Posts Categorized: News

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

A Delicious Collaboration: Pinot Noir Salt

Here at Union Wine Co., our main focus is obviously on making amazing wine, but we always have our ear to the ground in search of new and interesting ways to use our wine.

Even if you are not from the Portland area, chances are you have heard of, or maybe even use Jacobsen Salt. Ben Jacobsen, owner, purveyor and the genius salt guru behind Jacobsen Salt, has been making fine flake, kosher and finishing flavored salt for almost 8 years. Ben takes the water right from Netarts Bay on the Oregon coast and boils it down in huge caldrons to remove all the water from the salt.

When Ben approached us to do a Pinot Noir Salt we were really excited about the concept. Unlike many “flavored” salts that are just salt mixed up with various other flavors, the Jacobsen Pinot Noir Salt is a literal infusion. Ben takes our Underwood Pinot Noir and reduces it to concentrate the flavor, color, viscosity, and aroma. Then, while the salt is still wet he sprays the wine reduction over the salt, so as it dries, the flavors and color fully infuse. This process is repeated 3-5 times, depending on size and dampness of the salt. For this product, Ben specifically uses pure flake salt.

Then at his ‘Salt Works’ on the shores of Netarts Bay, he dries, flavors and packages all of his salts.

Jacobsen Salt Co Underwood Pinot Noir Salt Jacobsen Salt Co Underwood Pinot Noir Salt Jacobsen Salt Co Underwood Pinot Noir Salt

So…what the heck do you do with Pinot Noir Salt, one might ask. Well, Ben recommends using it on just about anything that would go well with Pinot Noir such as burgers and steaks, but his favorite combination is actually stone fruit, such as peaches and nectarines.We decided to try it out with a ‘7-minute egg’ and it was a delicious pairing.

To cook, brings the eggs to room temperature. Add about 3 inches of water to a pot that will comfortably hold all the eggs you wish to cook. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a slow simmer. Gently add the eggs and cook, ensuring the water stays at just a simmer for exactly 7 minutes. As soon as the timer goes off, place the eggs in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once they are fully cooled, VERY gently peel the eggs and serve with a generous sprinkling of Pinot Noir Salt.

We would like to thank Ben for spending some time with us to explain the infusion process, and for putting Netarts Bay on the map with his phenomenal products.

Jacobsen Salt Co Underwood Pinot Noir Salt

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

BEN JACOBSEN IG:   @ben_jacobsen
JACOBSEN SALT CO IG:  @jacobsensaltco

Discover…or Rediscover St. Johns

Discover…or Rediscover St. Johns
(Tacos, Polaroid Pics, Sunshine and Cans of Wine in the Park)

If you are a new member of the Portland community, or just visiting for a bit and hoping to explore a neighborhood off the beaten path, please allow us to introduce you, or re-introduce you, to that little neighborhood tucked deep in the northwestern corner of Portland…St. Johns.

There are some amazing things going on in St. Johns which we will get to in good time, but let’s start with the one true and proud landmark of the neighborhood…the St. Johns Bridge. In a city of 12 bridges, it can be a little hard to stand out, but let’s face it, the St Johns Bridge takes the blue ribbon every time. It’s gorgeous, greenish and you can safely walk the whole distance.

Here’s a quick history lesson:

The bridge was built within 21 months and one million dollars under budget. At the time of its completion, the bridge had the highest clearance in the nation, the longest prefabricated steel cable rope strands, the tallest steel frame piers of reinforced concrete, the first application of aviation clearance lights to the towers, and the longest suspension span west of Detroit.

The construction of the bridge began a month before the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and provided many county residents with employment during the Great Depression. Because of its proximity to the Swan Island Municipal Airport, some government officials wanted the bridge painted yellow with black stripes. County officials waited until St. Patrick’s Day, 1931, to announce that it would be painted green.

Sláinte!

St Johns Bridge

So, you’ve made it to St. Johns. You’ve paid respects to the coolest bridge in Portland. What now? What to do this far north? Well, let us show you what a Portland native might get up to when spending a sunny late summer afternoon in St. Johns.

FIRST STOP: 
Blue Moon Camera

Blue Moon Camera

St. Johns is not a digital neighborhood…it’s purely analog. So, get with the program and tuck that iPhone away in your bag. Dig deep in your closet and find that old Polaroid or 35mm camera. Dust it off and swing by the St. Johns institution, Blue Moon Camera and Machine, for some film and free advice about making the most of your time in their neighborhood. The friendly, incredibly knowledgeable (and always well-dressed) staff will set you straight.

Blue Moon Camera

SECOND STOP:
Taqueria Santa Cruz

Okay. You have the camera situation worked out. (You know if you don’t take a picture, it didn’t happen.) Now let’s get some grub to take down to the park. Probably the best-kept secret in St. John’s, and just 2 blocks from Blue Moon, is Santa Cruz Taqueria and Panadería. I’ll be honest, at first glance it looks like a dodgy little restaurant space in the back of a Mexican bakery. But they serve the ‘hands down, no questions asked, the best, best Mexican food in all of Portland. We recommend a few tacos, that way you can try a selection of their meats. (We highly recommend at least one chorizo taco. Best in the city!)

St Johns Portland

THIRD STOP:
Cathedral Park

Once you’ve acquired all necessary provisions, head down the hill to Cathedral Park­—which is directly underneath the east side of the bridge—and bask in all the overwhelming glory that is the St Johns Bridge. This is the perfect time to pull out some cans of Underwood Pinot Gris and Rosé Bubbles, unwrap those tacos and soak up the sun.

Cathedral Park Portland

Underwood Rosé Bubbles

Cathedral Park Portland

After lunch, you can make use of that film and take a few Polaroids for posterity!

Underwood Wine Polaroids

Cathedral Park Polaroids

Underwood Wine

St Johns Bridge Polaroid

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

Polaroids by Silke Schuh

Camera Love @bluemooncamera

4 Cocktails with Portland Syrups

At Union Wine Co. we love to create wine cocktails. We recently worked with our friends at Portland Syrups to create a spin on four classic cocktails using their syrups and our wine. Thanks to the fine folks at Wilder Bar for letting us use their space to create and photograph these cocktails.

Underwood Wine Portland Syrups Cocktail
Jack Hibiscus
– 0.75 oz Laird’s Apple Brandy
– 0.5 oz lemon juice
In a shaker with ice, combine all ingredients, sans Radler and give it a vigorous shake. Add the Radler into the chilled concoction then strain and pour into a Nick & Nora. Name doesn’t start with an N? No worries, you’re sure to enjoy this floral sipper.

Underwood Wine Portland Syrups Cocktails

Marionberry Julep
– 1.5 oz Marionberry Whiskey
– 2 fresh mint leaves
In a shaker with ice, combine all ingredients, sans wine and give it a vigorous shake. This will activate the oils and wonderful flavor of the mint. Pour into a stemless wine glass filled with ice. Top with the Pinot Gris and a garnish of mint and enjoy.

 

Underwood Wine Portland Syrups Cocktails
Rose French 75
– 0.5 oz lemon juice
In a shaker with ice, combine all ingredients, sans wine and give it a vigorous shake. Pour into a champagne flute and top with the Rose Bubbles. Point your pinky down, sip, and enjoy.

 

Underwood Wine Portland Syrups Cocktail
Root Beer Kalimotxo
– 2 oz soda water
Combine soda water and Root Beer syrup in a Collins glass. Fill with ice, then add in the Pinot Noir. Give it a gentle stir, find a shady spot, pretend you’re in Europe and enjoy.

Its Strawberry Season! Pick ’em, Eat ’em, Drink ’em

Strawberry Cooler

Of all the seasons here in Oregon the absolute best one has to be Strawberry season! Oregon Strawberries are nothing like the ones you see around the country, (or, on the rest of the West Coast anyway.) A good bit smaller in size, Oregon strawberries pack a bright red center and a flavor that will put a giant smile on your face.

The strawberry season here lasts only a few weeks, so we recommend not letting it pass you by. Of course, you can go to plenty of local markets and co-ops around town and get beautiful pints of berries, but for the true fans, nothing compares to packing up the family, making the drive out to Sauvie Island and spending an hour or so in the fields picking your own. Besides saving money, it’s a family activity that everyone can enjoy.

For this adventure, we enlisted the help of the Alexander Family. Walter is a North Carolina native and one of the original owners of Pine State Biscuits, and Darcie is one of the best local real estate agents with PDX Green Team.

There are plenty of local farms that allow you to pick your own. We chose one of our favorites, Columbia Farms, on the far side of Sauvie Island, but they are all pretty great.

Strawberry Cooler

If it’s your first time out in the fields, you can bring your own reusable containers to fill up or the farms will provide you with everything you need to get your berries home safely.

Strawberry Cooler

Strawberry Cooler

Once you get out into the fields, the different varieties are marked with color-coded flags for easy identification. Some types are better for baking, some are better for straight munching. We love Hoods the best, but we encourage you to do a little taste test once you get into the fields, illustrated here by the Alexander children, Hazel and Lewis.

(so much for hiding the evidence…)

Strawberry Cooler

Strawberry Cooler

And, while the kids are busy picking and enjoying a few berries, we encourage the adults in the group to quench their thirsts with our Strawberry Cooler. Made with Pinot Noir and just a hint of lime juice, this punch is not super sweet or overly intense but a perfect balance of sweet and tart. And, it’s lower alcohol content makes it perfect for an afternoon out with the family.

As we like to say, Oregon pinot noir + Oregon strawberries + cranberry juice + lime = all summer long.

Strawberry Cooler

So don’t let the next few weeks slip by. Get out there and get those strawberries!

Strawberry Cooler

Strawberry Cooler

Photography and Text by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)
WALTER’S IG:  @thewalternative  @pinest8biscuits
DARCIE’S IG:  @darshui @pdxgreenteam