We were so happy to have our California friends Kristi and Andy from cavegrrl.com come for a visit from Sacramento recently. We first met Kristi and Andy at our first Wine Blogger’s Conference last year in Lodi. We became fast friends, not only because of our shared interest in wine and food, but because Andy and Kristi are avid runners and so is Neal. They picked this weekend for a visit so that they could run the Pink Buffalo Racing Love Liberates 1/2 Marathon in Springfield OR. They represented well, with three age group top finishes and Andy’s Top Ten overall finish.
We picked them up at the airport, not sure if they would want to visit a couple of urban wineries the night before a race. Of course they did! Our Friday nights are spent at either Valhalla Winery in Veneta or at J. Scott Cellars in Eugene. This Friday night was no different. At Valhalla, we were treated to a very recently bottled 2000 Brute sparkling wine (let’s call it what it is, champagne!). I always enjoy sharing our special places with new-to-the-area winos and our first stop did not disappoint. The Valhalla sparkling wine was our favorite of the evening, providing a great start for what turned into a long night of fun, food and wine.
Next stop was J. Scott Cellars, the place was jammin’! It was great to see so many folks out on a Friday evening that was unseasonably hot for us and typical for our Sacramento friends. We tasted several wines at J. Scott including our favorite, Avante. Avante is a wonderful blend of Tempranillo, Tinto Cao, Touriga Nacional and a bit of Petite Syrah. While we love Jonathan’s Tempranillo above all else, this is a blend of rich flavors that would pair perfectly with steak, salmon or a rich pasta dish.
Our original plan was to dine at one of the food trucks at either of the wineries, but after much consideration and a bit too much of the high temperatures Eugene was experiencing we decided to make a supermarket run, toss together a big salad and dine alfresco at home. Great idea! We opened several more bottles of wine, enjoyed the evening as it cooled down and talked for hours about running, wine and blogging. A perfect combination for a wonderful evening.
The three runners were up early and ready to take off on their 13.1 mile jaunt. The temps were already rising with a predicted 100 degree day ahead of us. At the end of the race I saw three beautiful sweaty people relishing their success and proudly donning their medals. Their reward was brunch at Planktown Brewery, just a few blocks from the finish line. Planktown has a great weekend brunch menu that satisfies all tastes and, of course, beer. What runner doesn’t want beer at 10:00 in the morning?
Following a great brunch, showers and naps all around, we began to prepare for a wonderful celebration with our friend Lynn Steele. Lynn’s 75th birthday warranted a grand celebration. I prepared some food and drink to bring to the party, our friend Jen hosted her mother’s celebration and together with about 20 others, we toasted to Lynn and enjoyed an evening of wonderful food and fun. Topping off the evening was the announcement that our friend Jen and her beau, Tom, are getting married. We are thrilled for them and can’t wait for more celebrating with them!
On Sunday morning, Neal and Andy joined Joe’s Team for the team’s regular Sunday run. It was a special thrill for Andy who has been reading Joe’s running advice in books and magazines for many years. Running with “the legend’s” team is an exceptional experience for distance runners, Andy was no different! Kristi took a running tour of the neighborhood and I spent an hour on my yoga mat at Eugene Yoga. We all benefited from a little sweat!
Shortly after Kristi and Andy arrived, they told us about a reality TV show that is filmed in Springfield Oregon called Graveyard Carz. They wanted to see the place and we were happy to oblige. Surrounded by a tall fence, this large unmarked warehouse building and surrounding property were tucked away in an industrial part of Springfield and definitely did not look like a TV set, but there were definitely hints about the activity within from the cars we could actually see. They were so excited to see the location! Following our visit to the junkyard, we headed to Hayward Field. On the University of Oregon campus, historic Hayward Field is mecca to runners from all over the world. It is the site of so many championships, record breaking performances and exciting events that people travel from far and wide just to be photographed there. Our champions were no different. Decked out in their multiple medals from the previous day’s race, the three champions took their rightful place in Hayward Field history.
We spent the rest of the day at Bluebird Hill Cellars. Bluebird Hill is one of our favorite spots in the Monroe Hills and we are always thrilled to share this special place with visitors. Neil and Sue Shay are amazing hosts and pour exceptional wines. Andy was so impressed with the wines that he asked us to bring him a case when we head south to California in the fall.
Our last full day ended on our deck with dinner and wine for all. Grill master Neal threw beautiful New York Strip steaks on the grill, we tossed a big salad, roasted some potatoes and relished the last bit of our time together far into the evening. The weather had moderated some so we were able to enjoy a pleasant evening without the oppressive heat that had enveloped the Valley most of the weekend. Listen folks, when it’s 100 degrees in Eugene in July, that’s something to talk about!
Early Monday morning I headed off to work while Andy and Kristi prepared for their flight back to Sacramento. We were so happy they made the trip to Eugene to experience our wine, our home and our community. Can’t wait for our next visit together, I’m sure it will once again include food, wine and running!