Are Wine Corks Compostable?

Can you compost wine corks? Or do you recycle wine corks? Both are possible. Cork itself is an incredibly unique wood that can be harvested in a sustainable manner. It doesn’t even harm the tree. If you understand what makes cork so special, you’ll also understand the proper ways to compost or recycle it.

Compost Wine Corks | Recycle Wine Corks | Rainstorm Wines

Why Cork is Special

Cork is made from cork oak, a tree that grows up to 65 feet tall. Yet the tree doesn’t need to be cut down in order to harvest it. It can keep on standing and growing. Cork oak regrows its outer bark. About once a decade, the bark can be stripped off an adult tree without causing any harm. On average, a single cork tree can see its bark safely harvested 16 times in its lifetime.

Cork Oak Stewardship

Many cork producers are also working with the Rainforest Alliance. While these trees grow in Southwest Europe and Northwest Africa,  the Rainforest Alliance itself is helping cork producers to earn Forest Stewardship Council certifications. These educate producers and place requirements on them to meet both social and environmental standards. This will help conserve cork oak safely into the future.

What makes cork so special? Why can’t you use any old product to seal wine? Cork is light and possesses elastic qualities. This allows it to serve as a stopper in many bottled products. It’s also impermeable so gases and liquids can’t pass through it. This keeps whatever is sealed in a corked bottle fresh and unspoiled.

How to Compost Wine Corks

Make sure that the cork isn’t actually a synthetic material made to look like cork wood. You can cut the cork open to check. Synthetic corks are foamy and look very uniform inside. Do not compost a synthetic cork.

If it’s a real cork, remove anything artificial attached to it. This can include foil covers, plastic, or screw lid material. Anything plastic, from a synthetic cork to a plastic screw cap, can go in the recycling bin.

To compost wine corks much more quickly, chop the cork up to help it break down. As in any compost material, the more green elements (like grass, plant clippings, or leftover vegetable scrap) added into the compost, the quicker non-green materials will break down.

You can even do this with other cork materials, such as a notice board. Just make sure that they don’t have glue or paint on them. You can cut these parts out and still recycle the parts without paint or glue.

How to Recycle Wine Corks

Real cork can be recycled, but don’t throw it in the recycling bin. Many stores have programs to recycle wine corks – you can take your corks into Whole Foods, for instance. Look for a store with Cork Reharvest Boxes.

There are also companies that have drop-offs at other businesses, such as ReCork and Cork Forest Conservation Alliance. You can search online for the nearest drop-off locations. If these locations are too distant, you can mail your corks in at no cost to CorkClub. There are other businesses that may offer these services, so don’t be afraid to check. These are simply the ones that are accessible to the most people.

Of course, you can also reuse corks in home art projects. If you’re recycling corks that were used in these projects, cut any parts with paint or glue off them before bringing them in for recycling.

So uncork a bottle of your favorite wine and explore your possibilities!

How Many AVAs Are in Oregon?

How many Oregon wine regions are there? This can be answered by understanding how many AVAs, or American Viticultural Areas, there are in the state. These are based on climate, soil types, elevation ranges, weather, and other factors that help influence what will grow in that area. Who decides this? They’re named by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. 

Oregon AVAs | Oregon Wine Regions | Rainstorm Wines

Oregon Wine Regions

There are currently a total of 19 AVAs in Oregon. Rainstorm Estate Vineyard and Winery is located in the newest one, the Van Duzer Corridor AVA. It lies in the heart of the Willamette Valley. The 60,000-acre area stretches west to northwest of Salem, between Polk and Yamhill countries.

Each AVA Is Unique

It’s the soil and wind that makes this newest of Oregon AVAs so unique. The soil is a marine sediment that remains from prehistoric times, and the winds bring cool nights in quickly. The salty Pacific Ocean air sweeps into the Eola-Amity Hills and is funneled southward through the corridor’s more gently rolling hills. Every afternoon, as temperatures change, you can feel that cool, refreshing wind come through.

Specialties of the Newest AVA

This rare combination of soil and climate makes for exquisite grape growing conditions. Grapes in the Van Duzer Corridor AVA tend to offer complex tastes. The soil and climate deliver nicely acidic wines that pair with both summer foods like BBQ, and rich, hearty winter meals. Of all Oregon wine regions, the Van Duzer Corridor offers the best Pinot gris, Pinot noir, and Pinot noir rose in the state.

Are More Regions on the Way?

Part of what makes Oregon so special is the sheer range of environments and climates the state has. Beyond the 19 current Oregon AVAs, there are an additional four up for consideration. These are Laurelwood, Lower Long Tom, Mount Pisgah, and Tualatin Hills.

Oregon wine regions offer brilliant range and beautiful landscapes. Be sure that the new Van Duzer Corridor is on your list of must-visits. You can see for miles, and the warming sun and refreshing breeze keep the summer days perfect.

Feast Portland Tips and Tricks

Feast Portland is nearly arrived. Are you prepared? The festival will be running from Thursday, September 12 to Sunday, September 15 this year. It has a “versus” theme for the first time: East Coast vs. West Coast. (Hmm, we can’t imagine who will possibly win!) Come by, savor the best tastes of the region, and listen to music while enjoying your favorite Oregon pinots. Here’s what you need to know:

Feast Portland | Oregon Pinots | Rainstorm Wines

Feast Portland Basics

Feast Portland benefits Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and Urban Gleaners. You can learn more about these charity organizations here. As always, there will be events leading up to Feast Portland as well. These include guided yoga and trail runs. There will be more than 50 main events! 

Tickets start at $35, but range upwards depending on which events you choose. Dinner Series events will range $175-$225. That’s not for everybody, so fun size events will be $35-$175. Drink Tank is $45-$55 for each panel. Classes are back, and they range $35-$200 depending on which you take. Main Events are between $95-$175.

Have a Plan

Talk to your entire group so you’ll know ahead of time what events you want to go to, what food you want to try, and if you’ll stick together or split up into groups. You don’t need every minute sketched out, but having an awareness of who wants to go to what will cut down on confusion at the event.

Meet People

Talk to other people. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Remember, Feast Portland takes place right before Portland dives into another 8 straight months of rain and everyone goes into hibernation mode. It’s the perfect time to expand your social circle.

Take Notes

You love someone’s food. As soon as you’ve left, you forget what business it was. No matter how hard you look, you’ll never find this most perfect restaurant ever again. We’ve all been there. That’s why you should grab business cards. Take a picture of the food, the restaurant name or logo, whatever helps you remember.

Relax with an Oregon Pinot

People sometimes get to Feast Portland and start running around like they’re going to miss everything. Let yourself relax. It’s summer. It’s hot. You’re there to refresh yourself. In between events of Feast Portland, take a moment to relax and enjoy your favorite Oregon pinots from Rainstorm wines. Take in the river, the music, the people. Things can feel very stressful and overwhelming these days. When you give yourself a break, treat yourself.

The Big Feast

The Grand Tasting is now named The Big Feast and will be taking place entirely on the weekend. It’s also moved from Pioneer Courthouse Square to Tom McCall Waterfront Park. This is a great change – the waterfront area is three times larger. It’ll run Saturday and Sunday, Sep. 14-15, from 1 pm-5 pm both days.

But I’m Hungry Now!

Early eaters will want to stop by Brunch Village. This also has a new location at The Redd (831 SE Salmon St). It’s both ADA accessible, has street parking, and has a lot of space both indoors and outdoors. Consider the VIP Brunch Village ticket upgrade. You can arrive half an hour early and meet Emily Elyse Miller, founder of the Breakfast Club and author of “The Breakfast Book”.

Who Will Feed My Voracious Children?

Look at Melty Fest Presented by Tillamook. This is Feast Portland’s first family-friendly event and it’s about time. Since every other event is 21 and over, Feast saw a need for families to get their good eats on. Melty Fest is taking place Saturday, Sep. 14 from 4-7 pm. Anticipate lots of melty summer foods and goodies.

What Chefs Will Be There?

Portland chefs include Matt Vicedomini from Matt’s BBQ and Rodney Muirhead from Podnah’s Pit, Maya Lovelace from Yonder, Carlo Lamagna from Magna, Tommy Habetz from Pizza Jerk, Gregory Gourdet from Departure, Nong Poonsukwattana from Nong’s Khao Man Gai, and Gabriel Rucker from Le Pigeon.

Visiting chefs include Aaron Franklin from Franklin BBQ in Austin, Chris Shepherd from One Fifth in Houston, Abe Conlon from Fat Rice in Chicago, Nite Yun from Nyum Bai in Oakland, and Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins from El Jardin in San Diego.

You can find the full schedule here at Feast Portland and on their lineup page.

5 Home Wine Bar Ideas

Home wine bar ideas can be as simple or complex as you want them to be. You might want to have something precise and ornate straight out of Downton Abbey, or you might prefer an unassuming space that’s perfect for enjoying wine while playing board games. It’s important that you stock a diverse range of quality wines like Rainstorm wines, and you shouldn’t forget the necessities: corkscrew, ice bucket, towel, etc. It’s much simpler to figure out a unique wine bar than you might think:

Home Wine Bar Ideas | Rainstorm Wines of Willamette Valley, Oregon

1. The Cabinet Bar

The cleverest home wine bars are hidden until you decide to partake. A simple cabinet can be turned into an entire bar. A great way to do this is to make the exterior fit in with the entire room, but to make sure the interior of the cabinet is a bold, happy color. This way, the wine bar goes unnoticed until it’s open – at which point it’s impossible to overlook.

2. The Cart

Bar carts range from the inexpensive to the wildly overpriced. There’s even a good chance you have something you can re-purpose at home. A bar cart is ideal because it offers you a great range of choice and everything is accessible. Store your best bottles here to show off. Gold or silver bar carts match just about anything. Make sure it has two tiers, and there are places for bottles and glasses.

3. The Comfortable Corner

Some of the best home wine bar ideas simply involve a counter and a table with some corner seats. A few wines on the counter, glasses on a shelf above, flowers on the table, sun coming in the open window, cushy corner seating, pillows to lean back on, a select choice of books or games…you probably have most or all of these things and it already ranks your home wine bar far above most fancy ones that forget about comfort and relaxation.

4. Glasses for the Occasion

Make sure your glass selection suits the wines that you have. You can also match based on how extravagant your wine bar is. Do you have an ornate home wine bar with special lighting that combines to recall the art deco period? Better have stemware. Or do you have a nice, relaxed corner with a comfortable, no-frills approach? Stemless wine glasses can suit this vibe much better.

5. Stock the Right Wines

The most impressive home wine bar won’t work without the right wines. Make sure your wine bar has a selection that matches the temperature and weather. Focus on wine brands that match diversity and quality like Rainstorm wines, and make sure you have the right glasses to enjoy them. 

Remember that wine is best when enjoyed communally. If a friend is coming over and loves a particular wine, all the fancy wines in the world won’t impress them as much as remembering to have their favorite on hand.

Classic Toasts for All Occasions

There are those people who can stand and give a toast that leaves the entire room in tears. More power to them, but if you’re not one of those people, what can you say? Maybe you’re not a good public speaker, you have social anxiety, or you’re just tired from the work week. Giving toasts doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Keep these classic toasts in the back of your pocket for the next time you raise a glass of Rainstorm pinot with friends and family:

Classic Toasts | Rainstorm Pinot | Rainstorm Wines of Willamette Valley, Oregon

To the next step:

The beauty of this toast is that it’s unique to everyone in the room, and it pays a deep compliment to whoever you’re there to celebrate.

“The next step in life is different for everyone in this room. May we all make it with the same grace and joy as the bride and groom.”

Swap out the “bride and groom” with mom or dad, your friend who took on a new job, or whoever is the center of attention that evening. You get the idea. Or try this version of a classic literature quote:

“We know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, let’s go to it laughing.”

To good health and a happy life:

You’ll never go wrong wishing everyone in the room health and happiness. No grinch is going to be upset that you didn’t wish them sickness and drudgery.

“May everyone celebrating today see health and happiness in their lives, and have the good fortune to share it with each other as we are right now.”

Or try the briefer:

“May you live as long as you like, and have all you like as long as you live.”

To acceptance and love:

You’re always thankful for the people who will be there no matter what. They’ve seen you succeed and they’ve seen you break, and they never felt differently about you in either instant.

“Here’s to those who’ve seen us at our best and seen us at our worst and love us regardless.”

If you want the joke to be on you, you can always try the old-fashioned version:

“Here’s to those who’ve seen us at our best and seen us at our worst and can’t tell the difference.”

What if you forget your toast?

If someone else already stole your classic toasts, or you can’t remember yours, just remember to speak from the heart. You don’t have to be complex or clever. Half of the witty toasts sink like a rock. It’s the heartfelt ones that people remember. You just have to mean it. Take a sip of Rainstorm pinot for bravery and to shake out the nerves, and give it your best shot.

Is Pinot Noir Sweet?

What makes a dry red wine? What’s the difference between dry and sweet? Let’s take the pride and joy of Oregon wine, pinot noir. Red wine like this tastes full of fruit like cherries and sometimes blackberries. So how is it that something with sweet flavors isn’t actually considered sweet? These questions have simpler answers than you think.

Dry Red Wine | Pinot Noir Red Wine | Rainstorm Wines

Why Dry or Sweet?

Wine that’s referred to as dry has less than 5% of residual sugar. More than 5% of residual sugar and the wine is referred to as sweet. Our taste buds obviously pick up on this. A dry red wine like pinot noir will almost always have less than 5% residual sugar. Why not add more? Pinot noir is finely balanced to bring out its fruit flavors in a way that doesn’t overwhelm. As a dry red wine, you can taste its entire flavor profile and enjoy each. As a sweet red wine, these flavors would be overwhelmed, and the textures and tannins that bring them out on your tongue would become lost.

Sweetness with Less Sugar

This doesn’t mean that there’s no sweetness in pinot noir. Red wine doesn’t often need sugar to have a sweet note. Elements like alcohol content, acids, and tannins are just a few that also influence how sweet a wine tastes. Pinot noir’s own flavor profile already features sweetness, so keeping it dry keeps it tasting like a full-bodied wine instead of candy.

How to Ask for Dry Red Wine

Most reds wines are kept dry because of this. It never hurts to ask, but if you’re self-conscious about making sure a red wine is dry, or not wanting as strong a taste of fruit, try asking for one that’s earthy. This is essentially super-secret wine code for a dry red wine that isn’t as fruit-focused in its flavors.

One of the advantages of pinot noir is that many varieties feature a robust and darker fruit focus that has depth beyond simple sweetness, all balanced against with earthy, dry qualities.

What About White Wines?

You may encounter wines with variations on dry and sweet. White wines especially will often be quoted as “medium sweet.” Treat this like it sounds: it’s sweet, but not too sweet. You may encounter wines with almost no sugar whatsoever…or you may encounter incredibly sweet wines with sugar that approaches 20%.

Do you like dry or sweet? There’s no wrong answer when it comes to wine!

Pairing Summer Produce with Pinot

You can’t build a table full of good summer food and wine pairings without Oregon pinot! Whether it’s pinot noir, pinot gris, or you’re blowing everyone’s minds with pinot rosé, there’s a pairing that’s perfect for each tasty treat on your table.

Summer Food and Wine Pairings | Oregon Pinot | Rainstorm Wines

Pinot Noir

Pinot noir is characterized by its versatility. It’s a red that can act like a white wine at times. Garden flavors are its forte. Kale is delicious alongside it, as are pasta dishes that are heavy on the basil. This makes pesto a fantastic choice for pairing.

Because pork is a versatile meat (depending on how you cook it, it takes on characteristics of red or white meat), it pairs beautifully with pinot noir. Venison or elk take on a mouthwatering characteristic as well. Avoid seafood unless it’s a fish with a very strong flavor of its own, such as salmon or trout.

For the best pinot noir wine pairing, look no further than duck. It. Is. Amazing. You can cook the duck with a plum glaze or make a cherry gastrique to make the meal sumptuous.

The best vegetarian pairing is homemade mushroom pizza and the best vegan pairing for pinot noir is a mushroom risotto. Or just cut out the middle man and go straight for a pan of garlic butter mushrooms. There’s something about pinot noir and mushroom dishes that is heavenly.

Pinot Gris

Like its red wine cousin, pinot gris is exceptionally versatile and crosses a lot of red vs. white wine boundaries. It’s full-bodied and helps tropical notes linger by way of an oily mouthfeel.

That means that the more “greasy” the meal is, the more suited it is to go with pinot gris: BBQ, french fries, hot wings, or any kind of fast food or takeout (but especially Chinese).

This doesn’t mean there aren’t healthy pairings as well. In fact, pinot gris finally answers that long-standing impossible question for summer food and wine pairings: what in the world goes with asparagus? The answer is pinot gris.

For the best pinot gris wine pairing, keep it simple and healthy: lemon chicken with a side of asparagus.

For vegetarians and vegans, try asparagus and cauliflower soup before a main course of potato ravioli with caramelized leeks. If you don’t feel like cooking for yourself and want a faster, more adventurous alternative, order meatless hot and sour soup and discover how perfectly it pairs with pinot gris.

Pinot Rosé

Here we get to something a little more unique and lighter. Pinot rosé matches a very bright taste with soft texture. It may be the ultimate summer wine. Pinot rosé matches a number of berry flavors with hints of rosé, pomegranate, and – because it’s an Oregon pinot – an aroma that suggests mountain rains. It’s a very cool and crisp wine, with dry characteristics. Chill it and break it out on your next trip to the beach.

As for pairings, this is a wine made for appetizers. Think goat cheese plates, crab dishes, and rosemary flatbread.

What’s a meal to pair with pinot rosé? Try grilled swordfish with a peach salsa. As an alternative, grilled halibut with a mango salsa is also top-notch. Push taste before spiciness on the salsa front, but don’t be afraid of a little spice. Pinot rosé balances it out nicely.

For vegetarians and vegans, let’s dive into desserts. Does it have fruit in it? Then it probably goes with pinot rosé. Fruit tarts and lemon bars are especially satisfying because of the way tartness plays with sips of crisp, fruity wine. That might be your best bet…unless you like chocolate. Now this is so dangerous a habit that you didn’t hear it from us, but try pairing vegan dark chocolate truffles and pinot rosé.

What’s on your menu this summer?

What Makes Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Unique

Experienced winemakers recognize that one of the grapes that is the most responsive to the conditions it’s grown in is the Pinot noir. Pinot noir is extremely sensitive to variations in the air and soil. It’s been found that some of the highest quality of Pinot noir can be found in Willamette Valley, Oregon. But what makes Willamette Valley Pinot Noir so unique and delicious?

Willamette Valley Pinot Noir | Oregon Wines | Rainstorm Wines

Oregon wines are known throughout the country as being clean, refreshing, and surprisingly complex. One of the reasons is that Oregon enjoys four glorious seasons. The changes in temperature and sunlight allow the soil to help produce grapes that have a depth of flavor that you can’t find in other regions. The time of harvest is also key and is different in Oregon than in other vineyard states, including California.

The soil in the Willamette Valley varies from having marine sediments to decomposed lava. A good amount of it has sandstone and mudstone in it and most have almost no carbonates. This makes it so that the soil drains fairly quickly, which helps the grapes grow and ripen beautifully. Because of it’s short growing season and the fact that it requires a cooler atmosphere, the grapes are able to grow in their optimal condition which makes them ideal for the winemakers.

When you’re looking for Oregon wines, specifically an amazing Pinot Noir, check out the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. The vineyards are often blended because the sizes are small due to the angled and sloped land.  This blended mixture makes for a deep and rich, full Pinot Noir that you can’t find anywhere else.

How Do You Pick a Good Rosé Wine?

Rosé has long been a summer favorite. It pairs perfectly with sunny days, trips to the beach, backyard barbecues, and chats on the patio. The truth is, though, that rosé wine is essentially a lighter version of red wine. It’s fermented just as red wine is, only for a shorter amount of time. A good rosé wine will have a nice, pink appearance but will have that rich red wine flavor that we all enjoy. It’s perfect to pair with a variety of treats, including Asian food, cheese, fish and even turkey dinner.

Good Rose Wine | Rose Wine Brands | Rainstorm Wines

How do you select rosé wine brands that will meet your needs – regardless of what season it is?

To begin with, it’s always a smart idea to select your wine from a trusted region. Province, California and – our personal favorite! – Oregon are premier rosé-producing regions.

Should you be concerned with age? Some people believe that the older the vintage, the better the wine. While this holds for some types of wine, it isn’t necessarily true for a good rosé wine. If you want the best rosé wine, look for a fresher vintage. This usually means you’ll have to purchase a wine that was made a year prior to the current year. The fresher the vintage, the more delicious the rosé.

If you would rather have a fruity rosé, look for a darker color. The darker rosé has a more rich mouthfeel and can often be much sweeter than a lighter colored rosé.

The best way to find your favorite is to explore! Why not host your own tasting event with friends? Buy a selection of rosé wine brands, prepare some appetizers, and see which bottle comes out on top. It’s a fun way to discover your new go-to for summer, for picnics, for quiet evenings, and for just about every event you can think of.

What’s So Special About Oregon Pinot Noir?

The pinot noir grape is one of the most commonly grown wine grapes in the world – but the Oregon pinot noir is uncommonly delightful. What makes this grape, and the wine it produces, so special?

Pinot Noir Oregon Brands | Oregon Pinot Noir | Rainstorm Wines

The Land is Perfect for Pinot Noir

When it comes to cultivating the pinot noir, Oregon brands have an advantage. Willamette Valley, for example, features a special microclimate that combines intense sun with the cooling effect of Pacific Ocean breezes. This gives the wine produced a perfect blend of fresh “greenness” without a sharp, bitter flavor.

Oregon pinot noir needs little chemical interaction, and winemakers work with nature – instead of against it – to cultivate exceptionally aged wines that are among the finest in the world.

Microclimates Make the Difference

While microclimates give Oregon pinot noir producers an edge, it also gives the region’s wine incredible versatility and diversity. There are differences you can smell, taste, and savor depending on the conditions in which the grapes are grown each  year, and Oregon wine brands have the wisdom to let nature take the wheel with minimal interference. This creates flavors that may be unique to a season, and wine lovers applaud the region’s ability to defy convention – and, of course, craft gorgeous vintages!

Oregon Makes It Special

Oregon hit the wine scene in the 1960s and 1970s when intrepid growers sought to maximize the versatility of the land. While a cooler climate, they worked to make the region not only viable but a world leader. With pinot noir, Oregon brands established themselves as innovators in the field.

Oregon pinot noir is widely acclaimed and enjoys tremendous success. And for good reason. It offers a wonderful taste experience, pairs beautifully with a variety of dishes (making it an excellent fit for our foodie culture), and tastes like… well, home.