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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wine Trails on the Hood Canal

The Hood Canal in WA… brings back many memories of me as a sullen teenager, dreading weekends and summer because I would leave my friends and social life to drive 2 hours and spend time with adults (and a stinky younger brother) on Hood Canal – away from civilization (and malls).

As I age, with grace, my memories of our cabin on the Hood Canal have changed. I completely understand my parents fascination with going so often. They sat around all weekend (with friends or other family members) eating seafood and drinking wine (or various other cocktails) – usually around a fire pit, overlooking the canal. This weekend, we packed our two daughters (ages 4 and 4 months) and set out on our two hour adventure to the place that used to torture me as a teenager. We met up with our close friends to have an Easter weekend, away from traffic, noise and internet. We experienced the exact same weekend I witnessed as a teen. We ate amazing amounts of halibut, clams, and oysters. Enjoyed some nice glasses of wine and created many new memories. However, this blog isn’t going to be about the wine we drank (a favorite I have told you on many occasions – The Stump Jump) – but what the Easter Bunny brought up to the cabin and what fellow Washington novices need to invest in.

My girlfriend Natalie (aka the Easter Bunny this year) bought me a wonderful new book you need to find before you explore wineries of Washington. The book is called Wine Trails of Washington – A Guide for Uncorking Your Memorable Wine Tour by Steve Roberts. www.winetrailsnw.com

What I have noticed about most books on wineries and wine tours, both in CA and WA ,is that they promote the big, well-funded wineries. They usually don’t include the smaller wineries. This book is completely different – they not only include those gigantic wineries, but also the little one’s that most people have never heard of – which I am partial too. I’m pleased to add this book to my wine collection – and cannot wait to explore some new wine regions.

This book maps out the wine trails by region – Northwest Washington wine country, Olympic Peninsula wine country, Puget Sound wine country, Woodinville wine country, Southwest Washington wine country, North Central Washington wine country, Yakima Valley wine country, Red Mountain wine country, Horse Heaven wine country, Tri-Cities wine country, Walla Walla wine country and Spokane wine country and of course some other tips like wine room etiquette. If you think you know your WA wines, I guarantee this book will change your mind, and give you new wines to experience.

I would love to sit and tell you some of my favorite places to stop at along the Wine Trail, but it is  more fun to explore on your own. If you would like suggestions, let me know – otherwise Happy Trails to you!