The People’s Coast

We all know the Oregon Coast is epic. Its vast coastline boasts rugged cliffsides, dense temperate forests, pristine beaches, wildlife galore, and plenty of hidden gems along the entire 363-mile stretch. But did you know that all of this is public land?

In 1967 the State of Oregon passed the Oregon Beach Bill, which established free and public access to Oregon’s coastline, including 16 vertical feet above the low tide line so that homes with beachfront backyards would not interfere with the public’s ability to enjoy the ocean. Oregon is one of only a few states that have established this access to the people, and Oregon’s public access law was even reinforced by the Supreme Court in 1969. Thus, this part of the country is frequently referred to as “The People’s Coast”.

Oregon’s coastline is broken down into three sections.
1)The North Coast: Astoria to Lincoln City
2)The Central Coast: Lincoln City to Florence
3)The South Coast: Florence to Brookings-Harbor, near the California Border.

To begin exploring the People’s Coast we have put together an ideal day on the North end, beginning at the famous Haystack Rock (Goonies Never Say Die) in Cannon Beach, just a 90-minute drive from the Portland metro area. Cannon Beach is part of the traditional territory of the Tillamook Tribe and was formally named after a cannon from the US Navy ship ‘Shark,’ washed ashore in 1846.

Formed out of lava that flowed from the Cascade Mountain Range, Haystack Rock is a result of the lava sinking deep below the ocean, cooling and hardening into black basalt rock, and over time (millions of years) the basalt was pushed upwards as plates shifted, creating what we now see emerging 235 feet out of the ocean. Three additional smaller rock formations known as The Needles lie just to the south of Haystack. The rock is home to a variety of tidepools full of sea life and many species of birds, including puffins who make their way to the rock in the spring and summer months. The rock and its intertidal areas are one of only seven Marine Gardens in the state of Oregon, as well as part of Oregon Island’s National Wildlife Refuge. If you visit in the summer and get extra lucky, the tide may be low enough for a couple of days and you can walk all the way around the rock. It’s pretty spectacular to see!

After spending the morning exploring Haystack, a mile-long beachcombing stroll will lead you to Sea Level Bakery + Coffee. This cozy spot is the ideal place to grab some fuel for the next leg of your adventure. Their banana bread is perhaps the best we’ve had…topped with crunchy coconut flakes and macadamia nuts…pair it with an oat milk latte for a winning combo.

Oswald West State Park covers over 2,400 acres of Oregon’s North Coast and begins about 10 miles south of Cannon Beach. It’s a fitting stop on our tour as it is named after the 14th Governor of Oregon who spearheaded the bill to make Oregon’s beaches public. If you’d like a challenging adventure you can hike up to Neahkahnie Mountain for epic views of the ocean and surrounding Oregon Coast mountain ranges. The final few meters are a rocky scramble but well worth the effort. For a muddy and rooty hike/run check out Cape Falcon Trail, a 4 mile out and back through coastal forests to an incredible cliffside where you can stop to collect your thoughts and take in the beautiful views your legs just earned you. Pro tip: plan this route for sunset on a clear day–it’s one of the most amazing spots in the area to watch the sun go down.

Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, head back to Cannon Beach and hit up Public Coast Brewing–appropriately named to keep this adventure theme alive! Place an order for their fish tacos and bring them back to your private cabin in the trees, The Haystack Haus. This well-appointed coastal getaway is outfitted to be the ideal retreat after a day of exploring. The hosts will even help you out with curated adventure planning and each guest is welcomed with locally roasted coffee beans, salt-water taffy made at a candy shop just down the street, and an assortment of seasonal, Oregon-made treats.

Kings Ridge

Did you think we would forget about wine? No way! Our Kings Ridge Pinot Gris is the perfect pairing for your fish tacos and a stellar way to celebrate a day well spent. Crafted with grapes from the coolest parts of the Willamette Valley, this crisp and refreshing white wine will become your new go-to after a long day outdoors. Cozy up in the Adirondack chairs on the back deck of the Haus, open up a bottle, and cheers to The People’s Coast, your coast.

Photography by Larissa and Randall Fransen
Sea Level Bakery + Coffee: @sealevelbakery
Public Coast Brewing: @publiccoastbrewing
The Haystack Haus: @thehaystackhaus

The Best Thing to Happen in 2020? Nouveau is Back.

Underwood Nouveau

Last year, we introduced our very own Underwood Nouveau Pinot Noir to celebrate the first grape harvest of the year. This year on Beaujolais Nouveau Day (11/19), we are releasing both bottles and cans to ring in the first pour of the 2020 harvest. We think we can all use a glimmer of brightness right now, don’t you agree?

Beaujolais Nouveau Day is a national celebration that lands on the third Thursday of November. It was originated in France but is celebrated all over the world as an opportunity to imbibe the first wine of the season.

Our Underwood Nouveau is a riff on a Beaujolais Nouveau, which is traditionally made from Gamay grapes. Instead, we use our Pinot Noir grapes to remix our traditional Pinot Noir. For context, our Pinot Noir usually takes a full year to make, but our Nouveau only takes one month from start to finish. We’ve been busy!

Underwood Nouveau

This year, we started harvesting on the morning of September 10th. It was a labor of love. We handpicked the grapes in whole clusters without crushers or de-stemmers. We used the process called “carbonic maceration,” for fermentation. Here’s how it works: we place full bunches of grapes into stainless-steel vats, which are then filled with CO2 to remove oxygen. After about 10 days, alcohol levels reach around 2% ABV, allowing the grape skins to split open and release the juice. Towards the end of fermentation, the grapes release the berry flavor without releasing the bitter tannins from the skins.

So what should you expect from our Nouveau Pinot Noir this year? Surprise, delight, and a whole lot of brightness. Our Director of Winemaking JP Caldcleugh, describes the wine as “A berry medley that jumps out of the glass. It’s full of life and energy. It’s big. It’s in your face. It’s the freshest expression of our Pinot you can find and it gives us a peek into what the year’s harvest flavor profiles will bring.”  Remember, this wine is meant to enjoy immediately, so drink up!

For the stunning artwork on the labels and cans, we brought back Jeremy Alan of The Ellaphant in the Room, whose work speaks to the beauty of art nouveau and complements the whimsy and youthfulness of the wine.

Underwood Nouveau Bottle

We’re pleased to present Union’s Underwood 2020 Nouveau Pinot Noir this fall to bring some much-needed light back into our homes as we hunker down for the winter. Stay safe and enjoy…with pinkies down, of course.

A Step by Step Guide to Surviving Election Day

Election supplies

The day is finally upon us! Are you excited? Nervous? Stressed? Completely over it and checked out? We’re right there with you. One thing we can all agree on is that stress levels are at an all time high, but we believe the key to getting through the madness is to slow down and stock up on all of your tried and true creature comforts.  And we’re here to help. So here’s the plan:

STEP 1: Stock up on the essentials! What are your go-to comfort foods? Make a list of the things that make you feel the coziest and head to the store. Here’s what’s on our list:

a. Underwood Canned Wine (duh)

b. Frozen Pizza

c. Brownies + Chocolate + Frosting (go big or go home!)

d. Cookie Dough

e. Tissues…maybe we will cry tears of joy? Either way be prepared!

f. Bedtime Necessities

g. Coffee

h. Advil

i. Underwood Bubbles

j. Juice

2)  Prepare: Get comfy and don’t forget your mental health

a. Download your favorite meditation or relaxation app in-case you need to take a little break…or a few.

b. Put on your pj’s, it’s going to be a long night

3)  Here we go!

a. Pop open that can, or cans, or bottles.

b. Get to work on that pizza. Make sure to have a side of treats close by. We give you full permission to eat the whole pizza. Stress eating is normal and natural, we won’t judge.

c. Don’t forget that outside exists! Go for a walk, play with your pup, or just get some fresh air. It’s 100% ok to leave the house in PJ’s and sneakers. Maybe the only good thing to happen in 2020?

4)  Re-coop

a. Make yourself a cup of sleepy time tea

b. Draw yourself a bath, light some candles, set out the crystals

c. Grab an eye mask and some earplugs

d. Put on some soothing tunes and doze off

5)  Good morning! Congratulations! You made it! Celebrate with an extra cup of coffee, or a mimosa if you are waking up to good news! You deserve it.

Pro tip: brownies are an acceptable breakfast choice today.



Chefs at Home Series: Taco Tuesday with Jason French & Viola

Chef, consultant (and all-around great dude) Jason French has been a bastion of the Portland restaurant world for nearly twenty years. He ran the kitchen at Paley’s Place and helped open Clark Lewis before heading out on his own to open Ned Ludd and then Elder Hall. Thirteen years later, he can still be found where he is most comfortable…in his kitchen.

When Jason cooks at home, he often employs the help of his daughter Viola. Nearly thirteen herself, she has definitely followed in her father’s footsteps, honing her own kitchen skills. We asked Jason if we could hang out and get a (literal) taste of what kind of cooking he and his daughter collaborate on. He immediately suggested Taco Tuesday, a great way to spice up an otherwise bland day.

Jason chose to make Roasted Chicken, Squash, and Tomatillo Tacos with Refried Beans and Viola’s signature Guacamole.

For the tacos:
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 cup whole tomatillos, husked
1 medium summer squash, trimmed and cubed (seasonally, acorn or butternut squash may be substituted)
1 C chicken stock
1 T cumin seed, ground
2 T chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Peel the husks from your tomatillos.

Cut your squash into large chunks.

Cut the chicken thighs in half, place all the ingredients into a large bowl, and season well.

Separate out in a single layer of a sheet pan and put into the oven. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until chicken is fully cooked and the squash is golden brown.

Cut up the chicken and half of the squash. Put into a heavy-bottomed pot.

Put the roasted tomatillos, remaining squash, and the chicken stock into a large blender. Pulse until chunky and add to the pot.

Keep warm on the stove while you prepare the rest of the food.

While her dad is taking care of all that, Viola is in charge of the guacamole.

For the Guacamole:
1 large ripe avocado
1 T fresh lime juice
2 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop all the flesh into a bowl. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Adjust seasoning as needed.

And of course, get the chefs final approval…

Set the guacamole aside and make the refried beans. In a pinch, there is no shame in using canned refried beans, but if you have the time, and an extra set of hands to help, homemade is always best.

For the Refried Beans:
1 T olive oil or lard + 3 T more for frying
1 small onion, peeled and minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 T fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
2 C cooked pinto, black or red kidney beans, drained
1 C chicken stock
Salt and pepper

To make the beans, heat 1 T of oil and slowly cook the onions and garlic until just starting to color. Add the beans, oregano, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the chicken stock. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Put everything in a food processor and blend until smooth.

In a heavy-bottomed pan, add the remaining oil until hot, add the beans and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the beans achieve the desired consistency, continually scraping all the “crusty goodness” off the bottom as it cooks. Adjust seasoning and set aside.

Once everything is ready, finish up your Fixins.

(Feel free to add/subtract whatever makes you happy)
corn tortillas, hard or soft, served warm with dinner
fresh limes, quartered
grated cheddar or Mexican style cheeses like Cotija
scallions, thinly sliced
French radishes, thinly sliced
pickled jalapenos, canned are supreme
fresh cilantro leaves

Finally, heat your tortillas over an open flame (or on an electric burner) and keep warm.

With perfect timing, Jason’s girlfriend Carrie happened to come home just as the last tortillas were being cooked. A bottle of Underwood Pinot Gris was opened and the French Family dinner was a complete success.

We want to thank Jason and his family for sharing their Taco Tuesday with us. If you are somehow unacquainted with Jason’s work, you can check out his restaurant, Ned Ludd, and his event space Elder Hall. In his spare time, Jason also works as a personal coach and consultant.

Finally, from everyone here in the Union Family, we hope you are staying safe. And please get out there and VOTE!

Photography and Text by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)
Recipes by Jason French. (@jasonffrench)
Guacamole by Viola.

Records & Rosé Cocktails: Adding a little Summer to your Autumn

Now that the weather (at least in the Portland area) has officially packed away all of its tank tops and cut-off shorts in favor of some corduroys and light flannels, I think we can all agree, if not rejoice, that the summer is finally over and autumn has arrived. That, of course, is no reason for distress—fall in the Pacific Northwest can be beautiful, calm, and mild. But it can also get really nasty, really quick, so keep those raincoats at the ready.
At this time of year, it is very common to slip your remaining bottles of Rosé to the bottom of the wine rack and forget all about them for several months. But here at Union, we say a hearty and heartfelt “Nay!” to such thoughts. Rosé can definitely be enjoyed all year round, and especially in the lighter days of early Autumn. You just need the right situation and the right cocktail to highlight not just the wine, but the weather as well. Obviously, while the sun is still shining, “gather ye Rosebuds while ye may…”  but if the clouds roll in and it seems like a day to enjoy the great indoors, we have a plan ready for you.  (Hint, hint…)

Nothing goes better with a tasty Rosé cocktail than digging deep into the ol’ vinyl stacks and finding a few records that still keep the summertime vibe rolling. We’ll be suggesting a few records before this post is complete (we’re sure you have your personal favorites too), but for now, let’s get to the cocktail.
The Great Indoors
1.5 oz Gin (dealer’s choice, tho we prefer Beefeater)
1 oz Lillet Blanc
2 oz fresh-squeezed ruby-red grapefruit juice
Rosemary sprigs for garnish and a touch of the Autumnal
*Makes 1 cocktail

Fill a glass with ice. Juice the grapefruit. Measure all ingredients into the glass. Stir well and garnish with a sprig of Rosemary.

Pick a few choice records and enjoy. We know that everyone has their favorite tunes when playing DJ, but we wanted to suggest a few that inspired us while we were creating this cocktail.
First up, the sentinel Andrew Bird Album, The Mysterious Production of Eggs, which although it is currently celebrating its 15 year anniversary, is as fresh and upbeat as ever.

Originating in Dallas Texas, the Old 97s have been going strong for nearly 30 years. Their newest albums are as melodic and clever as anything they have ever put out, but this classic, Hitchhike to Rhome definitely put them on the map, so to speak.

Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t highlight Portland’s very own Blitzen Trapper, and their 2008 classic, Furr.

So, from everyone here in the Union Family, we hope you are socializing safely and washing those hands!
And please, please, please
And, of course, keep those #pinkiesdown.

Photography, Cocktail & Text by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)