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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!!!

 

Washington Wine Challenge

This blog was going to be about Merlot, but that will have to wait. If you know me, which many of you do, you know that I change my mind about a thousand times a day. I promise to get back to Merlot, since it is a very important topic. Today I want my fellow readers to take a challenge with me. For the month of March, when opening a bottle of wine or ordering one by glass at a restaurant, I want you to drink Washington wine only.

Let the screaming at me begin. I know you are stuck in your rut of drinking a California Cab or Italian Chianti, but I want you to explore all the joys Washington wine has to offer. Like I said before, we are giving California a run for their money. We are the state to watch. Plus, we have young, eager wine makers and a supportive state government (in terms of wine, but don’t get me started on the lack of support with educating our youth in WA!).

Right now, many Washington wine makers concentrate on making Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling, Syrah and Cab Franc. Although, last week I was able to meet a wine maker, Gino Guneo, who has done an excellent job making a Sangiovese called Tre Nova (trenovawines.com). Gino states that he is making Italian style wines on American soil. Many Washington wine makers are taking risks and playing around with grapes and able to develop some killer wines. Which benefit us, the consumer!

Take a trip to the world of Washington wine. See if you are able to stick with WA wines for the month of March. Not to worry, your Chianti, Bordeaux and California Cab will be waiting for when you return in April. Just take in and enjoy what this state has to offer. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Tonights Tasting:

2006 K Vintners Motor City Kitty, Syrah. $31.00West Seattle Cellars

Luscious, dark, rich, smooth and provocative is how I would describe this wine. If I could bottle up love and turn it into wine, it would be K Vintners Motor City Kitty Syrah. It is literally a perfect Syrah. When I talked before about splurging on a bottle, this is well worth the money; if you can find it anymore. This wine had been sitting in my cellar since May 2009. I was pregnant at the time, so it just sat there tempting me. Plus, WS Cellars said I may want to give it a year or two before opening. So last night, after attending a Kindergarten open house for my older daughter, my husband and I decided this would be a perfect evening for a nice bottle of wine.

MCK had been eyeing me for years and since this was a night to celebrate making it to Kindergarten with Ava, I quickly brought it upstairs to try. Wow, it was worth the wait. We drank it slowly (and left half the bottle so we could enjoy it this evening) and we’re almost silent while tasting it. It nearly left me speechless; it was that delicious. Oh how I wish this wine could last forever. With winemaker, Charles Smith, only making 4 barrels of the 2006 MCK (100 cases, give or take), it will be difficult to find again. If you are lucky enough to stumble upon this wine, grab two bottles. I know, $62 is tough to drop on two bottles of wine. But trust me, once you finish the first bottle, you will be craving another.

If you are in Walla Walla, I have heard this is a winery you must stop at. I have not been, but is on my bucket list.

http://www.kvintners.com/wines.php

Drink on my friends…

Washington vs. California Wineries part 1

Ok, first of all.. I am slightly biased, since I live in Washington and a supporter of local businesses. However, in recent years it seems I have made more trips to California wine country than to Washington wine country. Really, I am just a fan of wine – California, Washington, Oregon, France, etc. Good wine is good wine.  There are some California wines that are so delicious, goose bumps run up and down my arms, than there are Washington wines that blow me away. No matter what region you are a fan of, you must visit wineries. You gain a whole new perspective on your favorite wines. The best thing about visiting wineries, is the history you receive. You learn all sorts of fun facts about that specific winery, as well as tasting wines you cannot find in your local grocery store. Plus, you spend all day tasting wine. How fun is that!

I want to tell you my top favorite wineries (as of this moment), but there are still thousands more that I have not been too. Since this is my blog however, I am going to let you in on some wineries you probably have not heard of and must check out. I will divide this into two parts. Washington is first, then California (within the next week). I know you are all busy, with short attention spans, so I didn’t want to make this a long, drawn out blog.

A few Washington wine facts:

In Washington, there are over 500 wineries and is the second largest producer of wine in the US (can you guess who is first). Washington wines really started to take off in the early 1980’s – and the quality rivals many California and Old World wines. Washington has 11 wine regions within the state. Northwest, Olympic Peninsula, Puget Sound/Woodinville, Southwest, North Central, Yakima, Red Mountain, Horse Heaven Hills, Tri-Cities, Walla Walla and Spokane.

So, now you have an extremely brief history  – now here is the fun part, 5  wineries you must visit – According to Carolyn!

1. Tefft Cellars, Woodinville/Outlook

Outlook: 1302 Independence Road, Outlook WA 98938

www.tefftcellars.com

Woodinville:  16110 Woodinville Redmond Rd, Woodinville WA

 My first visit to Tefft was 6 years ago in Outlook, WA. I was impressed by their wines. Not my favorite, but consistent and nice. The winery itself is beautiful. They also have a Guest House you can rent. A couple of years ago, they opened a tasting room in Woodinville. Which is a spacious, Italian-themed room, which you can also rent for private parties. They don’t charge a tasting fee, and want you lounge in their over sized couches, while tasting anywhere between 5-10 wines. They really make you feel special and don’t rush you. I have to add that the quality of their wine has increased and is closely becoming a favorite of mine.

2.) Windy Point Vineyards, Wapato

420 Windy Point Drive, Wapato WA 98951

www.windypointvineyards.com

View, View, View!! Holy cow, Windy Point has an amazing location on top of a hilltop in Wapato, where you gaze upon Yakima Valley, orchards and Cascade mountains. Plus, they make some fabulous Syrah’s and Cab Franc’s (first place I ever had a Cab Franc). It is a little off the main road, but worth taking this detour for the view and outstanding wines.

3.) Pontin del Roza, Prosser

35502 North Hinzerling Road, Prosser WA 99350

509-786-4449 (no website)

For me, this winery is similar to those wineries I visited in France – Family run, vines in their backyard, tastings in their home (well, a trailer next to their home), with cats, dogs and various other animals running around. They are very welcoming with picnic facilities available for you. Nothing fancy, but a family feel attraction. Pontin wine has to be one of my favorite’s from Washington, and priced right as well.

4.) DeLille Cellars, Woodinville

14421 Woodinville-Redmond Road, Woodinville, WA 98072 (this is for their tasting room)

http://www.delillecellars.com/index.cfm

DeLille Cellars, hands down, makes top-notch wines. Although, you pay the price for top-notch wines. If you cannot afford a DeLille wine, you at least need to visit the tasting room. As you taste it, you can feel the hard work and passion they put into their wines. Most of DeLille’s grapes come from Red Mountain (not all however).  Red Mountain is known for killer Cabs.

5.) Wineglass Cellars, Zillah

260 North Bonair Road, Zillah WA 98953

www.wineglasscellars.com

So, I saved the best for last. My most favorite winery (and wine for that matter). You must bring a picnic to this tasting, you will be here for a while (unless you come on one of their pizza nights, then they will supply you with plenty of pizza). You may also want to think about biking to this winery, as the website gives you directions on a bike loop! Biking, driving, running, however you get to Wineglass, there is not a bad wine in the bunch.  I cannot even begin to tell you a favorite, I love them all (which I why I belong to their wine club!)

I am not trying to be exclusive;  there are many wineries I have enjoyed visiting, and more I dream of seeing – and will someday. These 5 stand out in my mind as wineries worth the trip. Do you have a favorite Washington winery? Let me know!

Happy Trails!!

ps – some of my facts came from the book Wine Trails of Washington by Steve Roberts

wineries, wineries, wineries….

Just beginning our day at DeLille

I love wineries! Which makes sense because I love wine.  I love wineries because it gives you such an insight to their wines. Some wineries, like their wines, are over priced and pretentious. Some wineries take the time to get to know you, as you them, and let you absorb the wines at your own pace. Then there are those who get you in and out as fast as possible , cheap service and probably cheap tasting wine – like a fast food restaurant. Horrible food, but it fills you up quickly. I obviously prefer the second, but sadly have experienced the other types as well. 

I am not going to get into all the wineries I have been too. I am not here to bash wineries (or their wines) either. I would like to tell you about the wineries I explored yesterday and the wine (and one particular winery) I feel you should invest in!   

Yesterday was a marvelous day! We set out on an adventure of exploring local wineries. Our wine tasting group included, my husband, brother, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, mom and myself. And since going to the Eastern side of Washington was not a possibility, we decided to check out Woodinville. Now, Woodinville is notorious for two of the biggest wineries in Washington, Columbia and Chateau St Michelle ( honestly are far from my favorite) – but did you know there are 45 wineries/tasting rooms in Woodinville? I didn’t, but now I do. I mean, this is a wine lovers paradise. But, since we had little one in tow (yes friends, it is possible to wine taste with a baby,  some wineries more welcoming than others. Just be mindful – swish, swirl and spit!) we had to limit the number we visited. 

Stop #1 DeLille Cellars

Ok, I have had one of their most popular wines called D2. FABULOUS wine! My brother-in-law Michael introduced me to this little piece of Heaven and have been in love with ever since. Just one slight problem, the price. DeLille’s wines over priced (for us novices who don’t have unlimited funds). The taste of their wines impressed me, but  turned off by the price. Nothing under $35.00. If you are in the mood to splurge, I will tell you the two wines I found the most delightful. 

2006 Doyenne Signature Syrah – $34.00 – A very rich wine with a taste of berry and spice. Not my favorite Syrah, but seductive on the palate. 

2007 DeLille Cellars D2 – $35.00 – Like I said a little piece of Heaven. The taste is of plums, cherries, vanilla and little spice. It is a smooth wine and goes down very easily. One of my top 10 favorites.   

Stop#2 Tefft Cellars 

 

This winery just opened a tasting room in Woodinville. Their original winery is located in Outlook, WA – a suburb of Yakima. I have been to the Outlook winery twice and enjoy their nicely priced wine. Out of the three I visited yesterday, this winery by far had the best service, class, atmosphere, price and wine. All 6 of us walked into this well designed wine cellar with lush chairs, couches and friendly smiles, in awe. We sat back and enjoyed our tasting of 14 wines (I did not taste all 14, I apologize) – for about an hour and a half. We had the full attention of the owner and his knowledge and enthusiasm for his wines was inspiring. I enjoyed so many of Tefft’s wines (and bought) – but I will give you a couple of the wines I recommend the most. I HIGHLY recommend visiting this winery as well! 

Viognier: Light, crisp, sweet, and citrus fruit taste. Very enjoyable. Most people think you can only drink white wine in the summer, but not true. This wine would taste wonderful anytime of the year. A great price of only $16.00 

Villa Toscana: A classic Chianti – everyday table wine. Bold smell, yet a light pepper and cherry taste. $18.00 

2006 Merlot: All 6 of this agreed this was a tasty wine. Very spicy and earthy. $23.00 

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon: a smokey Cab – at first taste is dry, then ends with a sweet finish (weird I know, but once you taste it you will understand). Very powerful, but extremely yummy. Splurge on this! $28.00 

They also have three ports that were a hit with our group ( I did not taste). You are able to find Tefft wines in local grocery stores, as well as Trader Joes and Whole Foods. 

Stop #3 Facelli Winery 

 

I have to say I was a little disappointed with this winery. Facelli was the third winery to open in Woodinville. You can only purchase their wines from the winery. I would recommend one wine from Facelli: 

 2008 Lemberger – It has a light taste with a smooth finish – tastes of plums, cherries and raspberries. $17.99 

For those interested in learning more about Woodniville wineries, you should explore the Passport to Woodinville April 17th and 18th. Check out their website! http://www.woodinvillewinecountry.com/index.cfm 

If you attend this, let me know what your favorite wineries are! 

Happy wine touring!