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April 13, 2009

Wabash College Magazine and an Oregon Winery

A common thread through my blogging about the trip to the Northwest was Brian Doyle’s great 2006 book, “The Grail: A Year Ambling & Shambling Through an Oregon Vineyard in Pursuit of the Best Pinot Noir Wine in the Whole Wild World.”

Doyle wrote “A Man’s Life” for this issue of Wabash Magazine and his aforementioned book was about Lange Winery in the Dundee Hills. I read the book on my way out to visit alums last summer and that paved the way to ask Doyle to write for the magazine.

The book was a year-in-the-life sort of thing about Lange Winery. The circle was completed April 9 for me when I spent part of the morning with Jesse Lange.

“Brian had been coming out to some of our wine club events here at the winery,” Lange explained. “We got to talking like any other conversation and he mentioned he was the editor of the University Of Portland Magazine. He wanted to do an article on wine coming from a neophyte’s perspective.”

Lange said the two quickly realized after a tour and interview that it was going to take more than one visit. “We just continued to go after a few more visits, a couple more tours, and through different parts of the growing season.

 “We decided to get together every month and do a vineyard tour and a winery tour to see a glimpse of the life cycle of a winery and a vineyard/farm. The Grail was a combination of all that.”

While Doyle’s book did pretty well for a niche publication, Lange saw an immediate impact in his tasting room. “We get people who come from all over the country and say, “hey, I read the book or my friend gave it to me.” They come to the winery to taste the wine see the (family’s) dogs, see the farm and vineyard. It’s been pretty fun. It’s nice to be the beneficiary of something like that but also fun to see people’s enthusiasm for the book.”

Lange thinks the book succeeded because it was written not as a technical book, but “it allows people to feel unencumbered and not be afraid of wine.”

To this day, Lange will meet people in his tasting room who mention the book. Lange is General Manager and Winemaker for the winery. His parents Don and Wendy founded the winery in 1987

Lange Winery is a boutique winery in the Dundee Hills of the Willamette Valley known for its outstanding Pinot Noir. It has been praised in Wine Spectator and other industry press. The wines just recently became available in Indiana at Cork and Cracker in Indianapolis, Vine and Table in Carmel, Vintage Spirits in Noblesville, The Corks in Columbus, and served in restaurants including The Saratoga in Terre Haute, Petersons, The Meridian, and Eddie Merlot’s in Indianapolis among others in the state.

April 10, 2009

Odds-n-Ends from the Great Northwest

Portland International Airport - There are always interesting little tidbits that don't make the blogs. That gives me a chance to post another time or two at the end of, or maybe even after, the trip.

Odds and Ends:

 - I actually have one other post I want to do after this one but it will probably be Monday. After the Tuesday night Portland reception I spent two days in Oregon's wine country on my own time and dime. But I did manage to do a little "work" yesterday morning. (Hold the laughter down!)

Wabash Magazine has a round-about connection to Lange Winery. Lange is one of the premier boutique style wineries in the Dundee HIlls' area of the famous Willamette Valley. Jesse Lange was very kind with his time and knowledge Thursday.

Brian Doyle, who wrote "A Man's Life" for this issue of Wabash Magazine wrote a book just a few years back on Lange. I talked with Jesse about that experience. I hope to have that one up early next week.

- Monday night in Seattle I learned a couple of interesting tidbits from two alums.

Greg Fulmer '05 is studying chemistry at the University of Washington. He is returning to campus, sponsored by the Chem Club, April 23rd to give a presentation on his research!

Second, I was so impressed with Bob Witherspoon  '65 when I met him last summer. He lives and breathes the liberal arts. He just cut his hours back at the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center last Thursday. He told me in July he wanted to resume music lessons for the French Horn. He plays in a local orchestra.

So, I asked Bob if he had done so and he said "yes, I'm taking cello lessons." That's something new for Bob and not the least bit surprising.

- Running into Todd Vogel at my downtown Portland hotel was easily the craziest moment. We went to a local coffee shop and caught up. Todd and his father Gordon rode up the hill to Bob Chamness' home for the reception. Both were very grateful for the really funny coincidence.

- Wabash College is indeed known pretty far and wide. During my time in wine country people would ask where I was from or where I worked. Many had certainly heard of Wabash.

- At Lemelson Winery near Carlton, Oregon, I was chatting with other wine tourists and talking about Wabash and noticed the very nice woman behind the tasting counter had something of a smirk. When the other tasters left she explained she was from New York but was very familiar with Indiana. She attended Earlham College.

 - I'll end with words similar to what I used two years ago when I went back to California for the magazine release on our first trip. I was taken, again, by the reaction of the alums at both receptions. They just had a great time. They were thrilled to meet Wabash men they had not known. They appreciated hearing news from the College. And most of all, they were grateful for someone coming to see them! That's not easy in these tough economic times. Last time we had four Wabash representatives, so I told the two groups the real example of betl tightening was that it was just me this time.

Regardless of the numbers, our alums love getting together and hearing from the College whenever they can. I've seen that at many Wabash events but I've never seen it like my return trip to California for the magazine and then this week in Seattle and Portland.

April 08, 2009

An Interesting Twist to Wrap Up Northwest Trip

We've wrapped up the two alumni receptions which were the purpose of our return to the Great Northwest as Wabash Magazine arrives in mailboxes across the country.

I just don't think either could have gone much better. There was great spiri and participation and a chance for many old friends to re-connect. And I witnessed some re-commection to the College as well.

I have one more post I will get up, I hope, Thursday night. But the story is a bit involved.

Last summer when flying out here to do the interviews that became the stories in this issue, I was reading a book by Brian Doyle about the state's great Pinot Noir. Doyle followed a year in the life of the Lange Winery in the Dundee Hills of the Willamette Valley. Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine, a publication of Portland University.

I enjoyed it so much that during my two personal days of that visit, my first visit was to Lange. It was fabulous Pinot on a fabulous perch with a great view. Upon return to Crawfordsville I learned Wabash Magazine Editor Steve Charles had me Doyle at a conference.

Then Charles decided it would be great to have Doyle write "A Man's Life" for this Great Northwest issue. Doyle did just that along with several great essays.

So, to bring things full circle. I opened my first bottle of that Pinot Noir two weeks ago. It was just really, really nice wine. I have a little side avocation with a newspaper column and blog about wine. I wrote on my blog the next day how much I enjoyed the Lange Pinot.

The very next day I heard from Jesse Lange with a nice note thanking me for my kind words. I immediately wrote back explaining this odd connection between Wabash and Lange Winery and asked if he would give me a few moments Thursday to talk about the book experience and Lange wines. He graciously agreed.

I'll hopefully write a post Thursday night about that visit and have some photos!

For those wine enthusiasts or geeks, I've stayed over a couple days - on my own dime - to re-vist wine country here. I'm writing about that experience and the wines on my personal blog which you can check out here.

Portland Area Alums Gather for Release Party

Howard W. Hewitt - Portland area alums gathered Tuesday night at the suburban home of Bob and Sandy Chamness to celebrate the release of Wabash Magazine's Great Northwest issue.

Tuesday's reception was the second straight night Wabash men gathered to celebrate each others' accomplishments and share an evening of conversation about their alma mater. See photos from Tuesday's reception here.

The celebration was typical Wabash with stories, memories, and days of brotherhood fondly remembered. And much like the previous night in Seattle, the discussion knew no boundries. The diverse group ranged from Brad Hoehn and Ian Bisbee, both Class of 2007, to Larry Faller, who represented the Golden Little Giants of 1958 with his presence.

I gave a brief update on activites at the College and answered a few questions throughout the evening.

We had a parent of a current student, La Donna Casey — mother of Drew Casey '12 and a total of 18 for the gathering.

An interesting side note to my day in Portland: I was standing at the registration desk of my downtown hotel this afternoon when I heard "Howard!" I turned and standing right beside me was Todd Vogel '04. Neither of us knew the other was in town, not to mention the exact same hotel.

It turns out Todd was with his parents vacationing. They had done wine country earlier this week with a ski trip to Mt. Hood and a drive up the Columbia River Gorge to Walla Walla, Washington planned for later in the week. I explained why I was in town and Todd promptly asked if he and his father, Gordon '72, could go along.

They joined me for the drive up to the Chamness home and met up with old friends, as well as fellow Mt. Vernon native Dan Schenk '95.

It's really a small world — at times a small Wabash world when you bump into an old friend, a Wabash grad, and his father some 2,200 miles from Crawfordsville. 

April 07, 2009

College Celebrates Pac-Northwest Alumni

Howard W. Hewitt - Age and class year make no difference when Wabash men gather to celebrate the College. Nearly 20 Wabash men and their guests ranging from the Class of 1966 to the Class of 2008, and maybe 2013, noted the release Monday evening of Wabash Magazine's "Great Northwest" issue.

Last summer I traveled to Portland, Seattle, and British Columbia, and visited 10 Wabash men. Their stories are told in the latest issue of Wabash Magazine and Wabash Magazine Online. As a matter of fact, we have more material Online for this issue than ever before.

The group gathered at a Seattle landmark, the Washington Athletic Club, in the heart of this incredible city. Many of those attending were featured in the Great Northwest magazine and online. See a photo album here.

I gave a brief update on Wabash's record application year, the development of the Business Leadership Program, immersion learning, and other issues.

But for me it was watching the magic in the room that made the night so special. By the end of the night it seemed I had witnessed every single alum engaged in conversation with another Wabash man. Class year didn't matter and age didn't matter, because they all had a common experience — Wabash. The common experience was shared Monday night through laughter, anecdotes, and stories — evidence that the College clearly means so much to these Wabash men.

One of the interesting twists to the night was that we had a young man from a suburban Seattle school district join us to get a feel for what Wabash is all about. Several of the grads made an effort to spend a few minutes talking about Wabash. And by the end of the evening, two or three of the alums told me they had shared their contact information with the young man and encouraged him to contact them with any questions.

Is there a better Wabash story than that? Does anything explain the brotherhood and strong place our College holds in men's hearts than wanting to share it with an 18-year-old none of them had never previously met?

It was a great Wabash night. And the best part for me is I get to do it again Tuesday night. It's off to Portland for one more celebration of the Wabash men of the Great Northwest.

April 05, 2009

Seattle Magazine Reception Monday Night

Monday, April 6
Just thought I'd do a quick update this morning. It's another stunningly beautiful day in Seattle. I was really lucky with the weather for this trip. The last two weeks seems like the forecast was cloudy, cool and rain every day!

I learned this morning we may have a prospect or two at our alumni function tonight which is very cool. We have graduates from all eras and that's a great opportunity for a young man to get a feel for Wabash.

I took the obligatory walk down to Pike Place Market this morning and took some photos. See the album here.,

Sunday, April 5
SEATTLE, Wa. - It's always great to return to a place of many great memories.

After a pretty full day of travel, I'm in Seattle, Washington, for the first of two alumni receptions celebrating the latest issue of Wabash Magazine - The Great Northwest.

Alumni will gather Monday night in downtown Seattle at the Washington Athletic Club for an evening of Wabash fun. We'll have copies of the magazine on hand, thought it was mailed last week. Tuesday night I'll be in Portland to host a similar reception there with Bob and Sandy Chamness.

It was a somewhat rare and glorious day in the Northwest Sunday. It was the kind of day that draws people to this beautiful part of the country. I flew into Portland from Indianapolis and then drove to Seattle. The temperatures were in the mid 60s but even more amazing was the sunny skies and NO RAIN!

I had an incredible view of Mt. Hood flying into Portland, almost close enough to reach out and touch it. In the distance, you could see Mount St. Helens and Mount Ranier. So the 3.5-hour drive up I-5 was made a little easier with the fantastic views of the three big mountains.

I"m staying in the same hotels in both cities as I did last summer when I was out here reporting the stories in this issue of the Magazine. The pic above is looking out the window of my hotel. I'm afraid I wasn't very adventurous after such a long day.

I returned to one of the real inconoclastic restaurants of this beautiful city - The Palace Kitchen, owned by renowned chef Tom Douglas.

It's a funny place because if you just walked by you might never stop. But the food is incredible with incredible flavor and taste combinations.

It is classic northwest cuisine. I went back for the appetizer that draws them in from around Washington state. It's a fondue of goat cheese, fresh cream and french lavender. The chef throws pieces of bread on the grill, and slices apples for dipping. It's one of the most unique flavor combinations you'd ever hope to have.

Monday morning I'll visit Pike Place Market and check out the Washington Athletic Club for the evening's reception. Several of the guys profiled in this issue have said they'll attend. I can't wait. We'll have pictures and something up Monday night as quick as possible.