Oregon Wine Crush Experience
October 2-5, 2010

On October 2nd PathNorth members and new friends met in Dundee, Oregon at the Black Walnut Inn for the PathNorth Oregon Wine Crush Experience. Hosts Martin Barrett, an owner of the 2005 Oregon Winery of the Year, Cana’s Feast Winery, and PathNorth Leadership Council Member Mike Kane welcomed the group to enjoy the best of Oregon wine country. Martin led the group on a tour of some of the best small wineries and vineyards of the region, famous for their world-class Pinots. While the conversations began on wine, they almost always ended with discussions of the parallels between viticulture and life.

On the first night guests were treated to a wine maker’s dinner featuring Cheryl Jones from Sozo Planet at the Joel Palmer House. Cheryl spoke on the value added to our lives when we are well blended with others who also desire to be excellent. Being in a community that shares common thinking and common desires strengthens our ability to support and care for others. On the other hand, she noted that the sacrifice of being in this community may come at the cost of individual identity or solo stardom. It requires humility to recognize that on our own we are not as good as when we are well blended with others.

Sunday morning and afternoon were filled with wine tours, and the day culminated with a casual dinner at Carlton Vineyards. This evening also brought a spirited competition on Carlton Vineyard’s croquet lawn overlooking the valley. Since what happens in Oregon stays in Oregon – we unfortunately cannot divulge who actually won the tournament, but the flow of good pinot definitely nursed any wounded pride.

At each breakfast gathering the group pondered the vineyard as a metaphor for life. In life and in the vineyard, we start each season on the same ground, with the same level of attention and care. Each season we apply the same level of effort, but we end up with vastly different results. Some years, some vintages, are simply better than others. While we may want to credit ourselves with the good harvest, wisdom teaches us that this is the result of forces we do not truly control. It is our responsibility, as workers in the vineyards of our own lives, to understand these outside influences as best we can. And we must accept that our understanding may never be complete and may change with the passage of time.

Thanks to Martin, Monday’s journey was a unique, behind-the-scenes look into wine-making at Cana’s Feast Winery. The group spent time in the cellar with winemaker Patrick Taylor, before heading to lunch with the crew for a chance to hear an insider’s view of winemaking. A demonstration cooking class and winemaker’s dinner with Chef Lisa Lanxon rounded out the evening. Building on the vineyard as a metaphor for life, Mike led the group to reflect on their own vintages. If working hard is the constant why do the outcomes vary? How do we deal with difficult seasons and disappointing yields? Often when beginning something new, we are in over our heads, driven primarily by passion. However, if we can open ourselves to help from our friends, and can find counsel from wise people, we are more likely to bear fruit in our lives and experience growth where it matters most.

Other reflections from attendees:

“That was terrific! Thanks so much for setting everything up, the company, wine, food and the wineries were just fabulous. Take care.”

“My wife and I had a great time in Oregon and made some new friends. We hit it off with everyone and built a special bond with Michael and Martin (similar backgrounds and age). The wine makers we spoke with were good conversation catalysts.
Martin did a wonderful job in his choices of venues and wineries. We met some amazingly passionate people during the tour. I have done some incredible things in my life but dinner in that barn is going to move up on my list of great evenings. Thanks.”

“This was PathNorth as its best: bringing interesting and reflective people together, to share their stories and form new friendships, all done in an extra-ordinary setting. I wouldn’t miss it.”


Questions? Please contact 202.467.2079

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