I am so looking forward to this summer’s Society of Wine Educators conference. Founded in 1977, SWE’s Annual Conference is for educators, students, and enthusiasts to convene and learn more about the world of wine and spirits. In 2017, SWE will host this event in Portland, Oregon. I’ve never been to Portland and this is my chance. The 41st Annual Conference will be held Thursday, August 10th through Saturday, August 12th. Featuring over 65 sessions with topics, I will be speaking on wines from Lombardy, hence the picture of Sant’Ambrogio in Milan.
I was lucky enough to meet with many producers from the various consortium at Vinitaly. I think I will have a great and interesting line-up of wines for people to taste. This will be my eighth or ninth conference and has become part of my summer patterns. I look forward to visiting a few wineries and getting to know the city as well.
On Fridays I have been trying to write about women in the wine industry. At first this column was only going to be about Italian women in wine but then I discovered the wonderful world of women in the industry right here in the US.
In March I met Julia of the great blog Wine Julia. We met at the Snooth PVA weekend for bloggers in New York during a Peking Duck/Oregon wine pairing. Julia actually hails from Oregon so she was pretty much in the know about all of the different wines from that part of the world. I also discovered after chatting that she used to own a wine bar and then became a writer. I am always interested in how different people get into the wine industry and from which angle. I love the 1/2 day vacation posts that Julia writes. I’m about to take a half day vacation today and go sailing on the Shearwater with a friend. Very excited.
I am pretty much a novice when it comes to Oregon wines. I know, I may be the only person in the US that hasn’t tasted all of the Pinots that are available, noir and gris. I’m hoping to take a trip out that way. I also was thinking of doing a comparison tasting between Tuscan pinot noirs and Oregon ones to see how they measured up.
Oregon is the home state of another of my favorite women in wine my friend, Danica Stitz who works for VOS Selections. Danica and I did diploma together at the International Wine Center and have remained fast friends ever since. She has an amazing palate and was a great tasting group partner.
Thanks to Snooth, I was able to try a host of wines from Oregon and Peking Duck this weekend, neither of which are common occurrences in my world. That is about to change.
I found the wines to be diverse, interesting, appealing to my palate and easy to pair with a variety of dishes. I also found the three winemakers in attendance to be truly lovely, collaborative and relaxed.
A group of bloggers and I were given four flights of wines, each expressing either a different grape variety or a terroir of Oregon.
Of the first white wine flight, I found both the racy Abacela Albarino 2012 and the beautiful Belle Pente Pinot Gris 2009 worked perfectly with the asian cuisine. Each was slightly richer than I would have expected but I learned that 2009 was a warm year in Oregon and that Belle Pente prefers Alsace riesling in style to that of Friuli so naturally his Pinot Gris has riper sugar levels.
In the second flight we tasted a flight of Chardonnay and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the ones with more pronounced oak, namely the Stoller Chardonnay 2010 and the Domaine Drouhin 2011. Both showed balance and were harmonious despite considerable wood aging. I was drawn in by the Burgundy – Oregon comparisons and did find some similarities in the Chardonnays.
The third flight included both Pinot Noirs and Syrah. I found the Syrah too big for the food we had and somewhat overpowering. The Pinots on the other hand were perfect. I truly enjoyed the Williamette Valley Vinter’s wines, both the Estate Pinot Noir 2009 and the Elton Pinot Noir 2009. I found them somewhat feminine and soft despite oak treatment. I also enjoyed the Belle Pente 2009 Pinot Noir and the Argyle Nuthouse Pinot Noir.
Jim Bernau was at my table and explained their integrated pest management system. He told me about the 18 owl barns he has on his property and how they control the voles and moles that live on the property. We touched on many topics: sustainability, climate change, solidarity among winemakers, dry farming and irrigation but it felt like the conversation was just getting started, at least for me. I look forward to further dialogue.
It was great to meet the winemakers and fellow bloggers. I hope to have more time to talk to them all over the weekend.