Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Goats DO Roam

Eventually, repeated publicity has lead me to this wine: 2005 Goats do Roam red. I know that essentially, we have said that we would stick primarily to Northwest wines, but occasionally, it's an amazing experience to indulge yourself a little bit outside of the norm. So in this case, I headed to South Africa.

Ultimately, considering all the ratings that are out there, it was exciting to investigate an $8, decently rated wine.

What I smell: Deep, rich spice, and a soapy perfumishness. Graham crackers, and something else wonderfully familiar. Something like blackberry pie... mmmm

On the palate: Exudes herbaecousness and spice, black fruit.... bacony....... hints of chocolate and a big punch of spice on the finish, surely from the Shiraz (90%). Subtle hints of tannin, never too overwhelming, leaving you wishing that you had a little more.

Also, wonderfully complementary to a lovely, mild brie.

Seriously, a really decent value. I wouldn't say it's the most fantastic wine I've ever had, but definitely worth the $8

Monday, October 15, 2007

Things I learned this Weekend

1. Going wine tasting is much more fun with friends.

2. There is a huge disparity between the "good" wineries and the "bad" wineries.

3. Tasting Fees are hit or miss.

4. I really should keep notes throughout the days when we go tasting, as I usually forget about wines we've had by the end of the day. I guess that happens when you try a bunch of tasty wines.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Luxury Hotel in Dundee?

The question being debated right now is weather a 50-room luxury hotel, spa and restaurant should be allowed at the top of NE Breyman Orchards Road. It would be just up the hill from Domain Drouhin, and across the street from Wine Country Farm. The site is currently not farmed, but with all the vineyards surrounding the area, it has to be some great vine-growing ground. Just to the north of the site, on the next hill, is Knudsen Vineyards (grower for Argyle) and Erath's winery. In my opinion, a hotel is needed, but not in this location. Farmland should continue to be farmland.

The site should be turned into vineyards, and potentially a new winery. The peak of the hill is at about 1100 ft, which is one of the highest spots in the Dundee Hills. The location provides amazing and spectacular views of the entire Willamette Valley. I can see how a hotel would be desirable in this location, with the views, and vineyards surrounding it, but again, its farmland, and should be used as such. By creating a winery, you can embrace the incredible views and showcase them with the winery and tasting room. Visitors would come, and be very impressed, and probably come back with friends. With good wine added to the package, the winery that sits on the top of the hill could be very successful.

Currently, there is no real hotel in Dundee. There are some hotel facilities in Newberg to the north, and McMinnville to the south, but nothing that is right in the middle of wine country. I agree with the need for a luxury hotel in the area, and I think it is a smart business move for the local economy. The stretch of 99W between Newberg and McMinnville needs to embrace the wine business as a whole, specifically the tourism side of things. I think that a few smaller hotels should open up in that stretch. I'm not talking Motel 6 type of places, and no Mariotts or anything of that size. I think there would be sufficient demand for 3-4 10-20 room hotels sprinkled in the area. Some places with character, and maybe some history to them, that would tell a story of the history of the area. The key to these hotels, is they would need to be on or very near (a block or two) 99W. People would be coming to the area to visit wineries and vineyards, and locating the hotel should be really easy, as well as the ingress and egress to/from the exploration of the area.

Downtown Dundee is a perfect example of these needs. As the center of wine country, and the tourism that comes with it, Dundee does not have a hotel. If a 20-30 room hotel was located right next to the Dundee Bistro/Dapper Frog location, and across the street from Argyle, it would be a great central location, with easy walking to food and even a tasting room or three. From this one location, a tourist would be within a 20 minute drive of hundreds of tasting rooms. This would help the economy of the entire area, both wine related and non-wine related. I don't want to see the Willamette Valley become Napa-esque and too commercialized, but adding the infrastructure to help the locally owned businesses is a definite need. And don't get me started on the Dundee Crawl.

Collection of news stories about the Proposed Hotel

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Willamette Valley Harvest Update 2

Well, about a third of the way through October, and there are still grapes hanging on vines. The feeling I get from what I've read is that the grapes are not getting too loaded with water and that rot and other ailments are not much of an issue right now. The area has seen some rain, but not the soaking, non-stop kind of rain that happened the last weekend of September. There has been a bit of a breeze throughout the valley, so the grapes are soaking up the rain but then they're drying out thanks to the breeze.

Overall, this is looking like a good harvest. The additional hang time that the weather is affording should really develop the flavors, without causing the grapes to get overripen. From what I can tell, I'd say 2/3 of the grapes have been harvested, with the rest just waiting for proper flavor development and ripeness. The end of this week should dry out, so I would expect harvesting to be completed by this weekend. The overall yield will be lower than last years, but I'd go out on a limb and say the flavors could be more developed and complex.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Willamette Valley Harvest Update

The harvest in the Willamette Valley is a bit up in the air right now. As of Friday the 28th, we've been getting rain, and the kind of soaking rain that fills the grapes and dilutes the flavors. In some areas, the grapes ripened and matured enough to be harvested before the rain started, but in others, the grapes were not quite ready. At some vineyards we visited this weekend, about half of the grapes had been harvested. In Cristom's case, about 2/3 of their Pinot Gris had been harvested, and the rest is still on the vine.

The issue that is being presented will probably have to be decided upon in the next few days by vineyard managers and winemakers. The rain is expected to continue for about a week, and then there should be some dryer weather, there's just no certainty of how long this will last, if it comes at all. See, that's the thing about weather around here. Weather can reasonably be predicted about 3 days out. Anything more than that is a crap shoot. So the decision will need to be made weather to harvest the grapes now, in their rain-soaked and diluted form, or wait until dryer weather and hope the grapes dry out, and that the flavor and sugar levels can rise again. The problem with this, is that the grapes could be overcome by mold and over-ripeness, which could ruin the remaining crops.

Overall, I'd say that about 50% of the crop has been harvested, and we will just have to wait and see about the rest. We had a very cool summer, which means that the grapes have taken longer to ripen and mature. Normally, this is a very good thing, especially with Pinot Noir. If the rain would have held off for a week more, this harvest would have a ton of potential. With the weather looking like it is, we really wont know until late 2008, when the wines start to get released. Until then, I'll be looking forward to the 2006 vintage, which should be really good.