A fine blend of wine, food and art kept nearly 800 participants entertained during the 14th annual Gold Beach wine festival on Saturday and Sunday.
According to co-organizer Mitchell Kuljis, the 29 exhibitors participating in The Whale of an Art and Wine Festival offered an array of tastes for all the senses.
I think it was a fantastic event, he said Monday, I was impressed by the high quality of art, and the vintages of wine have never been better.
I continue to be impressed by the high quality of talent and creativity in Curry County.
Elizabeth Kuljis, event co-organizer and Mitchells wife, said she believed the total package offered created a warm and friendly ambiance.
We focused on good art, good food, good wine, good friends, she said. We wanted it to be a place where you could come and relax and enjoy good conversation with old friends and new.
Ten Oregon wineries were featured at this years festival. In addition, five vendors offered gourmet food. There were 14 booths displaying food and art products.
Twenty-two Southern Oregon artists displayed their creations at the Event Center on the Beach, site of the festival.
Rob Powell, staffing the Chateau Lorane tasting booth, said he found event goers had a variety of tastes and wine knowledge.
Some are very knowledgeable about wines, while others were not, he said. There was interest in all our offerings from the standards to the exotics to the meads.
But everyone, no matter their wine expertise, seems to be finding something to enjoy.
Chateau Lorane, in business for more than 20 years in Lorane, offered a list of 22 wines at the festival, including whites, blushes, reds, meads and dessert wines.
Carol Bogedain and Charles Holmgren of Medford were pleased with the wine offered.
So far, so good, Bogedain said while sampling some of Chateau Loranes fare. We are really enjoying ourselves.
Hinman Vineyards/Silvan Ridge of Eugene, the seventh largest winery out of 250 in Oregon, was surprised at how quickly their product was being purchased, according to representative Caroline Chambers.
We are nearly out of our Rogue Valley Cabernet Blend and Early Muscat Semi-Sparking, she said Saturday afternoon. We could have brought a lot more stock.
I dont think we expected to sell so many cases and bottles.
Holmgren was so enamored by the Cabernet Blend, he purchased an entire case.
David and Rosie Donnelly of Medford sampled the Hinman Early Muscat.
From my first sip, David said, I liked it.
We are really glad we came, Rosie added, its been very good so far.
Other wineries participating in the festival were Henry Estate, De Nino Umpqua River Estate, Eola Hills Wine Cellars, King Estate, Champoeg, La Garza Cellars, Foris and Callahan Ridge.
April Johns, co-owner of Oregon Flavor Rack in Eugene, was offering a taste treat of mushrooms sauteed in Garlic Lovers Garlic and margarine for the wine samplers in attendance.
Its been a good crowd, she said. Its been nice and steady.
Everybody seems to be having a wonderful time.
Oregon Flavor Rack offers a variety of salt-free, all natural seasonings. Johns and her husband David have been developing and manufacturing their products for the past 10 years.
Corinne Mohrmann, of Oakland, Calif., was so impressed with the Johns product she was making a large purchase of individual seasonings and gift sets at the festival.
Im really impressed with their seasonings, she said. I want to take some home to share with family and friends.
Also exhibiting during the festival were Phils Amazing Chili, Enameled Jewelry by Anna Maria Franciska, Rogue River Apple Works, Myrtlewood Bowls by Ralph and Plumm Smith, Kaylah, SR Rugs, LipSense, Oregon Gourmet, Land & Sea Food and Image T-Shirts.
Brian Hewgill, of Pistol River Mushroom Farm Inc., offered one of the dozen presentations, demonstrations and seminars on both days of the festival.
Hewgill was cooking up an aromatic and tasty dish of chicken, shiitake mushrooms, butter and white wine. His Saturday afternoon Master Chef demonstration drew a large and steady crowd of eager food critics desiring a taste. No one was complaining.
Pistol River Mushrooms offers dried mushrooms, mushroom seasonings and gourmet foods. It has been in business about a year-and-a-half.
Rhinda Reed and Mona Hart of Gold Beach took advantage of another of the demonstrators on Saturday, artist Alexandria Eyer of Gold Beach, who was creating a charcoal portrait of the two women.
In addition to producing charcoal, acrylic and oil portraits, Eyer has been the art instructor at Gold Beach High School for the past four years.
Other Saturday demonstrations and presentations included The Art of Wines and Wine Tasting, An Introduction of Kayak/Canoe Trails on the Southern Oregon Coast, Myrtlewood by Dave Middleton, Cast Glass Art by Hugh McKay, and Artwork by Dauna Roberts and Sue Deal.
On Sunday, demonstrations and presentations were given on Land Sailing on the Oregon Coast, Classical Guitar Building by Les Stansell, Pottery Techniques by Maggie Frazier and Jane Newhouse, Alpacas Are More Than Just Small Llamas by Bill and Diane Swartz, and Fish Printing by Don and Kay Jenson.
Next years 15th annual Gold Beach Wine Festival is scheduled for May 18-19. The Kuljises said that organizers intend to make the event more family-oriented.
Next year, we want to extend the event to encompass the entire family, Elizabeth said.
Next year our focus will be for the whole family, Mitchell said. We want to have hands-on activities for children, maybe even build a 100-foot blue whale.