Wine Bloggers’ Conference 2012

We interrupt this dog blog to bring you two days of wine tasting and notes. The Wine Bloggers’ Conference is in Portland this weekend, so I signed up to learn more about wineries and their wines. Last night opened with a Welcome Reception sponsored by the Oregon Wine Board. About 50 or so wineries from Oregon were represented. It was great to be able to walk around, talk to the representatives,  and sample their wines. It would take me years to get around to all of those wineries. I have a nice long list of dog-friendly wineries within driving distance of Portland to share with you over the coming months. Looks like Kendall and I are going to have to get busy visiting these wineries and telling you all about it.

Canines Uncorked Pictures

A few weeks ago, on the day we left for our Maine trip, Canines Uncorked 2012  took place at 11 dog-friendly wineries in the Northern Willamette Valley region. We were pretty busy getting ready for a red-eye flight but managed to stop at Kramer Vineyards on our way to drop Kendall off at the sitter. The place was full of dogs and their owners enjoying the sun and sipping on some wonderful wine.

Enjoying the wine, food, and sunshine at Kramer Vineyards
The dogs were having a great time mingling
Kim Kramer pouring tastes at Canines Uncorked

Canines Uncorked is always a successful fund raiser for the Oregon Humane Society. We’re already looking forward to next year. We love that it includes some of our favorite wineries, and it’s a great excuse to get out with your dog and visit new (to us) wineries.

Tasting New Wines

A week or so ago, I was pleasantly surprised by a package delivery to my office. Upon further inspection, I found that it was the first shipment of my California Wine Club wines! You see, a few months ago, I was approached to try the Premier Club of the California Wine Club. We love wine around here, so I was curious to see what this was all about. The Premier Club features wines from California’s “mom & pop” wineries.

In this shipment, we received a 2010 Fess Parker Winery Parker Station Pinot Noir and a 2010 Fess Parker Winery Santa Barbara County Riesling. With the beautiful weather we’ve been having on the weekends here in the Pacific Northwest, I knew the perfect place to enjoy these wines – camping with friends.

During our trip to Champoeg State Park I chilled the Riesling and packed some great happy hour foods for the trip. We invited some friends and opened the bottles.

Time for happy hour
Time for happy hour

We opened the Riesling first. I’m not much of a sweet wine person, so it wasn’t really my kind of wine, but the others enjoyed it very much. It was a crisp white wine with a snappy acidity. It went really well with the aged Gouda cheese and the chipotle cheddar we were noshing on. I could definitely see serving this with Thai food as well as the traditional chicken or fish.

Next, we opened the Parker Station Pinot Noir. It was a well-balanced wine. While different from Oregon Pinots, I liked it. It would go well with a nice piece of grilled salmon. It could easily become what I like to call a “Tuesday night wine,” one that you can enjoy any night of the week without feeling guilty.

If you’d like to learn more about the California Wine Club, visit their web site, follow them on Twitter @cawineclub and @boringwineguy, or visit the California Wine Club or The Boring Wine Guy’s Facebook pages. If you decide to sign up, new club members or gift givers will get 4 bottles for the price of 2 when you sign up. There is no obligation to continue after the first month. Use the code: kendall12 at checkout. This would make a great Mother’s Day gift.


Disclaimer: This review was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own.




A Visit to Noble Pig and Tyrus Evan Wine Tasting Rooms

After our stop at Willakenzie Estate to do some wine tasting, we headed in to Carlton to stop at a couple of other places. One of our favorites, Noble Pig Winery, recently moved their tasting room to a new location right in the midst of all of the action in Carlton. I stopped in to pick up the fall wine club shipment that I hadn’t picked up yet, and had a chance to meet Cathy, the woman behind Noble Pig Wine. It’s always so much fun to put a face with a name.

Outside the Noble Pig tasting room. Kendall hasn't noticed the balloons yet.
Kendall wants nothing to do with those balloons.
On the wall in the tasting room

I love the logo that Cathy chose for Noble Pig. She’s done a great job with the new tasting room. Make sure you stop in if you find yourself in Carlton.

I like her wines, too. I took home two very nice bottles of 2008 Pinot Noir to add to my wine collection. One didn’t last very long. I think we finished it on Sunday evening. Here are the tasting notes from the Noble Pig web site. “This wine was made from 100% Pinot Noir fruit and sourced from clones, Pommard and Dijon 114 and 115.  It is an exceptional expression of wine of place. The cooling effect of the nearby Oregon Coast allows the grapes to slowly ripen on the vine. Aged 12 months in French Oak, this Pinot Noir has a silky, velvety texture with soft supple and structural tannins playing a supportive role. Especially nice with grilled salmon, ahi tuna, filet mignon, beef bourguignon, veal parmesan, mushroom risotto, pork tenderloin, roasted chicken and shellfish dishes.”

You need to check out the Noble Pig food blog, as well. I’ve made many yummy dishes from the recipes on that blog over the past few years.

The town of Carlton was packed with people! Living Social was holding a wine tasting event, so there were more people than we’ve ever seen there before. I like how Carlton has evolved into a little town that caters to the wine crowd. It has charm, unlike Dundee who doesn’t seem to appreciate the fact that people want to come to your town and spend money without sitting in traffic or looking at dilapidated buildings. Carlton reminds me of Sonoma, CA many years ago. It definitely has potential.

After walking around town a bit, we stopped in to the Ken Wright Cellars tasting room in the old train station. They’ve done a wonderful job of preserving the look of the old train station while making it into a place that’s warm and inviting. They were offering tastings from Ken Wright Cellars and one of their other labels, Tyrus Evan. We chose to taste the Tyrus Evan flight, because we tend to enjoy big, bold reds. We tasted wines from two different regions in Oregon – a southern region down near the Rogue Valley and another out by the Walla Walla wine region, but on the Oregon side of the Columbia river.

Tasting at Ken Wright Cellars
A warm and inviting place to taste wine

We liked both their 2006 Del Rio Syrah and the 2008 Walla Walla Syrah. We may live in Pinot Noir country, but I like my big bold reds now and then.

The train station/tasting room from the outside

It was a rare, sunny January day and a perfect day to be driving through Oregon wine country.

A Visit to Willakenzie Estate

After stopping by Bald Peak and taking some awesome photos, we headed on down the hill toward Carlton, OR. On our way to Carlton, we stopped at Willakenzie Estate to taste their wine. We’d never been there before. The grounds were beautiful, as was the tasting room. There are sweeping views from the floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the vineyards.

The tasting room at Willakenzie Estate

There are places to sit out on a multi-tiered patio and enjoy a bottle of wine and a picnic. There’s also a fire pit. It was a bit too cold to sit outside yesterday, but it looks like somewhere that would be very enjoyable on a nice day.

The view from the deck.


Another view from the deck

I asked if their deck was dog friendly and was told that you could bring your dog as long as your dog was on a leash at all times and your dog was friendly towards people and other dogs. In other words, if you have a well-socialized dog and are a responsible pet parent, then you can bring your dog. I’d like to think that anyone taking their dog along with them for the day would have a well-socialized dog and would keep them on a leash, but you know how it goes. Remember, dogs aren’t usually allowed in the tasting rooms at the wineries – just on the grounds. Always make sure you ask, just to be sure.

We liked their wines. As we made our way through the flight, it just kept getting better and better. It always amazes me how wine made from grapes that are grown in a different block can taste so different from one grown in a different location but in the same vineyard. We first learned of this when we tasted Sokol Blosser’s Goosepen Pinot Noir at a cellar club event.

We chose a Willakenzie Estate 2008 Pinot Noir Kiana  and added it to our collection – to be opened some time in the future. Here are the tasting notes from the winery’s web site. “The aromatics are mostly of red fruits persisting with tart cherries, and floral tones such as rose petal. There’s a beautiful balance to this wine with bright acidity, upfront sweetness, and soft, round tannins that add viscosity and creaminess to the rich mouth feel. The wine will benefit from 2-3 years in the cellar and age well for 8 to 10 years from its release date.  We recommend that you open the wine an hour before serving. Pair with guinea hen, quail, or salmon — this wine is very versatile with food.”

We’re having built-ins put in on either side of our fireplace, and I’ve asked for wine storage on one side. It’ll be away from the fireplace opening. I’m starting to collect some things to store there. I’ll be sure to post pictures when it gets installed in the next few weeks.


When it snows to the valley floor in the Portland area, it’s a big deal. It doesn’t happen that often, and when it does it pretty much shuts things down. We don’t have the snowplows or the deicing equipment to handle anything. Usually, if we want to see snow, we head up to the Cascades and Mt. Hood or Mount Bachelor. Yesterday was one of those days where they had the special news crews doing special reports about the snow. You’d have thought we were expecting a blizzard, but no. We had some snow showers.

It was beautiful as it fell, but it didn’t stick to the roads. Our friends at Apolloni Vineyards posted some beautiful pictures that they’ve given me permission to share with my readers.

Snow in the vineyard


A beautiful view

We first discovered Apolloni Vineyards when we spent the day in Oregon wine country doing the Canines Uncorked tour. Then, not an hour after I got an email with permission to post the pictures, we walked into one of our favorite restaurants, Decarli, and what’s on the wine board – Apolloni Vineyard’s Conti di Yal Seriana Soleggio. I had to have a glass. According to their web site, “the Soleggio, which means sunshine in Italian, represents the sunshine-ripened grapes, which make up this Super Tuscan style wine. Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon provide structure and brightness as Merlot adds balance. This wine opens with a burst of figs and bright cherry while the structured tannins tie the black pepper, toast and coffee notes into a lasting finish. Enjoy this wine with flavorful dishes, including cheeses and roasted meats.” Enjoy it, I did! It was the perfect ending to a beautiful day in Oregon.

A Quick Trip to Oregon Wine Country

We are lucky to live within a half hour’s drive of Oregon wine country. Last Sunday, after a long week of business travel, we decided to head out to wine country to pick up our fall wine shipments from a couple of the wineries to whose wine clubs we belong.

Visiting Kramer Vineyards

Our first stop was at Kramer Vineyards. It was great to see the Kramer girls and the Kramer wine dogs. The harvest starts this week. I sure hope the weather holds out for them. It’s been a rainy, wet year, which isn’t good for wine makers.

If I remember right, these are Muller-Thurgau grapes just about ready for harvest.

Our next stop was at Elk Cove Vineyards just down the road from Kramer Vineyards. We’d never stopped there before. We didn’t have any wine to pick up here, but that didn’t stop us from doing a little tasting and taking some pictures. They make a great Pinot Noir that is available in most states.

Elk Cove Vineyards

They have a great deck that overlooks the vineyards, and it’s dog friendly.

I just loved these purple flowers. It was like a breath of spring in the middle of fall. I found out that they’re called Naked Ladies and they’re part of the crocus family. Their leaves come up in the spring like most crocuses, but they die back during the summer. Then, in the fall, these beautiful purple flowers emerge.

Naked Lady crocuses at Elk Cove Vineyard

As we made our way down Oregon 47 through Yamhill and Carlton, we stopped at another new place for us, Cana’s Feast Winery. I’ve always been intrigued by all of the outdoor seating. Turns out that this place is a bit different from many of the others in area. They get most of their grapes from Eastern Washington and most of the wines they produce are big, bold reds. We did some tasting while Kendall hung out in the car. There’s a restaurant there and the outdoor dining area is dog friendly.

Bold reds at the Cana's Feast Winery in Carlton, OR


Bocce courts at Cana's Feast Winery


Outdoor dining at Cana's Feast Winery

From there, we headed down to Sokol Blosser Winery. It was much more crowded there, but we were able to get a seat on the deck where we enjoyed a nice glass of pinot noir. We picked up our wine shipment and a few extra bottles and headed home.

As you can see from the pictures, fall hasn’t really arrived here in the Pacific Northwest. The leaves are just starting to turn color. We hope to get back out there in a couple of weeks for more fall wine pictures and to see some of the harvesting going on.



Dog-Friendly Events for Labor Day Weekend

Looking for something fun to do this Labor Day weekend? Here are some events in the Portland area that you may be able to enjoy with your dog.

Carlton Wine Country Half Marathon and Carlton Crawl

This running event takes place on Sunday, Sept. 4th. It starts at Stoller Vineyards and ends in downtown Carlton with a wine and music festival. Not a runner and still want to enjoy the festivities? The Carlton Crawl takes place on Sunday and Monday. Participating merchants will be offering discounts and tastings for those participating in the run or the crawl. Be sure to stop by the Noble Pig tasting room in Carlton and say Hi.

Kramer Vineyards End of Summer Pinot Gris & Jazzy Labor Days

Each afternoon this Labor Day weekend, enjoy wine tasting on the lawn accompanied by live jazz from the Greg Ernst Duo. $10/person, $5/Cellar Door Club Members and their guests. Open 11-5, including Monday. Their grounds are dog friendly. Be sure to keep your dog on a leash.

Columbia Gorge Wine Region Weekend Open House

More than 30 wineries and tasting rooms will be open for this Labor Day weekend open house. Follow the link to see the festivities happening at each location. Be sure to stop by MaryHill Winery for some great wine and music. I posted about our trip there in July. Their grounds and patio are dog friendly. You may see Potter, the resident wine dog, strolling around.

Annual Dahlia Festival in Canby, OR

Check out the acres of dahlias in bloom at Swan Island Dahlias. Note that Swan Island Dahlias is in Canby not on Swan Island. I know, it’s confusing, but it’s worth the drive. Dogs are allowed on the grounds on leash, but they’re not allowed in the indoor display rooms.

Also happening this weekend is the Portland Pirate Festival and Art in the Pearl. No matter what you decide to do this weekend, I hope you have fun.



A wonderful evening at Kramer Vineyards

Last night I was invited to spend an evening at Kramer Vineyards in Gaston with food and wine bloggers and members of the Kramer family. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for an evening in Oregon wine country.

All set for a wonderful evening
Sunset put a golden hue on everything

The sun cast a golden glow over the vineyards as we shared appetizers and tasted wines from the Kramer’s collection as well as other notable wines that some of the guest brought with them. I had the opportunity to sample some very good wines while learning a lot at the same time.

A perfect spot for an outdoor event
Great wine and good company

Guests were asked to bring something to share. Food bloggers brought food and wine bloggers brought wine. although I think some people brought both. Not being a food or a wine blogger, I decided to bring figs with goat cheese drizzled with peppered honey. It’s something that can be made entirely with local Oregon ingredients, and it travels well.

Anna and Justin - Anna blogs over at Banana Wonder
Discussing wines - Lisa Shara Hall, Kim Kramer, and Christopher

In addition to the figs, I also made frozen yogurt, blueberry, and peanut butter treats for the Kramer wine dogs.

Brody - One of the Kramer Vineyards wine dogs

Cosmo – One of the Kramer Vineyards wine dogs
Missy - another of the Kramer Vineyards wine dogs

Becky cooked some wonderful steaks on the grill. All of the food was awesome as were the great wines and the award-winning beer we sampled. Thanks for a perfect evening in Oregon wine country.

Barbecuing some awesome steaks

As promised, here is the link to the tomato jam.