Stop whatever you’re doing, and head over to gorgeous Willamette Valley. August is berry-picking time, and this 150-mile stretch of Oregon is popping with flavor.
While Willamette Valley wines are world-renowned and vineyards dot the landscape, the area also boasts acres of farms. These growers and producers help fuel Oregon’s appetite for hyper-local foods. If you are in the mood for blackberries bursting with sweet juice with the slightest hint of sass, go to the nearest U-Pick location (find one here!).
Sure, you can buy berries at farmers’ markets, but there’s just something about picking your own. You get to select the plumpest, blackest berries on the bush and start imagining all the wonderful preserves, desserts, and dishes you will enjoy as the result of your harvest.
Try a spinach, feta, and blackberry salad with a balsamic dressing or whip up a to-die-for blackberry and pinot noir steak sauce. You’ll need:
- ½ cup Rainstorm Pinot Noir
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
- ⅔ cup beef stock
- ¼ cup fresh blackberries
- 2 tbsp blackberry preserves
- 1 tbsp butter, cold
- 2 steaks
- Fresh rosemary
Sear two steaks with a sprig of rosemary. While those are resting on a plate tented with tinfoil, make up the sauce. Using the same pan, cook shallots and thyme on medium heat until soft (about 2 minutes). Add the wine, and turn the heat up. Scrape browned bits from the steaks — wonderful flavor!
Reduce the wine by half, which takes about 3 minutes. Add the beef stock, berries, and berry preserves. Mash the whole berries with the back of your spoon. Simmer until the sauce coats the back of your spoon. Remove from heat and add the cold butter. Salt and pepper as desired. Drizzle the sauce over your steak and enjoy.
The possibilities are endless — and delicious. Of course, the berries may be too irresistible to make it all the way home! In that case, get your fruity fix from your favorite Willamette Valley wines.