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Visiting Harry and David calls for a Facelift

Visiting the Vineyards and Orchards of Oregon

Visiting the Vineyards and Orchards of Oregon

It has been over 18 months since I last made the pilgrimage from Florida to Oregon. It’s a trip that is comprised of several airports and many hours to leave the land of sweltering sun to arrive at the land of lush hills and fantastic fruit. That fantastic fruit goes into many things, from gift baskets to wine, and I’m always excited to enjoy them all. When the team at Harry & David asked I join 12 food writers to tour their Oregon facilities, I was flattered and overjoyed. After a six month writing hiatus due to family illness, I knew that if I were to accept this trip, not only would I have to get to writing again, my site would need a facelift.

There is no doubt that food writers are skilled at taking photos and showcasing their craft. This blog was launched with the help of several people, one of them being Jaden Hair, the amazing recipe developer and food columnist at Steamy Kitchen. I was so impressed by her site and work, we connected on Twitter. She was gracious enough to chat with me about my site, and gave me a gentle nudge in the right direction to do my best to showcase food and wine. Unfortunately, over time, I got a little sloppy and a little lazy, a function of being pressed for time, and the quality slipped.

Barrel Room at Cameron Winery in Oregon

Barrel Room at Cameron Winery in Oregon

A visit to a vineyard or winery is always spectacular. It’s something that everyone should experience, at least twice. And while I can do my best to explain the smell of the the barrel room, the texture of the grape leaves, the heat of the sun on my face as it ripens the grapes, it’s much more tactile and real if you can see the images that created those words. It is similar for wine reviews. I can describe the smell of the ripe red fruit and what foods the wine would pair with, but visual cues help bring those ideas home.  The same is true for recipes. When I looked at the sites of my fellow writers, all listed below, I was blown away at the careful detail that went into their photos. It showcased their craft in all of it’s delicious glory. I realized that i needed to do the same with my reviews. So, it’s time for a facelift.

Harry and David showcasing Delicious Oregon Pears

Harry and David showcasing Delicious Oregon Pears

Our facelift won’t be finished before my visit to the above pear orchards of Harry and David. It did start already, thanks to fellow H&D guest Heather Scholten of Farmgirl Gourmet. While chatting about the visit, I told Heather how much I enjoyed her site, and asked if she had any constructive criticism for my work. She was quite gracious and said it was fine, and agreed that focusing on better photos would help. I mentioned how I needed to really work on the design to spruce it up, and minutes later my email had our first improvement in it. Heather went and whipped up a quick banner, faster than she can whip up a batch of Soft Molasses Cookies. Our conversation has inspired me to modify many things that I’ve been letting go, and they’re already underway. Your input is always appreciated, so feel free to leave a comment below if you think there’s something I can add, change or delete to make this site a better resource for all of your wine and food pairing needs!

Having a Good time with Wine in Oregon

Having a Good time with Wine in Oregon

It’s much easier to relate having a good time with wine when you see people doing it, than when you read about people doing it. I had a great time visiting Appassionata vineyards, a joint venture with Dr Loosen  in Northern Oregon with Jay Somers of J Christopher Wines, while with friends April Simpson and Terry Simpson of Eat Pack Go. I now look forward to having a good time with wine with these amazing food writers at Harry and David in southern Oregon! Be sure to visit their sites for all of your belly filling needs!.

*Aggie’s Kitchen – @aggieskitchen on Twitter
Foodie, but not a food snob. The healthier the better. Come hungry! Central Florida · http://www.aggieskitchen.com

*Brenda Score – @FarmgirlsDabble on Twitter
Midwestern girl, raised on a farm, now living in the ‘burbs. Sharing my recipe box & a little everyday life! Minnesota · http://www.afarmgirlsdabbles.com

*Heather Scholten @FarmGirlGourmet on Twitter
Food Blogger * Recipe Developer * Gardener * Old Home Renovator * Crazy Mom * Loving Wife * Pit Bull Advocate* Cheney, WA · http://www.farmgirlgourmet.com

*Maggy Keet – @ThreeManyCooks on Twitter
Food blog by cookbook author, Pam Anderson and her daughters, Maggy & Sharon. · http://www.threemanycooks.com

*Brian Samuels – @MyFoodThoughts on Twitter
Boston-based lifestyle, event + food photographer and blogger – Boston · http://www.athoughtforfood.net

*MarthaStewartLiving – @MS_Living on Twitter
Endless inspiration from the editors of Martha Stewart Living. -New York, NY · http://www.marthastewart.com

*Sommer Collier – @SpicyPerspectiv on Twitter
Professional Recipe Developer and Freelance Food Writer cooking up Easy-Gourmet Recipes and SPICY Conversation · http://aspicyperspective.com

*Dara Michalski @cookincanuck on Twitter
Food blogger, recipe developer and freelance writer. I am a Canadian living in the U.S. Cultures happily colliding. Utah · http://www.cookincanuck.com

*Gaby Dalkin – @What’sGabyCookin on Twitter
Private Chef. Author. Professional Recipe Developer. Freelance Food and Travel Writer. Avocado Lover. Los Angeles · http://www.WhatsGabyCooking.com

*Carrie Cook Minns – @CarrieMinns on Twitter
I write. I cook. I photograph. I eat. I laugh. Portland, Oregon · http://www.lapommedeportland.com

*Julie  – @PBFingers on Twitter
Blogger. Freelance writer. FitFluential ambassador. Dog lover. Believes eating peanut butter out of the jar with your finger is perfectly acceptable.
Ocala, FL · http://www.pbfingers.com

*Sandy Coughlin – @SandyCoughlinRE on Twitter
Author of The Reluctant Entertainer; love cooking & hosting dinner parties. – Medford, Oregon · http://reluctantentertainer.com

When I started to browse the sites of the 12 other writers going to Harry and David next week, I was reminded that people not only like recipes, they LOVE them chock full of  photos. The image helps them connect with the content and form a desire for the product. If you can’t see how it looks, it’s hard to imagine enjoying it by words alone sometime.

See you in Oregon! And let me know where I can use a nip and tuck by commenting below!

Wine Gift Ideas For The Holidays Part 1

Great Wine Gift Ideas

Great Wine Gift Ideas

I’m sure you’re making your last minute rush to get gifts for everyone on your list as I write this.  I’m sorry this didn’t get to you sooner, but I’m here to offer three great ideas for wine gifts for everyone on your list.  I’ll post the video, which has all of the information you’ll need. However, I’ll also put some quick highlights below the video for you to cut and paste into your wish list.

Seven Peaks 2009 Pinot Noir

Seven Peaks 2009 Pinot Noir

First up was a $9.99 option from California. The Seven Peaks Pinot Noir was one of my Thanksgiving recommendations, and it carried over to the Holidays. I feel for $10, it offers a nice, fruit driven pinot noir that most wine drinkers and non wine drinkers alike will enjoy. I mentioned previously that this wine was made by Deloach Vineyards. The Seven Peaks label is owned Jean-Charles Boisset, also the owner of Deloach vineyards. The winemakers are Bill Arbios (Lyeth – Sonoma County) and Dan Cederquist, and are not tied to Deloach that I can see.

Pascal Jolivet 2010 Sancerre

Pascal Jolivet 2010 Sancerre

The next option for $20-25 was Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2010. This wine can be found in most retail shops, and like the other two options here today, can be found at most Total Wine stores. A great white wine for any time of the year, this crisp, lean expression of Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley, France is fantastic. It has excellent citrus notes and good acidity  with nice minerality. It’s perfect with seafood, salads, appetizers or just sipping alone.

Chateau La Nerthe 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape

Chateau La Nerthe 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape

Finally, an incredible wine for $50-55, the Chateau La Nerthe 2007 Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This wine is a gift for anyone who likes wine, loves wine, or wants to love wine. From one of the oldest Chateau’s on record in the area, with evidence dating back to 12th century, this historic winery produces amazing options. This wine shows beautiful dried fruits with amazing earthy and leathery mid palate notes. The wine is perfectly balanced, with nice acidity, restrained fruit, and perfect earthiness that typifies the region. While this will harmonize perfectly with your beef, lamb or any roast meat dish for the holidays, it’s perfect to sip on alone. It’s a definite great gift for the holidays.

Whether you need a gift for Christmas, a gift of Hanukkah/Chanukah , or just a gift for someone who deserves something special this holiday season, these three wines will make perfect options.  I’ll be back shortly with a few more options at various prices making your holiday wine gift ideas simple!

Some of the wines presented here were offered as media samples. That, however, does not influence my decision to include them in posts, television segments, or recommendations. I only recommend wines I believe offer great quality for the price, and stand behind each offering as something I would, and usually do, spend my own money on.