This year, the first annual Great American Wine Festival was held in Portland. Since it was the day after the Wine Tourism Conference, we extended our trip so that we could take part and we are sure glad we did.
The festival showcased wines from all over North America, including Virginia, Oklahoma, and Delaware in addition to more well-known regions in California, Washington, and Oregon. The reps poured wines from up to 200 wineries including wines and even grape varieties not available in the Portland market. Excepting one woman who was wearing WAY TOO MUCH perfume (seriously, how can one think that's in any way okay?) and a few pushy people, this was the most mellow and friendliest wine tasting I've ever been to. Those pouring the wines were happy and informative, people mingled and talked about the wines being tasted, areas or wineries that were a must-visit, and most people patiently waited their turn.
Probably the only negative we could think of was the lack of food - I'm sure the people pouring must have been starving. The organizers have already said this will be a change in future iterations, which will make this festival even better.
The Great American Wine Festival is brought to you by Zephyr Adventures, which runs wine adventures around the globe in places like Tuscany, Rioja, South Africa, and Argentina. Zephyr is also organizer of the annual Wine Tourism Conference and Wine Bloggers Conference.
While we drank plenty of great wines, the definite standout of not only this festival but also the whole week of amazing wines was the Cornerstone Cellars 2010 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. A gift from Craig of Cornerstone during the Great American Wine Festival to enjoy with our dinner, this is one for the ages. Love that we met this incredibly nice guy who is so generous with his time, his explanations, and his wine. This is truly what Cabernet is meant to be - deep dark purple in color with lighter edges makes it seems mysterious, while the black currant, blackberry, and mocha hint at the flavors to come. We drank this with a crazy dinner of flavors: hickory smoked chicken wings, mushroom ravioli, mushroom topped burger, and it just welcomed all of it under an umbrella of perfectly balanced finesse. While completely drinkable now, this has the structure to keep getting better and better in the bottle. Buy a case and hold, maybe enjoying a bottle a year to enjoy the progress. On second thought, make that two cases.
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