Best Bites from PDX - Pork & Pinot

Pork & Pinot

Before the actual IACP Conference started, some of us took optional field trips including the Pork & Pinot Tour. Others included the Alternative Diets and Natural Foods Tour, From Land to Sea Seafood Tour, the Discover Oregon Craft Brewing Tour and the Urban Bike and Bite Tour. The host committee and conference planners really paid attention to offering us chances to see the city as well as affordable options so important to so many of us. This year, in particular, we had many first time attendees and I'm sure there's a correlation. Austin planners, take note!


I began the Portland adventure with a pre-conference field trip to wineries led by Chef Cathy Whims of Nostrana and Grape Escapes Wine Tours. The day was capped by a lunch at Nick’s Italian Cafe. Four courses of pork - every part - accompanied by Eyrie Vineyards’ wines. (After lunch I almost missed the bus back chatting to Marissa Guggiana about butchers. More on that topic later.)

Starting at Brick House Winery - profiled in the New York Times just days after we were there, On This Oregon Trail, Pioneers Embrace Organic.

I saw the horn and asked - are you Biodynamic here? - turns out they are. And they are pioneers. As our group was split up by choice of pre-numbered corks in wine glasses.

Interesting to watch the others in the group trying to wrap their heads around the principles of biodynamics. Tasting was partly led by co-owner Doug Tunnell with a sonorous voice perfect for his former life in broadcasting covering Beirut and more for CBS.





Co-owner Doug on the left below "just wanted to drive a tractor."

Chardonnay for Breakfast.


Deep, rich compost.

Cow horns used in Biodynamic vineyard management.

The proverbial garden gate

Ladybug, mint

Both Brick House and Penner-Ash staff explained the variety of soils that lend a surprising variety of characteristics to the wines of Oregon. At Penner-Ash we were treated to pork belly Banh Mi made by Chef Tommy Habetz of Bunk Sandwiches. I wasn’t the only one who ate two thinking it was lunch. That’s my story, sticking to it.


Penner-Ash Winery

The Penner-Ash's explaining the terroir and the valley.


The soil in different parts of the property - in a single winery - is different. Sedimentary in one place, volcanic in another.


The Winery was built with longevity and green principles in mind, from elevated work tables requiring less bending, to the materials themselves.

LIVE Certification (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) is a sustainability certification, proudly displayed in the foyer of the winery.


I love the wall of pulleys designed to store hoses and the light coming in from high windows.

The tank room also can be a function room.



I don't know why I love this wall of hardware, but I do.


One of the Penner-Ash wines.

Bunk Sandwiches - Banh Mi

Who could resist?

Our guide, Chef Cathy Whims of Nostrana, and our Chef for the day, Tommy Habetz of Bunk Sandwiches.


We did a quick drive-by the Letts-Eyrie Winery

Lunch with David Lett @ Nick's Cafe


We arrived at Nick’s Cafe for the actual lunch. Jason Lett, son of David Lett AKA "Papa Pinot" shared some thoughts on his father’s legacy and the values of Eyrie Vineyards.


The Menu

Canella Prosecco Brut

House Made Mortadella, Prosciutto and Lonza

Wood Oven Baked Bread


The Eyrie Vineyards 2005 Pinot Noir 'Original Vines'

Prosciutto and Spinach Agnolotti in Pork and Morel Brodo with Parmesan Reggiano and Durant Family Oregon Olive Oil

The Eyrie Vineyards 2009 Rose of Pinot Gris 'Original Vines'

(This morel brodo was one of the singular best bites of the week. Haunting.)

Pork Trippa with Soft Cooked Egg and Salsa Verde

The Eyrie Vineyards 2008 Pinot Noir 'Daphne Vineyard'

Pork Confit, Braised Smoked Belly, and Grilled Tongue on Mixed Local Greens with House Red Wine Vinegar


These were Hawk View Cellars, Lange Estate Winery, Penner-Ash Winery presented examples of the new AVAs or American Viticultural Regions. The diversity of the terroir across these AVAs was startling and the introduction to the geological history that shaped them was really interesting.

On the Pork & Pinot tour our driver explained how the economy has affected peoples' drinking habits. "Whereas they used to drink a $60 bottle of wine at night, now they're only drinking a $30 bottle, and of course we're feeling that." Paraphrasing, slightly, but not exaggerating. I shook my head and discussed with my colleagues how few of us are actually "feeling the pinch" as evidenced by our $30 bottles. More than one person laughed when someone suggested "Two buck Chuck is probably more like it!"

I come back to my first revelation about Oregon wines. The reason that I previously had not enjoyed them, was solely because I was drinking far less expensive ones. Not the strongest reflections of what the region can, and does, produce.

My second revelation is the stunning diversity of the terroir and its impact on the wines. Finally, the passion for sustainability that runs through so many businesses is evident in the wineries. They even have a "salmon safe" designation to monitor and prevent harmful runoff from vineyards into spawing streams. It was really encouraging to see these principles integrated into the principles of so many vineyards there.

I came away from this conference with a healthy respect for the unique wines of the region and look forward to when I can go back to drinking those nightly bottles of $60 Oregon pinots. Ahem.