I was honored when my dear friend, Sandy Coughlin of Reluctant Entertainer, invited me to join the group of bloggers who would be attending the 2013 Harry & David bloggers event. This would be my first official blogging event, and though I am not a food or home decor blogger but a travel blogger, I knew I would learn a lot and maybe see things from a slightly different perspective. We all met at Sandy’s house the first evening for a lovely dinner made with many Harry and David ingredients and wonderful table decorations by Penny and Lulu Florist.
It was so great to meet all the bloggers from all over the country. For a few this was their first time to Oregon!!
The next morning started bright and early with a tour of some of the orchards with Harry & David orchard director, Matt Borman.
We learned all about the care and feeding of pears and Harry & David’s philosophy of “growing gifts”!
I just loved that phrase and was proud to realize this was all happening in my hometown! The incredible weather and stunning fall views of the valley really made this a fantastic morning and left our out of town bloggers excited to see more of the amazing Rogue Valley.
Our next stop was the Harry & David candy factory where we got to see all the delectable treats being created – from cookies, to Moose Munch, to truffles, cakes and more!!
A special treat for us was to meet in the Candy Research and Development lab with Connie and Charlie at the Harry & David chocolate factory (Yes! That is his real name!!)
We poured our own chocolate into molds and painted it – what fun!
After our candy making escapade we headed over to Jacksonville to have a wonderful lunch at Deja Vu Bistro (one of hubby’s and my favorite restaurants in the Rogue Valley).
After lunch we had some time to stroll the charming streets of Jacksonville and shop in one of my favorite stores – Terra Firma where there are all kinds of beautiful, eclectic and unique gifts. Something for everyone, I guarantee it.
Our last stop was at the award winning Rogue Creamery in Central Point.
This too is a wonderful treasure that we locals get to experience on a regular basis. Started in 1930 as a small cheese shop it has held on to its artisan roots and still makes every batch of cheese by hand. Rogue Creamery has won World’s Best Blue Cheese at the 2003 World Cheese Awards in London and Best New Product for its Smoky Blue at the 2005 Specialty Food Trade Show in New York. We had an opportunity to do some specialized cheese tasting and learn about their operations. They sent us home with yummy goodie bags!!
That night dinner was at the Peerless Restaurant in Ashland – a fabulous place for a special dinner.
The next morning we started out meeting with an amazing team of marketers and designers at Harry & David. We learned about design and product choices and even got a scoop on the now announced addition of Cheesecake Factory Cheesecakes to their product line!!
Of course there were lots of treats to try and even a truffle tasting!!
Next up was a visit to the cold storage facilities where pears upon pears are stored.
Located right there next to the cold storage was Penny and Lulu Florist run by Carol Lowenberg and Susie Penwell. I had heard so many amazing things about this place but even as a local, had not made it here yet.
It is a wonderful florist located in a renovated packing house – so they can store a lot of amazing things to decorate with!!
These two ladies have done an amazing job with this space and outdid themselves on the beautiful table they set for our lunch.
Frescoe, which started out as a food cart, provided us with an amazing lunch, where local ingredients were the star of the show!
Reminded me, once again, how blessed I am to live in the Rogue Valley with such an amazing bounty of food!!
Our next stop was at the Harry & David Country Village store in Medford. While a stop at Harry & David’s is often a weekly occurrence for me, it was fun to see the out of town bloggers get excited over all the treasures that were there.
And neat to see Sandy’s Reluctant Entertainer book for sale!!
Our final stop was back at the factory to watch them sort and pack the pears and gift baskets.
Amazing to see that truly only the perfect pear gets put into a Harry & David gift basket! (No worries the other pears don’t go to waste they are sold for other purposes, such as fruit juices and are also sold in the produce section of our local Harry and David store.) In addition to watching these amazing workers fly through as they packaged the baskets, we also had the opportunity to make pack our own baskets with the helpful guidance of the experts. What a treat!!
Our dinner that night was at 2Hawks Winery – another great place here in Medford to enjoy a light supper, wine and great music.
Though I am a local here it was so exciting to see our Rogue Valley through the eyes of our out of town guests who were inspired by the beauty of the Rogue Valley and awed by the bounty of locally grown foods and had a great time shopping in our charming stores in Ashland and Jacksonville. For the other locals reading, I hope this reminds you what a wonderful place we live in and to remember what a great asset we have here in Harry & David. For the non-locals I trust this has inspired you take a visit to our wonderful region. When here do not forget to take a Harry & David Factory tour and visit the Harry & David Country Village Store!!! Still have some Christmas shopping to do? Do not forget to check out Harry & David’s website for great gifts that are perfect for everyone.
The fabulous group of bloggers I was with included:
Sandy of Reluctant Entertainer, Helen Jane from HelenJane.com, Shelly from Cookies & Cups, Melissa from The Inspired Room, Judy of From Home to Roam, Michael from Inspired by Charm, Angie from Bakerella, Cassie from Bake Your Day, Gina from Skinnytaste, Ali from Gimme Some Oven, Julie from The Little Kitchen, Robyn from Add A Pinch, Lindsay from Love and Olive Oil, and Amanda from Kevin and Amanda.
The events were paid for by Harry and David, but the opinions are my own.