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“Wiking” The Wild & Scenic Rogue River with Rogue Wilderness Adventures (RWA)

You might be wondering what this so-called “Wiking” term means. If you are anything like me, you will quickly jump onto Google and try to solve the mystery of not knowing what something is. Thankfully, this will not clue you in; rather it will leave you hanging in your own curiosity. Less than a year ago, I had the chance of a lifetime to be wined and dined in my very own backyard, the Rogue River Trail (RRT), and was able to find out the true meaning behind this term. Before I spill the beans, let’s talk about the region first.

The Region

Southern Oregon is blessed with a bounty of rivers, but my all-time favorite is the mighty Rogue. Needless to say, almost every single river in Oregon is awesome in their own way. In fact, did you know that out of the 222 protected rivers in the United States 60 of them are in Oregon? Not a bad stat to boast, right? One might call me partial due to the fact that I grew up in Gold Hill and had complete access to the Rogue only 100 feet from my house. This might be true, but I have to argue that there are many reasons that make the Rogue gorgeous and breathtaking. This river is so stellar that there have been over 18 movies filmed on the Rogue. I could start this off by giving you 101 reasons of “why I love the Rogue” such as it being nick-named the “fly fishers paradise” and so on, but I also know I would lose your attention after listing off the fifth reason. Therefore, I will cut to the chase. After my Wiking adventure in May 2013, my number one top reason for loving the Rogue (drum roll please…) is the Rogue River Trail!

On this trail, you can literally hike from a spot right outside Grants Pass all the way to the coast. Along the way you can visit the famous western novelist Zane Grey’s cabin, where he stayed while writing his books and fishing on the Rogue. If you are lucky, you might also notice turtles, otters, and possibly even black bears. You can hike into lodges that are only accessible by foot or air, and experience the beauty of what travelers around the world can only dream of being their own backyard. In fact, the Rogue is only one of two rivers in America where you can float lodge to lodge or view the wilderness from the seat of a rapid jet boat.

Wiking down the Wild & Scenic

Wiking is the raft-supported hike (with wine and a great spread of food) for four days on the lower RRT while sleeping at three lodges along the way. Please note that this trip is only provided by Rogue Wilderness Adventures (RWA) based out of Merlin. With professional rafting guides and a winemaker at your disposal, you can hike the whole 44 miles, or jump on and off a raft between meals if your legs get tired. If you are up for the ride of Blossom Bar rapids, which I could not personally pass up. This is a class four rapid, and is only advised to run if you have extensive experience. I have to say, although that was not my “first rodeo” down a challenging river run; it was one of the best! Not only because it is one that I hear people talk about, but because I knew I was in such good hands.

So, you want to know about the trip you say? The Rogue River trail was built for pack mules or miners who had to push a wheelbarrow down the trail. Today, most hikers begin their trip by putting in at the Graves Creek boat ramp. As you begin the first day, you can look across the river and see Rainie Falls. This is one of my favorite hikes just right outside of Grants Pass. Blue herons and bald eagles are often spotted in this region, as well as a wide variety of colorful wildflowers.

The hike really is a more moderate one, consisting of flat walking with minimal incline and decline at times. You can hike five miles one day and fourteen the next, but not once did I feel like it was strenuous or “boot camp like”. As a side note, this is a good thing coming out of my mouth as I have a bum knee and am not that avid hiker I wish I could be. I love the vastness of the scenery along the way. At times you will find yourself looking down a steep hillside towards the Rogue, grassy fields, canyons, rocky terrains, lush forest, waterfalls and swimming holes all around you. The river itself has rapids ranging from one to six, although they change depending on the water level and time of the year.

The lodges range from rustic to top notch, but all have their unique qualities, which makes it impossible to choose your favorite. These stays include Black Bar, Marial and Paradise Lodge. Each lodge had jolly staff members and warm, home-cooked hearty meals to offer us hungry hikers. They also had outside games such as horseshoe and volleyball, or inside games such as one that I had never heard of called “Fact or Crap”. This was a ball, and I thank our RWA guides for being as fun as they were. I have to say, I was a little bummed that I was not able to convince a friend to come with me on this trip so I ended up going alone. The reality was that I left with ten new friends ranging from Southern Oregon to Canada and the east coast of the US. It was amazing to be able to be part of their journey, and be able to contribute to the memories made on this trip. I cannot imagine the satisfaction of the guides when they walk away from four days on the river, working and cooking their tails off, yet laughing and having a blast the entire time.

Speaking of a good time, what normally goes along with a good time if you are the guest? Food and wine of course! What makes an even better trip at that? Not having to do any of the preparation or clean up. There is nothing more satisfying than hiking ten miles then coming down the hill towards the river where the “picnic style” lunch awaits you. You cannot miss the white tents with chairs set up for your arrival, and if you do, need not worry. They have walkie-talkies the whole time as the “fastest” hiker at the front of the group, and the “casual” hiker at the tail end. The RWA website states a picnic, but when I pack a lunch for a hike it consists of water, a bar of some sort, a piece of fruit, and a simple sandwich. I kid you not, the fabulous Liz Wan of Serra Vineyards (wine connoisseur on all the Wiking trips) has a spread of over 35 red and white wine pairings to go along with your dinner of the day. Corey, Geoff and Taylor who all work for RWA are guiding you along the way with security and safety, knowledge and experience, and the best attitudes one can have. They bust out their master chef skills and clean up after you, making it so that you hardly have to lift a finger while on the trip. As we pulled up to Foster Bar boat ramp and the trip ended, there was a moment of silence and sadness. Although we had just did our last group “cheers” with a 2011 NV Sparkling Brut from Wooldridge Creek Winery, our group did not want to go home. The last four days were better than any of us could have expected and we have not only Mother Nature to thank, but also the staff at Rogue Wilderness.

If I have not convinced you yet, I am not sure what will, but I can always try…

Hot off the Press

RWA was featured in a number of magazines in 2013. Two to mention are Outside Magazine as ‘great family adventures…’ and Southern Oregon Magazine, where they congratulated them for being voted best rafting outfitter and best fishing guide in southern Oregon by the readers of Southern Oregon Magazine. They swept two categories in their best of southern Oregon survey, 5 years in a row!!!

In 2012, Alaska Airlines selected Rogue Wilderness Adventures for the cover of the monthly in-flight magazine. Additionally, they were the only North American trip featured in AFAR Magazine in 2011. In 2010, the LA Times & Chicago Tribune picked up the news and highlighted their special raft supported hiking trips. Wait—that is not all. USA Today, National Geographic Adventure, Portland Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Journal of the American Homebrewers Association, Sunset Magazine, Northwest Travel Magazine, Travel Oregon and 1859 Oregon’s Magazine have all had a piece on RWA. This company truly is a southern Oregon stud.

They were even listed as one of the “1000 Places to Go Before You Die” in the book written by Patricia Schultz. The credentials can’t end there, as Sunset Magazine will feature them in an upcoming issue written by freelance writer/editor Rachel Levin. If Brad Niva isn’t proud after reading all of these accomplishments I don’t know how else I can convince him. Congrats to you and your hard working staff and back support that make this all possible!!!

Time To Go!

Seriously, why wait? Grab your day planner, Outlook calendar, iPhone, or whatever you use and start planning! 2014 dates are available in May, June, September and October and you can choose from a number of other awesome trips. Rafting (single & multi day whitewater rafting on the Rogue), Rogue region exploration week long trip (including Crater Lake National Trip, the Redwoods, wineries, the coast, and more) Paddles & Pints (yes – beer on the river), lodging or camping trips, a “foodie” trip down the Rogue, raft supported or self-supported trips, fishing trips of all sorts, group or couple trips, Wishing trips (yes – wine and fishing), and of course Wiking! For more information and to book this trip or another with RWA, go to http://www.wildrogue.com. Also, make sure to enjoy these pictures by viewing them on our Travel Southern Oregon Facebook album!

Bonnie Ryan, Web Content/Social Media/Blogger
Southern Oregon Visitors Association (SOVA) AKA Travel Southern Oregon
http://www.southernoregon.org

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The Best of the Best in the North West! Ashland Culinary Festival

For the past seven years, the artisan and culinary hub of Southern Oregon, known as Ashland, has celebrated their bounty of food, drink, talent and creativity. This year over 20 mouthwatering vendors offered samples and innovative culinary workshops to expand both local and visiting palettes. The Ashland Culinary Festival was held on November 8th – 10th, at the Historic Ashland Armory. The three day event showcased extraordinary local chefs as they competed for the title of “Top Chef”. Not only is this a chef competition, the culinary kickoff on Friday started with food demos by Mark Bernetich of Sysco & Dale Fowler of Regency Grill, appetizers, local wines and brews with live entertainment by the New Reeds Saxophone Quartet. Both Saturday and Sunday included a culinary workshop followed by a chef competition. The hands-On Culinary workshops offered were:

• Wine Education with Certified Wine Sommelier, presented by Drew Gibbs – General Manager of Alchemy Restaurant and Bar at the Winchester Inn.
• Got Culture? Using Fermented Vegetables in Meals-Holiday Edition, presented by Kirsten Shockey of Mellonia Farm.
• Ganache/Molding Demo, presented by Lillie Belle Farms.
• Together Forever: Beer & Wine Tasting, presented by Ginger Johnson of Women Enjoying Beer.
• Navigating the modern day food shopping experience, presented by Chef Cory Schreiber, Lead Emcee & Judge of the Ashland Culinary Festival.

Unfortunately on Sunday I had to miss my favorite part, the “Best Dessert Competition and Demos”. Following this delicious experience, they held a “Chef Showdown” where the final 4 chefs competed for the Top Chef Award. Dustin Farley (Top Chef winner) and Terra Sharp (Best dessert winner) of Larks proudly earned their 2013 titles, congrats! Last year’s winner, Billy Buscher, representing Alchemy Restaurant and Bar at the Winchester Inn, attended this year’s event to defend his title. The other contenders were Stefano Cipollone – Avalon Bar & Grill, Dale Fowler – Regency Grill, Anna Hogan – Salame, Dawn Strickmeyer – Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant, Maggie Trujillo – Caldera Brewery and Restaurant, and James Williams – Omar’s Fresh Seafood and Steaks.

What vendors were there to “Sip, Sample, & Taste” you asked?

• Bear Creek Boutique Wineries
• Belle Fiore Winery
• Box R Ranch
• Brandy Peak Distillery
• Caldera Brewing Company
• Cary’s of Oregon
• Del Rio Vineyards
• Eliana Wine
• LaBrasseur Vineyard
• Ledger David Cellars
• Milagros Fresh Mexican
• Platt Anderson Cellars
• Rogue Valley Roasting Co.
• Serra Vineyards
• The Spice & Tea Exchange
• TesoAria Vineyard & Winery
• Vintner’s Kitchen
• Weisinger Family Winery
• Willamette Valley Vineyards

One thing I absolutely love about going to these events is not only feeling unconditionally spoiled by artisan food excellence, but learning about the “new folks in town”, such as Platt Anderson Cellars and The Spice & Tea Exchange. It is great being able to meander around with a complimentary wine glass in hand (yes, I point that out because I now have a collection of these from events over the last few years in Southern Oregon), not on a schedule and without any motives. You bump into strangers and start a conversation about their favorite wine and why. Some vendors are even nice enough to share their recipes with you on what they have prepared for the day. Then, the next time you find yourself hosting another group of hungry guests you can showcase your local farms and artisans in your very own kitchen—and look like a top chef pro yourself! Speaking of, many thanks to over 15 of them for donating food for this event and lead sponsor, Sysco.

Being my first year as an event attendee, I came in not knowing exactly what to expect. Instead of grabbing a bite to eat before this 7 hour event as well as a notepad for writing all my stolen culinary inspiration at this educational experience, I brought a large appetite and a camera to capture it all. Rather than thinking of it as an event you walk around and sample food until you are so stuffed you can hardly make it into your car, think of it as an engaging experience in which you are in total “awe” with those master artists. In regards to the photo ops—I quickly gave up with my photography skills after seeing one of Ashland’s finest local photographers rapidly and professionally capturing these moments of “foodie” brilliance. Huge thanks to Graham Lewis for offering his pictures up for this blog! Not only does he have the eye, he has the equipment to feature his eye! Make sure to enjoy these pictures by viewing them on our Facebook album!

Next year, I will be sitting on the main stage as a judge…ok not really but it would be nice. Next year…I hope you can join me at another one of Ashland’s best events. The heat was on (literally and figuratively) and I cannot wait to see what next year’s competition will look like. A big thanks to Katharine Flanagan and her staff at the Ashland Chamber’s Visitors and Convention Bureau for putting this on! Save the date before it is too late…it will be held on November 7th-9th, 2014.

Bonnie Ryan, Web Content/Social Media/Blogger
Southern Oregon Visitors Association (SOVA) AKA Travel Southern Oregon
http://www.southernoregon.org

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Britt Festival: Concerts under the stars in Jacksonville, OR

What is your favorite concert venue and why? Ever since I was a young girl, I have been a patron of the Britt Festival. Each Spring, I log into the Britt website and research each and every upcoming performer. Some are major stars while others are up and coming (which can be the best at any given time). You can pack a personal picnic or choose from one of the many local food vendors on the hill. Better yet, you can bring your own beer and wine! The pavilion view gives you amazing sound with a sunset, full moon and bright shining stars. All these things paired with live music and friends is a perfect formula for an amazing time.

History of Britt & More

The Britt all started with a makeshift stage in 1963, simply consisting of plywood and tin can lights strung above, erected by a group of volunteers in the community of Jacksonville, Oregon. In just over a decade, the permanent stage was constructed and ten years later, bench seating was added. Since then, accessibility additions have been made as well as improvements to concessions and grounds. Having the capacity to comfortably accommodate 2,200 people, this venue enables the community to experience world-class artists in the most intimate atmosphere.

This year, the Northwest held their first summer outdoor music festival with a small chamber orchestra deriving from the brilliant idea of two men from Portland only a year before. Conductor John Trudeau and his friend Sam McKinney visited southern Oregon with the dream of starting a music festival. The former hillside estate of Peter Britt was just the spot they were looking for. Immediately, they noticed the potential for concerts from the resonance that would soon take place on the grassy hill which is known by concert goers as the Britt hill.

During the “Britt Season” there is an annual two-week long classical line-up, which has a full range of multi-genre series of performances encompassing all tastes to enjoy throughout the warm nights of Southern Oregon. Over the past few years an additional side stage, known as the Table Rock City stage, features local artists prior to the main event and during the pre-show. This is a great way to highlight some of our up-and-coming talent in the Rogue Valley as well as give the patrons more activity as they wait for the main performance. Performing on this stage is an excellent opportunity for musicians to connect with new audiences, while the connection to the community is fueled by these relationships created with local artists.

Not only does this venue cater to the thriving music lover scene, it includes an arts education and outreach program. Each year, they continue to focus on the happiness of the patron’s experience and cannot do that without the help of their annual volunteers, members, interns, donors and contributors! The wonderful thing about this is that they recognize and value this to the core. The support of the community has enabled them to grow and thrive each year while continually pushing the power of music and community as one.

Educational Programs at the Britt Institute – Since 1985

Striving for excellence in “creating and sustaining programs most well-suited for our time and where we see the arts heading in the future”, opportunities are available for children and adults which are engaging, innovative and sometimes even life-changing programs. A few examples of these are the Music in the Mornings™ program (currently implemented in 95 schools regionally), ukulele summer camp (including 24 different workshops), the third annual Rock Camp, the Beyond the Stage series (classes, workshops, artist Q & A sessions and more) and the improvisation and composition-focused music camp. In addition, family oriented concerts are offered each season. Over the past few years, Michael Franti & Friends holds a matinee and the Britt Symphony Pops concert feature the cutting-edge chamber music group, PROJECT TRIO.

The Future of Britt

A little birdy told me I could mention a Performance Garden that will be in the near future of the festival. The garden itself will provide seating for 150-300, and ancillary improvements will include new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) pathways, safety and lighting improvements and restroom upgrades. Not only will this add to the already present beauty of Britt, it will enable them to better serve the community. Speaking of community, I must acknowledge a huge thank you to a local company who has made this opportunity arise. Ausland Group spearheaded the development of the concept, design, and over $120,000 in donations to kick-start the capital campaign. They also provided technical grant writing assistance to facilitate full funding of the project which is tentatively scheduled to break ground this October.

For more information about the Britt Festival, go to http://www.brittfest.org where you can find information about their upcoming performances, venue info, blog roll and more!

Bonnie Ryan, Web Content/Social Media/Blogger
Southern Oregon Visitors Association (SOVA) AKA Travel Southern Oregon
http://www.southernoregon.org

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Roam the Rogue

On Saturday, May 25th, the self-guided and bi-annual event known as Roam the Rogue took place for all wine lovers around to enjoy. Well, not all considering the Spring passport event sold out—which as you know is great news! The Upper Rogue Valley winemakers showcased their newest wines and shared their creative inspiration while pairing delicious appetizers with some of the best wines of seven different wineries in the Upper Rogue.

I started the day off by meeting five friends at Agate Ridge. Our plan for the day was to enjoy one of the most gorgeous days of the year while filling our passport with six of the seven wineries on the map. What better way to do this than with a guide, and better yet with a historic trolley? Yes, you heard right! Allaboard Trolley Tours are able to seat 25 passengers, in an open-aired trolley that allowed us to cover many miles in rural wine country! As we met the guides and other passengers for the day, we made introductions, sipped wine, devoured cheesecake (which was to die for), and built some necessary rapport…we were headed off to our next destination. I have to admit, before the booking I was a bit more interested in doing the self-guided tour so I did not have to run on someone else’s schedule and could save a little money, BUT there is no way I could have had the day that I did without this tour.

As you have heard before, “life is not about the destination, but about the journey and how you get there”. Destination may be key, but the journey itself can be the best experience. I say this, because I want to emphasize our time on the trolley. Not only did we have full ownership of music requests, we also got to slip in an extra winery, had two personal at-home drop offs, and it was less than $30 per person. Being able to let go of the map, the wheel, and responsibility of driving really is the best option hands down. Especially for the price! As I looked around and saw the Upper and Lower Table Rock Mountains, cows and horses grazing the fields only some might ever see, and with the wind in my hair on the back roads of Sams Valley, I could not help but escape the annoyance of my allergies and possess a huge grin on my face for the journey itself made the destination an even better place. Speaking of places, I am sure you are wondering where we actually went. Ahh yes, the destinations!

Agate Ridge Vineyard, Eagle Point, http://www.agateridgevineyard.com/
Agate Ridge Wines: 2012 Pinot Gris & 2010 Grenache
Food Pairings: Handmade individual chocolate cheesecakes by Castle Ridge Cheesecake

Cliff Creek Cellars, Gold Hill, http://cliffcreek.com/
Cliff Creek Cellars Wine: 2012 MRC (Marsanne, Roussane & Viognier)
Food Pairing: Pear & Blue Cheese salsa and Pear & blue cheese Chutney

Del Rio Vineyard, Gold Hill, http://www.delriovineyards.com/
Del Rio Wines: 2011 Pinot Gris & 2010 Merlot
Food Pairing: Chocolate turtle cake

Folin Cellars, Gold Hill, http://folincellars.com/
Folin Cellars wine: 2009 Estate Tempranillo & 2010 Estate Petite Sirah
Food Pairings: Black bean hummus with garlic & herbs & house made flat bread pita chips

Kriselle Cellars, White City, http://www.krisellecellars.com/
Kriselle Cellars Wines: 2011 Sauvignon Blanc & 2010 Di’tani
Food Pairings: Chilled chicken curry salad

LaBrasseur Winery, Eagle Point, http://www.labrasseurvineyard.com/
Labrasseur Vineyard Wines: 2011 Ethan Cole (Primitivo/petit sirah) & 2012 Riesling
Food Pairings: Spiced pork and apple meatball with black cherry sauce

RoxyAnn Winery, Medford, http://www.roxyann.com/
RoxyAnn Winery Wines: 2010 Viognier & 2009 Cabernet Franc
Food Pairings: Smoked salmon spread with rye toast points

How does Southern Oregon’s wine industry seem to have exploded overnight? Well, over the past three decades it has become nationally and internationally highlighted as another great destination getaway. In the past, we have been world renowned for places such as Crater Lake National Park and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, but our climate has created an even bigger industry than we could have imagined. You guessed it, the winey industry! The Rogue Valley has the highest elevation (nearly 2,000 feet) of Oregon’s wine growing regions, but it is also the warmest and the driest. It is made up of three distinct valleys with progressively warmer micro-climates, which enables the region to successfully grow both cool and warm-climate varieties. Our soil includes mixes of metamorphic, sedimentary and volcanic derived soils ranging from sandy loam to hard clay. Our topography consists of vineyards which are typically at elevations of 1,200 to 2,000 feet. Our diverse landscape is derived from the convergence of three mountain ranges: the Cascades, the Coastal Range and the Klamath Mountains. The cooler areas of Southern Oregon produce wonderful Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer while the warmer, more arid regions ripen big reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo, Merlot, Malbec, Dolcetto, Zinfandel, Grenache and Syrah. Many other unique varieties such as Albarino, Pinot Blanc, Gruner Veltliner, Marsanne, Rousanne, Baco Noir, Marachel Foch, Mourvedre, Semillon, Petite Sirah and Viognier are also grown; making Southern Oregon one of the most diverse winegrowing regions in the world. Although an avid traveler and explorer, I have to agree with Dorothy as she says “there is no place like home”.

Make sure to check out the Roam the Rogue event during the Fall, http://roamtherogue.com/ and take advantage of the Allaboard Trolley Tours, http://allaboardtrolley.com/!

Bonnie Ryan, Web Content/Social Media/Blogger
Southern Oregon Visitors Association (SOVA) AKA Travel Southern Oregon
http://www.southernoregon.org

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A Taste of Ashland: 17 Galleries, 17 Wineries, 17 Restaurants, One Delicious Art Experience!

Each year, the Ashland Gallery Association holds a 2-day fundraiser featuring a number of the best regional wineries and local restaurants paired together while having a “host home” of an art gallery in the downtown vicinity of beautiful Ashland, Oregon. This year, the event was held from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, April 27th & 28th. The big time foodies, such as me, will go all day both days to ensure double sampling and double the experience. This self-guided walking tour is known as Ashland’s “most delicious art experience” and I can attest to that. I am baffled how I have missed this signature event throughout the years I have lived here.

The Ashland Gallery Association’s goal is to promote Ashland as an art destination through group activities including professional and student art exhibits, First Friday gallery walks, and educational opportunities to promote the sale of art in the belief that art is essential to the welfare and character of our community. Now in the twenty-fourth year, I believe they have accomplished exactly that. Bravo to this outstanding non-profit, we love you! View their online gallery guide at http://www.ashlandgalleries.com

What was best about the event, you ask? First, I can say that I was both honored and embarrassed with the name tag I received upon arrival. “Awesome Blogger”, Jeff Jones noted. Thank you, Jeff. I really do appreciate the recognition. Aside from the art viewing between food and wine (which was absolutely to die for), I loved the option of a (free) trolley for people to take between galleries. I asked others what their “game plan” was and I had a variety of answers. Some people wanted to start at one end of the plaza and work their way to the other end, some were planning on taking the trolley to almost ever gallery while others were not taking it at all, some were strategically being sporadic and unorganized, while others were switching it up and going both days, and some had no plan at all.

Either way, the trolley was a great option to have! Although most galleries are within walking distance from each other, it makes for a long and fast paced day unless one is in tip top shape. I did not partake in this the first day as I was literally hustling through the map and hit sixteen of the seventeen galleries, but by the second day I was not going to let my tired tootsies get me down! I strolled along much slower and took the trolley from the historic Ashland Railroad District to the Hilltop Gallery where I was greeted by the lovely Heather of Belle Fiore Winery and the owner of Blue Greek on Granite. I have to say, the worst decision I made was to start from bottom up. I missed out on my favorite Greek dish of dolmas paired with Baklava. Mmmm I can taste it now, like I am back on Oia, Santorini, gazing at that famous sunset we all live to see that one time in our life. Okay, now back to reality… which is surprisingly is just as great as the memory. Another thing I love about this event is the ability to vote for the Taster’s Choice award for the best restaurant, wine and gallery. This part keeps me on my toes as I jot down my favorite pairings along the way. Okay, on with the delicacies!

GALLERY, WINERY, RESTAURANT PAIRING

1. Enoteca by EdenVale • 17 North Main Street • http://www.edenvalleyorchards.com
Shibui Nation • http://www.shibuination.com
Loft American Brasserie, featuring homemade mac n cheese, • http://www.loftbrasserie.com
EdenVale Winery • http://www.edenvalleyorchards.com

2. Liquid Assets Wine Bar • 96 N. Main Street • http://www.liquidassetswinebar.com
Rogue Creamery • http://www.roguecreamery.com
Sunstone Artisan Bakery, featuring new soft pretzels and sea salt crackers, • http://www.sunstonebakery.com
Willamette Valley Vineyards • http://www.wvv.com

3. Nimbus • 25 E. Main Street • http://www.clubnimbus.net
Salame, featuring green olives, salami and pistachio nuts, • http://www.salameashland.com
Slagle Creek Vineyards • http://www.slaglecreek.com

4. Hanson Howard Gallery • 89 Oak Street • http://www.hansonhowardgallery.com
Standing Stone, featuring Mama Terra Goat Cheese Fondue with fried sage and multi-seed
cracker bread paired with Roxy Ann Viognier & Wooldridge Creek Wine with herb braised One Mile Farm leg of lamb paired with Roxy Ann Sky Hill Red. One Mile Farm is the Standing Stone farm where they raise lamb, cows, chickens and bees• http://www.standingstonebrewing.com
RoxyAnn Winery • http://www.roxyann.com

5. Thomas Lee Gallery • 20 S. First Street • http://www.thomasleegallery.com
Dragonfly Cafe and Gardens, featuring chicken tacos with Thai coleslaw & flourless chico cake, • http://www.dragonflyashland.com
Simple Machine Wine • http://www.simplemachinewine.com

6. Art and Soul Gallery • 247 E. Main Street • http://www.artandsoulgallery.com
Taroko Pan American Bistro, featuring pork dumplings, • http://www.tarokoashland.com
John Michael Champagne Cellars, which was hands down the best in my opinion…what gets better than sparkling sake??? • http://www.johnmichaelwinery.com

7. Houston’s Custom Framing • 270 E. Main Street • http://www.houstonscustomframing.com
Alchemy Restaurant & Wine Bar • http://www.alchemyashland.com
Devitt Winery • http://www.devittwinery.com

8. Hemporium • 296 E. Main Street
Mystic Treats, featuring Signature Pizza (yes, serious mac n cheese pizza topping) samples with mini mocha bourbon & cheesecake balls, • http://www.mystictreats.com
2 Hawk Winery • http://www.2hawkwinery.com

9. Ashland Art Center • 357 E. Main Street • http://www.ashlandartcenter.org
Smithfield’s Restaurant and Bar, featuring pressed pork belly with caramelized apple and wild mushroom, goat cheese, tarragon crostini, • http://www.smithfieldsashland.com (Saturday)
Agavé, featuring chips and salsa with a special black bean dip, • http://www.agavetaco.net (Sunday)
South Stage Cellars • http://www.southstagecellars.com

10. Photograhers Gallery • 357 E. Main Street • http://www.ashlandartcenter.org
Boulton & Son, featuring savory palmiers with house cured ham and Swiss cheese, • http://www.boultonandson.com
Weisinger’s Winery, I personally loved this 2006 Syrah, • http://www.weisingers.com

11. Illahe Studio and Gallery • 215 Fourth Street • http://www.illahegallery.com
Heartsong Pasta, featuring handmade artisan ravioli, noodles, and rich sauce, • http://www.heartsongpasta.com (Saturday)
Arbor House Restaurant, featuring portabella herb cheesecake, • http://www.arborhouserestaurant.com (Sunday)
Velocity Wine Cellars • http://www.velocitycellars.com

12. Hill Station Gallery • 287 Fourth Street • http://www.hillstationashland.com
The Playwright Public House, featuring smoked trout dip and mini red potatoes with buffalo hot sauce and blue cheese, • http://www.theplaywrightpublichouse.com
Dana Campbell • http://www.danacampbellvineyards.com

13. Gallery Karon • 541-482-9008 • 500 A Street
Callahan’s Lodge, featuring a cracker covered in smoked salmon spread over cream cheese, capers and hot sauce, • http://www.callahanslodge.com
Cuckoo’s Nest Cellars

14. Davis & Cline • 525 A Street #1 • http://www.davisandcline.com
Cafe´Nomyen, featuring Vietnamese salad with lemongrass grazed pork, bleu cheese spread with grilled salmon in crostini, turkey basil meat ball, mango salad with orange-butter sauce shrimp, and a Nutella -strawberry crepe • http://www.facebook.com/cafenomyen
Grizzly Peak Winery • http://www.grizzlypeakwinery.com

15. Hilltop Gallery • 857 Mountain Meadows Drive • http://www.mtmeadows.com/hilltopgallery
Blue Greek on Granite, featuring dolmas, baklava, falafel • http://www.bluegreekongranite.com
Belle Fiore Winery • http://www.bellefiorewine.com

16. Gathering Glass Studio, live music and glassblowing demos (with Scott Carlson, Jeff Addicott, Randy Perkins and Candy Bernard), • 322 N. Pioneer Street • http://www.gatheringglass.com
Brothers’ Restaurant, featuring mini, bite-size Reuben’s, • http://www.brothersrestaurant.net
Milagro’s Fresh Mexican, featuring house-made lime-infused tortilla chips along with a sampling of their fresh salsas, • http://www.milagrosashland.com
Caldera Brewing Company • http://www.calderabrewing.com

17. Ashland Artworks • 291 Oak Street • http://www.ashlandartworks.com
Ashland Community Food Store • http://www.ashlandfood.coop
Four and Twenty Blackbird, featuring coconut dream bars, brownies, chocolate chip, snickerdoodle and oatmeal raisin cookies, http://www.420blackbirdsbakery.us

And the winners of the Taster’s Awards for 2013 are:
(Drum roll inserted here)

• Gallery: Davis and Cline
• Restaurant: Callahan’s Mountain Lodge
• Winery: Cuckoo’s Nest Cellars (for the second year in a row)

Lastly, I want to give many thanks to the people who made this happen. Despite the obvious people (although not taken for granted) such as the galleries, wineries, and restaurants… there were a few more helping hands. A huge shout out goes to Jeff Jones, Event Coordinator, and his volunteers (including his adorable wife Melody to name one in particular). In addition, this year’s sponsors included: Southern Oregon Public Television (SOPTV), Southern Oregon Media Group, Mountain Meadows, Jefferson Public Radio (JPR), Ashland Chamber of Commerce, Sneak Preview, and RAM Offset Lithographers. Without all of you, this event could have never been pulled off as well as it was. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Save the date for 2014! It will be April 26 & 27. For more information go to http://www.atasteofashland.com and make sure to look at the photos on the Travel Southern Oregon Facebook page!

Bonnie Ryan, Web Content/Social Media/Blogger
Southern Oregon Visitors Association (SOVA) AKA Travel Southern Oregon
http://www.southernoregon.org

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CaptureWelcome to the opening night bash at Ashland Springs Hotel

All photo credits given to Cornelius Matteo at C Matteo Photography in Ashland found at http://www.cmatteophotography.com/ or 917-693-6475. Email at cornelius@cmatteophotography.com

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AIFF presents its 12th annual Ashland Independent Film Festival

Why do you love independent film? Personally, I can be brought up and down on an emotional roller coaster with thoughts and feelings of my own and others all mixed in together and even during the same part of the day. I am privileged to say that AIFF gave me this opportunity once again and even for days in a row.

Once again, Ashland knocked our socks off as they hosted another great five-day event to highlight and congratulate independent film makers from all around. A total of 91 films were screened April 4-8, 2013. They even have Q & A after some shows for the audience to engage with the actual film makers themselves. If you miss your opportunity there, you could have a conversation with the film makers and staff at the “AfterLounge” events Thursday-Sunday. This year, these took place at Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant, Thai Pepper Satay Bar, and The Playwright Public House. The films themselves were presented at Varsity Theatre, Ashland Street Cinema, and the Historic Ashland Armory.

Every year, the festival somehow gets better and better. Showing a variety of films for all shapes and sizes, AIFF presents Oscar nominees, documentaries, features, family programs, shorts, animations, and even free films for locals only. These films range from stories on the history of the Burning Man festival to an examination of a well-known (and quite disliked) political icon, a story about a group of women who come together after the heartbreaking genocide in Rwanda to open an ice cream shop and form a healing drum circle, a documentary about a handful of individuals as they go through their personal spiritual pilgrimage as they walk an entire country on the Camino de Santiago, and more. Of course, I would be letting many people down if I did not mention the world premiere of Redwood Highway, starring the amazing Shirley Knight and Tom Skerritt, a feature filmed in Southern Oregon about an elderly woman who walks from her retirement community in Grants Pass to see the ocean for the first time in forty-five years. To me, this film was about dedication, freedom, and love. Something fun I learned from this Q & A session was that the film only took 9 months to complete after the idea was approached. Can you believe it?

Anne Ashbey, Executive Director of AIFF, has done such a wonderful job of pulling it all together each year to give our community this amazing opportunity to host these films and the brains behind them, which we all know brings support to our local economy. What better way to showcase Ashland then this? As I was waiting in line for the “guards” (AKA hardworking volunteers) to let us in before they started selling the extra tickets to RUSH, I was eavesdropping in a not-so-subtle manner, to those near me. I loved hearing people say they come back every year from Southern California to Northern Washington and spend their vacation days tinkering around this town. Leisurely walking to Lithia Park after leaving their B & B, hitting up our favorite coffee shops, spending their hard earned dollars on our delicious local cuisines and shopping in our rare boutiques, and even fitting in an Oregon Shakespeare Festival play in between their scheduled AIFF films. This is something to be extremely proud of and we have not only the staff and volunteers to be thankful to, but also the sponsors. Special thanks go out to over 100 contributing businesses including presenting sponsors, sustaining sponsors, supporting sponsors, contributing sponsors, community sponsors, housing sponsors, and grantors which can all be found at http://www.ashlandfilm.org/Page.asp?NavID=587 . Denis Debey, Ashland’s blacksmith for 30 years, designed and handcrafted the forged steel film reel replica mounted on a black walnut wood base for the awards. Big thanks to Denis. Personally, I would like to thank the Co-Op and The Jewel Box for their tear off coupons which I used all 5 days for food and jewelry discounts. Thank you! Ok let’s get to business…

What was new this year to AIFF? I have a whole list for you!

During the opening night bash, Rogue Creamery’s Savor the Rogue Tasting, held at the Ashland Springs Hotel, AIFF had a free “foto” zone by Cornelius Matteo. Individuals, couples, and groups could all pose for a professional shot before filling their bellies with delicacies, beer, and wine. Although new to Ashland, this fabulous photographer has already made a name for himself at community events such as this. For contact information, viewings of his festival gallery and more visit http://www.cmatteophotography.com/ . Once again, the opening night bash was an abundance of hand-crafted delights and provided a great opportunity for the public to come meet the film makers of 2013! Savor the Rogue presented the Rogue Creamery’s international award-winning cheeses paired with artisan chocolate, meat, fruit, beer and wine from Southern Oregon. I would like to note that if you normally skip this, make sure to do the exact opposite next year!

Also new this year, the festival collaborated with the Emerging Media and Digital Arts (EMDA) department at Southern Oregon University to showcase a number of our Rogue Valley artisan wineries and eateries. Named “eMerge”, this element brought awareness to not only the people living in our area but those who come to visit. See the overview of the program at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEqlM5U6JBk&feature=player_embedded. What drives people to visit Ashland? Well, there might be a long list but at the top of the list lives local artisan food! I am sure you have now noticed my highlights of FOOD. As we all know, sustainability is becoming a hot topic and has become more popular every year. The importance of organic and locally grown food and products are emphasized and embraced all over Ashland. These nine short clips tell the stories of the highlighted businesses below:

• Standing Stone, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdIhsr4_7Os&feature=youtu.be
• Noble Coffee Roasters, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjYZXjfA6Tw&feature=youtu.be
• Sunstone Bakery, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70LtUzDdmRA&feature=youtu.be \
• Boulton and Son Butchers, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pokeffOg8CI&feature=youtu.be
• Rogue Creamery, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pokeffOg8CI&feature=youtu.be
• Lillie Belle Farms, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XG7zVNNBCsE&feature=youtu.be
• Rogue Valley Farm to School, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5GQfQ-TBCU&feature=youtu.be
• Upper Five Vineyard and South Stage Cellars & Winemaking in Southern Oregon, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmThhpf-jHc&feature=youtu.be

To view the “Follow the Food” map go to https://www.ashlandfilm.org/files/FollowtheFood.Map.pdf
Although I am an avid Southern Oregon “pusher” and know a lot about the “happening”, even I learned a thing or two about local businesses here in our region. I urge you to take a little time and watch these interesting shorts on where these places began and where they are today. I promise you will not be let down!

In addition to the “Follow the Food” program, iNation, a live gallery show of community-sourced stories about “Immigration Nation” was at Houston’s Custom Framing on Main St. Here, people shared their immigration stories in a 140-character “Tweet-sized” form and participated in the live e-community storytelling event with filmmaker Theo Rigby and illustrator Anthony Weeks. This year, the festival offered three separate Talk-Back sections Friday through Sunday morning. “Transmedia 101: The Future of Storytelling” was a free filmmaker Talk-Back panel exploring the intersection of digital technologies and storytelling. The “Close-Up and Personal” Talk-Back, was moderated by the very own Rogue Award winner herself, Lucy Walker. This panel focused on complex characters, distinctive voices, larger-than-life narratives, and private and public personalities made visible. These documentary filmmakers disclosed how their intimate encounters reveal the nuances and subtleties of the human experience. Last but not least, “No Borders” was a panel on how we are becoming increasingly connected to a global community; filmmakers are exploring international topics in both short- and long-form narratives and documentaries. Their work fills the gaps in our understanding and expands our cultural world-view beyond our borders.

Lastly, there is a new fundraising initiative this year which is exciting to not only the film lovers but also the wine lovers out there. There is now a Special Reserve Vintner’s Select Sauvignon Blanc, the first vintage produced entirely in Southern Oregon. This wine is made from grapes donated by South Stage Cellars and blended by winemaker Linda Donovan of Pallet Wine Co. in Medford. The wine is available for purchase at South Stage Cellars in Jacksonville. Proceeds will be used to support the AIFF’s general operating expenses, allowing the organization to further its mission and position as a leading cultural and economic force in the region. Now it is time to give you what you have been waiting for, the winners!

The juried and audience award winning films of the 2013 were announced by the lively emcee, Warren Etheredge, at the annual Gala Awards Celebration Sunday evening at the Historic Ashland Armory. Fifteen of the finest restaurants in Ashland catered the buffet style dinner and desserts lining both walls of the armory for people to explore and appreciate. Eight local wines and brews were served, along with my favorite coffee roaster in the valley. Noble Coffee that is. It would be an understatement if I said I left that night full of the best food in town. To view the artisan food and beverage vendors for the opening bash and awards ceremony go to: http://www.ashlandfilm.org/FilmDetails.asp?Year=2013&Category=18

Twelve awards were presented to attending filmmakers, honoring their work screened at the 12th annual festival. Awards received were:

• Juried Best Feature -The Retrieval*
• Juried Best Acting Ensemble: Feature – Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes*
• Best Cinematography/The Gerald Hirschfeld A.S.C. Award: Feature – (same as above)*
• John C. Schweiger Audience Award: Best Feature – The Forgotten Kingdom
• Juried Best Documentary: Feature Length – God Loves Uganda
• Rogue Creamery Audience Award: Best Documentary – Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings*
• Rogue Award – Lucy Walker (AIFF alum and two-time Oscar®-nominated director)
• Juried Best Short Film – The River
• Juried Best Short Documentary – FLO
• Juried Best Animated Short – Bite of the Tail
• Audience Award Best Short Film: Narrative – The Other Side*
• Sypko Andreae Volunteer Spirit Audience Award: Best Short Documentary – Slomo
• Family Choice Award – Floyd the Android
• Special Jury Mention: Short Film – Karaoke!*

*Indicates the awarded films I was able to attend. This year, I attended 10 films (more or less). Next year, you can quote me as I say I am taking Thursday-Monday off and buying a very plush cushion for my seat. I plan on doubling those numbers. To view all of the film selections go to http://www.ashlandfilm.org/FilmDetails.asp?View=List&Year=2013

The 13th annual AIFF will be held April 3-7, 2014. Mark your calendars for the next round of Independent Film in 2014.

Bonnie Ryan, Web Content/Social Media/Blogger
Southern Oregon Visitors Association (SOVA) AKA Travel Southern Oregon
http://www.southernoregon.org

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The 9th annual Oregon Chocolate Festival

Oregon’s Chocolate Festival is held annually at the Ashland Springs Hotel in Ashland. The festival features the elegance of a big city in the comfort of a small town. As you move through the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, Crystal Room and Conservatory which are filled with vendors you will run into the local artisan event lovers such as me, along with people visiting from an array of areas all around. It brings together nearly 50 of Oregon’s premier chocolatiers, coffee roasters, breweries, wineries and other vendors and over 1500 visitors.

From traditional hand rolled truffles, enrobed in the finest chocolates, to chocolate-filled soft pretzels, chocolate cupcakes, toffee, and hot chocolate you can “pick your poison” as you make your way through the day. Something else to note during this event are the numerous ways you can cleanse your pallet with wine and beer vendors available for tasting. This year’s brew comes from Standing Stone Brewing Co and Eugene-based Oakshire Brewing Co. Standing Stone’s very own Larry Chase, brewer, even created a divine Chocolate Ale in celebration of the festival!!!

Collaboration is key when it comes to marrying flavors, and Oregon’s food aficionados do just that. Whether you’re after a cheddar with just a smidgen of chocolate, a pinot gris truffle, or just a piece of good old fashioned fudge, the Oregon Chocolate Festival has something for every palate. You can try unique combinations, unexpected flavor profiles, and decadent infusions with truffles, bars, crunchy toffees, marshmallows, drinking chocolate, chocolate flavored cheeses, chewy cookies, cupcakes, sauces and syrups, chocolate covered nuts, ice cream and other gooey, delicious goodness. Personally, my go-to flavor is anything with heat (spicy for the bold tongue) and chocolate filled with cheese (preferably blue) such as the Lille Belle truffle. In addition to the tasting itself, the festival offers a number of events for all ages. These include:

Festival attractions include:

Main Event: Meet, sample & buy! – Over 50 Oregon chocolatiers and other specialty food vendors present their products and tease your palate with decadent and exciting flavors! (Saturday & Sunday 11am – 3pm at the hotel).

Chocolate – themed First Friday Art Walk organized by the Ashland Gallery Association (Friday, 5 – 8pm). Enjoy diverse forms of art, local wines and chocolates. Stop by Ashland Springs Hotel and view Chocolate Sculpture built by Chocolatier/Pastry Chef Darrell Folck and OCCI Students, and visit with other artists and vendors showcased in the hotel lobby.

Chocolate Makers Dinner (Friday, 6:30 – 9pm) Larks Executive Chef, Damon Jones created a delightful four-course dinner featuring chocolate in each dish. Dinner is accompanied by presentation from a chocolatier.

Chef Demos: (Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday) – stop by Ashland Springs Hotel lobby to experience great culinary event, Chef demonstrations by chefs from Ichigo Cakes, MIX Sweet Shop, Larks Restaurant, Oregon Coast Culinary Institute, LOFT Brasserie and more.

Baking Class at Deux Chats Bakery – learn how to make Chocolate dough croissants with pear, cinnamon & Belgian chocolate fill – a 3-hour class.

Chocolate Facial & Martini Spa Party – Saturday, 4pm at Lithia Springs Resort – Join us for an evening of delicious cocktails and pampering. Spend time with Waterstone Spa technicians and learn about the powerful benefits of chocolate that can be applied to your skin care regiment.
Workshops:

Beer & Chocolate Pairings – with Ginger Johnson from Women Enjoying Beer (offered Saturday & Sunday)

Best tasting chocolates in the world – guided, sensory tasting. – with Charlie Douglass from Harry & David (Sat & Sun)

“From Bean to Bar” – making the best chocolate bars in the world. – with Art Pollard from Amano Chocolate (Sun)

Candy-making workshop for kids at the ScienceWorks Hands on Museum – Hands-on workshop for children – learn to make chocolate truffles, dip candy, pretzels and fruits in chocolate. It’s an interactive, multi-sensory experience for those future chocolatiers and bakers! Museum fees apply. Saturday, March 2 at 11:30 and 12:30pm http://www.scienceworksmuseum.org

Wine & Chocolate pairing at the Enoteca – a wine bar located in downtown Ashland, Friday, March 1st

Chocolate treatments at Waterstone Spa & Salon – enjoy blissful massage, body scrub and other treatments designed to utilize beneficial antioxidants found in chocolate!

Chocolate discount at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Oregon Cabaret Theatre – Chocolate & theatre! Call OSF or OCT box office, mention ‘chocolate’ and receive 20% discount for the shows on March 1-3, 2013 http://www.OSFAshland.org

Harry and David would like to continue the chocolate festivities at the Country Village location!For this reason they set up a shuttle bus to and from their store and the festival.

Chocolate Tasting Party – Come sample chocolate wines and beers, chocolate cheeses, get a strawberry hand-dipped in our chocolate fountain, and try our most popular chocolate goodies. Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Chocolate Festival Overnight package at the Ashland Springs Hotel – includes two tickets to the festival, overnight stay with breakfast, box of chocolate truffles, commemorative chocolate festival mug, 12oz.drinking chocolate from Dagoba Organic Chocolate, plus hotel parking, wireless Internet access, and discounts to hotel’s restaurant LARKS, and hotel’s Waterstone Spa. Ultimate weekend getaway!

CONGRATULATIONS 2013 Oregon Chocolate Festival WINNERS (chosen by guests):
• Best Truffle: Sweet Thang Chocolates – for the Cleopatra Truffle
• Best Raw Chocolate: Karma Katcher Chocolates – for the Orange Rawbanero Truffle
• Best Traditional Use of Chocolate: Exotic Chocolates – for the Lemon Habanero Dark Chocolate
• Best Non-Traditional Use of Chocolate: Dagoba Organic Chocolate – for the Candied Orange Chocolate Bark
• Best Chocolate Candy: Melting Pot Candy Co. – for the Jalapeño Toffee
• Best Use of Chocolate in Baked Goods: Sunstone Artisan Bakery – for the Chocolate filled Soft Pretzel
• Best in Show: Smitten Artisan Truffles
• Honorable Mention: Sunstone Artisan Bakery
• People’s Choice Award: Sweet Thang Chocolates
• Runner Up: The Cupcake Daily

For other participants please visit the website at http://www.ashlandspringshotel.com/oregon-chocolate-festival/participants/

As you can see, this event is well worth the small cost of attending. Karolina and her staff at the hotel work both diligently and creatively to provide us with this opportunity of what I called a “chocolate overdose”. Although this is one of the main artisan (AKA foodie) events Ashland offers every year, they have a variety of other things to attend. Next up on my list: April 27th & 28th A TASTE OF ASHLAND 2013- 17 Galleries, 17 Wineries, 17 Restaurants, One delicious art experience! http://www.atasteofashland.com

Bonnie Ryan, Web Content/Social Media/Blogger
Southern Oregon Visitors Association (SOVA) AKA Travel Southern Oregon
http://www.southernoregon.org

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Travel Oregon PR Tour, 2013. Time to Showcase Our Region!

Have you ever thought about showcasing your own region? You do not have to do it for a business trip or be a professional, as you can do it for the simple love of the area you live in. Take every opportunity to do this and even act like a tourist yourself…and yes, in your own area! I am lucky enough to do it for all of the above. A couple of weeks ago, I got to join the Travel Oregon, MediaAmerica, and Maxwell PR tour as they  “toured around” the Southern Oregon region with Sue Price, who is our itinerary and trade show guru. Coming from Portland, they started in Bandon and worked their way down to the Rogue Valley where I was able to meet for the rest of the tour. Unfortunately, I missed the following destinations:

What I personally got to enjoy lies below. The hosts were extremely accommodating and made sure they went above and beyond the “call of duty”. The lovely ladies who were visiting from the Portland area were Travel Oregon and Maxwell PR Staff: Judiaann Woo – consumer PR, industry content, Linea Gagliano – consumer PR, industry content, Stacey Malstrom – consumer PR (from Maxwell PR), Emily Forsha consumer content and social media, and Eileen Garvin – consumer content (from MediAmerica). From the area we had Sandi Torrey – Jacksonville Visitor Center, Sue Price, – SOVA Tour and Travel, Katharine Flanagan – Ashland VCB (Belle Fiore only), Jez Kline & Angela Wood – Travel Medford.

38 Central, hosted by David Graham/Owner www.38oncentral.com. Here we enjoyed a fabulous meal with a Del Rio Syrah, Claret, and a Vintage wine. A few things I love about this restaurant is that it is centrally located downtown Medford, you can dress up or down and still fit in, and not only is the food excellent but so is the service. David Graham has over 30 years of experience as a chef and continues to amaze his customers no matter what their order or background.

Belle Fiore Winery, hosted by Heather Goodwin/Tasting Room & Events Manager www.bellefiorewine.com. With a grand opening coming in Spring 2013, the valley can gear up to enjoy this gorgeous estate and what it has to offer. This estate has been farmed for 130 years, since it was homesteaded by the Murphy family three miles east of Ashland, Oregon during the 1880’s. Implementing sustainable farming practices, embracing the principles of head, hand and heart all fulfilled together, and welcoming visitors to the beauty of this destination will create a thriving winery for all to enjoy. Belle Fiore Winery is dedicated to growing savory, classical wine grapes well suited to thrive in the Ashland – Bear Creek region within the Rogue Valley Oregon appellation. The Bordeaux grape varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Petit Verdot.  Additionally, they grow Burgundian Pinot Noir grapes, and Rhone varietals of Syrah.  Italian and Spanish varietals also are welcomed, including Muscat Caneli, Montepulciano, Fiano, Coda-di-Volpe, and Barbera clones.  From Spain, they grow Teraldego. Designed by the award winning architects, DKA Architecture in Bend, Oregon, and by Interior Designer, Bonnie Davidson, this state-of-the-art winery, completed in 2012, is also one of the most energy efficient facilities in the Western United States. The tasting room, ceremonial barrel room, wine pavilion, chateau and gardens will cater to all wine lovers both in and out of the area. This is one winery that you absolutely need to visit!

Okay, so the moment of truth. What did I get to enjoy while there? The pairings were a selection of Spanish cheeses and Italian curried meats and a pesto dried tomato cheese torta from Rising Sun Farms. For wine, we tasted the 2009 Monte Fiore Syrah (Gold Medal Winner at West Coast Wine Competition), 2009 Monte Fiore Cabernet  Franc, 2011 Belle Fiore Pinot Noir “Chanson”, and a special barrel tasting of a 2012 Sauvignon Blanc. They added an additional pour from our 2011 BelleArte Syrah “Sensation” as well. What did I like about the winery the most? I honestly felt like I was back in France living in the Palace of Versailles.

DANCIN Vineyards, hosted by Dan & Cindy Marca/Owners, www.dancinvineyards.com. Just minutes from the Britt Festival and downtown Jacksonville, DANCIN lives in the western foothills of Southern Oregon. This family owned business who is an artisan producer of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, screams “relax, enjoy, and stay a while”. They go above and beyond to make sure that you can stay as long as you want, and possibly even longer! This couple truly compliments each other although they both admit they are extreme opposites. Dan being the “A”, handling the labor and winemaking artistry, while Cindy being the “Z”, handling the marketing, tasting room manager as well as master chef/baker…and let me tell you, what she whips up in that kitchen is mouthwatering to say the least. What do I love about this vineyard more than the wine and food (and of course, the family)? The care they give to their vines. Having to work each vine for fifteen minutes gives them the luxury (although very laborious) to translate into healthier fruit that requires less intervention in the winery leading to exceptional wine. For all of you “wine haters” out there, they strategically placed a case full of beer so you can still go and enjoy everything else they have to offer…besides the wine. Make sure while you are there, you ask Dan to explain the story of when they met and how they go to where they are today. Trick question for you: can you guess how they got their name? So, what did we try at DANCIN you ask? The Pinot noirs were paired with stuffed mushrooms topped with a Chardonnay cream sauce and Shibui. We finished with an amaretto cream truffle and the aromatics of the yet to be released 2011 DANCIN Vineyards “Trata” Barrel Select Southern Oregon Pinot Noir. Both of these pairings were honestly to die for!

  • 2011 DANCIN Vineyards “Chasse” Dundee Hills Chardonnay
  • 2011 DANCIN Vineyards “Capriccio” Southern Oregon Chardonnay
  • 2011 DANVIN Vineyards “Quartette” Southern Oregon Chardonnay
  • 2010 DANCIN Vineyards “Pas de Bourree” Southern Oregon Pinot Noir
  • 2010 DANCIN Vineyards “Adagio” Southern Oregon Pinot Noir
  • 2010 DANCIN Vineyards “Pas de Deux” Oregon Pinot Noir

Jacksonville Inn, hosted by Jerry & Linda Evans/Owners, in addition to Platon Mantheakis/Food and Beverage Director www.jacksonvilleinn.com. Chosen “Best Patio in Southern Oregon” by Mail Tribune in 2008, you can choose from up to 2,000 wines on their menu. Have you ever heard of such a thing? It is hard to find a better evening than to go out to dinner here with someone special before enjoying a show at the Britt Gardens less than two blocks away. They even offer a picnic basket menu to go for the shows! I am embarrassed to admit that out of my many years living in the area, I had never eaten at the Jacksonville Inn. But I can assure you that this is not the last time. What was on the menu here? Make sure you take note on a full stomach otherwise you might not make it through the rest of this blog…

  • Assorted Pastries, Canapés and Other Antipasti.
  • Fresh Pear and Walnut Salad.
  • Fresh Pears, Spicy Walnuts, Red Grapes, and Crumbled Blue Cheese with an Apple-Walnut Dressing.
  • Corn and Smoked Bacon Chowder w/BBQ’d pulled Pork and Smoked Paprika Oil.
  • North Atlantic Lobster Risotto, served with Medallions of Lobster, Prawns, Fresh Asparagus, and Fresh Fennel with White Truffle Oil and Arborio Rice.
  • Vegetarian Garden Risotto, served with Asparagus, Spinach, Sweet Peas, Radish, and Fennel. Finished with a Beet Emulsion.
  • Poached Port Pear Brulee w/Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

Thank you so much to our partners who came to visit the region and give us the opportunity to show them WHY this area is getting better by the year, every year. I would also like to give special thanks to Troon, Del Rio, John Guererro of JFG Wines, Valley View, and South Stage Cellars for donating bottles which contributed to the tour as well as our pure pleasure of sampling Southern Oregon wines. And of course, special thanks to those who hosted us and to Sue Price who coordinated everything for all of us to enjoy!

Bonnie Ryan, Web Content/Social Media/Blogger

Southern Oregon Visitors Association (SOVA) AKA Travel Southern Oregon

www.southernoregon.org

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2012 Rogue Winterfest – 10th Annual

Each year, Evergreen Federal Bank donates the use of its Bear Hotel Annex in Grants Pass for the Rogue Winterfest Festival where 4,000 people attend. This December, the warehouse was transformed into a winter wonderland filled with 25 adorned holiday trees, stunning art displays, thousands of hanging sparkling lights and Evergreen Federal Bank’s magical Christmas on Mars 3-D Display. When I say “It is like Disneyland in Grants Pass” it is an understatement. Thousands of 10 foot strips of lights adorn the ceiling throughout makes it quite a beautiful site. Their incredible donation and outstanding staff adds so much to the success of the Festival year after year.

The Festival consisted of five individual events and was held on December 6th through the 10th. The Gala Event and Auction, Golden Social, Weekend Holiday Events, Culinary Christmas Classic and Silent Auction all serve as not only fundraising efforts but a great way to have fun with those in your surrounding workforce and community. Fundraising efforts are made possible through event admission tickets, silent auction sales, a holiday tree and art auction, and sponsorships. Contributions and participation in this community fundraising event will help thousands of people get the care they need to improve the overall health of our community.

On one end of the room were excellent entertainers and on the other you were surrounded by 40 foot purple creatures, spaceships and ice tunnel. In between these opposing ends were dozens of food and wine vendors as well as community members showing their appreciation and support.
Wondering what the weekend agenda looked like? Check it out!

Gala Event and Holiday Auction (Opening night)

Let the bidding begin!!! Catered Southern Oregon Bounty Dinner by Taprock Northwest Grill. Featuring Chef Dennis, live entertainment by Dos Gardenias, Southern Oregon wines and the grand holiday tree and art auction. Oh what an opening night! Taprock Northwest Grill provided the Southern Oregon Bounty Dinner during the Gala Event and Auction. Comments were heard all night regarding their exceptional food and service. Keeping to the Southern Oregon theme parts of the dinner were donated by Southern Oregon’s Fresh Express, Rogue Creamery, Rising Sun Farms, and Applegate Valley Wineries. 24 trees and 9 art pieces were auctioned designed, created, and decorated by local artists and designers. Absolutely gorgeous!!! The talent that is in this valley is truly spectacular.

Golden Social (new this year & sold out)

For seniors only. Sponsored by Highland House and Royale Gardens. A private viewing for our friends over 55 featuring music of the 1940s and 1950s performed by Bob Armstrong and Donna Tennaro. This event was only offered to our community members over 55 and was sponsored by Highland House and Royale Gardens.The Highland House blew us away with their quality of food and their friendly professionalism. They offered six types of desserts, cider and coffee and did an exceptional job. Everyone was impressed! A definite keeper for next year!

Weekend Festival Events

Fun activities for the entire family. The public is invited to view holiday trees and art along with Evergreen Federal Bank’s legendary Christmas on Mars Exhibit. Visit Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the Snow Queen; engage in family activities and games; enjoy live entertainment; and vote on the People’s Choice Award. Two days of fun for the entire family. Entertainment, activities, Santa and Mrs. Claus, face painting, photo opps with the Ice Princess,……and on and on….what a great weekend!

Culinary Christmas Classic

A taste of Southern Oregon. Savor culinary tastings from Southern Oregon’s finest restaurants, caterers, wineries, and breweries. Mingle among the creatively decorated trees, enjoy live entertainment by Living on Dreams, and bid on your favorite Silent Auction item. The Culinary Christmas Classic was sponsored by 25 of the top culinary establishments, wineries, and breweries in Southern Oregon. Samplings of food, wine, and brews were enjoyed by all.

Below is a list of our Culinary Christmas Classic sponsors.

Wineries, Breweries, and Distilleries:

• Brandy Peak Distillery
• Bridgeview WineryDel Rio Vineyards
• Plaisance Ranch and Winery
• Rosella’s Winery
• Troon Vineyards
• Serra Vineyards
• Schmidt Family Vineyards
• Wild River Brewing Co.
• Wooldridge Creek Winery

Culinary Establishments:

• Bohemian Bar and Bistro
• Cynthia’s Home Sweet Home
• Goodness Gracious Café and Catering
• Highland House and Royale Gardens
• Historic Prospect Inn, Hotel and Dining
• Homemade Confections
• Ma Mosa’s
• Orchid Grill
• Rogue Creamery
• Rogue River Lodge
• Rosso’s Trattoria
• The Vine Restaurant

Coffee Service by Jumpin’ Bean. Service provided by Taprock Northwest Grill and Grants Pass High School Culinary Department.

The Festival proceeds help children, teens, adults, and families with mental health needs and supports the non-profit mental health agencies; Family Solutions http://www.familysolutionsoregon.org, Kairos http://www.kairos-nw.org, and Options for Southern Oregon http://www.optionsonline.org. Research shows that mental health problems are linked with a host of societal concerns, including physical health outcomes. Josephine County is fortunate to have three outstanding mental health organizations that address the needs of the children, teens, adults, and families in our community. Family Solutions (formerly Family Friends), Kairos (formerly SOASTC) and Options for Southern Oregon were all founded by local citizens in response to community needs. These organizations have developed high-quality, innovative, and cost-effective services and supports over the past 30 years. Together, they serve more than 5,000 individuals annually, and approximately four times as many low-income individuals are eligible for services. During these tough economical times it is important that we all pull together to build a healthier community for us all. 2012 was an amazing Festival. The quality of the trees, art, entertainment, food, and service was outstanding and was said to be one of the most successful sold out Rogue Winterfest’s to date. The team of Event Planner and Coordinator “Price and Ashley” proved to be very successful. Rogue Winterfest http://www.roguewinterfest.org has raised over $400,000 for children, teens, adults, and families with mental health needs in our community.

A huge thank you and successful congrats to the event planner, Sue Price of Southern Oregon Marketing Consultant, who is also an independent contractor for SOVA http://www.southernoregon.org, Grants Pass Tourism http://www.visitgrantspass.org, Ashland Springs Hotel http://www.ashlandspringshotel.com, and Travel Medford http://www.travelmedford.org. Also a big thanks goes out to Gigi Ashley, co-event coordinator. Over 100 volunteers, 75 entertainers, 15 restaurants and catering establishments, Southern Oregon wineries and breweries, 50 artists and decorators, and 60 sponsors help support and donate their services during the Rogue Winterfest. Other big thanks to mention are Chris Cauble of Cauble and Cauble Attorneys at Law, for their Diamond Sponsorship (cash donation, decorating skills, and volunteerismsm, we salute you); Taprock Northwest Grill, for sponsoring the Southern Oregon Bounty Gala Event and Auction; and Highland House and Royale Gardens, for sponsoring the Golden Social. Lastly, Michaels & Michaels Creative, LLC. can be given a big thanks for website updates and publication.

Make sure you see how you can get involved next year! Work is already underway for 2013! Mark you calendars for December 5- 11, 2013. For more information on the Rogue Winterfest or how you can get involved visit http://www.roguewinterfest.org. Sue Price, Event Planner sue@roguewinterfest.org or Gigi Ashley, Event Coordinator, gigi@roguewinterfest.org.

Bonnie Ryan, Web Content/Social Media/Blogger
Southern Oregon Visitors Association (SOVA) AKA Travel Southern Oregon
http://www.southernoregon.org

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Crater Lake National Park, the Country’s Crown Jewel

What is better than visiting Crater Lake National Park, also known as one of the country’s crown jewel? Having the opportunity to stay on Wizard Island inside of the caldera walls! A little under educated when it comes to this amazing natural attraction? Give me the pleasure of telling you more about it.

Founded May 22, 1902, Crater Lake National Park seeks to preserve these natural and cultural resources. This area of 249 square miles is dedicated to the preservation of its natural and cultural resources, and has a focus on preservation for our enjoyment of human visitors, but also has another goal they put forth more effort. The comprehensive view of the ecosystems and interactions within the environment at Crater Lake is what park personnel lean towards. No place else on earth combines a deep pure lake, so blue in color; sheer surrounding cliffs, almost 2,000 feet high; a picturesque island and a violent volcanic past.

How about some fun facts?

  1. Seven different trees live on Phantom Ship, an island in Crater Lake.  There are also colonies of violet green swallows, and several varieties of wildflowers and lichens living there.
  2. What kinds of birds and animals might I see during my visit? The FAQ page will tell you, find out!
  3. Wizard Island is a cinder cone that erupted after Crater Lake began to fill with water.  It is one of two islands in Crater Lake.  Do you know the name of the other island? (Hint: Answer is above).
  4. Crater Lake is 1,943 feet deep. That makes it the deepest lake in the United States, and the ninth deepest lake in the world! The depth of Crater Lake was first measured in 1886 with a simple sounding machine that consisted of a crank and a spool of piano wire.  Those first measurements showed the lake to be 1,996 feet deep – not far off from the depth of 1,943 feet that was measured with high tech equipment in 2000!
  5. There is only one place where it is safe and legal to get down to the lake shore. It is the Cleetwood Cove Trail, which usually opens mid to late June. The trail is 1.1 miles long and drops nearly 700 feet down to the lake shore. Visitors are welcome to swim in the lake from the shoreline at the end of this trail.
  6. Are there fish in the lake, and can I catch them? I dare you to find out by research!
  7. Crater Lake National Park gets an average of 533 inches of snow per year – that is more than 44 feet of snow!
  8. The average temperature of the water (below 300 feet deep) is 38°. In the summer, the surface can warm up to 55° or 60°.
  9. Want to know how many people visit the park each year? Again, go and do some research. Dare you!
  10. Crater Lake was formed when a massive eruption of Mount Mazama 7700 years ago caused the mountain to collapse, leaving a steaming caldera. Centuries of rain and snow filled the caldera creating Crater Lake.

Although the island is closed to the public for camping, there are still handfuls of things you can do at the lake in order to enjoy your time well spent. Simply driving around the 33-mile lake can keep you busy as it offers more than 30 viewpoints where you can pull off to the side and gaze at one of the deepest lakes in the United States. Hiking is another option, one which I love! There are a variety of hikes from mild walks to strenuous ones. You can explore meadows full of flowers, rocky peaks, or pristine forests. If you choose to visit the Sinnott Memorial Overlook, you will get the pleasure of having panoramic views, exciting exhibits, and an experience to learn more about the park’s geologic story and history of scientific investigation. Attending a ranger program is a great way to ask the real experts themselves. This is done by talks, walks, trolley tours, boat tours, and kids programs which are offered daily. You can take 18 minutes and watch the park film at the Steel Visitor Center. The Pinnacles can be an option to visit, if you have a little time to visit the southeast corner of the park. Since these are the same ones that formed during the eruption that “gave birth to the lake”, I suggest doing so. Touring Crater Lake Lodge gives you a glimpse into an earlier era by the use of their history exhibits. Lastly, if you are feeling a little on the lazy side, you can always just relax and watch the sky while enjoying your home made picnic. If you can, make sure you are there are night because the star gazing up here is absolutely incredible. If you do plan a visit, make sure and check out their web site before you do. With webcams, event schedules and more, planning ahead always makes a difference (especially when it comes to weather). Their site can be easily navigated and found at http://www.nps.gov/crla/index.htm.

So what does the park have to do with my blog and stay out on the island?

Several months ago, Travel Southern Oregon and the Crater Lake National Park Trust announced a new partnership effort. Members of each organization’s board of directors took an amazing excursion to Wizard Island at Crater Lake National Park, where (by special arrangement of park officials) the two group’s had strategic planning retreat.  Lucky for me I was able to attend this once in a lifetime experience.

“As Southern Oregon’s key attraction, and one of Oregon’s most-visited destinations, Crater Lake National Park has long been a cornerstone of our marketing efforts,” said Carolyn Hill, who serves as both CEO of Travel Southern Oregon and will now also serve as Executive Director for the Crater Lake National Park Trust. “This terrific partnership between the two organizations is a natural fit for both.”

The Crater Lake National Park Trust was formed during planning for the Park’s 100th anniversary in 2002. The Trust works to ensure a future in which the Park is widely recognized as an Oregon icon and national treasure, and in which the Park serves as a thriving laboratory and classroom. The Trust works to encourage gifts, grants, and other contributions. The Trust became an independent 501c3 in 2006.

Travel Southern Oregon is a 501c6 regional marketing association formed in 1984. Its mission is to increase and lengthen visitor stays in the region by encouraging regional marketing efforts across a seven-county area:  Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Coos and Curry Counties. Furthermore, Travel Southern Oregon holds a respected position in the state’s tourism efforts as the official regional coordinator for Travel Oregon programs.

Via this new partnership, SOVA CEO Carolyn S. Hill will serve as the Executive Director for the Trust. “We are extremely pleased to welcome the contributions that Travel Southern Oregon and Carolyn will bring to the Trust’s endeavors,” states William A. Thorndike (Medford Fabrication) who is the President of the Trust Board.  “We look forward to working with Travel Southern Oregon on this important partnership.”

Crater Lake National Park Superintendent, Craig Ackerman, also notes that the partnership is a logical fit.  “Both organizations are committed to the National Park as an icon for visitors to the region and state, and as a critically important ‘living lab’ where students can learn about the preservation and protection of this amazing place,” said Ackerman.

In the coming year, Travel Southern Oregon and the Trust are focused together on a range of important goals, including:  strengthening the Park as a vital resource for education, inspiration, and discovery; helping people develop meaningful connections with the Park; increasing positive media coverage of the Park’s resources and programs; and developing local and regional support for funding capital improvement and visitor services programs. Hats off to both Carolyn and Craig for making this all happen!  – Carolyn Hill, CEO, Travel Southern Oregon & Executive Director, Crater Lake National Park Trust

As you can see, these two massive collaborative efforts have a lot of work going on behind the scenes to contribute to the beatification and preservation of the park. Not sure if you want to make the trip and still not convinced? Take some time and ask around to see if anyone you know has visited Crater Lake. Also make sure you go to their Facebook page and browse the pictures being posted every day by tourists who are still excited about their visit, years later. Lastly, please do yourself a favor and go!

Bonnie Ryan, Web Content/Social Media/Blogger

Southern Oregon Visitors Association (SOVA) AKA Travel Southern Oregon

www.southernoregon.org

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