If you have ever read any of our posts about Walnut Ridge Winery or our annual “Best of” lists, you have no doubt heard about the Walnut Ridge deviled eggs. They are an amazing combination of creamy, yolky goodness topped by a house made bacon jam. But that’s not the whole story at Walnut Ridge. And, it’s not where the story ends at Walnut Ridge.
Early last week, we received a heartfelt letter from the owners and founders, Jim and Wendy. In this letter, they announced that have decided to sell the winery, including their personal home, to a young couple who, according to Jim, checked all the boxes.
Needless to say, we were shocked and saddened by the news. Walnut Ridge has been one of our favorite wineries and a place where we brought visitors because of its beauty, its wine and the team who runs the joint. From Jim, who is always around to greet and mingle, to Wendy who worked tirelessly…and endlessly… in the kitchen (among of her many specialties, she is the source of those amazing deviled eggs) to our dear Melissa who has been a part of our wine journey since the beginning. She is everywhere the winery needs her and always smiling.
Last night we attended a wine club dinner at this special place, amid the beautiful landscaping, brightly colored tables and chairs, wonderful music, and a view of the vineyard in all its glory. The tasting room is a replica of a beautiful New Orleans building and sits above the vineyard to guard over it. It was a breezy, typical Oregon summer evening. It could not have been more pleasant.
When we arrived, we had a moment to visit with the new owners, the Youngs. They seemed lovely. Their daughter was assisting at check in and several of their children were involved in the evening’s events, serving food, laughing and mingling. It was nice to see this family diving in!
After we checked in, we had a moment to visit with Jim. He is still around to help with the transition. Wendy stayed behind in the new motor home to look after the new puppies (talk about a transition!). That’s when we began to feel the inevitable melancholy. Imagining Walnut Ridge without Jim and Wendy is tricky. Jim is feeling the same, both excited and saddened.
Dinner was a perfect summer combination of chicken salad, hummus, fruit and veggies. We drank a 2018 Walnut Ridge Pinot Noir with dinner. It was light and bright with red fruit notes and a hint of oak. The salted chocolate chip cookie was a perfect finish. We mingled with old friends, enjoyed the breezes, and took our own trip down memory lane as we enjoyed the music and the evening.
We are excited for this new family. We are happy that this winery is remaining privately owned by a local family. We know that they are starting with a strong foundation, great grapes, and a loyal following. It’s okay to say that we are also sad, sad to say goodbye to our friends Jim and Wendy, sad to see a Southern Willamette Valley staple change and sad…and excited...to see that nothing stays the same.
One last note, the recipe for the deviled eggs was part of the contract, they aren’t going anywhere!