A couple of week's ago I was lucky enough to travel to Southern Oregon and participate in a very special blogging event with Harry & David. Myself and a few other bloggers were there to learn everything that makes Harry & David a unique and special company while we kicked off their 80th anniversary celebration. Who doesn't love a party?
I live only a few hours away from the Rogue Valley, where Harry & David calls home. However, this has been the first time I have been able to attend one of their special, behing-the-scenes events...my schedule can get pretty crazy.
Anyway, I was so excited to head south and finally learn about and meet the people who make Harry & David such an extraordinary and steeped-in-tradition business. I can tell you now, I wasn't disappointed.
I decided to drive down to Southern Oregon, it's not far. We were kicking off the occasion at friend and fellow blogger, Sandy Coughlin's house for lunch. Sandy is all about entertaining, making it easy and non-stressful in every way possible.
We were treated to just about the cutest sack lunch you could ever imagine receiving. Fresco Food Truck dropped off a brown paper bag meal tied with vintage-style buttons and full of healthy lunch fare (thanks H & D). Sandy also made an amazing dessert, Mini Lime Meringue Cakes (which I also made for Easter), for us to enjoy.
As bloggers we appreciate the time we have with each other and getting to know one another is key to our business. This laid back lunch provided us with the time we needed to relax before our very busy days ahead.
After lunch we were picked up by the Harry & David bus and headed out to the pear orchards. Harry & David is most well-known for their Royal Riviera Pears, which require a special climate and soil found in a very few places in the world.
As we arrived most of the pear blossoms had already fallen from the trees and the tiny leaves were making their way out into the sunshine. As a farmer myself I had an extreme interest in everything going on in the orchard. My focus is likely a little more geek-based than what the average person wants to know and learn about farming. However, educating myself about another aspect of fruit production is fascinating for me and I'm always amazed how so much of the principles are the same....
- Take what you've leaned and apply it to new circumstances during each growing cycle.
- There is no recipe when it comes to growing high-quality fruit.
- Knowledge and experience determine the unique character of each season.
We couldn't help but take pictures out in these beautiful orchards; Jackie, me, Heather, Tracy, Sandy and Dorothy.
Harry & David's orchard division is led by Matt Borman. He dazzled us with some pretty amazing and mind-boggling data. Try and wrap your head around some of these numbers....677,230 trees require pruning every year...14,000 tons of pears harvested annually and 750 tons of pears picked daily...wow. I am exhausted just thinking about the type of precision and planning this would take to make happen.
After we talked agriculture we feasted outdoors in the orchard on some of Harry and David's treats, both fresh and packaged. It was a glorious afternoon and we indulgently gobbled up many of the delicacies Harry & David's gift baskets are famous for!
We spent our few days in the Rogue Valley at the beautiful Ashland Springs Hotel. If you happen to be visiting Southern Oregon I can highly recommend this gorgeous, boutique and charming place to rest your head in the evening.
We also had some nice cocktails at the hotel bar before heading out to our evening.
We kicked off our first evening in Ashland at Alchemy, a restaurant right around the corner from our hotel and found inside the Winchester Inn. They had a cute little bar for pre-dinner drinks. The bartender made me a lavender-lime girly drink I can still not get out of my head. I'll need to go back and experience it again. Soon.
The food was exquisite, like over-the-top. All courses were paired with local wines. It's easy to say we all left with full and happy hearts and stomachs. Make sure to give this place a try when in Ashland. You won't be disappointed.
It goes without saying our first day with the Harry & David team was warm, welcoming and entertaining.
I have to admit I was a little excited to visit the brick and mortar Harry & David facility the next morning. I knew we would be in the candy kitchen and get to see first hand what goes behind making all these treats.
What I didn't know was I was going to be able to make some candy by myself and for myself. The colors you see above are melted chocolate, which I used to paint candy molds. Charlie, Harry & David's own head chocolatier, then filled the molds with chocolate and boom I had my own homemade candy. Talk about instant gratification. I want to do this daily.
As we made our way around the production facility, there were many scenes like the one you see above. Harry & David has made over 105 million pieces of candy (77 million truffles) and produced millions upon millions of cakes, cookies and other confections. They are by far experts in their field.
It just so happens on the day we were there, Harry & David's S'mores Moose Munch was in production. We kinda just mushed ourselves along the glass window watching it being put together. The smell was just incredible! You have had Moose Munch before, right? Trust me, if you haven't, it's time.
We were treated to a special showing of Harry & David's new Spring line of packaging and goodies. There was a whole room filled with beauty...and these cheesecakes.
Let's just say, once I saw these cheesecakes, I didn't leave their sides. Did you know Harry & David is the official shipper of The Cheesecake Factory's cheesecakes? Yep...I had to try every one and make sure they were still as good as I remembered. Yeah, they were. This one is the most popular.
After a busy morning in the candy kitchen, we were starving. We headed to New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro for lunch. This charming restaurant, off the main highway, welcomed us with fresh salads and organic beef burgers the size of our heads. The food was delicious and so much of it grown in their own gardens on site.
After lunch we were put to work on the line. I didn't know packing up these baskets and tying ribbons could be so challenging. The folks who make up these famous baskets and boxes have it down to an art form. They are so fast and good at it. I would have been fired instantly for my lack of performance skills in this arena. Luckily they were easy on us, helping each step of the way...and then some. Let's just leave it at the fact that I have other talents and will stick with them.
But of course they are pros at what they do. Did you know, Harry & David shipped nearly 8.2 million packages last year from all facilities to internet, catalog, stores and wholesale customers? And they
ship approximately 1.2 million Tower of Treats gifts each year. It's hard to find someone who hasn't been touched by one of Harry & David's gifts.
H & D graciously let us send our baskets and boxes to whomever we chose. Is that the nicest thing ever? I mean wow, it was so fun giving such generous treats.
Our evening ended at DANCIN Vineyards, a Southern Oregon Winery specializing in Pinot Noir and other varietals. Needless to say this was my cup of of tea.
As a Pinot Noir producer myself I had lots to discuss with our host...yes, all the geeky stuff like clones, soil types, fermentation. We could have went on forever as most winemaker's can. I think it scares people sometime. Just enjoy the wine folks and don't worry about us, it's just passion for the business talking.
And while I got to do nerdy wine speek with DANCIN's co-owner, Dan, Harry & David's chef, Tim Keller, made us a fabulous and colorful meal. Above was the first course of deliciousness.
Yes, we had appetizers on the winery patio and dinner in the nicely appointed tasting room. Another amazing evening where we laughed, connected and enjoyed the company of all present. It was a stellar experience by far. Do you see the sugared pear blossom on top of dessert? It kind of sums up the whole trip, where every detail was thought of...I am one of those people who notice and appreciate that kind of thing. It means a lot to me. Love is always in the details, because how you anything, is how you do everything.
At this point we had eaten so much, the next morning a couple of the girls and I took a hike to burn some calories. We walked along a stream under a beautiful canopy of trees. It was the perfect way to begin our day.
We were then whisked away to Rising Sun Farms where they set this gorgeous and rustic farm table for us, while telling us about their history in the Rogue Valley. We got to sample some yummy food, especially their Gorgonzola Cheese Torta, which H&D sells in their stores.
After everything, Harry & David brought to one of their store locations, where we got to shop our hearts out and bring home all kinds of fun stuff. I
wantneed this store in my town. I think I would buy myself a treat tower daily. What a resource!
If you are in the Southern Oregon area, you must stop in. You won't leave empty handed.
If you remember, this is where I got these dishes. I also picked up some of this and made my own little hot and bubbly dip. And let's not forget about these darling Easter treats.
Best of all I got to meet the folks behind Harry & David's social media and public relations teams. This is Stacy and Rhonda and Michael is missing from this photo (but he is not forgotten). Probably three of the warmest hearts you could imagine coming across. Thank you to them for making my trip so memorable. I am thrilled to now call them friends.
I hope you're following on Instagram, you would have seen it all live and firsthand!
Other Blogger's Posts on this Weekend, check them out...
Crazy for Crust
Also, I was on the Harry & David site...they have free shipping on some item's for Mother's Day, what a great time to send a gift!
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