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A Taste of Harry & David 2010

Award-winning wine, exotic cheese, confections and artisan breads are on the menu for the ninth annual A Taste of Harry & David event, which benefits local food pantries.

The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 4 and 5, at Harry & David Country Village, 1314 Center Drive, Medford. Admission to the event is $15, but the price will be reduced to $10 for people who donate 10 canned or dry food items.

In 2009, more than 2,000 people attended the event, donating nearly 5,000 pounds of food to ACCESS Inc., which operates the network of local food banks.

"The benefit to Harry & David is that we have a chance to show off all the wonderful yummies on the shelves," says Bill Krumpeck, director of marketing for Harry & David stores. "It's also a great way to support the people who need help in the community and share wonderful, quality food for those who can provide that help."

About 35 Oregon wineries will be on hand pouring samples of at least three of their top wines. Participating wineries include South Stage Cellars, Slagle Creek Vineyards, Quady North Winery, Weisinger's of Ashland Winery, Pebblestone Cellars and Valley View Winery. Wineries also will compete for gold, silver and bronze medals for the best new wine release.

Local food venues 38 Central, Arbor House, Blondies' Bistro, Chateaulin, The Nunan Estate's Carriage House, Tease, and Oregon Artisan Foods will compete to prepare a dish, featuring a Harry & David product that also will complement an assigned wine. Guests are invited to sample each food masterpiece.

Beyond wine and food pairings, dozens of local establishments will provide samples, including cheeses by Rogue Creamery, breads by SunStone Artisan Bakery, Southwestern-style macaroni and cheese by John Koch of Cooks Kitchen, cookies by Windmill Bakery and jerkies by Gary West Smoked Meats, along with Greek appetizers, scones and flavored peanut butters by Harry & David.

Inside the Harry & David store, additional booths will be set up, serving peaches, Moose Munch, truffles and malt balls. All other food and wine vendors will be located under tents in the courtyard and in the former garden store.

New this year, A Taste of Harry & David will offer specialty food and wine classes throughout both days. Classes are free with the price of admission and include four wine classes, two tea classes, one chocolate class and two pear agriculture classes.

This year's entertainment lineup features The Latin Jazz Quartet from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4, and The Rhythm Kings from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday. On Sunday, the Blue Lightening Band, featuring four Harry & David employees/musicians, will perform from 11 to 1:30 p.m., and The Rhythm Kings return for a second show from 2 to 5 p.m.

"I can't think of anything more fun than drinking wine, eating food and talking about food with your best friends," says Krumpeck.

The event marks the continuing partnership between Harry & David and ACCESS. Last year, Harry & David donated 30,000 pounds of peaches and 60,000 pounds of pears to ACCESS.

For more information, call 541-864-2277 or see www.harryanddavid.com/go/taste.

A Taste of Harry & David 2010 will feature 35 Oregon wineries pouring samples. - Photo by Steve Johnson