Farm:Wine Connection

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Oops! Didn’t realize it has been so long since I last posted. I pretty much took some time off to do Mama things (cards, cookies, and cadeaux) and actually got them all done for once, with very minimal duress–a very interesting result from stepping a moment (or in this case, a month) away from the wine biz/start-up/swimming-against-the-current fray. Hmmm.

Anyway, while 2011 is still only yesterday, I’d like to leave you all with a month-by-month visual of the sights and colors of the The Grande Dalles and our Uncultivated Life (note the yellow boat serving as wade pool in front of our Campeau) out in the wilds of the wine world.


January: We released our wines at the rustically swank James John Cafe in North Portland. Chef Owners Suzanne Bozarth and Aaron Solley would accompany us to New York in March, to the James Beard House.

February: It’s a quiet time out on the hill, but still much for little vineyard gnomes to discover.

March: “Columbia Valley Terroir” unveils itself at the James Beard House in NYC: featuring our wines and sumptuous regional Northwest Solley and Bozart fare.


April: A slow start, but the land starts to warm and the greening of the hill begins.

May: Guerilla roadside Wine Stand at the Old Garage during Memorial Day Weekend in the Hood (Hood River). Best line of the weekend asked by someone who drove in, got out, and then quickly left after asking: “Is this legal?”


June: Wine in hand, an evening walk out on the land. Sam! Get out of Dave’s wheat!

July: Fire season. Thankfully this was not on our property, but still causing much damage to someone else’s across the way. Reminded us of the 2009 range fire that headed straight toward us, stopping three rows in our vineyard. As the story goes, the Old Coot was the only person who went in our vineyard to fight it. Still need to thank him.


August: Wasco County Fair! Aptly themed, “Barn in the USA.” For the second year we sponsored a Demolition Derby car. Yeah! Hot day out there in South County in that fairground valley. Whew!

September: Still warm out on the land. In this picture, because we didn’t quite make it to our Deschutes River swim spot, the little boat had to do.


October: Harvest. We made it. And we made it into Google Earth’s One World Many Stories campaign. The only wine story IN THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY to do so.

November: A seasonal quiet begins its descent, along with some early snow.

December: While the last hues of Fall in the Columbia Gorge peep through the mist, our wines are beginning to shine in New York City, and at some Michelin-starred restaurants to boot! Where exactly, you ask? Annisa on Barrow Street. Blue Hill NYC on Washington Place. Dovetail on West 77th Street. Henry’s on Broadway. Penn Wine and Spirits at Penn Station. First & Vine on First Ave. Yippy skippy!

As thankful as I am for our accomplishments in 2011, there are still many miles to go before we can sleep. Many miles. So, while I look forward to 2012 and all the exciting things we have planned, I wish you all a prosperous and healthy New Year and from time-t0-time, to step off the beaten path, for it is what often makes all the difference.

~ stephanie


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Such a late harvest has us, like many, walking the line: on the one side we’re hoping this new abundance of mid-October’s above average temperatures will give us just what we need; on the other side, it won’t. I have no idea how many times Scott may check the weather during the day, my guess is many. I don’t check, because sometimes, I can’t handle what I’m going to hear.

Like last night, before going to bed, we listened to old Portland weatherman Matt Zafino give us his interpretation of the weather. Chance of frost in The Dalles. Sh*t. “If it’s going to be that cold in town,” Scott said, “It’s going to be colder out on our hill.” Well, that was enough to worry me, and as much as I do know worry is a waste of time and energy, it made for some hard sleeping. Scott didn’t seem so worried, his snores moving me from bed to couch so I could toss and turn out there.

We’re supposed to start harvest this weekend. Checking Weather Underground this AM, it doesn’t appear we got the cold Matt Zafino told us about, but I’m sure Scott’ll check some of the surrounding orchard stations to verify. We’ve yet to have a crop where we look at each other and say, “What are we going to do with this?” Thankfully we’ve walked the line with success for all our vintages to date. The specificity of grape character intact, and sugars and acids in balance, we have what the year gave us, and we’ve been extremely pleased with the results. Sanity-wise, that’s a whole different story.

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Was reading a Curious George story from the late 1950s to our young son the other day. In one of the scenes is an image of a reporter carrying one of those old-time cameras, the boxy ones with the big flash on top, looked like she was looking down on it to take the picture instead of holding it to her eye. You know what I’m talking about? Anyway, I soon put our little guy to napping and came downstairs thinking of that camera, about how in many of my favorite children’s books I share with Sam there are a good many dated items like the telephone in the big green room, or this box camera, or horse-drawn wagons, etc; in essence, objects from the past that my son might never come to know because they are no longer relevant to our cultural landscape.

Alone with my cup of coffee, Scott across the table finishing up Hugh Johnson, A Life Uncorked (look for a book report soon – I’ll try to get Scott to expand on his thoughts for this one), I began to think about something I had read recently in the March WS, about an idea from the past that I wonder if more and more people might never come to know, or even worse, to dismiss: the farm-to-wine connection.

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