Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Portlandia

I've been reading through the various reactions to the recent Amerian Wine Bloggers Conference held in Charlottesville, Virginia, and I have to say holding the conference in Portland, Oregon next year will certainly be a boon for the conference organizers.

First and foremost, the wine industry in and around Portland is obviously more mature than in Virginia. And it's on the West Coast right next door to California and Washington, again, huge wine producing regions. That means easy access to more great wines, wineries and wine peeps than it might appear the Virginia edition of the conference provided.

But what makes this a slam dunk is what I like to call the Portlandia-effect. My current hometown is suddenly one of the hippest places to be despite its long history of being otherwise (seriously, ask anyone who was born here and is older than 12).

It took a great many years, but it's finally all coming together for Portland in the popularity department. We are now known for: beer, wine (natch), the Silicon Forest, urban (sometimes naked) biking, the indie music scene, hundreds of food carts, hard core outdoor recreation, our long list of farm to fork restaurants, grocery stores and farmers markets and ... we "put a bird on it".

This Portland popularity streak should bring quite an eclectic crowd (even for wine folk) to the conference next year AND make it easy for the organizers to add variety and intrigue to the conference agenda.

I'm in!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pennsylvania

Laws regarding wine sales and consumption are very stringent in the US, particularly when compared to wine-producing countries in Europe. We have many historical influences to thank for that - Prohibition and its repeal being the most obvious.



Case in point: In Pennsylvania the only place to buy wine is at state-run liquor stores. Does this negatively affect consumer choice in terms of selection and price?

I think yes. What do you think?

Members of Pennsylvania's state legislature are planning to introduce a bill to privatize liquor stores and allow wine sales at grocery stores and the like. Will legislators be able to wade through the complexities and objections to the bill and come up with one that will pass? Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Ah, to be a 15-year-old nerd again...

I'm reliving my childhood this weekend at my mom and step-dad’s house in Medford, Oregon. Since my husband took our son to Costa Rica for graduation, I decided I would head down there and pretend to be 15 again: going to breakfast on weekends with my parents, staying up late reading books, playing Solitaire and enjoying the hot Southern Oregon days. Only now I can drink. It is truly amazing how well those same activities from my childhood are conducive to drinking.

They don't have a pool anymore, but that doesn't really interfere with my nostalgic enjoyment at all. I still get to eat Cookie Connection cookies, stay up late reading, have dinner on the patio at the Club and help my parents with their never-ending yard chores and projects. (Sort of, mostly I'm just good at observing and asking questions while drinking wine.)



Another nostalgic activity is going to the theater, so last night my Mom took me to the Oregon Cabaret Theater in Ashland to see “The Marvelous Wonderettes”, a musical comedy featuring hit songs from the 50's and 60's. That’s her in the picture. It was cool eating dinner beforehand at our cozy table on the second floor overlooking the stage. I started with a Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc which paired nicely with my simple garden salad, but of course you can never go wrong with a decent Sauvignon Blanc for appetizers and starters. We enjoyed a local RoxyAnne Claret with our entrees. It struck me as having nice balance between fruit and structure and it fit the mood well. I had seared ahi tuna and Mom had stuffed chicken with marsala sauce. The claret held up well with the ahi, surprisingly. We gabbed about cooking mostly. I finally started exploring the “culinary arts” since I've been unemployed. I'm sure my mom finds it odd that after all this time as a neophyte cook, my favorite new thing to talk about is grilled vegetables. But since my new best friend from the TV, Giada, showed me how easy it is to make them, I've been inordinately enamored.

I think the most amusing part of the evening was when my mom told me in a nostalgic and somewhat confidential tone that the songs from the musical were the ones SHE remembered while growing up. I laughed while reminding her that my brother, sister and I knew ALL of those same songs from our childhood since my parents constantly sang to the radio in the car and played their 45s at home for us. And they still do. (Well, the radio part anyway.)