Musings by Leah Jorgensen

Archive for R. Stuart & Co.

R. Stuart’s Winter Supper with Aviary

Photo courtesy of Courtney Harris

In the heart of the Willamette Valley, winter usually promises more rain than snow, but, there’s still a longing for comfort food, gathering with good friends, the warm glow of candle light, and a sense of winding down in the appropriate hibernation style.  We’re cave dwelling.  And, we’re eating what’s in season, or what’s been saved from the previous bounty of summer and fall – pickled, canned, dried, however preserved.  Once the winter solstice has passed, the days begin to lengthen like a newborn colt stretching out its feeble legs.  I love midwinter.  And, I love any excuse to get cozy and enjoy a well made meal with other cave dwellers.

One of my favorite winter feasts is the R. Stuart & Co. Winter Supper series in McMinnville.  I attended one of the dinners in last year’s inaugural series featuring Chef Pascal Chureau of Allium Restaurant, and, on that magical night, big, billowing feather-like tufts of snow began to fall and illuminate under street lamps.  It changed the mood from delight to complete enchantment.  This little event, in my opinion, is the very best Oregon has to offer for winter culinary delights.  I was lucky enough to get a seat in the sold-out second year.

The visiting chef was Jasper Shen of the trio of artists who started Aviary Restaurant in NE Portland.  His partners, Sarah Pliner and Kat Whitehead, were not at the supper, but all three contributed to what was an amazing menu beautifully paired with a wonderful array of R. Stuart & Co. wines.

to start:  gougeres smoked artichokes with radishes and grapes served with NV Rose d’Or bubbly

amuse bouche:  fried pig snout with egg and mustard creme fraiche

first:  truffled egg toast, baby leeks and beets in barigoule with 2011 Big Fire Pinot Gris and 2009 Big Fire Pinot Noir

second:  four cup chickens, taro root, apricots, wood ear mushrooms with 2008 Ana Pinot Noir and 2007 Temperance Hill Vin Tardive

to end:  almond cake, black sesame, raspberries and toasted coconut ice cream with NV Klipsun Vineyard “UnPort”





The Making of “Me and My Big Fire”


One of my favorite things about consulting is that I get the distinct pleasure to work with some amazing wineries and wine industry people to collaborate on really smart, fun marketing campaigns.   My business tagline is “helping wine businesses tell their unique stories.”  I’m a writer, after all, and there’s nothing more gratifying than working with a client to help them successfully broadcast their stories through visual and written media, and come to see impactful results.

If I have learned anything about wine marketing and communications over the past couple of years is that, one, not only do new concepts like social media come on like a sudden and powerful storm, but, two, if you don’t pay attention, you’re going to fall quickly behind the times of what people are doing with those concepts.  You have to keep up.

Today, it’s no longer enough to have just a Facebook page for your business.  How you use your social media to engage and keep consumers interested is what will make your social media efforts hugely successful or just a waste of your time.

I have also learned that timing is everything. 

This fall, while I was working harvest, I happened to meet a kind-faced fellow who was stopping by wineries in the region to introduce himself and a brilliant high-tech concept he was developing.   He was working with scan code technology for mobile page marketing.  I took his card and immediately saw all of the possibilities in building smart marketing campaigns around this technology.

By the end of the year, I had a series of creative brainstorming meetings with Maria Stuart and Trish Rogers of R. Stuart & Co. , makers of the Big Fire wines.  They had all kind of great ideas and concepts that they wanted to cultivate, but, like many wineries, they didn’t have the time and resources to put these ideas into action.  I helped them whittle down their options to one great campaign concept – Me and My Big Fire.

Part of what makes Big Fire wines so special is the incredible community built around the shared enjoyment of these high-quality, accessible wines, and, also, the spirit behind the name.   Maria showed me photos that people had sent her or posted on the R. Stuart & Co. Facebook page to proudly show what they were doing with their Big Fire wine.  It was as if Big Fire had been personified into a best friend.  “Me and my Big Fire are going to a clam bake.”  “Me and my Big Fire just celebrated another birthday.”   And, Trish also shared her experience one night when she came home from work, tired after a long day, and sat back in her favorite cozy chair – she said, “it was just me and my Big Fire.”

The Me and My Big Fire campaign was born – a photo and video contest giving customers the forum to share, win prizes and encourage others to chime in.  I then called up that fellow with the scan codes and set up a meeting, and soon the Me and My Big Fire campaign evolved with the integration of a QR code that would launch to a video on a mobile site.

A video concept was needed to launch the campaign.  I came up with a visual of Big Fire at a bonfire over coffee.  From that, I thought of a bonfire on the Oregon coast – the perfect setting for the video.  We all know that humor is what drives video to go viral.  So, on my laptop, and under the influence of just enough caffeine, I pulled up the opening scene of Chariots of Fire, and our video concept was born.

Click above to view the ‘Chariots of Big Fire’ video

A lot of love and hard work went into the following weeks where, in a very short amount of time, we had an official script and a filmmaker signed on to make the video – Ben Garvey, of Ben Garvey Productions, a friend I met a couple of vintages ago when we both worked harvest at Anne Amie Vineyards.  We invited some very talented friends to join us in the coastal town of Seaside, Oregon on a Sunday in January, and, in near perfect weather conditions, we shot our video in just one day, thanks to Ben.

We had R. Stuart & Co.’s unique scan code printed on a whimsical sticker, which will first grace the upcoming release of Big Fire Pinot Gris, available in March, and later the Big Fire Pinot Noir, which will get bottled this spring and released in June. 

Customers can download free scan code reading applications on smartphones to scan the code on the bottle, which goes to a special mobile page with the Chariots of Big Fire video, along with links to the R. Stuart & Co. website and Facebook page, where they can send their mobile photos and videos to enter the contest.

The contest is not limited to mobile phone users.  Customers can access the rules and post their entries online via R. Stuart & Co.’s website,, and Facebook page,

The contest officially opens on Friday, February 18th, following the screening party of the Chariots of Big Fire video at the R. Stuart & Co. Wine Bar (McMinnville), and runs through December 31, 2011.

Winners will be chosen weekly and will receive a Me and My Big Fire prize along with a badge to post on their own Facebook page and one on their winning photo or video on the R. Stuart & Co. website and Facebook page.  It’s all about bragging rights!

For contest guidelines, rules and online entry forms, and to view the Chariots of Big Fire video, please visit

For more information on how to build a social media and mobile marketing campaign using video production and scan code technology, please contact me for a consultation.