After breakfast, we loaded up on a bus and left McMinnville for a “mystery” trip to a winery. Destination top secret – no one knew where we were headed. Folks that had gone on winery tours the day before came back with fun stories of guessing games on the bus with clever clues, suspense and anticipation building with the winery finally revealed somewhere in route.
We arrived at the bus early and promptly sat in the front. Cleverly crafted questions to our bus driver yielded no clues for our trip, even he claimed ignorance to our destination.
With our bus finally fully loaded, our tour guide climbed on board picked up the microphone and before she even said “hello” or “welcome”, blurted out ”We’re going to Erath”. Well, there ya have it, there it was. Just like that. I kinda felt like the day in 1st grade when my best friend told me “there is no Santa”.
We arrived at the winery about 10:00am with the bus pulling up alongside the Prince Hill Vineyard. As you can see we were welcomed by winemaker Gary Horner and his wife and a table full of glasses with barrel samples of the 2008 Prince Hill Pinot.
Gary spent about 40 minutes talking about the Erath history, theories, soil preparation and growing strategies, etc.
Carabella Winery was there.
Back on the bus we arrived at Erath Winery facilities and were welcomed into the barrel storage room with tasting samples from Oregon, California and French winemakers, each present to talk about the wines.
Next was lunch on the patio at Erath and this is where it gets really good. Our chef was Adam Bernstein, Adam’s Sustainable Table, Eugene Oregon. We thoroughly enjoyed sitting with new friends from Illinois. Had the best time talking about food and wine. That’s me on the right.
- House smoked Columbia River sturgeon
- Oysters on the half shell with rose sorbet
- Served with Erath Melrose Rose Pinot Gris 2008, Umpqua Valley
- Shaved vegetable salad with Erath Pinot Blanc dressing and olive oil foam
- Served with Erath Pinot Blanc 2007, Willamette Valley
- Oregon albacore tuna carpaccio, tomato, arugula and cumin salt
- Oregon duck lovin’ smoked duck breast bacon, duck confit hash, poached duck egg, trufffled toast with onion-berry jam and foie gras torchon
- Served with Erath Pinot Noir Juliard 2006, Dundee Hills and
- Erath Pinot Noir Niederberger 2006, Dundee Hills
- Oregon artisan mascarpone with lavender, Oregon wild blackberry honey, and fresh blackberries
- Served with Erath Sweet Harvest Pinot Blanc 2008, Dundee Hills
We languished on the deck for almost 2 1/2 hours enjoying this beautiful meal. The personal highlight for me was that smoked duck breast and, of course, the Heirloom Tomatoes.
Again, the chef and staff were invited out after the lunch. They spent a good amount of time talking about the meal and methods for preparation. First question asked was how he made the olive oil foam. Simple, frothing olive oil with a little bit of egg white. What I loved about his description of the tomatoes was the idea of selecting different colors, different shapes and slicing them in all directions, as not to “tile”. All for presentation. I did ask about the cumin salt on the tomatoes. 3 parts cumin, 1 part salt. It was delicious and I’ve already mixed some up here at home. A great new idea.