*Eat, Taste, Love. Like Summer camp for grownups.

The excitement of leaving home behind, getting to meet new and interesting people all while getting to participate in exciting activities, Summer camp was always a memorable experience.  Flash forward a couple decades and I found myself a married, slower and more experienced version of my childhood self with a much better music collection.  I’d like to think I’ve held onto my sense of wonder and desire for understanding things which I’ve yet to experience, but honestly I think I’ve just become more accustomed to following a certain routine which I’ve garnered a comfortable relationship with.  I’ve learned all that I need to survive, why branch out right?  Well, as I often find when forcing myself out of my self constructed framework, I still enjoy experiencing new things.  Mrs Squeeze and I were fortunate enough to be invited to help document an event that combined all those things I’d enjoyed in years past, but this time it included wine.  Lots of wine.

I stumbled into a chance meeting with Lea and Andy as I was shooting their beautiful new Oregon wine country Inn for a client who had done some interior design work and consulting for them.  Luckily for me, enough of an impression was made and they asked if I would help them document their very first coordinated event, Eat, Taste, Love.  Using seasonal themes (Vitality, Harvest, Tranquility and Awakening) Lea set out to network with various local entities to build an inclusive experience centered around sustainability and local networking to provide the average foodie or aspiring wine aficionado the ability to rub elbows with famous wine makers, local celebrity chefs, cheese makers, chocolatiers, farmers and most anything else to do with a community built around one of our country’s most prestigious agricultural regions.

For those of us not familiar with Oregon’s Willamette Valley, it has established itself as one of the premier wine regions in the world, boasting over 400 wineries, many of which specialize in Pinot grapes.  Much of the local economy has grown up around this and has transformed the region from one of sleepy agribusiness to booming wine country and all that it brings with it.  This blossoming industry has laid the backdrop for the ETL series which strives to provide guests with a wine and food filled weekend experience giving access to many of the local heavy hitters in the area.

Being the first event in an ongoing, seasonal series, we were discussing sustainability and bio-dynamic farming while enjoying wine and locally cultivated delicacies.  I started the weekend by tagging along with executive chef and Red Fox Bakery owner Jason Furch as we shopped the McMinnville farmers market to source local ingredients for the weekend’s fare.

The weekend event officially started off with a dinner at Le Puy Inn featuring appetizers, a three course meal  and delicious desert compliments of Beroldingen, Republic of Jam, Rogue Creamery and the Dark Chocolatier, all paired with wines from Soléna.  While eating alongside the artisans responsible for our delicious spread, we were treated to presentations about what we were eating and drinking, how the ingredients came to be and through which practices they were cultivated.  The relaxed meal gave way to a soiree of music, conversation and of course, more wine.

The next morning found us venturing from the comfort of our rooms to experience the Soléna and Grand Cru Estates winery to witness bio-dynamic farming while enjoying the fruit produced by its practice.  Vans shuffled us to Coeur de Terre vineyard for more wine and a delicious lunch provided by Subterra Restaurant.  Scott and Lisa of CDT, conversed with us describing their journey and love for wine and family.

Our next leg found us back at the Inns resting the afternoon away before we were whisked away to Christina and Stuart’s beautiful Deerhaven Farms for a traditional planked potlatch salmon dinner.  Hors d’oeuvres made way for a four course meal intersected by an intermezzo all created by executive chef Jason Furch and his team from Red Fox Bakery in McMinnville.  This time Coeur de Terre provided the libatious accoutrement while we were serenaded by the sounds of Larry Brown.

The weekend pivoted on discussion surrounding sustainability, environmental responsibility and community.  These terms are all fine and dandy when attached to produce at your local grocery store, or printed on your bag of coffee beans, but to see the practices first hand and interact with real people whose livelihood is firmly planted in these practices not for marketability, but for generational sustainability, it is uplifting.  Every entity involved in the Eat, Taste, Love event is a local, family run business, who, if you choose to attend a future event, you will meet and talk with.  Getting to see a bio-dynamic vineyard while drinking prize winning wine, eating local cheeses, produce, grains and meats all while having discussions with the winemakers, farmers and chefs brings the feeling home.  It’s one thing to support local farming, or sustainable practices, but to gain an insight to truly understanding what that means and to see the people doing it day in and day out is what this event provided.

Mrs Squeeze and I didn’t quite know what to expect from the weekend, but we sure came out of it with a new appreciation for our local network of farms, wineries and the businesses that gladly depend on them.  We made new friends and connections ranging from down the street to a thousand miles down the coast.  I’m proud to have been part of this, and feel honored to have had the chance to document it.  Back before I’d graduated from college with a degree in ideological dreaming, this is what I’d anticipated being a part of.  A community looking out, not just for each other, but for future generations, their children and grandchildren’s community.  Our daily life hasn’t changed much, but our understanding about why we choose to spend our time and money on certain things has become more finely tuned as a result, and we got to have wonderful food and wine while making these realizations.  Here is a video showing snippets from the weekend along with some words from the creators of the event…

I would urge anyone interested in food, wine and a good time to look into future ETL events.  And, if you do, make sure to get ahold of me so that we can try to link up to take some pictures!  Click on any of the links below to connect with any or all of the local businesses involved in this particular event.

Le Puy Inn – Lea and Andy (innkeeper@le-puyinn.com)

Deerhaven Farms Bed and Breakfast – Christina and Stuart (info@deerhavenfarmsbb.org)

Carlton Farms – carltonfarms.com

Coeur de Terre Vineyard – cdtvineyard.com

Republic of Jam – republicofjam.com

Red Fox Bakery/Catering – Jason Furch – redfoxbakery.com

Red Ridge Farms and the Oregon Olive Mill – redridgefarms.com

Rogue Creamery – roguecreamery.com

Solena Estate Winery – solenaestate.com

Subterra Restaurant – subterrarestaurant.com

The Dark Chocolatier – thedarkchocolatier.com   

Eat, Taste, Love events are hosted by the Le Puy Inn and Deerhaven Farms B&B which reside about 10 minutes west of Newberg, Oregon on Hwy 240 which is about a 45 minute drive from the Portland International Airport.  If Oregon is too far away, look for local events like this that will help network to support our neighbors and our communities.  You never know where these connections may take you.  Supporting small businesses, local farms and sustainable practices sounds right when you hear about it, but it really feels right when you communally experience it.

I know that most of you may have wondered what momentarily happened to the photo in “photo-blography” but all I can say is that I hope it was at least a fraction as entertaining to read as it was to experience.  As always, thanks for stopping by and happy shooting!


6 thoughts on “*Eat, Taste, Love. Like Summer camp for grownups.

  1. Pingback: *Mr and Mrs Squeeze wine down with a trip to Oregon Wine Country. « Tyson Robichaud Photo-blography

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