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Revisit the Magic: Sleight of Hand Cellars

Date: Tue, Apr 27, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

This Spring Release in Walla Walla, make some time for a little hocus-pocus - Sleight of Hand Cellars. The beautiful labels will sweep you in, but it's the wine that will keep your attention. I recently had the pleasure of revisiting the wines of Sleight of Hand Cellars and without me going on with catchy and punny adverbs and adjectives, I'll keep it simple - - these wines by winemaker/co-partner Trey Busch just keep getting bigger and better. Seriously.

In 2009, Seattle Magazine listed Sleight of Hand Cellars as one of the next cult wines in the state of Washington. I can agree with that. These wines are alluring for their style and affordability, but of course you cannot help being attracted to the detailed and artistic labels that are reminiscent of vintage magic posters.

For every day sipping or casual dinners, you cannot go wrong with Sleight of Hand The Magician Gewurztraminer - 2007, The Magician Gewurztraminer - 2008 and The Spellbinder Red Blend - 2007. All three wines are priced under $20 and packaged with screw caps, screaming "Hellooo backyard and picnics!"

Gewurztraminers aren't always easy to find, but once you find them, it's a shame not to enjoy this aromatic white. The big fruits of the Magician, along with the level of acidity that Washington grapes are known for makes for a perfect pairing with Asian-influenced meals and also my favorite curry chicken salad.

The Spellbinder - 2007 is a blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, and 14% Sangiovese pops with flavors of dark fruits, licorice and cocoa. Can you say BBQ? Oh yeah. If you are serving food with grill marks, Spellbinder is a great pairing.

Levitation - 2007 is a 100% Syrah and when I revisited this wine it showed off all of the qualities I look for in a Syrah. Blueberries, smoke, bacon and coffee. Yeah, it's on my list of Sexy Syrahs. Revisit this wine and keep revisiting - that is if you can keep it around that long. It's definitely an age-worthy wine.

As I look through my tasting notes, I have a drawing I made of a big star next to The Archimage - 2007, a proprietors blend of 54% Merot and 46% Cabernet Franc plucked from the Walla Walla Valley. This wine could be Washington's answer to the red blends of St. Emilion. Really. It's an elegant wine and the Cabernet Franc really spoke to me.

Continuing down my tasting notes there is another star, but this time I accented the star with lines to represent "shines" as in shining star right beside The Illusionist - 2007. The Illusionist is a blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Cabernet Franc, 20% Malbec, 14% Petit Verdot, 6% Syrah and 4% Merlot. Complex and rich. It is definitely a red wine that will give you a cult ranking. Lucious dark fruits are showing through the tannins. And of course, another age-worthy wine.

Sleight of Hand Cellars will be releasing their popular and third vintage of The Magician’s Assistant 100% Cabernet Franc Rose' for Spring. A mouthful of crisp watermelons and a hint of strawberries on the nose, which is so traditional for a well made Cabernet Franc Rose'. It's a "pretty in pink" wine that will move as quick like a rabbit out of a top hat (groan - sorry, I had to get one last pun in there.)

So don't forget, when visiting Walla Walla Spring Release this week be sure and visit Sleight of Hand Cellars before all of their wines disappear - - right before your very eyes!


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Attention Wine Loving Peeps: Stop Bill HR 5034

Date: Mon, Apr 26, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Once again, the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) are trying to find another way to prevent wine lovers from having choices on what wines we drink and purchase. Oh wait, it's not the WSWA. This time it's the National Beer Wholesalers Association (WBWA). And what does the NBWA have to do with what wine we choose to drink? Well who knows, but the WSWA sure are behind ... I mean applauding it loudly and supporting it.

On April 15 members of Congress introduced HR 5034, which was crafted by the NBWA. If passed, this bill could end direct shipping of wine and other forms of alcohol in the United States, or at least put major roadblocks in front of lawsuits by consumers and wineries trying to reduce restrictions on direct shipping. This bill would strengthen the three-tier system of distribution for wholesalers, giving them control of what wines you can purchase in your state and discriminate against out-of-state wine shippers.

Of course, WSWA wants you to believe they are really doing this to "protect our children" from ordering expensive bottles of wine online with their American Express Cards. Gosh, back in my day we would hang ... well, not me, but I heard there were classmates who would hang behind the local mini-mart and give Creepy Carl their lunch money to buy them a cheap bottle of Olde English "800" Malt Liquor or Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill. It was certainly quicker and satisfied our, I mean, "their" instant gratification than waiting three to five working days for an expensive bottle of wine to be delivered by FedEx or UPS. I guess the WSWA and the NBWA hasn't heard the news that FedEx and UPS remedied the problem of online sales of alcohol landing in the hands of minors. Policies have been set that a person over 21 with ID has to sign for the package of alcohol upon delivery.

In all seriousness: if HR 5034 passes, consumers will loose the ability to fight in the courts for laws that allow them to buy the wine they want and what winery or retail store they want to purchase it from.

Please help defeat HR 5034 by writing your U.S. Congressional Representatives. Also please join the official Facebook Page of STOPHR5034 to show your support.


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The Dynamic Duo at Trio Vintners

Date: Tue, Apr 20, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Spring Release 2010 is around the corner and there is big news at Trio Vintners. Denise Slattery and Steve Michener announced that they have taken on full ownership of Trio Vintners winery and all winemaking responsibilites.

Their winemaking and business partner of four years, Tim Boushey, has decided to move back to the west side of the state and pursue opportunities there. Steve and Denise are excited to take the reigns of Trio and make this a true family operation. However, it is clear that they are still very much a trio when you consider the real trio of their partnership is the triple combination of soil, climate and fruit. Listed below is just a trio of some of the wines they produce.

Once again Trio Vintners Tres Rosé (2009) will make an appearance at Spring Release. We also got a early sneak preview a week ago at Feast Walla Walla. There is just a skoosh of sweetness in this 50/50 blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre, sourced from the Far Away Vineyard in the Columbia Valley, and that skoosh makes it a pleasant afternoon sipper. Grenache brings to the wine Old World tradition and the dark Mourvèdre grape gives the wine a color Trio says you will want to paint your kitchen with. Rosés produced in the Walla Walla Valley have become a popular, yet limited wine, and you better not be a procrastinator if you want to grab a bottle. Tres Rosé is going to move fast!


It's a Riot at Trio Vintners. RIOT (Trio spelled backwards)is the first ever red blend for the Trio and it's appropriately named as it's a riot in a glass! This affordable wine is an unusual blend of 52% Sangiovese, 36% Syrah, and 12% Mourvedre sourced from the Yakima and Walla Walla Valleys. A nose of spice and fresh cherries jumps out in your face. The Syrah speaks out with hints of blueberry and smoke. There is a youthfulness in the palate and yet the complexity makes it a very age worthy wine that you will want to revisit later. Can’t beat the price for the quality.

Tempranillo may be a Spanish native, but this red varietal has adapted well in the Walla Walla Valley at the Les Collines Vineyard at the foothills of the Blue Mountains. The addition of 9% Carmenere and 8% Sangiovese, also from Les Collines, melds this 2007 deep red vintage together with aromatic spices of cinnamon and vanilla. Trio Vintners Tempranillo brings to the palate full flavors of black cherry, coffee and cola. It is medium-bodied and moves along with a smooth finish. Elegant.

Since 2006, Trio Vintners has created food friendly wines from small lot production using fruit grown throughout eastern Washington. They are known to challenge convention and indulge with lesser-known varietals, low-to-no oak, high natural acids and alcohol levels you can live with and enjoy food with. Unrestrained revelry? Not following the norm? Maybe - - but definitely a RIOT!


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Caretakers of History: Tero Estate Winery

Date: Thu, Apr 15, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Once upon a time two local doctors, Dr Herb Hendricks and Dr. James McClellan planted a vineyard by the name of Seven Hills. It was also the first commercial vineyard in the Walla Walla area, since prohibition. In 1994, the vineyard was split in half - half of the vineyard was sold, along with the rights of the name, Seven Hills. The remaining half of the vineyard was renamed, Windrow. Since 1995, several Who’s Who of the Walla Walla Valley wineries have used the Windrow Cabernet Sauvignon for their outstanding wines. Thirty-years later, a new partnership was formed and they would eventually become the new caretakers of the Windrow vines.

In 2006, Jan and Doug Roskelley traveled from their home in Woodinville to check out the vineyards in Walla Walla. Much to their good fortune and surprise, they discovered that the old Windrow Vineyard was for sale. Later, partners Mike Tembreull & Doug Roskelley lent the first two letters of their last names to create Tero Estates. In July of 2007, the Roskelleys would make Windrow Vineyard their home. Doug immediately went to work rebuilding the old equipment shed into a winery. In February, I visited their “old equipment shed” located at 52015 Seven Hills Road in Milton-Freewater during the "Tero Estates Announcement Party." To my surprise, what I discovered was no old equipment shed. Instead, the old shed “shed” its cocoon and released a beautiful new winery. The top of the new winery holds a magnificent view of the surrounding vineyards and the Blue Mountains.

However, underneath the newness and the beauty still remains some of the old shed. If walls could talk, the old walls would tell its visitors how it was a part of Walla Walla wine history, as many of the original discussions about the formation of the Walla Walla AVA were surrounded by the old shed walls.

Tero Estates first crush was in 2007 and they will release their Estate Cabernet Franc, Herb's Block Merlot (estate), Estate Windrow (their signature Bordeaux-style red) in October 2010. Also included in their first releases will be Cabernet Sauvignon and a table red produced from Walla Walla fruit. Spring of 2011 will be the release of their estate Cabernet Sauvignon and a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon - all from the 2007 crush at Windrow. During the afternoon event, we were treated to an early sip of the Estate Cabernet Franc. It was chocolatey, peppery and herbacious - just how I love one of my favorite reds.

More surprises were waiting us at the Tero Estates Announcement Party on that wonderful sunny afternoon at the vineyards. We were met by a smiling Ashley Trout pouring her elegant Flying Trout wines. I tasted through her collection and I was very taken on how Ashley's winemaking skills just keep evolving. Her wines are sophisticated and complex. The big news was Flying Trout and Tero Estates have “merged.” Flying Trout’s new home is at the 52015 Seven Hills Road winery. Ashley now has the support and a facility she needs to continue to build on her outstanding wine portfolio. She will also act as a consulting winemaker along with Doug, who is the winemaker for Tero Estates. There’s Malbec on the Tero Estates and no doubt, Ashley will know exactly what to do with it – as she continues to make her annual winemaking trek to Mendoza, Argentina.

The country life has been good for Jan and Doug Roskelley. Not only is Doug busy as the winemaker for Tero Estates, but he is also designer and construction-dude for their new home on site, as well as expanding their vineyard. Jan is a gracious hostess and eager to get involved in "social media" on behalf of their winery. And this “once upon a time” beginning will definitely have a happy ending – with Jan and Doug living in the middle of a vineyard with two dogs and ten cats and they will all live together happily ever-after.


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Feast Walla Walla 2010

Date: Wed, Apr 14, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Just like in the movie, The Wizard of Oz - "Ignore the voice behind the curtain."




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Sold Out! Wine Bloggers Conference - Walla Walla!

Date: Thu, Apr 8, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Yup, that's right. The Third Annual North American Wine Bloggers' Conference in Walla Walla is now SOLD OUT!

This year in Walla Walla the attendance was raised to 300 from 270 in the last two years when the conference was held in Napa/Sonoma. Destination Walla Walla was ahead of the game and selling out before Napa/Sonoma did in 2008 and 2009. Three hundred wine bloggers and wine industry representatives are registered to attend the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla, Washington June 25 – 27. Registrations will continue to be accepted and names are now being added to a "Wait List." Participation in the conference will be on a first-come, first-serve basis from the wait list as space becomes available.

And "they" say it couldn't be done - for many reasons and for many reasons that went without research: "Walla Walla is too far and the closest airport is in Seattle. Walla Walla produces wine? There are vineyards in Walla Walla? The only wine country in Washington state is in Woodinville." Even when it was announced at last year's conference in Napa/Sonoma, there was speculation made that "Napa/Sonoma set the bar pretty high and Walla Walla better be on top of their game." Was there any doubt? Walla Walla is on top of their game!

In the last five years, wine bloggers have changed and are still changing the way wine consumers gather information about the wines they want to drink. Traditional media is still a valuable and reliable tool, but for how long with the new up-and-coming wine drinking generations who rely on their iPhones and iPads for information? Why do you think traditional wine media are adding blogs to their websites?

In the mean time, now more than ever, the WBC Scholarship needs your help. Currently there are 13 scholarship applications needing assistance to attend WBC10. The committee will need to make some difficult decisions in the next few days and without your generous support, they will be unable to fulfill all of their wishes. Please donate generously and assist a wine blogger to "blog 'n walla" in Walla Walla!


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New Roots Meet Established Roots at Robison Ranch Cellars

Date: Thu, Apr 1, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

I typically don't run a lot of press releases and if I do, I will often change things around. But today I am going to be guilty of reposting someone else's words - - well somewhat. I am still going to change words around (you know me), but overall I couldn't have said this any better. The press release is also about the Robison-Riordan Families. Yeah - I am rather fond of them.

One afternoon I was visiting with Jim Robison and although he is a third generation wheat farmer in the Walla Walla Valley, he told me how he liked the wine industry and how they have contributed to the valley. Enter family friend, Brad Riordan a wine and vine hobbyist. And yes - - I have sampled all of the wines. I recommend them.


In 2005, Walla Walla newcomer Brad Riordan dug more than 200 holes through pure river rock to plant new grapevines on his quarter-acre “hobby” ranch. Two years later, he became the winery partner of one of the Valley’s most established wheat ranchers, Jim Robison.

Brad's short path from a “quarter-acre vineyard and a mule” (the mule being Brad himself) to becoming a winemaker and winery owner is a true Walla Walla story. He studied winemaking “at the knee of a great teacher and person,” Stan Clarke, the former Associate Director at the Center for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College. Third-generation rancher and successful Walla Walla businessman Jim Robison then discovered Riordan’s winemaking. Together they formed Robison Ranch Cellars.

Robison Ranch Cellars debuted its first vintage last fall with the single release of 2008 Rosé. The release has since sold out. This May, Robison Ranch Cellars will release its second vintage of Rosé and inaugural vintages of 2009 Viognier and 2009 Semillon. Later this fall, Robison Ranch Cellars plans to release inaugural vintages of 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008 Merlot, 2008 Spofford Station Syrah and 2008 Sangiovese. Robison’s first artist’s series wine, a 2008 Red Mountain Petit Verdot, will debut winter 2010. Brad is most excited by the 2009 Viognier and the 2008 Spofford Station Syrah.

The Robison Ranch Cellars winery facility is housed in a converted shallot production building on the 3,000 acre Robison Ranch, just 5 minutes from downtown Walla Walla. The winery sources grapes from several noted Walla Walla vineyards including Spofford Station, Dwelley and Blue Mountain and plans production of 500 cases for its 2009 vintage. On-site Winery events will be held twice each year (for Spring and Fall Release) in the historical shallot barn on the ranch. Winery visits are also available by appointment.

Stay tuned for more info regarding Spring Release and don't forget to check out their new website.


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Oh no! Hitler Discovers Gramercy Syrah Sold Out!

Date: Sat, Mar 27, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Found this video in my email this morning from Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars. Just too good to ignore. I laughed so hard I woke the cat. Greg has another calling besides producing wine - writing movie scripts!

Please understand the jest in this video.


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Washington Merlot Twitter Tasting - Walla Walla

Date: Fri, Mar 26, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

As Julius Caesar would say, "Venimus, vidimus, vicimus, vino - We came, we saw, we conquered and we drank a lot of Merlot from Washington State!"

Many thanks to Josh Wade of Drink Nectar for coordinating this fun Twitter event promoting awareness of Washington Merlot; sending a unified message about Washington wine; and promoting Washington wine tourism.

Also many thanks to Muriel Kenyon of Otis Kenyon Wine for her generous hospitality and for taking good care of our "nutritional" needs with a tasty assortment of cheeses, charcuterie, breads, hummus and of course the beautiful "Sarah Brownies" made by Sarah German, Pastry Chief - all from Olive Market Place.



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Twitter Tasting Event: We Are Drinking F----ing Merlot!

Date: Mon, Mar 22, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

I can remember as if it was yesterday. There I was, sitting in the movie theatre watching "Sideways." It was the scene whereupon entering the restaurant the rather dull and morose wine snob character, Miles Raymond shrieked at the top of his lungs, "No! If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any f---ing Merlot!"

It was at that moment I tossed a few popcorn kernels at the movie screen and hissed under my breath, "Well obviously Miles, you haven't tasted any Washington State Merlot."

Movies can influence lives and often for the better. However, it was the movie Sideways that put a cork in the sales of Merlot. Sales took a slump while Miles favorite wine, Pinot Noir had a boost in sales. Unfortunately, not knowing any better, many consumers drank some very bad Pinot Noir and forsaked some excellent Merlot

In the hands of a skilled vintner, there is nothing like a rich Merlot from Washington State. These wines are not only affordable, but many are world class. Merlot has been a key grape for us since the 1980's and in spite of Miles contempt, we are fighting back and keeping the faith for our beloved Merlot. We invite you to show your love, too!

It's easy to show your Mer-love. Here's what you do:

Twitter your love for Washington Merlot on Thursday, March 25 from 5 - 8 pm PDT.

• Locate a Washington Merlot or two or three! Make it your favorite stand-by or grab a couple of new favorites.
• Hop or fly and land on Twitter. As you're are tasting your scrumptious Merlot, you can also track the tweets. Follow the hashtag #WAMerlot in a search column and tweet, tweet, tweet away.

You can tweet from home. You can invite your neighbors and friends over and make it a party! We have a party going on here in Walla Walla (email me for info). Tweet from your favorite local winery, wine bar or restaurant. No matter where you are tweeting, just make sure you are tweeting and slurping a Merlot from Washington State!

For more information and how to sign up to show your support, check out: http://wamerlot.eventbrite.com/


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Walla Walla Wineries: It’s all your fault!

Date: Sun, Mar 21, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Every so often, my sense of logic gets insulted and when that happens I find myself climbing on my soapbox for a rant. Here’s my rant.

For several years now (and especially last week), as I live and breath in the Walla Walla Valley, I hear, more than I want to, negative remarks about wineries and tourism in Walla Walla. And more than often the words uttered are narrow-minded opinions that have not been researched. The opinions may be phrased a little different, but it all focuses on one topic: Everything "bad" (whatever that means) about Walla Walla is the fault of the wineries.

Just when I think I have heard it all, and every time I hear a new one, my mouth drops to the floor and I can’t seem to find the strength to pick up my bottom jaw due to the fact I am blown away at the ignorance of the statements.

“They should build more chain restaurants and big box stores instead of building another winery.”

Excuse me. But could you clarify for me who “They” exactly are? Is there a clandestine committee here in town by the name of “They” that decides to shut out potential businesses and only allow wineries to open a business? I don’t think so. So should property managers not rent space and realtors not sell buildings and land to wineries and wait for some non-winery business to come along? Who would win at that kind of business proposition? No one. We've been there. Done that.

“Instead of building more wineries, “They” (there’s that darn pesky clandestine committee again) should fix the potholes on our city streets.”

Unfortunately, my SUV takes on a few new rattles every time I hit an unavoidable pothole. It doesn’t make me happy, either. One of the worst looking streets in Walla Walla bears the name, Walla Walla Avenue. Ironic, huh? However, tell me again what a privately owned winery has to do with fixing our potholes? Repairing and maintaining the streets in Walla Walla is the responsibility of City of Walla Walla’s Administration of the Public Works Department. The wineries and the City of Walla Walla are not working together to create potholes to make your lives miserable. Besides, haven’t you heard that a winery is no different than any other business? If you think privately owned wineries should be responsible for fixing potholes, then so should your private and locally owned plumbers, dry cleaners, restaurants, etc. be responsible, too. Oh and by the way - these local businesses are going to adjust the prices a bit higher so they can pitch in to pay for repair of those potholes and still make a profit to pay their employees and overhead it takes to run their business. Many wineries in the Walla Walla Valley are independent "mom & pop" family-owned businesses.

Every bottle of wine that is sold in the city or county of Walla Walla is charged a revenue tax, as well as tax is charged on prepared food and lodging. The standard revenue tax rate charged on every of bottle of wine is 8.0% (county) or 8.3% cents (city) on the dollar with .015 or .018 being local and of course, comes back to our area. There are a lot of bottles of wine being sold that the city and county of Walla Walla are benefiting from.

"Why don't "They" use winery money to clean up the Blue Mountain Mall?”

I live near the Blue Mountain Mall (BMM) and I hate-hate-hate that eyesore. It is shameful. But here's the deal folks - - the wineries are not responsible for cleaning it up. The BMM is a privately owned corporation. Expecting wineries (or any other private business) to be responsible for clean-up of another private business is no different than expecting wineries to clean up your neighbor's lawn or house that is in need of weed-pulling and repair. Let me guess, you also expect Burger King to buy you a bigger size pair of pants, too?

"Why don't "They" spend more time promoting the Walla Walla Sweet Onion instead of wine? Wine has taken over the status of the onion."

Well gosh boys and girls, guess what? Wine tourism has actually helped the status of our beloved Walla Walla Sweet Onion. Growing up in Walla Walla, the house I was raised in was surrounded by sweet onions. Family and family friends are or have been Walla Walla Sweet Onions farmers. Unlike wineries, Walla Walla Sweet Onions are seasonal. The harvest is short as well as the shelf life of the onions. Most wineries are working all the year round. However, when onions are available wine tourists buy their share either from the road-side stands or at the downtown Farmer's Market. The years I spent working in winery tasting rooms, several tourist's plans included the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival in July.

We got the Walla Walla Sweet Onion voted as the official vegetable of Washington. What else do you want?

"Wineries do not create very many jobs."

They don't? Wineries not only need staff, but they rely on services from other local businesses (banks, attorneys, advertisers, computer techs, office supplies, lawn and ag services, food and catering, automotive repair, electricians, plumbers, etc.) Wineries create tourism. Tourists need gasoline, accommodations and food.

The Marcus Whitman Hotel is one of many accommodations in the area and a large employer creating jobs from wait staff, housekeeping, maintenance and even their own staff that keeps the furniture repaired and upholstered. The hotel provides employment almost 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And it wasn't always that way. I hear many yammer on about how they want Walla Walla back to the way it "use to be." When? Back in the 1970-80's when the downtown was full of empty store fronts and the Marcus Whitman Hotel was on its way to have a date with the wrecking ball? Out-of-towners owned the building and could have cared less about our history. The building and it's furnishings were pillaged. In 1999, Kyle Mussman and company bought the historic structure. It was restored, expanded and once again, the hotel is the way it "use to be" providing more jobs than ever.

Besides creating jobs, Walla Walla wineries give back to the community. They donate a lot of money and goods to many of our local charities. You can bet if there is a fund raising campaign or a charity event, several wineries are going to be there donating their wine or a special party. Many wineries create the expensive large formats of wine just to give away for fundraisers knowing that the larger bottles of wine can bring in big dollars.

Change is hard and I am not immune to it. But I have realized to keep things that are important to us, sometimes we have to bend and open the mind. I am of the attitude, if you don't like something then either put up or shut up. There is nothing wrong with having an opinion, but instead of yammering incessantly about something, understand the real problem and find the proper channel to voice your opinions to - - and stop blaming everything on "They!"

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Walla Walla Wineries: It’s all your fault!

Date: Sun, Mar 21, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Every so often, my sense of logic gets insulted and when that happens I find myself climbing on my soapbox for a rant. Here’s my rant.

For several years now (and especially last week), as I live and breath in the Walla Walla Valley, I hear, more than I want to, negative remarks about wineries and tourism in Walla Walla. And more than often the words uttered are narrow-minded opinions that have not been researched. The opinions may be phrased a little different, but it all focuses on one topic: Everything "bad" (whatever that means) about Walla Walla is the fault (and responsibility) of the wineries.

Just when I think I have heard it all, and every time I hear a new one, my mouth drops to the floor and I can’t seem to find the strength to pick up my bottom jaw due to the fact I am blown away at the ignorance of the statements.

“They should build more chain restaurants and big box stores instead of building another winery.”

Excuse me. But could you clarify for me who “They” exactly are? Is there a clandestine committee here in town by the name of “They” that decides to shut out potential businesses and only allow wineries to open a business? I don’t think so. So should property managers not rent space and realtors not sell buildings and land to wineries and wait for some non-winery business to come along? Who would win at that kind of business proposition? No one. We've been there. Done that.

“Instead of building more wineries, “They” (there’s that darn pesky clandestine committee again) should fix the potholes on our city streets.”

Unfortunately, my SUV takes on a few new rattles every time I hit an unavoidable pothole. It doesn’t make me happy, either. One of the worst looking streets in Walla Walla bears the name, Walla Walla Avenue. Ironic, huh? However, tell me again what a privately owned winery has to do with fixing our potholes? Repairing and maintaining the streets in Walla Walla is the responsibility of City of Walla Walla’s Administration of the Public Works Department. The wineries and the City of Walla Walla are not working together to create potholes to make your lives miserable. Besides, haven’t you heard that a winery is no different than any other business? If you think privately owned wineries should be responsible for fixing potholes, then so should your private and locally owned plumbers, dry cleaners, restaurants, etc. be responsible, too. Oh and by the way - these local businesses are going to adjust the prices a bit higher so they can pitch in to pay for repair of those potholes and still make a profit to pay their employees and overhead it takes to run their business. Many wineries in the Walla Walla Valley are independent "mom & pop" family-owned businesses.

Every bottle of wine that is sold in the city or county of Walla Walla is charged a revenue tax, as well as tax is charged on prepared food and lodging. The standard revenue tax rate charged on every of bottle of wine is 8.0% (county) or 8.3% cents (city) on the dollar with .015 or .018 being local and of course, comes back to our area. There are a lot of bottles of wine being sold that the city and county of Walla Walla are benefiting from.

"Why don't "They" use winery money (or instead of building another winery) to clean up the Blue Mountain Mall?”

I live near the Blue Mountain Mall (BMM) and I hate-hate-hate that eyesore. It is shameful. But here's the deal folks - - the wineries are not responsible for cleaning it up. The BMM is a privately owned corporation. Expecting wineries (or any other private business) to be responsible for clean-up of another private business is no different than expecting wineries to clean up your neighbor's lawn or house that is in need of weed-pulling and repair. Let me guess, you also expect Burger King to buy you a bigger size pair of pants, too?

"Why don't "They" spend more time promoting the Walla Walla Sweet Onion instead of wine? Wine has taken over the status of the onion."

Well gosh boys and girls, guess what? Wine tourism has actually helped the status of our beloved Walla Walla Sweet Onion. Growing up in Walla Walla, the house I was raised in was surrounded by sweet onions. Family and family friends are or have been Walla Walla Sweet Onions farmers. Unlike wineries, Walla Walla Sweet Onions are seasonal. The harvest is short as well as the shelf life of the onions. Most wineries are working all the year round. However, when onions are available wine tourists buy their share either from the road-side stands or at the downtown Farmer's Market. The years I spent working in winery tasting rooms, several tourist's plans included the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival in July.

We got the Walla Walla Sweet Onion voted as the official vegetable of Washington. What else do you want?

"Wineries do not create very many jobs."

They don't? Wineries not only need staff, but they rely on services from other local businesses (banks, attorneys, advertisers, computer techs, office supplies, lawn and ag services, food and catering, automotive repair, electricians, plumbers, etc.) Wineries create tourism. Tourists need gasoline, accommodations and food.

The Marcus Whitman Hotel is one of many accommodations in the area and a large employer creating jobs from wait staff, housekeeping, maintenance and even their own staff that keeps the furniture repaired and upholstered. The hotel provides employment almost 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And it wasn't always that way. I hear many yammer on about how they want Walla Walla back to the way it "use to be." When? Back in the 1970-80's when the downtown was full of empty store fronts and the Marcus Whitman Hotel was on its way to have a date with the wrecking ball? Out-of-towners owned the building and could have cared less about our history. The building and it's furnishings were pillaged. In 1999, Kyle Mussman and company bought the historic structure. It was restored, expanded and once again, the hotel is the way it "use to be" providing more jobs than ever.

Besides creating jobs, Walla Walla wineries give back to the community. They donate a lot of money and goods to many of our local charities. You can bet if there is a fund raising campaign or a charity event, several wineries are going to be there donating their wine or a special party. Many wineries create the expensive large formats of wine just to give away for fundraisers knowing that the larger bottles of wine can bring in big dollars.

Change is hard and I am not immune to it. But I have realized to keep things that are important to us, sometimes we have to bend and open the mind. I am of the attitude, if you don't like something then either put up or shut up. There is nothing wrong with having an opinion, but instead of yammering incessantly about something, understand the real problem and find the proper channel to voice your opinions to - - and stop blaming everything on "They!"


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Brad & Buffy: Wine Tasting in Walla Walla

Date: Fri, Mar 19, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Okay, so I've got the "movie making bug." Thanks to Greg Harrison of Gramercy Cellars for the inspiration of playing with this movie making toy, as well as Margot Sinclair Savell of Write for Wine for the inspired topic. In other words, don't blame me. Heh.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Brad & Buffy: Wine Tasting in Walla Walla

Date: Fri, Mar 19, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Okay, so I've got the "movie making bug." Thanks to Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars for the inspiration of playing with this movie making toy, as well as Margot Sinclair Savell of Write for Wine for the inspired topic. In other words, don't blame me. Heh.


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