Cocktail, laughter, and damn fine jam

After we meandered through the Walk in the Park, the Blitz Carlton crew headed back in to town and met up at Republic of Jam for cocktails and catching up.

The Republic of Jam is a unique shop that specializes in jams and culinary concoctions of distinction made from local farms and suppliers.  Each jar of jam contains at least one pound of fresh fruit, with half of the sugar of traditional jams – making them deliciously savory as well as sweet.  These are not your average jams!  With flavors like Apricot Vanilla Riesling and Mango Viognier, you are sure to have your taste buds teased and enthralled.

Lynnette creating Plum Royales
Photo courtesy of Josh Chang

In this little slice of heaven, members of the Jam Nation (the shop’s quarterly club) can wander the shelves of little gems like the much coveted Pacific Berry Jam, only made once a year, or perhaps some Cherry Black Pepper jam to spread on your pork chop.  With other items such as Spiced Pomegranate Culinary Syrup as well as mustards, the sky is the limit when it comes with creative uses of these sauces and spreads.

Republic of Jam’s proprietresses, Amy Wilder and Lynnette Shaw, are creative and inspired jam masters who are only limited by the supply of season fruit.  The creative recipies and inspirations that they come up with are truly amazing.

On our visit, we were treated to several nibbles as well as three cocktails, using both jams and culinary syrups.

Photo courtesy of Josh Chang (I swear I took pictures, but clearly not of the cocktails!)

Try some fresh chevre or farmers cheese with a little blueberry jam, or perhaps a Smoked Tomato jam with bacon sandwich!

The first cocktail was Plum Ginger culinary syrup, paired wit local winery Kramer Vineyards Brut.  This created a Plum Royale, and the flavor of the plums make it a refreshingly fun sparkler, with a twist.  When I got home, I had a bottle of Spiced Pomegranate syrup, so I tried that as well – and boy!  What a way to ring in the holidays!

Next up locally crafted artisan gin was paired with Blueberry Lemon jam, slowly dissolved in a glass with a generous slug of gin, topped with sparkling water.  Lemon Blueberry Gin fizz anyone?  I had two…or three!  Hey, I was walking 2 blocks back to the B&B and the restaurant for dinner was next door.

Our final jam libation was a Strawberry Mint Julep, created with Temperance Trader Bourbon, bitters, and Strawberry Black Pepper culinary syrup.  With the unexpected kick of pepper at the end of a sweet julep, this was absolutely delicious.

If you are in Carlton, be sure to stop by!  Situated between 7 of Hearts winery and Horseradish cafe, you can stroll the main street all day and never be bored.

As for me, I have about 7 jars of jam collected on my counter, and 3 culinary syrups in my fridge.  This weekend is the Craft Spirits Carnival, and I will be doing my best mixology routine tomorrow!  We’ll see how it goes…

Happy jamming!

Turn left at the coast

Early in my trip to Oregon in August, I took a day and a half long detour through the southern Oregon region surrounded Salem.  One of our stops was Left Coast Cellars, located in the Eola-Amity appellation, Left Coast is situated on a rolling hill, where they can catch the strong Van Duzer breezes that flow through the gap to the coast, cooling off the area and the precious grapes.

Our hostess, Ivy Hover, was dedicated to showing us a great time.  A ball of energy and a social media guru, Ivy get sit.  She is connected, and invested in engaging with the blogger audience.   Throughout the conference later that week, Ivy was tweeting up a storm and an active participant in the discussions around engagement and interaction.

The winery is located on the 45th parallel, and has 306 acres of steep hills that form a natural amphitheater with a spring fed lake.  The vineyard, which is sustainably farmed, is naturally irrigated via a gravity flow system.  With vineyards planted primarily on the southern facing slopes, the remained of the property is kept as an ecological preserve, with old growth White Oaks, orchards, as well as natural lakes, streams and meadows.

Left Coast, like many Oregon producers, is committed to sustainability and is one of 14 wineries that completed the Carbon Reduction Challenge.  With a focus on being completely carbon neutral, Left Coast has installed two large solar panels.  The first provides 100% of the power for the guest cottage, and front gate, the irrigation system, and landscaping needs.  Another solar panel on the winery roof generates most of the electricity needed to operate the production facility.  With a large spring fed lake in which rain water is collected, the gravity flow irrigation system is fed.  Add in some bio-diesel winery vehicles and you have a very green operation!

But now, let’s talk about the wine.  As our hosts for dinner, Left Coast set up under the Tree House, a large open air gazebo just above the winery in the woods.  Here, in the shade of the hot summer day, we could sip Pinot Noir Blanc and look out at the beautiful hills around us.

I hit the jackpot when I saw that they were pouring an 07 Latitude 45 Pinot Noir!  07 you say?  07 I say!   Widely panned by critics but much loved by Pinot drinkers, the 07s are in short supply these days but what is left is amazing.  With a low 13.5% ABV, the spice and minerality shows off the best of the vintage.   With Dijon clones 114, 115, 667 and 777, it is a well balanced wine with great black pepper and acid balance.   It’s a big wine for 2007, but not big over all and I love it.  $30 buy now if you can.

To beat the heat, the 2011 White Pinot Noir was surprisingly delicious.  I admittedly scoff at “white” Pinot Noir, questioning why you wouldn’t make a delicious rose instead, but there are several examples in Oregon of White Pinot Noir that are lovely.  This one is produced from free run juice, and has a floral note with delicious green apple and cranberry.  Fermented in stainless steel, it’s a crisp refreshing wine with just a kiss of pink.  $20 a great summer sipper

It’s little sister, the 2011 Pinot Noir Rose, is a salmon pink Pinot rose with classic notes of watermelon and strawberry.  Again, the low ABV of 13% makes this a great wine to enjoy with your picnic.  At $16, you can afford it everyday.

While there are many more wines of left coast to enjoy, these were my favorites.  I can’t wait to get back up and visit!

 

Youngberg Hill Winery

Driving up to the inn & winery, past the rolling hills south of McMinnville, through the farmlands, you feel like you are on top of the world.  Turning in to the driveway of the winery, and you realize why the current owners, Wayne Bailey and family choose to purchase this particular spot.

in 2003, the Baileys purchased the property, and proceeded to radically change the way the vineyards and winery were managed.  The vineyard was moved to organically farmed grapes, and they are still lint he process of being more biodynamically farmed as we speak.  Today, Youngberg Hill is a small, family owned winery that produces Oregon Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris (as well as a renegade Pinot Blanc).  Today, an inn operates on the vineyard property, offering luxurious accommodations with sweeping views of the McMinnville hills.

The winery sits on 50 acres, on top of a hill, surrounded by the estate vineyards.  It’s easy to have Wayne’s infectious enthusiasm rub off on you, and I sat on the deck of the inn, nibbling on a light lunch, tasting the delicious wines.  Wayne’s dream was to create a winery that produced distinctive wines, while respecting the environment and local climate accordingly.  For 22 years, the vineyard has been producing these lovely wines, while maintaining a green philosophy that is so dominant in Willamette’s wine making industry.

With 20 acres planted to 3 blocks of Pinot Noir and one block of Pinot Gris, each block is unarmed for one of the Baily daughters – Natasha, Jordon and Aspen, as  well as the Camelot block that was planeted in 2008.  Natasha is 7 acres, and is the largest of the Pinot blocks.  At 600 feet, it sits on marine sediment from the sea that once covered this area.  Jordan is 4 acres, and is on a steeper slope that is volcanic soil, at 800 feet.  Both of these blocks are planted with 60% Pommard and 40% Wadenswil, from the original vineyard planting in 1989.  The third pinot block, Camelot, is smaller at 3 acres and sits between the two sisters, with a blend of volcanic and marine sediment.  This is planted to 777, and was a more recent addition in 2008.  The Aspen Pinot Gris is dry farmed, and is between 525 and 600 feet.

The vineyards are all hand harvested and field sorted before the secondary table sorting begins.  Youngberg Hill does not use whole cluster fermentation, and all of the fruit is destemmed.  Traditionally, they use a native yeast fermentation, but as most wineries do, there is an emergency box with commercial yeast, to assist when things get stuck.  The importance of native yeast cannot be stressed enough – since it’s a complex blend that comes in from the vineyards, as well as the house style in the cellar.  Replacing that with a single staring with do a disservice to to the wine, and as Youngberg is striving to be sustainable, organic and local, they shy away from those practices.

Some of the other sustainable practices in place today include reducing soil erosion with cover crops, a primary focus of biodynamcis.  The winery also uses alternative pesticides such as biodegradable oils, soaps, and plant extracts, and is aggressively pursuing the goal of 100% sustainability in its vineyard.  In 2005, they earned their LIVE and Salmon Safe certifications, two key sustainable organizations in Oregon.  In 2010, Youngberg Hill was certified by the Oregon Wine Board as sustainable.  The latest goal is to be biodynamically certified.

It was a beautiful afternoon and I can’t wait to go back and visit!  The inn is on the isolated hilltop, and is the perfect place to bring a book or three, and disconnect for the weekend.  The staff will be sure to take excellent care of you as you sip on the wines below, gazing out at the stunning views below.  I know I will be planning a weekend as soon as I can!

2011 Aspen Block Pinot Gris – The 800 foot elevation gives this Pinot Gris a brilliant and bracing citrus acidity that is well balanced and delicious.  Lots of grapefruit and Granny Smith apple.  This is a beautiful porch pounder for your early fall sipping!


2011 Pinot Blanc – The Pinot Blanc is the only non estate wine in the line up, and is from the Larkins Vineyard in the Eola Hills.  The nose has bright grapefruit and lime citrus, with luscious stone fruit and cream on the palate.

2009 Estate Pinot Noir – this is a blend of the 2 older blocks of Pinot, Natasha and Jordon.  It has an earthy dust, mushroom notes and flavors of the forest floor, with a nice acid profile with bright cherries and spicebox.  A hint of minerality with cinnamon dusted plum to finish.

2009 Natasha Block Pinot Noir – This is the 24th leaf of the block.  There are richer cherry cola notes, and lots of Dr. Pepper, prune, and rhubarb notes.  A darker one but wonderful.

2008 Jordan Block Pinot Noir – This is the upper block, on volcanic soils.  It producer more intense black cherry, brambleberry, and fig notes.  There was a lot of root beer, with nice earth and bark finish.  The Jordan uses 20+25% new oak, that gives it a great balance.

Thank you Wayne for hosting, and I look forward to visiting again soon!