I admit I’ve been a wine club member and even longer a fan of TeSóAria wines. Recently they have started offering vegan tapas on their daily tapas menu to accompany their dozen or so wines that are available at any one time to taste or purchase by the glass, in flights, or in bottles, and many of those wines are award-winning. At the time of the brunch, they were up to 97 medals!
And now, starting today they have set aside every Thursday for what they call Vegan Thursday: Shut Up and Eat Your Vegetables night where all the tapas will be vegan – the menus are available starting at 5 PM. They also will be offering a vegan brunch with wine pairings by reservation only (one seating) every few weeks. It’s not often that you see vegan food paired with wines, and it’s worth highlighting for my vegan friends out and there – and even if you’re not vegan, the Tesoaria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing is so good you will want it anyway.
The name for TeSóAria Vineyard & Winery comes from combining Terra (earth), Sol (sun), Aria (air and music) which are three important parts that make their wines so unique. Owner and winemaker John Olson and his family love music, and it is part of the TeSóAria experience. At their wine members pick up parties I’ve often enjoyed hearing his children play music and sing, and they host live music in the Portland Tasting Room on Saturdays. While aging the wines in the barrels, TeSóAria plays music through Bose speakers to keep the wine moving – as well as possibly imparting a little extra terroir.
The TeSóAria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing Brunches will be offered every few weeks as a special event – aka, they will not be weekly so check their events listing on the website and sign up for their mailing list to be in the know. The next Vegan Brunch at the Portland Tasting Room is Sunday, July 24th, 11am $45, tout compris. Limited seating, RSVP required to events @ tesoaria.com
The food is inspired newly each time so expect to see new creative additions all the time by Chef Max Germano and Sous Chef Daniel Escalle (seen here preparing the Vegan Cassoulet during the vegan brunch) for what will be on the menu.
Here’s a look at the inaugural vegan brunch I attended to give you an idea of what the experience could include with the 4 courses with the wine pairings.
Tesoaria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing: Vegan Brunch
Chicory Salad with Roasted Apricot Vinaigrette and croutons paired with 2015 Vermentino Secco and 2014 Field Blend #1. The greens in this salad included endive, frisee, arugula and interestingly some wasabi greens to add a hint of spiciness.
Candied pepitas with radishes and macerated apricots add additional texture and flavors to the plate that I thought were best brought out by the Field Blend #1 since each dish gave me a chance to go a White vs Red: Who Did It Better comparison.
The Field Blend is the red wine that is a tribute to old school wine making where winemakers are more focused on the flavors then getting hung up on specific varietals. TeSóAria, by the way, cultivates more than 25 different varietals from the Southern Oregon Umpqua Valley, Celestina Vineyard in Medford Rogue Valley, riesling from Willamette Valley, and some from Northern California.
Homemade Cashew Cheese Stuffed Peppers with Tabouleh, Sweet Romanesco and Mint Oil paired with 2015 Riesling (sourced from Willamette) and 2014 Bull’s Blood (a Hungarian style red wine). He has a specific way he tells the inspiration story behind the Bull’s Blood name though rest assured there is no bull harmed in the story or in the wine making. One new trivia I learned though is that the Kadarka grape they use for this red were smuggled vines from Hungary that he inherited (he’s a rebel, but didn’t smuggle them in himself, phew)!
With the surprise spiciness from the peppers I thought the Riesling was the winner of this pairing to balance out the dish, though normally I like drinking the Bull’s Blood on it’s own!
Cassoulet is traditionally a peasant dish with beans and meat, and I enjoyed here how the use of mushrooms and miso really gave an extra thickness to the cassoulet to make it meaty like without actual meat. For me the Vindetta Reserve red wine was my preferred pairing of the two.
Dessert came as a Rosemary Shortcake with Apricot Jam, Apricots, Lemon Olive Oil, Fried Rosemary and Muscat Agave Nectar. The apricots are macerated in the Bella Rosa that here is also paired with the dish (2015 Bella Rosa Secco).
The other wine pairing here is the 2015 Sparkling Moscato, showing off their recently started TeSóAria Sparkling Wine Program – this particular Moscato just won a Silver Medal at the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and they were confused/surprised when he entered the wine in a growler! You see, the sparkling wines of TeSóAria are on tap and you can purchase them by the (refillable!) growler here in the tasting room.
Other Excuses/Rationalizations to stop by the Portland Tasting Room:
- On Tuesdays the Portland Tasting Room hosts Pizza Tuesdays where every Tuesday, housemade pizza is complimentary and certain wines are on special. Open house from 6 – 9 PM or until they are out of pizza.
- They also hold Hangry Hump Day every Wednesday at The Portland Tasting Room. Chef Max’s complimentary yummies and Wine Specials vary based on the week which in the past can be as varied (and making for fun wine pairings!) as from fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, lamb gyros, chicken teriyaki, to chicken tikka masala or smoked chicken biscuits with mac and cheese and more. Open house from 6pm to 9pm or until the food is gone.
- the vegan Olive Tapenade made with Castelveltrano and Kalamata olives with herbs and toasted bread;
- Cheese Board with house baked bread;
- Charcuterie Board that includes Ghost Pepper Salami and housemade charcuterie items;
- the vegan Mezze Board with Hummus, Lebneh, Marinated Olives, Roasted Almonds, Cucumber and Flatbread;
- Focaccia Pizza (including vegan pizza option);
- Smoked Salmon brined in TeSóAria Bella Bianca wine before being cold smoked;
- House cured ham sandwich with brie and house made mustard, greens and lemon chive vinaigrette
- TeSóAria Housemade Candy Bars with salted almond shortbread and vanilla caramel topped with dark chocolate and Maldon sea salt!
On the Thursday Shut Up and Eat Your Vegetables Vegan Takeover day, a recent visit yielded for me choices like
- Samosas with curry cauliflower and potato with a spiced tomato sauce, suggested pairing 2015 Riesling but you can try whatever wine you’d like, I prefer red wine to white myself and there are plenty to choose from, many are award winning as you can see from the 100 medals Tesoaria has won with their wines
- Portobello Sandwich with house made that day ciabatta, romesco, pickled peppers, roasted fennel greens, suggested wine pairing 2014 Bulls Blood though here I tried the 2014 Primitivo which was just as excellent!
- Som Tam Salad Rolls with a charred peanut and black garlic sauce, suggested pairing 2015 Vermentino or 2015 Bella Bianca; the charred peanut and black garlic sauce provide a savory and funky taste to mimic fish sauce but in a vegan way
- Lemon Rosemary Olive Oil Cake with macerated apricots, strawberry rhubarb compote, and fresh cherries, suggested wine pairing sparkling muscat, one of the sparkling wines of Tesoaria that you can get to go in a growler!
Their tasting menu also includes 5 flight options that include tapas paired with three glasses of wine – cheese, charcuterie, the wine maker’s flight with chef’s choice (1 of the wines will be the live barrel), or a library wine flight with chef’s choice of tapas to pair with the wine.
Suffice it to say you will not lack for choice for types of wine to try at TeSóAria. Usually there are a little more than half a dozen white wine and a dozen red wines to choose by the glass or to make a wine flight, plus 2-3 sparkling wine you can try. Purchase a bottle of wine from the live barrel and they will hand bottle for you and write a custom message.
TeSóAria wines are only available directly from the winery through their tasting rooms, mailing list, and wine clubs.
Locations of TeSóAria Tasting Rooms:
- The Portland Tasting Room: 4003 N Williams Ave, Portland, OR 97227
- The Roseburg Tasting Room & Winery: 512 N Curry Road, Roseburg, OR 97471