It’s no exaggeration to say that food pretty much changed everything for Michelle Battista. The creative maven behind Elder Hall and Stockpot Collective was deep into her design career when a chance project with line of chef shoes opened the door to a whole new world. “Food was always a magnet for me. When I started working on this line of shoes for culinary professionals, I became immersed in this world of combining food, storytelling, and memorable experiences… and everything changed,” Michelle says of the seismic shift in her life.
When Michelle met Ned Ludd chef/owner Jason French, their shared sensibilities led them them to expand the restaurant space and create Elder Hall. Jason grew up in a family with an appreciation of wine from the Beaujolais region, but came to his own revelation of Gamay. “There are a number of styles of Gamay Noir I discovered when I sold wine in Boulder, Colorado. As a result I am a huge fan of the varietal since it goes well with foods and on its own. In the summer I enjoy a slight chill and a lighter style, in the winter there are richer deeper styles that really pair beautifully with our winter flavor profiles,” says Jason.
Jason and Michelle developed a friendship with Tom Monroe and Kate Norris of Division Winemaking Company, who wanted to throw a spotlight on this unsung hero of grape varietals. It was important for all of them to imbue the I Love GaMay celebration with a sense of lighthearted fun, something they felt was lacking in most wine festivals. “We want people who have never tried Gamay to get comfortable with this wine. It’s like throwing a party and getting a education on Gamay through Oregon producers,” Michelle explains about how special it is to have 22 local winemakers be a part of the event.
Jason sums it up this way, “I believe Gamay will continue to plant Oregon firmly on the map of being a region that produces some of the world’s best wines.” Can’t argue with that.