Harry and David Launches Wine Collection

Gift giant Harry and David Launches Wine Brand

Some of Harry and David’s wine collection

The air was thick with the scent of fermenting grapes. The heady aroma of yeast working it’s magic entranced me from the second I stepped off the bus. The building’s cold, dimly lit exterior could not shroud the fantastic things happening inside it’s walls. Inside Pallet, Linda Donovan’s new custom crush facility in Medford, Oregon wine was being made, and I had to have some. A new partnership, Linda was making wines that will be exclusively available from premier gift company Harry and David.

Long known for their high quality gifts of fruit and food, gift giant Harry and David is poised to enter the wine business. Their brick and mortar retail stores actually carry an impressive selection of wines. A recent media trip to Medford, Oregon had me browsing in-store bottles ranging from Oregon locals J Christopher and Ken Wright, to various producers from Chateauneuf-du-Pape. While you are already able to order gifts of wine from Harry and David, this is the first time the company is putting their name on a bottle of wine.

Tracy Kaiser, Harry and David Sr Director of Merchandising, talking about the wine collection

Harry & David’s Tracy Kaiser talking about the wine collection

The Harry and David wine collection currently consists of 9 wines. All of the wine comes from Southern Oregon, with a focus on the Rogue Valley. Future vintages will focus on even more narrow appellations in the southern Oregon wine region, including a single vineyard offering from Illinois Valley. The Harry and David wine collection consists of sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, viognier, and gewürztraminer as white wine options. The red wines in the collection are pinot noir, merlot, syrah, tempranillo and  a blend called Royal Crest Red. The Harry and David Royal Crest Red wine is a blend of 60% Merlot, 30% cabernet sauvignon and 10% carmenere.

During a sponsored press trip I had the opportunity to taste most of the Harry and David wine collection at a fantastic media dinner held in Linda Donovan’s new custom crush facility, Pallet. Located in Medford, OR, Linda purchased an old commercial building that was in a state of disrepair. Putting a lot of work in to the building, including pouring new concrete ramps and patching up holes in the floor, Pallet boasts over eight fermentation tanks, and a fantastic new press that was pressing the 2012 vintage of riesling during my visit. Linda consults with a number of wineries and has a beautiful barrel room for aging the wines of both Harry and David and her other clients.

Winemaker Linda Donovan on Harry & David wine collection

Winemaker Linda Donovan on Harry & David wine collection

The Harry and David wine collection will be priced from $15 to $30, and should be available online in early 2013. Winemaker Linda Donovan captures the terroir of Southern Oregon and the Rogue valley by focusing on grape varieties that do well there. The wines should be nice to sip on alone, or pair with foods. For the launch dinner, Harry & David’s Chef Tim Keller used many of the company’s soon to be released Easy Entertaining ready to serve dishes to pair with the wines. Some highlights included the Easy Entertaining Chardonnay Turkey with crisp apples and toasted hazelnuts, and a Bellini topped with Steelhead salmon and pickled creme fraiche. Tim was preparing these dishes for 13 food and wine writers, and did a great job impressing us with his creativity using the ready to eat Easy Entertaining meals Harry and David will soon offer.

Bellini using Harry & David Steelhead Salmon

Bellini using Harry & David Steelhead Salmon

The wines were practically barrel samples, bottled a scant few weeks ago before our dinner. The company will be sending me samples to taste and discuss in the near future, but there were two Harry and David wine collection standouts for me. For only $15, the sauvignon blanc had a nice melon and orange citrus nose, with a great orange citrus palate, balanced with a little green herbaceous note that offered some depth without being very prominent. The second standout is the $20 Pinot Noir. A very nice expression of what the Southern Oregon wine country has to offer, this wine had a palate of nice red berries, but not over ripe jammy fruit. It was balanced nicely with spice and smoke from the oak aging.

At $15 This Harry and David Sauvignon Blanc is a buy!

At $15 This Harry and David Sauvignon Blanc is a buy!

As a long time customer of Harry and David, it’s nice to see them offer wines that will showcase the terrior of Southern Oregon. They already offer gifts of fruit, cheese and food from the Pacific Northwest, and it’s only logical that they offer wines from their home. Look for tasting notes and pairing ideas in future articles, including my using the Harry and David Mushroom soup mix to pair with… Well, just come back soon!

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22 thoughts on “Harry and David Launches Wine Collection

  1. My favorite was the PInot Noir! So great in that region. :)

  2. I agree, Oregon does make some great pinot noir!! And they also have great food options to pair it with!

  3. Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles says:

    Great post, Matt! What an awesome experience it was to visit Harry and David to learn about all their great products…and then to sip on their incredible new wines! My favorite was the Viognier. I don’t recall being able to detect coconut in a wine before, and I completely fell for it. I had so much tasty fun in OR, and am so happy to have met you!

  4. Matt, I really love the Pinot’s and I was so impressed with all of H&D’s new wines! They were paired perfectly with the foods. Impressive. What a great way to end our 3 days together. A fabulous group, I was honored that you could come to my home town! Thanks for all the great recaps. Not sure how I missed the one you wrote before you came … busy, I guess. :) Cheers and Happy Monday! Come back to Oregon!

  5. [...] – Lithia Park and Déjà Vu Bistro Julie – Harry & David Gift Baskets Matt – Harry & David Launches Wine Collection If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting! 9 [...]

  6. Cookin' Canuck says:

    This is such a great recap, Matt! I am not usually a Sauvignon Blanc fan, but I’d have to say that Harry & David SB really grabbed my attention. It was fantastic to meet you, Matt and to feed off of your passion for wine.

  7. I can’t stop thinking about their savingnon blanc, I really enjoyed it! The scent of crushing grapes is pretty mesmerizing if you ask me! What a great time, enjoyed getting to know you more Matt!

  8. I am a huge new fan of Oregon Pinots after this trip!

  9. That wine they served was fantastic! I can’t wait to try it again! Such a lovely recap here and it was a pleasure getting to meet you! Hope we see each other soon!

  10. That is good to hear! Oregon pinot noir is often similar to Burgundy pinot noir. I’ll have to do some side-by-sides in the coming months and help you find even more options!

  11. I am happy to have met you too, Brenda! And I was indeed quite impressed by what Harry and David is putting out. I can’t wait to get my hands on some more.

  12. I can’t imagine how you were busy. I mean, throwing fantastic dinner parties comes second nature to you :)

    It was a privilege to have been invited out to Oregon, especially with the talented group that joined us! and There’s no doubt i’ll be back to Oregon, soon!

  13. Thank you so much Dara! I feel like we were all so busy eating and taking photos, we didn’t chat enough! We’ll have to remedy that with Twitter!

    I think there is a Harry & David wine to appeal to almost any wine drinker. There were some I didn’t try yet, so I’ll let you know what to expect once I do :)

  14. I agree wholeheartedly Aggie. The scent of the grapes being made into wine just enthralls me!

    It was a pleasure to get to know you, and please let me know about events in our area! The sense of community that we formed is tremendous!

  15. Thank you Brian! I appreciate that compliment, very much! I was in Boston a few months ago, and really enjoyed myself. I plan on coming back as soon as possible, and bringing Robin! We’ll get together with you guys and Simon and we’ll just explore the town!

  16. [...] any good. During my trip to Oregon, someone asked me about Two Buck Chuck right before the Harry and David wine dinner. I’ve not had Two Buck Chuck in recent years, and my first taste was a long time ago. [...]

  17. [...] Another highlight for me was on the last night of our visit. We experienced a fun surprise where we were introduced to Harry & David’s brand spankin’ new line of wines with an 8-course wine paired dinner. The dinner was held in a “crush house” and the smell of freshly crushed  and fermenting grapes filled the air and was absolutely mesmerizing. Talk about ending on a high note. If you want to learn more about the wines, my new friend Matt covers them well in a post here. [...]

  18. Kate | Food Babbles says:

    I was trilled to hear about the Harry & David line of wines! I can’t wait to give some a try. This sounds like it was an incredible event!

  19. It was a great event indeed, Kate. I really believe Harry & David are putting out a good line of wines. I’m excited to see the progression.

  20. Great recap, Matt! That was such an amazing trip. Can’t wait to see what you pair with the Mushroom Soup. Sandy’s version of it was delicious. Cheers!

  21. [...] my trip to Oregon with Harry & David, I had the chance to meet 12 awesome bloggers. The 11 women and 1 other guy were all super talented [...]

  22. [...] with great cheese companies to give you amazing wine pairing options. Couple that with the new line of wine from Harry & David and you’ve got amazing gift options, or a perfect picnic or party delivered right to your [...]

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