Category Archives: On-Site

Heritage Distilling

When in Gig Harbor, WA why not stop in and visit Heritage Distilling?

It’s a lovely place, this Gig Harbor:

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If you look close, you’ll see a giant monster volcano decorating the sky and waiting to turn us snotty northwest types into volcanic ash or disaster refugees…

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Should you need to settle your nerves, here’s Kelton, your friendly tasting room guide.

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Then there’s this guy:

Welcome to the Pacific NorthWest.  We do things maybe a little different. In this case, you can get a growler of booze.  A GROWLER OF BOOZE.  Up here in the Portland area, growler stations for filling bottles to-go has gotten quite popular for our fine craft brews.  This is the first time I’ve seen it for spirits.

Joyce is fond of the brown spirits, so here’s a close-up of our tasting.  Overall we rate their offering as “dang fine” though it’s clear their offering will improve as they have more time to age their product.  They sell a wide variety of flavored vodkas.  We’re not fond of those – what’s the point of something that tastes like nothing, except this bit tastes like blueberries?  Whoop-de-do, can I just have some blueberries?  However, from a business perspective a distillery has to sell something today while they wait for their aged product to be ready for market.  The way to enjoy vodka is to go here: http://kachkapdx.com/

Anyhoo – their gin products are also worthy of attention.  Check out their “soft gin”.  You heard it here first!

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I generally like to post positive product reviews, but sometimes I’m forced to warn the reader.  In this case, their Brown Sugar Bourbon – http://heritagedistilling.com/product-tag/bsb-brown-sugar-bourbon/ is something they are pushing on customers.  I’ve even seen TV commercials for it.

Ok, maybe you’ll like it, in which case please enjoy.  However, if you’re interested in one spirit over another, you can save yourself the time and money by just buying a bunch of this: http://www.quakeroats.com/products/hot-cereals/instant-oatmeal/maple-and-brown-sugar.aspx cuz, that’s what it tastes like.  And if you include it in your tasting flight, don’t drink it last because the cloying sweet maple flavor will follow you for a long time.

Also, be sure to double-check your receipt before making your way out.  They charged us incorrectly and we didn’t notice until later.  I’m sure they would have fixed it had we been willing to drag my malfunctioning hip back to their location to discuss.

Nehalem Bay Winery

Here we are at the Nehalem Bay Winery.

The best part about this place is the building.  It’s a quaint Bavarian-style structure originally built as a creamery around 1907.

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The staff was friendly, though harried.  I’m afraid the wine itself was a letdown.  Most of the places we go, the wine is fine.  If we’re not fond of it, it’s because it’s just not the style we find most pleasing.  Here I’m afraid we just didn’t find the wine to be very good.  In fact, I’m trying to be nice here.  A couple of them I found to be downright unpleasant.  However, maybe you’ll like their product better, so go check ‘m out.

They have a wide variety of fruit wines. Cranberry, plum, apple, blackberry, concord grape, peach…  Probably best off as an ingredient in something else, but definitely not dull.

We scooted back to Nehalem Bay State Park.

Shafer Vineyard Cellars

Well the photo on their web site is so much better than our attempts you’ll just have to go look at it here: http://www.shafervineyards.com/

Just west of Forest Grove Shafer Vineyards is worth the trip just for the view itself. Something we noticed right away is they’ve been doing the do since 1978 and you can see it in the size of the vines they’ve got growing out of the ground there.

…and they are friendly. Here’s myself and Ryan, our man behind the bottles:

Shafer puts an unusual twist on the winery tasting room experience by also having an extensive collection of Christmas decorations available for sale … nearly every possible item the mind can conceive is available as a Christmas tree ornament, including St. Louis. You might as, “why, god, why?” And I would have to agree with you. However, there it is. Once you’ve figured out how to stay away from the Christmas stuff, you’ll find they have some very nice picnic tables just begging you to stay awhile and enjoy yourself, and I think you should!

The big winner in today’s wine lineup is clear, and it’s a white! (Frequent readers will know we’re more tickled by phat reds generally) Their 2014 Müller-Thurgau has an unusual and very pleasant flavor. Well, we like it at least, and maybe you will too.

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Hip Chicks Do Wine (and Yoga)

Why has the rent and property costs in Portland gotten so bloody high?  Well, since I moved to the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood in SE Portland about six years ago, many tasty places have popped up.  My place lies equidistant between Hopworks Brewing and Gigantic Brewing.  Recently not one, not two, but three new breweries have popped up: Baerlic Brewing Company, Ross Island Brewing and Ground Breaker Brewing and Gastropub.  All a short bike ride away.

And there’s also Teutonic Wine Company around the corner and the oldest winery in the city of Portland: Hip Chicks Do Wine.  Yeah, Portland’s got a lot of what people like.

But we’re not here to talk about that, we’re here to talk about yoga:

yoga sign

That’s right.  Yoga and wine tasting.  Submitted for your amusement:

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They squeezed 27 of us into the winery and ran us through an hour of gentle yoga poses, then a round of tasting their wines.  An innovative event, we like that!

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Keep up the good work, Hip Chicks!

Heater Allen

The stars finally aligned and we able to darken the towels at Heater Allen Brewing in McMinville.
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The crowd pleasing brews today: Yeti Topper and Schwartzbier. Yes, the Yeti Topper is a takeoff on the Heady Topper from Alchemist in Vermont. My friends and relations who’ve spent time in Vermont treasure this above all other beers.  I’m not trying to cause a fight with them.  I have not lived through a Vermont winter, so what do I know?  What I *do* know is the Yeti Topper is yummy.  Go have one!

Heater Allen

Here’s brewer Lisa Allen allowing us to handle her prized Octoberfest mugs and generally act silly for the camera.  It’s a family affair there.  The name comes from Lisa’s mom’s maiden name + Lisa’s dad’s maiden name.  Clever!

Good beer and a friendly informal vibe in their tasting room.  Be sure to stop by if you’re in McMinville!

Now, the real reason why we were out there:

wine barrel

That’s right.  Joyce bought a wine barrel from the good people at Remy Wines, right next door to Heater Allen.

Sadly, the wine was not included.

Brunch at Beast

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Beast.  It’s a place to eat in Portland, OR.  Three seconds on them intarwubs you’ve heard so much about will tell you more than I could possibly share.  We just did their brunch.  Anything good you’ve read about them, seems likely to be true.

Steve

I am now spoiled.  Breakfast will never be the same again.  Yeah, their brunch will hit the spot.

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No, we won’t torment you with too much food p0rn.  Just imagine what you had for breakfast today, only it was basically perfect, and you didn’t have to do any of the work.  And yes, apparently we are they only people in Portland over the age of 30 who were able to afford to eat breakfast here.

There are words on this menu I hadn’t seen before in the wild.

Basically, the place is pretty much perfect.  If I could improve on two things that would be:

  1. Portland Loud Restaurant Syndrome.  I don’t spend enough time dining out in other cities to know if this disease has spread beyond our fine city, but why can’t we carry on conversation without having to lean in close to hear what each other is saying?
  2. This might be splitting the hairs too fine, but the perfect brunch is not just about great company and delicious food, but also a luxurious experience, which includes a luxurious use of time.  Don’t get me wrong – the team there did a lovely job and I’m looking forward to a future visit.  It’s hard to find something for them to improve on, but my request would be to work on the perception of the luxurious use of time.  There’s a bit of a feeling of being on a schedule.  The music and noise is a touch frantic… perhaps?

Maryhill Wine Pickup

So, kittens.  The Maryhill wine club pickup had turned into a circus.  Jam-packed with people and really not as much fun as it oughter be.  In fact, if you’re like me (and I know I am) you’d think twice about jamming yourself through that grinder again to pick up wine.

The smart people at Maryhill have clearly picked up on the issue and they’ve made some changes.  As of this last pickup club members pick a time and get a short tour of the winery, including snacks (we love snacks) and a barrel tasting.

A bit chilly out, but the Gorge and Joyce are both still quite lovely:

Maryhill

Remember kids, if you’re thinking of crawling in here, ask your parents first.

The lab, mysterious substances waiting…

Here’s some secret winery stuff.  They are equating the sections of the cellar to positions on a pirate ship.  No, I did not ask why.

Joyce shows us some moves.

…and here we are!

2017 Truffle Shuffle – Brittan and Winderlea

The next stop on the 2017 Truffle Shuffle was at the combined tasting room of Brittan Yineyards and Winderlea Yineyard and Winery

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The interior is a bit ultramodern for our tastes, but was full of happy people having a good time. They probably wouldn’t want to hear this, but the most memorable part of this stop was the truffle cheese and truffle salami they were serving. The staff was too busy for us to find out where they found these fine items, but I can assure you, these truffle-y wonder nuggets were salty taste nuggets of joy!

2017 Truffle Shuffle – Dominio IV

And it’s Dominio IV for the Truffle Shuffle win!

it says LOVE

In truth, there were no losers on the Truffle Shuffle path through McMinville, but Dominio hit it on all cylinders.  Delicious red wines, attractive space, friendly staff and excellent truffle snacks, as you’ll see below!

Dominio IV’s wines are also biodynamic, which in our opinion is even *better* than organic.  Why?  In short, organic strives to grow food without the use of chemical additives, etc, and of course we believe that is good.  Biodynamic takes that a step further … in short a system in balance manages pests, soil fertility, etc without much additives of any kind.

For additional fun, check out our visit to El Toledo, biodynamic coffee farm in Costa Rica.   They were once a “traditional” coffee farm until the pesticides nearly killed the owner.  Long story short, they’ve developed a biodynamic farm that today is more like a native forest that happens to have a lot of coffee plants.

 

The walls are adorned by art from the winemaker which attempts to show visually what happens on your palette as their wines cross your tongue.  Fun and unique!

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Our lovely and helpful hosts today were LJ on the left and Nicci on the right.  LJ was pouring and Nicci chef’d on up the delightful truffle snacks!  The best combo of the day!

 

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We found the site of these barrels stacked by the giant agricultural building quite visually attractive.

Joyce prefers this photo to the one above, which I prefer, so you get to see both.

…and after all the beauty, here’s a bland industrial photo, just to even things out.