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  • Where It’s At This Summer: Your Well-Heeled Backyard

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    • Perfect Pours For The Great Outdoors
      Why do wine and outdoor entertaining go so well together? In Oregon, it could be as simple as pairing our edible bounty with the beverage made from nearby grapes.

      “Wine and food are natural...
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      Perfect Pours For The Great Outdoors
      Why do wine and outdoor entertaining go so well together? In Oregon, it could be as simple as pairing our edible bounty with the beverage made from nearby grapes.

      “Wine and food are natural partners, each bringing out the best in the other,” declares Dara Dane, wine buyer at Ashland Springs Hotel. “An outdoor party is a celebration of living in the moment and wine elevates that moment into a celebration.”

      Whether dishing up grilled steak or pasta salad in the backyard, sparkling wine is a fabulous foil. “It matches alfresco foods perfectly, cleaning the palate, making each bite a taste sensation,” Dane says. She suggests the Blancs de Blanc by Willamette Valley’s Domaine Meriwether for clean, crisp and complex bubbles.

      Also try a dry Rosé, such as the one produced by Wooldridge Creek, says Dane. Some of her favorite local whites for a hot summer party include Abacela Viognier, Spangler Sauvignon Blanc, Roxy Ann Pinot Gris and Agate Ridge Rousanne/Marsanne.

      “For red wines outdoors, stay away from anything with an alcohol content higher than 13 percent,” Dane advises. “Lighter, fruitier reds are my choice with summer’s heat.”

      Devitt’s Zinfandel/Merlot blend called Precipice, Abacela Grenache, John Guerro’s Italian-style red blend called Il Carino Rosso and any Pinot Noir will complement most outdoor repasts.
  • As springtime rain dries up, Rogue Valley residents turn their attention to outdoor living. Entertaining alfresco has become more of a grown-up activity as people stay closer to home amidst the high cost and inconvenience of travel.
    “We are creating a lifestyle where our backyard becomes a destination,” explains Kristen Baker, manager at Valley View Nursery in Medford.
    To accommodate this growing market, manufacturers have filled stores with a range of outdoor appliances.
    “What we normally see is people first want a full kitchen and a patio heater,” says Lisa Stricklin, sales and service at Home Comfort Hearth and Patio in Phoenix.
    Built-in kitchens, like those from Dynamic Cooking Systems, feature a grill with side burner and rotisserie, refrigerator, warming drawers and even a beer tap. “You can totally make it like your kitchen inside so you don’t have to run back and forth,” Stricklin says.
    If there’s no room or budget for a full kitchen, consider a freestanding grill on casters. “Enviro and Broil King have these with side burners and rotisseries and Tec has an infrared burner for searing your meat,” Stricklin says. “The infrared is a different kind of cooking without the carcinogens and our customers really love them.”
    Patio heaters such as a fireplace or fire pit with gas logs bring warmth and ambiance. “Heat-&-Glo makes a fire pit that has an eating bar around it like you see at the pizza parlor, with the pit in the middle,” says Stricklin.
    A freestanding electric stove by Dimplex sports a flame so it looks pretty and has a cooler for drinks. “Or you can take the cooler out and activate a switch and it turns into a towel warmer,” Stricklin says. “It’s the newest thing this year and is great by the hot tub.”
    Selecting furniture is also part of the fun of creating an alfresco living space. “There is now a huge selection of outdoor fabrics so you can make your outside furnishings as comfortable as your inside,” says Jennifer Bright, co-owner of Confetti in Ashland.
    For a large area, try this season’s modular conversation seating for a very “lounge-y,” versatile look. “It’s nice for the casual setting and is usually sectional, with lower chairs and low tables,” says Baker.
    Resin wicker frames evoke a retro vibe and are mostly weather-resistant, while a metal sofa and side chair will be modern and chic. Try placing a daybed or lounger for more inviting seating.
    Throw pillows enliven most furniture and add a designer touch. Warm color schemes call for orange, gold and red accent fabrics while greens, blues and white complement a cool palette.
    A charming space such as a garden or balcony is perfect for more intimate furniture. Try a wrought-`iron set or a bistro ensemble with a smaller umbrella.
    Don’t forget decorative details. Container gardening splashes a patio with blossoming color and can even contribute fresh tomatoes to the Caprese salad. A water feature, whether it’s a fountain or a pond with a waterfall or something wall-mounted, can turn a small space into a gorgeous grotto. Further personalize the space with terra cotta statuary, choosing from sweet little animals to more classic pillars and urns. Outdoor clocks and thermometers add function.
    Now place chandeliers that hold candles or electric ones that are coded for outdoor use. “Lots of lanterns can deliver lots of ambience,” Bright says. “Inexpensive café lights also work great strung over a patio.”
    Once your outdoor space is fully outfitted, it’s time to throw a party. If you haven’t invested in a custom patio bar, set up a buffet table that serves as bar and serving area. For flirty fun, fill a large birdbath with ice and use as a drink cooler, then illuminate all the ambient lighting and turn on the tunes.
    Keep things casual or go all-out with your best linens, silver and dressed up guests. Either way, enjoy how time can slow down a little when you take an evening to sit outside.

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