What’s the Word?In Washington County, Oregon

Posts Tagged ‘sake’

Candy & Wine Pairings

Posted on: October 31st, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Now, be honest—how much Halloween candy do you steal from your kids’ stash? When stocking up for trick-or-treaters, we somewhat shamefully know that the mixed bag of goodies will inevitably turn into a one-for-you-and-one-for-me sort of situation. Making peace with you Halloween candy addiction, you might as well take it up a notch by pairing it with good Oregon wine. See our favorite pairings below!

david hill vineyard Candy: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Wine: David Hill Vineyard and Winery’s Farmhouse Red
Reese’s peanut butter cups are a prized trick-or-treater score. But keep a few for yourself to pair with this $12 per bottle stunner. The candy’s sweet peanut butter mixes delightfully with the soft and jammy red blend, making for a grown up PB&J experience.


Abbey Creek VineyardCandy: Snickers
Wine: Abbey Creek Vineyard’s 2012 Baco Noir
A Snickers has a lot going on with it chocolate, nuts and caramel deliciousness. Its decadence needs to be matched by the similar heavy hitter of the Baco Noir. The wine’s earthy medium body and caramel nose complements as many bite-size Snickers as you can get your hands on.   


beckham estate vineyardCandy: Three Musketeers
Wine: Beckham Estate Vineyard’s Pinot Noir 2012
Balance the fluffy nougat filling with something a bit more grounding. Enter, Beckham Estate Vineyard’s Pinot Noir. The straight forward Three Musketeers doesn’t interfere with the nuances of Pinot’s subtly rustic flavors.


blakeslee vineyardCandy: Twix
Wine: Blakeslee Vineyard Estate’s 2012 Chardonnay
From aging in French oak, this wine carries toasty caramel and vanilla bean notes, which creates a harmony with the silky caramel of Twix.  


montinore estateCandy: Starburst
Wine: Montinore Estate’s 2012 Reserve Gewürztraminer
Sometimes, sweets go with more sweets. Such is the case here. The Gewürztraminer delivers bouncy notes of honey, Mandarin orange and rose petal…if only Starburst came in these flavors, too!


sakeCandy: Kit-Kats
Wine: SakéOne’s G Joy Genshu saké
Kit Kat’s are wildly popular in Japan, which inspired us to pair the candy with saké instead of wine. The wafer-like texture of the candy is balanced by the rich punches of this premium saké.


Now, tell us your favorite candy and we’ll find a wine to pair with it!

North WIllamette Harvest Trail

Posted on: September 12th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Summer has been good to the Tualatin Valley, which means that fall—and the wine harvest that comes with it—is going to be even better. Yes, wine lovers, the vines are looking supremely good right now. Watch the video below with R. J. Lint of Plum Hill Vineyards to learn more:

Don’t just reap the rewards of the upcoming harvest. Be a part of it, too, at the North Willamette Harvest Trail Weekend (October 4 and October 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; $95 per person). The day-long and hands-on wine tour from the North Willamette Vintners Association connects wine lovers and wine makers for a day of winemaking during the vineyard’s prime.

Let’s detail your vine-and-wine day. First, hop on a bus and meet your tour guide, who will be a winemaker, winery president, tasting room manager or wine glass supplier. It’s sufficed to say that a total wine pro will be on hand to answer your toughest questions. Next, travel to three different wineries, where you’ll experience the following:

  • Walk the vineyard to learn about farming methods
  • Work the freshly-picked fruit on a crush pad
  • Follow the science of wine with a close-up look at the testing equipment
  • Be lead through each step of the winemaking process
  • Watch rebarreling and bottling demonstrations
  • Enjoy wine and food pairings at each stop

As a bonus, the tour also includes a visit to SakéOne, the leading brewer of craft saké in America. The Tualatin Valley makes great wine because of our soil and climate. Similarly, the Tualatin Valley makes great saké because the east slope of our coast range creates amazing water quality that’s needed for premium sake.

After a day of wine tasting, make sure you have some place to unwind that night. Choose for our array of hotels. The Century Hotel even offers an Adventure in Wine Country Package, complete with two meals, wine and an artisan cheese plate.

Reserve your spot on the North Willamette Harvest Trail now! Get your tickets here. And be sure to use the discount code “HarvestFriend” for $5 off of each ticket.

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Ask a Local: Steve Vuylsteke

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Steve Vuylsteke knows good saké—and the best of Oregon’s Washington County!

Steve Vuylsteke knows good saké—and the best of Oregon’s Washington County!

When it comes to vacation planning, nothing is more valuable than the local scoop. So, we turned to Steve Vuylsteke, President and CEO of SakéOne. Steve leads the only saké brewery in Oregon, utilizing the area’s high water quality to make premium sake. As a 55-year local of Oregon’s Washington County, he has the ultimate tips.

What makes SakéOne so special?
It’s America’s original craft saké brewery – the first one dedicated to making exclusively premium chilled saké.

What’s your favorite cocktail to make with SakéOne saké?
It’s simple to make and enjoy – g Lime, which is made of our g Joy saké on the rocks with a slice of lime. Refreshingly tasty!

At SakéOne, what do you love most about interacting with visitors?
Enlightening visitors as to what saké really is– saké is not rice wine and it is not distilled. Saké is saké: made like beer, drinks like wine!

Other than a visit to SakéOne, what’s one can’t-miss attraction for visitors to the area?  
I’m a golfer so either the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club or Forest Hills Golf Course.

What’s a favorite “hidden gem” of the area?
The Cruise Inn Country Diner has all organic and natural ingredients– I love the ’57 Chevy BelAir Burger!

Where do you go when you want some seriously good grub? What’s the standout dish?
Nona Emilia’s Italian restaurant and the standout clam linguine dish.

What should every visitor to Oregon’s Washington County take home as a souvenir?
Momokawa, Moonstone or G saké from SakéOne!

Describe Oregon’s Washington County in 5 words or less.
Love living and working here!

Previous Ask a Local Posts:
Bag&Baggage’s Scott Palmer
Vine Gogh’s Jenny Schildan

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Gifts for the Beverage Bon Vivant

Posted on: December 16th, 2013 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

A sip of this, a slosh of that. Everybody has a beverage that really wets the whistle. For tea fiends, hot chocolate addicts, and lush libation lovers, gift new varieties of whatever leaves rings on your loved ones’ coasters:


Gift Guide: Beverage Bon Vivant
Gift Guide: Beverage Bon Vivant by jackie-xxiv featuring gift sets & kits


1 & 2 Stash Tea holiday blends include the peppermint-ginger “White Christmas” and the chocolate-peppermint-lavender “Christmas in Paris.” Sip it in a Stash mug while opening presents.

3 & 4 Moonstruck Chocolate Co. makes velvety hot chocolate. We pour it over treats for December 16’s National Chocolate Covered Anything Day…Which we’ve decided to celebrate through December (and 2014, too). Moonstruck’s Distillers Collection engulfs a bourbon truffle in rich milk chocolate.

5 Ponzi Vineyards offers delectable Pinot wine and the Ponzi Vineyards Cookbook. The cookbook seamlessly weaves recipes, harmonious wine pairings, and stories from the vineyard’s rich history.

6 Verbena Botanicals is not a drink, but these bath products smell so good that you’ll be tempted to taste it! Instead, soak in the herbal bath teas. The directions even call for “steeping” the ingredients.

7 SakéOne is a great gift for a sushi date in the New Year. Winning the Double Gold and Best of Show from the LA International Wine & Spirits Competition, Momokawa Ruby saké is a sure bet.

8 Bull Run Cider’s Bramble Berry Dry Cider is a welcomed departure from the season’s hot cider. Instead, take in the distinct flavors of Oregon’s apples and berries—gluten free foodies love this one!

9 McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse and Imbrie Hall brews some of McMenamins famous beers and spirits. As a reminder of the watering hole’s eclectic décor, gift a brass bottle opener embossed with McMenamins flair.

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Countdown to T-Day

Posted on: October 28th, 2013 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Out-of-town guests can experience Oregon's Washington County by the glass during our annual Thanksgiving Wine Weekend.

Out-of-town guests can experience Oregon’s Washington County by the glass during our annual Thanksgiving Wine Weekend.

The Thanksgiving Countdown has begun. That’s right—only 30 more days until turkey, pumpkin pie, football, and all-encompassing gratitude. The countdown also brings us closer to travel plans and entertaining visiting loved ones. Let us help. Whether you’re a visitor or host, there is tons of post T-day fun to be had.

30th Annual Wine Country Thanksgiving Wine Weekend  
November 29 – December 1 | 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. | various locations | $5-$20 tasting fee

Start a new tradition, meandering from one winery to the next. Enjoy holiday treats from local wineries:  pre-release wines, vintage finds, and local nibbles.

Alpaca Open Barn & Holiday Sale
November 29-November 30 | 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. | EasyGo Farm

Cozy knitting days are ahead! Meet some furry friends and hit up The Barn Store for luxurious alpaca yarn.

Forest Grove Holiday Tree Lighting
November 29 | 6 p.m. | Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce

Holidays in the Grove begin with seasonal twinkle, caroling, cookies, and (of course) a visit from Santa.

Hillsboro Holly Days & Marketplace
November 30 | 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. | Hillsboro Civic Center Plaza

Usher in holiday cheer in historic downtown Hillsboro. Kids tell Santa what they want while you find what you want in the marketplace. Board the kitschy train with a canned donation to the Oregon Food Bank.

Oregon College of Art & Craft Student & Alumni Holiday Sale
November 29 – November 30 | 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Oregon College of Art & Craft

These artists push the boundaries of ceramics, painting, woodwork, and photography, for personal and meaningful holiday gifts.

Plaid Tidings
November 29- December 1 | 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. | Deb Fennell Auditorium  | $20-$35 per ticket

The holidays are a time to indulge in nostalgia.  This rousing revival of 1960s men’s quartet groups does just that. It’s like tuning into the “Ed Sullivan Show.”

Thanksgiving Weekend at SakéOne
November 29 – December 1 | 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. | SakéOne  | $10 per flight

Go offbeat with a specialty flight from SakéOne’s favorite Japanese Kuras, Yoshinogawa and Murai.

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Experience Pacific Rim from Our Side of the Ocean

Posted on: August 9th, 2013 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Experience the Pacific Rim on the rim of you saké cup.

Experience the Pacific Rim on the rim of you saké cup.

Looking for authentic flavors from Japan, Hawaii and Korea? Look no further than Oregon’s Washington County. Our thriving culture and culinary scene would not be complete without our community of Pan-Asian chefs, brewers and artists. From mama’s recipes to avant-garde gastronomists, we know how to mingle the tastes of Pan-Asia with Oregon influences into one delicious harmony.

The 4th Annual Pacific Rim Festival (August 24, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at SakéOne) will bring you good luck as it opens with a Traditional Lion Dance. You’ll feel lucky indeed as you go “island hopping” between food vendors, filling your belly with saké flights, Hawaiian Poke bowls, Korean-Oregon fusion BBQ and snow-capped shaved ice. While you might be too full to dance, you can at least watch the Ka Pa Hula Makani Kolohane Halau’s hula and Sahomi Tachibana’s folkloric “fan dance.”

Make a separate visit to SakéOne’s  Kura (brewery) on your own. The leading brewer of American craft saké bottles under four distinct brands: Momokawa, Moonstone, G, and Peaceful River. SakéOne leads Kura tours and saké flights so you’ll be well-informed on how to make your own sakétini at home.

For a bona fide Pacific Rim experience, Syun Izakaya offers Japanese pub culture. This Portland Monthly favorite is also rated as one of the top 15 Japanese Restaurants in the United States by Zagat Survey. It’ll be your favorite, too, after you try their spicy salmon stuffed mushrooms.

For a casual night, meet friends at Wassabi Pan Asian Cuisine’s happy hour. Looking at nearby tables, you’ll most likely see the Japanese Cookie Roll, which is crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside like a perfectly baked cookie.

A fast meal and local favorite can be found at Aloha Grill, which serves up Hawaiian classics like Kahlua pork, spam-wiches and Hawaii’s breakfast of champions: locomoco.

Until you can take a hop, skip, and a jump across the Pacific Ocean, experience Oregon’s homages to the Pacific Rim right here in Washington County!

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Liquid Libations

Posted on: April 3rd, 2013 by Sylke Neal-Finnegan No Comments

Oregon’s Washington County is a growing, thriving destination, with new adventures around every corner. With new things to discover (and dear treasures that need to be rediscovered),  it’s time to make a return visit to Washington County if you haven’t been here in a while. If you haven’t visited Washington County yet, what are you waiting for?

Liquid Libations


Tour the saké brewery at SakéOne, the only craft saké brewery in Oregon.

From new attractions to veteran establishments, take a self-guided tour to taste a variety of artisan liquid libations.

Start your journey in Hillsboro at Longbottom Coffee & Tea, one of the region’s pioneering roasting companies. Founded in 1981, Longbottom was certified organic 10 years ago and today is used as a training location for organic inspectors.

Travel to the city of Forest Grove for a brewery tour and saké tasting at  SakéOne, the first American owned-and-operated saké brewery and leading brewer of craft saké in America.  Next head over to Bull Run Cider, also in Forest Grove, and tour the apple orchard and small-production facility of the newest sustainable craft-cider producer.

Lunch at 1910 Main: An American Bistro, one of Oregon wine country’s premier restaurants. 1910 Main specializes in classic comfort foods, prepared with locally sourced ingredients with a Pacific Northwestern flair.

Next, venture to the city of Tigard and visit one of the newest tasting rooms, Indio Spirits Distillery and Tasting Room. Tour the distillery of this distillery, which has been producing a variety of spirits since 2004, and sample whiskey, vodka, rum and gin. Afteward, stop next door at Stash Tea, the original retail store for this venerable tea producer. Sample the latest teas and choose from more than 250 loose and bagged teas.

Finally, enjoy a martini and a tasty entree at the new Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar at Bridgeport Village.  Choose from three dozen signature martinis, paired with a menu that ranges from pizza to seafood. The popular Washington State-based eatery opened its first Portland-area location last month.

For more itineraries, such as the Saké, Beer & Spirits Trail or Wine: Oregon Style, please visit our website.

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A Mid-Week Tour of Oregon’s Washington County Wine Country

Posted on: November 9th, 2012 by Sylke Neal-Finnegan No Comments

Wine tasting isn’t just for weekends. Several wineries throughout Oregon’s Washington County–located in the northern end of the famed Willamette Valley–are open daily, year-round. On a beautiful autumn weekday, a wine blogger and I set out to experience wine country, and found some surprises along the way.

We started out quite early and arrived at our first stop, Elk Cove Vineyards, at 10:30 a.m. Elk Cove has been family owned and operated since 1977, and today, the second generation is running the winery, and earning applause with its Pinot Noir and other varietals. Our tasting flight included Elk Cove’s highly-rated Pinot Noir, and a selection of whites, such as a late-harvest Riesling. The crisp wines complemented the views of the fog-filled vineyard, which was lit up with the colors of fall: Brilliant yellow, golden orange, deep rust and dark green. (Elk Cove Vineyards is open daily, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed some holidays)

Miki's Christmas Shop has the 2nd largest collection of German Smokers (incense burners) for sale in the U.S.

After lunching at 1910 Main — An American Bistro— a cozy restaurant offering modern twists on American comfort foods–we set off for Shafer Vineyard Cellars (established in 1978) and home to Miki’s Christmas Shop.  We took in the breathtaking views of the foothills of Gales Creek Valley, as well as the vineyard, which was ablaze with yellow grape leaves, before entering the quaint tasting room. We were greeted by Miki Shafer, the owner and winemaker, who poured us tastes of her Pinot Noir, Riesling, and special holiday wine, the aptly named Holiday Magic (which, when combined with Shafer’s sparkling wine, makes a spicy, festive drink). Between sips, we ventured into the Christmas Shop, and perused the holiday decor from around the world, including what is the second largest collection of German Smokers in the U.S. (pictured, right). (Shafer Vineyard Cellars is open daily, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed on major holidays*)

The next stop was the quaint farmhouse tasting room at David Hill Vineyards & Winery, which boasts some of the oldest vines in the Willamette Valley. With sweeping views of Oregon’s Coast Range, David Hill remains one of the most picturesque wineries in the Willamette Valley, as well as one with one of the most diverse selection of varietals found in the northern valley. In addition to Pinot Noir (including the palate-pleasing BlackJack Pinot Noir, crafted with grapes from the estate’s oldest vines) and slate of whites, such as Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Riesling, David Hill offers Merlot, Tempranillo, Port and more. (David Hill Vineyards & Winery is open daily, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed on major holidays)

Visit the "wild west" at the L-Bar-T Bison Ranch Gift Shop

With a little time to kill, we journeyed to the gift shop at L-Bar-T Bison Ranch to pick up some bison jerky.  We were entertained with the signs warning passersby not to “tease” the wild bison that roam the fenced-off ranch in Forest Grove. As one of the most acclaimed ranches of its kind, it has an old, wild west feel to it, as does its gift shop (pictured, left).

Our final winery stop for the day was Oak Knoll Winery, one of the pioneering wineries in Oregon. Founded in 1970, Oak Knoll started with an “experimental” batch of blackberry wine; today, Oak Knoll produces a diverse variety of wines that appeal to all palates. I started with the 2009 Pinot Gris, which was named one of the “Top 100 Best Buys of 2012″ by Wine Spectator, and followed with the 2010 Rose of Pinot Noir. Oak Knoll’s tasting menu offers an interesting slate of blends and sweet reds not often seen in the northern Willamette Valley: “Toasted Cow Red Vintners Blend,” a blend of Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah; “Toasted Cow White Vintners Blend,” a sweet blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Müller Thurgau, Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris; “DEVIANT,” a sweet red billed as a “sweet red revolution”; and “Concord”, made from Concord grapes. (Oak Knoll Winery is open daily at 11 a.m.; closed on major holidays).

If you can’t make it to Washington County wine country during the weekend, plan a weekday to enjoy the warm and these warm and inviting wineries.  Additional wineries that are open daily year-round include:

  • Cooper Mountain Vineyards, the first certified organic, biodynamic winery in the Pacific Northwest (open daily, 12-5 p.m.)
  • Kramer Vineyards, a winery that offers a variety of red and white wines, as well as on-site roasted coffee (open daily, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
  • Montinore Estate, a family-owned, certified organic and biodynamic winery  (open daily, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
  • Plum Hill Vineyards, a small, family-owned winery built on a historical dairy farm (open daily, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; opens at noon on Sundays; closed major holidays)
  • Ponzi Vineyards, one of the pioneering Oregon wineries offering a diverse range of varietals (open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
  • SakéOne, an American owned and operated, premium saké brewery (open daily, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

 *Most wineries are closed on the following major holidays: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Easter.

Saké: Wine, spirit or beer?

Posted on: August 22nd, 2012 by Sylke Neal-Finnegan No Comments

Visitors enjoy a tour of the kura at SakeOne in Oregon's Washington County

During a recent tour of the saké brewery, SakéOne, in Forest Grove, a valid question arose:  Is saké wine or beer?  It’s brewed in a similar fashion, yet can be enjoyed like a wine, so that doesn’t easily answer the question. However, saké can be substituted for spirits in a number of cocktails (hence the saying, “sakétini”), so is it a spirit?  Although this age-old question may not be answered today, let’s take a better look at this often misunderstood beverage.

What is saké, anyway?

Saké (pronounced sock-ay) is a traditional Japanese rice-based alcohol beverage, which is presumed to have been around for at least 2,000 years (some texts claim that the beverage originated as early as 712 A.D.).  Today, it is consumed globally, and is produced in several countries throughout the world, including the United States. This diverse beverage has numerous categories, all of which explain the purity of the saké, the style of the saké (e.g. sweet, dry, aged, unpasteurized, etc.). Learn more about terminology here.

Many Americans think of saké as a hot beverage; however, this type of saké is low-quality and is heated to mask the inferiorities of the beverage. High-grade, premium saké, such as the labels produced by SakéOne, are meant to be consumed as a chilled beverage, thus enhancing the flavors and aromas of the saké.

Is saké wine, beer or spirits?

Saké has a higher alcohol content than wine or beer  (15-20% for saké, vs. 3-9% for beer and 9-16% for wine), and has a lower content than most spirits (35-60%). While some maintain that saké is “rice wine,” the production process closer resembles beer brewing, rather than wine making. Saké is crafted in a kura (brewery), and the main ingredients consist of rice, water, koji and yeast. The complicated process of turning rice into saké is explained here.

So, perhaps the answer is that saké is neither wine, beer nor spirit; it just is.

Taste for yourself!

Experience saké with a visit to SakéOne, an American owned-and-operated brewery which employs many Japanese saké brewing customs. Their tasting room is open 11am-5pm daily (closed on select holidays). Free daily tours of the kura happen at 1, 2 and 3 p.m.

This month, don’t miss the annual Kura Blessing and International Saké Day Celebration, September 29, 2012. Join this symbolic ceremony with ancient Shinto roots as the Rev. Koichi Barris of the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America cleanses the kura in this traditional ceremony conducted in both Japanese and English. After the ceremony, pop into the tasting room to celebrate International Saké Day with a flight  SakéOne’s brewing partners in Japan, the Murai Family and Yoshinogawa.

Raise Your Glass to Oregon Wine Month

Posted on: May 4th, 2012 by Sylke Neal-Finnegan 1 Comment

Oregon Governor, John Kitzhaber, recently declared May 2012 Oregon Wine Month, in celebration of the state’s ever-growing wine industry.  With 420 wineries and 850 vineyards, wine is part of Oregon’s identity, and is a delicious accompaniment to a Washington County getaway. Celebrate Oregon Wine Month this May by visiting the nearly 30 wineries in Oregon’s Washington County and taste a flight of locally crafted wine, from Pinot Noir to Pinot Gris, and a number of surprising varietals in between. Or celebrate at one of these fun wine events throughout the May (Mother’s Day weekend events are listed here):

Oregon Wine Month winds down during the annual Memorial Day Weekend in Wine Country (countywide, hours and prices vary per winery).  Various wineries throughout Oregon’s Washington County (as well as around the state) are open their doors to the public for a festive open house featuring nibbles, entertainment and tastes of new wine releases.

For more information about Memorial Day Weekend in Wine Country and a listing of participating wineries, visit these industry partners:

Need more inspiration to get into the wine-tasting mood? Check out this video, taken at Ponzi Vineyards, or this video, taken at SakeOne.

FUN FACT:  Did you know that Oregon is the  4th largest wine-producing state in the U.S. (behind Washington, New York and California, the largest producer in the U.S.) ?