Breaking News!

We were on Oregon TV News!  Our story is below and the news segment is at the bottom.

Although the recap of our adventure in the Pacific Northwest is still in the works, we wanted to let you know of the crazy day we had yesterday (Friday) in Oregon.

We woke up in a campground outside of Dundee.  The plan for the day was to visit a couple of vineyards, for Joe to get a haircut (sadly, there are no Magicuts in the U.S., but we’d figure something out), and head to our next campground, which was outside of Eugene, around 100 miles away.

After a pre-breakfast walk in the woods, in which we did come across two deer already at work on their breakfast, we ate and packed up camp.  Since we visited a few vineyards in the Dundee area yesterday, our goal was to head south towards Eugene and stop at some along our route.  The map we were using was a winery guide map, so it’s not to scale and it doesn’t have as much information as we would have liked.

Case in point: the first two places we drove to were boutique winery shops, not vineyards.  They were inside the city of Salem, not out in the country.  We’re talking bricks and cement, not grapes and dirt.  We didn’t bother going inside, since that wasn’t the experience we were looking for.  So we headed south to the next vineyard on our route.

View from the vineyard

Upon arriving at this third vineyard, which will remain nameless for reasons that will become apparent later in this narrative, we parked Apollo at the same time a news truck from KGW, the Portland NBC affiliate, pulled into the parking lot.  We went inside for a tasting, and since we were the only ones in the room, it was nice and quiet.  We tasted the two complimentary pours, which included a pinot noir and a pinot gris, and decided to share another flight – the cheap one since we are on a budget, which was four more pours and cost $5.

Another stunning view

It was during our tasting that the two gentlemen from the news station set up their camera in the hopes of catching some people tasting wine.  Since we were literally the only people in the tasting room, they introduced themselves, made sure we weren’t wanted by the FBI, and asked if it would be okay to film us and maybe ask some questions.  Despite the fact that we had been camping for two days and looked totally gross, that is exactly what happened: they got some footage of our sampling the pours and then we were asked questions about our experience with Oregon wines and vineyards, as well as our experience with vineyards of other regions.  The reporter and the photographer were both very friendly and easy-going, we felt that we spoke intelligently (insert your own joke here) and maybe even knowledgeably (we’ll insert our own joke here) despite having just consumed six pours of wine.  After the shoot (as we call it in the biz), we all chatted and we talked about our adventure, which they thought was pretty cool and ambitious.  It was an enjoyable experience, and we left thinking that there might be a chance we could be on the news that night, even though we would not have the opportunity to actually watch it.

(Although Joe was afraid he may have ruined our chances of appearing on-air by doing his stupid bit where, as the reporter approached us, Joe turned to him and said in faux-surprise, “Oh, hello.  I didn’t see you there.”  Yes, he really did that.  Yes, he is Lame with a capital “L”.)

As we were heading back to the parking lot, we were stopped by a staff member at the vineyard, who wanted to know if we would be interested in participating in some grape stomping, which would be filmed by the news crew.  (Again, we were the only people there who weren’t working at the vineyard.)  The vineyard was having a big event that weekend, and this was a huge publicity coup.  They were excited because maybe a million people around Oregon would see this news story and learn about the vineyard’s event starting the next day.  Since the only thing we had to do was get Joe a haircut and drink more vine, AND because our trip is about finding experiences and enjoying the moment, we said sure.  Joe agreed to do the stomping, so he went and changed into a pair of shorts; Erik was going to be the “swabber,” whatever that meant.

Barrels before the stomp-off

We went to the stomping area, where there were half-barrels lined in a row into which grapes would be placed for us to stomp.  While we waited for further instructions the news guys showed up and we chatted some more.  We gave them some more details about our trip, including mentioning that we were sleeping in our roof-top tent, which they thought was pretty neat, and that we were doing Help Exchanges along the way.

The stomp-off was going to be Team Apollo versus a team of two ladies from the vineyard – one of whom was our pourer from the tasting room, and the other was actually originally from Minnesota (shout-out to Albert Lea).  The objective was to stomp the grapes and collect as much juice as possible.  After three minutes, the volume would be weighed and a winner declared.  Erik learned that as swabber, it would be his job to facilitate the flow of juice from the barrel into the plastic jug, keeping it all flowing while preventing any blockage from stems and skins, etc.  And Joe was to stomp while not touching the sides of the barrel or placing his hands on it.

After a ready-set-go, we got to work with the camera rolling.  The grapes (which were green and quite delicious) were juicy and easy to burst.  Erik did an excellent job or swabbing, while Joe did an excellent job of spraying Erik with grape juice and peels.  After three minutes of a strange and tribal grape-dance, the result were weighed.  It was very, very close, but after the weigh-in we were announced as the winners!  And then the announcer retracted and said, “Oops, my mistake – the home team actually won.”  Uh, nice.  But as we said, it was very close.  We had 64.5 units of something and they had 65.0.  Not too bad for two rookies whose only goal during the day was to get a haircut (which still hadn’t happened).

Sweet, plump, beautiful grapes BEFORE

Traumatized and exhausted grapes AFTER






We washed off our feet, picked the grape skins off our faces, and accepted our defeat with our heads held high.  But then the news crew asked if they could see our truck with the tent on top.  Absolutely, we said.  We went to the parking lot, and they checked out our get-up.  Seeing Maggi in closed position was great and all, but they were really intrigued by what it would look like opened up.  And so we did.  As usual, it took about 5 seconds to open her up.  They thought it was quite nifty.  But then they wanted to watch us pull her down.  So, with the spotlight on us (yes, they filmed it), we pulled her back down in record time – probably three minutes.

Look natural

Anyway, our time with the news guys was really fun and they were super cool.  From the time we arrived at the vineyard, had our tasting, our interviews, the wine stomping, and the Apollo shoot, we were there probably 90 minutes.

90 minutes of smiling at the camera, helping the vineyard (nameless on this website) to promote their event this weekend.  No other non-employees were around.  It was literally us, the two newsmen, and the employees.  Two youngish-looking guys, maybe a little different look than the stereotypical “wine enthusiasts,” helping to make what was in essence a commercial for the vineyard.

Now…is it just us… or… maybe… don’t you think maybe some sort of thank-you gift could have been offered?  Did we mention that it was a vineyard?  And they have wine?  Lots of wine?  And they are probably going to sell a lot of it this weekend.  Maybe someone could have thought – in a goodwill gesture – of offering us a bottle of wine for our time spent?   Heck, a glass of wine?  Or maybe even just refunding our $5?  But no.  Nothing.

Are we upset?  Not in the least.  Annoyed?  Seriously, no.  We completely and totally have no hard feelings.  That’s just not who we are.  I guess it was just wishful thinking from two dusty travelers living in their truck on a very tight budget.

So we got into Apollo, drove south towards Eugene to another vineyard, had another tasting (complimentary), and purchased a bottle of their wine for our evening.

And Joe never did get that haircut.

Obviously, the reporters were there to do a story on the vineyard, not us – but here we are!  Enjoy!  


Nice guys finish second

This entry was posted in U.S. (Sept - Dec 2011). Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Breaking News!

  1. Sarah Duffy says:

    “I have no training…no technique…” That must have been the musician in you coming out, Joe. Love it. I’m sure 20/20 or 60 Minutes will be out to interview the two of you soon! Seriously, someone needs to pick this up…

  2. Leslie Zander says:

    “Wisconsin boys!” Love it!

  3. Paul Kovacovic says:

    Congrats, guys, on the newspaper feature. Looks like you’re having lots of fun.

  4. GailO says:

    What a hoot! You guys looked great – Joe, you stomped those grapes like you had been born to it! Can I have your autographs…..

  5. JoAnn says:

    Love following your travels! Keep writing to us!

  6. How awesome! Now I can say that I personally know two reality TV stars. And you didn’t even have to fight, swear or take off all your clothes!

  7. Ron says:

    When you get to the mad dog 20-20 winery let me know. DAD

  8. Greg M says:

    Wow, what a great feature of you two on TV! If you do any wineries in the Santa Ynez valley in California (between San Fran & LA), make sure to hit Rancho Sisquoc winery in Santa Maria, just a couple hours from Santa Barbara. It’s our favorite winery and we are wine club members there!

  9. Kristen says:

    You just vanquished the iconic “Grape Stomping” episode of ‘I Love Lucy’ from my mind.
    You truly deserved a case of wine as you weaved down the drive of, dare I say, a certain vineyard in the Williamette Valley Appalachian.
    I would implore Food & Wine to be among your first blog sponsors.
    Your charm, as always, is magnetic to oenophiles.
    Napa awaits you. Perhaps the Food Network will devote an episode to Maggi. The potential for a show is in front of them..
    Fingers crossed because both you look fabulous on TV!

  10. Linda says:

    Sounds like a great experience. It was fun watching the newscast – you both did fantastic!

  11. Andrea Lubov says:

    What a grand, glorious adventure! I lived in the inland Pacific Northwest (Spokane and Pullman) in the early 1970s when the grape growing was just getting started, and the wines were not noted for quality. Nice to see that the industry is maturing and the wines are getting great!

  12. Alice Williams says:

    Great story! I was in Oregon at Cannon Beach this summer. It’s amazing how much wine they have in that region. Fun to see you both again, too.

  13. Merie says:

    What a great story! I hope you liked Eugene – Chris has relatives there and we’ve always enjoyed our visits!

  14. Jennie says:

    Now you’re famous!

  15. Chuck says:

    …a special treat in every way, especially to hear your voices again.

  16. Cathy says:

    Too funny. Loved it.

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