Make your daily life 'easier, less hurried' by drinking wine

STAFF PHOTOS: BARB RANDALL  - Steve Lutz is the owner and winemaker of Lenné Estate Winery, which makes deep root pinot noir.

In my effort to bring about world peace by sharing what’s on the dinner plates of our friends around the world, I forgot an important component: Man does not live by bread alone. Let’s make room on our global dining table for a glass of wine. I believe sharing a glass of wine can benefit world peace, and according to Benjamin Franklin, “Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.”

Fewer tensions and more tolerance will definitely lead to a more peaceful world. Even driving out into wine country reduces tension for me.

My most recent vineyard experience was at Lenné Estate in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Owner and winemaker Steve Lutz invited me to visit, sample his wines and learn about the property.

Steve and his wife, Karen, had been searching for just the right property for about eight months when a friend told them about property friends of hers were thinking of selling.

“An hour after setting foot on the property, the eight-month search ended,” Steve said. “We knew the location was destined to be a great site. It was a sweet spot.” That was in 2000, and indeed, the land had all the right characteristics for making great wine — a steep, south-facing slope; poor, peavine shallow soil; and the elevation was perfect. Pinot noir grapes grow best at elevations between 300 and 600 feet. The Lenné Estate vineyards are at 375-576 feet. The neighborhood was pretty top notch too. Sharing the ridge are Willakenzie Estate, Deux Vert, Shea, Solena, Roots and Penner-Ash.

“The steep slope maximizes the sunshine,” Steve said. “The poor soil makes the roots run deep and results in smaller berries with thicker skins, which improves the flavor.”

Steve said they planted the first 11 acres in spring 2001 with Pommard, 777 and 115 clones, but the sight was difficult to farm. The young vines were stressed and nearly 35 percent of them died that first year. The steep slope, which they refer to as Kill Hill, was difficult to work safely.

“It was really difficult in the beginning,” he said. “There was nothing in the top three feet of soil. The first five years were really tough.”

The third year the vines were still struggling to develop deep enough roots to sustain growth and were not yet producing fruit.

They planted another 2.5 acre block of Pommard, which the record heat of 2003 destroyed.

Finally in 2004, Steve said the vineyard produced a miniscule amount of fruit. “Don’t worry, it’s going to be great!” he told Karen.

In 2007, they produced their first normal fruit set; the vineyard had matured and the vines had set root into the subsoil finding water and nutrients capable of sustaining them.

“The vineyard is healthy but the poor soil does its work in limiting canopy growth and produces exceptionally small clusters,” Steve said. “The soil produces the mocha aromatic and the distinct mid-palate texture which are the two signatures of Lenné’s terroir.”

Steve enjoys conducting blind tastings of his wines against others of similar vintages. Lenné wines proudly stand up against the competitors.

Karens Pommard is named for Steves wife, Karen.

Lenné offers three distinct labels, LeNez, Lenné and Cinq Elus, each made exclusively with estate fruit.

The LeNez Pinot Noir is composed of each of the five clones planted at Lenné: 777, 115, 114, 667 and Pommard. It is generally more fruit forward than the other offerings.

The Lenné Estate is a barrel selection of the finest parts of the vineyard. The wine is made mostly of 115 and Pommard with a small amount of other clones, as well as some single clone wines, such as Jill’s 115 Pinot Noir (named for Karen’s mother), Karen’s Pommard and Kill Hill, a blend of 667 and 114.

The Elus represents the very best from the estate vineyard. It is a blend of the best barrel from each clonal block.

“The wine has many layers and should be magnificent with six to 10 years in the bottle,” Steve writes in his tasting notes. “The 2012 Cinq Elus Pinot Noir has mixed berry aroma, a dense mid palate and a long, rich finish.”

Kill Hill Pinot Noir comes from the steep northeast corner of the vineyard.

They were all delicious. But don’t take my word for it. Go visit Steve and taste the wines for yourself. The tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

Lenné Estate is located at 18760 N.E. Laughlin Road in Yamhill. Learn more online at or call 503-956-2256.

Whether you are celebrating Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day or just because, take Benjamin Franklin’s advice. Share a bottle of Lenné Estate wine and make your daily living easier, be less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.

Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure!

Kung Pao Chicken is a Randall family favorite. This recipe is similar to the one I use and is perfect for Chinese New Year or Valentine’s Day and will pair nicely with a Lenné Pinot Noir.

Kung Pao Chicken

Serves 4 as part of a multicourse meal


1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes


1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar or substitute good quality balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

8 to 10 dried red chilies

3 scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger

1/4 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts

Marinate the chicken: In a medium bowl, stir together the soy sauce, rice wine and cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add the chicken and stir gently to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Prepare the sauce: In another bowl, combine the black vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, sugar, cornstarch and Sichuan pepper. Stir until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved and set aside.

You may need to turn on your stove’s exhaust fan, because stir-frying dried chilies on high heat can get a little smoky. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Add the peanut oil and swirl to coat the base. Add the chilies and stir-fry for about 30 seconds, or until the chilies have just begun to blacken and the oil is slightly fragrant. Add the chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the scallion whites, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Pour in the sauce and mix to coat the other ingredients. Stir in the peanuts and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate, sprinkle to scallion greens on top and serve.

Recipe courtesy of “The Chinese Takeout Cookbook,” by Diana Kuan, July 2013

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281 ext. 100 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow her on Twitter @barbrandallfood.

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