Girls on Food

Portland

The 4th Annual Stars of Pinot Raises Funds (And Plenty Of Glasses) For The T.J. Martell Foundation

wineLA, Los Angeles’ top source for wine-centered events and education, held their 4th Annual Stars of Pinot gathering at the luxurious Montage Beverly Hills last week. Over 150 wines were poured for enthusiasts to taste, wine reps were on site to talk about their brands and DJ Richard Blade was also spinning the best in 80’s new wave. This grand tasting also raised funds to benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation, a non-profit that supports innovative groundbreaking cancer research.

Bouchaine’s ’17 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir

One might be under the impression that an event like this would be suited for the high rollers at wine auctions, but it was actually much more approachable.

With my general admission ticket (priced at $75) I was provided with a beautiful complimentary pinot wine glass and given access to taste any wine on the floor of my choosing. Plenty of cheeses, breads and Evian water bottles were also included in this ticket.

I believe every event should begin with bubbles and clearly, wineLA does too! Sponsor Champagne Henriot was providing guests with a champagne tasting right at the entrance to start the night on a bubbly note.

Let the games begin!

I’ve been to some smaller scale tasting events in the past, but this was a different beast. The Montage ballroom sets a tone for ostentatious LA glamour, with its operatic balconies and lavish chandeliers. However, the wine reps were all smiles and very down to earth. It was a fun mix of luxury and comfort.

Although this event wasn’t intended for attendees to make on the spot purchases, the reps were readily available with brochures and info on how to buy their wines. Many of the winemakers are also open minded to touring their vineyards, so keep their contact info on file for when you’re in their valley.

Ballroom of Montage Beverly Hills

I started the tasting tour with one of the friendliest faces there–Lindy Willingham, representing A to Z Wineworks–who set a high standard for the night. Their ’16 A to Z Essence of Oregon is lighter-bodied with notes of stone fruits, perfect for sipping on in the summertime. Although this was an earlier tasting, it was one of my favorite pours of the evening.

’16 A to Z Essence of Oregon

Pinot Noir was the belle of the ball, but many makers also offered samples of their rosé and an occasional chardonnay.

Other favorite tastes included:

Wrath Wines’ ’15 Pinot Noir – medium bodied and fruity with a little bit of spiciness

Bouchaine’s ’17 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir – very refreshing, perfect for a pool day

Iris Vineyards ’17 Chalice Estate Pinot Noir Rosé – loved the strawberry notes and light minerality

Van Duzar Vineyard’s ’16 Pinot Gris – notes of tropical fruits and a bit creamy

Although I attended this one solo (I was there for this post specifically), I do think it’s more fun to attend with a friend. So if you have a wino partner in crime, bring them out! Luckily I did bump into Chef Derrick Fox (who I have interviewed in the past) and I also got to meet one my favorite DJs on Sirius XM, DJ Richard Blade.

Me with DJ Richard Blade

There’s nothing better than discovering wines for a good cause. Be sure to keep up with wineLA’s upcoming events on their website. In addition to these events, the wineLA program (founded by sommelier Ian Blackburn) also includes wine classes, private dinners and wine travels abroad. We’re looking forward to the upcoming 2018 Bubbles and Rosé Festival, Sat, August 25, 2018, 1:00 PM – 9:00 PM at Leica Store and Gallery in Los Angeles–keep an eye out on Girls on Food for more information.

Iris Vineyards ’17 Chalice Estate Pinot Noir Rosé

Although this general admission ticket was comped by wineLA, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

Drinking My Way Through Portland…

I finally made it to Portland! Once my bucket list for this culinary mecca became too ridiculous to ignore I called my sister and the next thing I know we’re sipping champagne waiting for our flight. Armed with an extensive list of places to enjoy thirty exquisite meals should we please on our three-day jaunt, we were prepared to eat well. (And, we did.) It was the cocktails that took us by surprise.
Of course they were great, but it was the sheer abundance that blew us away. There is a vegan, gluten-free bakery with a cocktail menu. Let that sink in for a second because it took us a beat to fully grasp it when we wandered in… A VEGAN, GLUTEN-FREE BAKERY WITH A BAR. Half the restaurants in Sacramento are only licensed for beer and wine! Impressive Portland.Below is a collection of my favorite sips in a city I can’t wait to taste again… 

The Last Word
Aviation Gin, Maraschino Liqueur, Yellow Chartreuse, Lime Juice
@ Brasserie Montmartre
This is a prohibition-era cocktail, usually made with green chartreuse, and it’s fantastic. It’s not for everyone though. (My sister hated it.) If you’re not a gin fan, this is not the drink that will win you over. It is herbaceous. And strong. But still a little sweet and very interesting. Bronx Cocktail, you’ve now been demoted to number two on my list.
New Horizons
Bulleit, Canton Ginger, Cucumber, Fresh Citrus,  Ginger
@ Departure
In general, I’m not big on bourbon. I tend to like it better in dessert than a glass but cucumber and ginger can be pretty convincing. This one is incredibly refreshing and the best part: it’s served on a rooftop patio with an incredible view of the city, alongside killer happy hour bites.
Bottle Rocket
Gin, Lime, Apricot Liqueur, Soda, Lime Peel
@ Clyde Common
Attention fellow Gin & Tonic fans: Immediately stock your home bar with apricot liqueur and make the switch. That is all.
Bitter Spring
Aperol, Lillet, Grapefruit, Celery Bitters, Sparkling Wine, Orange Twist
@ Olympic Provisions
If you love mimosas, stay away from this. It will ruin them for you. Aperol, Lillet, Grapefruit Juice? Yes. Celery Bitters?? YES!
I can’t move on without mentioning two things: 1) Brunch here was simple and legendary. I had the sudden urge to move here with every bite. 2) The other drink in the picture is a tequila cocktail, that my sister ordered for breakfast. I was proud.
Tom Kat Sour
Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Aperol, KASK Ginger Syrup, Lemon, Mint
@ KASK
This is a terrible photo but I had to include it in the list because it was taken at the best bar in Portland! Granted, I’ve only tried three days worth of bars there but I’m near positive this would be confirmed by locals.
Water Lily 
Aviation Gin, Cointreau, Rothman and Winter Creme de Violette, Lemon Juice
@ Petunia’s Pies & Pastries
And now we’ve arrived at the infamous vegan, gluten-free establishment with a full line of dessert cocktails… This one is definitely dessert, very sweet. Normally this wouldn’t be my cup of tea but just look how cute it is! The bakery is adorable too, don’t let the vegan part deter you.
Passionfruit Berliner Weisse in Coconut Water Sorbet
a ribbon of marmalade made from passionfruit and
Breakside Brewery’s “Passionfruit Berliner Weisse,” in a coconut water sorbet

@ Salt & Straw
Since this blog is technically about food I feel the need to include at least one thing you can nosh on. Of course, in true Portland style even the ice cream celebrates the hard stuff…
This was one of SIX beer-infused flavors! We stood in a line that ran down the block, sweating, doubting it would be as good as everyone says but, like you may have guessed, we were wrong. And in case you’re thinking I got lucky with the one flavor I ordered, I should admit that I sampled eight others in line. (Don’t judge.) They were all amazing and obviously this place knows how to churn out a profit by the look of the lines but the most impressive thing to me was to see a love for beer so strong on both sides of the counter that over a third of the menu was dedicated to it. You’ve got your priorities in line Portland. I like your style.