Who doesn’t know Harry & David?! When I was growing up I remember our family frequently getting boxes of Harry & David fruit at Christmas–crisp apples, tender pears, and juicy citrus. A few weeks ago I got to visit the place where all that succulent fruit comes from! I was part of a Harry & David blogger trip in Medford, Oregon.
It’s a given that Harry & David know their fruit, but I also discovered they know hospitality too. Our trip started with dinner–not at a restaurant, not at their offices, but at the home of fellow blogger, Sandy Coughlin of the Reluctant Entertainer. Sandy makes having people over easy, doable, and downright fun.
She welcomed us immediately with wine, appetizers, and a beautiful outdoor, fireside meal that included a delicious Harry & David Wild Mushroom and Leek Soup that she ‘beefed’ up for our crowd. In my hungry haste to get to Sandy’s, I forgot my camera, but I did manage to nab our group shot from Sandy! (That’s me on the end with the glass of wine!)
The next morning Harry & David‘s wonderful Orchard Director of 13 years, Matt Borman, gave us a grove tour. He explained how much care and attention these trees take. (They don’t just shake the trees and hope for the best, they handpick each pear!) No GMO seeds either. Instead they use old-fashioned grafting, taking the roots of smaller trees (in this case quince) and graft them to their beautiful Royal Riviera pear trees. This way they get pears they want, but on smaller, more manageable-sized trees. Pretty brilliant, right? The result is row after row of perfect little pear trees.
Naturally we enjoyed many of Harry & David‘s signature Royal Riviera pears during our trip. I remember the gold foil-wrapped pear in the boxes we used to get… and there it was! These pears are just as sweet, succulent, and juicy as they are beautiful–hand picked, carefully washed, and gingerly wrapped, before shipping off.
Along with other tasty treats, Harry & David‘s Chef Tim Keller served this gorgeous appetizer–endive spears filled with stunning Rogue Creamery blue cheese and diced pear, at once light and full-flavored. The pear and blue cheese flavor combo was so good it inspired my pear galette with blue cheese crust for the upcoming Pie Party Live in New York City.
Around this portable picnic table (the same ones used by the field workers) we enjoyed hot apple cider tea and nibbles while learning about planting and pruning, harvesting and shipping. During peak harvest season, Matt says Harry & David serves over 1,000 meals–three hearty meals for their 300+ strong harvesting team–each day.
We also got a sneak-peak at some of their new holiday additions. There were the classic fruit baskets, but there were some new things too…
…from cakes and truffles to gorgeous cookies and a perfect Bouche de Noel! It may only be October, but I’m ready for the holidays!
After seeing all these sweets, treats, and gifts, I was in the mood for shopping. Thankfully we were given some time at the Harry & David Country Village store in Medford, Oregon. I loaded up on tons of goodies including local beer, Rogue Creamery cheese, Royal Riviera pears, and Harry & David’s famous Moose Munch.
In the spirit of giving gifts you’d actually like yourself, I took a moment send gift boxes to my family. I carefully picked each item, and then shipped packages to Sharon and Tony, Mom and Dad, Granny and Papa, and of course, Andy, who was missing me very much by that point. As I left the store, I was giddy with excitement: I could not wait for my family to receive their gifts! I wrote on each one, “A little taste of Oregon from me to you!”
The guiding principle of Harry & David is bringing joy to people, and it works! My grandparents were so touched by the gift of Moose Munch. (Granny pretended she didn’t like her dinner so she could go back to her room and eat the Moose Crunch instead!). And as my sister was eating one of the pears she texted, “Hands down, this is the best pear I have EVER had. No contest. It’s so ripe and creamy inside!” Mom, who had just finished running a half-marathon, came home to a cold ale, ripe pears, and local cheese. She called with a heartfelt ‘thank you’. This was just what she needed. Knowing what your gift means to someone makes you want to just keep doing it!
Before we left, this incredible group of bloggers had to have a photo in front of Max the Moose! Some were already dear friends, others were people I had just met, but by the end of our three days together, we were all a lot closer. It just happens when there’s good food, good wine, good people, and good hosts.
The final night, there was a surprise. As soon as we arrived at dinner we smelled it–Harry & David’s 2013 brand new line of wines! The collection includes four whites (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, and Gewürztraminer) and five reds (Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo and a blend–Royal Crest Red). Each is spectacular– I tried them all (part of the job!) but my favorites were the Tempranillo, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Finally, Harry & David has offered a gift box giveaway to our readers! I chose the one with the items I loved most – six of their perfect Royal Riviera pears and four of Rogue Creamery’s finest cheeses. Since I so enjoyed giving my Harry & David gift boxes, I thought it might be fun for our winner to send the box to someone who needs a boost. But if you need a pick me up, we’d love to send you it to you too!
To enter, answer the following question in the comments below:
Who you would send this gift box to and why? (You can say yourself!) – WINNER ANNOUNCED: JENNY C
Giveaway ends Sunday, October 28 at 6 PM EST.
A big thank you to Harry & David and their entire team (including Sandy Coughlin) who made this trip so memorable. Harry & David paid for my transportation, accommodation, and meals, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own.