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#WARose Tasting with Paul Gregutt

Date: Thu, Jun 10, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Gertrude Stein once said in a poem from 1913, "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose," but it is obvious Gertrude wasn't talking about rosé as these are not very ordinary. Washington State really has the right "touch." The fine crisp rosés from Washington State really bring the best out of the red fruit, but with a lighter touch. These pink luscious wines from Washington State are no longer your Gramma's jugs of blush she bought out when the other ladies came over to play bridge.

And to prove it, our favorite wine writer from Washington State, Paul Gregutt is going to host a wine tasting of these pretty pink Washington dry rosés tonight at Lake Union. And unfortunately there are a few of us who cannot be there with him, but through the magic of "TasteLive" and Twitter we can taste the wines along with MrG. Participants are invited to watch the Live UStream from the Randall PR Tastelive page, ask Paul Gregutt questions and tweet their thoughts on Washington dry rosés using the hashtag #WARose.

It is an impressive and rather diverse line-up featuring rosés from all over Washington State:

Syncline Wine Cellars 2009 Rosé, Columbia Valley ($16)
Waters Winery 2009 Rosé, Walla Walla Valley ($18)
Chinook Wines 2009 Cabernet Franc Rosé, Yakima Valley ($14.99)
Sleight of Hand Cellars 2009 Rosé of Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley ($17.99)
Charles & Charles 2009 Rosé of Syrah, Columbia Valley ($12.99)
Lullaby Winery 2008 Rosé of Grenache, Columbia Valley ($16)
Barnard Griffin 2009 Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley ($12)
Dusted Valley 2009 Rosé, Columbia Valley ($18)

I didn't receive all of the wines, but have already tasted a few of them. And I will have my past notes in hand. Also to the list I will personally add: Skylite Cellars 2008 Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley ($17)

Stay tuned on Twitter and watch the #WArose. I will be there @Catie and @Walla2WineWoman. Stay tuned later for film at 11:00 pm. Now off to turn on a little Edith Piaf to get in the mood and open some chilled rosés

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Twitter Brings Washington Wine to the World and in Walla Walla #WAWine

Date: Fri, Jun 4, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

There were over 100 wineries and wine bars across Washington State celebrating our wines tonight via Twitter. On my Twitter board of "followers and followings" I also noticed a few of my blogging collegues from other states celebrating with us: Lenn Thompson of Lenndevours and the New York Cork Report; as well as Rick Bakas Director of Social Media at St Supery Winery (Napa), certified sommelier and author. Also joining us tonight in Des Moines, Iowa was Grace Hoffman of Cellar Mistress (who, along with Rick, we'll be seeing in Walla Walla in a few weeks). Lenn and Rick were drinking wines from L'Ecole No 41 and I believe Grace was drinking Hard Row to Hoe Zinfandel produced in Lake Chelan.

Many thanks to Josh Wade of Drink Nectar for coordinating this event, along with Sean Sullivan of Washington Wine Report. Also event sponsors Washington Wine Commission and Washington Tasting Room Magazine, and fourteen Washington Wine Bloggers and Twitter enthusiasts who assisted with promoting the event (one of them - yours truly!)

Last but not least, in Walla Walla, many thanks goes to Chad, Corey and Tyler of Dusted Valley Vintners and Tom of Olive Marketplace and Cafe for being our Walla Walla hosts this evening. It was a great night tonight and most of all an evening where wine lovers came together to appreciate our bounty. It was all about #WAWine.

For some highlights check it out (Yes, I know. The video is sometimes fuzzy, dark and just plain corny. But hey - - I am not a professional video/camera person. I'm a writer, dammit!)

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A Field Trip to Woodward Canyon Winery with Chef Bear

Date: Wed, Jun 2, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

When Chef Bear Ullman, of the Marcus Whitman Hotel asks you to attend a field trip, well - - you just do it. You show up on time. No questions asked - with or without a note from your parents.

Hank "Bear" Ullman, Executive Chef has built The Marc Restaurant's excellent reputation by highlighting the Walla Walla Valley's "Sense of Place" profusion with the freshest locally grown products available. Chef Bear also has a bold and adventuresome palate pairing local wines from The Marc's award-winning wine list. And he just doesn't talk the talk. Chef Bear gets out there and walks the walk. It's important to Chef that he keeps a rapport with his local food purveyors and wineries - - and it goes beyond just work, as many of them have become friends. There is a sense of admiration and trust for each other and of their talents, whether it's growing asparagus, making wine or creating a finishing sauce.

The restaurant's Wednesday morning field trips can also be a learning experience for the staff members of The Marc. Previous field trips have included visiting the Monteillet Fromagerie, L'Ecole No 41 winery, and indeed a real "field trip" to the Locati Brothers' fields to check out how asparagus is farmed. This particular field trip that I would be joining with Chef Bear and his assistant, Nate would be a journey to Woodward Canyon Winery to visit with Rick and Darcy Small to check out their organic commercial vegetable gardens. Besides the Small's producing world class wines, who knew they would find time to grow produce for commercial use, as well?
(Photo L-R: Nate, Chef Bear and Rick)

We started at the new Reserve House located on the grounds of Woodward Canyon. The Reserve House was built for intimate, sit-down tastings and meals. It also features a commercial kitchen. The large event room is light and airy with a view of the neighboring vineyards. Located in front of the building are raised beds of produce and herbs. Did you know that you can grow artichokes in Walla Walla climate? I didn't know that you could, but Darcy and Rick can! Overall, the Small's have been growing commercial produce now for five years.

Rick loaded us all up in his vehicle and off we went to the famous Woodward Canyon Vineyards. It is important to the Smalls that all grapes are sustainably or organically grown at the Woodward Canyon Estate Vineyard. Of course, this means the same practice for their produce. The vineyard is located at over 850 feet of elevation, three miles north from Lowden in Washington. It was quite a view from the top as we could see our neighbors in Oregon. There are 42 acres of estate vineyards with a surrounding of 320 acres of land which is in conservation. Three generations of family previously used the land, including the vineyard area, for cattle and wheat.

Woodward Canyon Vineyard was first planted in 1977 and to this day old vines of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc face the valley along with small amounts of Italian and Rhone varieties. It is like a treasure hunt up and around the canyon of vines as there are nooks and crannies with gardens of tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, egg plants, leeks, shallots and even a hot house for the seedlings.

We later came back down to "earth" and went back to the winery and continued to tour the grounds, as well as Woodward Canyon's wine library. What a wine feast for the eyes! And speaking of feast, if you are taking a field trip with a chef and a winemaker, chances are there is going to be one - - and there was! Chef Bear and Nate had prepared and packed a picnic of flavorful and moist baked chicken, fresh green salad with a light vinaigrette and a plate of fresh local asparagus, soft cheese, red bell peppers and olives. Shari and Marlene from the winery joined us to complete the party and Rick and Darcy generously brought out the wine! Our lunch was paired with Woodward Canyon's Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and the newly released 2007 "Old Vines" Cabernet Sauvignon.

This was where I had to remember to "mind my manners" as I could have taken off with that bottle of Cabernet and not shared a drop. It was dark and earthy with notes of cherries and ... okay, enough of my dreaming about wine ...

With or without a "note from my mother" this was a field trip to top all. It fact, I discovered something new I didn't know before about the Walla Walla Valley. It was exactly what a field trip should be about: experiences outside our everyday activities. It is also an experience that Chef Bear Ullman can bring back and share with his guests at The Marc.

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Seattle Wine Awards 2010: Walla Walla Winners Winners!

Date: Tue, Jun 1, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

The Seattle Wine Awards is the largest and most comprehensive independent Washington wine recognition program. The wines that earn recognition in the Seattle Wine Awards must achieve tasting panel consensus where they earn one of the following awards: Double Gold, Gold, Silver and Bronze Grand Awards of Excellence in their respective price/wine categories.

The Seattle Wine Awards tasting panel consists respected wine directors, buyers, distributors, educators and Seattle’s top sommeliers who know what Washington wine is all about. The panel tasts the wine "single-blind," which means the panel will only know the varietal of the wine. They will not know the price nor producer. The panel uses a modified 20-point system to score each of the wines.

Recently it's been pointed out that Washington State wines are more than just about Walla Walla, but if you view the full list of winners and the concentration of those from the Walla Walla Valley, you sure wouldn't know it. Congratulations to the all of the wineries and especially those from Walla Walla! (For the complete list of Washington State winners you will find them at 2010 AWARD WINNERS)


Chardonnay: $20.00 – Under

Silver 2009 Substance Chardonnay (Ch), Washington State

Chardonnay: $20.01 – Over

Double Gold 2007 àMaurice Cellars Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2008 Le Chateau Winery Chardonnay, White Bluffs
Gold 2008 Dunham Cellars Chardonnay, Lewis Vineyard
Gold 2008 Dusted Valley Old Vine Chardonnay, Yakima Valley
Silver 2008 L'Ecole No 41 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
Silver 2008 Woodward Canyon Chardonnay, Washington State

Dessert Styles: All Pricing

Gold 2008 Dunham Cellars Late Harvest Riesling, Lewis Vineyard
Bronze 2008 Tertulia Semillon Ice Wine, Columbia Valley

Riesling: All Pricing

Double Gold 2008 Long Shadows Poet's Leap, Columbia Valley
Gold 2008 Dunham Cellars Lewis Vineyard Riesling, Columbia Valley
Bronze 2009 Rasa Vineyards “The Composer,” Sagemoor Vineyards
Bronze 2008 Three Rivers Riesling, Columbia Valley

Sauvignon Blanc: All Pricing

Silver 2008 CAVU Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley
Silver 2008 Three Rivers Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley

White Bordeaux Styles: All Pricing

Double Gold 2008 L'Ecole No 41 Estate “Luminesce,” Seven Hills Vineyard
Gold 2008 CADARETTA “SBS,” Columbia Valley

White Proprietary Blend: $20.00 – Under

Double Gold 2008 Waterbrook Winery “Mélange Blanc,” Columbia Valley
Gold 2008 Magnificent Wine Company “House White,” Columbia Valley

White Rhone Styles: All Pricing

Silver 2008 Rotie Cellars “Southern White,” Columbia Valley

Viognier: All Pricing

Double Gold 2008 Skylite Cellars Viognier, Snipes Mountain
Silver 2008 Dusted Valley Viognier, Yakima Valley
Silver 2008 Watermill Winery Viognier, Columbia Valley
Bronze 2007 Reynvaan Family Vineyards “Queen's Road White,” Walla Walla

Rosé — Single: All Pricing

Gold 2009 CAVU Cellars Barbera Rosé, Alder Ridge Vineyard


Red Bordeaux Styles: $20.00 – Under

Bronze 2007 Sweet Valley Wines “Double Barrel,” Walla Walla

Red Bordeaux Styles: $20.01 – $35.00

Double Gold 2006 àMaurice Cellars "The Tsutakawa," Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2007 Bunchgrass “Triolet,” Walla Walla
Gold 2006 Saviah Cellars “Big Sky Cuvée,” Columbia Valley
Gold 2008 Waters Winery “Interlude,” Columbia Valley
Silver 2007 Otis Kenyon Wine “Matchless Red,” Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Tertulia “Sobra,” Columbia Valley
Bronze 2006 CAVU Cellars “Horizon Red,” Walla Walla

Red Bordeaux Styles: $35.01 — Over

Double Gold 2006 Woodward Canyon “Estate Red,” Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Glencorrie “éMarquis,” Columbia Valley
Silver 2007 L'Ecole No 41 “Apogee,” Pepper Bridge Vineyard
Bronze 2006 Le Chateau Winery “Masterpiece Red #1,” Walla Walla
Bronze 2007 Sleight of Hand Cellars “The Archimage,” Walla Walla

Cabernet Franc: $20.01 – $35.00

Gold 2007 Watermill Winery Estate Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla
Bronze 2008 Tamarack Cellars Cabernet Franc, Wahluke Slope

Cabernet Franc: $35.01 — Over

Double Gold 2007 Dusted Valley Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Three Rivers Cabernet Franc, Weinbau Vineyard

Cabernet Sauvignon: $20.01 – $35.00

Double Gold 2007 Dusted Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Double Gold 2007 Five Star Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Double Gold 2007 Walla Walla Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Gold 2006 Gifford Hirlinger Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Glencorrie Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Silver 2007 Bergevin Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Silver 2006 Tulpen Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla

Cabernet Sauvignon: $35.01 — Over

Double Gold 2006 Dunham Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Lewis Vineyard
Double Gold 2007 L'Ecole No 41 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Double Gold 2006 SYZYGY 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Gold 2007 CADARETTA Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Gold 2006 Dumas Station Minnick Hills Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Glencorrie Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Pepper Bridge Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Skylite Cellars Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Gold 2005 TL Cellars “Release No. Two” Cabernet Sauvignon, Les Collines Vineyard
Gold 2007 Woodward Canyon “Artist Series #16” Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State
Silver 2006 Basel Cellars Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Pheasant Run
Silver 2006 Canoe Ridge Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Silver 2006 Long Shadows “Feather,” Columbia Valley
Silver 2007 Waters Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Cold Creek Vineyard
Bronze 2006 Dunham Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon XII, Lewis Vineyard
Bronze 2007 Spring Valley Vineyard “Frederick” Cabernet Sauvignon Blend, Walla Walla
Bronze 2006 Three Rivers Cabernet Sauvignon, Champoux Vineyard

Merlot: $20.00 – Under

Gold 2007 Dusted Valley Boomtown Merlot, Columbia Valley
Gold 2008 Substance Merlot (Me), Washington State

Merlot: $20.01 – $35.00

Double Gold 2006 Gifford Hirlinger Estate Merlot, Walla Walla
Double Gold 2007 Watermill Winery Merlot, Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Five Star Cellars Merlot, Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Glencorrie Merlot, Stillwater Creek
Silver 2008 Walla Walla Vintners Merlot, Walla Walla
Bronze 2007 Seven Hills Winery Merlot, Seven Hills Vineyard
Bronze 2007 Tamarack Cellars Merlot, Columbia Valley
Bronze 2007 Tempus Cellars Merlot, Seven Hills Vineyard
Bronze 2007 Tertulia “Pepper Bridge Merlot,” Walla Walla
Bronze 2006 Tulpen Merlot, Columbia Valley

Merlot: $35.01 — Over

Double Gold 2006 Canoe Ridge Vineyard Reserve Merlot, Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2006 Dunham Cellars Merlot, Lewis Vineyard
Double Gold 2007 L'Ecole No 41 Estate Merlot, Seven Hills Vineyard
Double Gold 2006 Northstar Winery Columbia Valley Merlot, Columbia Valley
Gold 2006 Northstar Winery Walla Walla Merlot, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Spring Valley Vineyard “Uriah Merlot Blend,” Walla Walla
Gold 2006 Three Rivers Winery Merlot, Champoux Vineyard
Silver 2006 Long Shadows “Pedestal,” Columbia Valley
Silver 2007 Pepper Bridge Winery Merlot, Walla Walla

Sangiovese: All Pricing

Double Gold 2007 Trio Vintners “Sangiovese Riserva,” Yakima Valley
Double Gold 2008 Walla Walla Vintners Sangiovese, Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2006 Yellow Hawk Cellar Sangiovese, Walla Walla
Silver 2008 Sweet Valley Wines “Righteous Sangiovese,” Walla Walla

Red Proprietary Blends: $20.00 – Under

Bronze 2007 Magnificent Wine Company “House Red,” Columbia Valley
Bronze 2007 SuLei Cellars “Beet Red,” Walla Walla

Red Proprietary Blends: $20.01 – $35.00

Double Gold 2006 Tulpen “Coalescence Red Blend,” Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2007 Walla Walla Vintners “Cuvée,” Washington State
Silver 2006 Dunham Cellars “Trutina,” Lewis Vineyard
Silver 2005 Whitman Cellars Narcissa Red, Walla Walla

Red Proprietary Blends: $35.01 — Over

Double Gold 2007 Skylite Cellars “Reserve Proprietary Blend,” Columbia Valley
Gold 2007 Sleight of Hand Cellars “The Illusionist,” Columbia Valley
Silver 2006 Long Shadows “Piroutte,” Columbia Valley
Silver 2006 Long Shadows “Saggi,” Columbia Valley

Red Rhône Styles: All Pricing

Double Gold 2007 àMaurice Cellars Syrah / Grenache, Columbia Valley
Gold 2007 Rasa Vineyards “QED” Rhone Blend, Walla Walla
Silver 2008 Rotie Cellars “Southern Red,” Washington State

Syrah: $20.00 – Under

Double Gold 2008 DaMa Wines Winery Syrah, Columbia Valley
Gold 2007 Dusted Valley Boomtown Syrah, Columbia Valley
Silver 2008 Substance Syrah (Sy), Washington State

Syrah: $20.01 – $35.00

Double Gold 2007 L'Ecole No 41 Syrah, Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2007 SYZYGY 100% Syrah, Walla Walla
Gold 2006 Bergevin Lane “Oui Deux Syrah,” Wahluke Slope
Gold 2006 Cougar Crest Estate Winery “Estate Syrah,” Walla Walla
Gold 2008 Dusted Valley Grenache, Columbia Valley
Gold 2006 Walla Walla River Winery Syrah, Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Bunchgrass Syrah, Columbia Valley
Silver 2007 CADARETTA Syrah, Columbia Valley
Silver 2006 Glen Fiona “Basket Press Syrah,” Columbia Valley
Silver 2007 Magnificent Wine Company “Originals Syrah,” Columbia Valley
Silver 2007 Otis Kenyon Wine Syrah, Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Tempus Cellars Syrah, Columbia Valley
Bronze 2007 Amavi Cellars Syrah, Walla Walla
Bronze 2007 Bunchgrass Syrah, Walla Walla
Bronze 2006 Dunham Cellars Syrah, Lewis Vineyard
Bronze 2007 Rotie Cellars “Northern Red,” Horse Heaven Hills
Bronze 2007 Rotie Cellars “Southern Red,” Horse Heaven Hills
Bronze 2008 Rotie Cellars “Northern Red,” Washington State
Bronze 2007 Tertulia Syrah Les Collines, Columbia Valley
Bronze 2006 Tulpen Syrah, Columbia

Syrah: $35.01 — Over

Double Gold 2006 Cougar Crest Estate Winery Reserve Syrah, Walla Walla
Double Gold 2006 Long Shadows “Sequel,” Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2007 Rasa Vineyards “Principia Reserve Syrah,” Walla Walla
Double Gold 2007 Sleight of Hand Cellars “Levitation Syrah,” Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2007 Spring Valley Vineyard Nina Lee Syrah,” Walla Walla
Gold 2006 Cougar Crest Estate Winery “Golden's Legacy Syrah,”
Gold 2006 Dunham Cellars Lewis Vineyard Syrah, Columbia Valley
Gold 2007 Dusted Valley Reserve Syrah, Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Reynvaan Family Vineyards “In the Rocks,” Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Waters Winery Forgotten Hills Syrah, Walla Walla
Bronze 2007 Reynvaan Family Vineyards “The Contender,” Walla Walla

Red Varietal: $20.00 – Under

Gold 2007 Sweet Valley Wines “Righteous Malbec,” Columbia Valley

Red Varietal: $20.01 – $35.00

Double Gold 2008 CAVU Cellars Malbec, Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2007 Skylite Cellars Malbec, Verhey Vineyards
Double Gold 2007 Watermill Winery Estate Malbec, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Gifford Hirlinger Estate Petit Verdot, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Saviah Cellars Malbec, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Tertulia Carmenere, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Tertulia Malbec, Columbia Valley
Silver 2006 Saviah Cellars Petit Verdot, Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Three Rivers Malbec, Columbia Valley

Red Varietal: $35.01 — Over

Double Gold 2007 Dusted Valley Malbec, Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2007 Otis Kenyon Wine Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills
Gold 2007 Ash Hollow Malbec Reserve, Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Basel Cellars Estate Winery Carmenere, Chelle Den Millie
Silver 2005 Le Chateau Winery Malbec, Columbia Valley
Silver 2008 Rasa Vineyards “Vox Populi » Mourvedre, Minick Vineyard

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Discover Cooking with Lavender at Local Wineries!

Date: Fri, May 28, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

On Tuesday I was out in my garden tending to my new pots of herbs and annuals and also doing some maintenance on the older plants. As I brushed against one of the three large lavender plants that have made their home in wine barrel planters, the heady fragrance stayed on my shirt sleeve and reminded me of how lavender and wine can pair together so well.

The goddesses of wine and herbs must have stayed with me throughout the day as I later discovered two local Walla Walla wineries will be featuring Seattle author, foodie, gardner and lavender enthusiast Kathy Gerht this holiday weekend.

Kathy will be introducing her new book, Discover Cooking with Lavender at Isenhower Cellars and Three Rivers Winery this weekend. Kathy will have her books for purchase, as well as be available for signing. She will also bring with her a sampling of recipes taken straight from her cookbook.

Kathy Gehrt’s cookbook “Discover Cooking with Lavender,” will take readers on a culinary adventure, exploring the fragrance and flavor of lavender. It features 75 recipes for seasonings, drinks, savory dishes and sweets. The book is filled with unique recipes, such as Lavender Ginger Lemon Sugar, Bruschetta with Tomatoes and Roasted Lavender, Strawberries with Lavender Yogurt Cream, Honey Ginger Lavender Lemonade, and Roasted Halibut á la Provence. Along with her recipe for Josephine’s Hot Chocolate, Kathy reveals to readers that lavender was the secret ingredient in the nightcap Josephine created to put Napoleon in a “romantic” mood.

You can join Kathy at Isenhower Cellars on Saturday, May 29 at 2:00pm and also at Three Rivers Winery on Sunday, May 30 at 12:00pm - 3:00pm. Just a mention of those recipes alone, I can think of all of the wines from both wineries that would make for perfect pairings with the cookbook's recipes.

I am so looking forward to reading this book on my porch by my lavender while sipping a glass of summer rosé. I just have to know more about how Josephine put Napoleon in a romantic mood!

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On the Move: Amavi Cellars

Date: Wed, May 26, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Travis Goff, of sales, marketing and partner of Pepperbridge and Amavi Cellars, just sent me the newest scoop regarding Amavi's new facility in Walla Walla!

After seven years in its rustic Walla Walla facility, Amavi Cellars has announced a move to its new and contemporary tasting room in the heart of Pepper Bridge Vineyard near the Washington/Oregon border (I kept noticing the building as I was traveling back and forth during Spring Release weekend, as it is very visual from the highway). The new building features expansive Southeastern views of the Blue Mountains, vineyards and other agriculture in the area. Floor-to-ceiling windows and a spacious elevated deck create a sense of intimacy with the surrounding rural area. A stunning, 20-foot-long zinc bar invites guests to gather and provides an exquisite platform for sampling the winery's highly rated, estate-grown wines. It is located at 3796 Peppers Bridge Road in Walla Walla, the 1,000 square-foot tasting room and adjacent 500-square-foot conference room are complemented by a 500-square-foot elevated deck, offices, dry goods storage and wine-production areas. The new facility will keep usual business hours from 10 am - 4 pm daily.

The new location is a realization of the owners' desire to provide a better Walla Walla experience for its customers and to move operations closer to its estate vineyards. Referring to the vineyards as the “soul” of Amavi wines, Managing Partner Ray Goff says that it is the winery's goal to honor and underscore the role of agriculture in fine wine. “In our previous urban location, we ran the risk of becoming disconnected from Mother Nature and the year-long process of creating each vintage,” Goff says. “Being among the vines produces a refreshing, humbling sense of awe — and a deeper appreciation for the wines our winemaker and viticulturist Jean-François Pellet crafts — that we would like to share with our guests.”

Goff adds that in addition to providing a better atmosphere, the new tasting room offers significantly more space and a layout designed for entertaining. “Hospitality is a cornerstone of our values, and we now have the appropriate venue for our events and for customers' small weddings and business retreats.”

Seattle architect David Clinkston of Clinkston Brunner worked closely with the winery partners to create a building that tucks neatly into the hillside while simultaneously flaunting clean, dramatic lines. The wood, steel and glass building contrasts tastefully with the rolling hills and surrounding agriculture, inviting passersby to take a closer look. Landscaping is underway and will feature drought-resistant, native plants.

Owned by the Goff, McKibben and Pellet families, the winery is known for its estate-grown, sustainably farmed Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Sèmillon wines. Its single-vineyard Les Collines Vineyard Syrah has attracted particular attention from wine critics over the last few vintages. The grapes in the winery's three estate vineyards — Les Collines, Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills — are certified sustainable and in high demand. In the overall wine market, Amavi Cellars' wines are categorized as ultra-premium, yet they are commonly considered a value among their Walla Walla peers.

I am looking forward to visiting Amavi.

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WBC-or-BUST: Winners Anounced!

Date: Tue, May 25, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

The winning wine bloggers for the WBC-or-BUST: Road to Walla Walla campaign have been selected! How exciting! This is a pre-event on their way to the Wine Bloggers Conference 2010, held this year in the beautiful valley of Walla Walla. Here is what these dedicated wine bloggers have won:

WBC-or-BUST ~ Itinerary Overview

Wed, June 23rd (DAY 1): Seattle & Woodinville Wine Country
The winners will experience some of the best Washington has to offer from one of the premier food & wine destinations in the Northwest.

Thur, June 24th (DAY 2): Yakima Valley & Walla Walla
They will travel across the Cascade Mountain Range to visit Washington's premier growing regions and taste through a selection of preimium wines.

Fri, June 25th (DAY 3): The Wine Bloggers Conference Begins in Walla Walla! Winners will arrive to Walla Walla in style just in time for the WBC '10 with a deeper understanding of Washington and it's thriving wine industry.

Sun, June 27th: Return Trip to Seattle
At the conclusion of the Wine Bloggers Conference all WBC-or-BUST bloggers and participating media guests will return back to Seattle via a comfortable limo bus. On the way, they will visit Alexandria Nicole Cellars at Prosser to enjoy a gourmet lunch and wine.

As one of the seven wine blogger supporters, I would like to congratulate the winners:

Toledo Wines and Vines

Another Wine Blog

Cellarmistress' Cellar Talk

Windy City Wine Guy

The Vino File




Wine Predator


Jenna & Wine

General Wine Thoughts

See you in Walla Walla!

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Schlameel, Schlamazel: Bottling Day at Mannina Cellars

Date: Mon, May 24, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

If you are a wine lover, chances are you have fantasized about owning a winery. Picture this: you are perched high above in your chateau, stroking your cat with your extended manicured pinkie finger, looking down from your burgus across the moat and gazing upon your many hectares of estate vineyards and your winery minions scurrying about. Minions? You know your sister's unemployed kid who hasn't left the couch since he graduated college in 1998, but claims he is holding out for a management position ...

SLAP! Snap out of it! Owning a winery is hard work unless you really do own a burgus high above your chateau overlooking a moat and hectares of estate vineyards. Owning a winery can be considered blue collar work! It's agriculture! It is wet! It can be repetitious! But if you have patience, true passion and not afraid to stain your extended pinkie finger the color purple, then owning a winery is for you. Here's an example of a normal work day at Mannina Cellars - - bottling day! I mean, what did you think, that little fairies magically put wine in the bottles while you were sleeping?

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Wine Press Northwest's Insider's Guide to Walla Walla -

Date: Tue, May 18, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

It was a nice surprise when Andy Perdue, Editor-in-chief of Wine Press Northwest asked me to hang with him in Walla Walla one afternoon and share some of the local secrets here in Walla Walla - places beyond the wine tourists radar. All I can say is this chick really loves Walla Walla wine and gravy!

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Tweets Bring Washington Wine to the Twitter World #WAWine

Date: Sat, May 15, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Once again, the ever ambitious and always convincing Josh Wade of Drink Nectar is bringing Washington wine to the Twitter and Facebook masses. Yup, that's right, from the wine blogging peep-holes that rallied around the very successful WAMerlot Twitter Tasting back in March, will again be bringing Washington wine to the world through the keyboard stroking power of Twitter, Facebook and even better - - face-to-face location events.

On Thursday, June 3 the virtual wine tasting community will be using the power of social media in wineries across Washington state. #WAWine will allow wine loving peeps from across the world to interact with each other while drinking and celebrating Washington wine. Boo-yah! Wineries across the state will also use the event as a springboard to bring people together inside their tasting room. But no matter where you are in the world, #WAWine is an opportunity to learn, connect and engage with other wine lovers.

The event is sponsored by Washington Tasting Room Magazine and the Washington Wine Commission and will leverage the collective reach of 14 wine writers (moi and others) and also Washington wine events, including Wine Rocks in Seattle, Taste Washington - Spokane and the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference at Walla Walla.

“Hundreds of wine loving eyes will be on Washington during June. This is a perfect event to kick off the month and connect people,” says the events co-creator, Josh Wade. "As wine writers descend on the state, WAWine will get their palate primed for great Washington wine."

So Boo, how do you do what I do with other Washington wine lovers? Participation is easy! Visit the event site for details and tips. Support one of the participating wineries by buying one or more bottles of Washington wine and join in one of three ways:

•Join in person at one of the participating wineries!
•Log on to Twitter at 5 pm PDT on Thursday, June 3 and follow the hashtag #WAWine. To be connected with other participants be sure to use the words #WAWine in all your tweets.
•Log on to Facebook and join the community at Facebook Taste and Tweet. You can use this Facebook page to upload photos, share your experiences and connect with your wine loving friends. (And even non-wine loving friends. Convert them and show them what they are missing. Plain grape juice is not near as much fun.)

If you are a winery, wine writer/blogger or part of the wine industry and want more information on how you can participate in this event, please go to Drink Nectar or Washington Wine Report for the scoop.

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Don Carlo Vineyard: A chip off the old ...

Date: Tue, May 11, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

It used to be the most indulgent and extreme snack was Champagne and popcorn. However, I have recently discovered a new extreme and pleasurable snack and it happened to be developed right here in our valley – Don Carlo Vineyard Chardonnay and Tim’s Cascade Style Chips warmed up and sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese. And it’s even better if you get Tim Kennedy himself, the founder of Tim’s Cascade Style Chips, to fry up these golden crunchy potato chips fresh for you to pair with his wines.

Lori and Tim Kennedy are no strangers to our area and no strangers to wine. Lori’s grandfather, Carlo arrived in the United States from Italy and eventually settled in the Pacific Northwest Italian area of Seattle bringing his winemaking passion with him. Lori has fond memories growing up and her family making wine. Tim eventually retired in 2005 from his 20-year chip making business and came back home to his roots in Athena, Or, which is 20 miles from Walla Walla.

In 2007, Lori and Tim purchased an old Milton-Freewater homestead near the Seven Hills Vineyard. The homestead also included an apple and cherry orchard. The first ten blocks of their vineyard was planted in Chardonnay and two acres of the old cherry trees were pulled and replaced with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc vines. The modest bungalow on the property is now the Don Carlo tasting room and headquarters.

At this time there are three wines released. Tim’s snack making talent has also grown into a wine making talent, which includes: 2008 Chardonnay, 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2007 Merlot. Lori's grandfather's wedding photo is the face of the Don Carlo Vineyard label. The wines are affordably priced and the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are produced from Walla Walla fruit. Already the Cabernet and Merlot have been getting their share of gold and silver medals. I also got to sample a preview of their 2009 Estate Chardonnay. Oh, did it ever speak to me. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

The new tasting room is filled with memories of Tim’s potato chip making days with a sculpture of the original red and white striped signature bag, as well as water color paintings of the snacks and potato chip bags. I had to ask Tim if he missed the chip business.

“People in the wine business are less competitive than in the snack business,” Tim said. “Driving a tractor adds years to your life.”

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Walla Walla Spring Release Highlights

Date: Tue, May 4, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Another Spring Release is behind us and I must say, if getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Highway #12 on Friday afternoon and evening is any indication of how many people came to town, I would have to say that Walla Walla Spring Release 2010 was a success!

As always, "there were so many wines and so little time" and I didn't make it to all of the ones on my list. I suppose in many ways, I have taken the wines of Walla Walla for granted, unlike my wine blogging collegue from the west, Sean Sullivan of the Washington Wine Report, who also let me hang with him on Friday afternoon. (or did I let him hang with me on my turf?) We had a friendly "spar" going on about who could blog about more Walla Walla wines in a year (and even Washington wines), but then again, someone would have to take the time to really care and to count them - meh! But fun aside, Sean had a precise, but impressive schedule and made the most of his limited time in Walla Walla. I am looking forward to reading his report, as always.

What impresses me time and time again are the beautiful rosés that keep popping up in the Walla Walla Valley. To name a few I tasted: Mannina Cellars Maddily - 2009 (100% Sangiovese), Robison Ranch Cellars - 2009 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese), Rulo Winery - 2009 (98% Syrah, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon), Sleight of Hand Magician's Assistant - 2009 (100% Cabernet Franc), SuLei Cellars -2009 (85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc), Trio Vintners Tres Rose - 2009 (50% Grenache, 50% Mourvèdre), and Trust Cellars 2009 (100% Cabernet Franc).

These rosés are all limited productions so "gather ye rosés while ye may ..."

In the mean time I will go over the highlights of the wineries I visited and choose just one wine from each winery.

Abeja: 2008 Beekeeper's Blend. Abeja is known for quality wines and for the dollars and quality, you cannot go wrong with this popular wine. A blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12.2% Merlot, 4.9% Cabernet Franc and 4.9% Petit Verdot. Supple and yummy with notes of coffee and green peppercorns. $21

Bergevin Lane Vineyards: 2006 Intuition Reserve. A high-end blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Petite Verdot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Merlot. A rich Bordeaux-style blend with all of the right components going on - earth, minerals, acids and tannins. $55

Couvillion Winery: 2007 Equilibre Red. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Petit Verdot. Spicy, chocolatey and a mouth full of cherries. Jill's new addition to her winery looks great and so does her flower garden. $25

K-Vintners: 2007 K Syrah Phil Lane - Walla Walla Valley. Smoky, violets, and bloody with a long finish. A very personable and friendly tasting room staff, but the "rock star" wasn't there. My friend and wine blogger collegue Thea from Luscious Lushes - A Wine Blog tells me she was able to see Charles the same weekend at the Hospice du Rhône in Paso Robles, CA and was quite taken. It makes her all the more excited, she says, to visit Walla Walla at the Wine Bloggers Conference in June. She probably won't see him again, but at least she will have his billboards to stare at. $70

Locati Cellars: 2007 Innovation - Super Tuscan Style (Barbera, Sangiovese, and Cabernet) with fruit from the Columbia Valley. Brambleberries, currants and chocolate. A wine that should be passed around the dinner table and will hold up to a rich tomato gravy and spicy meats. Another highlight was their pre-party catered by Cugini's Deli and of course featuring Locati Cellars own grilled asparagus.

Mannina Cellars: 2008 Birch Creek Merlot. Immediately, the nose told me it was Walla Walla fruit with its earthy and smoky tones. The other highlight was tasting the new releases during an evening event at Mannina. Graze Catering did a wonderful job. I couldn't decide which I craved more - the garlicy ham and cheese pannini's paired with the Cali red blend or the Sangiovese paired with shish-kabob wraps of beef, grilled red pepper, spinach and provolone. $25

Robison Ranch Cellars: Okay, what can I say but they provided their usual and oppulent feast! Cheeses, salmon, ceviche, ham (choice of Tennessee or Virginia), corn beef, pork loin, bacon wrapped pickled watermelon (yum!) and ... and ... Okay, back to the wine. 2009 Viognier from Dwelley Vineyard in Walla Walla. Notes of pear, stoned fruits and honeysuckle leaving a finish of creme brulee. $19

Rulo: 2009 Combine - a blend of 96% Sauvignon Blanc and 4% Muscat Ottonel. Nose of grapefruit, honeysuckle and "pisse d' chat." Crisp, lemongrass and gingery on the palate. As always, their imported cheese assortment ruled. I threatened to knife any fingers who got near the Manchego as long as I was in the building. $15

Sleight of Hand Cellars: 2008 "The Spellbinder" 42% Cabernet Franc, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Syrah, 12% Merlot, and 11% Sangiovese. Ooohhh how the Cab Franc spoke to me. Full bodied and such a great wine for the dollars. Screw cap and food friendly. $19

SuLei Cellars: It was a must that I check out their new downtown tasting room. The big release for Tanya and Elaine was their 2008 Roller Girl Red, inspired by the new local roller derby team, Walla Walla Sweets Roller Girls. Big fruit from Les Collines and Lodmell Vineyards. A Bordeaux style red blend of 48% Cabernet Franc, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 11% Merlot. It was a mouthful of berries with caramel and tobacco notes. Luscious for $17

Tranche Cellars: 2005 Slice of Pape. Walla Walla's answer to the great Châteauneuf-du-Pape. A traditional southern Rhone style blend of 56% Grenache, 38% Syrah, 5.5% Counoise and a skoosh of Viognier. Elegant. Raspberry and tobacco nose and a palate greeting you with smoky and dark cherry cola flavors. Tranche also greets you with a beautiful grassy view. $35

Trio Vintners: 2006 Mourvèdre. Okay, I didn't taste this during the big weekend, but I did sneak a visit to sample Trio a few days before. Does that count? It's distinctive with dark earthy flavors. A mouthful of wild blackberries and a hint of violet on the nose. It left with a spicy, yet long finish. I sampled it with a lamb sausage and marinara dip. $26

Trust Cellars: Like Pee-Wee Herman says, "If you love it so much, why don't you marry it?" Again, Steve Brooks has another winner with his 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. I loved it. Balanced and elegant. A palate of dark chocolate covered cherries with a creamy liquor center. Swoon worthy! $36

Walla Walla Vintners: Okay, so call me easy. Hellooo Easy! But I cannot get past their 2008 Cabernet Franc. I have been coveting bottles of WWV Cab Franc since their 1997 release. As always, Myles and Gordy's new vintage didn't disappoint. Cherry cola, chocolate and creme brulee flavors with a hint of the "green" that I love so much about Cabernet Francs. Complex! And believe it or not, but two weeks before WWV Cab Franc was paired for me and my guests with lobster in a saffron scented stock ala Chef Bear at the Marcus Whitman. A pair made for Bacchus and a Mermaid. $28

Okay, so come Sunday I was pooped! Oh well, fiddle dee dee. After all, tomorrow is another wine drinking day in Walla Walla.

(Stay tuned - a video with Spring Release highlights will be coming.)

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Pure and Solid Character: Substance Wines

Date: Thu, Apr 29, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

The dictionary gives many definitions to the word, substance: 1.) that of which a thing consists; physical matter or material. 2.) a species of matter of definite chemical composition. 3.) the subject matter of thought, discourse, study, etc. 4.) substantial or solid character or quality. 5.)consistency; body. 6.) something that has separate or independent existence. 7.) possessions, means, or wealth.

I couldn’t agree more that when it came to naming what is now one of the hottest wine brands in America; the collaboration of this second-label project between Jason Huntley of Waters Winery, Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars and Jamie Brown, Winemaker for Waters; they could not have chosen a more innovative name. A name that also involves fresh, clever and hip marketing views and labels. This alone follows under all of the above definitions.

It was during one of our recent spring days here in Walla Walla that I was treated to a wonderful afternoon in the sun tasting the wines of Substance with Jamie Brown and also Christa Hilt, Marketing Director for Substance and Waters Winery. It was the best "chemistry" lesson I have ever had. As you see, for each varietal they are labeled to resemble the periodic table of chemical elements. The striking black and white Substance label is printed with two-letter abbreviations such as Cs (Cabernet Savignon), Mb (Malbec), Me (Merlot) and Ch (Chardonnay).

Jamie explained to me that the goal of Substance is to captivate all generations and tastebuds, whether it be a novice or a seasoned wine lover. You won't find any blends on the Substance periodic table either, as their concentration is on each distinct varietal so their audience can experience the true character of each individual grape. Besides the standard varieties, you will also find more of the obscure and unique such as Ci (Cinsault), Mv(Mourvedre) and Rn (Rousanne) to name a few. However, you can be sure that the more obscure wines are going to sell out quickly besides being a limited production. Also on the back of each label gives descriptions and some education about the wine.

The wines of Substance are also priced right - $20 and under. Now, just because they are affordable, doesn't mean they have skimped on quality. I found the wines of Substance to be expressive of their character and in many cases with intensity. Although they are wines to be enjoyed now, I think you will also find them cellar-worthy. But why cellar? Enjoy these wines now as just like the chemical elements listed on the periodic table, Substance is going to be around for a very long time.

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