Over Labor Day weekend Benton County, OR with the participation of rural farms, vineyards and artists came together to host the 2nd Annual “Bounty of Benton County” event. Being newbees to the area, and hitting all the local attractions, this one sounded too good to miss. For a fee which benefitted the education of rural family children we received a passport to over 20 venues of food, wine, and art.
Our first stop was the Alsea Fish Hatchery. Over 2oo,000 rainbow trout are raised here annually to stock the coastal lakes of Oregon. Besides the educational interest we each made a fish print tee shirt courtesy with help from volunteers! After spending about 45 minutes there (remember my husband is a fly fisherman), we moved on to the Alsea Anagama Studio. This is one of two wood fired pottery kilns in Oregon.
Ceramatists, Jay Widmer and Deb Sether hosted an informative video and tour of the studio complete with wine tastings, fresh berries off the properties vines and homemade cookies. Deb explained that the kiln is “fired” up twice a year with about 300 bisque pieces carefully placed for optimal firing. Organic materials are placed on and around the pieces to create interesting impressions in the glazes of the pottery. The biannual event takes place over the course of three days with ceramists continually stoking the fire.
After narrowing our selection of items we wanted to purchase we came home with a fascinating piece. Gleefully we drove on to our next stop: John Boys Mercantile in Alsea. Going back in time, we entered the quiessential old time general store. Shelves were lined with just about every thing you could imagine from hammers to nuts, locally raised lamb and produce, and of course, Oregon wine!
We tasted a pinot and chardonnay from Pheasant Court Winery. As it turns out they are about 1/4 mile from our soon to be new home and studio. Small world strikes again.
The afternoon was starting to get the best of us, as the event ended on Sunday at 5pm. So we scurried into the town of Wren and visited Lumos Winery. “Bounty” passport holders were treated to six tastings, live music, fresh cheeses from local artisan producers. The ambience was enhanced by the incredible views of Kings Valley and lavender growing amongst the vines. We also learned that the winery was once the location of the popular “H Bar H Dude Ranch” of the ’40s.
Next stop was Harris Bridge Vineyards. Do you notice there’s a pattern developing here? Treated to tastings of ice wine we meandered amongst the grounds to see the works of artists from Blodgett and Summit Oregon and visit will film makers doing a documentary on Oregon wineries.
By the time we got closer to town and still much more to see and visit the clock struck 5pm and regrettably the event venues were closing. So much to see so little time. We just skimmed the surface of the event, learned a lot, tasted some great wines and found some great artists and artisans along the way.