Extravaganza will help meet 1,000 Acre Challenge
Participants at last year’s Three Rivers Land Conservancy’s Wine & Land Benefit enjoy the festivities.

The Three Rivers Land Conservancy's 5th annual Wine and Land Benefit on Sept. 9 is an event of remarkable appeal.

It will feature great restaurants and outstanding wineries teaming up to raise money to make sure that in the future there is clean air, clean water and space to grow healthy vegetables. And also healthy kids.

'That is the core of our mission,' said TRLC executive director Jayne Cronlund. 'Conserving land is the best thing we can do. It keeps nature close to home.'

Cronlund and the TRLC board of directors are shooting high with this event. They are seeking to raise $100,000, all of which will go toward land acquisition.

'We would like to get 200 acres in new acquisitions by the end of the year, and the Wine and Land Benefit helps do that,' Cronlund said.

That goal is not out of reach. The conservancy has had steady success, acquiring 400 acres of land for preservation, which is conservatively valued at $7 million.

But the way Cronlund sees it, the TRLC has to act quickly. That is why the organization has established the '1,000 Acre Challenge.'

'So many people are moving into the metropolitan Portland area,' she said. 'Eighty thousand acres have been identified as key ecological lands, which can filter water and provide habitat for animals.

'The 1,000 Acre Challenge is a stretch because it's more than double what we've acquired over the last 10 years. But there is so much pressure on our natural areas that it's important we act now. We work with private landowners to conserve properties - for everyone's benefit.'

Taking on the pressure of handling the event is Jody Ruff-Harcourt, who has lined up a roster of participating restaurants and wineries that will truly make the event a delight.

'This is a real showcase for wineries and winemakers,' Ruff-Harcourt said. 'We'll pair restaurants with wineries, and guests will be going to each station to pair wine and food. That might be a little intimidating, so we're hoping there will be interaction of our patrons with the chefs and winemakers.'

Ruff-Harcourt definitely had a big job in coordinating the event. Lining up more than 40 restaurants and wineries is not a task for someone afraid of hard work. But she had an easy sell when she told the restauranteurs and winemakers what the benefit was all about.

'Most of the restaurant chefs are very aware of saving resources and land,' Ruff-Harcourt said. 'They are very focused on local and sustainable products.'

Cronlund is focused on sustainable children. She is the proud mother of 1-year-old daughter Rose and notes, 'Whenever I want to feel happy I think of her.'

So, having land for kids' natural development is one of her big personal goals.

'Our board realizes how important this land is for kids,' Cronlund said. 'Their lives are so structured and so indoors in this day and age, and they don't have the chance to run around outside like I did when I was a kid.

'Richard Louv (in his book 'Last Child in the Woods') says this causes Nature Deficit Disorder, which causes kids to have problems with obesity and aggressive behavior. Kids need places to play.'

Tickets to the event cost $100. There will also be a raffle, silent auction and a live jazz band. The event will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. at Erickson Cellar Vineyards at 255 Stampher Road in Lake Oswego. For more information contact Jody Ruff-Harcourt Events and Culinary Productions at 503-577-6162.

Participating wineries in the 2007 Wine and Land Benefit include: A to Z Wineworks, AnneAmie Vineyards, Argyle Winery, Beaux Freres, Bergstrom Winery, Bethel Heights Winery, Chehalem Winery, Cristom Vineyards, David Hill Vineyard and Winery, De Ponte Cellars, Domaine Serene, Elk Cove Vineyards, William Hatchel Wines, Holloran Vineyard Wines, Ken Wright Cellars, King Estate Winery, La Bete Wines, Owen Roe Winery, Panther Creek Cellars, Rex Hill Vineyards, Sake One, Stag Hollow Wines and Vineyards and Stoller Vineyards.

Participating restaurants include Aquariva, Alberta Street Oyster House, Bay 13, Bugatti's, Chocolates by Bernard Callebaut, Ciao Vito, Fenouil, Fratelli, Genoa, Joel Palmer House, Steve's Cheese, Lucy's Table, Masu Sushi, Meriwether's Restaurant, Mingo, Nick's Italian Café, Paragon, Pix Patisserie, phresh organic catering, Saint Cupcake, Serrato, Tabla and Thirst Wine Bar.

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