Wine & Distilled Spirits at the Oregon Spring Beer & Wine Fest

April 9, 2010

Besides tasting cider at the 16th Annual Spring Beer & Wine Fest last weekend at the Oregon Convention Center, I had a little bit of wine, some of my husband’s beer, some distilled spirits, cheese, and chocolate.

For distilled spirits, I finally got to try out Spokane, WA’s Dry Fly Distillery’s Vodka, which I had been reading about on Facebook. My favorite of theirs was actually their gin. They said they used things like lavender, coriander, and Fuji apples. It made it a mellower gin, one which I think could be drank easily on the rocks, which you don’t do with most gins, or with a splash of juice.

From Portland, New Deal Vodka was there with a few of their spirits, including their Hot Monkey, which was a vodka infused with peppers. I’ve infused tequila with peppers before, but this vodka was way too overpowering, even though they served it to me with 3 parts pineapple juice to one part Hot Monkey. I couldn’t taste anything for a little while. I also had some of their Loft Organic Liqiours, and I loved the ginger cello.

I also had some vodka from Bend Distillery. They also had an infused pepper vodka, but it was much mellower, easier to drink, and doesn’t linger. They used a combination of peppers, and the first pepper you can taste is sweet bell peppers before it moves into the hotter peppers and then cools down. They also had a coffee and hazelnut infused vodka, but it didn’t taste like coffee liquor. It was very good.

I was a bit tickled that one of the vendors among the distillers at the festival was Treetop Home Distillation Systems. As I have mentioned before, distilling without a permit is illegal in the United States and other countries, but if I ever get my cider house/winery up and running, I would attempt to get a distilling license and uses one of their small stove top distillers instead of attempting to build one.

For something unique, I had some Vinn MiJiu Ice, a kind of rice wine/liquor, which was sweet as promised with the honey-pear taste and aroma. I was expecting saké, but this was different.

The only other wines I had was from Gougér Cellars and Nehalem Bay Winery, even though there were many more wineries there. Gougér Cellars made the cut because it is one of the few wineries in Clark County where I live, and the only one represented there. I had their reisling and ended the day with their muscat. While Tualatin Estate Vineyards has a better muscat, it takes some effort for me to obtain it. This muscat will be easier for me to get.

Nehalem Bay Winery makes fruit wines, and I unfortunately didn’t discover at the event until towards the end. I had their cranberry wine, which was good, but I prefer Shallon Winery’s. I’m curious about the rest of their products, so I will have to take a trip out to the coast to try more of their wine sometime.

And speaking of the coast and visiting Shallon Winery, we discovered a new Astoria, OR brew pub at the festival called Astoria Brewing Company at the Wet Dog Café. We will have to check them out and see how they compare to the Blue Scorcer Bakery & Café and Fort George Brewery. Will the Wet Dog Café be able to woo us away?

Lots of local one day road trips for us!

I will talk about the cheese vendors another time.

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