Thursday, September 13, 2012

Moving day has arrived! You can now find me at

You’ll still be able to access all archived posts from the site you’re on now but I hope you’ll join me at my new home and follow along as the journey continues.

Kellie Stargaard aka Wine Chick

Thursday, August 30, 2012

WBC12 Washington County Excursion Part Deux

Last week I spoke to the first half day of my Wine Blogger’s Conference 2012 (WBC12) Washington County Pre-conference Excursion. That first day was so spectacular, I had to wonder what was in store for us on day two. Here’s a little peek; Montinore Estate for morning wine tasting, lunch at South Store Café, a bit of shopping at Smith Berry Barn, more wine tasting at Hawks View Cellars, a few cold micro-brews at Two Kilts Brewing Company while feasting on Korean-Mexican fusion food truck cuisine from Koi Fusion. All this and we never left WashingtonCounty. Yep, life was good.

Montinore Estate
We rolled up on Montinore Estate, grabbed a glass of chilled white wine waiting for us and braved the rising temps in the vineyard. There we tasted some great wines while receiving some background on the winery.
Montinore Estate is one of the largest producers of biodynamic/organic wines using Demeter Certified Biodynamic farming methods. Using these methods allows the vineyard team to gently coax the true flavors and variances from the grapes.
The vineyard is located in the far north side of WillametteValley (remember it’s Willamette Dammit) protected by the Coastal Mountain Range to the west. The loamy clay soil, elevation and long cool growing season allows for expressive Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Gewürtztraminer, Riesling and more.
There’s something to be said about standing in a vineyard, overlooking rolling hills while swirling a glass of wine. Oh the fact that it was around 10:30 AM. while others were working made it even sweeter. I couldn’t resist sending a text picture to my husband with glass in hand and vineyards in the back ground. Ah, if only all my days could begin in a vineyard with a glass of wine.
A plus, they’re available nationwide. I found a Pinot Noir at a Total Wine in Alpharetta, GA this past weekend.
3663 SW Dilley Road
Forest Grove, OR

South Store Café
After a big breakfast at McMenamins in the Children’s Cottage, I wasn’t sure I would be hungry for lunch but I managed just fine. Located in a building dating back to 1903 the quirky eatery was once a general store and meeting hall for Independent Order of the Oddfellows. In the 1940’s the building housed a soda fountain with games of pinochle and dances on the second floor.
So what makes the café quirky? Could be the old coffee pots and toasters serving as planters on the rail of the side porch. Could be the way the building leans. Or maybe it’s the story behind why the building leans. Seems back in 1962 the winds picked up perhaps up to 100 mph. After the winds stopped the building was still standing but no longer standing straight, instead it now had a slight tilt to the right. Rumor has it the owner at that time tried to straighten it by hitching up his tractor to the leaning building. I can tell you, it didn’t work, the building has a slight lean to this day.
24485 S.W. Scholls Ferry Rd
Hillsboro, OR 97123

Smith Berry Barn
Located across the road from South Store Café, Smith Berry Farm is your stop for fresh produce, herbs, plants, gifts, espresso, milkshakes, local art and much more. This was just an excursion from our excursion and a chance to pick up some local items. A must visit if you’re in the area.
24500 SW Scholls Ferry Road
Hillsboro, OR 97123

Hawks View Cellars
Next on the agenda, more wine to taste, this time at Hawks View Cellars, named for the graceful hawks seen soaring aloft. Located on Chehalem Mountain in Sherwood, Oregon, the boutique winery produces limited amounts of estate-grown Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.
Family owned, the winery was purchased in 2002 by recently retired Jack Kemp. Living amongst the existing vines, Kemp originally had no plans to get into the winemaking industry. But those old vines must have been calling to him and in 2007 plans for Hawks View Cellars were in full swing.
John Alexander Kemp passed away in January 2012 but his legacy continues and is still run by his wife Willie and son A.J.
20210 SW Conzelmann Rd
Sherwood, OR 97140

Two Kilts Brewing Company
The perfect final stop on an extremely warm day in Oregon, a local micro-brewery. Founded in 2009 by two friends, one of Scottish heritage the other of Irish heritage they opened their doors to the public in 2011. The brewery specializes in India Pale Ale and Scotch Ale all made with local ingredients. As we bellied up to the bar or one of the several picnic tables with beer in hand, we felt our pre-conference excursion drawing to a close. Soon we would be immersed in wines from all across Oregon, Greece, Argentina and many, many more regions. But first we need to eat again, it’s been at least an hour or two since lunch and we need to keep food in us with all this drinking.
Lucky for us the Koi Fusion truck was waiting to take our orders for their scrumptious twist on KoreanBBQ/Mexican fusion cuisine. If you come across this one during travels in PDX, don’t forget the kimchi. So spicy it’ll make you slap your mama!
Two Kilts Brewing Company
14841 SW Tualatin Sherwood Road
Suite 501
Sherwood, OR 97140

As we rode the bus back to Portland I had a chance to reflect on all the places I’d seen and people I’d met in just a day’s time. Think we did a lot of tasting in this twenty-six hour time frame? You haven’t seen anything yet, over the next two and half days I estimate I tasted around one-hundred-fifty wines. Ironically I think I drank a total of six full glasses of wine through that same time frame. Lots of spitting and dumping going on at the WBC.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

#WBC12 Washington County Excursion Part One

What can I say about my recent trip to Portland, OR and the Wine Blogger’s Conference (WBC)? Better yet what can I not say about my trip? I have so many memories to last a lifetime from the amazing excursions, great wines, scrumptious food and t
First I have to give kudos to those that made my trip so spectacular. To the Wine Blogger’s Conference for arranging and picking such a phenomenal site, to the Washington Visitors Board for providing a memorable excursion to WashingtonCounty, the Oregon Wine Board and to Thea Dwelle for awarding me a scholarship to attend, without my trip would not have been possible. There are many others that work hard to pull off this annual conference and to all of you I raise my glass.
I spent the first part of my trip on my own in Portland’s downtown area but I’ll cover that in a separate post.

My first leg of the WBC started on Wednesday with an excursion to WashingtonCounty hosted by the Washington County Visitors Association. There were twenty of us that eagerly boarded the bus with anticipation of what was in store for us. As we headed towards WashingtonCounty, the gateway to WillametteValley, we were given a lesson in the bedrock soils of the area. The first known geological change was fifteen million years ago when the WillametteValley was created as a result of the Earth’s shifting plates forcing what is now known as Western Oregon up out of the sea. This shift left the floor of the valley filled with layers of basalt. The plates continued to shift over thousands of years shaping the countryside.
Around eighteen thousand years ago, during the ice age, the melting of a glacial dam near what is now Missoula, Montana flooded the Valley over a number of times creating a wall of water as tall as a forty-two floor sky scraper. The water washed over the hills, flooding the area, leaving behind rich silts. This in addition to a layer of wind blown silt known as loess gives the WillametteValley a rich soil composition perfect for growing superior wines.

Not sure how to pronounce, well it’s “Willamette, damn it”.

SakéOne Brewery Forest Grove, OR
We spent our time in Forest Grove, located in the foothills of the CoastRange and the base of the TillamookStateForest. First stop SakéOne, America’s only owned and operated large production saké brewery. Our merry little group was greeted by Steve Vuylsteke president and CEO. After touring the brewery and capturing a bit of the process from start to finish we all had the same question; is saké beer or is it wine? The answer, it’s neither, it’s saké.
Saké goes through a parallel fermentation process separating it from both beer and wine. The process goes something like this:
Start with clean and pure water. Rice is the second component; remove hull and polish then wash, soak and steam. Add Koji mold to turn the starch into sugar. Prepare yeast and begin brewing process. After the brewing process is complete the saké is pasteurized and moved into steel tanks to rest and mature. A few weeks later the saké is ready to bottle and enjoy.
I enjoyed all the tasting samples but do have a few that are my favorite:
Moonstone Asian – crisp pear aromas and flavors.
Junmai Ginjo Genshu – bold fruit and spice flavors.
Momokawa Ruby Junmai Ginjo – Tropical fruit and berry flavors.
Saké is naturally gluten and sulfite free and we were told there is less of a regret the day after should you imbibe a little too much. With saké as smooth as those we tasted, it’s very easy to do.
Unlike fine wines, fine sake should be consumed within twelve months of being bottled. Serve in a wine glass and enjoy. An open bottle will last about two weeks.
The best news, SakéOne is available nationwide in retail stores, Costco and World Market. Look for Momokawa, Moonstone or Yoshinogawa brands.
SakéOne, 820 Elm St, Forest Grove, OR97116

McMenamins Grand Lodge, Forest Grove, OR
After we’d had our fill of saké we made our way to our hotel, McMenamin’s Grand Lodge. The mild Oregon temps gave way to a sweltering heat wave during the duration of my stay with temps hovering around one hundred degrees. The stately hotel is European style with no AC and plenty of conveniently located shared bathrooms. I was worried about sharing a bathroom but not once did I run into another person either on my way or while in the bathroom. To combat those rare hot days each room has a large window, transom (didn’t find that until the next day) and a box fan in the closet. I set the fan on a chair next to the bed and was fine all night.
The former Masonic and Eastern Star Home was built in 1922 and served as a rest home for aging Masons. When the Masonic and Eastern Star Home moved in 1999, the McMenamin brothers purchased the property and began renovations. Quirky sometimes twisted touches can be seen throughout the hotel. Grab a walking map from the front desk and wander around the floors, just watch out for the Lavender Lady said to haunt the hotel. There were a few strange occurrences reported by my fellow travelers. Was it the Lavender Lady or just too much wine? We may never know.
McMenamins Grand Lodge, 3505 Pacific Ave, Forest Grove, OR 97116

Wine Makers Dinner at 1910 Main
That evening we were treated to a seven course meal prepared by the staff of 1910 Main, Forest Grove’s premier restaurant. The food was sourced locally and the meal was a true foodie delight. Joining us for the evening were winemakers and representatives from PonziVineyards, Cooper Mountain Vineyards, Raptor Ridge, Garden Vineyards and Apolloni Vineyards.
From the Gin Cured Oregon Coho Salmon Tartar paired with 2011 Apolloni Sparkling Rosé to the L Bar T Buffalo Bolognaise with Gnocchi paired with 2009 Ponzi Pinot Noir Reserve, the dinner was simply amazing. My favorite was the Pruitt’s Farm Fresh Corn Spoonbread with Oregon Dungeness Crab and Poached Quail Egg. A feast for both the eyes and the stomach.
A quick look at some of the wines we tasted that evening:
2011 Apolloni Sparkling Rosé – strawberry and watermelon with a hint of citrus finish.
2011 Raptor Ridge Gruener Veltliner Estate – a favorite of the night –acidic with notes of mineral and lemon that pairs well with many foods but works exceptionally well with spicy foods. Watch out, this is an acid bomb but in a good way.
2011 Cooper Mountain Pinot Gris – Peach and melon flavors
2009 Ponzi Chardonnay Reserve – Pear and apricot notes
There were many others but just too many to keep track of and enjoy the evening.

As we rode back to our warm hotel rooms with our bellies full many of us decided to enjoy a few more glasses of wine on the patio adjacent to McMenamins Ironwork Grill. There we shared stories and got to know each other and geared up for three days of serious wine tasting and good times.

Stayed tuned next week I’ll get more into the wines of Oregon and cover some of the wineries I was able to visit while I let my liver rest for a bit.
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Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Short Jaunt through Oregon’s Willamette Valley Wineries

In just a few days I’ll be jetting across the country to Portland, OR for the 2012 Wine Blogger’s Conference. I’ll spend the first three days exploring Portland on my own before meeting up with over three hundred other bloggers. After we will all spend a few days exploring wineries, tasting new wines, learning and spitting.

This isn’t my first trip to the Rose City, my husband and I married in Portland at VooDoo Doughnuts in 2009. This is however my first trip to the city on my own and I plan on getting the most out of the Pearl District, where I’ll spend my first three days.

As I think about Oregon wines my mouth is watering for those wonderfully crafted Pinot noirs. While Oregon may be best known for Pinot noir, that is certainly not their only wine cash crop. There are over four hundred wineries in the Willamette Valley alone so this post won’t even make a dent on coverage. But if you happen to find yourself in the area, here are a few wineries I was able to visit in 2009 and truly enjoyed.

Founded in 1970 by Dick and Nancy Ponzi the winery has earned worldwide accolades for producing some of the finest Pinot noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and White Riesling, Arneis and Dolcetto.
Since its start the vineyards have led the way for Oregon’s viticulture revolution while staying course in their commitment to traditional winemaking.  Second generation, winemaker Luisa Ponzi now carries on that tradition using classic Burgundy methods.
The winery is still family owned and contracts with growers matching the varietal to the terroir and climate. The valley offers a moderate climate and provides ideal sites for the culture and cultivation of cool climate wine varietals.
My husband and I liked this one so much we joined the wine club and receive shipments four times a year. Many wineries offer several levels of wine club membership and are a great way to try wines you may not normally be drawn to or have access to.

Two words, Black Brut. This has to be one of the prettiest wines in a glass I’ve ever set eyes on and tastes pretty darn good too. While well vested in sparkling wines, they are well known for their Pinot noir wines.
Founded by Brian Croser and Rollin Soles, Argyle Winery has produced world renowned methode champenoise Sparkling wine, barrel fermented Chardonnay and elegant Pinot noir since the late 1980’s.
Argyle sources grapes from three vineyards located in Dundee Hills. Knudsen Vineyard, Stoller Vineyard and Lone Star Vineyard. Planted in 1972 and 1974 the Knudsen Vineyard’s high elevation provides the perfect elements for sparkling wines. Stoller Vineyards planted in 1995 produces their well known Pinot noir and Chardonnay.
Lone Star Vineyard was purchased in 1996 and is primarily made up of Dijon clones of Pinot noir 

Erath wines have been around for over 40 years, longer than any other winery in the Dundee Hills area. Dick Erath, engineer turned viticulturist began winemaking in 1965 when he re-located his family from California to the Dundee Hills area of Oregon. Using an old logger’s cabin as his home on 49 acres of land he planted 23 varieties of grapes, the first wine grapes in Dundee Hills. The region is similar to France’s Burgundy with its iron rich soils, cool nights and warming sunshine giving Dundee the perfect climate to perfect Pinot noirs, the wine this area of Oregon is most well known.
Lucky for all of us, Erath is carried in stores across the nation.

Wondering what puts Oregon Pinot noir above so many others in the US? The magic’s in the iron rich soil and warming sunshine of a marine climate, providing the area the ability to produce phenomenal Pinot noirs. Pinot noir grapes are one of the most finicky grapes and require great care, patience and the perfect terroir. The grape is sensitive to wind, temperature, fungal disease and this is just in the vineyard. Once in the fermentation takes another host of problems can arise.
The grape can be so problematic, famed winemaker André Tchelistcheff stated "God made Cabernet Sauvignon whereas the devil made Pinot noir."

I’ve been holding off on packing for the past week but I’m breaking out the luggage today. Portland, get your beers and wines ready, here I come.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Steelhead Red Wine 2010 and Steelhead Pinot Noir 2010

Many people think writing a wine blog is a fun and exciting sideline. Well folks want to know what fun and exciting activity I’m up to this week…spitting. Yes, I’m learning to spit. Still sound like fun?

Guess I should clarify; I’m practicing spitting so I don’t end up on the floor at the upcoming Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, OR. This isn’t my first wine rodeo and I have my own tips on how to drink wine all day and stay somewhat sober but figured I’d give spitting a shot.

Who knew spitting could be so difficult. The obvious key is to not get any on you or others around you and to make it into the spit bucket. Then there’s the spit bucket itself….yuck!

Ok, enough on this subject, onto my latest wine samples. Recently I received a few new wines to sample, Steelhead Red Wine and Steelhead Pinot Noir.

 Steelhead Red Wine North Coast 2010
Ripe dark berry aromas draws you in for the first sip. Bing cherry, chocolate and oak pass over the palate. Well structured tannins and a lingering finish provide for a lovely red wine.
Sourcing grapes from the Dry Creek Valley, Steelhead Red kicked off the wineries ventures in winemaking.
Varietal Blend: 65% Zinfandel, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon,
15% Cabernet Franc, 5% Syrah
Alcohol: 14.2%
Acidity: 0.59 g/100ml
pH: 3.71
SRP: $14.99

Steelhead Pinot Noir Sonoma 2010
After opening bottle and pouring into glass I found quite a bit of alcohol burn. Allowing the wine to air and after a bit of swirling the burn dissipated and the true aromas and flavors emerged. Red and black fruits aromas full of currant and plum. Dark plum, cherry and cola flavors followed by a long silky finish.
Varietal Blend: 97% Pinot Noir, 3% Syrah
Alcohol: 14.3%
Acidity: 0.60 g/100ml
pH: 3.68                                               
SRP: $14.99

Created in 1998 the winery acquired their name from the Steelhead Trout that are native to surrounding creeks in Dry Creek Valley. The winery follows a “Better Wine. Better World” strategy with a commitment to create outstanding wine and maintain and restore balance to the surrounding environment.

Together with Trout Unlimited (TU) the winery works to improve the balance between water and land throughout California wine country allowing Steelhead Trout to return to the streams they once inhabited. A portion of the proceeds from every bottle sold goes to fund TU’s conservation efforts.

A partnership with another winery focused on preserving and restoring the area, Quivira Vineyards, Steelhead is able to employ Hugh Chappelle (Quievera winemaker) as their consulting winemaker. I love a wine that not only tastes good but makes me feel good about my purchase.

I’ll speak more to my upcoming trip next week, stayed tuned and keep the wine wipes handy.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Biltmore Century Red and Century White

One year ago this week, my husband, Mikkel, 19 year old cat, Katundra, and I packed a large 26’ moving truck with car carrier in tow, loaded my car with dozens of bottles of wines and headed north to begin a new life in NE Georgia. It’s no secret moving is stressful but when you couple that with the sale of a home, a change in states and no idea where our new home would be, it’s a sheer nightmare. By the end of our two day trip we referred to the evil truck and car carrier as Boris and Natasha.

We had a contract on a house on three wooded acres within two days of arriving and moved in over Labor Day weekend. The next big change came with the passing of Katundra. Soon after we added seven new members to our little country family.

We love living in the country and giving up the subdivision mentality. Gone are the days of mowing the lawn every weekend, watering, fertilizing and fretting over brown spots. Instead we spend our time moving the chicken run, tending vegetables, fruit and nut trees and plotting new gardens. Another thing we love, it no longer takes six hours just to get to another state.

We’ll soon be heading to Asheville, NC, home of the Biltmore Estate. Sadly we’ll only be there for a weekend so we won’t have time to visit the great estate or winery on this visit but I can still take in the flavors and aromas produced by the winery. Biltmore Century Red and Century White.

Century White
Aromas of rose and over ripe peach. Semi-sweet blend of Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Muscat Canelli flavors provide light acidity with sweet honeysuckle notes.
Varitals - Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Muscat Canelli
pH – 3.24
TA – 0.58
RS – 3.24%
Alcohol – 13.1%
SRP - $15.99

Century Red
Aromas of black cherry, vanilla and strawberry. Medium-body, fruity forward with red berries and a long vanilla finish.
Varitals - Sangiovese and Merlot
pH – 3.50
TA – 0.62
RS – .04%
Alcohol – 14.2%
SRP - $15.99

The etched glass showcasing the elegant Biltmore House may have you wondering if you want to recycle the empty bottle or hold onto it for awhile. For your summer celebrations, you can order both wines online for a sale price of $12.99.

Here’s to change, may it always bring something good. Cheers!

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Feudo Principi di Butera Insolia Sicily 2010

The weather forecasts promise lower temps and a chance for some much needed rain the remainder of the week. Now if only I could get this same reassurance from my mechanic. Last week his response was the Fourth of July holiday backed everything up. On Monday he and I discovered after a full week the machine shop hadn’t even started work on my part. Now being told car may be ready the day before I’m scheduled to drive up to North Carolina. Oh and the topper, we don’t really know if this is the fix. Ugh, wine take me away!

There was one bright spot to my sketchy Monday, a wonderful Insolia produced by Feudo Principi di Butera, a sample from Zonin.

The color of golden straw evokes images of sunny summer days and warm breezy evenings. Aromas of mango and almond intermingle with flavors of pineapple, peach and more mango. A slight effervescence hits mid palate, the finish is well balanced and delectable. Would make a great pairing to barbecue pork sandwiches, ribs or grilled chicken. A truly wonderful summer wine. SRP $13.99

Feudo Principi di Butera is located in the heart of Sicily and once belonged to noble dynasties. The Insolia/Inzolia grape is grown primarily in Sicily although it can also be found in Tuscany under the synonym Ansonica. Insolia may sound unfamiliar to you but if you’ve tasted Chicken Marsala or Marsala wines, you have been introduced to and hopefully enjoyed the Insolia varietal. The grape along with Grillo and Cartarratto are the three varietals used to produce the fortified wine known as Marsala wine.

Looks like we may finally get some much needed rain, skies are darkening, rumble of thunder in the distance and the wind is blowing through the trees. I sure hope it does make it here so all the vegetation can let out a collective sigh of aaahhh.

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