Andrea Johnson photo##Bounty of Yamhill County concludes with Big Night, a showcase of local chefs, farmers and vintners.
Andrea Johnson photo##Bounty of Yamhill County concludes with Big Night, a showcase of local chefs, farmers and vintners.
By Tom Henderson • Staff Writer • 

Reaping a bounty in Yamhill County

 

During the dinner culminating this weekend’s Bounty of Yamhill County wine and food festival, sommeliers will wander from table to table to answer questions.

Such as, what the heck is a sommelier?

Go ahead and ask, said Michael Kelly Brown, the vice president of consumer sales at Sokol Blosser Winery and one of the original organizers of the sommeliers on the festival’s Wine Team. There are no stupid questions, he assured.

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“We answer questions as best we can,” Brown said. “If I can’t answer a very technical question about the wine, odds are I can find someone who knows the answer. In fact, there’s a very good chance the actual producer of the wine is present.”

A sommelier is a wine steward, by the way.

The word reportedly derives from Middle French where it referred to a court official charged with transportation of supplies. It has come to mean a wine professional who specializes in all aspects of wine service and suggests wine and food pairings.

Food paired with anything at the Bounty of Yamhill County is a bit on the pricey side. The final dinner costs $150 a plate. A ticket for the entire weekend of wine tastings, farm tours and classes costs $450 per person. So is this some sort of hoity-toity affair?

“Quite the opposite,” Brown said. “A lot of people who come are getting their first introduction to Oregon wine or even wine itself.”

Area wines flow through the event, but Brown said it’s not all about the vino. Beer producers will be on hand, as will a wide range of area chefs. “It’s a great opportunity for someone who doesn’t know too much about the region to learn a lot about the food and beverages we have to offer,” he said.

The event, now in its fifth year, is the major annual fundraiser for the Yamhill Enrichment Society. Sokol Blosser Winery’s founder Susan Sokol Blosser was one of the driving forces behind both YES and Bounty of Yamhill County, but Brown said the festival is not an extension of the winery.

“Although the event started with Susan, we don’t have much involvement beyond that of any other business or winery,” he said. “This is really about the entire region coming together.”

Sarah Lessen, who handles publicity for YES, said the impetus behind Bounty has always been quite simple. “It’s an opportunity to find out a little bit more about the people who are doing the hands-on work in Yamhill County’s food and wine industry,” she said.

“One of our missions is bringing national and international attention to Yamhill County as a culinary destination,” she added. “We’re already known for our wines, but we want people to know about the amazing food connection.”

Activities for the festival kick off Friday, Aug. 28, with welcome dinners at a choice of three restaurants. They conclude with the wine and food event Big Night from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30, at Sokol Blosser Winery. (See sidebar for details.)

The festivities also include a series of classes Aug. 30. Again, visitors have three options. At Red Ridge Farms in Dayton, they can learn how to make wreaths out of herbs. “They’re just like they sound, wreaths made out of herbs such as lavender, sage and thyme,” explained Julianna Hayes, a spokeswoman for Red Ridge. “You make them like you would a holiday wreath in all sorts of shapes.”

The results are lovely and fragrant, Hayes said.

She added she is looking forward to Bounty of Yamhill County as a way to showcase what Red Ridge has to offer. “We do a lot of classes here,” she said. “We will be offering a class on harvest centerpieces in October, followed by a class on holiday wreaths. We also have walking tours all the time.”

Zack Geary has his own reason to welcome Bounty of Yamhill County. A project manager for Cellar Ridge Construction, he also serves on the YES board.

The wine and food festival provides funds for YES and its efforts, such as the Early Childhood Literacy Program. The program is a partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

The local organization provides books for as many children between birth and 5 as possible. YES’ Books for Babies gives a book to every baby born in a Yamhill County hospital.

Geary said YES also provides a Music Enrichment Program that exposes children to music.

Another of its vital projects, he said, is Nourish Yamhill Valley, which helps provide food and a just and equitable food distribution system in the county. As one of the organizers behind Nourish Yamhill Valley, Geary said he and others are putting together an event similar to the Artisan Farm Tours portion of Bounty of Yamhill County.

“Nourish Yamhill County is putting its own farm crawl together later in the year,” he said. “It will provide a little longer experience and span the entire weekend. There are several different opportunities for fun.”

There may be other opportunities, but Brown said there are few larger than Bounty of Yamhill County. The festival keeps growing and growing, he said.

“This is not only one of the biggest wine and food festivals in the region, but also the entire country. It was ranked No. 2 in a poll by readers of USA Today. That was a really big accolade. ... It’s second only to the International Pinot Noir Celebration.”

A Bounty-full schedule

Bounty of Yamhill County, an annual food and wine festival, runs from Friday to Sunday, Aug. 28 to 30, at various locations throughout the Yamhill Valley.


FRIDAY, AUG. 28

The fifth-annual festival kicks off from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28. Dinner venue options include:


n Ruddick/Wood, 720 E. First St., Newberg.n Valley Commissary, 920 N.E. Eighth St., McMinnville.n Community Plate, 315 N.E. Third St., McMinnville.


Dinner is $110 per person.


SATURDAY, AUG. 29

Artisan Farm Tours begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 29. Participants meet at Stoller Family Estate, 16161 N.E. McDougall Road, before boarding buses for one of three tours. Options include:


n Even Pull Farm, 16765 S.W. Christensen Road, McMinnville.


n Oregon Barrel Works, 2750 N.E. St. Joseph Road, McMinnville.


n Maysara Winery, 15765 S.W. Muddy Valley Road, McMinnville.


After the tours, the buses return to Stoller Family Estate for a catered lunch paired with Stoller wines. Tickets are $90 per person.


SUNDAY, AUG. 30

The festival concludes Sunday with classes and lunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participants can choose one of three classes, including:


n Herb wreath making at Red Ridge Farm; 5510 N.E. Breyman Orchards Road.n Plein air painting at Winter’s Hill Vineyard, 6451 N.E. Hilltop Lane.n Food and wine pairing Dobbes Family Estate, 240 S.E. Fifth St, Dundee. (A paddle cruise down the Willamette River with a naturalist is sold out.)


Classes are $75 per person.


The event concludes with dinner form 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Sokol Blosser Winery, 5000 N.E. Sokol Blosser Lane. Sample pairings will be available from 20 Yamhill County wineries. Guest sommeliers travel from table to table. A Wall of Wine allows visitors to pick up a high-end bottle.


Dinner $150 per person or $1,200 per table. Tickets for all the events are $450 per person. The event is a project of the Yamhill Enrichment Society.


More information is available online at www.bountyofyamhillcounty.com or by calling 415-341-3716.


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