The Willows B&B Cooking School

August 27, 2010

The Willows Bed & Breakfast and The Willows Cooking School are two of the best kept secrets of Southern Oregon, but the word is getting out.

The property is one of only 75 in the Rogue Valley listed on the National Register of Historic Places with a history as rich and varied as its many residents. The rooms are elegantly appointed, many with antiques. Amenities include a jogging track, tennis court, croquet lawn, and five lush acres of landscaped gardens, flowers and ponds.

The cooking school located in the carriage house can accommodate classes of up to 16 students. The large, airy country kitchen is adjacent to the herb, vegetable and fruit gardens on the estate and makes a perfect setting for relaxed instruction indoors and on the patio. The estate garden’s bounty is often used in the recipes and lessons.

It’s a great place for a local getaway, and they have a tasty lineup of classes planned all the way into 2011.

» The Willows Cooking School
» The WIllows Bed & Breakfast

Meet us at Marché

Marché in Eugene, Oregon takes its name from the French word for market. Aside from being one of the best restaurants in its bioregion, founding chef and owner Stephanie Pearl Kimmel believes in supporting local farmers, ranchers and foragers who are dedicated to providing organic, free-range, chemical-free, genetically-pure ingredients.

The restaurant seats 75 and features an exhibition kitchen, stylish bar, wood-fired oven, private dining and outdoor tables surrounded by a garden of herbs and edible flowers. Their menu celebrates the bounty of the Pacific Northwest and evolves seasonally to deliver the freshest farm-to-plate experience possible.

Chef Kimmel was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2006 and was recently invited to the White House by First Lady Michelle Obama to cook and consult for her national “Chefs Move to Schools” initiative. Marché is a major force on the Eugene food scene with a fine dining restaurant, museum café, market café, catering and a provisions store featuring everything you need for the cellar and the pantry.

Marché will also be hosting our first Eugene dinner in September!


2009 Reds are in Bottle!

August 25, 2010

Shhhh…. can you hear the sigh of relief? The 2009 Syrah and Grenache were bottled this week. No question, farming is a 52 week per year job. In the winery, the job begins at crush. To make wine at Cowhorn requires patience and vigilance from September to bottling the following August. For Bill, who leads us in the process, he is constantly on watch. He is alert for potential problems, and he is always planning ahead for the next task, whether it is fermentation chores, racking, filtering or ultimately bottling. Yes, it is a sigh of relief. One that will last 3 weeks until we begin the process all over again!

– Barbara Steele

Vino Paradiso and Cowhorn

August 23, 2010

Dinner at Vino Paradiso was last night – what a time was had by all! The venue, food and wine were exquisitely matched. Dinner lasted four hours! No one wanted to leave – so relaxed, so fulfilling, so gratifying. Thank you to our friends in Portland and from Southern Oregon for joining us and making this night so complete. I feel lucky to have been there.

– Barbara Steele

Winery goes beyond organic

August 13, 2010

JACKSONVILLE, Ore. — Don’t toss that wine bottle cork into the trash. Or the soft metal bottle cap. And save the bottle.

The cork and bottle can be reused. The metal can be recycled.

That’s the message Bill and Barbara Steele are preaching as they attempt to establish a closed loop system that creates a self-supporting environment at their Cowhorn Vineyard and Garden.

They’re hoping their effort will gain momentum in Oregon and inspire other agricultural operations to be “green.” Cowhorn is the only certified organic and biodynamic winery in southern Oregon.

The Steeles were pleased with the results in 2009. Cowhorn, whose 11-acre vineyard of five varietals was only planted in 2005, partnered with the Ashland, Ore., Food Co-op to collect used corks at both businesses. The Ashland co-op is southern Oregon’s only certified organic retailer.

An estimated 400 pounds of all-natural cork, from a variety of wine bottles, was collected over the past two years. That’s over 70,000 corks, according to the Steeles.
The cork was shipped to Western Pulp in Corvallis, Ore., and was recycled into form fitting wine-shipping packaging.

Also in 2009, Cowhorn shipped 1,000 of its own used wine bottles that it had collected to the Green Glass Co. in Wisconsin. That company then turned the bottles into tumblers by cutting off the tops and smoothing out the cut edge and making them into goblets by turning the cut tops upside down, adding a glass base and smoothing off the cut edge.
“They’re selling,” Bill Steele said of the recycled bottles. “The last time we checked, of the 1,000, there were less than 300 left.”

The metal caps from the wine bottles are collected and go into the curbside recycling containers.

“We practiced biodynamic standards in the household for quite some time, so it wasn’t much of a leap, just a natural progression, to carry it over to the farm,” Barbara Steele said. “Everything in nature flows in cycles, and there really is no such thing as waste. It’s not enough for us to endeavor to grow great grapes and produce world-class wine. Being biodynamic is also about closing all of the loops and that means taking responsibility for our packaging.

“We hope to inspire other wineries and wine lovers to do the same in their region,” she said.

The Steeles explained that in following the biodynamic philosophy, they had soil samples analyzed to determine what garden crops and winegrapes would grow best on their property in order to be productive without using artificial methods. The continuing goal is to recycle everything possible. There is an enclosed recycling station at the winery with five bins that the Steeles and their five employees use. The result is that at the end of each week, the farm has only one residential sized garbage sack of unrecyclable refuse.

“We’ve changed the thinking of five families, those that work here, in regards to recycling and they take that home with them,” Bill Steele said. “We’re also showing our wine club members what can be done. We’re trying to be inspiring, to educate people about what is possible.”

– Craig Reed

Vino Paradiso

August 6, 2010

You can imagine our surprise when we heard that Vino Paradiso owner and Pink Martini member Timothy Nishimoto took COWHORN on tour. We were equally ecstatic when Timothy agreed to host a winemaker dinner for us on August 22. Sunset magazine called it one of “their favorite wine bars around the West,” the New York Times dubbed it “Portland’s swankiest wine bar,” and Wine Spectator has honored the hot spot with multiple Awards of Excellence.

Vino Paradiso Wine Bar & Bistro is downtown Portland’s only bona fide wine bar, located in the Pearl District. It was opened June of 2005, as a warm, inviting, hip, yet casual place for friends to hang out for fabulous food and a wine list that is at once easy to read and eclectic, with choices for the meek as well as the wild. Their goal is to shake the notion that one must know a lot about wine or have a lot of money to enjoy wine at a restaurant.

» Visit

The glass is greener

August 3, 2010

Glassware “upcycled” from old bottles is symbolic of one Oregon winery’s efforts to reduce wine-related waste, from creation to consumption.

By Joel Gorthy

The wine industry is growing ever-greener, with continual advancements in the use of clean energy to power wineries and tasting rooms, for example, and commitment to chemical-free vineyard practices. Many of Oregon’s wine producers have earned a variety of certifications as organic and sustainable operations, with a handful earning the more rigorous Biodynamic label from the Demeter Association.

One Biodynamic-certified estate operation, Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley, also complements its ultra-low-impact winemaking operation with recycling programs intended to reduce material waste related to wine consumption.

Earlier this year Cowhorn shipped 1,000 used wine bottles to The Green Glass Company to be converted, or “upcycled,” into heavy-duty goblets, pitchers, tumblers, vases and votives. The repurposed glass is available for purchase at the winery, 1665 Eastside Road in Jacksonville, or online at (see “Topaz” collection).

“Everything in nature flows in cycles, and there really is no such thing as waste,” says Barbara Steele, co-owner of Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden. “It’s not enough for us to endeavor to grow great grapes and produce world- class wine. Being Biodynamic is also about closing all of the loops and that means taking responsibility for our packaging.”

Cowhorn collects not only used bottles from customers and its own tasting room, but corks and even the soft metal wrap from bottle tops. The corks are converted by Western Pulp into a reusable, compostable wine packaging material; the metal wrap enters the reuse stream at Rogue Recycling.

“We provide our local community a way to upcycle glass and recycle corks, and hope to inspire other wineries and wine lovers to do the same in their region,” says Steele. “One of the greatest aspects of the emerging Biodynamic wine world is that there is a genuine spirit of friendly competition in an all-out race to the top to do the right thing.”

Visit to learn more, or for a broader look at eco-friendly practices and certifications in the state’s wine industry.