New Traditions: Christmas Tree Hunting in Mt. Hood National Forest

Mt. Hood is an icon of Portland and the Willamette Valley. The mountain that sits at 11,250 feet in elevation can be seen from numerous parts of the valley. Whether you are stuck on I-5 traffic, on a leisurely drive in the gorge or hiking up in forest park, Mt. Hood peaks through on clear days.

Union Wine Co Christmas Tree Hunt

The Mt. Hood National Forest, which stretches around 1,067,000 acres around the base of the mountain, is a treasured playground that we Oregonians try to take advantage of all year round. Summer activities include camping, swimming at the many lakes and rivers and going on long warm hikes. In the winter there is snowshoeing and skiing, and for those looking for the perfectly unperfect tree, Christmas tree hunting.  

Union Wine Co Christmas Tree Hunt

For some of us who have grown up in the Pacific Northwest, a holiday tradition has been to go out into the woods to find your tree rather than heading to the local tree farm or tree lot.   

Union Wine Co Christmas Tree Hunt

Union Wine Co Christmas Tree Hunt

Union Wine Co Christmas Tree Hunt

We believe the holidays are about spending time with friends and family. So, this year we are sharing new traditions with friends and their young families.  

If you haven’t gotten a tree already, we suggest switching things up this year and start a new tradition. When the weather is just right, it’s a perfect day to get some fresh air and create new memories for your family that will hopefully be passed down for generations. Don’t forget the sled, a few cans of Underwood Bubbles for mom and dad and your $5 permit for the tree. Cheers!

Union Wine Co Christmas Tree Hunt

New Approaches to your Thanksgiving Leftovers

Union Wine Co Thanksgiving LeftoversFor we Epicureans, Thanksgiving is an absolutely wonderful time not just to celebrate the traditions of family but also the traditions of food. Much evolved from what the holiday used to celebrate, these days Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to reunite with old friends or family that live far away and recreate the dishes we remember from youth. Ask anyone who regularly hosts a Thanksgiving dinner and they can list the exact dishes that need to be seen on the table to make the day complete.

But so much food oftentimes leads to lots and lots of leftovers, especially turkey. And sure, who doesn’t love a good open-faced sandwich with all the usual suspects: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and maybe even a little cranberry sauce for zing. This year, we thought we would offer a few more healthy ways to use up all that extra bird and stuffing… especially if your houseguests are staying for a few days. These recipes compliment each other well, allowing for a lighter follow up to the Turkey Day overload. It also offers a great way to finish off those half-full bottles of wine!

Our very first recommendation is to make a turkey broth. It takes almost no effort (and will come in very handy in one of our following recipes…) To save room in an already crowded fridge, most people pick all the remaining meat off of their turkey anyway, so that puts you almost halfway to prepping the broth. Just make sure to save that turkey carcass!

Turkey Broth

Turkey carcass including leg bones
2 large carrots
1 large onion
2 small stalks of celery
TBS black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme
4 sprigs of parsley
small pinch of salt

Peel and chop all vegetables. Put all ingredients in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, skimming off any fat that rises to the surface. Reduce to a very low simmer and cook for 2 to 3 hours. Let cool slightly and then strain.

And voila! You have just made a delicious turkey broth. This will come in very handy for our first alternative take on leftovers: turkey, wild rice and vegetable soup.

Union Wine Co Thanksgiving Leftovers

Turkey, wild rice and vegetable soup

2 quarts turkey broth
1/2 C uncooked wild rice
2 C shredded turkey meat
8 crimini mushrooms
1 large carrot
3 celery stalks
1 small red bell pepper
Italian parsley for garnish

Place rice in a pot with 3 cups cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until rice is fully cooked. Strain off extra water and set rice aside to cool.

Slice all vegetables and sauté in a large soup pot for 5 minutes, or just until they start to soften. Add shredded turkey and turkey broth to the vegetables. Simmer for 20 minutes and adjust seasoning. Add wild rice just before serving. Garnish with pieces of parsley.

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Our next recipe is a take on a classic Waldorf salad, with a few small changes including celery root and a delicious yogurt honey-lime dressing.

Union Wine Co Thanksgiving Leftovers

Turkey Waldorf Salad

2 C shredded turkey meat
1 large celery root
4 stalks of celery with inner leaves
2 C cooked walnuts
2 C red grapes
2 Honey Crisp apples

Dressing:

1 C whole milk greek yogurt
2 TBS mayonnaise
1 lime- juiced
2 TBS honey
pinch of salt

First, make the dressing by whisking all ingredients together in a small bowl. Adjust for seasoning and sweetness.

Peel the celery root and cut into matchsticks. Toss with half the dressing and set aside. Slice the grapes, apples, and celery. Add these as well as the walnuts and shredded turkey to the celery root. Mix well, adding more dressing if necessary. Garnish with celery leaves.

This salad works great with our Underwood Pinot Noir!

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The third act in our trio of recipes uses not only leftover turkey but some of the stuffing and cranberry sauce as well.

Union Wine Co Thanksgiving Leftovers

I absolutely love a good quiche, especially when paired with a crisp glass of our Underwood Pinot Gris. But for me, the crust is the most important part. There are very decent pre-made crusts you can buy at the supermarket these days, but a homemade crust is just soooo good and much easier to make than you’d think.

Quiche Dough

3 C all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 C cold butter
1/2 C shortening
3 TBS water

Cut butter into very small pieces. Put all dry ingredients into a mixer to combine. Slowly feed in the butter chunks and shortening until mixed well. Slowly add water until the dough is fully combined but not too wet.

Separate into 2 disks, wrap in plastic and let sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour. When ready, roll out as demonstrated here…

Union Wine Co Thanksgiving Leftovers

Union Wine Co Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving Quiche

1 C shredded turkey
1 C leftover stuffing
1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese
5 whole eggs
1/2 C of half and half
salt and pepper
cranberry sauce

Whether using a store bought crust or a homemade one, you first want to pre bake the crust in the dish. Set the oven at 375 degrees, roll dough evenly in the pan and bake for 10-15 minutes until it just starts to color. Remove from the oven.

Whisk the eggs and half and half together. Season this mix with salt and pepper. Evenly distribute the turkey, stuffing, and cheese in the pie shell. Pour egg mixture slowly over the top. Return to the oven and cook until the egg is set, usually about 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before cutting and serving.

Garnish with cranberry sauce.

Union Wine Co Thanksgiving Leftovers

We hope you had a successful and delicious holiday! From everyone here in the Union Family, we wish your family a Happy Thanksgiving, and remember to keep those pinkies down!

Bon Appétit!

Photography, Text and Recipe by David L. Reamer.  (@dlreamer)

Union Wine Co. Kitchen Skills: Mastering Boeuf Bourguignon

Classic Beef Bourguignon

The one and only Julia Child was often quoted as saying her favorite dish of all time was Boeuf Bourguignon, and who amongst us can refute the opinion of the iconic, influential, (and most likely) original celebrity chef? Ms. Child’s lessons embraced not just classic french dishes, opening up a whole new world to 1960s America, but instead of lots of “Bams!” and British beratings, Ms. Child chose to teach with wit, charm, skill and, of course, a full glass of wine.

I bring this all up because a cursory google search of Boeuf Bourguignon will bring you countless postings of her classic recipe, known worldwide from her book Mastering The Art of French Cooking. And don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid recipe. But ever the iconoclast, I am going to present you with my own take on the French classic. With a little preparation and time management, I promise you will be serving your guests a Boeuf Bourguignon that will knock their socks off!

As winter approaches, soups, stews, and braises become the prevalent choice for warm and delicious evening meals, so without further ado, let’s get to braising.

STEP ONE:

It’s important to get the right ingredients before you begin. Of utmost importance is a nice quality piece of Beef Chuck with good marbling (lines of fat running through the meat, making it not too lean but not to fatty—your butcher can help with this.) Second is to get a high-quality Beef Stock. I recommend “Stock Options” brand. It has a very low salt content and a good amount of gelatin that you will not find in other beef broths.

To get started, you will need:

3 lb well-marbled beef chuck
1 large carrot, peeled
1 celery stick
1-2 small yellow onions, skins left on
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 bay leaves
a small bunch fresh thyme—tied with twine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 slice bacon, 1/2” thick
salt and pepper
olive oil

One full bottle of Underwood Pinot Noir
28 oz Stock Options Beef Stock

Classic Beef Bourguignon

Classic Beef Bourguignon

STEP TWO:

Carefully cut the beef into several large, evenly-sized chunks. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Classic Beef Bourguignon

STEP THREE:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a cold, high-sided, thick-bottomed pot, add 2 TBS of olive oil and the bacon. Starting with a cold pan and cooking on medium heat will ensure the bacon can render its fat without burning. Once the bacon has a nice color, remove from the pan, increase heat and when the pot is just about smoking, add half the pieces of beef. Sear well on each side. Repeat with the rest of the meat. Set aside.

Classic Beef Bourguignon

STEP FOUR:

In the same pan, place the onion halves, cut side down, the carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté without burning until the color is developed. Set aside. (I keep the pieces fairly large, as they will be removed once the meat is fully cooked.) While the pan is still hot, carefully pour the full bottle of Pinot Noir into the hot pan. Scrape up any of the delicious brown bits (called frond) from the bottom of the pan, as this will add immense flavor to your sauce.

Classic Beef Bourguignon

Once the wine boils, add the beef stock and tomato paste. While this is coming to a boil, arrange all ingredients into a baking dish, making sure not to crowd the meat. Pour the hot liquid into the pan. The liquid should just about cover all the ingredients.

Classic Beef Bourguignon

STEP FIVE:

Cut a piece of parchment paper to loosely cover the baking dish. Some recipes will tell you to cover tightly with tin foil, but I prefer to leave some breathing room to color the meat and help reduce the sauce.

Bake for about 2 1/2 hours. About halfway through, gently flip all the pieces of meat in the pan, re-cover and return to the oven.

Classic Beef Bourguignon

STEP SIX:

Once the meat is tender to the touch, remove the pan from the oven and let sit for 20 minutes until cool enough to handle. At this point, very gently remove each piece of meat to a large Tupperware container and strain the sauce over the meat, removing all vegetables, herbs, etc. Those can be composted.

I try to do all of this a day before eating so that the cooked meat can sit in the sauce overnight. If not serving immediately, it is important to keep the cooked meat covered in sauce, or the meat will dry out.

STEP SEVEN:

When you are ready to serve, sauté peeled Cipollini onions for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and sauté whole Cremini mushrooms for 5 minutes. Place meat, sauce, onions, and mushrooms in a new braising dish and place in a 350-degree oven, uncovered, for about 25 minutes until everything is hot and the sauce has reduced slightly.

Serve over your choice of mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes or egg noodles.

Classic Beef Bourguignon

Classic Beef Bourguignon

Since we began with Julia Child, I feel it is only fitting to finish this post quoting the ending of her final book, My Life In France:

“…thinking back on it now reminds that the pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite –
toujours bon appétit!”

Photography, Text and Recipe by David L. Reamer.  (@dlreamer)

Artist Spotlight: The Ellaphant in the Room

The Man Behind the Cans 

Jeremy Alan of The Ellaphant in the Room is the mural artist and illustrator behind three of our wine can designs—Riesling Radler, Strawberry Cooler and our most recent undertaking, Nouveau Pinot Noir. The first time we reached out to Alan was for a postcard project. After that experience we thought he might be a perfect designer to create a new can design for us.  

That first design was for our Riesling Radler can. As different and beautiful as the wine it holds, this can is a huge hit with everyone who sees it. Since then we’ve continued to work with The Ellaphant in the Room on two more can designs and another postcard. 

We asked Jeremy if he would answer a few questions for us about his work and the process of designing wine cans.  

  • How did Union Wine Co. start working with you? 
    Union Wine reached out to me in 2016 with a project to illustrate a promotional postcard. The idea was to draw the family of Underwood wine cans…crushed. I loved the idea and the visual possibilities of representing the crushed and folded can. 

Underwood Pinot Noir Illustration

  • Would you please tell us a little bit about you and your work?  
    My company is called The Ellaphant in the Room and is based in Brooklyn. I make hand-painted wall murals and print illustrations. I specialize in designing and painting murals by working with concepts and colors that complement existing interiors. My illustrations are small-scale artworks that are commissioned for both commercial magazines and privately sold for home décor. 

Riesling Radler (Released Summer 2017)

  • How did this project start? 
    Ryan Harms and the designer working on this project reached out by email. This was my first time doing product design and I loved the idea of making an illustration that would wrap around a can. Ryan instantly established an open and collaborative approach to working together. He was open to ideas and made it easy to say yes to partnering for this seasonal wine project.  
  • How did this design come to be?
    We started off with several different ideas. Again, the openness to creative possibilities gave me liberty to pursue a number of possibilities beyond the typical industry wine can design. The illustration was meant to reflect the wine flavor which has notes of citrus, hops, and summertime. We settled on tropical floral patterns as the direction. From there I began drawing tropical flora and fauna. I focused on individual leaves and began to work them into a pattern. Additional elements included tropical birds like toucans and flamingos. One thing I knew right away was that I wanted to have the green leaves be on a dark background. 

Strawberry Cooler (Released Summer of 2019) 

  • Please tell us about the design process for the Strawberry Cooler.
    When Union Wine reached out to me about doing another can design the answer was obviously, yes! We immediately hopped on the phone and started talking.We talked about how the illustration should represent the specific wine flavor and reflect the experience of drinking the wine. With this can we came up with a number of different design directions including a surfboard pattern, a sun setting into the ocean and strawberry dreams with floating strawberries on clouds. These options were sketched out and mocked-up on the cans.  

After numerous directions and ideas were explored, it was time to choose one. Since the wine cooler is strawberry flavored, the chosen theme was a field of strawberry flowers. The flowers were intended to look loosely sketched, as though they were made by someone relaxing in a park—drawing and taking in the summer day. 

The most technical part was positioning the flowers on a diagonal so that when it wrapped around the can, it would connect and appear seamless. 

Underwood Strawberry Cooler Illustration

Another central compositional element is the bumblebee. The bee was intended to look like it was on the label, as though it had landed on the can, attracted to the strawberry flowers. The bumblebee was a perfect addition and echoed the focal point of the toucan on the Radler can. 

Strawberry Cooler Bumblebee

 

Nouveau (Released November of 2019)

  • The Nouveau can is a design you just completed recently. Was there anything different about creating the design for this one?
    Ryan and Joan called to discuss this project in February—9 months prior to a firm product release date of Nov. 21. This would be a limited release for Nouveau Day, the traditional day that Nouveau wines are released and tasted. That meant I only had about 5 weeks to complete the design.The brief for this project asked that I keep in mind the Underwood logo block on the front of the can as I thought about a few possible esthetic options: Art Nouveau, Bold Colors, Organic Elements, Architectural Elements, and the brief said I could be a little bit more “out there” for this style of wine compared to more typical Nouveau wine labels. After my conversation with Ryan and Joan, the first thing I did was to research Art Nouveau. It had been a while since studying the movement and I wanted to re-establish an understanding of the motivations and visual languages of the time.  
  • What were some of the other directions you were thinking about before we landed on the peacock design?
    Some very cool directions emerged. I explored Architectural linework from the period as framing the label. One version had a fairy holding the ingredients of the wine and sitting atop the label. Peacocks were instantly intriguing along with dragonfly patterns and moths. In the end we chose the peacock with the tail feathers draping all the way around the can. The feathers evoke the sinuous lines of Art Nouveau architecture and the white peacock has graphic contrasts against the dark green can. A further thought on the white peacock is it almost subverts the expectations of the image since peacocks are usually vibrant, full-spectrum color…in a sense it made him more unique. The whimsy and freedom of illustration allows you to interpret the real world instead of relying on it. Hopefully, within that interpretation, I can direct the viewer towards the unique experience of the wine. 
  • Does anything stand out from when you designed any of the cans—something unique you remember?
    The opportunity to dive into art history as the inspiration point for the Nouveau can was particularly exciting for me. Beginning with such an iconic style from history and to make it our own take was the challenge. 
  • You’ve designed three cans now, and although they are quite different from one another, they look great side-by-side. What is similar and what is different about the three designs, and why do they work so well together? 
    Each of the Union wine cans have different concepts driving the image, style and color decisions. One difference is how finished and complete the images are for the Radler and Nouveau, the Radler and Nouveau are both fully colored-in set against a dark background. The Strawberry can is intended to look like a sketch, open and loose with pencil lines and soft hits of water-colored pigments. As for similarities, their differences complement each other, they hopefully balance each other out. Additionally, each is based on patterns and images from nature and are all from my hand, unified by my mark and line. 

Our Newest Adventure: Underwood Nouveau

Underwood Nouveau

At Union, we often joke that we work hard and play harder, but the truth is our work is fun, so it’s more of a play hard, play harder situation. We get to pioneer new ideas, celebrate our successes, laugh at the mishaps, and be among friends while we do it all. Which brings us to our newest adventure: Underwood Nouveau.  

Our Underwood Nouveau is a riff on a Beaujolais Nouveau, which is traditionally made from Gamay grapes (also called, Gamay noir à Jus blanc grape) in the Beaujolais region of France. Always looking for an Oregon angle, we decided to use our Pinot Noir grapes in the Underwood Nouveau for a fresh take on our traditional Pinot noir. The Gamay grape is actually a cousin of the Pinot Noir grape and flourishes in very similar climates.  

Normally, it takes us a year to make our Underwood Pinot Noir, while our Nouveau takes just over a month — from pick to sip. We created it to celebrate our first grape harvest of the year and introduce the true expression of our 2019 vintage. It’s fruit-forward, light, and fun, meaning we had a lot of fun making it, and you’ll have a lot of fun drinking it. Nouveau is known for being a fresh, fruity wine that celebrates the first pour of the season. 

(image credit Blue Heron Vineyards)

Underwood Pinot Noir Nouveau grapes

The first step to creating our new wine was to pick the grapes. We started hand-picking the grapes for this year’s Nouveau batch on the early morning of September 24th and the fruit arrived at our winery and was unloaded by sunset. It was an all-hands on deck situation here to get it done in one day, but we prevailed. We picked the grapes in whole clusters. No crushers or de-stemmers were used.  

Underwood Pinot Noir Nouveau

Underwood Nouveau Pinot Noir

Underwood Nouveau Dig Out

Union Wine Company

To ferment the grapes, we used a process called “carbonic maceration,” a fancy name for a straightforward, natural process that can produce vibrant, lively, fresh, and also some very serious wines. Here’s how it works: the full bunches of grapes are placed into stainless-steel, temperature-controlled vats, which are then sealed and filled with CO2 to remove the oxygen. This triggers a process within the grapes known as intracellular fermentation. Once alcohol levels reach around 2% abv, the grape skins split and release their juice. This takes about 10 days.  

During this time, the grapes at the bottom are gently crushed under the weight of the others and begin to ferment, releasing more CO2. This gentle, yet speedy, process releases the berry flavor without releasing the bitter tannins from the grape skins. The carbonic maceration process is stopped when the fruit is removed from the tank and pressed.  

Underwood Nouveau

The process was a success! In the end, our Nouveau tastes bright and fruit-forward with notes of cherry, plum, and currents. 

Underwood Nouveau Canning

To introduce our Nouveau with the proper fanfare, we worked with a designer to create a can that would speak to the beauty of art nouveau. He nailed it. We love the design.   

A can made perfect sense for this project because a Nouveau is meant to be sipped right away, not stored. Our Nouveau should be popped open anytime, anywhere during the fall season it honors.   

We’re excited to have the opportunity to introduce a wine that embraces the spirit of Union — don’t take yourself too seriously, have fun, and enjoy the moment. Just remember to do it with your pinkies down.  

Union Wine Company Nouveau