Illinois Valley of Oregon is one of the most remote wine growing regions in the nation, many members of the national wine press will never come out to witness these wines being made.  So the folks at Foris simply wave at the planes overhead, because you never know who is “flying over”.

A few of the wine awards Foris has received

A few of the wine awards Foris has received

Jon came in and out of the tasting room to sample my wine at his leisure, and then settled with his father on the Adirondack chairs outside.  Linda and I took our time enjoying the wines and chatting with the server.  Soon enough, we were on our way back to our home away from home by the river, to swim in the pool, eat dinner and wile away a relaxing evening, with a newly opened bottle of wine.