If you read it, I will write…

I know, it has been a while since you have heard from me. Recently people have asked why I wasn’t writing about wine anymore…  I actually don’t have a great answer as to why the writing stopped. Life happened and blogging got away from me. Which is odd since I am quite opinioned on the matter and love to talk about it So, I am back and if you read it.. I will write!

*Just a warning in case you forgot- I am not a professional writer or an English major.. I am a wine drinker/educator who just wants to talk about  delicious fermented grapes. You may find typo’s or run on sentences or other grammatical errors, but you will also find great wine tips and passion! Read on my friends….* 

I am a massive fan of Washington Wines.  What makes drinking WA wines even more convenient are the hundreds of tasting rooms in my backyard. Woodinville, WA is a close, easy, Saturday afternoon trip to taste some of the states most delicious wines. However, it is not our wine region. To get a sense of our actual wine growing region,  you need to leave the comfort of your home, head east of the Cascades and explore.

Walla Walla, Washington is one of those perfect wine country weekend get always. Hundreds of tasting rooms/wineries, stunning culinary experiences, inexpensive places to stay and sunny weather (most of the time). I was lucky enough to visit this adorable city back at the end of February. Instead of the 5 hour car ride, I took a quick a 40 minute plane trip from SeaTac Airport. I would highly recommend this mode of transportation if you are low on time. There are inexpensive car rentals right at the Walla Walla airport or just take an uber (at the time of this blog, they had 5 uber drivers)! Either drive or fly, it’s a must visit for wine lovers.

Here are the top 4 wineries I recommend. This is by no means my complete list of recommendations. There are hundreds of wineries in Walla Walla and many I adore. This is just a quick glimpse of my top 4 picks from this visit. Otherwise this blog would go on and on…..

I chose these 4 based on my experience in the tasting room, attentiveness of the staff and of course the quality of the wines!!

1. Gramercy Cellars -http://gramercycellars.com/. By Appointment Tuesday through Friday
Open Saturdays 11am to 5pm

This small, family run, boutique winery produces Rhone and Bordeaux style wines. Their philosophy is simple:” to develop or partner with the best vineyards, harvest ripe, not overripe, grapes, intervene minimally in the winemaking process, and use as little new oak as possible.” Everything I tasted was clean, eloquent and well balanced.   *Vin Pick 2014 Lagniappe Syrah – lush, roasted cherry, mocha,  pipe tobacco and bright! *

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2. Rotie Cellars- https://rotiecellars.com/ Appointment only

This adorable tasting room is located in the heart of downtown Walla Walla. Since 2007, winemaker and owner Sean Boyd’s goal has been to make traditional Rhone blends in Washington State. Boyd’s winemaking philosophy is simple- combine old world winemaking techniques with the highest quality Rhone varietals that Washington has to offer. And you can taste his hard work in all his wines. *Vin Pick 2014 Southern Blend 70% Grenache, 25% Mourvèdre, 5% Syrah. Fresh fruit of bing cherry and blueberry , balanced and minimal tannin. A very pretty wine!*

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3. Sleight of Hand Cellars – http://www.sofhcellars.com  Thu – Mon, 11am – 5pm
Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Talk about a winery with a vibe. Everything about this winery is my jam. Great ambiance, killer music, fun staff  and fantastic wine. Their motto is “serious wines without the serious attitudes.” And that is exactly how I felt walking into the tasting room. Sleight of Hand Cellars was founded in 2007 by Trey Busch and Jerry and Sandy Solomon. Their only goal from the outset has been to “make world class wines while having the most fun that is legally possible”. That they do… *Vin Pick 2014 Enchantress Chardonnay. Pear, Peach and citrus are rocking this bright and acidic chardonnay!*

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4. Tranche Cellarshttp://tranche.wine/  Open Daily 11am-5pm

Breathtaking. That is one word to describe this winery. When you pull up, the architect of the tasting room takes your breathe away. With the Blue Mountains in the background, this is a perfect winery to sit, relax (by the fire pit) and enjoy their luscious wines. To quote the owners Michael and Lauri Corliss “A taste of Tranche is a slice of life… the life of the place, the vines, the people who make the wines, and most of all, you who drink them. We have given our lives over to making every bottle worthy of your attention. “I would have to agree with this statement. *Vin Pick  Estate Cabernet Franc. Raspberry, leather and herbs de province.  Herbaceous notes of eucalyptus, cedar and slight smoke make this a truly beautiful Cabernet Franc.*

My advice, leave the comfort of Woodinville,  and see what is really going on in the world of wine. We have so much to offer with Washington wines between Yakima Valley, Red Mountain, Walla Walla, Chelan… and the list goes on. Explore and find your top wineries (and make sure you tell me!).

Stay tuned for my next blog when I explain how I have learned to love Prosecco….

Cheers!

Carolyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washington Wine Month: some must haves….

I enjoy wines from all over the world. There is no favorite wine region in my world, because I can find wines from any region that are lovely. To me a solid, good wine… is a solid, good wine no matter the location. However, March is Washington Wine month and being a proud Washingtonian, I feel the need to focus attention to Washington wines.

Even though I purchase wines from all over the world, it’s important to support our growing wine region in Washington. I am extremely impressed with many of the wines coming out of Washington. We are not to be overlooked. We are producing some powerful, favorable, and elegant wines. With that being said, today the focus is on “Carolyn’s favorite wineries of the moment.”

Winery #1

Fall Line Wineryhttp://www.falllinewinery.com/

Winery Tastings are by appointment only

I have fallen in love with Fall Line’s wines, especially their Bordeaux blends. They are smooth, earthy, and fresh. The two varietals I highly recommend are Boushey Vineyard Red Blend – out of YakimaValley (39% Cabernet franc, 34% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon). The 2009 received 91 points from the Wine Advocate. The Boushey is an easy drinking wine that infuses the flavors of cassis, herbs, current, earth and plum on the palate. It seems like a lot of flavors, but it all blends perfectly together. The winery suggests cellaring it for a couple more years, but this wine is enjoyable right now as well.

The other elegant, yet rugged Bordeaux blend is their Red Willow Vineyard Red Blend (64% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet franc). Out of the two blends, this would have to be my number one. It is a medium-bodied wine that is tight at first taste. But after a few swirls, it opens up beautifully. It could benefit from another 2-4 years of cellaring, but I find it even enjoyable to drink now. It has the flavors of smoke, black current, spices and cherry. Its tannins are slightly chewy (For the new wine novice, I will explain tannins in another blog. But basically they give a wine structure and texture). This wine also made the ‘100 Best Wines of Washington—The 2012 List,’ Seattle Met magazine, September 2012.

Both these wine are a little pricey. But worth the splurge. The Red Willow sells at The Grape Choice (http://thegrapechoice.com/) for $34.99 and the Boushey sells for around $30.00 on their website. Both wines can be found easily in many local wine shops throughout Washington.

**You can taste their wines in the Seattle area on Saturday, March 16, 3:00 to 5:00 p.m at West Seattle Cellars http://www.westseattlecellars.com

Winery # 2

Domanico Cellars

2008 Le Monstre

2008 Le Monstre

Ballard Winery and Tasting Room

825 NW 49th Street, Seattle, WA

Open for tastings Friday, 5:00-9:00PM and Saturday, 12:00-6:00PM

Or by appointment during other days of the week

http://www.domanicocellars.com/

I stumbled upon Domanico Cellars about 2 years ago. I don’t remember how I heard of them, but once I found this winery in Ballard, I had to check them out. Talk about a find of lifetime. Domanico Cellars is a small family owned and operated winery in the heart of Ballard (and opening soon, a tasting room in Prosser , WA- where their vineyard is located).

Jason Domanico is one of the most friendly, humble wine makers I have ever met. The second you walk into the winery, he makes you feel as if you are part of his wine family. Probably because his whole family is involved with the wine making process (Jason, his wife Jill and daughter Anna) so he has a family minded business sense. We have visited the winery many times on a Friday evening with our children and a box of pizza. The kids enjoy pizza (and if Jason’s daughter is around, a play mate) and we delight in his wonderful wine line-up.

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite wine, because they are unique, charming and straight to the point. My recommendation would be to visit this winery and taste them all. The line up is usually (but in the world of wine, things can change):

1. 2010 Lewis Family Vineyard Riesling $15 – a dry, yet refreshing Riesling that would be a perfect pairing with seafood.

2. 2008 Le Flirt $21a blend of Merlot, Malbec and Cab Franc. It’s a spicy (flirty) blend!!

3. 2008 Mesa Rojo $21- A Cab, Cab Franc and Malbec blend that is an easy drinking, every day wine to drink with your dinner.

4. 2008 Le Monstre $21 -a predominately Cabernet Sauvignon (with 25% Cab Franc) wine. This is a dark, rich wine that could hold for up to 10 years.

5. 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $32 – I tried this wine for the first time about a month ago and fell in love. It is a smooth, rich, dark Cab that should be decanted for an hour or so. A must try!

But don’t take my word on Domanico Cellars, try it for yourself. Tastings are free and wines by the glass are only $5 (The reserve is $8). Pack the kids,the dog and head down on a Saturday evening. You will be happy to find this wine slice of heaven.

If you live in WA, make sure to support our local economy… and purchase a Washington wine (or two). If you live outside the Evergreen state, I challenge you to put down your California, French and Italian wine. Go to your local wine merchant and ask for a Washington wine. You will be pleasantly surprised – I promise!

PS – you can always order these wines through the winery’s website – unless you live in a state where they continue to have this funny law where wine cannot be shipped to you (and if that is the case, you should move).

Cheers!!!