Jan 4, 2015

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Governor’s Inaugural Oregon Leadership Dinner at Willamette Valley Vineyards

In the fall of 2013, I attended the Governor’s Inaugural Oregon Leadership Dinner, a black-tie event that was hosted by one of Oregon’s iconic and most well-known wineries, Willamette Valley Vineyards.

The single barrel production Oregon Governor's Cuvee

The single barrel production Oregon Governor’s Cuvee

Presented by Governor John Kitzhaber and First Lady Cylvia Hayes, The Oregon Leadership Dinner was an opportunity to celebrate and move forward the most distinctive and innovative accomplishments between the Oregon’s public and private sectors.  Some of the evening’s guests who joined the invited private sector leaders were key elected officials and Heads of State; like, Secretary of State Kate Brown, State Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek, to name a few.

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L-R First Lady Cylvia Hayes, Jennifer Hills mother, Special Olympics Medal Winner Jennifer Hill and Governor Kitzhaber.

The evening’s beneficiary was Special Olympics Oregon, and the beaming multiple medal-winning Special Olympics athlete, Jennifer Hill, gave an incredible speech just before giving both the Governor and First Lady a couple of medals from her earnings.  Other speakers for the evening included founder of Willamette Valley Vineyards, Jim Bernau, Gerry Frank (of Meier & Frank); as well as, First Lady Hayes and Governor Kitzhaber.

The wooden box that holds the very limited Oregon Governors Cuvee

The wooden box that holds the very limited Oregon Governors Cuvee

But before the evening’s program got underway, each of the guests that arrived at Willamette Valley Vineyards got a first look at the just unveiled and totally transformed Tasting Room and Estate; as well as, a special take-home bottle of the first-ever Oregon Governor’s Cuvée – stored in a wooden wine box with a look-alike Oregon State Seal (changed ever so slightly with the addition of clusters of grapes).

The Oregon Leadership Dinner Program was placed at each seat for attendees of the special event

The Oregon Leadership Dinner Program was placed at each seat for attendees of the special event

Blended using highly revered 2012 vintage Pinot Noirs from several different vineyards and wineries throughout the Willamette Valley, there was just a single barrel of the Oregon Governor’s Cuvée produced by Willamette Valley Vineyards.  Served during the main course of the incredible Oregon Bounty dinner, this elegant Cuvée showcased lovely vibrant cherry, violet, mushroom and earth notes that flowed onto the palate in silky seamless waves of red fruits and fall spices.  Zesty acidity rounded out the fruits, and the finish is well balanced and long lasting.

The transformation at Willamette Valley Vineyards is truly spectacular

The transformation at Willamette Valley Vineyards is truly spectacular

Before trying the Cuvée, all guests had an opportunity to try each of the 2012 Pinots straight from the barrel, with the exception of one that was out of the bottle.  These samples were poured during the social hour that took place in the barrel room below the winery and tasting room at Willamette Valley Vineyards.  Light appetizers were served while attendees enjoyed barrel samples and mingled with the winemakers and vineyard owners that took part in the creation of the Oregon Governor’s Cuvée.

Willamette Valley Vineyards founder Jim Bernau stopped by our table to talk about the special Cuvee

Willamette Valley Vineyards founder Jim Bernau stopped by our table to talk about the special Cuvee

The entire evening was simply spectacular, and I felt truly honored to be a part of such an important event.  From arriving to the burning sconces outside of the newly renovated tasting room entrance to the personal meet, greet and tour of the transformed spaces, I was impressed with every aspect of the evening.  The staff, ambiance, food, and best of all, the wine, were incredibly memorable.  I’m looking forward to pulling the cork on the 2012 Oregon Governor’s Cuvée…someday.