It was a tense few moments on the way to wineries in Carlton, Oregon, when local police boarded our bus full of wine bloggers and told us to get off. The giveaway came when he told us to go across the road and head up the driveway. Saying he was “hot and sweaty and not happy” should have tipped us off, but when I asked the officer if this is a joke, he insisted he was “not happy.” That’s me saying, “This is so strange,” as I disembarked the bus and saw the line of cars waiting behind the police cruisers.
By the time we got to the Carlo and Julian Winery, the joke was apparent. Later, after dinner at The Horse Radish in downtown Carlton, the town council confessed. It was a conspiracy of the wineries and the police to capture the attention of the Wine Bloggers Conference. The police chief we’d met, Kevin Martinez – nicknamed “Officer Goodbody” – appeared in jeans and button down shirt and informed us that he was not wearing breakaway pants, much to the chagrin of the ladies in the room.
The Carlton Bounty Culinary Team consisted of: The Horse Radish, Cuvée Restaurant, Cielo Blu, Republic of Jam, Honest Chocolates and Native Salmon Bake. That chinook salmon, cooked as a traditional Salish bake on an alder wood frame over an open fire, was incredible! Compliments to Jeff Lorton of Valley Emporium.
We had Chinook salmon baked over open pit (in 95 degree heat), duck confit salad, Carlton Farms pork loin, braised short ribs, and grilled flank steak w/ blue cheese butter, with a glass of Spottsford Station Est Syrah.
My favorite pairings were the salmon with the WildAire 2009 Reserve Pinot Noir, the ribs with Spofford Station 2005 Estate Syrah, and Honest Chocolates with Cliff Creek 2007 Cabernet Franc.
Participating wineries were Youngberg Hill, Noble Pig, Alexana Winery, MonksGate, Mounvance, EIEIO, Troon Vineyards, Spofford Station, Cliff Creek Cellars, WildAire Cellars, Terra Vina, Seven of Hearts, K and M Winery
The whole evening was a ton of fun. The townspeople of Carlton went way beyond the call of duty to feed, pour and entertain us. Police hoax aside, I think we had the best magical mystery bus of all. Thank you Carlton, Oregon!
Stay tuned for more posts about the awesome Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, OR. Better yet, subscribe!
And please like, share and tweet this page to your followers. Cheers!