Chris James Cellars

Another fine place on 3rd Street in McMinville.

I enjoyed their sparkling. I’d have to say while attractive to look at, their tables are an uncomfortable place to sit. You can’t sit at the table and fit your legs underneath. Meanwhile, the splinters in the table surface kept catching the sleeves on my shirt.

Overall I do like the look of the wood and we found the hummingbird motif on the glasses to be a nice touch.

Taqueria Lindo Michoacan – Portland

Doesn’t look like much, does it? At the time of this photo they were closed for their annual January trip back to Michoacan. Let me tell you, these fine people serve the best al pastor taco I’ve had anywhere, and that includes my travels in Mexico.

Not only is this a great place for a nosh, but it’s also parked at Village Merchants, a wonderful resale shop full of treasures. You may also enjoy:

Find them both in Portland on SE Division and 41st.

Taqueria Lindo Michoacan:

Troon Vineyard – McMinville Tasting Room

As of this writing in winter of 2022, Troon had recently moved their Willamette Valley tasting room from Carlton to McMinville. You can read about our visit to the former location in Carlton here.

Their new location right on the main drag of 3rd street in McMinville offers friendly staff, good wine and ultramodern interior design, as if Ikea had a baby with a space capsule.

Here we are posing with some of the biodynamic things they have around to demonstrate how that works.

We are told part of the biodynamic process means you stuff these cow horns with manure and bury them in the vineyard. Hey, if it works it works!

Meanwhile, here’s the Gypsy Rose Carriage, taking peeps for a lovely ride around town. Looks like fun! If you want to know more, click the link below:

Los Molcajetes – McMinville, OR


What can we say about this place? Right on 3rd street in downtown McMinville we’ve walked past it a thousand times. We finally went in. Well, there’s something for everyone in the world.

Spacious, attractive and clean this is a good place to bring picky and/or unadventurous eaters. People who prefer to not be challenged – kids, grandparents, etc. I would not go there for the food itself. While not actually bad, it is meh. Lacking el sabor that is the magic which animates so much of the regular comida to be found.

It’s unlikely we’ll ever go back here to eat, but it is a comfortable place to sit.

What We’ve Been Reading

I’ll Drink to That: Beaujolais and the French Peasant Who Made It the World’s Most Popular Wine

A breezy read about how one young man through dint of determination and hard work, transformed the wines of Beaujolais from a relatively unknown regional wine to world-wide popularity. Young George Duboeuf, on his family winery at Chaintre decided by 1951 to circumvent the big dealers and set up his own wine-tasting cellar. Armed with two of his own bottles, he pedaled over to Paul Blanc’s famous restaurant Le Chapon Fin down the road. History was made. Duboeuf Wines is the #1 exporter of French wines to the U.S. Author Chelminski’s retelling of the events, the people and the wine-making world is well worth the read. Mr. Duboeuf passed away January 6, 2020.

Oddly enough, at the same time as I was reading I’ll Drink To That, I was also reading Life In A Medieval City, which I had pulled from my housemate’s copiously filled bookshelves. It addresses what life was like in Troyes and much of Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries. Like the book above, this volume often mentions Lyon and surrounding areas in modern France, and we were just there!

From the book. Getting the public to taste the wine, as we know, is still an important part of the business.

In addition, there is the wine crier, who is also an inspector. Each morning he goes into the first tavern he can find that has not yet accepted a crier for the day; the tavern keeper must accept him. He oversees the drawing of the wine, or draws it himself, and tastes. Then, furnished with a cup and a leather flagon stoppered with a bit of hemp, he goes out to cry the wine and offer samples of it to the public.

Cork Dork

Cork Dork is the story of the author’s journey from technology industry journalist to professional sommelier. Driven by an unstoppable desire to understand the mysterious and obsessive world of those who build their lives around wine, this work never fails to deliver. Not simply a story about personalities, the author chases world-wide research into sensory perception on the high end, and the vast marketplace of add-ins for doctoring your wine at the low end. In between the author retells all the humorous mistakes she made while learning how to properly deliver service. A very rewarding read, or if you’re me, an audio book narrated by the author.

Billionaires Vinegar: The Mystery of the Worlds Most Expensive Bottle of Wine

Would you throw down $156,000 for a single bottle of wine? What if it was a 1787 bottle of Château Lafite Bordeaux that you have good reason to believe belonged to Thomas Jefferson? This book tells the story of the strange world of extremely aged wines and the grey land between the real thing and a quiet underground of fakes. In the end — are they any good? Are they worth the money? Are they even real?
You decide.

2019 Harvest at Boedecker Cellars

It’s that time of year. I joined the merry crew at Boedecker Cellars for the 2019 Harvest. Here we are in a rare moment of repose.

Photo by Athena Pappas

The grapes arrive.

Athena on the sorting line.

A perfect cluster!

Tim shows us his Punchdown Face.

Here’s your friendly author in action.

See all those on the deck? I cleaned each and every one of them.

Boedecker Cellars is located right here in NW Portland. Drop in sometime and say “hi”. Athena and Stewart make great wine!


I’ve stolen the text of this post from Kristian Berg.

From a single malt scotch tasting party some years ago. Comments from the assembled tasters.

Oban 14 year… “Dear Oban, I know what you look like- Catherine
Zeta-Jones, still single, living in the Western Highlands- offering me a kiss that is your taste!” 

Macallan 12 year… “A naked afternoon in front of a cozy fire” 

Glenkinchie 10 year… “Porch-swingin’ linger with a neighbor- ‘hey! howdya like a scotch? I’ve got Glenkinchie’ ‘Say what? ‘Glenkinchie…’ So we wrapped up around 10pm and I forgot I had any problems… my neighbor? He said he couldn’t feel his toes…” 

Isle of Jura… “Someone just pushed me down the hill- rolling blur of sun and field flowers” “More fruity – earthy as single malts go with a bit of a circle burn on the
after-swallow (if that’s even a word)” 

Dalwhinnie 15 year… “The whip strikes and stings so sweetly” “Stable – like a pleasant ride in a mid-grade BMW” 

Glenfiddich… “Screw the rocksalt, it’s glenfiddich and lock de-icer in my vehicle this winter!” 

Laphroig 10 year… this is a peaty smokey Islay scotch… “The underside of Gandalf’s green wellies comes to mind and to tongue”!

Beaune, France

Beaune, in the Burgundy region of France.  We only had a couple of hours here, so I’m afraid we have little in the way of Deep Thoughts and Insights into the wines you’ve heard so much about since before you were born.

Beaune —  Sadly, half of the media images I have in my head of France are from media related to WWII and walking these streets I kept expecting to see Ernest Borgnine storming around the corner with a tommy gun.  It’s hard to not expect to see half-tracks, tanks and men in soiled, saggy khaki uniforms around every turn.


On this experience we were on a tour of France in general, and not a wine tour of France.  In a more perfect world we would have enjoyed more time to learn more about the similarities/differences between Burgundy and our home here in the Willamette Valley —

One story we can share with you is that morning the sky was hazy in Lyon and the surrounding areas.  Why?  Well, it turns out that when the nights are cold and clear in the spring, the local producers burn hay bales in the vineyards.  We were told that the cold nights can produce a thin layer of ice on the plants, which is not a problem by itself, but can act as a lens focusing the morning sun and scorching the vines.  We’re told a whole harvest can be lost.  So they burn hay to fill the sky with smoke, not to keep the vineyards warm, but to blunt the power of the sunlight.  So now you know.

We did manage a brief wine tasting in Beaune but possibly did not pass the wine connoisseur test we were subjected to by the proprietor.  I think he could tell we didn’t have any real money to spend. But it was fun nonetheless.

We didn’t have enough time in town to explore it, but they do have a nifty display of historic wine making equipment.  The size of the wine presses is quite impressive.

Speaking of the connection between the Willamette Valley and Burgundy, what do we find here?  One of the French families who identified the viticulture opportunity in Oregon, and contributed to making our local wine industry happen! Visit them when you’re in the area.

Domaine Drouhin

Yes, this first week in France was part of a two week trip to the land of cheese, bread and wine.  You can read more here:

Here’s the boat we were on: