Harry and David {& beautiful southern oregon!}

Ahhhhh…Harry and David.

When I hear that name, all kinds of goodness comes to mind. Since I was introduced to their impeccable products almost 13 years ago, I have forever been their fan.

Besides the Royal Riviera Pears that Harry and David is famous for, there’s enough variety in their fruit line to host a Fruit-of-the-Month Club. And it’s gorgeous fruit. Every pear I’ve eaten over the years has been big as a softball, and perfectly sweet and juicy. And this past summer my family had the pleasure of enjoying a box of their Oregold peaches. Wowzers, they were the best peaches I’ve ever had!

But the fresh fruit is only the tip of the iceberg at Harry and David. They are also famous for their gift baskets and towers, filled with all kinds of gourmet deliciousness from cheeses to chocolates to baked goods. I could go on and on and on…

So you can imagine my excitement when I was invited to spend a few days in southern Oregon, at the home of Harry and David. I do believe I pinched myself when the invitation showed up in my inbox. Please follow along, I’ll tell you all about it!

I met up with a great group of food and wine bloggers from across the country in the quaint town of Jacksonville, just outside of Medford, Oregon. If you’re ever in that part of the country, do not hesitate to lay your head at the Magnolia Inn. The owners of this fabulously appointed bed and breakfast, Robert and Susan Roos, were the quintessential hosts. Every welcoming detail was carefully thought out, every delicious breakfast and snack lovingly prepared. Staying at the Magnolia was truly a pleasure.

Visiting Harry and David while staying at the Magnolia Inn would surely have proven a wonderful experience all on its own. But add to the scenario a fabulous dinner at the home of Paul and Sandy Coughlin…and well, the bar was definitely raised for this trip. Sandy, the beautiful soul behind Reluctant Entertainer, blesses her readers with her warm gifts of inspiration and hospitality. And Paul, founder of The Protectors, is a person I’ve admired, too. I wish every school could bite off a piece of his anti-bullying curriculum. Together, Paul and Sandy were the loveliest couple. And the greatest of hosts.

It was a beautiful cool fall evening, warmed by a table-side fire.

The setting was gorgeous.

And the company was amazing:

We were treated to Harry and David deliciousness from beginning to end, from cheeses and relishes with our first sips of southern Oregon wine, to the incredible last bites of the evening, in warm pear pumpkin pecan cake.

It was especially delightful to see Sandy’s place settings. Each guest’s name was pinned to a mini velvet plush pumpkin from LoveFeast Table, another inspirational blog I admire (with a shout-out to another Minnesota blogger!).

We spent our first sunny southern Oregon morning where Harry and David was born, in their Royal Riviera pear orchards. I was amazed at the numbers…their orchards are home to 700,000 pear trees! Matt, their Director of Orchard Operations, explained how the Rogue Valley provides ideal soil, or rather sticky clay mixed with ancient volcanic flow, and excellent growing conditions for the Comice pears they are famous for. Their harvest had just recently wound down for the year, but we did manage to find a couple pears hiding amongst the branches.

It was at the orchards that I fell in love with Rogue Creamery‘s blue cheese. While talking with Harry and David folks, we were treated to crisp endive topped with pears, nuts, and this fabulous blue cheese. It’s smooth, buttery, and decadent.

Southern Oregon is some kind of beautiful. From this perch, Matt pointed out Harry and David’s peach orchard, way in the back, at the very base of the mountains. I smiled to know that’s where that beautiful box of Oregold peaches came from.

Then we were off to another kind of sweetness.

Candy and baked goods!

We toured Harry and David’s Bakery and Candy Kitchen, and witnessed firsthand the making of their famous caramel corn (left photo) and Moose Munch. I started itching for Christmas, seeing their caramel corn drenched in chocolate and sprinkled with peppermint candy (middle photo). And I wanted to jump right through the glass into their chocolate covered cherry making room (right photo). Those cherries are my absolute favorite Harry and David product!

I was amazed by the employee loyalty at Harry and David. Rhonda, their PR Manager and our very special guide during our stay, has been with the company for 25 years. We witnessed a big cake in the break room where someone was celebrating 50 years. Incredible! And then when we got to the Candy Kitchen, where we dipped our own pears and learned about product development, we were greeted by Charlie (lower middle photo). Charlie is their R&D Manager, who is a 3rd generation chocolatier and has been with Harry and David for 32 years. I talked with Connie (upper photo), who moved to Oregon from Minnesota many years ago, about all the fun she has had over the past 15 years in the Harry and David Kitchen. Just plain WOW!

Harry and David is nestled into a very special place in this world.

We were able to enjoy lunch outdoors, after a morning spent learning about Harry and David’s product packaging while sampling a table full of their sweet eats.

It felt like we were in Santa’s Workshop as we toured the gift basket and tower assembly area. I always love learning about the “behind the scenes” story of products we tend to take for granted in catalogs and on store shelves.

This stop was definitely a very happy one. We learned how to make bows (it’s not as easy as one might think!!) for their baskets and towers, and then packaged our very own Harry and David gift basket to send to the recipient of our choice. My mom and dad were elated to discover a box from Harry and David, packaged by ME!, waiting on their front step this past week!

Then we were off to the local Harry and David Country Village for some shopping. Oh, how I wish we had one of those stores in my neighborhood! I picked up some of that to-die-for Rogue Creamery blue cheese, plus a variety of marmalades and relishes for my own family. And then I officially started crossing people off our Christmas list as I filled my cart with all kinds of other Harry and David sweet and savory goodness.

Our time with Harry and David piqued with fabulousness during our final evening as their guests. Their execs were bubbling with enthusiasm as they were finally able to spill the secret they had been harboring for quite some time. Their big reveal?

Wine! Glorious wine!

Our group felt incredibly honored to be the first to taste their new line of wines, made right there in Medford, Oregon by their very own wine maker.

We were treated to an 8-course meal paired with 8 of their new varietals. With a long narrow table tucked into their cool dark wine cellar, twinkly lights overhead, it was downright magical. And sooooooo delicious! I enjoyed each and every course. The wine was beautiful, as I was expecting, and I fell in love particularly with their Viognier, crisp and chilled with a hint of coconut. I canNOT wait for Harry and David’s new line of southern Oregon wines to be available in the upcoming year!

(For a great recap on Harry and David’s wine launch, check out Matt’s post at A Good Time With Wine.)

Thank you so very much to Harry and David, and Sandy, for the opportunity to visit the beautiful Rogue Valley of southern Oregon, and for the incredible experience with your company and its people. 

Disclaimer: My travel expenses were paid for by Harry and David. I was not compensated to write this post. All opinions are 100% my own.