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The Salem Food and Wine Festival was a nice night out on Saturday. My husband, my mom, and my dad and I walked into the Jackman Long building around 5pm Saturday evening to take in the local epicurean scene. Honestly, my first impression was that I had accidentally walked into the exhibits at the State Fair. The event (was) run by Excel Expos, after all. There were vendors selling trinkets, demonstrators with headsets, wineries giving tastings, and shoved to the side were a couple food vendors. Once the initial shock had worn off, we all settled in with the wine tasters and made our way across Southern Oregon and back up the Willamette Valley to the local Salem vineyards.
The array of wines available to taste provided a great learning experience. We tasted some less common varieties like the Baco Noir, which made its way to the Umpqua Valley from the Bordeaux region of France. We also enjoyed wines for which Oregon is popular such as the Pinot Noir and Riesling. Among our favorites were Cubanisimo out in West Salem, Silvan Ridge near Eugene, Hillcrest in Roseburg, and Bradley Vineyards in Elkton. There were also the usual merchandising vineyards, where wine quality is not their number one goal. The lack of Salem vineyards, saddening as it was, left room for us to explore the hidden gems of the lower Willamette Valley. The local vineyards at the festival were Cubanisimo, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Chateau Bianca, Orchard Heights, and Honeywood.
After a few tastings it was time to pair the wines with some local food. Walking around the building we noticed the lack of local restaurants and caterers. But hey! We could easily refinance our house at the mortgage booth. The only local restaurant was the Flight Deck. Grand Vines was there but only with a wine display. There were two catering companies selling light lunch fare and two farmer's market food stand regulars. It would be nice if this event could become a place to taste local restaurants' specialties just like we taste wine. If caterers can bring plates of quiche to the festival, what's to stop a few noodle dishes, hors d'oeuvres, or paninis from being served. After all the grumbling, our group ate at our favorite Saturday market stand the Canby Asparagus Farm. Their take on traditional Mexican fast food and stir fried veggies is never disappointing.
I hope you enjoy the slide show. Can't you tell we had some fun with the vineyard owners and employees?