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

The Perfect Afternoon Drink: Easy Summer Sangria

Underwood Sangria

As Portlanders, we often forget that a gorgeous river runs straight through our fair city. We get so distracted crossing from one side to the other that the simple act of sitting on its banks and enjoying an afternoon with a friend can get lost in the shuffle.

There are great hidden (and not so hidden) parks all along the Willamette River from St. Johns to Lake Oswego to Oregon City. We recommend that you do a little exploring this summer and rediscover a few of these locales. And, we would certainly be remiss if we were to send you out on a Lewis-and-Clark-style Pacific-Northwest Expedition without an appropriate beverage to enjoy once you’ve found your spot.

So, allow us to introduce our new favorite summertime punch, the Easy Summer Sangria. We know that life is hectic, and sometimes the best plans are made at the last minute, so this recipe should fit those situations perfectly. With just a little prep the night before you can be enjoying a colorful and fruity glass of this sangria by the following afternoon.

STEP ONE:

In a large Mason Jar, combine:

3/4 C of white rum
1/2 C simple syrup
Juice of 2 limes
Juice of 1 large orange
1 C frozen blueberries
1/2 C orange slices cut into small triangles.
3 sprigs of mint

Let this macerate in your fridge overnight.
Call a friend and tell them where to meet you the next afternoon.

Underwood Sangria

STEP TWO:

Once you’ve found a suitable spot, pull out your Mason jar and add 2 cans of Underwood Pinot Gris. For our less coordinated explorers, feel free to add one can at a time. But since we are pros…

Underwood Sangria

STEP THREE:

Fill two smaller Mason jars with ice.

Pour each about three-quarters full of the sangria and then top off with sparkling water or club soda. Mix well, making sure you get plenty of blueberries and orange slices in each glass. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.

Underwood Sangria Underwood Sangria

While you are making up the sangria, have your friend shuffle and deal the cards, and then you are all ready to settle in to a fun round of Go Fish with a beautiful view.

Underwood Sangria Underwood Sangria

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

Perfect Pairings

At Union Wine Company we love to support and collaborate with other fellow artisans in our community.

Our favorite cheesemonger, Steve Jones of Cheese Bar and Chizu, has been honing his skills for 15 years and just released his very first book: CHEESE BEER WINE CIDER: A Field Guide to 75 Perfect Pairings. Co-written by Steve Jones and Adam Lindsley (and photographed by your humble narrator, David L. Reamer) you can order a copy of CHEESE BEER WINE CIDER at Powells Online or keep an eye out for copies at your local bookstore or wine shop.

It is, as the title says, a guide to pairing specific cheese with their appropriate ‘adult beverage’ counterparts. We thought this would be a great opportunity to have Steve formally taste three of our Underwood wines—Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Rosé—and choose a cheese that he thinks would go well with each. If you are going to be doing some entertaining in the next few weeks, or if you just want to have an indulgent late spring picnic, this will help you to know the best cheese to accompany your favorite cans. So, without further ado…

**************

UNDERWOOD PINOT NOIR paired with SUMMER COMTÉ.

Comté is a cow’s milk cheese from France’s Massif du Jura region. It has a very earthy taste (think mushrooms cooked in brown butter) but also has a slight sweetness which pairs quite well with our Underwood Pinot Noir. There are various styles of Comté, but this one gets its name from the season it is produced, when the cows are dining on the lush and verdant summer grasses.

Underwood Cheese Pairings

UNDERWOOD ROSÉ paired with 1605 MANCHEGO

This very popular aged Spanish sheep’s milk cheese comes from the windmill-dotted La Mancha plateau immortalized in Don Quixote. (The producing farm, 1605, actually takes its’ name from the year the book was first published!) Much like the terroir of its origin, Manchego is dry, pale and very sheepy. As it ages, the cheese’s nuttiness and buttery qualities increase, making it absolutely delicious, and a perfect pairing to our Rosé.

Underwood Cheese Pairings

UNDERWOOD PINOT GRIS paired with JACQUIN BUCHERON.

Bucheron is from what is called the Bloomy-Rind Family. A French goat’s milk cheese, it has its origins in the Loire Valley which is accepted as the home of chèvre. The Jacquin Family has been making cheese in the Loire Valley for four generations. Bucheron, from the French word for “log”, has two distinct parts: a gooey section that has started to break down just below the rind, and, a more traditional, dryer, white chèvre filling the center. The contrast between the salty cream of the buttery ring and the lemony, goaty center make for a complex flavor, as well as a great pairing for our Pinot Gris.

Underwood Cheese Pairings

Big thanks again to Steve Jones for taking the time to share his knowledge and palette for this little culinary experience. A good time was had by all!

Underwood and Cheese Bar

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

Creating the Perfect Springtime Cocktail

Union Wine Co Green Cocktail

There is a particular Portland phenomenon we have been noticing for years. Every Spring there is one weekend when, with no conscious cues or communication, everyone in town decides it’s time to cut their lawn. It’s that first perfect weekend, when the rain has let up, the grass is a little too tall and healthy, and so the ol’ lawnmower gets dusted off, gassed up—or charged up (it is Portland after all)—and put to the task.

During that weekend, all of Portland is filled with that unmistakably sweet, musky scent of freshly cut grass. The kids are playing in the yard, the parks are full and Spring has officially Sprung.

Enter Lucas Plant, bartender and cook extraordinaire, Navy man, father, and all-around charming guy. Lucas has worked at many of the best spots in Portland from Clyde Common to Central to Oven & Shaker. Currently, Lucas is a “Luxury Spirits Broker” for Coastal Pacific, but he is also part owner of Bull In China. We asked Lucas to create a cocktail that captured the happiness of the first weekend of Spring and all the nostalgic flavors it evokes.

Union Wine Co Green Cocktail
Lucas set to the task and concocted an intriguing cocktail, (whose name, coincidentally, originated from the memoir, ‘I Couldn’t Smoke the Grass on my Fathers Lawn” by Charlie Chaplin’s son, Michael.)

Grass Clippings

3 1/2 oz Kings Ridge Riesling
1/2 oz Bee Local Honey Water
1/2 teaspoon Bee Local Bee Pollen
1/2 teaspoon Steven Smith Powdered Matcha Tea No. 7

STEP ONE: Combine all ingredients in a shaker with lots of ice.

Union Wine Co Green Cocktail Union Wine Co Green Cocktail

Lucas uses a professional bar spoon, but a 1/2 teaspoon measure works just as well.

Union Wine Co Green Cocktail

STEP TWO: Shake like your life depends on it!

Union Wine Co Green Cocktail

STEP 3: Strain (to remover solids) into another shaker with no ice.

Union Wine Co Green Cocktail

STEP FOUR: Shake again as if your life depends on it. This step is very important as it aerates the liquid and releases all the pollen and matcha flavors.

Union Wine Co Green Cocktail

STEP FIVE: Pour into a chilled coupe glass and enjoy.

Union Wine Co Green Cocktail

Many thanks to Lucas for lending his time and talents to this post. And, if you dig the custom apron he is sporting, check out Portlands own OROX Leathers.

Also, head over to Bull In China for all your professional (and unprofessional) bar accoutrements.

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

10 Things We Learned at a Rose City Rollers Bout

At Union Wine Co. we love to support our local community. The Rose City Rollers are an organization of brave, talented and creative folks that we are proud to partner with. We admire the people and the game, even though it took us a minute to learn to call it a bout.

Rose City Rollers

The Rose City Rollers have been a part of the Portland community for the past 15 years. Since the beginning it has been a welcoming group for the players and fans alike. We chatted with a couple of players from the High Rollers team and they stated that a primary reason for joining a roller derby team was to make friends. Nooga Knockout is originally from Chattanooga, TN, where she first started playing roller derby. She moved to Portland 3 years ago and knew that she would find a community in a new city through roller derby. When she first started she didn’t have much skating experience. She said at first it was scary, but the more she does it the more natural it feels. Now, as soon as she puts on skates, she feels comfortable.

10 Things We Learned

  1. The game is called a bout, there are 2 periods that each last 30 minutes. In each half, they fit in as many 2 minute jams as they can.
  2. The only person who can score is the jammer. The jammer wears a star helmet cover.
  3. The jammer can pull her helmet cover (also known as a panty) off twice per jam and give it to anyone else on her team who might be able to shoot through a gap and score.
  4. Inline skates are prohibited, players must wear four-wheeled roller skates.
  5. The best-dressed fans have some sparkle on.
  6. Don’t miss the epic halftime show.
  7. 5 skaters are on the track for each team at a time, unless someone goes into the penalty box. Each team consists of 15 skaters in total.
  8. The skaters are referred to as a Pack.
  9. Roller Derby skaters choose a nickname to use as an alter ego, they are usually witty, referring to something about themselves or pop culture.

       A few examples:

    • Eve Anne Hellical
    • Bonnie Thunders
    • Beyond Thunderdame
    • Big Bang Fury

10. And of course, watching a bout is best enjoyed while drinking Underwood canned wine.

Rose City Rollers

Rose City Rollers

Underwood Wine