Wine by the Choice - Coeur of Discovery French Master Chef Benefit Dinner

Imagine you’re on the Lewis and Clark expedition, also called the “Corps of Discovery”, and you are their Chef.   As you near the end of your journey you find yourself in the heart of the Pacific Northwest.  You look around and are in awe of the bounty of food and wine found in the area.  In the heart (also known as “coeur” in French) of the Northwest you find Skamania Lodge where we are surrounded by world-renowned flavors right in our backyard. To share the essence of our region, we have curated an event, the “Coeur of Discovery”.

Our event is a celebration for the senses and is hosted by our own Executive Chef Zac Jansen. Chef Zac will be the host for three outstanding French Master Chefs and 12 local wineries, who together will create an unforgettable evening. The abundant discoveries culminate in a French-inspired journey through six courses that include the most delectable items from the Pacific Northwest.

Our General Manager, Ken Daugherty, hand-selected each winery with careful consideration. Ken writes:

As the team came together to create the Coeur of Discovery, a French Master Chef Project, I knew that I wanted to be intimately involved in the event. My love for food and wine has always been the driving force in my career and this event has given me the opportunity to create a team to work with some of the best chefs and wineries in the industry so naturally, I raised my hand to lead the winery selection committee. My wine education started in the 1980s at the Salishan Coastal Lodge, working in the cellar alongside Phil DeVito. Phil created one of the greatest wine cellars in the country and one of the most celebrated wine programs in America. He consistently won the Wine Spectator Grand Award and even won the Best International Wine List in America.

My job was more on the business end of things however we would always stop and taste wine whenever a winery representative would come by. It didn’t matter if it was 8:00 AM or 5:00 PM, we were always ready to taste. Rod Ault, a retired gentleman that loved wine, took a part-time job with us helping Phil order and receive wine. I would be busy in the office building inventories, wine lists, reports, etc. providing Phil with the information he needs to hone his list. I would hear Rod say, “Ken, you probably should come in and taste this!” I knew I was in for a treat. Working with Phil, Rod, and multiple Salishan enophiles, was a great education for me. I remember clearly, watching the Oregon and Washington wineries take their place amongst the great wines of the world and observing as our guests who couldn’t get enough of them. California and European wines were suddenly, sitting on the shelves.

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a nostalgic guy. I love talking about the winemaker dinners that we would host with Hubert Trimbach, Roederer Champagne, and Duckhorn Vineyards. However, the most memorable events were celebrating the great wineries from the Northwest. I’ll pause here and let you know that there were also times when Rod would say, “Ken, we don’t have to drink this!” In a humorous way that would make us both laugh. He also would drink a nice crisp white wine and say, “Ken, this is the wine I like to drink when I watch my wife mow the lawn.” I’ve used that line numerous times and luckily for me, my wife likes to mow the lawn.

Well, as the years have passed, I have stayed close to the Northwest wine scene. I remember early on tasting Eyrie Vineyards, drinking wine from Panther Creek made by Ken Wright, and then celebrating the opening of the Ken Wright Cellars. When L’Ecole #41 came through the doors, all work stopped, and class would start. These wineries have stood the test of time and remain at the top of their game. The wineries that have been selected to participate in the Coeur of Discovery, a French Master Chef Project, are the very best that the Northwest has to offer. We have a great cross-section of Oregon and Washington with some stellar Columbia Gorge wineries.

Oregon wineries featured at the event are Ken Wright Cellars, Eyrie Vineyards, Domaine Drouhin, Bethel Heights, Marshall Davis, and King Estates.

Washington wineries include L’Ecole #41, Woodward Canyon, Domaine Poullion, J. Bookwalter, Delille Cellars, and Syncline Wine Cellars.

I am delighted to be part of the team of visionaries that have created the Coeur of Discovery, a French Master Chef Project. The team is not only passionate about the event itself but also the organization that will benefit from the efforts. We have a fantastic partnership with the Blanchet House whose mission is “To Alleviate Suffering and Give Hope for a Better Life.” They serve three meals per day, six days per week to anyone that is hungry. It’s an honor to partner with such a worthy organization.

Here’s to a wonderful event!

February 4, 2022