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.

Saké Tasting Oregon Style

We had a LivingSocial coupon to use by the end of January for a saké tasting at Saké One in Forest Grove, OR. I’ve never had saké before, so I was looking forward to trying something new. Our tasting included a flight of different sakés all with different characteristics.

I learned that saké is brewed from a mixture of rice, water, koji, and yeast. It’s not a beer; it’s not a wine; it’s an entity unto itself.

The tasting room at Sake One

Our tasting came with a food pairing. It was very interesting to see how the taste of the saké changed when it was paired with food – much like wine does. We tasted it with smoked fish, some spicy food, savory food, and some sweets. It seemed to adapt well to all of them, which is the message they were trying to convey.

Did you know there are only a limited number of sakeries in the United States? There are five or so in California and one in Oregon. It just so happens that the Oregon one is right in the same vicinity as our wonderful wine region, so you can visit and taste our awesome pinots and some saké.

As much as I wanted to like the saké, I just couldn’t relate to it. I know wine. I know how to describe how it tastes, how it feels. I like beer. I can’t drink it like I used to because of the darn gluten component, but I like a good beer. The saké left me wanting for something. I found it to be a bit edgy and thin. It was more like what I’d expect at a vodka tasting. I know some people really like it, but it’s just not for me. If you’re one of those people who do like saké, then I have something you may want.

Saké Pure + Simple - a guide book to saké

I have two copies of saké pure + simple by Griffith Frost and John Gauntner. This is a guide book to everything saké. It includes information on the history of saké, how it’s made, how to select a saké, what to avoid, how to develop your palate (maybe that’s what I need), and much more. I’d like to give those books to any of my readers (US only, please) who leaves a comment stating that you’d like to have it. If more than two people chime in, I’ll pick the winners randomly.

Kendall at the tasting room

Note: This review was done completely on my own. We purchased the Living Social coupon and received the books I’m giving away as part of that tasting.

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.



Canines Uncorked – a Fun Day!

The weather in Oregon couldn’t have been any better for yesterday’s Canines Uncorked event held at seven wineries in the northern Willamette Valley. Blue skies and temperatures in the low 80’s made for a perfect day in Oregon wine country. This fundraiser for the Oregon Humane Society is in its second year, and 100% of the proceeds from the $40 passport went to OHS.

Map of participating wineries

We started the day at Apolloni Vineyards. The dog activity at this winery was ice cream sundaes – doggie style. They served up dishes of vanilla human ice cream complete with toppings that included dried bananas, crushed up dog treats, and more. Kendall’s never had ice cream. We let her have about a quarter of what they gave her. The wines here were very good. We bought a bottle of rose that’s perfect for our summer concert outings.

Sansome, the resident wine dog
Dishing up ice cream sundaes
Who doesn't love ice cream?
Time for lunch
Tastings were included in your passport

The next stop on our tour was at Tualatin Estate Vineyard. The dog event at this winery was paw print cards. They dipped the dog’s paw into some paint and then pressed it onto a card.

Making a paw print card
The tasting room

The next stop on our tour was Plum Hill Vineyards. They have a new dog run so the humans can drink wine while the dogs play together.  They had a beautiful patio overlooking the vineyard, and they had live music. Students from Gaston Elementary school had dog treats, scarves, and other items for sale.

An interesting wine fountain
The patio at Plum Hill Vineyards
A happy participant

Our final stop on the tour was at Kramer Vineyards. The wine here was wonderful, as was the view. We met some of the people we’ve only known through Twitter and email. It was so nice to be able to put a face with a name.

Missy, one of the wine dogs

Missy tweets at @MissMissyKramer. We also met Wyatt, a gardening dog. His mom wrote a great post on Canines Uncorked over on their blog.

We skipped a few of the wineries because we’ve already been to them a number of times. Our goal was to get to some of the wineries we’ve never had the chance to visit. The Canines Uncorked event was a great excuse to get out and try the wineries and support OHS at the same time.