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A unique week in the Oregon wine industry

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Temperance Hill VineyardRecently I had quite a week in the wine industry. On Monday I had a rare opportunity to go on a wonderful daylong wine trip. On Wednesday I had a great work trip all day at an excellent winery. Then wrapped up the week on Sunday by attending a fantastic winery launch while having a phenomenal meal.

Monday

My beautiful partner in crime took the day off so we could enjoy a unique wine trip together. We boarded a school bus in downtown Portland then headed south to the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. There we learned about the soil, geology, geography and the terroir that make this area incredibly special.

We covered the valley and ate and drank the whole way. What made this a standout trip was that the wine makers were with us the entire way. Talking to these dazzling alchemists was eye opening yet fun since they are all so down to earth. The wines were great and everyone was so gregarious. A highlight for me was our visit to Temperance Hill Vineyard… being up there was an audience with the angels. It was a breathtaking and moving place- a rare opportunity for a non-winemaker.

Wednesday

Back in the world I attended an all day work meeting at the newly renovated Willamette Valley Vineyards. Boo hoo I got paid to drink (and spit!!) wine and beer for 8 hours (shout out to Lagunitas.) The best part of the day was when the very talented and effusive wine maker Don Crank taught us how to blend wines. And not just anything but quality Pinot juice grown right in the Willamette Valley.

As an added bonus, Bill Fuller, a vanguard of Oregon Pinot and the man who planted Tualatin Estate Vineyards gave an informative pep talk and was a great coach as we vied to make the best blend. To have a pillar of the industry and a great winemaker help you make a blend from their wines was an opportunity I won’t soon forget. My wine blending group finished second by the way.

So Best Monday ever followed by best work trip… not bad for a Monday and Wednesday in a single week. But my week ends on Sunday. Or does it?

 Sunday

We received an impressive letterpress invite with graphics so stunning that we said, “Don’t know who that is but we are going to that event!” So in the late afternoon we headed downtown to the Picnic House restaurant.

It turns out a family got together, started a wine company called Woven Wineworks and threw a great launch party at a restaurant that had phenomenal food. Four courses, all tremendous. (e.g. Tenderloin that we used butter knives to cut it and yet the truffle mashed potatoes where even more exemplary- yeah that’s right!)

Woven Wineworks is all about their family history and blazing a new trail. Their event was classy, fun and utterly memorable. The wines were delicious and paired perfectly with the food. Most importantly the family heritage was up, front and center, from the team behind the winery to the great story behind the labels.

So looking back to last Monday when we were still on a bus heading home from Eola-Amity Hills and I created the #bestmondayever on twitter. A week later I am on my patio and have realized that not a lot of people get to do anything like I just experienced. I am fortunate and appreciate what has been given to me.

The lessons from this awesome week? First and foremost is that Oregon has serious wine and that the Eola-Amity Hills AVA is a crucible of wine genius. A vast array of wine and stunning scenery awaits anyone who visits.

Second: Our Eola-Amity Hills trip reiterated once again that Oregon wine is a group effort. ‘Brand Oregon’ was the mantra spoken over and over. Everyone helps each other- rising tides lift all boats- was a recurring theme. So being with the relative newbies at Woven Wines further reinforced that collaborative approach. If we ever start a Winerabble label, it would be here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley because we know we will find genuine support amongst all the wineries.

We write about wine, we appreciate wine, we respect the process of making wine.

We are continually awed by the jaw-dropping places the fruit is grown.

We admire the science of cultivating that fruit.

We are amazed by how each winemaker puts their stamp on goddamn fruit.

Matt Talbot likes wine. Some varietals he prefers more than others. He enjoys learning about wine. But what he likes most about wine is the journey. The act of going tasting, exploring new areas of the country, discovering new wineries and wine makers, visiting towns off the beaten path- these are the things he enjoys the most about wine. Traveling and drinking, like peanut butter and jelly, go together seamlessly like wine and chocolate.

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