Best Pairing of the Summer: Mad Violets Riesling with Grilled Oysters

A bright and fruity Riesling with a pair-perfect attitude. 

photo (4)

Sourced from the oldest Riesling vineyard in the Willamette Valley at Maresh Vineyard, Mad Violets Riesling develops with layers of flavors. Easing in with aromas of lemons and apricots, the wine flirts around as if its in a love triangle with sweet and tart. Vibrant on the mid-palate with minerality and stone fruit flavors and an acidity that starts your mouth salivating, the wine then lightens with notes of honey, honeysuckle, and flowers on the finish. Mad Violets crafts this Riesling in the the off-dry German Kabinett style.

I paired this delicious-on-its own-but-even-better-with-food wine with freshly grilled oysters straight out of the Puget Sound. Grilled on the back porch with a bath of butter, the hot steamers bubbled as the wine’s acidity cut through the fat and the sweet fruit notes complimented the sea salt garnish.

Grab a bottle of Mad Violets Riesling and enjoy it before summers over. I found this bottle at Fox Farm Vineyard’s tasting room in downtown Newberg.


3 Roses You’ll Want to Drink Right Now

Pink is quickly becoming my new favorite color. Blame it on the heat or my red-wine rich winter diet, but I’ve been on one hell of a Rose kick lately. But this wine gal is not complaining.

With so many delicious (and often bone-dry) Roses, it’s hard not to keep filling my glass with 5 ounces of this summer-loving wine. Here are three of my favorite Pinot Noir Roses so far this July:

North Valley 2013 Pinot Noir Rose


North Valley Rose

Even toned and delicious, North Valley’s Rose (produced by Sotor Vineyards) comes alive with its salmon-pink color and ripe, floral aromatics as soon as it hits your glass. With no residual sugar, this wine flourishes on the palate with notes of raspberries, strawberries, and a touch of carrot honey and concludes with a crisp, clean finish. Using both neutral oak and stainless steel for the fermentation, the light rose retains a delicateness yet with a richness that is often lost with roses.  Purchase for $24 in their tasting room or at local grocery and wine stores.

Lachini Vineyards’ 2013 Rose of Pinot Noir


Lachini Vineyards Rose

Finished by Lachini Vineyard’s new winemaker, this Rose of Pinot Noir features flavors of citrus, watermelon, and almost-ripe strawberries while the nose gives off more bright fruit. Another completely dry rose, Lachini’s also balances fruit, acids, and minerality in a flirty dance. Let this wine seduce you in the hot summer sun and envelop your taste buds until the bottle is empty.

Zum’s 2013 Pinot Noir Rose


Zum Rose

This slightly-sweet rose from Germany is, by far, one of my favorite budget-friendly bottles this summer. With notes of strawberry, bubblegum, and fresh-picked cherries, the uncomplicated wine balances out the residual sugar with above-average acidity. No fuss, just drink and enjoy this $10 bottle of wine any summer evening. Or pick up a bottle at Pix Patisserie in East Portland and pair it with a mix-berry creme tart from their delicious dessert case.


What is your favorite summer rose?


Stoller Family Estate’s Tempranillo Rose


 Light, refreshing and endlessly sippable.



Warm weather welcomes a blush to the cheeks and pink wine for the glass, so pour a rose and savor the start of summer. For my first glass of the season, I popped open this bottle from Stoller Family Estate, which I acquired at a wine club event last year.

Flirting with aromas of rose petals and strawberries, the salmon pink rose of Tempranillo was refreshing and cool like a cucumber. On the palate, it featured concentrated strawberry, simple cranberry, northwest cherry and a touch of citrus. Like Rose of Pinot Noir, which is becoming more and more prevalent around the Willamette Valley, this spring wine brought forth rounder notes and a lovely lingering mid-palate without being sweet or tart like many white summer wines.

Visit Stoller Family Estate to try their current summer releases at their Dundee Hills tasting room. Open 11am-5pm, daily.



Oregon Wine Day Trips Part 4: Southern Oregon

This is the fourth part of a five part series featuring day trip itineraries in Oregon’s wine country. Each itinerary features 4-5 wineries within driving distance of each other near a city or accommodations hub.

Bigger, bolder and a lot more barns. That’s what the Southern AVAs bring to the table in Oregon and for the best. Balencing out the Pinot-centeric north, the Applegate and Rogue valleys fill tasting flights with Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and more. For this fantastic wine day-trip, stay in this hub: Jacksonville

Photo by KWTravellersStart the day at Cowhorn Wines with sips of their biodynamic Rhone-style wines. Using as little intervention as possible (in terms of manipulation, chemicals or additives), Cowhorn has racked in the accolades for their clean and alluring wines. Make sure to taste their Viognier!

Continue the afternoon of tasting at the small neighboring winery at Red Lily Vineyard. Focusing on a single varietal born from their love for Spanish wines, Red Lily produces exclusively Tempranillo. Savor this ruby red wine and learn about the intricacies of vintage with a vertical flight.

The big red, powerhouse of the Applegate Valley, Troon Vineyard will further entice your taste buds with their variety of wines. Producing small batch wines from primary estate grown fruit, sip through their flight of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat and Verminento among others.

Last but certainly not least finish the day back in Jacksonville at Quady North. Focusing on expressive Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Viognier, this tiny winery produces wines that will leave a big impact on your palate. Save some space in your case to bring a few of these wines home!

Follow the Applegate Wine Trail for this delicious tasting trip. Or check out my Google Map below! If you are having trouble viewing the map, click here to view it in Google.

2010 Hyland Estates’ Pinot Noir

Love at first sip.

Hyland Estates Pinot Noir

There was no mood lighting. No fancy bar with a white moose head or chandelier. No sexy bartender with deep green eyes to get lost in or vivacious vineyard views.

Just me, my teal travel mug, a bag of microwave popcorn and this wondrous wine, Hyland Estates’ 2010 Pinot Noir. And you know it must be a seductively good bottle if it can make you forget that you’re drinking alone in a run-down cowboy themed motel room in Burns, Oregon; but that’s another story.

With balanced acidity that bites at your lip, this Pinot Noir is full of flavor yet still delicate and light. Each sip fills that hallow spot with warmth. Notes of red berry and cherry offset the pH level and a lingering hint of leather and purple fruits add an unexpected roundness to the wine. The aroma’s soft and not hinting at the character to come.

Like the Solena Estate Pinot Gris I reviewed back in February, this wine was also crafted by Laurent Montalieu in Dundee, Oregon. After graduating from the Institute of Oenology in Bordeaux in 1987, Montalieu has worked for many successful wineries including Chateau La Tour Blanche near Sauternes, Domaine Mumm in the Napa Valley, Bridgeview Vineyards in southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley and Willakenzie Estate in the north Willamette Valley. Focusing now on his state-of-the-art custom wine-growing facility, Northwest Wine Company, Monalieu has come to craft wine that speaks both to the vineyard sites and his stand-along style. With ease and intrigue, each wine that I’ve sampled by this talented winemaker makes me fall in love with the drink again and again.

And I’m not the only one who has high praise for Hyland’s Pinot Noir. Wine Enthusiat awarded the 2010 Estate vintage 91 points and Wine Spectator, 90 points. But ultimately, it’s up to you! Let this wine woo-you at Hyland Estates‘ tasting room in Dundee, Oregon. Open daily from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.

2011 Solena Estate Pinot Gris

Fresh like almost-ripe fruit, this Pinot Gris cuts through food with a clean and refreshing finish.

Solena Pinot GrisNotes of stone fruit, apple and citrus travel from the nose to the palate on Solena Estates’s 2011 Pinot Gris. Like the mist from a fresh squeezed lemon, the wine puckers with just a touch of tart acidity but reveals a nice balance with mineral notes.

Hand crafted by Laurent Montalieu, the winemaker and co-founder of Northwest Wine Company, this wine is one that you’ll want to keep coming back to time and time again. Just look out, sharing can be difficult.

This is just the first of six reviews featuring Laurent Montalieu’s wines. Look for more about the Northwest Wine Company and Solena Estate in the upcoming weeks!

2011 Ghost Hill Pinot Noir Rose

Strawberry like summer, this Rose will make you blush.

Ghost Hill Rose

A mouthwatering anomaly, Rose of Pinot Noir has always been one of my favorite bottles to pour with food and this bottle by Ghost Hill Cellars is definitely not an exception. With subtle fruit that sprouts with each sip, the wine features notes of strawberry and rhubarb yet backs up the palate with bright acidity and a dry finish, which makes easy to pair with foods across the table.

Taste Ghost Hill’s Rose of Pinot Noir at Fox Farm Vineyards’ downtown Newberg tasting room. Open noon to 8pm daily.

Also read my review of Ghost Hill’s 2008 Pinot Noir.

2007 Amity Vineyards Pinot Noir

A layered wine featuring both fruit and earth tones.

Amity Vineyads Pinot Noir

After coupon cutting, fighting for parking spots and rushing around from store to store on Black Friday, I came home put up my feet and relax with a glass of Amity Vineyards 2007 Winemaker’s Reserve Pinot Noir. While it opened a little tight, the wine after 20 minutes started to reveal its many layers. The dark maroon wine started with aromas of blue fruit, raspberry and licorice. On the palate, it sipped with notes of raspberry and plum then transitioned to light earth, sauteed mushrooms and a finish of sweet cinnamon. With medium-low acidity, this Amity Vineyard’s Pinot Noir drank silky smooth and helped to ease away the rough edges of the day.

Visit Amity Vineyards just north of downtown Amity, Oregon.

Also try Amity Vineyards 2009 Pinot Noir.

2011 R. Stuart Blogger’s Blend

Just in time for Thanksgiving, I popped open a bottle of Pinot Noir apply named “Gratitude.” And this year I have more to be thankful for than just great wine! Beside my family and friends, I am very thankful to R. Stuart Wine Company this year for helping me to create this almost one of a kind (it’s 1 or 12) bottle of Oregon wine!

Last summer, I attended the Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland and after the event, R. Stuart and Wine Co invited a handful of bloggers out to their McMinnville winery to blend our own bottles of Pinot Noir. And oh my, was it fun! Read my blog post “Blending Wine at R. Stuart & Co. Winery” to learn more about the experience.


After a year and a half, I finally worked up the nerve to open a bottle of the Pinot and, man, am I grateful that it also turned out awesome!

The aroma sparkles with notes of raspberries, black cherries and a touch of earthy spice and leads into a light bodied, fruit forward pinot with bright acidity. Finishing with touch of cola, the wine lingers on the palate without weighing it down and opens the door for fantastic food pairings. Good thing I have a second bottle!

Thanks to the folks at R. Stuart for hosting a great event and making my team’s dream bottle of “Gratitude” come to life!

What are you thankful for this year? What bottle of wine are you going to celebrate with?

Fox Farm Vineyards’ 2011 Pinot Noir

Deep in color and rich in flavor, this pinot is as friendly as it gets.

Fox Farm Pinot Noir

A blend of five vineyard sites around the Willamette Valley, the 2011 Fox Farm Vineyard Pinot Noir showcases the best flavors of the valley throughout the palate – even though its still a young wine! Robust yet delicate, the wine features notes of dark cherry and plum plus a lovely touch of spice. The aroma teases the nose with a boutique of mocha and dry flowers.

Visit Fox Farm Vineyards in downtown Newberg daily from noon – 8pm and hang out for awhile. David the owner is almost always in the tasting room and no stop is complete without hearing all his great stories!