Mike Willison
 
October 27, 2014 | Mike Willison

Do more by doing less

A recent restaurant visit proved to be a profound exercise in archaeology when faced with the vast hieroglyphics of the cocktail list. It had been crafted, curated, locally-sourced, painstakingly-procured, and whimsically presented by the list’s adorable docent, of course. Ingredients were pre-prohibition, pre-Pasteur, and pre-historic, all obtained with the aid of a grizzled, old shaman at no small amount of risk to the establishment’s ingredient farmer, and they had bottles of Pappy Van Winkle that you could look at, and one you could pay to smell.

Cynicism aside, the list was filled with baffling details. Each drink was built upon the general theory that a very many bizarre things could be mixed together to make one very good thing. Further, their particular bailiwick was the mystifying use of Things We Turned Into Other Things™; things such as: “Hood Strawberry and mint-infused Mosel Riesling gelée powder” (powder!) and “Hay smoked watercress and endive gin distillate”. All of this is true. Now, this is very inventive, I grant you, and this probably tastes very good. Probably (maybe).

I am not in the habit of squishing any creative endeavor, and these creations could very well be a good thing in and of themselves, however, when a laundry list of aromatic liqueurs, tinctures, oils, and curlicues of exotic flora are added, then shaken or stirred over an ice cube carved out of Pleistocene glacial remains, and snuggled into a 1890’s coupe, it is precious beyond precious. It’s like watching a soccer riot; so much is happening but you can’t really pick any of it out and then the stadium collapses. A far cry from spirit, sugar, water, and bitters.

Call me old-fashioned, but I really don’t think making a drink with 25 ingredients, transmogrified into superhero versions of themselves, despite their impeccable provenance, is a thing that is or can be good. In fact, what rankles me the most is that many of these ingredients, such as wine, spirits, and bitters, have already been painstakingly curated and Turned Into Other Things™ for you! How very novel. A wine, beer and spirits list that is tight, clean, well-chosen, cozy, and a bit edgy is a thing of beauty when done right. When done wrong, dinner lasts a century.
 

Time Posted: Oct 27, 2014 at 9:50 AM
Carrie Kalscheuer
 
October 21, 2014 | Carrie Kalscheuer

What makes us different

This past summer, we hosted several Linfield College students enrolled in a year-long program called the Oregon Wine Industry Experience. After touring the facility, the students were introduced to our wines and our people. As the last stop of their two-month introduction to the industry, filled with many winery and vineyard visits, tastings and tours, we had our work cut out for us. What hadn’t they already learned?

As the largest winery in Oregon, we need a large staff. More staff routinely leads to more segregated teams, a problem I hear about from many of my colleagues in the industry. So, what makes us different? Here at A to Z, we know that to be successful, we need to work together; we need to form bonds and relationships between teams, and to keep those connections healthy and vibrant in order to keep our winery healthy and vibrant. It is this collaboration that stands out to me when talking about our individual responsibilities with the Linfield students – all of us know what each other does and we interact multiples times a day, necessarily.

It’s always fun to show off our winery! It is a continually growing facility that has a deep history. But hosting the Linfield students reminds me that at the end of a rich summer program, when they’ve seen a great many facilities, there will still be something they haven’t heard – how to run a successful winery while keeping a staff of 50 engaged, happy, productive and together.

Time Posted: Oct 21, 2014 at 9:49 AM