This year’s annual Chefs’ Night Out proved, again, to be a successful fundraiser for FOOD for Lane County, with 100% of the ticket sales going directly to local hunger efforts. This gathering showcases all of your favorite Eugene restaurants, caterers, wineries and microbreweries under one roof. They offered samples of snack-sized bites of food, beverage, and dessert. King Estate offered tiny sandwiches made with Lamb Belly Bacon on Local Swiss Gougere with Green Apple, an assorted Charcuterie Plate with Saucisson Sec, Smoked Duck Breast Speck, Pork and Black Truffle Paté, and Espresso Panna Cotta with Cinnamon Spiced Donut. We also offered a variety of King Estate wine to pair.
Congratulations to all the winners: Best Overall Bite – Marché Restaurant. Best Presentation/Hospitality – Sweet Life. Best Savory Bite – King Estate Winery. Best Vegetarian Bite – Govinda’s. Best Sweet Bite – Red Wagon Creamery.
Last week we had the pleasure of hosting close to 600 guests over three days at our quarterly members-only tasting. We were graced by unseasonably gorgeous spring weather and held the event on the north patio of the Visitor Center. Tower Club members tasted six newly released wines and enjoyed some delightful nibbles prepared by Sous Chef Sean Winder, including Manchego and Quince Bruschetta with Pistachios, Salmon Cakes with Remoulade, and Pork Belly and Rouge River Blue Cheese Arancini with Roasted Tomato Aioli. Many members also opted to stay for dinner in our estate restaurant.
Invitations to these private tastings are extended exclusively to Tower Club members. Along with this benefit, members also receive limited-production wines, discounts on wine purchases, and complimentary tasting at the wine bar.
For more information about membership, please contact Tower Club Manager Elizabeth Allcott at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-942-9874, ext. 102.
King Estate Vineyard Manager Meliton Martinez estimates that bud break is still just around the corner, but other signs of Spring are popping up all across the estate. Daffodils, tulips, and native wildflowers decorate the landscape, and sheep borrowed from a local rancher dutifully graze on weeds between rows of grape vines. Our honey bees are diligently working, too. They return to their hives covered in pollen, which eventually becomes honey that we harvest and make available for purchase in the King Estate Visitor Center.
Garden Manager Jessie Russell just finished creating a walking path through the oak forest at the bottom of the hill below the main winery building, where visitors can take a stroll or sit in the shade and enjoy lovely views from all angles. She has begun planting spinach, strawberries, and other fruits and vegetables intended for use in the restaurant at King Estate, or to be donated to Food for Lane County. Nearby in one of the ponds, Bullfrogs and Red-winged Blackbird harmoniously feast on insects. As the prospect of sunshine has become more promising, many visitors take a glass of wine out to our patio to enjoy the view.
King Estate Executive Chef Benjamin Nadolny moved to Oregon eager to forage in the state’s lush forests. With it’s moist and mild climate, the Willamette Valley provides the perfect environment for fungus to fruit. The mycelium works as mycorrhizal, creating a symbiotic relationship with the roots of trees. Chef Nadolny started out hunting morels and chanterelles, then once he met local fungi expert Joe Spivack, he began to look for white truffles. Spivack has been providing The Restaurant at King Estate with locally foraged fungi since its inception. “Joe’s commitment to providing the best mushrooms from the woods plays a great role in the quality of our food at King Estate,” Nadolny said. “Joe helps me enrich the lives of my cooks by taking them on truffle forays and expanding their knowledge on the subject of mycology. This is important to us because most of our staff are culinary students and continuing their education is a part of our job.” Last year’s long, dry summer was perfect for the development of the grapes at King Estate, but not so great for fungi growth. It was an especially bad year for chanterelles, but that didn’t stop Nadolny and Spivack from looking for them.
Recently, the two went on a truffle foray at a top secret location near the winery. It’s on private land that Spivack has acquired permission to hunt on. “White truffles have a relationship with the trees,” Spivack said. “They really like to associate with young Douglas Fir trees, which is the most common tree in the Willamette Valley.” A good place to look for white truffles would be in a young Douglas Fir forest (10-30 year old trees) that was planted on land previously used as pasture, because it doesn’t have existing fungi that would compete with truffles. “It’s best to hunt with someone who has some experience, who can tell the difference between truffles and other underground fungi that are not edible,” Spivack said. It’s also important to be careful not to wander onto private property without permission. Gently rake a thin layer of pine needles and soil in a prime spot, and keep a look out for the delicate white truffles.
At King Estate, we celebrate Oregon food culture. Oregon white truffles are something Oregonian’s are proud of as Italians and French people have their own species of truffles. Locally foraged mushrooms and truffles are especially tasty when paired with Oregon wine. “The earthy, pine aromas of the chanterelles and porcini are nicely accented by the fruit and spice nuances of our pinot noir,” said Nadolny. “Shavings of raw porcini and white matsutake have a lighter, woodsy flavor that brings out the crisp apple and pear flavors of our pinot gris. A mushroom tastes best when the purity of the texture and flavor are preserved, which also makes it better to pair with our wines. Sometimes that might include just a light sauté and a splash of reisling, or a slow braise into a rich ragout to serve with a cabernet. Porcini, White Matsutake, and truffles we usually serve raw, shaved fresh, or coated with a touch of olive oil. Our morels we cooks with a little bit of butter fat, a rich olive oil, or cream to bring forward the nutty richness of this delicious spring mushroom.”
Currently, the restaurant is shaving white truffles fresh over the frisee salad with duck confit. Next week, the culinary team will be shaving them over confit asparagus with a quail egg. During the peak season they were offered complimentary over every dinner entrée.
There’s a feeling at King Estate that’s undeniable. It’s a passion for excellence that is apparent with each person you meet, and is especially evident concerning the most recent promotion of Ben Nadolny to Executive Chef at King Estate.
Executive Chef Ben Nadolny began his King Estate career as Sous Chef in 2007, shortly after the restaurant opened its doors, and was promoted to Executive Chef in 2012. His enthusiasm for seasonal, local, wild, and sustainably managed ingredients perfectly complements King Estate’s philosophy of pairing Northwest wines with regional food products. “I believe Ben is the hardest working, most inspired chef in the Northwest, and a very creative culinary thinker as well,” noted Ed King, CEO at King Estate.
Here at King Estate, we think that Dungeness Crab and Pinot Gris are a perfect match, and our guests at this year’s Crab Fest surely agree. This year, we were able to source the 3,000 lbs of fresh Oregon Dungeness Crab from our restaurant’s fisherman Jacob Farrens of Oregon Pride Seafood, who fishes out of Charleston, Oregon. The 2013 Dungeness Crab season started late, but is proving to be bountiful and delicious, and a late start means a late finish which lends itself to an encore presentation in March.
Crab Fest 2013 sold out quickly, leaving many hungry would-be-patrons disappointed, so we have decided to host an encore event in March! Mark your calendar for March 9-10 and 16-17, and enjoy unlimited Dungeness Crab and Pinot Gris. We’ve added an oyster bar and bubbly Blanc de Gris to the menu. Make sure to reserve your spot online, because this special event will once again sell out quickly.
On November 17th, the Oregon Ducks suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Stanford Cardinal. Stanford upset the Ducks winning by a 37 yard field goal in overtime. It was an unfortunate loss that was felt deeply by Duck fans everywhere as it derailed their path to the BCS Championship. We are sure that next year the Ducks will be back at it again, resuming their dogged pursuit of a BCS National Title, and continuing their meteoric rise to legendary college football status.
While the loss was somber, we couldn’t help but be elated to see our own winery featured during the nationally televised primetime broadcast, with beautiful shots of the property, our facility, and our wine as well as some hefty endorsement from the hosts of the broadcast.
Watch the video above to see the clip of King Estate that was featured during the broadcast, it was a very proud moment for us at the winery, and we would love to share it with all of you.
This year, Pastry Chef Rebecca Liddle Maglangque went all-out on her annual King Estate gingerbread winery replica. This year, it reaches 4 feet long x 2 feet wide, mounted on two 2′x2′ boards, including the South Tower, the main winery building, the old tasting room tower, and the Visitors’ Center. If Rebecca had made the entire winery to scale, it would be 8 feet long (there’s always next year)!
Oregon’s beverages have reached a visible maturity point where not only are they crafted with care by fully realized businesses, but their quality has moved well beyond that of the cottage industries they once were. Our beverages are finding widespread success not only in the Americas, but all over the world. It is likely that Oregon beverages have found their way to each and every continent on the globe.
At one point in time there may have been a valid rationale for Oregonians to seek fine beverage from other parts of the world, where they could find better quality at a better price, but we are here to say that this rationale no longer holds true. While the quality of Oregon’s fine beverages have grown by leaps and bounds, our pricing has moved to meet the customer. Oregon beverages deliver tremendous value, quality, and consistency. An Oregonian no longer need look any further than their own backyard to find the best products at the best prices, crafted with care for those that drink them, those that make them, and the environment we all share.
When we consider these things, we realize that our beverage producers are meaningful on their own to Oregonians beyond just the products they produce and market. Oregon beverages means jobs in our communities, and not just any jobs, they often mean rural agricultural jobs, which are a very scarce thing. Many of these jobs help our citizens develop strong modern skill sets and pay a true family wage compensation, paving the way for a stable, prosperous, and progressive future for our state.
Oregon’s increasing success is being recognized as a brand in and of itself. A brand that succinctly conveys food and beverage excellence. This reputation precedes us all, and is spurring a tourism and hospitality boom that has ripple effects throughout the state, bringing in a high quality dollar that is not based on resource extraction like mining or logging. It often brings with it a tourist who appreciates the finer things, and goes home only to become an advocate and consumer of Oregon products for life. This isn’t merely a data point, it is a trend with great force behind it, this is a growing opportunity for Oregon.
The next time you reach for a beverage, you should ask yourself, was this made in Oregon? Does it help me and my neighbors? Because believe it or not, every drop of “Oregon in a bottle” that you buy, does us all a big favor.
CEO & Co-Founder
King Estate Winery