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Rest, rejuvenate with fun excursions

Tesoaria Wines are getting plenty of notice from the winerys 1,500 wine club members and wine industry authorities. The wines have won 107 awards so far this year.Husband Mark and I have a pretty rigorous work week; we often won’t get the entire weekend off together, so we look for opportunities to rejuvenate mind, body and spirit that are close to home, but give us that feeling of being in another world. We discovered some real gems last week — yep, two escapes in the same week. I’ll share them separately.

The first was a cross-town date night to TeSóAria Vineyard & Winery’s tasting room on North Williams in Portland. We met winemaker John Olson who shared the tale of TeSóAria with us. He said before he turned to winemaking as a career he was in construction development in California. When the recession hit in 2007, he recognized it was time to get out of that industry and started considering new ventures. A next door neighbor suggested they purchase a small vineyard together and a trip was planned to visit Roseburg.

As a “recovering surfer,” John wasn’t impressed with rural Southwestern Oregon, but somewhere along the line something changed. “We went to the winery and starting tasting, and I fell in love with Roseburg,” he said.

John and his wife Joy purchased the former Palatai Winery in Roseburg in 2008; they grow 21 different varietals, which inspire John to create innovative wines. The name comes from the terra, or earth (Te); sol or sun (So); and aria, meaning the music and air (Aria). They have established an award-winning wine program with a cult-like following for their unusual varietals and blends, offering wines such as Kadarka-based Bulls Blood to Riesling, Sangiovese and Vermentino. Their wines are impressive and win awards practically daily. When we visited in mid-June, TeSóAria wines had won 107 awards in 2016 alone. No wonder the wine club membership tallies more than 1,500 loyal fans.

In the early years, John held wine club pickup parties in Portland, but recognized he needed to make delivery easier for himself and club members when attendance at a party topped 450.

“It just made sense to bring the wine to Portland and open a tasting room here,” he said. The Portland tasting room was opened Dec. 7, 2013.

“You might remember that day — we had a huge snowstorm,” John said. “It took our crew 12 hours to drive from Roseburg with the wines.”

He spends half the week at the winery in Roseburg and the balance of time at the North Williams tasting room, which is really a fun and happening neighborhood place. The vibe is hip, the wine excellent and the food pairs expertly to the wine selections. We were there on Tuesday — Pizza Tuesday, as they call it. Chef Max Germano prepares gourmet pizzas, which are free to all. Just order a glass or bottle of wine to go with the yummy pizza.

Wednesday is Hangry Hump Day; Chef Max creates complimentary foods and wine specials. Thursdays are Vegan Tapas, a menu of seasonal mezze boards and other dishes designed to pair with TeSóAria wines. They offer wine pairing dinners, too. Check the website for the schedule.

TeSóAria produces more than a dozen unique blends and single-varietal wines with memorable names like Bull’s Blood which features rare Hungarian Kadarka, Kekfrankos and Blauer Portugeiser grapes; Redacted, which highlights the nearly extinct Abouriou grape. Single varietal whites include Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris and both off-dry and dry versions of Vermentino; single varietal reds include Dolcetto, Barbera, Syrah, Tempranillo and Pinot Noir, among others.

We took home a bottle of 2015 Vermentino, a crisp and spicy white that will pair nicely with salads or salmon on a hot summer day, and a 2014 Bulls Blood. There is a great story behind the name — ask the staff about it. John considers this his finest example of Bull’s Blood to date. He says it is “quite age-able and will reward those who have the patience to lay this one down.”SUBMITTED PHOTOS: - Winemaker John Olson, who with his wife Joy founded Tesoaria Winery in Roseburg, invite all to visit their tasting room in Portland. Its a hip spot, and just a short drive away.

Expand your neighborhood a little; take the short drive to TeSóAria Tasting Room at 4003 N. Williams Ave. in Portland. You can learn more about John, his farming practices and winemaking style, the wines and wine club memberships online at tesoaria.com.

I’ll share our second rejuvenating excursion next week — I’m savoring it for you.

In the meantime, try this gourmet pizza recipe, reminiscent of those created by Chef Max.

Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure!

Summer Squash Pizza

with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 garlic clove minced

All-purpose flour for dusting

6 ounces pizza dough

Pinch of crushed red pepper

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 small onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup shredded part-skim milk mozzarella

1 teaspoon chopped summer savory or oregano

1/4 pounds summer squash, thinly sliced on a mandoline

2 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts

Preheat the oven to 500 F. Preheat a pizza stone. In a small bowl combine the 1 tablespoon olive oil with the minced garlic and let stand. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to form a 12-inch round, 1/4-inch thick. Transfer the round to a lightly floured pizza peel.

Leaving a 1/2-inch border of dough, brush the round with the garlic oil and sprinkle with crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Scatter the onion slices over the dough; top with the mozzarella and savory. Arrange the squash slices on top in a single layer, overlapping them slightly. Dot with the crumbled goat cheese.

Slide the pizza onto the hot stone and bake for about 5 minutes, until the bottom is crisp and the squash is slightly browned. Transfer the pizza to a work surface. Sprinkle with the walnuts and drizzle with olive oil. Cut into wedges and serve.

Pairing suggestion: Goat cheese and summer squash go well with Sauvignon Blanc’s herbal citrus character.

Recipe adapted from Foodandwine.com.

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281 ext. 100. Follow her on Twitter @barbrandallfood.