Wine and Chocolate Weekend
February 16, 2010
Since we tasted beer on Saturday, we decided to try the wine and chocolate at our local wineries who were participating for Valentine’s Day.
We started at the Rusty Grape Vineyards as volunteers for tour hours, pouring wine for people and listening to what was being said. Apparently, a lot of people start there because it makes geographical sense, and because a lot of people feel they have the best wine. I have to admit they have very good wine. The entry to the winery is about the only thing awkward, as the main tasting is down a hall and around the corner, but the place is sort of set up like a Tuscany café. There are a lot of tables and chairs, inviting you to come in, sit down, play some cards, and drink some wine. For the chocolate, they had Majestic Chocolates from McMinnville, Oregon handing out little samples. They did it in such a way that if you were drinking the Merlot, you would eat a hazelnut chocolate with it. Wonderful pairings! There was a chardonnay, five reds, a sparkling pinot noir, strawberry wine, and a sweet Riesling to finish off everything.
Our next stop was Bethany Vineyards & Winery. The Rusty Grape had recommended going there for an experience with the estate, which is nearly 80 acres of vines. The tasting room was large and had a long granite countertop. We tried about seven wines, mostly reds, but they only gave us one small chocolate cupcake. No customizing there. I was a little disappointed they were not sampling the blackberry wine that day.
We skipped ahead in the circuit to East Fork Cellars because of the fish stand next door. Once we had eaten, we went into the Cellars. It was a large room with a counter on one wall, and an area opposite that which served as a stage, complete with permanent lighting. That day, they had a guitarist and keyboardist who were mostly playing honky tonk style music, such as Hank Williams Sr, Buck Owens, and Jerry Lewis. The space seemed a little awkward, as all the people there were trying to press themselves up against the wall as to not spoil the show for anyone else. East Fork Cellars had a box of chocolates out, along with a small table containing crackers, blue cheese, and an aged sheep’s cheese.
We then went back to Three Brothers Vineyard and Winery. It was at a new small acreage of grape vines. The tasting room had sloped ceiling with timbers. They had a barrel room off in one direction, which had windows looking in on the fermenters. They had eight wines total, which they were tasting five per person, so between my husband and I, we were able to taste them all. Strangely, they started us off with the sweetest wine they had. The chocolate they provided was a fondue of fruits and cookies.
Things I took away from this experience that I might apply to my own future business:
Best Chocolate: The Rusty Grape Vineyard with Majestic Chocolates because they were customized pairings, though I have to admit chocolate fondue is something to remember if the customers did it.
Best Tasting Rooms: Three Brothers had the ability to see the fermenters, while the Rusty Grape is probably the most inviting with the café tables.
Best Idea: East Fork Cellars for having a cheese and cracker bar set up