Gratitude comes in plenty of forms during the holiday season. Many people express their thanks by gathering with friends and family around the table over a meal cooked with love. Happily, Oregon’s wine country celebrates in much the same way, only on a larger scale.
Thirty years ago, the few winemakers in the Willamette Valley decided to throw a party during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Over time, these annual festivities have become an important source of income and sales to many wineries. The staff, volunteers and interns work long hours to ensure guests from both near and far have a good time, and hopefully, buy lots of wine over the long weekend.
Six years ago, Chris Czarnecki, owner and executive chef of the Joel Palmer House Restaurant, hosted his first wine industry appreciation party. Every increasing in popularity, this tradition of gratitude has continued and the most recent gathering drew over 500 people.
Says Chris Czarnecki about the event:
“I started the appreciation party because we all rely on one another here in the Willamette Valley. It seemed a very natural thing to get everyone together after working hard all summer long. Not only does it give wine folks the opportunity to meet but it’s also an educational tasting experience.”
Warmly greeted by Sommelier Andrea Fulton-Higgins on the chilly winter evening, visitors were ushered into either the restaurant or the outdoor tent. Once guests began to arrive, Chris Czarnecki headed downstairs into the restaurant’s 3000+ bottle cellar to find several special wines for his company.
Each year, a copious amount of delicious food is cooked up and most of the wine arrives with the guests. The food spreads the length of a table indoors while the plentiful array of wines cover many tables within the festively decorated tent just steps outside the historic building. This year’s decadent food offerings included the restaurant’s signature dishes of “Joe’s Wild Mushroom Soup” and wild mushroom risotto topped with Oregon Truffle oil.
The annual event gives staff employed by the many Willamette Valley wineries and tasting rooms an opportunity to gather together, break bread with friends and peers and sample each other’s wares.
Just a few of the wineries’ staff at this year’s event:
Dobbes Family Estate
Van Duzer Vineyards
Willamette Valley Vineyards
Anam Cara Cellars
Methven Family Vineyards
Consider supporting those who so dearly embrace Oregon’s wine industry. If fine dining is on your to-do list, the Joel Palmer House restaurant in Dayton delivers a unique experience filled with exceptional local foods and wines. Focused on fresh, local ingredients, vegetarians and those with food allergies (including gluten) can be accommodated. Open Tuesday– Saturday 5-9pm, reservations can be made online.
The Joel Palmer House
600 Ferry Street
Dayton, OR 97114
Map to the Joel Palmer House
Joel Palmer House website