“Now, it doesn’t take a lot of convincing,” says the owner/wine buyer of Vine & Olive Riverstone Eatery and Wine Bar in the resort town of Coeur d’Alene. “They just want to have something equally as good. You don’t have to tell them, ‘Oh my gosh, if you don’t like this bottle then I will drink it. I will buy it for you!’ We don’t have to lay it all out for people any more.”
Opening and operating her own 94-seat restaurant has given the 40-year-old hiking triathlete her first gray hair, but her gain since the Nov. 20 opening has been worth the pain.
“It’s just a game-changer when you are doing something for yourself,” said the native of St. Maries, a small town not far from the southeast corner of the lake. “And I give a nod to the wine industry in the name because if it weren’t for the wine industry, I probably wouldn’t have stayed in the restaurant business.”
Inspiration turned into motivation when Adam Hegsted, owner/executive chef of the EatGoodGroup in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, abruptly shuttered the Cellar in early 2017. However, Boutz’s gears were turning prior to that, having done a walk-through of the Riverstone in summer 2016.
“I’ve known that I wanted to be in Riverstone back in 2009 or 2010,” she said. “The timing worked out well because I had about a year-and-half to work with Adam, who has been very supportive of this.”
The same goes for her husband, Sean, and her teenage sons, Damen and Braden, who can be seen working in the bistro.
“When it was getting close to opening, they’d come in and say, ‘Gosh, this is really cool,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, the plans have been on the kitchen table for a whole year!’ ” she chuckled. “This is my baby.”
For the first few months, she’d get peppered with tiresome questions from random people wondering who owns the restaurant.
“ ‘No way, you own this restaurant? You and who else?’ and I’d say, ‘Nope, just me!’ ” she said. “The only thing that frustrates me about that is that nobody asks my male counterparts that question. But then, I’ve had so many people come in because they heard a woman owns this restaurant and were so excited to meet the owner and so excited to support this restaurant. It’s been humbling.”
John Stone's vision for his 155-acre Riverstone development between Interstate 90 and the Spokane River has turned scars from a lumber mill and gravel pit into a vibrant collection of regional and local merchants on the ground floor with more than 100 condos above the street level. Nearby attractions include the 40-mile Spokane River Centennial Trail, the Salvation Army Kroc Center and a 14-screen movie theater.
“I want this to also appeal to women and having something kind of cool and chic, but casual,” she said. “And I wanted the name to also be easy to text and Google. I didn’t want autocorrect to kill what you are trying to do.
“Naming a restaurant is more stressful than naming a child because you are going to be criticized,” she chuckled.
The 3,200-square-foot Vine & Olive, which she’s decorated herself with an industrial-chic theme, has blended the wine business she learned from Jim Duncan at the Wine Cellar with the business acumen and culinary background of Hegsted, whose talents have earned him a James Beard House appearance and a regional James Beard Award nomination.
“I’ve been thinking about this ever since I got in the business back in 2006,” she said.
Her mentor from the beginning has been Duncan, the well-known Coeur d’Alene restaurateur who operated the cool and swanky underground Wine Cellar.
“I started serving for him three nights a week while I was studying for my bachelor’s degree in business,” Boutz said. “It slowly led into more things. People skills were more important to Jim. There were a few rough nights, but I figured it out, and he didn’t fire me,” she chuckled.
Working on the floor was a natural fit for the former Nordstrom rep. Adding the books and marketing to her plate also made sense.
“A couple of years into it, he needed someone to run the wine program,” she said. “I didn’t think I had the palate for that.”
Despite Boutz’s background as a single parent also working as a paralegal at a law firm and taking 18 credits at Lewis-Clark State College, Duncan knew better.
“He tasted with me every Tuesday for three years to train my palate,” she said. “He has a very Old World palate, but he was so committed to supporting Washington wineries before it was cool. He would buy L’Ecole and Woodward Canyon and Leonetti basically out of the trunk of their car or the winery before distribution was even a thing.”
In the past decade, she’s developed a strong following in the Idaho Panhandle and Spokane. The Vine & Olive wine club program is full at 163 members, and there’s a waiting list for those who want to see their name on one of those bins in the special events room. Each month, their bin is refilled with fresh hand-picked selections by Boutz.
“I don’t put anything in there that’s in a local supermarket, and people don’t want to be in a wine club when they can get it at Costco,” she said.
As a result, there are a few local winery owners who are members of her club.
“I’ve had a couple of distributors really bust my chops about my focus on Northwest wines, but if I were in Sonoma, no one would think twice about me committing to Sonoma wines, and you wouldn’t even think about having an Oregon or Washington wine on your wine list,” she said. “How is it different for me when I am one to three hours from all of these amazing wineries that are considered local producers?”
At Duncan’s Cellar, she had 500 bottles on a list that earned recognition from Wine Spectator four times. At Vine & Olive, it’s more precise, nimble and straightforward.
“I wanted this program to be small, focused and dynamic, and I wanted it to change a lot,” she said. “For that to happen, you can’t have a lot of money tied up in inventory. I also want it to be approachable for my consumer and my staff to be able to sell. We’re really good about selling wine our list, and every wine has to be food-friendly. I’m always looking for acid and wines that are authentic with soul.”
Executive chef Paul Mason, 29, inspired by his mother’s cooking, began his culinary career in kitchens while studying philosophy at the University of Illinois.
“I moved back to Chicago and worked in some really great restaurants for the past eight years, including Boeufhaus,” he said.
Mason, who wanted to follow his brother to North Idaho, landed an interview with Hegsted for an EatGoodGroup position, but Boutz asked if she could hire him instead. It’s been a delicious fit, and other than the rapidly changing restaurant scene and his family, there’s not much Mason misses about the Windy City.
“A few years ago, I went to Denver and got to snowboard on a real mountain as opposed to a little hill with a tow rope,” Mason said. “It was awesome, so I knew that when I left Chicago it would be for the mountains. North Idaho meets that requirement.”
Half of his Match Maker assignment targeted the Pike Road Wines 2015 Pinot Gris, made by one of Oregon’s top producers — Elk Cove Vineyards. Boutz rightfully lists it under the “Light, Crisp & Refreshing” category on her list. “It’s got a little Alsatian in its style, great acid and it’s inexpensive,” she notes.
Clean aromas of melon and lychee include talcum powder, toasted almond and grassiness. It’s a pleasant summer sipper with flavors of white peach and apricot, a rich midpalate, and a brisk finish with lime juice and pulp. Mason paired it with Braised Octopus Salad, a ceviche-type dish that’s a standing item.
“The ceviche is very bright and citrusy, with a lot of tart components,” Mason said. “In the winter, we make it with kumquats, but we switch it out to sour cherries in the summer.”
The tartness in the dish accented the fruitiness of the Pinot Gris.
For the Clearwater Canyon Cellars 2016 Phinny Hill Vineyard Carménère, a textured red laced with bell pepper and cracked black peppercorn notes, Mason paired it to his pan-seared Duroc pork chops with mustard greens, figs and creamy polenta.
“I thought smoked figs and spicy mustard greens would be great components for the wine, and with fruit and mustard, pork was an obvious conclusion,” he said.
About 75 percent of Boutz’s wine list represents Washington, Oregon and Idaho. The Campbells, the family behind Pike Road, are leaders in the Willamette Valley. Karl and Coco Umiker in historic Lewiston, Idaho, gush about Boutz, who has championed their Clearwater Canyon wines for a decade, since the early days of their winery.
“This new generation of wine drinkers wants to learn, and they are all about supporting local. They want great stories and to support wineries that have good people,” Boutz said. “That’s a really cool thing to see. It makes the whole experience for them, and it’s how you help a winery build its brand.
“If they know a little something about that winery, they are more likely to remember it when they are tasting it,” she adds. “I always tell people to take a picture of the label. It’s the best way to remember what you are drinking.”
Clearwater Canyon Cellars 2016 Phinny Hill Vineyard Carménère, Washington - $32
— 401 cases, 14.2% alc.
Many view Carménère as the sixth “classic” red Bordeaux variety, while historians look upon it as the grape that had been lost to world, only to be rediscovered in Chile.
In the late 19th century, the root louse phylloxera ravaged Europeans vineyards, including the Left Bank appellations Médoc and Graves. Fortunately, Chileans imported random cuttings from Bordeaux, and what long was thought to be an odd clone of Merlot ended up being Carménère. French ampelographer Jean-Michel Boursiquot’s research was supported by DNA testing and officially recognized in 1998. It soon became the signature wine for Chile.
Now, little Carmenère exists in Bordeaux, but it was as valued as Cabernet Sauvignon in portions of the Medoc. Crimson is carmin in French, a reference to the color of the leaves in the fall, however, the variety also is known as Grande Vidure, a tribute to the berry size and winter hardiness of the vines compared with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
There have been 12 wines voted to a Platinum Award for Carménère at Wine Press Northwest’s annual year-end judging of gold-medal winners. The first came in 2004 when the now-defunct Colvin Vineyards in Walla Walla won for the 2001 vintage, following up on pioneering plantings credited to the Figgins family and Seven Hills Vineyard.
However, Idaho winemaker Coco Umiker has turned Carménère into her calling card, the wine she’s most known for and perhaps the Pacific Northwest’s top talent with it. No one has earned more Platinums for Carm than Clearwater Canyon, which has won four — for the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 vintages.
Umiker is quick to redirect compliments for her Carménère back to Phinny Hill Vineyard and Dick Beightol, a longtime friend to Umiker and her husband, Karl. They were competitive cyclists at the University of Idaho when they struck up a friendship with Beightol, who was another rider. Little did they know it would blossom into a grower/winemaker relationship that has helped Clearwater Canyon earn West Coast acclaim.
Phinny Hill is in Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills, across the highway from famed Champoux Vineyard. The Umikers continue their tradition of a 17-month barrel program of 30% new American oak, which allows for classic aromas of green peppercorns alongside dried strawberry, dried cherry and orange oil. It’s a suave red with flavors of cassis, red cherry and bell pepper that fans of Cabernet Franc will particularly appreciate. The Umikers suggest serving it with venison, and their popular wines are available through their new estate winery and vineyard in the Lewis-Clark Valley city of Lewiston.
Clearwater Canyon Cellars, 3143 10th St., Lewiston, ID 83501, clearwatercanyoncellars.com, (208) 816-4679.
Pan-seared Duroc Pork Chops with Mustard Greens, Figs and Creamy Polenta
Ingredients for the pork chops
2 tablespoons canola or other high-heat oil
2 Duroc pork chops, bone-in about 1-1/4 inches thick
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place oil in cast-iron pan over medium-high heat.
2. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. When oil is just barely smoking, take off the heat and place chop in pan.
3. Return pan to heat and cook for 1 minute on each side or until a golden brown sear is achieved.
4. Place pan in 450-degree oven and cook for 5-6 minutes until internal temperature of 145 degrees is reached.
5. Rest chops for 2-3 minutes before serving.
For the polenta:
1 pint heavy cream
1 pint milk
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1. Combine cream, milk and salt in a sauce pot.
2. Bring to a boil, add the polenta and whisk until liquid begins to thicken.
3. Keep pot on very low heat, stirring occasionally until the polenta is fully cooked, about 20 minutes.
4. Add butter and cheese and whisk to combine. Taste for seasoning and reserve.
For the mustard greens
1 tablespoon cooking oil
4 cups mustard greens, stemmed and roughly chopped
2 tablespoon white wine
2 tablespoon stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1. Place a stainless pan over medium heat and add oil.
2. When oil begins to shimmer add the greens.
3. Remove pan from heat, then add wine, stock, salt and pepper to pan.
4. Return to heat and toss just until the greens begin to wilt. Set aside
For the fig jus:
1 pint chicken stock
1 pint red wine
1 cup dried figs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup pickled mustard seeds or 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
1. Combine stock, red wine, dried figs and sugar in a sauce pot.
2. Reduce until only one quarter of original volume remains.
3. Strain liquid, then stir in mustard seeds or mustard. Check for seasoning and keep warm until ready to use.
For the figs:
5 fresh, ripe black mission figs
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoon sugar
1. Place figs, flesh side up on a lined sheet tray or resting rack.
2. Sprinkle the flesh side of the figs with salt and sugar. Place a stainless or cast iron pan over medium heat and add oil.
3. Place the figs face-down in the oil until caramelized, about 1 minute and remove from heat with spatula and place on sheet tray.
1. Spoon polenta into serving bowl(s), then add mustard greens, then the pork chops and then the figs.
2. Spoon fig jus over the pork and serve.
Pike Road Wines 2015 Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley - $16
— 8,000 cases, 13% alc.
Naomi Boutz was dutifully familiar with the well-earned reputation of Elk Cove Vineyards and the Campbell family’s work with Pinot Gris in the Willamette Valley, so when the famed Gaston, Ore., producer began to roll out its new Pike Road Wines brand, she brought it on.
The tier benefits from a broad base of fruit sources throughout the Willamette Valley, including 30-year-old plantings at the Campbells’ estate vineyard that rank among the state's oldest.
Last year, the Pike Road 2016 Pinot Gris topped the field of a record 644 entries nominated by a select panel of regional wine buyers who then meet at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel to judge some of the best wines from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho.
Boutz is among those judges in Hood River, however, the inaugural bottling of the 2015 vintage remains quite divine at Vine & Olive. The Elk Cove 2016 Pinot Gris also earned gold at the Invite, so Boutz — and Campbell — know their Gris.
“My family has always had a real reverence and passion for white wines in Oregon,” Campbell said. “Sometimes, I think that gets lost in the excitement for Pinot Noir.”
Campbell’s parents, Pat and Joe, founded Elk Cove Vineyards in 1974. Estate plantings near Gaston, Ore., allowed them to bottle their first wines, but demand prompted them to begin purchasing fruit in 1978.
The Elk Cove wines were fully transitioned to 100 percent estate fruit in 2017, a remarkable full circle, but the Campbells didn’t want to leave behind cherished relationships with acclaimed growers such as Dick Shea, so they developed the concept for Pike Road, one of the most scenic drives in the Yamhill-Carlton region.
“We think of it not as a second label for Elk Cove but as a sister winery,” Campbell said.
Pike Road has its own tasting room in downtown Carlton. Elk Cove wines are not poured there, and consumers won’t find Pike Road wines at the Campbells’ tasting room atop Mount Richmond. Associate winemaker Heather Perkin, who spearheads the Pike Road wines, pulled much of the Pinot Gris from the Campbells’ vines.
“We have a long history with Pinot Gris made in that style, and I want to make it in a style very similar to my dad’s style – whole-cluster pressing and really cool fermentations for 50 days in jacketed stainless steel,” Campbell said. “We finish it fairly dry and refreshing with stone fruit notes like peach.”
Pike Road’s total production stands at about 20,000 cases, and the wines are available in 20 states.
“We’re finding some great success as glass pours at top-end restaurants,” Campbell said.
Such is the story at Vine & Olive.
Pike Road Wines, 105 W. Main St., Carlton, OR 97111, pikeroadwines.com, (503) 852-3185.
Braised Octopus Salad
For the octopus:
1 750-milliliter bottle red wine
2 quarts chicken stock
2 quarts water
1 Spanish octopus, fresh or thawed from frozen
1. Bring wine, stock and water to a boil.
2. Add octopus and simmer covered for 30 minutes or until tender all the way through.
3. Strain off liquid and allow octopus to cool on a sheet tray.
4. Once cool, separate legs with a knife and cut the octopus into half-inch thin slices. Set aside
For the Avocado Mousse:
1 large Hass avocado, soft
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1. In a blender or food processor, combine avocado, sour cream, lemon juice and salt.
2. Once smooth, pass through a fine mesh strainer and check for seasoning, adding more lemon juice or salt if needed.
For the salad:
2 cup braised octopus, sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1 shallot, brunoise
1 tablespoon olive oil, extra virgin
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup sour cherries, sliced
1. Combine braised octopus, lemon juice, cucumber, shallot, olive oil, lemon zest and salt in a mixing bowl.
2. Spread avocado mousse on the bottom of serving bowl(s) with a spoon.
3. Place the octopus mixture on top of avocado.
4. Garnish with mint leaves, Kalamata olives and cherries.
ERIC DEGERMAN is co-founder and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. Learn more about wine at www.greathorthwestwine.com.