If you haven't been to Edgefield, it truly is a magical place and was the perfect environment for this type of event. An old poor farm, McMenamins has turned Edgefield into a destination resort it the mouth of the Columbia Gorge, not far from many of the Gorge wineries. Hotel rooms? They got 'em. Golf? Yep. Fine dining restaurant? Check. Spa? Purr. A winery, distillery, brewery, and pub? Glug glug glug. A guy could stay there for a month and never leave the property. They also host a summer concert series at a gorgeous setting. Oh, did I mention that you can purchase beer and wine and wander around the entire 74-acre property?
The first event of the Celebration, which we were not able to attend, was a Gourmet Viognier Reception and Syrah Dinner. The dinner included a private reception featuring the winemaker's Viogniers followed by a multicourse dinner prepared by Edgefield's Black Rabbit Restaurant and paired with our guest winemakers' Syrahs. We heard it was phenomenal.
We joined the party for Syrah Barrel Sampling and BBQ Lunch. This was a relatively intimate event, hosted in a unique and historic ballroom in Edgefield's main building. Approximately 150 attendees crowded around 15 wine barrels throughout the room and "chewed the fat" with winemakers while tasting barrel samples of Syrah. Paired with a beef brisket lunch, chewing the fat was both a literal and figurative description. Some highlights of this barrel tasting include:
- 2008 Syncline McKinley Springs Syrah: Using fruit out of Horse Heaven Hills, this was probably my favorite of the barrel tastes.
- 2009 Spindrift Syrah: From the Seven Hills Vineyard, this was a delicious wine and even better conversation. We had been to Spindrift a few times but hadn't met Tabitha and Matt until this event. We look forward to future collaborations.
- 1998 McCrea Syrah: So clearly 1998 wasn't a barrel taste, but McCrea decided to buck the norm and bring their oldest syrah. Yum.
The grand tasting was organized in more of a trade show format, with approximately 40 wineries pouring in Blackberry Hall and the adjoining circus tent. The crowd was larger than barrel tasting and the appetizers were quickly devoured, but we elbowed our way through and bellied up to some of our favorite wineries and some new ones. After another great stop to see our friends at Spindrift, we discovered the following treasures:
- Penner-Ash: Pouring a syrah with a blend of Columbia Valley and Rogue Valley fruit, the staff was nice and the wine delicious.
- Cana's Feast: Pouring a 2006 and 2007 Syrah out of Horse Heaven Hills, Cana's wine knocks it out of the park. Behind the bottle we found Patrick Taylor, the winemaker and a compatriot in our vision of bringing wine to a younger crowd.
Among my favorite components of the Celebration was the variety of audiences the three events catered to. Whether you were young, older, wine novice or an expert, one or all of these events were for you. A great setting, awesome wine, and amazing conversations. Edgefield's Celebration of Syrah. What more could we ask for?
Maybe a crown and a scepter...