Category Archives: Local Wine

Dobbes Family Estate Wine Makers' Dinner at Encore310

Joe DobbesApril’s Wine Makers’ Dinner at Rafati’s Encore310 featured the Dobbes Family Estate wines. Their winery is located “downhill at the only stoplight in Dundee.” Joe Dobbes uses only Oregon grapes for his wines. He is also one of the hosts of NW Vine Time on KXL radio, Saturdays from 4-5 pm.

Many factors tried to keep me from attending the wine dinner. My dining companion Krista had to drop out due to family care issues, and my husband also had to go to see his ailing mother. But I booked a room at the University Place Hotel so I wouldn’t have to drive home and boldly decided to brave it alone.

scallopsNobody is alone at one of the Wine Makers’ Dinners at Encore 310. The owner Reza Rafati greets everyone and I have yet to find anyone who wasn’t eager to meet newcomers and engage them in conversation. I chatted with Joe Dobbes and had to admit that my husband and I had managed to miss their winery. Mr. Rafati invited me to sit next to him, since I was a lone woman, and I was very pleased to do so. The gathering was smaller than last month, with 20 present, in part due to the Blazer playoff game. But that made it even more intimate and merry.

We enjoyed a Spanish pinot noir champagne while meeting and chatting. The first course was seared scallops in a cauliflower puree with almonds and currants, served with 2007 Dobbes Family Estate Pinot Gris. The flavors of the dish were subtle but perfectly brought out the notes in the pinot gris. It was an excellent pairing.

saladJoe Dobbes spoke eloquently about his winery and his history in making wines. He is an Oregon native who spent years studying winemaking in Germany and France. After making wine for several Oregon labels, he set up his own shop as Wine by Joe in 2002.

The second course was an endive and heirloom bean salad with peas and oyster mushrooms, served with 2006 Viognier. The dish was delicious and I truly enjoyed the viognier, which is one of Joe’s favorite wines to create. The grapes are from an organically farmed vineyard in the Rogue Valley.

The third course was a chicken apricot ginger sausage with peppers and polenta. It was served with a 2007 Skippers’ Pinot Noir. Ah, this is a pinot I need to buy. It is a Rogue Valley pinot noir, named after Joe’s daughter. It isn’t released yet, but is very drinkable now. It escapes some of the problems seen with 2007 Willamette Valley pinots. The sausage was also delicious.

steakThe fourth course was a wonderful beef tenderloin topped with wine braised onions and a potato gratin, accompanied by a 2005 Fort Miller Syrah. The steak was excellent, and the wine was as well. Together they were magic. I wished my husband could attend these dinners, but he has some food allergies. Reza Rafati said to call him and he could ensure my husband got a portion that didn’t have onions or pepper. I hope I can entice Rich to attend, as this food and wine are a great experience.

“Because this is Rafati’s, we have a cheese course,” our host said. The delicious cheeses were accompanied by a 2005 Grand Assemblage Syrah and a 2005 Griffin Pinot Noir. I liked both, but preferred the pinot. By now, I was definitely grateful that my destination was a hotel room upstairs. The conversation kept flowing, with never a dull moment. Although I was a newcomer, everyone was treated as an old friend.

berry'misuThe dessert was a berry’misu tower, and it was a perfect ending. It was served with a 2006 Late Harvest Viognier that was rivaled a German beerenauslese.

I hope to make it to most of these monthly wine maker dinners. The food, the wine, and the company make it one of the best local getaways you can buy.

Winemaker's Dinner at Encore310

Rack of LambI attended the first Wine Maker’s Dinner at Rafati’s Encore310 on Thursday, along with my friends Steve and Krista. They plan to make these monthly events, featuring local winemakers. Maysara Winery was featured, and I am a member of their wine club and enjoy their wines. I was looking forward to the food just as much. Encore310 is owned by Reza and Georgia Rafati and they specialize in Northwest cuisine produced with local products.

We were greeted by Reza and the members of Maysara’s Momtazi family. The 2007 vintage is Tahmiene Momtazi’s first year as the winemaker. It was also a very rainy year, resulting in very low brix scores for the grapes. This made its mark on the wines produced in 2007. My husband and I found ourselves stocking up on the 2006 vintages as we prefer the fuller fruit flavor of that year. Tahmiene said that she had been studying with DePonte’s winemaker, Isabelle Dutartre, and that bodes well for us, as DePonte is our local favorite.

We first had champagne and smoked salmon/goat cheese appetizers. I could have eaten a plate of those alone. But at 7 pm we were ushered into the dinner room and encountered a grand place setting with wine glasses and utensils for each of the next six courses.

With each course, Tahmiene or her father Moe Momtazi described the wine, the wine making process, and their vineyard philosophy. They practice biodynamic farming and are striving to make biodynamic wines. This method uses as few “inputs” as possible, relying on having a balanced ecosystem in the vineyard to produce healthy crops.

The first course was dungeness crab cakes with a 2007 Maysara pinot gris. Loved both. Each table sat 6 people. On my left was Carol Thomas, whose husband operates Wine Tours Northwest. The other couple at the table were wine stewards from a restaurant and the Gresham Fred Meyer. Carol asked if we were “winos.” I said I was, but Steve and Krista were more newbies and here to learn. I learned quite a few tidbits about the wineries and the wine scene in Portland from my table companions. I also thoroughly enjoyed meeting Carol and I hope to see her at future events.

The second course was a roasted beet and baby greens salad, with 2007 Maysara Roseena Rose. I am not usually a rose fan, but I like the Roseena. The salad was perfect.

The third course was steak tartare and foie gras mousse with the 2006 Maysara Jamsheed pinot noir. This is one of our favorites from Maysara. Krista and Steve discussed how it tasted different between the steak tartare and the foie gras. I realized my palate wasn’t educated enough to feel the difference in wine and food pairings. I loved the food and the wine.

The fourth course was a cassoulet with artisan sausage and the 2007 Maysara Estate Cuvee pinot noir, one of Tahmiene’s wines. This was Krista’s favorite wine of the night. It definitely is the lighter kind of pinot that was produced by the 2007 grapes.

The fifth course was rack of lamb with potatoes and 2007 Maysara Asha pinot noir, one of their top-priced wines. We were really getting stuffed by this point, although the portions on the plates were appropriately small. I like the Asha, although it could use more cellaring, and it is not as fruit forward as the Jamsheed.

The sixth course was really two courses. First we got a cheese and nut plate with the 2005 Maysara Delara pinot noir, also one of their top-priced wines. It was delicious. Then dessert arrived, a brioche with quince and the 2005 Maysara Anahita riesling. We had been discussing rieslings and this one was not a typical riesling. Unlike all of the other food, I thought the dessert was just too sweet and not very interesting. But the rest of the evening was so far above hope and expectation, and we were so stuffed, that I can’t complain.

I shall keep tabs on the Encore310 wine dinners and plan to attend. The price is a great value – $75 includes tip. Krista is the Your Money Examiner at and she endorses saving frugally for splurges such as these. Encore310 has received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. I believe that next time I may even book a room at the attached hotel so I don’t have to throttle back on how much wine I drink of each glass. The dinner lasted from 6:30 pm till 9:30 pm. It was a full evening’s entertainment and left us satiated and eager to return.

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Redhawk Winery – Good Wine at Reasonable Prices

Our wine tasting weekend took to two local wineries that feature good wine at a good price. Our first stop was the Chocolate and Pinot Noir event at Willamette Valley Vineyard. The place was packed. It was hard to get a spot at the bar to get a splash of the wine to be tasted. My walking team mate Krista joined us for her first explorations in to pinot noir. Rich and I agreed that the WVV pinots are tasting better. But our focus from them is still on the semi-sparkling Frizzante and the Oregon Blossom wines.

The next stop was a winery new to us, Redhawk Winery and Vineyard just north of Salem in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. We were the only ones in the tasting room and had a very enjoyable time tasting our way through their offerings. Their emphasis is “small quantities of high quality, yet affordable, wines.” First stop was their popular Grateful Red pinot noir. I liked it, especially at $14 a bottle. We were also impressed with the Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley) and the Reds Cuvee (Columbia Valley). Krista bought their version of port. For all of the offerings, the prices were reasonable. It was a pleasure to find another great local winery where we could find good wine at a good price.

Coleman Vineyard – Charmed by Savannah

Our Thanksgiving Weekend excursion into the wine country of Oregon took us to two McMinnville-area vineyards we had not visited before. Coleman Vineyard is a family-owned sustainably farmed vineyard in the McMinnville appellation. We spotted it on the drive to Maysara Vineyards. Just how “family” is this estate winery? How about an 11-year old winemaker, Ryan Coleman, whose Racy Red is a delight? Wine Press Northwest covers the story on how, yes, he really does make the wine, right down to negotiating with Mo Momtazi for some of the wonderful fruit that would otherwise have gone into Maysara wines. Ryan was there, not allowed yet to touch the wine, but selling cask stave candle holders at the great price of $16.

Charmed by SavannahI enjoyed all of the wines, but we had just bought a case of Maysara and decided to wait on Coleman wines. But I had also spotted entrepreneur Savannah’s beaded wine charms. I have been wanting wine glass charms for when we have parties, to allow my guests to tell their glasses apart. But I always hesitated in buying them at a store, I wanted something unique. Savannah, like Ryan, is about 11 years old and she runs her business professionally with a web site, Charmed by Savannah and good salesmanship. I was happy to buy eight charms from her. She even provides a guarantee if the string breaks, etc. For both Ryan and Savannah, the money will go towards their education and retirement. They are both serious in their business and produce excellent products. Coleman Vineyard is only open by appointment or for events. We will probably visit again when we make our twice-yearly trip to Maysara. We especially enjoyed the comfy chairs in their tasting room. We asked if there was a story behind the pirate on the vineyard sign. No, not really, Randy Coleman just likes pirates.

Trisaetum Vineyard Grand Opening

Trisaetum ArtTrisaetum Vineyard held its grand opening this weekend. It is an organic and biodynamic vineyard specializing in riesling and pinot noir. It is located in the Ribbon Ridge AVA, just east of Carlton, Oregon and north of Dundee. We learned of this event through a co-worker who is an in-law of the Frey family who own the winery. In fact, she met us at the entry as she was restocking the paper towels in the restroooms. Business was good and they needed her help.

The winery was lovely, with the gates and drives laid out nicely. Inside, abstract impressionist art graces the walls, most of it the work of owner James Frey. The wines are produced in small batches, with two of them produced just for their wine club and the opening event. First stop was the riesling table. We love a nice riesling and this one was one of the better ones. Next, we had the first of three pinot noirs, each one crafted differently. Rich and I preferred the first one with the fruity notes we love from this region – black cherry especially. But the next two pinots were also excellent. Even though they were 2007 vintages, each was drinkable in its current young state. Back upstairs, we had a late harvest pinot blanc and enjoyed the art work. Trisaetum is definitely a winery to watch for the future.
Photo © Wendy Bumgardner

Wine Inflation

I had to move the wine out of our wine closet to give access to a home inspector. In the past year, our wine inventory has not varied from between 100-120 bottles. This is despite good-faith efforts to drink more wine and buy less.

Of the wine, at least 75% of it is from local wineries. We have our favorites, as well as exploring new wineries and buying a couple of bottles when we find something we like.

We attended the annual Harvest Soiree at De Ponte Cellars in Dundee, Oregon. I hesitate to ever mention this winery because I love their pinot noir so much. I don’t want others to know about it. It is a private event limited to those who have purchased at least a case of their wine in the past. We have been buying a case of their Dundee Hills Pinot Noir each year since the 2003 vintage. It usually has strong notes of cherry and red fruit with a vanilla note. Usually the Baldwin Family Reserve Pinot Noir is not to our taste. However, something flip flopped with the 2006 vintage. The less expensive Dundee Hills has a nice raspberry note, but no cherry notes and a Robert Parker rating of 91. The Baldwin Family Reserve, at twice the price, has the lovely cherry notes we enjoy and a Robert Parker rating of 92. In tough economic times, what to do? Don’t lay in a case at all? Buy the less expensive case knowing you won’t enjoy it as much? Buy only a half case of the more expensive swill? Bite the bullet so you won’t have any regrets in 2012? After trying both a second time, I decided I had enough in the checking account to get a full case of the spendy stuff I know I will enjoy.

The tasting room was packed with people (including a former Oregon Secretary of State) and cars were parked all the way down the long drive. But despite it looking like they had enough customers, I got a very sincere thank-you from the gal behind the wine counter, who then lugged the case to our car. I was impressed with the sincerity. I want to keep this winery in business, so that made me feel even better about the more expensive purchase.

I enjoy the Harvest Soiree free barbecue buffet. The food was very good, although Maysara has them beat. We’ll be visiting Maysara on Thanksgiving weekend.

De Ponte

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