Harvest Hands: The Winery

It would be remiss of me to talk about my experience as a harvest intern without also talking about the place and the people that made that experience possible, Wine by Joe and Joe Dobbes Family Estate. Proprietor, president and winemaker, Joe Dobbes, gave me the opportunity to tell my story. Now, I’ll tell you his—and it’s a good one.
Dobbes started his winery in 2002 with $50,000. In his first vintage he produced 2,000 cases of wine. In 2011, he made over 45,000 cases between his three brands. In the last few years, Dobbes has seen great achievement and growth, but he is the first to admit that it hasn’t been overnight success. In fact, he has been at it for a nearly a quarter century.


Best Wine

Winner: Rex Hill Reserve Pinot Noir A landmark winery in the northern Willamette Valley, Rex Hill passed in 2007 from its founders to A to Z Wineworks, which now makes all its wines—sourced from vineyards throughout Oregon—at the Rex Hill facility. With Rex Hill labeled-wines, the new owners slashed case production, introduced sustainable farming and winemaking practices, and brought a renewed commitment to strengthening the brand. Despite difficult weather patterns during the 2010 growing season and bird damage, the Reserve Pinot noir, a blend of five vineyards, sold out quickly at the winery; some bottles may still be available in wine shops. The winery ( welcomes visitors in its historic tasting room in Newberg; tastings are $10 and refundable with a $40 purchase. Runner-Up: Arborbrook 2010 Vintner’s Select Pinot Noir If you want a bottle of ArborBrook’s 2010 Vintner’s Select Pinot noir, you’ll have to hurry. Since 2005, the Newberg…


Best Winery

Winner: Archery Summit Photo by Andrea Johnson  On a gravel road off Highway 18 outside Dayton is a steep driveway leading to the gates of Pinot noir heaven. Every detail of Archery Summit’s operation speaks to the luxury wines crafted in Oregon’s first 100 percent gravity-flow winery. No mechanical pumps here—just a gentle pull of gravity from hand sorting and de-stemming on the top floor to the fermentation hall, aging caves and bottling areas below. Built in 1993, the winery has earned a reputation for big, complex and layered Pinot noirs. It produces six single-vineyard wines, a cuvée and, in the summer, a rosé. All but one of 120 acres are planted in Pinot noir grapes. One acre is devoted to Pinot gris. Interestingly, its production team is predominantly female, including winemaker Anna Matzinger and winegrower Leigh Bartholomew. Visit the on-site tasting room and try the Renegade Ridge or Red…


Inside the Wine Crush

Winemakers were pacing the vines, checking the weather reports constantly, hoping sunshine would prevail for a spell—just long enough to goose the sugar level in this Pinot noir harvest. At Vista Hills Vineyard, winemaker Dave Petterson was beyond his comfort zone. It was already weeks beyond a typical harvest date and yet the crop hung in the cool fall rain and fog.


Exemplary Wine Tours and Tastings in the Willamette Valley

There are winery tours and tastings and then there are winery TOURS and TASTINGS. These personalized, private, sit down, food paired super tours are showing up in some of Oregon’s premium wineries including Domaine Serene, Domaine Drouhin, WillaKenzie Estate, Bergström, Adelsheim and Archery Summit. These are more than just tastings and tours; they are heightened wine experiences that dive into the heart of winemaking, comparative tastings and even food pairings. Each private tasting and tour is limited to an intimate number of people for a personalized experience. They range in price from $30-$75, and most places offer discounts or waived fees for their wine club members. They are available by reservation only and take place just a few times a day (sometimes only a few days a week). Affordable and wholly enjoyable, this is the way to do wine country. Two stand outs in the crowd are Domaine Serene’s series of tasting options and Domaine Drouhin’s comparative experience.


Top Wine Bars Across Oregon

I love wine bars, but not for the reasons you might think. Many years ago, I was living in San Francisco. Like most people residing in that area, the monthly rent drained my bank account. I had just graduated with an art degree and was working in galleries, but extra income was a must, so I applied for a job at a wine bar. During the interview process the owner asked me a few questions, to gauge my knowledge on wine, such as: “What is the grape used to make Chianti?”—to which I gave a grossly incorrect answer. Somehow (must have been my sparkling personality) I landed a job behind the bar pouring wine. The owner took a chance on a girl who didn’t know the difference between Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon—and the job changed the direction of my life. I have a certain nostalgic draw towards the wine bar because of that experience, and Oregon is swimming in them. Some are casual, raw and gritty; some are contemporary and modern, while others are plush and comfy. Here are few of Oregon’s stand-outs. Portland The Hop and Vine 1914 North Killingsworth St. / 503.954.3322 / Cozy | Distinctive | Charming When I first moved to Portland, I was lucky enough to live around the corner from a wine bar. I hadn’t even unpacked my U-Haul yet, but after an 1,800-mile drive with a weighed down Subaru and a fidgety 90 pound dog in my front seat, I needed a drink. To the wine bar I went. I sat down and to my pleasure saw that they had one of my personal favorites available by the glass, Cabernet Franc. Upon looking through their beer selection I found another gem, Boulevard Beer—the brew of my hometown, Kansas City, and the place of my recent tearful goodbye. I felt like The Hop and Vine was giving me a big hug. Since that day, they have opened a bottle shop next door where hand-crafted beers and a well-appointed wine selection are at your fingertips. They also have full bar of spirits and creative libations for every type of adult beverage enthusiast.
Bend portello winecafe 2754 Northwest Crossing Drive / 541.385.1777 / Urban | Fun | Friendly  Portello winecafe has been a favorite amongst Bend’s wine loving community for almost six years, serving lunch and dinner alongside over 27 wines by the glass, and a beer selection featuring Oregon brewers as well as other national and international microbrews. On Mondays from 4-9 pm, and Wednesday through Saturdays from 11:30-4:00 pm, ALL wines by the glass are only $5. Live music on Saturdays starts at 7pm.  Wines are also on display for retail sale. “We were really inspired by the combination of creating a European style neighborhood wine cafe so folks can walk or ride bikes. We have a passion for fresh food choices and handcrafted wine selections and the feel of an urban, yet casual atmosphere,” said Lance Newman, co-owner of portello. They have achieved just that. Beaverton Vinotopia Wine Restaurant and Wine Bar 12345 SW Horizon Blvd, Suite 231 / 503.597.6900 /  Welcoming | Innovative | Entertaining
Taking dinner and a movie to new heights, Vinotopia, located at the Cinetopia center in Progress Ridge, has one of my favorite by-the-glass programs in the state. Lead by wine director extraordinaire, Kim Oshiro, Vinotopia boasts over 58 wines by the glass. Each glass pour is available to enjoy at the bar, restaurant OR, best yet, in the movie theater. If you ask me, this is the best way to watch a movie—and it sure beats sneaking a bottle of wine into a movie theater (not that I have ever done that). One wine that Oshiro is really excited about right now? “The 2009 Domaine Comte Abbatucci ‘Faustine’ from Ajaccio, Corsica, France. This wine makes me homesick for a place that I have never been.” Looking for a little education to go with your movie? Wine 101 classes are taught on the first Tuesday of every month by Oshiro for $30.
Ashland Liquid Assets Wine Bar 96 North Main Street / 541.482.9463 /   
 Elegant | Comfortable | Classy
Offering more than 20 wines by the glass, a “seasonal French-inspired” menu and beers on Tap, Liquid Assets is Ashland’s hot spot for wine lovers since 2006. Husband and wife owners Jim Piotter and Denise Daehler-Piotter both bring to the table several years of restaurant experience and education. Their objective is to maintain an interesting selection of handcrafted wines from Oregon along with an international selection—with over 250 wines available for retail purchase. They open at 3 every day and offer wifi; it’s the perfect place to get some work done, if you ask me. They offer live music, tastings and classes. As members of the Ashland Gallery Association, the owners rotate the art that adorns the wine bar walls bi-monthly—highlighting the work of local and internationally acclaimed artists.
Hood River
White Buffalo Wine Bar                                                                            
4040 Westcliff Drive / 541.386.5534 /  
Hidden gem | Homey | Quaint
In 2005, Sarah Gumm and her mother, Mary Gumm, came up with a plan to turn an old ARCO gas station in Hood River into a fun and inviting wine bar. Their plan came to fruition in 2008 when White Buffalo Wine Bar opened its doors. Sourcing fresh and local ingredients, the Gumms have created a menu to stand alongside her 250 wine selections (10 by the glass)—which are all also available for retail sale. Thursday nights they offer free wine tasting for a chance to “try before you buy,” absorb a little wine knowledge and have some fun in the process.
Eugene B² Wine Bar 2794 Shadow View / 541.505.8909 /   Chill | Sheik | Romantic B2 is located in Eugene’s Crescent Village and offers 30 wines by the glass, anther 30 by the bottle and a full bar with plenty of beer options, from micro to not-so-micro. Executive Chef Garrett Kirsch executes a menu of Northwest cuisine that complements their wine selection. Kirsch’s personal favorite wine to pair with her provisions? “It’s summertime so our b2 Pinot Gris 2009.”


Rosés in Bloom

With Mothers Day just around the corner, I would like to informally suggest a new tradition in gift giving. Instead of the usual bouquet of flowers that wilt too quickly or a plant that needs loads of care, why not celebrate the wife, mother, grandmother, surrogate mother, mother-in-law or god-mother in your life with a bottle of rosé wine. Or, better yet, a bouquet of rosés.


Take a Stand with a New Kind of Keg

In the late 1700s, locksmith—and hydraulic engineer—Joseph Bramah patented an invention called the beer engine, a device used for pumping beer out of a cask. Today we know this as the keg, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that the pressurized beer keg was perfected, and thanks to the keg stands of the 1978 movie Animal House, became mainstream. Flash forward to today’s keg and you will find that the iconic barrel stands for libations other than just beer.
Oregon wineries such as Grochau Cellars, Crowley Wines and Stoller Vineyards have been working towards perfecting the craft of keg wines, mostly at the direct request of restaurants. More and more tap handles in dining establishments are dispensing not only frothy cold beer but red, white and pink wine.