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Five Great Wineries in the Umpqua Valley

Five Great Wineries in the Umpqua Valley

This week’s Friday happy hour post is a bit different from my normal cocktail post.  This week, I’d like to introduce you to my favorite wine region in all of Oregon – the Umpqua Valley.  When people think about Oregon’s wine scene, they most often think of the vineyards and wine makers in the Willamette Valley and those in Hood River.  The Willamette Valley is known for its amazing Pinot Noir grapes, which are, without a doubt amazing.

However, if you are looking for a different wine tasting experience in Oregon, I encourage you to check out the Umpqua Valley.  This region is in Southern Oregon and is easily accessible along the I-5 corridor.  It’s about three hours south of Portland and easy to get to via either the Portland International Airport (which is swoon worthy in and of itself in terms of all the great shopping and food that’s in the airport, including the local wines that you can buy to take home with you) or the Eugene International Airport, which is about an hour and a half north of the Umpqua Valley region.  The Eugene International Airport is absolutely adorable – very small, but very easy to get to and from.  The nearest town to the Umpqua Valley is Roseburg.  It’s a cute town with some great restaurants and a really nice Holiday Inn Express.  Trust me, relaxing in the hot tub there with the view of the Umpqua River after a long day of wine tasting is a great way to end the day.

The Umpqua Valley has over twenty-five wineries.  While I’ve not been to all of them, I’ve definitely toured my share.  In no particular order, here are my five favorites.

Brandborg Winery

Brandborg is an easy to find winery off of Highway 138 in Elkton, Oregon.  Elkton is a lovely tiny town – it’s got just a few shop on its main street, with spectacular views of the Umpqua River.  Brandborg itself has lovely wines – great pinot noirs, in particular.  The Love Puppets Pinot Noir is one of my favorites, though I also have room in my wine loving heart for the Ferris Wheel Estate Pinot Noir.  Brandborg has a gorgeous tasting room and the folks there are so generous with their time and knowledge when you are tasting.

MarshAnne Landing

MarshAnne Landing is in Oakland, Oregon, easily accessible off of I-5.  There distinctive logo includes a flying saucer because they want anyone, even space visitors, to have a great wine experience with their wines.  My all time favorite here is the Red Planet red blend, though I adore the Cote du Umpqua, too.  But really, all their wines are awesome.  The tasting experience at MarshAnne is also lovely – great tasting room, friendly people.  If you are lucky enough to be in the Umpqua Valley region in the spring and summer, MarshAnne also holds concerts both in the tasting room and on their patio.

MarshAnne Landing’s Pinot Noir. Bought this one from DC Farmer’s Co-Op in Roseburg (seriously). The Farmer’s Co-Op has a great selection of regional wines.

Pyrenees

One of the best parts about Pyrenees is a tasting room that opens up onto the Umpqua River.  This vineyard is in a quiet spot in Myrtle Creek, a town about twenty minutes outside of Roseburg.  If you are looking for a place to take a picnic and taste wines, Pyrenees is the place to go.  They are open only by appointment in the winter, so this is definitely a place to call ahead and make sure they are open when you plan to go.

Abacela

The last two on my list are two of the larger wineries in this region.  Both produce spectacular wine.  I’ll start with Abacela.  Abacela has a spectacular tasting room – it’s spacious and light and such a great place to cozy up, especially in the winter, and taste a full flight of wines.  Abacela is also pretty easy to find in many larger liquor stores and wine shops, so if you can’t travel to the Umpqua Valley but want to try out a bottle from this region, look for Abacela.  Again, as with other wineries on this list, all of the wines are worth tasting.  My hands down favorite from Abacela is their Viognier.  It’s a light, crisp white wine that’s perfect for summer months paired with grilled foods.  Their Albarino (another white wine) is pretty awesome, too.  I particularly love really intense bold red wines and Abacela delivers on these with their Tempranillo, Dolcetto, and Garnacha wines.

Abacela’s Albarino, purchased at PDX while I was on the way to New Orleans for a conference.
Abacela’s Vintner’s Blend #14 – bought as a special Thanksgiving treat.

Henry Estate Winery

Henry Estate Winery has a long history in the Umpqua Valley.  They started producing wine in this region in the 1970s and are one of the most respected wineries in the Umpqua Valley.  They have a lovely tasting room, and if you have a chance to go to an open house on a Thanksgiving or Memorial Day weekend, Henry’s is a must stop destination.  Henry’s red wines are great, but my absolute favorite from this winery is the Veraison, which is a perfectly dry rose wine that pairs well with fish and chicken dishes, as well a variety of cheeses.  If you are looking for a pinot noir, Henry’s has some great options here as well.  Oh – and the chocolate wine truffles they sell in their gift shop are so good.

Henry’s Pinot Gris – this was was purchased at the grocery store in Bandon, Oregon. I love my Umpqua Valley wines!
Henry’s Estate all decked out for the holidays.
Eight years ago, hubby and my first wine tour in the Umpqua Valley. This is a photo of us in Henry Estate’s vineyard right around Thanksgiving.

So there you have it – five outstanding wineries in the Umpqua Valley region.  The Umpqua Valley region has over twenty-five wineries to explore – if you want to check out some of the others or want to learn more about events in the region, check out http://www.umpquavalleywineries.org/wineries/

This post is linked to Saucy Saturdays #89.   For more great recipes, check out the hosts’ sites:

Take Two Tapas, La Petit Chef, Mid-Life Croissant and The Flavor Bender

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Today is my 41st birthday, so I made myself a red wine chocolate cake to celebrate.  There’s a back-story here. Last year, I turned forty.  For months prior to this milestone, I’d contemplated baking myself a fancy cake to celebrate.  I’d just started blogging the year before, and I envisioned a perfect blog post with a beautiful cake. I’d also envisioned having a tapas party and cooking great food with friends.

Sometimes fate has other plans: what I really did last year on my fortieth birthday was work my first meeting at a new job and then drive back to our house in Southern Oregon to finish packing so we could move to Portland and I could officially start work mid-March.  I didn’t bother cooking for nearly a month, much less blog.  Clay bought a couple of really good cupcakes from a bakery near our soon to be house and we went to dinner for Italian that night.  While I was more than content to spend my fortieth this way, I started making plans for this year.

So this year, I’m 41.  First and foremost, I want to say that I really love being in my forties.  I’m more comfortable in my own skin than I’ve ever been.  I feel like I’ve finally figured out who I am – I have a style that’s unique to me.  I can look in the mirror and be happy with what I see.  I love my work.  My relationships is steady, stable, and happy.  I started blogging as a creative outlet and have had so much fun making this my primary hobby.  I’m content having a car that’s nearly at 100,000 miles.  I know what I like and I know what I don’t.  So, yes, forty has been awesome.

Baking this red wine chocolate cake was my birthday present to me this year.  I set aside an entire day to bake and frost.  I tackled Swiss Buttercream frosting and made something that tasted like it came from a bakery.  It was an awesome experience.  I loved setting up the photo shoot and taking the pictures of this cake, too.

I love how birthday cakes can be such a symbol of love.  My favorite birthday cake when I was growing up was a cake my grandma made for me when I was a kid – and then once again when I turned 18 because I begged her to.  The cake was a bunny cake, which was several sheet cakes formed together to make a bunny, with frosted “ears” and chocolate Easter eggs for the eyes.  I could never eat the bunny head – that was just a bit too much for me.  But I loved that fluffy white frosting and cake and I loved that she made the cake just for me.  The photo in this picture was taken on my 18th birthday.  Yes – a birthday cake is special.

red wine chocolate cake

My red wine chocolate cake is a layered chocolate cake some yummy red wine to flavor.  The chocolate Swiss buttercream got covered with chocolate sprinkles on the top.  Clay helped frost – he watched what I was doing, told me that the process of frosting was a lot like spackling, and took over my spatula.  Yes – a birthday cake is about being loved.   We’ve nibbled our way through the cake all week.  (Given that do have a day job, it wasn’t actually practical to bake my cake on my birthday in the middle of the week, so I made it on Sunday, instead).

If you’ve never made a birthday cake for yourself or for others, I encourage you to do so.  It doesn’t matter how it turns out – the important thing is the act of cooking because you love someone or because you love who you are.

red wine chocolate cake

A couple of things to note about the frosting.  First, I used this recipe for Swiss buttercream and have linked it rather than trying to adapt it to suit my purposes.  It made a lovely frosting, but our kitchen was definitely too warm for this to go well on the first try.  If your buttercream turns out runny, it really does work to refrigerate for about 30 minutes and then whip it again.  I will tell you though, use a bigger bowl than you think you need.  My entire kitchen, including me and Daisy (who likes to lurk right under the counter top when I’m cooking) were covered in buttercream.  Ok – in fairness, the dog thought this was awesome, except for the part where there was buttercream on her back that she couldn’t lick off.  The other is that this recipe makes a lot of buttercream frosting.  I like a little frosting and this ended up being way too much.

red wine chocolate cake

red wine chocolate cake

red wine chocolate cake

The recipe for the cake is adapted from Liv for Cake’s Mocha Chocolate Cake Recipe.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup Dutch process cocoa
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (olive oil works for this recipe)
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¾ cup red wine
  • Frosting of your choice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut out parchment paper circles to line the bottom of three 9 inch cake pans. Butter the pans (including the parchment paper) and sprinkle with cocoa powder to cover.
  2. Sift the cocoa powder. Combine all dry ingredients, from flour through salt and stir until the mixture is thoroughly incorporated. Add the oil, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and wine and stir until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Divide the cake mix between the three pans.
  4. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes or until a knife or skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Frost with your favorite frosting. I used this recipe for my Swiss buttercream – but beware, this makes enough for several cakes.
  5. Serves between 8 – 16.
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This post is linked up to #CookBlogShare, hosted this week by Hijacked by Twins

Hijacked By Twins

This post is also linked to Saucy Saturdays #87.   For more great recipes, check out the hosts’ sites:

Take Two Tapas, La Petit Chef, Mid-Life Croissant and The Flavor Bender

Blood Orange Citrus Sangria

Blood Orange Citrus Sangria

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you may have seen my posts about my recent blood orange windfall, which led to me making blood orange citrus sangria.  A good friend of mine from Phoenix has a blood orange tree in her backyard (yep – I’m envious) that produced enthusiastically this year.  She asked me if I wanted some of the blood oranges.  My answer was an unequivocal yes.  When the actual box showed up, I realized she wasn’t kidding around: some oranges was around 40 pounds of oranges.  It was the best present, ever.

I spent all of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day (and the day after New Years), making recipes with blood oranges.  I love to can, preserve, and infuse.  I made several blood orange marmalades (one of which uses blood orange citrus sangria as a key ingredient), multiple pints of blood oranges canned in a light syrup, orange-cello (limoncello, but with blood oranges), and blood oranges preserved in salt.  Our kitchen smells like blood oranges and that’s ok with me.  I’m already literally salivating over the thought of the preserved oranges with strawberries over shortcake (and whip cream and I’ve just gone to foodie heaven).

Blood orange citrus sangria also let me use up some of the other citrus I already had on hand.  It’s still Meyer lemon season, and I’m definitely not done with the sweet fragrance of these lovely lemons.  I also discovered mandarinquats at one of our local organic groceries.  Mandarinquats are a hybrid of mandarin oranges and kumquats.  They look like large kumquats and can be eaten whole – peel and all.  They do have seeds, though, so be forewarned.

Blood Orange Citrus Sangria

blood orange citrus sangria

The fruit in the foreground is the mandarinquat.  I think these are an adorable fruit.

blood orange citrus sangria

I love the many hues of citrus.  The blood oranges are at the top.

blood orange citrus sangria

blood orange citrus sangria

 

Blood Orange Sangria

Ingredients

  • 2 blood oranges
  • 2 mandarinquats or 4 kumquats
  • 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1/4 cup Triple Sec
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 bottle fruity red wine

Instructions

  1. Slice the fruit and place in a carafe or pitcher. Add the Triple Sec, brandy and wine. Chill for at least two hours. Enjoy!
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