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Wine travels near and far

Cornelius winery sends bottles with Mrs. Oregon and to China


by: COURTESY PHOTO: BRIAN HARRIS - Mrs. Oregon holds one of the water bottles she gives out to kids, which she hopes will encourage water consumption instead of sugary drinks.On a grape-laden slope in rural Cornelius, local vineyard owners Jim and Holly Witte are tending fruit and aging wine barrels while finished bottles of their handicraft are enjoying both national and international exposure.

Tara Arnold, Mrs. Oregon 2013, will personally deliver the winery’s 2011 pinot gris and pinot noir next month when she travels to Tucson, Ariz., for the national Mrs. America competition.

“We’re tremendously excited,” said Holly Witte of A Blooming Hill Vineyard. “It’s really nice to be able to represent Oregon.”

This national recognition will follow the international attention the Wittes’ wine will gain when it goes on sale this week in China. A Blooming Hill was one of only two Oregon wineries chosen for distribution in that country by Suzhou Tianyouxiang Trade Co., Ltd. The Wittes shipped 84 cases of wine across the Pacific in June. This is the vineyard's first international foray, Holly said.

On the homefront, Arizona has strict regulations about shipping alcohol to consumers, so this will be the first time the Wittes' wine will make an appearance there, Holly said.

About 41 percent of Oregon wine is consumed within the state, but exports have recently been on the rise.

The Wittes got into the business at the beginning of the state’s wine boom. From 2000 to 2010, Oregon acreage planted in wine grapes increased 93 percent. Now, 1,915 acres in Washington County alone are dedicated to grapes—a sharp increase from 1970, when there were just 35 acres for five wineries on record in the entire state.by: COURTESY PHOTO: BRIAN HARRIS - Holly Witte of A Blooming Hill Vineyard pours wine during a Sunday brunch.

“This is definitely the year where people have started to intentionally find us instead of just running into us,” Holly said.

Mrs. Oregon visited A Blooming Hill Sunday, along with a dozen other guests, to celebrate her birthday and select the wine she’ll take with her to Arizona in August.

While there, she enjoyed a sunny brunch prepared by the Wittes -- fruit, Jim’s applesauce cake, scallops, frittatas, home baked bread, hash browns, sausages, jam and, of course, wine – and classic tunes by Big Ron Sabin.

“I love the community element of this place,” Arnold said.

A nurse at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Arnold has been traveling across the state with her crown and sash this year to promote pediatric health.

“I get to represent Oregon and the relationships between small businesses and communities,” she said.

Much like the annual Miss America competition, the Mrs. America beauty pageant features married women -- ranging in age from their 20s to 50s -- from each state, competing for the title given to a woman who stands out for her beauty, poise, eloquence and versatility.

She founded Movin’ It with Mrs. Oregon earlier this year to prevent childhood obesity and increase nutrition knowledge.

Traveling healthy kids days are a large part of the mission. Last Saturday, Arnold demonstrated healthy and fun exercises for kids along with health-product displays.

She’ll be at the Hillsboro Saturday farmers market Aug. 10 promoting healthy family lifestyles with fitness, snack choices and information for kids.

Visit A Blooming Hill at www.abloominghillvineyard.com or 5195 S.W. Hergert Road in Cornelius. 503-992-1196.

Conservation efforts

Greener grapes:

Jim and Holly Witte have committed to a multi-year conservation plan to reduce their emission of greenhouse gases and their impact on the Tualatin basin with help from the Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District.

“We love the land and we love that it is beautiful and we work hard to keep it that way. This seemed like an

opportunity to better the look and feel of the soil and pass something on to future generations,” the Wittes said.

Among their conservation efforts:

- They are restoring a stand of native Oregon white oak trees on the west side of their property

n Planting a buffer of native shrubs to provide a habitat for beneficial impacts

- They are testing their soil to fine-tune their soil

- They're using moisture sensors to determine when to turn on the drip-irrigation system




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