From the time I began consulting in 2009, it had taken me awhile to figure out where I could bring the most value to my clients. One of my best ideas has been my “Social Media ReTweets”, where I work with a winery client and a local restaurant to showcase the natural matching abilities of food and wine in a light, fun, casual setting. I invite an intimate gathering of 8-10 local writers, who specialize in social media, on a culinary retreat, and while the food and wine pairings get served, they take photos and post Tweets and Facebook comments in real time. And, they get to engage directly with the winery owners/winemaker alongside the restaurant chef.
My latest Social Media Retweet involved Raptor Ridge Winery in Newberg and The Bent Brick restaurant in Portland. I worked closely with Raptor Ridge Proprietor, Annie Shull, along with Tom Champine, who works for the winery in distribution sales and market development.
The ReTweet started with a meet up at The Bent Brick (1639 NW Marshall Street, Portland), the second restaurant belonging to acclaimed Chef Scott Dolich of Park Kitchen. Scott hired Executive Chef Will Preisch to lead the helm in the kitchen. Creative snacks and small plates dominate the menu, with a couple of “roasts and braises” offered, and even an option to “eat the whole menu”, followed by a few smart desserts.
Tom and I greeted our media guests, joined by The Bent Brick’s GM, Anna Josephson, who gave us a grand tour of the restaurant and kitchen. Neat facts – everything served at TBB is domestic, and all of the wine glass pours served come from kegs – in order to offer young, ready-to-drink wines (all local). As far as the space is concerned, it’s a lovely modern dining room and bar with an open kitchen inside a 1920’s brick house, with an impressive upstairs private dining area, and the popular “Jenga Lounge”, a casual area centered around a fun Jenga-like wood sculpture with log stools and built-in seating to hang out, sip on one of Adam Robinson’s glorious cocktails and nibble on some snacks.
We boarded a van and headed out to Raptor Ridge Winery (18700 SW Hillsboro Hwy., Newberg). Transportation was provided by A Great Oregon Wine Tour. Tom opened up the 2010 Pinot Gris and served it (he’s a sommelier, too!) while we drove through farm land on Hwy 219.
Upon arrival, the writers were greeted by Raptor Ridge Winery owners Scott and Annie Shull. Raptor Ridge’s new winery was designed by Laurence Ferar & Associates Architecture, with a gorgeous balance between agriculture land and commercial utility. The Shulls didn’t want a tasting room out of scale, with only one-third dedicated to consumer activity and the rest for production.
“The first thing people do when they get here is get out of their cars, take photos, then get to business with tasting,” said Annie. The winery and surrounding vineyard offers a simple, elegant respite. Glassed garage doors in the studio-like tasting room offer a spectacular view rolling hillsides with Ponzi’s winery in the distance and views of the Cascade’s peaks.
After a warm welcome, guests were seated with Scott and Annie at each end of the table. Rather than do a formal food and wine pairing, Chef Scott Dolich came out and expressed his interest in great food and great wine, and how he’d prefer the group to experience that – simply.
“These are not formal pairings – everyone’s palate is different, and I’d rather the discussion be an interaction versus didacticism.” Dolich said. Dolich’s food is always acid-friendly and Raptor Ridge wines are naturally great food wines – he added, “these wines beg to have an interaction with food.”
With some guidance, the 2007 Pinot Noir Reserve was poured alongside the 2009 Pinot Noir Reserve. The two wines were tasted with two snacks – Mussels on the Half Shell with Tabasco Mignonette and Beet, Farro, Cream Cheese, Seeds Vinaigrette.
Scott Shull chimed in, “the wine changes for the better with good food.”
Round two included the 2009 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley and the 2010 Pinot Noir Shea Vineyard with Country Pork Rilletes with Green Tomato Mustard and Quinoa and Kale Fritters with Carrot Cream.
Raptor Ridge is a small boutique winery with vineyard designate cuvees, distributed in twenty-six states and the Virgin Islands. They have a wine club called the Raptor Ridge Flight Club, which includes four shipments per year (once per quarter) of their award-winning wines at 15% off retail prices. Shipments are a range of pre-release wines, flights or cellar selections. Members get 15% off bottles and 20% off case purchases, among other membership benefits. The tasting room is open according to the following seasonal schedule: mid January to mid March / Saturday-Sunday 11am to 4pm; mid March to mid December / Thursday-Monday 11am to 4pm; mid December to mid January / by appointment. Groups larger than 8 need an appointment – call 503.628.8463.
Also, Raptor Ridge announces it’s THIRD THURSDAY program. On the third Thursday of each month, visitors are invited to come out to the winery to taste wines paired with bites prepared by a guest chef. Attendees will take home the recipe and a bit of wine pairing wisdom. Third Thursdays are from 5 to 8 p.m.