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mystical metolius

The Drake Magazine, Winter ‘19

Whether or not there are 400 fish per mile along Oregon’s Metolius River isn’t really the point. Nor is access, which is so candy-sweet that you’re bound to stumble into the ethical waters of proper distance when leap-frogging a fellow angler. And there is surely no questioning the majesty of the place.

The point is that I’ve had days on the Met where I’ve caught more bats than trout, yet it remains a contender for my favorite watershed on the planet. A temple of beguiling blues, the Metolius flows nearly 30 miles from its spring-fed source—a geological sleight of hand just north of Black Butte—through the sleepy outpost of Camp Sherman en route to Lake Billy Chinook in Central Oregon’s high desert. 

Along the way it’s a slideshow of postcard images. The river’s many pronounced ledges and channels produce a broad range of depths, currents, and riffs on water color—from brooding midnight blue to coral so bright it seems plugged in. Standing watch are countless brick-red Ponderosa Pines, with their puzzle-piece-shaped bark and enough rings to prove they were here long before the fishing became tricky.

Since they stopped stocking the river in 1995, the conversations have changed. Talk of 30-fish days transitioned to neurotic recollections of what nearly cracked the code: A size 18 Rusty Spinner tied to a 12-foot leader, caught in a little whirlpool on an overcast Tuesday; a BWO fished wet just after a rain; a Little Yellow Sally trimmed to look like it’s injured, preferably on the first 80-degree day of the year.


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why american winemakers are embracing melon

SevenFifty Daily, May '19

Melon de Bourgogne has flown under the radar for years. Though it’s native to Burgundy, it struggled and failed to compete with Chardonnay in the region. Eventually adopted by winemakers along the western edge of the Loire Valley, Melon, even in their vineyards, is better known by the name of its signature wine—Muscadet. Though more and more Muscadet producers are striving to make quality wines that transcend retail bargain bins and oyster-pairing specials, a group of American vintners think that they might be the ones to bring Melon de Bourgogne into the spotlight.

The U.S. is home to a small but noteworthy Melon de Bourgogne movement. A number of winemakers in the Willamette Valley are creating Melon wines that are sophisticated and worthy of reflection. And there are others producing it up and down the West Coast, from Marrowstone Vineyards in Nordland, Washington to Lieu Dit in Santa Barbara, California. From new plantings to 50-year-old vines previously mistaken for other varieties, Melon de Bourgogne in the U.S. is being heralded for its neon-bright acidity and textured mouthfeel.

Michael Wheeler, the cofounder of PDX Wine, an importer and distributor based in Portland, Oregon, welcomes the prospect of more Melon de Bourgogne. He has championed Muscadet for decades, touting its value and aging potential, and he has worked closely with a handful of growers since 2011. “Twenty-five years ago you could count the great old-vine Muscadet growers on one hand,” says Wheeler. “Today you need your toes.”

 

 

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The Cult of pliny

The Manual, May '19

There are few American beers more celebrated than Pliny the Elder. Russian River Brewing’s iconic Double IPA is the stuff of legends, attracting long lines and a wildly devoted fanbase. It’s also responsible for some of the most brilliant marketing tactics in domestic craft.

Andrew Harmon of BeerMongers in Portland knows the product well. The decade-old bottle shop has been working with Pliny for a while. He says the beer is a case study in marketing as well as the role of the internet and social media in beer. On top of that, he credits a very talented brewer.

“For a while, it was a running joke — and very real reality — that at least once a shift I would get a call asking if we had Pliny the Elder on tap,” he says.

Keep in mind this is Portland, nicknamed Beervana, where good craft ales virtually grow on trees. On top of that, the beer is the product of California, a state that is awarded a healthy amount of skepticism (rational and irrational) from many Pacific Northwesterners.

“I do think to a certain extent Pliny was kind of the first big beer to come out of the check-in beer nerd culture,” Harmon says. “It was on top of national beer media’s best-of lists for so long, and still is, and as the craft beer industry really took off in the late 2000s, people started traveling across the country to finally get to try it.”

Just a small handful of other limited-distribution offerings come to mind that inspire cross-country road trips. Harmon mentions Indiana’s Three Floyds and Heady Topper from beloved The Alchemist in Vermont.