To all the wine lovers out there— do you miss wine tasting as much as I do?? If you answered with a resounding “yes”, I’m excited to tell you about Willamette Valley Vineyards’ virtual wine tasting and Porch Pairing event which satisfied my thirst and transported me for an evening to an exclusive wine tasting experience!
COVID19 has decimated the hospitality industry and wine tasting rooms are no exception. However, wineries who think outside the box and met the challenges of COVID19 with creative marketing are seeing great results. Willamette Valley Vineyards is one such winery.
Willamette Valley Vineyards Winery Ambassadors to the Rescue
When COVID hit and wineries closed down, Willamette Valley Vineyards (WVV) was in a unique position of having a stable of 20 winery ambassadors that were already in place and promoting nationally to wine enthusiasts, club members, and stockholders. WVV’s winery ambassadors are encouraged to design their own signature experiences and the program proved to be a lifesaver for the company. According to Winery Ambassador Dwight Povlika, they have been fortunate as their wine sales didn’t really drop off that much. With a menu of WVV elevated experiences to choose from, Willamette Valley Vineyards is well-positioned to respond and adapt to changes necessitated by the pandemic.
I met Dwight in 2019 when I popped into the Willamette Valley Vineyards’ tasting room while strolling down 3rd Street in charming downtown McMinnville. We chatted about WVV’s history and the complexities of the Willamette Valley AVA while I sipped an array of their award-winning wines. Founded by Jim Bernau in 1983, Willamette Valley Vineyards wine legacy goes back to Jim’s dad who, as an attorney, was hired by a California winemaker to secure the first wine license in Oregon since Prohibition.
Dwight and I stayed in touch and when I received the email about the Virtual Porch Pairing Tasting he was hosting on July 31st, I jumped at the chance to participate in a wine tasting—Zoom take me away!
Willamette Valley Vineyards Virtual Wine Tasting
The special Willamette Valley Vineyards virtual wine tasting event features four specially selected wines (below) while grilling food to perfectly pair with each wine. The recipes are included with each pack purchased so participants can follow along at home or enjoy them at a later date. The virtual wine tasting satisfied my thirst for premium wine paired with fabulous food, and my friends and I had a blast doing it! The total wine non-member wine cost for this Porch Pairing was $131. Winning! Porch Pairings happen twice a month, so subscribe to WVV’s newsletter or follow them on Facebook for updates.
Porch Pairing Virtual Tasting 4-pack includes:
2018 Pinot Gris
Pairs with Grilled Shrimp and Spicy Peanut Sauce
2019 Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir
Pairs with Balsamic Watermelon Feta Salad
2017 Elton Pinot Noir
Pairs with BBQ Pork Chops
2017 Pére Ami
Pairs with Fire-Roasted Cedar Plank Salmon
Wine Club Members: $104.80 | Owners: $98.25
Named “One of America’s Great Pinot Noir Producers” by Wine Enthusiast. Willamette Valley Vineyards (WVV) also boasts the unique distinction of being owned by more than 16,000 wine enthusiasts (NASDAQ: WVVI & WVVIP).
During the Zoom virtual wine tasting, Dwight walked us through the tasting notes for each wine as well as prompting us on when to start preparing each dish. He talked about WVV’s history, from Jim Bernau’s early winemaking to the winery’s 1983 humble beginnings when Bernau watered the vines by hand to merging with Bill Fuller, the “Babe Ruth of Oregon wine” of Tualatin Vineyards and subsequent partnerships that have built their brand into “One of America’s Great Pinot Noir Producers.”
WVV has grown its estate vineyards through partnerships like the merger with Oregon wine pioneer, Bill Fuller of Tualatin Vineyards (established in 1973), the O’Briens for Elton Vineyard (established in 1983) and Loeza Vineyard (planted in 2015). The winery sources all of its barrel-aged Pinot Noir from its estate-grown vineyards and meticulously farms by hand nearly 500 acres in the valley.
Virtual Wine Tasting Pairing Recipes
There were four recipes, one to pair with each wine. My girlfriend and I shared in the cooking; she chose to prepare the Grilled Shrimp and Spicy Peanut Sauce and the Pinot Noir & Balsamic Watermelon Feta Salad and I made the Fire-Roasted Cedar Planked Salmon and decided to substitute a dessert for the BBQ Pork Chops. Everything turned out fantastic and dessert was totally the right thing to do! Remember Pizzookies? Basically a giant chocolate chip cookie baked in a cast iron skillet, served warm with vanilla ice cream, and incredible paired with an outstanding Pinot!
Grilled Shrimp with Spicy Peanut Sauce Recipe
Quick and easy - everyone will love this simple grilled shrimp with a mildly spicy peanut sauce for dipping. Perfect for summer!
- 1 pound raw, peeled, and deveined shrimp
- 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
- 1/3 cup coconut, light or regular
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper (or crushed red chile flakes)
- juice of one lime
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro reserve some cilantro for garnish
To prepare the shrimp, pat them dry with paper toweling. Set your grill to mediumhigh heat (or use an indoor grill pan over medium high), and grill the shrimp untilthey are just curled and cooked through — about two minutes per side, dependingon the size. Set aside.
For the peanut sauce, combine all remaining ingredients in a blender and pulseuntil smooth. If you like a thinner sauce, add more coconut milk and blend again.Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Spoon the sauce into a serving bowl, sprinkle with the reserved cilantro and servewith the shrimp. Both the sauce and the shrimp are good hot or at roomtemperature, so this dish can be made in advance.
Recipe courtesy of Willamette Valley Vineyards.
Wine pairing: 2018 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinto Gris.
Cheers to being able to travel soon! Many wineries have reopened their wine tasting rooms following state guidelines. Willamette Valley Vineyards elegant wine tasting room in McMinnville requires a reservation to monitor the number of patrons for social distancing. While COVID has made reopening challenging for many, there is a silver lining. The staff at WVV have found that limiting capacity has resulted in a more pleasant experience that creates a calmer, more serene atmosphere versus the uncomfortable crowds of summers past.
Willamette Valley Vineyards McMinnville Tasting Room
300 NE 3rd St, McMinnville, OR 97128
Willamette Valley Vineyards
8800 Enchanted Way SE, Turner, OR 97392
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