Posts Tagged ‘wine’

Saturday, September 13

Today was the day of an annual harvest party hosted by my friends in McMinnville.   As part of the annual festivities, they roast a pig, they hire a local bluegrass band, Jackstraw, and all of the invitees bring wine to share.  This is also an opportunity to welcome the harvest interns – crew members coming from as far as California, New Zealand and Burgundy.

I got there around 7:00 p.m. and there were already a ton of people there.  It was exciting.  There are so many good, cool people in the Oregon wine industry.  I grabbed a glass and headed toward the back porch that’s designed like the inside of a barn.  I poured a glass of pink bubbly.  The table was lined with wine bottles.

Eventually, I made my way to the food line and grabbed a plate.  I knew I was going to risk gluten contamination.  Still, I was as careful as I could be.  I didn’t even go near the dessert table.  So, I took a deep breath and sipped on a small pour of white Bordeaux while we moved toward the food.  I chatted with our winemaker and one of his colleaguesm, also in line.  Once it was my turn at the table, I selected succulent pork, farm fresh cole slaw and a hearty side of black bean rice.

After I ate, and while Jackstraw began sereneding the crowd, I met some of my gal pals under a tree filled with white lights for a photo.  Sadly, you can’t see all the twinkly lights in these shots.

The band was pretty amazing.  After a few sets, the next entertainment for the evening began.  A troupe of fire dancers did a wild and mesmerizing performance in the middle of the street, which was closed off for an entire block.




The fire dancers finished performing just after 11:30 or so.  I was tired.  I had a sleeping bag in my car and the option to crash there, but I was ready to go home.  I didn’t drink very much and felt like the responsible party-goer.  So, I got in my car and drove home.

And, I reflected a little.  There was something magical in the air.  We were getting ready for harvest.  Very soon, the grapes would start getting picked and would be pressed into juice, along with the skins and seeds, and would then ferment into wine.  We could count on this every year.  I liked the steadiness of agriculture, of seasons changing, of vines that would grow such beautiful grapes.  I loved the potential for greatness and the risk of imperfection.  The latter, the idea of risk, had been something channeling and, perhaps, challenging me. 

Which is, it seems, a great seque to love.  It’s not the easy circumstances in life that force us to grow.  Rather, it is the chance for disappointment and disaster that really challenges us to grow.  I’ve heard that love is gentle, love is kind.  But I have never known that to be true.  Rather, it is filled with uncertainties, challenges, questions – often rough and unkind.  So why do it, why bother with love? 

I’ve learned that risks in life are necessary for personal growth.  Okay, that might sound very “new age book store” material.  But, it is true.  When we work at love, when we muddle through the sometimes mucky side of love, when we are forced to open it up like a dissected heart, to look within, to really examine what we see, good or bad, we become better versions of ourselves – the versions that have had the courage to dig into those unpleasant corners or to bravely face the beautiful parts that were always there, all along.  When we take the risk to open up and welcome in love, we are most deserving. 

I had been spending years running away from romantic love.  Call it fear, which is fare blame, but, mostly, it hadn’t occurred to me that I should be in a relationship or in love.  Instead, I kept on my path.  I dared to learn about who I was, what I’m all about, and why I have been placed here on this earth.  I have been seeking, in many ways, to identify and understand my gifts, and to learn how to use them to make this world a better place.  It’s a theme that has run through this blog, even.  Meantime, I had been protecting myself and preventing my potential for for growth. 

When I got through most of this blog entry, I took in my own risk assessment and settled that I had been coasting along on the safety bus.  Thankfully, I am ready to take a step off.  I am ready and willing to take some risks.



Read Full Post »

Saturday, September 6

Wow.  Ten days left and I am done with this.  I have no plans for a party or celebration.  But, if I get a book deal and get my narrative published, based on this blog, then I will definitely plan some sort of gluten-free party in a vineyard here in Oregon. 

Anyway.  I didn’t really sleep in.  When I got home from the movie last night I went right to bed, which was around 12:45.  I was feeling a little off, and have for about a week or so.  First, there’s the moderate congestion.  It’s not requiring a decongestant just yet.  But, rather, is uncomfortable.  And contributes to my being drowsy.  I realized I could use a multi-vitamin injection, as I must have had some gluten intake over the past week or so.  I’m feeling some of my celiac symptoms.  And I think I’m dealing with malabsorption again, meaning, my small intestine isn’t able to absorb nutrients from the foods I have been consuming.  It’s so complicated.

I worked all morning on the holiday catalog I had begun for work.  I’m basically doing layout design in Illustrator.  And I really like the way its turning out – I have some great photographs to work with and it looks really elegant, so far.

Finally, at around 3:00, I needed to shut down the computer and get ready for a concert.  I was going to meet friends Kerry and Renee to see G. Love & Special Sauce at Edgefield, a McMenamins property.  They have a really cool outdoor concert venue.  Opening for G. Love were Tristan Prettyman, touted as the female Jack Johnson, and then the John Butler Trio.

I got dressed, grabbed one of my straw cowgirl hats, and a bag with a blanket it in.  We met at Renee’s house and then carpooled to Troutdale, just 25 miles or so down I-84 East.  It was a quick and easy drive and we parked in a small field and headed into the roped off area.  We grabbed a drink, beers for the girls and a Lemon Jack cocktail for me.  We set out our blanket super close to the stage.  It was amazing.

Tristan was very good.  Her music is very sunny and light.  When her set was up, we walked back to the concession area and ordered Thai curry dinners.  I got the chicken.  It was pretty good.  We sat at a picnic table, which was nice.  There were trees all around.  Like a little tree village.  After we ate, we went back while the John Butler Trio was into its set.  Their music is amazing.  John Butler cut off his long dreadlocks.  He looked really cute.  He’s a great young singer-songwriter born in California, but he grew up in Australia.  He began the song “Zebra” when we got back to our blanket.  We started dancing with the rest of the crew.  There was a ton of pot smoke around us, which was actually upsetting my stomach.  And, a young woman passed by us in a long tie-dyed sundress.  She smelled of poop.  Renee and I looked at eachother quizically.  I asked her if she smelled the poop.  And she did.

JBT’s sound is a blend of reggae and Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Great guitar rifts and rockabilly sounds at one moment, then hard rock and roll the next, then folksy-reggae beats.  It’s upbeat and fun.

Here’s John Butler addressing the eager crowd.

Here we are between John Butler Trio’s set and G. Love’s.

And then, G. Love & Special Sauce hit the stage.  He was seated, playing guitar and harmonica.   He’s brilliant.  He’s really a blend of surfer folk meets Philly hip hop, with a lot of rhythm and blues. 

G. Love got everyone up and dancing.  I missed dancing like this.  Like a bunch of hippies without rhythm.  Only, me and my gal pals, we had rhythm.  We were totally getting into the groove.

Then, the highlight was when G. Love called John Butler back to the stage to sing a couple of songs together.  They basically had a killer jam session.

After the last song, we headed back to Portland.  It was pretty easy getting out of the venue and Troutdale, which was a relief.  I dropped the girls off at Renee’s and drove home.  I was tired.  It had been a full weekend, so far, and I was looking forward to sleeping in and having time to myself tomorrow.  I’ll do more work, to get ahead on some of the creative projects in my queue.  But, all in all, I was looking forward to some down time.

Read Full Post »

Friday, September 5

Today I realized I have a ton of marketing projects I’ll need to work on over the coming month.  It’s a lot of work, actually.  As I spent most of my morning in meetings, I kept thinking about big picture stuff and my goals, what I wanted to accomplish and how I would get there.  It was good.

I left work around 3:00 in the afternoon to pick up several cases of donated wine I helped organize for the William Temple House fundraising benefit and auction this month.  I spent most of that time driving through the Dundee Hills and then out to McMinnville.  Instead of bringing the wine home or leaving it my car, which would be totally inappropriate because of the temperature, I dropped the cases off in my office.  I left there around 4:45 and headed home to change.

I met Susan and Kerry up at the tennis courts by the International Rose Garden up in Washington Park.  It’s so beautiful there.  We had been talking about playing tennis for months, but hadn’t been able to make it happen. 

It was a pretty evening.  The scent of roses was intoxicating!  Susan and Kerry arrived and we had so much fun!  We were rusty at first, but got in some really good volleys.  If we practiced more often, we could be pretty good, actually.  Because it was Friday, and we were tired from the week’s end, we were really silly.  We kept cracking up over ridiculous stuff.  Kerry, in particular, was quite hilarious with punchy commentary.

We loved how the roses just grew into the fences and made the tennis courts even more beautiful and fragrant.  Tres manifique!

After an hour and a half of chasing wild tennis balls, and cheering each other on for any contact with the ball, we were hungry.  We drove down to the northwest and headed over to Cha on Everett Street.  We first had a drink at the bar.  I ordered the Pepino, a cucumber margarita.  I really, really love these summery refreshing cucumber concoctions.

We then had a table outside.  We shared the sampling of three cevices to start – which was really delicious.  I then ordered the braised pork carnitas tacos that came with a side of divine, rustic black beans.  I ordered another Pepino.  We loved this place – the decor, the people, the energy, the cocktails and the food.

We dashed off to the Fox Theater on the other side of the 405.  We missed the Woody Allen movie we were going to see, the one with Scarlet Johansson, and went to see the 10:00 viewing of Bottle Shock, a movie loosely based on the events leading up to the famous 1976 “Judgement of Paris” wine tasting, mostly covering the story of father-son Jim and Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena, whose 1973 Alexander Valley Chardonnay won, beating out pedigree Burgundies.  It’s a charming wine country story, an indi film, one that was featured at Sundance, and one that will probably not do for Chardonnay what Sideways had done for Pinot noir.  But, who knows??

Allan Rickman and Bill Pullman were great.  It was an entertaining film.  Parts were pretty cheesy.  The intern Sam, which was added to the film for more drama, is reduced to a chick in daisy dukes screwing around with Bo Barrett and his best friend, the assistant winemaker Gustavo.  Turns out there’s a lot of fiction thrown into the story.  But I guess it makes it work better for the cinema.  I found it odd that the real winemaker, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, was left out of the movie.  Ah, well, you can read about his victory in making the wine on his own winery website:  http://www.grgich.com/about/mike_grgich.cfm

As I drove home, I giggled at how the young Bo Barrett reminded me of other young winemakers I knew both here in Oregon and in California.  There’s something romantic about a soul that is bound to making wine or growing wine grapes.  Many women crowd the tables at wine tasting events when the winemaker is there to pour.  Especially when they are single.  I saw this a couple of years ago when I poured wine at an event at the Hotel Beverly Hills and my table was next to The Bachelor, Andrew Firestone.  All these shiny L.A. women in their sequined tops, mind you it was 4:00 in the afternoon, were hoarding his table like bees on honey.  I felt sorry for the guy.  I witnessed it again in Montana at the table next to me.  It was the subject of many punchlines we had shared that weekend. 

Anyway.  I wondered, as I drove home, if I was fully following my passion with wine.  Would I ever take a leap and head off to New Zealand or elsewhere to work a crush?  I thought I would have done that by now.  Do I want to learn how to make wine?  Do I want to be in the vineyard, caring for the vines?  I don’t have a green thumb at all.  As much as I love the idea of growing vines, I think my creative spirit would fare better in the winery.  Will that ever happen?  It’s hard for me to say.  Perhaps that can be a goal for my 40th birthday.  Once I’ve published a few books, saved some cash and laid down more groundwork for such possiblity.



Read Full Post »

Friday, August 22

I got up and enjoyed a sweet but moderately nutritious bowl of gluten-free Leapin Leamers cereal. 

I had to run errands for our vineyard dinner tomorrow.  I drove over to Michael’s printing for our menus, Trader Joe’s to look at flowers (I took notes in my little writer’s note pad), Haggan (which I couldn’t find anything that would work for centerpieces), the Fred Meyer in Sherwood, which, again, didn’t have anything for my centerpieces, and finally the Fred Meyer in Newberg – where I scored these adorable and beautiful plants with tiny red, orange and green-yellow peppers.  I then found some green-white hydrangea.  I also found these beautiful green ceramic pears with silver-gray stems that would also look beautiful.

The cellar had just finished bottling for the day and were offering “first off’s” to staff, the wine they couldn’t sell that went through the bottling line first.  There was perfectly good wine inside, in any case, a few of us went down to the cellar and picked out a number of single vineyard Pinot noirs, some Syrah and Gamay noir, as well as single vineyard Chardonnay. 

When I got to the winery there was a lot of work to do.  Others were cleaning up while I washed out our hurricane lamps and staged things for my flower arranging tomorrow.

I returned to the office to check emails and then headed out to Dundee to pick up a few coolers from another winery. 

Driving home, I had every intention to change and go for a run, but Susan had called and convinced me to meet her and her mom for dinner downtown.  So, I emptied the wine from my car, put it away in my cellar under the stairs and changed for dinner.

We were going to go to Nuestra Cocina up on Division and 22nd, but there was an hour wait. So we went across the street to a new wine bar called Bar Avignon.  It was chic and cool inside.  We took a table by the window.  Her aunt, uncle and family friend joined us.  I shared an order of luscious green olives and prosciutto and sweet peaches, then an order of gazpacho and their local farm green salad, which was really fresh and delicious.  I enjoyed a glass of Soter rosé with it.

I tried to pay for my portion, but Susan’s mom wouldn’t have it.  That was very nice of her.  I sipped on a cup of Stumptown coffee while they passed around a couple desserts.

After, Susan, her mom and I went into the frozen yogurt shop next door.  I ordered a cup of the chocolate yogurt topped with a little coconut and shared it.  We proceeded toward the New Seasons on Division, where I bought gluten-free donut holes by Ener-G, a couple more of my new favorite gluten-free pizza crusts, organic, free-range brown farm eggs, organic sausage links and these cute, small recycled notepads. 

I have become obsessed with little notepads that I carry around in my purse, leave in my car and stock in a pocket inside my workbag.  I take a little notepad everywhere I go, just in case I get an idea I need to write down.  I use the little notepads for more.  Like when I was in Trader Joe’s in Lake Oswego and needed to note which kind of flowers would work best for our vineyard dinner.  I jot down notes of things to do, people to call or meals I should make for the week.  I write down names I like that may either become characters or children.  I write down addresses and phone numbers, but, mostly, I scribble thoughts that come to me when I’m driving down 99 West or I-5 or when I’m in the middle of doing something else but don’t want to lose that train of thought, that perfect description in my head, that crazy thing that just happened as I turned that corner on 21st  and Clinton, where the two guys on their bikes nearly hit a parked wagon with the front windows slightly open where two shiatsus practically wrestled each other to fit their sad little pink tongues through the slight open crack of window.

There was a cute, smallish guy putting his groceries down on the conveyor belt as a tall, round girl with friendly violet eyes framed in old-school black and mother-of-pearl glasses checked me out.  I handed her my check card, excited about the gluten-free donut holes.  The cute guy looked at my little notepads and said they were cool.  I told him I was a writer.  When the check-out-girl gave me my receipt, I smiled happily as the cute guy kindly offered, “good luck with the gluten-free, and the writing.”  I smiled back, “thanks!”

At home, I finished the place cards for the vineyard dinner.  I watched the last five minutes of Jaws 4 (or Jaws: The Revenge).  I had no choice.  I had watched the first three this week.  I didn’t even know there was another one after the 3-D version.  This Jaws didn’t blow up.  I was disappointed.

I burned some Moss Garden incense, not that it really smelled like moss.  It was actually a blend of sandalwood, benzoinum, patchouli and spices.  Not sure what the spices were, even with my trained wine professional’s nose.  It was Japanese.  Manufactured in Kyoto and distributed in Boulder, Colorado.  I have been slightly obsessed with Kyoto.  Not the same way as I have been about Tibet or Vietnam.  But enough so that I read a whole book on the tea service in Kyoto and the spirit of reciprocity there, how everyone is keen on gratitude, even if only in a matter of politeness and gesture.  There is what is called ‘the spirit of the gift’, to which Kyotans give little gifts to patrons who dine in their tea houses or restaurants, the gifting concept carrying over in many areas of their culture. 

Anyway.  I burned the incense to relax.  It’s a kind meditative gesture to myself, really.  I read a little and headed up for bed later than I had intended.  I made a note in one of my little notebooks that I was now going to bed rather regularly at 1:30 a.m.  It started off at 11:30 p.m.  That had been my bedtime for quite some time.  But then the late hour for me crept to midnight.  Then 12:30, always reading or writing, stretching my day as long as I could to get in all of the time I needed after work to workout, cook dinner, get some writing done, meditate and unwind, read and then turn in, which no sooner turned to 1:00 a.m.  And for the past couple of weeks, this has proceeded to dip into that too-late pool of 1:30 a.m.  I made a note that I simply could not allow this pattern to continue.  I could not let the minutes charge on to 2:00 a.m.  I had to curb the restlessness, the need for more time. 

Read Full Post »

Friday, August 15

Once again, I got up and headed over to Beaverton for label press checks and to pick up some of the printed labels.  By the time I got to the winery my co-workers were in the midst of a birthday celebration picnic.  I brought a gluten-free bun and made myself a pulled pork barbecue sandwich, followed by a meeting on our events.

I picked up a case worth of wine to restock my wine rack and then returned to the office in downtown Newberg.  Because it reached a high of 104 degrees out, I pulled the wine from my car and placed it under my desk, out of the sun. 

My sore throat was getting better.  But my stomach was still dealing with the gluten contamination of the past week.  It’s crazy how long it can take for my symptoms to subside.  And the heat outside was making me nauseous.

After work I went to my friends’ house in Dundee.  I brought a bottle of our rosé.  A bottle of Chardonnay was already open.  The air conditioner in their home made me feel better.  I played with their kids and helped my friend get her toddler to pose in a cute tutu and feather tiara for some beautiful photographs.  She looked like a little fairy.

We ate turkey and cooked greens for dinner, enoying the rosé, which was tasting great.  We sat outside and it was one of the most perfect sunsets.  Plus, a full moon was a day away.  We ended up chatting for a few hours until I realized I needed to get home.  We were all yawning politely.

By the time I got home, the ant infestation was out of control.  I water sprayed the trail from end to end and wiped up drowned ants.  Not very Tibetan Buddhist thinking.  But I was tired, I wanted to go to bed and my stomach was now churning again from the ongoing celiac symptoms caused by gluten contamination that still kicked in every time I digested food.  I got sick yet again.  It was painful and I was still bloated and swollen.  My small intestine wasn’t as bad as it was in Missoula, and was little by little getting better.

But it was so hot in my apartment, especially without A/C, that I was feeling feverish.  Not the best way to end the work week.  At least I could sleep in, finally!

Read Full Post »

Saturday, July 26

I woke up at around 7:30 to get an early start and meet up with colleagues to pass along our IPNC passes (my office was exchanging passes to attend different seminars and events of IPNC).  I carpooled with Jerry and Meg to the IPNC breakfast at Linfield College. 

After, I got on my assigned bus, along with my boss and Meg, and we went to Belle Pente in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA.  The theme this year, and thus the topic of the day, was on sustainability.  Our group walked into the vineyard to learn more about and witness the sustainable farming practices at Belle Pente.  The vineyard seminar was followed by a general discussion about sustainability in the winery in the barrel room.  The panel included winemakers from Santa Barbara, CA, Burgundy, France and two Oregon locations, including the host.





Following the seminar, lunch was served outside at a handful of round tables decorated for a wine country celebration.  The chef was from Seattle.  The food was delicious, again following the local, seasonal, sustainable ‘farm-to-table’ model so cherished in the Northwest.


I enjoyed chatting with the goats.  I know.  Not the smartest animals to chat with.  But, they were actually very sweet.


We returned to Linfield and I met up with the Oregon Wine Board girls and hung out on the lawn, while the afternoon session of wine tasting and a farmers market food tasting was going on.

When the afternoon sessions were over, I drove back with Meg to her place to change for dinner.  I was exhausted and even tempted to take a nap, but I knew better.  I hoped for a second wind.


I put on a long, comfy sundress and met Kerry in her room at Linfield College.  We walked over to the Northwest Salmon Bake and waited in line with our friends from Anne Amie, who brought in a vintage bottle of Roderer Champagne.


Once in, we grabbed a cluster of tables and toasted the Champagne.  The decorations were really pretty – the set up was amazing in the middle of an Oregon white oak grove where lanterns hung and bounced on the soft wind.  We retrieved our dinner of baked salmon and an assortment of lovely salads.  We sipped on different vintages and regions of Pinot and Chardonnays.  It was so much fun!



There was a photo booth with all kinds of crazy wigs and boas.  We took many goofy group photos.  It was hilarious.  By the end of the evening, we hit the dance floor.  Our friend, Kim, brought a baguette on the dance floor and smacked some unsuspecting booties and then turned it into a limbo bar. 


After the celebration, we all headed back to Meg and Jerry’s for their After Salmon Bake Bubbly Party.  Which was a crazy fun bash.  I nearly cleaned up the charcuterie plate, I was so hungry.  I didn’t eat much at the Salmon Bake.  We had some spectacular bubbles from around the globe, including Oregon, France, Australia, and California. 

Someone brought on the red licorice for bubbly straws…

As the party was dwindling, at around 2:30 a.m., I made my way up to my room and went to sleep.  There were still people downstairs now sipping on Grand Cru Burgundy and oysters. 

It was a great IPNC.  Tonight was one of the most fun times I’ve had in wine country, or in Portland, really, for a long time.  The best part was dancing with the baguette on the dance floor and the photo booth!  We actually brought back a bunch of baguettes from the Salmon Bake for the after party, including the one that made its way on the dance floor!

Read Full Post »

Tuesday, June 23

Once again, I slept in a little.  I worked about 12 hours yesterday.  I haven’t been having trouble with sleeping in awhile, which has wonderful.  And I haven’t been congested in over two weeks – which has been amazing.  Life changing, really.  I don’t want to jinx myself!  I wondered if, perhaps, the last cold I had did something to my nasal passages or sinuses that blew them open and cleared them.  Had I been mysteriously healed?  Or, did this have anything to do with my Celiac disease and immune system getting stronger?

I recently went to a naturopath and found out that my vitamin levels have been really off because of mal-absorption, which was an indicator that I haven’t been gluten free, hence I’m not able to absorb nutrients from my diet.  This would explain my swelling and swings in anxiety and depression – which, while it hasn’t been crushing, it had been scratching just below the surface for me.  Anyway.  Vitamin shots were the way to go.  I’m now taking special vitamin supplements to balance my diet.  And I was already feeling much better just days later.

I definitely got gluten contamination this week, though.  I started taking my GlutenEase supplements, which did not shield from the dangers of gluten contamination, but helped to ease the severity of symptoms.  Plus, I had been drinking Yogi Stomach Ease tea.  That, and a lot of glasses of water, were flushing me out.

Which seems all good and great, except for the fact that I blew it again this evening.  We had the final Oregon Pinot Camp event at a vineyard in Cornelius, near Hillsboro, an amazing site with gorgeous views of the Cascade peaks.  A few chefs from Portland were cooking up some amazing courses on a grill.  I took a bite into the first course without even thinking.  There was barley.  I almost spit and coughed up the barley that got into my mouth, but instead I swallowed it, knowing I was going to get very sick.  I asked the chefs if they could make me gluten free versions, and they were able to accommodate me.  Still, I forked a mouthful of barley like an idiot.  This is my problem.  I sometimes blank on my disease and recklessly eat.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »