Wine Tasting

Tonight I had a wonderful time learning more about wines and what affects their flavors.

Out at the Pavilion at the Discovery garden 25+ of us gathered to be educated by our, very knowledgeable, leader Steve Renquist who plays a big role in Viticulture and marketing for wine grape growers of the Umpqua Valley.

He chose 3 whites and 3 reds. For white we had Gruner Veltliner, Muscat, and Gewürztraminer. For reds we had Grenache, Petite Syrah, and Zinfandel. And to break it down further we had 2-3 of each type. Sometimes it was the same brand but 3 different years, and others were a type from different regions.

For the Gruner we had 3 different years 2011, 2012 and 2013. The difference in flavors was very noticeable just because of how different our weather was. Where we had a mild summer in 2011 verses hotter temps for longer periods in 2012 and more extreme heat in 2013.

Everyone is listening and taking copious notes. Interestingly enough I was the only one who able to guess the alcohol level on 95% of the wines. And to clarify it was not due to the taste. 3 of the wines I could not drink. But it was due to the ‘legs’ on the glass. This is when you swirl the wine and the alcohol lingers on the sides.

This did confirm for me that I still prefer the red wines over the whites.

After about the third bottle was being sampled, folks over at another table that had been pretty quiet were now laughing on and off. Fourth bottle is complete and the fifth is being opened. Lots of talking now, no one is taking notes anymore. A lot more laughter and more are talking over Steve amongst themselves. Finally it gets back to the nuances of the wine. It was really a good thing we opted to eat at this point and boy there were some great appetizers.

From this point the last 2 wines we utterly forgotten and it was all about visiting and chatting.

Just a fun time to be had by all and a great way to visit with other MG’s other than the gardens.

 

 

Exploration is Key…to fun!

Wenatchee Washington is a wonderful area to explore.

We recently had the opportunity to stay a few days and camp in the Wenatchee River County Park – http://www.wenatcheeriverpark.org/c.aspx?n=about

WONDERFUL place to camp. The spaces are on ‘spokes’ leaving amble room between trailers and it was about a 100′ walk to the shore of the Wenatchee River. I had hopes of Derek getting some fishing in, but being as we have an Oregon fishing license and not a Washington one, that made it a bit difficult.

The next day we took off for Leavenworth WA. Such a cute town based on Bavaria Germany. You may ask “So…just what does one do in a themed town?” *inhales deeply…like Jim Carrey on Ace Ventura* You can – shop, eat, explore, stroll, snack. You can check out local artists, taste wines, taste beers, find new cheeses and bakery treats. Indulge in mustards, chocolates and sausages. There are museums, a delightful summer theatre, and a water front park. *inhales again…* A two story Christmas shop full of every Christmas trinket you could ever want. Or head over to Eagle Creek Ranch (http://www.eaglecreek.ws/) and take a trail ride or sleigh ride. *whew* So I guess you get the idea now eh? There is a lot going on in this little town!

Did I mention when we arrived it was Apple Season! Yep seems those trees were ready to give up their tasty morsels a few weeks early and we got to reap the benefits. A friend of mine turned me on to Honey Crisp apples a few years back and since then I buy them whenever I can find them. Had I known how they would taste in WA, not to mention the sheer size of them, I would have driven to WA to pick my own. Now taking one of these and slicing it to enjoy with a new sheep’s milk cheese I found in Leavenworth, Ossau-Iraty and you have snack like no other. I hear you nay-sayers “Pfft, sheep’s milk cheese Plueease!” Well step back and be amazed! I have lactose intolerance. I cannot eat dairy products (cow’s milk) and thus missed out for years on cheese. Well no more! If you are lactose intolerant I simply must urge you to visit a local cheese shop and talk to the cheese monger. I know that any decent cheese shop will have sheep’s and goat cheeses on hand. Not only that, but be more that willing to let you taste them. Based on our tasting alone we ended up buying a nice hunk to enjoy.

After our day in Leavenworth it was time to check out two other things. Farmers Market and Cider Mills. Oh yes *rubs her hands with glee* First up Smallwoods Harvest http://www.smallwoodsharvest.com/ This is a local owned store that not only offers fresh produce from their orchards, but a petting zoo for the kids, a culinary store for us kitchen freaks, a beautiful park area, cow train, duck pond and all sorts of entertainment.

And then it was time to taste some cider. Only here in the US they call it Hard Cider. Don’t give this stuff to your kids! Our stop of choice was Snowdrift Cider House. http://snowdriftcider.com/ You can also find them on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/snowdriftcider After visiting these folks, tasting their wares and learning so much about how various ciders are made, I have a whole new appreciation for what a real hard cider is (which is NOT that stuff like Mikes Hard Cider which is nothing but fermented glucose and apple flavoring – YUCK!) . We even bought a case of 3 of our favorites. And I can honestly say we will be back again! I love a family owned, family run business. Be sure to watch their video on the About Us page and you’ll see what I mean by family owned and operated! I am truly in love with this cider! And when you go in for a tasting you will get to see the process that is involved in making hard cider. I really cannot say enough about this place! Oh wait yes I can – Their phone is 509-630-3507 and they ship!

On the way home we stopped at a campsite called Columbia Riverfront RV Park http://www.columbiariverfrontrvpark.com/ What a neat place to stay! You are right on the Columbia River and folks this is a BIG river. So big in fact you will see this sauntering by –

Massive Ship

Massive Ship

This ship was huge and the engines could be felt more than heard due to the low thrum of the engines. I must say very impressive to see so close. We walked down to the beach and then we were able to walk along the beach for quite a ways. It was so cool to find seashells and lots of drift wood. I had forgotten how good driftwood smells when burned in a camp fire. It doesn’t  smell the same as regular wood. There is a distinct smell of salt (in ocean driftwood)  and moss as it burns that takes me back to the days when I went camping as a kid in Doheny State Beach in California a kid.

So here’s to camping!

Camping Snack

Camping Snack

Blackberry Part…oh heck it’s Festival Time!

The weekend of August 16th-18th marks the start of the 25th annual Sutherlin Blackberry Festival. I am so happy to experience this event. Last year we had moved up here one week after the festival. While I did not compete this year, just you wait till next year!

This is a wonderful event. There are numerous booths where you can browse and shop for all sorts of fun things. But before we can get started on that, let’s bring in our flag honor guard.

Representing all Branches

Representing all Branches

I am constantly amazed at how seeing our flag fly makes me feel so proud.

Respecting the Flag

Respecting the Flag

Yep, very proud to be an American. A young lady, Alexandra,  sang the National Anthem and just nailed it. She was 11 years old. So wish I could have gotten her picture.

Come on! Let’s go to the festival.

There are booths set up all over offering food items, clothing, makeup, jewelery, hand crafted items, pet items you name it. One thing I bought that I now love are bowl pot holders for your microwave. I often times heat up soup or a bowl of oatmeal and have to reach in and grab that darn bowl that is hotter than lava hot freshly spewed from a volcano. Well now all I do is put my bowl on my holder and the put it in the micro.

What a neat idea. A bowl holder for the Microwave.

What a neat idea. A bowl holder for the Microwave.Bowl holder with a bowl.Bowl holder with a bowl.

One of the neatest things is the raffle for a car and another for a motorcycle.

2006 Harley Sportster

2006 Harley Sportster

The winner of the motorcycle was Frank Harper of Texas (long time Sutherlin Resident).

1972 Ford Mustang Mach 1

1972 Ford Mustang Mach 1

The winner of the car was Harold Wells of Oakland.

I’m going to do the next set of pictures a bit bigger since they are in a collage form. I didn’t want to make you have to scroll though for days.

Face Painting

Face Painting

These kids were so proud of the art done on their faces. It was just a joy to take their pictures!

Junior Boot Camp with The Body Shop Total Fitness

Junior Boot Camp with The Body Shop Total Fitness

I just love the fact that the gym here in town, The Body Shop Total Fitness, gets so involved in promoting kids to get up and exercise! Well done Terry and Dianna Brock.

A ride for everyone

A ride for everyone

Yes that is a gun holster in the middle picture. Some really nice rides were on display.

Old is always better

Old is always better

There were nicer “old cars” here than I ever saw at Route 66! Just gorgeous vehicles!

Let's Eat!

Let’s Eat!

And of course there’s the food! If you were hungry and couldn’t find something to eat here I would have been shocked. Bad thing is to walk by these taking pictures realizing you forgot to eat lunch. Let’s just say I got to taste a lot of different things. Folks are pretty friendly around here.

And the winner is...

And the winner is…

For the cooking contest which included (but not limited to) – cookies, pies, cobblers, candies, jams/jellies, sauces and savory dishes. Rhonda Seekins of Sutherlin who took home 5 ribbons – three 1st place and two 2nd place! Wow nice job!

There was also a chili cook off. Now the only thing that I thought was ‘different’ were the categories – Men, Women and Texas Style. I didn’t know men cook chili different than women do. I think I would have done men and women together, made a category for junior division (15 and under), kept Texas style (no beans) and had another category for say white chili’s, chili verde etc.

2 winners from each category

2 winners from each category

What a great event this is! If you are ever planning to come up to Sutherlin, do make sure to time during the festival. At night there are bands, dancing and more food. Also you can tour some the best wineries Oregon has to offer!