My adventures in wine continued this weekend at the 31ST Annual Astoria Crab, Seafood & Wine Festival in Astoria, Oregon. It has been my pleasure to attend this outstanding event for the past six years, and I do hope to continue attending until no longer able to lift a wine glass or crack a crab claw.
There were the usual wineries in attendance as well as some new to the game and this event. It’s always great to see old friends, and to make new ones, and one things for sure, anyone involved in wine are fun people. It’s just a fact. This year however I really took a second look at the auxiliary aspects of the event, most not really having anything to do with wine, and yet still an important part of the whole ambiance.
Not everyone is into wine, and in some cases, for many reasons, don’t drink alcohol at all. You will always have the dedicated beer drinkers, designated drivers, and those that just don’t enjoy it. That’s not to say that they don’t have a significant other or family member that does enjoy a sip or three, and the fact is there is no reason why the non-drinker can’t attend and have some fun.
This wine and seafood festival is my case in point. Not only do you have some of the best examples of Pacific Northwest wines being poured, but you also have Sake One, the only producer of Sake in Oregon pouring it’s samples. In addition you have multiple craft beer booths, as well as a beer tent in the main food court.
In addition, there are craft cheeses, fudge and other sweet treats spread around the tent booths, along with various seafood delights. You can chow down on a whole dungeness Oregon crab, fresh oysters (cooked or raw), shrimp dishes or just a plain old American hamburger if thats what you want. I have to tell you that there’s nothing like fresh and I do mean fresh, just caught seafood. Every year I reach capacity all three days in Astoria, on my crab and oyster levels, which I usually pay for over and aver again, but hey! Live a little, suffer a little, it’s all good.
Now while your companions are sipping away, the options you have are many and oh so interesting, from jewelry, clothing and wine glasses to designer wooden household items. This year I purchased a steak flipper, with exotic wooden handle and stainless steel sharp hook at the end, for my barbecue. It will be traveling home with me along with the two cases of wine I purchased this year. You must always remember that these events are the perfect place to stock up on your wines, because the wineries all discount by bottle and case. The more they sell, the less they have to transport back home.
As always I have a few new favorites at these wine events, and this year was no exception. Always on the lookout for a small boutique winery, that pays oh so careful attention to their small lot of vines, with excellent results. This year my two new discoveries are JW Wrigley Vineyards located in Sheridan, Oregon and Ribera Vineyards in West Linn, Oregon.
JW Wrigley has produced a stunning 2012 Pinot Gris which I now know by experience pairs superbly with shellfish, with it’s mild sweetness, outstanding acidity and smooth fruit. Ribera Vineyards produced a 2011 “Mix” of 55% Chardonnay and 45 % Pinot Gris that provides crispness and balanced flavor and a great companion for shellfish, creamy pasta dishes, or just by itself on a warm summer evening on your deck.
The Pacific Northwest is well known for it’s seafood and wine events, so why not attend one this year. Great family events with lot’s to experience at the event or surrounding areas of the Northwest.