An IPNC Interlude — please pause for wine

Grand Dames Dinner IPNC 2014

Iberico de Bellota pork cheeks, served with polenta, thyme and blackberries. Chef Holly Smith of Cafe Juanita. IPNC 2014. Grand Dames Dinner.

If it’s seemed a little quiet over here recently, there’s good reason. I spent Friday night at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon for the International Pinot Noir Conference. Yes, I stayed on campus — in the dorms even — with three co-workers.

It always seems like one night shouldn’t be so exhausting, but somehow, every year, IPNC knocks me out of commission for a while.

Maybe it’s due to eating super rich food all day (foie gras, Iberico pork, veal sausage and more foie gras) or because we drink wine from 3pm till 3am 8am. (Yes, we partied like true college freshmen this year. I saw the sun rise and everything.)

Here are a few pictures from this year’s Grand Dames Dinner, which is set in the middle of the Linfield College campus. Four chefs (all women this year which I thought was awesome) put out an amazing dinner for around 500 people. There’s a reason this is one of my favorite events to “work.”

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Methven Winery and the case of the stolen pinot noir

Methven Family Wines Vineyard

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to help represent my company at an open house for Painted Hills Natural Beef. While Painted Hills beef is from Fossil, OR, the company had paired up with Methven Family Wines in Dayton for the event — which meant a trip out to wine country!

Oregon wine country, as you have seen before, is a beautiful place and knowing that a fabulous — and free! — dinner was waiting made the gorgeous drive from Portland all the better. I won’t mention that gorgeous drive included an hour of terrible traffic — let’s just focus on the pretty (and delicious) stuff!

This was what greeted us when we arrived...

This was what greeted us when we arrived…

I never say no to pinot!

I never say no to pinot!

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Seeing Astoria from a new height…

Astoria Column, Wooden Planes

Flying planes from the top of the Astoria Column.

A few days ago, I shared some pictures from my latest trip to the Oregon coast. My husband and I enjoyed time (and food and beer) in Seaside and Cannon Beach, but it was Astoria that we explored the most.

Since we hadn’t done much besides eat, drink and walk the pier, we thought it would be fun to try one of the “must do” Astoria adventures — climb the Astoria Column. The column sits at the top of Coxcomb Hill, overlooking the Columbia River.

Astoria Column, Astoria, OR

The view from just the hill is fantastic… Astoria Column, Astoria, OR

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Beer and Beaches: Eating and drinking on the Oregon coast

A beach more suited to beer than a piña colada.

Oregon beaches are more suited to microbrews than piña coladas.

I love little beach towns. While I dream about tropical palm-tree-and-white-sand beach towns, I really love small quaint slightly foggy coastal towns. I guess it has to do with the fact that I grew up on Kodiak Island, a tiny town in the Gulf of Alaska. No matter where you went, you weren’t far from the ocean, salty air and harbors full of fishing boats.

My husband also has an affinity for such places so it was easy to convince him to spend last Sunday at the Oregon coast, despite the overcast weather. We have spent quite a bit of time in Newport and Seaside, but we hadn’t done much in Astoria. We drove through the town a few years ago but our my only purpose was to see the Goonies House (so cool!).

This time we wanted to spend more time poking around the town and being by the water. (I didn’t tell my husband my game plan also included beer, lots of beer! For a rather small town — less than 10,000 people I think — Astoria manages to have several breweries and I was determined to visit at least two of them.)

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A Day Trip through Oregon’s Wine Country

This is the good stuff!

This is the good stuff!

It’s common knowledge that I love Oregon’s numerous and delicious microbreweries but I have a soft spot for the wine too.

While my husband and I are far from connoisseurs, we do belong to several wine clubs and enjoy visiting — and tasting! — in wine country as much as possible. Our longtime favorite spot is Archery Summit, located in Dayton, OR, just outside of Newberg.

They focus primarily on (very high quality) pinot noirs though in the time that we’ve been drinking their wines, they have added a rosé and a pinot gris. We love the rosé so much that every few years we buy a case to keep on hand.

But the pinot noirs are really the star of the show — luscious, full and nuanced. And the view from the tasting room, high on a hill, isn’t bad either.

Last weekend we spent a slightly overcast Oregon day taking in the sights and sampling our way through a several fabulous flights of wine. We started at Archery Summit, and then moved on to White Rose Estate — a new tasting experience for us — upon a recommendation. They focus more on whole cluster style wines which made the tasting extra fun.

Here’s a peek:

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IPNC: My favorite midnight snack is a foie gras torchon

Wine, glorious wine, at IPNC 2013

Wine, glorious wine! IPNC 2013

As a college student, my to-go snack after a night out was always a super crisp apple and extra sharp cheddar cheese. Years later, I still eat my fair share of fruit and cheese, but at post-work afterparties my co-workers and I snack in style.

First, a little background:

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