Stems and Legs

Food, Wine and Beyond

My tour of the Olympic Peninsula wineries: A scenic journey everyone should take in Washington

My tour of the Olympic Peninsula wineries: A scenic journey everyone should take in Washington celo4life

It’s December 5th, 2009 and it’s a chilly but sunny day in Washington. For a change of pace, I decided to plan an adventure to the Olympic Peninsula wine region and invited Lisa to come along for the journey. This trip involves a combination of a ferry ride from Edmonds to Kingston and an hour to an hour and half drive to the Port Angeles area. Along the way, we passed a series of ports and small cities that you’d never know existed unless ya took the drive:

Port Gamble, WA

The first thing you notice is the Victorian style homes that line the streets of this historic city. If you’re a history buff or just want to know more about the history or Washington, this is a great place to stop. Here is a small paragraph from the Port Gamble Historic Museum website:

Experience this waterfront jewel of the Kitsap Peninsula situated on the shores of scenic Hood Canal. Explore the 120-acre National Historic Landmark complete with picturesque, turn-of-the-century buildings filled with antiques, a historic church, breathtaking views, expansive grounds and New England style houses on maple and elm tree-lined streets.

Founded in 1853, by Maine businessmen Andrew Pope and William Talbot, Port Gamble was the longest continuously operating mill town in North America. Authentically restored and operated by Pope Resources, Port Gamble is the only remaining company owned mill town in Puget Sound. We invite you to visit our unique shops and Sunday markets, explore our trails, exchange vows, celebrate an event, or simply take a leisurely stroll and relive history.

The Hood Canal Floating Bridge

The Hood Canal Floating Bridge has a history of its own. It’s one of the largest floating bridges in the world (ranked #3) and it’s used by many in Washington. The views from this bridge are spectacular and worth having your passenger take pictures for you while you drive (can’t remember if there is any stopping points on either side of the bridge). Due to a wind storm in 1979 which sunk the bridge, it needed to be replaced in two major projects. The west half was replaced in 1982 and the east half was just replaced last year.

Discovery Bay

When you reach this point of the drive on historic Highway 101, you’ll notice a lot of the native culture from the Klallam. I would suggest you do a search about their culture of the area to find out more. Very interesting read.

Sequim, WA

The last major city before Port Angeles is probably the most interesting. Not only does it have a unique charm, but it also has a very interesting site:

Bandy’s Troll Haven, The Troll Haven is a private residence but a few lucky souls have the opportunity to tour or stay at one of the residences. I didn’t get a chance to see the site, but I will definitely make an attempt. Check out the website and look at all the pictures!

Now, onto the Wineries

Harbinger Winery

Harbinger Winery is a great winery to start your wine tour off with or end it. They have a nice collection of wines and the staff was very friendly. Although it was a slow day for a wine tasting, we were greeted by stories of the winery and the surrounding area. I would’ve easily walked away with a case of all their wines, but I had to restrain myself and decided to pick up these wines:

Harbinger Winery 2008 Rosé De Mourvédre (Kiona Vineyard, Appellation Red Mountain)
Like the bright coral flash of an upriver-bound salmon this snappy rosé will demand a second look. Bright berry cobbler-like aromas waft into the senses, neutralizing one’s prejudice towards the color pink. While retaining its delicate qualities of rose water and spice cake, laser-like acidity cuts through the fluff and reminds us all why rose is the #1 selling wine in France.

Harbinger Winery Dynamo Red
Our newly released Syrah blend has proven its worth as a value wine yet again with its most recent accolade of a double gold from the West Coast Wine Competition in San Francisco. Incredibly approachable, this wine exhibits velvety layers of rich fruit, supple tannins, and enough zip to keep the marriage happy.

Harbinger Winery 2008 Viognier (Two Coyote Vineyard, Mariposa Vineyard)
These two varietals have been forever vying for top spot. Viognier loves to pour on the fruit, but isn’t interested in structure, while Roussanne can sometimes be a bit like a couple of my engineer friends— so focused on load support they forget to stop and smell the honeysuckle. This wine boasts exceptionally heady aromas of tropical fruit, ripe pear, lemon custard, and exotic spices. The rich, round mouth feel stays crisp and clean though. 76% Viognier, 24% Roussanne.

Harbinger Winery Cranberry Bliss
She’s back! Everyone’s favorite holiday party girl is boasting a new style this year. This lively blend of our Rosé, barrel-fermented Chardonnay and Cranberry Wine is sexy in a way that you may be embarrassed to tell your friends about! Bright cranberry and toasty oak flavors make this wine irresistibly sassy and undeniably northwest in its uniqueness.

Harbinger Winery 2008 Blackberry Bliss (Graymarsh Farms)
Barrel-fermented in American oak gives this fruit wine the depth and sophistication of a timeless Bordeaux. Whether you sip wine ceremoniously as a toast to your Northwest adventure, or pick it up with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, it’s guaranteed to bring a smile to any occasion.

Black Diamond Winery

Black Diamond is a small winery best known for its fruit wines from rhubarb to loganberry and all berries in between. While I did walk away with a few bottles, I did want to share my honest experience at the winery.  Anytime I visit a winery, I always look for a few basic things:

  • What they do well?
  • What bottles can I purchase now and/or in the future?
  • Are they a good fit for my future wine tours and/or wine tasting series events?
  • Can I offer my personal endorsement?

I really hate to say this, but in the case of Black Diamond Winery, I can’t do many of these things. I honestly believe that when you visit any winery, you can taste the passion and soul of the product that’s produced. Based on my overall experience, I didn’t taste or feel any of this. When comparing Black Diamond’s fruit wines to Pasek Cellars Winery fruit wines, Pasek wins in a landslide. The conversation in the tasting room was very dry and lacked a friendly or inviting environment. For these reasons, I would say Black Diamond Winery is not a good fit for any wine related activities we have  and I cannot offer my personal endorsement. As I mentioned before, I did purchase some product, but it was mainly in support of Washington wineries (Sorry, no tasting notes on these):

Black Diamond Winery Strawberry Rhubarb Wine
Black Diamond Winery 2008 Muller Thurgau
Black Diamond Winery Cranberry Wine
Black Diamond Winery 2007 Syrah

Olympic Cellars Winery

This winery is one of my top picks for this region and a stop you must make if you’re in the area. Olympic Cellars is the first winery in the region owned by women and they’re branding reflects this. The ladies of the tasting room are really friendly and very fun to chat with. Here is what I brought home:

Olympic Cellars Winery 2007 Dungeness Red
Our 100% Lemberger is known for its bouquet reminiscent of cherry cobbler, with tart, zesty acidity and big cherry notes on the finish. Pairs extremely well with Halibut and Salmon and food off the grill.

Olympic Cellars Winery 2008 Dungeness White
Our best-selling semi-sweet Riesling. Intensely aromatic with loads of fresh juicy peaches & green apple notes.

Olympic Cellars Winery Handyman Red (Working Girl Wines Series
Big & bold, Bordeaux Blend. Pairs equally well with a cigar … and, chocolate for us ladies.

Olympic Cellars Winery 2007 My Sweet Syrah
Similar to the French Côtes du Rhône (Syrah and Viognier), ours is ‘Washington style’ with Riesling. Port-like without the high alcohol: lush, smooth, a bit lighter than a varietal Syrah and semi-sweet. The sweetness lingers on you lips… like a first kiss.

Eaglemount Wine & Cider

The last stop on our tour was Eaglemount Wine & Cider. I was looking forward to this stop because you can never have enough good cider in your cellar. The sad part was most of their stock was sold out due to popularity. Nevertheless, after the release season, this is a stop you’ll want to make. The wines were also close to being sold out as well, but there were still a few bottles of their great wines left. Although I only walked out with two items, I’ll be back for more:

Eaglemount Wine 2007 Osprey
A Bordeaux style Merlot blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. A Reserve wine.

Eaglemount Cyser (Cider)
Cyser is a hard cider fermented and sweetened with honey. Semi-sweet

Another great trip in the books! This trip ended my wine tour season for the year. I had a lot of fun checking out the various wineries and met a lot of great people. In my next note, I’ll tell you about the wild adventure I had on my first wine tour of Woodinville Wine Country. I’ll admit that I avoided this area because I love to travel. However, I realized that this area was well worth multiple visits. More to come soon!

Thanksgiving wine trip to the Columbia Gorge – A wine region worth visiting! (Day 2)

Thanksgiving wine trip to the Columbia Gorge – A wine region worth visiting! (Day 2) 600 450 celo4life

After not finishing up the Hood River area of the Columbia Gorge on day 1 and a ton of debate, I decided to return to visit the vineyards and valleys of the area. Antonio and his girlfriend joined me on this day and it was a lot of fun. This was also Antonio’s first taste of wine ever, which surprised myself and the vineyards haha 🙂

Cathedral Ridge Winery – Oregon Winery of the Year

Our first stop of the day was Cathedral Ridge Winery, a beautiful winery in Hood River. We walked into the packed tasting room filled with samples of great pies for the holidays. All of the wines were great and the staff was really friendly. There was one interesting thing that happened at the winery. One of the staff was eagerly anticipating the birth of his new baby. I kind of felt bad for him because he was a nervous wreck, but excited for him at the same time. Although I had to limit my purchases to just one, I would’ve left with a lot more. There was one that caught my eye because of its uniqueness:

Cathedral Ridge Winery 2008 Halbtrocken (Columbia Valley)

Meaning “half-dry” in German, this wine is semi-sweet, floral and aromatic with hints of a dry finish. As a wine maker’s secret red-white blend, it has been tantalizing wine drinkers for years.

On our way to the next winery….
Antonio found some new friends strolling down the road:

These miniature horses were the surprise of the trip. We talked with the owner for a little bit and she noted that she has been raising these little guys over the years. These friendly creatures were a sight to see on our way to ….

Marchesi Vineyards

This cozy tasting room was warm and inviting. When we walked in, there were several folks enjoying glasses of wine. The one staff person, Nicole, was very friendly and is also the assistant winemaker for our final destination of the trip. The winemaker for Marchesi favors the Italian style of wine making and it showed in his wines. Although they only make 5 wines, they were good overall. Here are the two I walked away with:

Marchesi Vineyards 2008 Anjola, Pinot Grigio (Columbia Valley)
Note: This is the only Pinot Grigio I currently have in my cellar

We named this wine Anjola, after Franco’s grandmother Angela who lived in Piemonte all her life. Since 2007 we can call our wine Pinot Grigio, before then it was called Pinot Gris, we found the Grigio more suitable for our style of wine. We first planted our vines, Pinot Grigio VCR 5 on 3309 rootstock In the spring of 2004, we had our first commercial vintage in 2008. Our Pinot Grigio has wonderful aromas of pears, lemons and a touch of anice, good mouth feel with crispy acidity. This wine can be served as an aperitif, seafood dishes, roasted chicken most white meats, goes well with aged cheeses too. Enjoy chilled but not too cold.

Marchesi Vineyards 2007 Giuseppe, Pinor Noir (Columbia Gorge)

We named our Pinot Noir Giuseppe, because in Italian the nick name for Giuseppe is Pino. The Pinot Noir grapes where the last grapes to be planted at the south end of our property at the end of April 2008. We sourced grapes for our 2007 and 2008 vintage from growers we know well and can count on the best fruit from the wonderful Hood River area. Half of the fruits came from Wy’East Vineyards and the other half from lower altitudes of Mount Underwood on the opposite side of the Columbia river, right in the middle of the Columbia Gorge. Our 2007 Pinot Noir has a pale robe, aromas of mushrooms and earth with a violet note, quite light but silky on the palate, dark cherry fruit, strawberries and a touch of sweetness on the finish. Most enjoyable with roasted salmon or chicken alla cacciatora.

Wy’East Vineyards

On the suggestion from the assistant wine maker we met at Marchesi, we decided to take a trip to Wy’East. I can’t thank Nicole enough for the suggestion. The journey took us down some windy hills to the valley area. The views were incredible and definitely will be a sight to see in the spring and summer months. When we arrived at the winery, we were greeted by the dogs of the winery. Inside we met Christie Reed, one of the owners of the winery. She told us stories about the area and their wines which made our visit very enjoyable. This winery features 7 wines and they are all very good. While I would’ve taken all of these wines home, I had to settle for two:

Wy’East Vineyards 2008 Chardonnay (Columbia Gorge)

Our Chardonnay carries only a hint of oak barrel aging, the fruit is so delicious we didn’t want to mask it. Bright citrus and pineapple flavors make this Columbia Gorge treat an excellent choice for casual sipping. This is the Chardonnay for people who are tired of overly processed, mass produced flavorless Chards.

Wy’East Vineyards 2008 Pinot Gris (Columbia Gorge)

 This luscious Pinot Gris is sourced from our own vineyards in the Hood River Valley. Rich tropical flavors are balanced with good acidity, yielding a rich, mouth-filling finish. It is the perfect summer cooler for the patio, and is tasty paired with crab or pears and cheese. Cheers! PLATIUM award winner @ NW Wine & Food Festival, Nov 2009

Thanksgiving wine trip to the Columbia Gorge – A wine region worth visiting! (Day 1)

Thanksgiving wine trip to the Columbia Gorge – A wine region worth visiting! (Day 1) 600 450 celo4life

After getting my palate assaulted in the Willamette Valley two weeks prior, I decided to change things up for my wine tour and check out the Columbia Gorge region for their Thanksgiving Winery Open House. After spending two days in the region, I know I made the right choice. Not only was the selection deep, but it was very accessible from Portland (about an hour drive away). The only bad part of the trip was the fact that I got a late start on both days and not many people were able to go. So on day 1, Rebecca Masulo and I ventured out and hit up three wineries. I literally could’ve bought almost everything, but I limited it to these selections:

The Pines 1852 Vineyard & Winery

What was going to be the 4th stop of the day, ended up being the first stop. This winery was in downtown Hood River, where you’ll find a collection of tasting rooms. The staff was very friendly and the room was filled with a collection of art. While I tasted a lot of good ones, these are the ones I left with:

The Pines 1852 2007 Big Red
Note: This one didn’t make it home 🙂

Your favorite blend of Cabernet Sauv., Merlot, Syrah, and Zinfandel is back! This wine brings together the best of four wines for a hearty blend with a full mouth-feel. Long legs, jammy berries, and a peppery finish make this wine great with steak and pasta.

The Pines 1852 2008 Satin
This white blend of 50% Pinot Gris and 50% Gewurztraminer combines the best of both worlds: a beautiful floral bouquet from the Gewurz paired with the fruity, crisp Pinot Gris. Satin is sure to pair well with melon, fish, chicken, and thai.

Quenett Wines

Stop two on the tour was another great one. Quenett has a very deep selection of wines and I found myself like almost everything they had. The winemaker was really nice as well and we’re looking forward to having him pour for us in the future.

Quenett 2007 Chardonnay (Columbia Valley)
A great, everyday white wine with a medium body, slight notes of butterscotch and green apple, with a subtle finish.

Quenett 2006 Zinfandel (Columbia Valley)
Note: This wine was just released over the weekend, so the tasting notes are not available

Naked Winery

This is, by far, the best winery I’ve visited in 2009 (if not, all time!). When I first saw the name, I thought that they were either marketing geniuses or they were referring to the grapes in some way. When I walked in, I knew they were marketing geniuses! The marketing they put behind their brand is a work of art and it’s a model that many business can follow in other sectors. Their wines carry the name even further. This is one of the first wineries where the first 8 wines I’ve tried, I would’ve bought immediately. Overall, I would’ve bought one of each, but I settled for four wines:

Naked Winery 2007 Pinot Gris (Rogue Valley)
This refreshing wine offers a full frontal blast of sun country nose! It’s time to sip into something a little more Naked…

Fermented in cooler than normal temperatures with nice hang time on the vines, this brings out a medium bodied wine that’s great for summer, or by a warm fireplace. Melon, apple, & pear run throughout this wine.

Naked Gris is our chillin’ wine. Smooth, ripe and a bit silky, this wine delivers a full frontal blast of sun country nose that explodes midpalate. Stripping the skins down to the bare essentials, it’s hard to take your eyes off those luscious legs as they streak down the glass. Sip into something a little more Naked… wouldn’t you A-Gris?

Naked Winery 2006 Foreplay Chardonnay (Columbia Valley)
This is a delicious way to warm to an evening. Who doesn’t like Foreplay, ladies?

A large portion of the blend was barrel fermented with full malolactic fermentation which yielded a soft butterscotch finish. Notes like pear and melon are accented by some caramel and toasted coconut aromas from the barrels.

Foreplay teases your senses upfront with a bouquet of luscious ripe fruit. No hurry here… once uncorked, let it breathe and work into a nice rhythm as it warms up. Anticipate the sweetness at the end, complimenting the silky tannins. A little Foreplay goes a long way.

Naked Winery 2008 Gay Rosé
Our Rose is light and fruity with a hint of sweetness. Even if you haven’t been feeling Gay, this wine could make you change your mind!

Naked Winery 2007 Pinot Noir
This is our bare-all wine. Who doesn’t love to get Naked?

Try the Varietal that made Oregon wines famous: Pinot Noir. 100% Pinot Noir, enjoy the classic light body and floral bouquet with a delicate satin tannin finish.

Naked is our bare-all wine. Stripped of traditional attitudes, only the free-spirited grapes go into this voluptuous wine. Lusty with a smooth complexion and long legs. This wine gives a full-frontal of ripe cherries with a firm well-rounded end. Who doesn’t love to get Naked?

Although I didn’t get to all the wineries I wanted to, this was a perfect way to start the trip. Day 1 was filled with tasting rooms in the downtown area of Hood River. Day 2 is a trip to the actual vineyards and the valley. To be continued!

An impromptu visit to the Willamette Valley wineries

An impromptu visit to the Willamette Valley wineries 952 632 celo4life

Some of the best trips are the ones you don’t plan. Before I came home from Portland last Thursday, I decided to travel to the Willamette Valley and tour a few wineries before I headed back to Seattle. Oregon is best known for its pinot wines. The only problem with this fact is that’s all they tend to have. So after 6 wineries or so, your palate will feel like it’s been assaulted! Nonetheless, I was able to come home with 9 great wines including a sparkling wine!


First stop on the trip was to Rex Hill. When I walked to the tasting room, the first thing I noticed was the front door. Inside the tasting, quickly learned that things have certainly changed over the past two rooms. One thing you should be prepared for is the high tasting fees in the Willamette Valley (Around $10). The second thing you should be prepared for is the fact that this fee is only waived if you buy a case of wine in most cases. Cases of wine in the Willamette Valley don’t come cheap either as most of the wineries poured most of their highest priced wines. Now, this doesn’t apply to everyone, but that is the biggest thing I noticed. Nevertheless, I did enjoy my time at Rex Hill and managed to leave with one bottle. I would’ve bought a couple others, but I needed to spread the wealth around if I wanted to cover more ground.

Rex Hill 2007 Willamette Valley Oregon Chardonnay
The 2007 REX HILL Willamette Valley Chardonnay is true to vintage and variety. We ferment in neutral oak and small stainless steel barrels giving the wine enhanced lees contact. This results in a rich texture while maintaining bright acidity balanced by natural fruit sweetness and minerality. Complex aromatics and flavors of nectarine, roasted vanilla bean, lemon verbena and white pepper create a versatile food wine.

One of the best things about a wine trip is stumbling onto a winery that’s not found on the map. Sometimes these wineries can be a pleasant surprise while other times, they’re not on the map for a reason. The Four Graces was definitely one of those wineries I was happy to find. The lady pouring in the tasting room was very friendly and told me all about the winery. I spent about an hour there talking about wines, life, and family. I will be back to The Four Graces this summer and I highly recommend you visit the winery. I would’ve walked away with more, but I managed to purchase these bottles:

The Four Graces 2008 Dundee Hills Pinot Gris
True to the varietal, this Pinot Gris is deliciously bright, fresh and crisp. On the nose asian pear, lemon, and honeysuckle greet you. Granny Smith apples, key lime and red grapefruit open up on the palate. Characteristic of the vineyard, there’s an interesting minerality and acidity on the palate balanced by soft floral aromas. The silky finish and fresh, full mouthfeel are indicative of a great Pinot Gris.

The Four Graces 2007 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Earthy and elegant, fruit forward with smooth, expressive tannins, this wine bears all the hallmarks of a great New World Burgundy. Reminiscent of wild mushrooms and blackberries, damson and warm red roses, the 2007 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is vibrant and delicious yet has the soft, focused tannins to suggest aging with grace. Over 10 months in French oak contributes a velvet softness without masking the lovely red to black fruit characteristics. Deep, bright ruby with purple rays. The aromas are quintessential Oregon Pinot Noir.

Argyle was the surprise of the trip. Not only does Argyle produce some nice wines, but they also produce some great sparkling wines. Instead of trying their wines, I decided to do the sparkling wine tastings.  I have to say, the most interesting of the sparkling wines I tried was the Argyle 2006 Black Brut. I wasn’t really sure if I liked it because I haven’t tasted anything like it. After a few tastes, it definitely grew on me. While I could’ve tackled the Black Brut, I decided to play it safe and take home this bottle:

Argyle 2006 Brut Sparkling Wine (Willamette Valley)
An Indian Summer followed by late harvest lent exciting structure to the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir used to make this 2006 Argyle Brut. The color is that of pale yellow diamond, pre-harvest wheat field or plumeria alba. The aromas are honeysuckle, Mutsu apple skins, casaba and soft vanilla, followed by hints of allspice and red currant thanks to the Pinot Noir component. This 2006 Brut is highly effervescent in the mouth and brings a classic, stony minerality complimented by lemon zest, currant and a late, savory yeast that coats the palate for a long, pleasing finish.

Maresh Red Barn Winery is a nice stop to make in the Willamette Valley. This winery is in a classic red barn that overlooks the Dundee Hills. The views are incredible and the wines are all affordable. I do not have tasting notes for these wines so you’ll have to try them for yourself. I did walk away with these bottles:

Maresh Red Hills Vineyard 2008 Pinot Gris (Yamhill County)
Maresh Red Hills Vineyard 2007 Chardonnay
Maresh Red Hills Vineyard 2007 Pinot Noir

Erath Winery was my final stop on my tour and one of the best. If you’re ever in the area, this is the one winery you must come to. After paying large tasting fees all along the tour, I was pleased to hear that Erath offers 4 complimentary tastings in addition to their paid tastings.  Besides seeing what new wines Erath was offering, there was another reason why I came to Erath. I needed to recover a wine bottle I purchased a few years ago! To my disappointment, there are only 6 bottles of this wine available and they’re saving them for wine club members 🙁 Erath did make up for this by offering me a complimentary taste of all of their wines 🙂 I spent the rest of the evening here and walked away with a few bottles:

Erath 2008 Oregon Pinot Gris
Swirl this glass of sunshine and invoke bright fresh aromas of banana and honeydew melon. Savor the tropical fruit, lemon and floral notes that are seamlessly balanced with a clean lift of acidity, enlivening the palate and encouraging a gratifying length of flavors.

Erath 2008 Quail Run Pinot Blanc (Southern Oregon)
Luscious fruit infused aromas of peach, banana and Meyer lemon are intriguingly scented with aromatic lavender. Guava, minted melon and a hint of toasted hazelnut envelope the palate with full and rich abundance, yet the invigorating acidity refreshes and extends the flavors long after the first sip.

Erath 2008 Sweet Harvest Pinot Blanc (Dundee Hills)
Spiced banana and honey scents lead to flavors of peach pie and hints of blood orange.

Another great trip in the books, hope some of you can make it on the wine trip so we can explore these wineries and more!

A private wine affair w/ Kiona Vineyards and Winery

A private wine affair w/ Kiona Vineyards and Winery 346 459 celo4life

So as some of you may have noticed, I’ve organized a private wine tasting with Kiona Vineyards and Winery. Kiona will be featured at our 1st Clubvibes Seattle wine tasting series event on November 13th @ The Edgewater Hotel. Since I’ve never tried their wines before, I thought, what better way than to try their wines among good friends and staff 🙂 Here is what we’ll be trying tonight:

Kiona Vineyards 2007 Chenin Blanc
Citrus, melon and pear aroma with a moderately sweet, tart, green apple finish

 Kiona Vineyards 2006 Estate Lemberger
Consistent award-winner. Very drinkable red with spicy currant and blackberry flavors. Deep black cherry color with moderate hints of oak

 Kiona Vineyards 2003 Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon
Classic Cabernet crafted by selective blending with Merlot and Cabernet Franc

 Kiona Vineyards 2008 Late Harvest Riesling
World-class dessert wine. Subtle and delicate with lemon, citrus and floral aromas. Hints of honey and apricot compliment wonderful flavors

This is the first of many private wine tasting events we will be hosting before our wine tasting series. Make sure to take advantage of the next opportunity!

For more information about Kiona Vineyard and Winery, click the following link:

Wine acquisitions: October 23, 2009

Wine acquisitions: October 23, 2009 60 60 celo4life

Sooner or later, my blood will be filled with vino 😉 I’ve spent a few days over the past few weeks tasting wines and ports. It’s been great meeting new people in the wine industry. I even had the pleasure of meeting Stephanie Harvey from the reality tv show, The Winemakers, on PBS.

Here is a list of what I’ve picked up in the last few weeks:

2008 C’est La Vie  Chardonnay Sauvignon (France)
2005 Torre de Barreda Tempranillo (Spain)
2007 Terrai Syrah (Spain)
2006 Elle Syrah (Columbia Valley)
2008 Airfield Estates Unoaked Chardonnay (Yakima Valley)
2008 Evergreen Vineyard Kung Fu Girl Riesling (Columbia Valley)
2007 Edge Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley)
2007 Picada 15 Red Blend (Argentina)
2007 Maryhill Winemaker’s Red (Columbia Valley)

I’ll update this note when I have more time. Enjoy!

Wine acquisitions: September 28, 2009

Wine acquisitions: September 28, 2009 640 428 celo4life

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been acquiring a bunch of wine. Here are my latest acquisitions:

2007 The Chocolate Block by Boekenhoutskloof Franschhoek (South Africa)
Just by the name, you know this wine has to be good. And good it most certainly is! Hints of dark chocolate and ripe fruit dominate the aromatic profile of this wine. Rich and ripe, the wine has a generous mouth feel and mid-palate weight with a minimum of five years ageing potential. A blend of syrah, grenache, cabernet and others!

2007 Spice Route Viognier (South Africa)
2006 Dante California Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 The Ghost of 413 Columbia Valley Riesling
2007 The Ghost of 413 Columbia Valley Red Wine
2006 Murphy’s Law Red Wine (Columbia Valley)
2006 Valhall Wines West Chardonnay, Dry Creek Valley (California)

I also have a few new sparkling wines
Montelliana Prosecco Extra Dry Sparkling Wine (Italy)
Cava Parxet Cuvèe 21 Brut Sparkling Wine (Spain)
Duval-Leroy Brut Champagne (France)

I’ll add descriptions on all of these later. Just wanted to get this list out!

2009 Yakima Valley & Prosser wine trip

2009 Yakima Valley & Prosser wine trip 453 298 celo4life

Awhile back, I was going to join the many Seattle Sounders faithful in LA for the big game against the Galaxy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t freaking find anyone to go with on the trip and I had an accounting nightmare with two freaking boat cruises. The backup plan you ask? Plan a wine trip!!! 🙂

I ventured back to the Yakima Valley and Prosser for my first major wine trip of the year. The goal was to rebuild my wine collection, meet some new wine makers for our new wine tasting series, and see what’s changed since my last trip. Let me tell ya, the region has grown quite a bit. It made me want to buy some real estate and start growing some wine! Below is a list of 41 bottles of wine Nicole and I purchased on our trip 🙂 Yes, you read that right. We came back with 41 bottles between the two of us 🙂

Piety Flats Winery
2007 Chenin Blanc
2007 Black Muscat
2008 Pinot Grigio / Chardonnay

Masset Winery
2006 le Petit Rouge, Columbia Valley, Red Table Wine
2008 le Petit Blanc, Yakima Valley
2005 Merlot, Columbia Valley
2006 Muscat Love, Columbia Valley, Dessert Wine

Severino Cellars
2006 Riesling
Severino Red, Lot #2 (I think this was a 2008)

Portteus Winery
2008 Rattlesnake Red
2008 Purple Haze Red Wine (Go Dawgs!)

Bonair Winery
Bonnie Bonair
2006 Estate Bottled Caberet Franc, Rattlesnake Hills
2007 Riesling

Christopher Cellars/Cultura Wines
2006 Christopher Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

Dineen Family Vineyards
2006 Heritage Red Wine, Yakima Valley

Note: This was the top wine we tasted on the trip. The guy was open randomly and had one wine. It ended up being the best red I had

Agate Field Winery
2005 Moon Rider Sangiovese

Coyote Canyon Winery
2008 Life is Rosé

Thurston Wolfe
2007 Lemberger
2007 Zinfandel
2006 JTW’s Port, Dessert Wine
2008 Sweet Rebecca, Dessert Wine

Martinez & Martinez Winery (New)
2008 Cabernet Blanca, Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon

Note: This was the last stop on our wine tour for Saturday evening. These guys were great. They just opened up their winery on that day, ran out of wine, but had one bottle left over for us! To top it all off, the couple was having a baby the next day. Needless to say, we had to pick up a bottle 😉

Milbrandt Vineyards
2007 Tradition Chenin Blanc
2007 The Estates Late Harvest Riesling

Maison Bleue Winery
2008 La Vie Douce

Note: The guy who worked at this winery was coo as fawk. He’s a DJ and since this winery is opening up in Woodinville, he’s going to come out and play for us hahaha! (Editor’s note: Since writing this entry, Maison Bleue has decided not to open a tasting room in Woodinville at this time. Look for my update in a later blog entry!)

Airfield Estates
2007 Chardonnay
2007 Syrah

Note: If you’re looking for a historical experience, this winery is it. We’ll be working with these guys in the future. Oh yeah, they had a hot singer there too 😛

Olsen Hills Winery
2007 Vintage Malbec
2008 Vintage Rosé

Gamache Vintners
2007 Estate Riesling
2006 Estate Boulder Red

We visited over 20 wineries, met a ton of people, and had a ton of fun. One thing to note, I think we’re actually missing two bottles 🙁 I’m looking into it. Be on the lookout for my wine and bbq event and the wine tasting series!

Moving day!

Moving day! 310 341 celo4life

Moving day has arrived! Today, I’m going to begin the process of moving my Facebook Notes entries to my new blog. My plan is to move an entry or two a day until they’re all moved over. Over time, you will notice a few new sections added to my blog! After I’m done moving, I will begin work on my new entries.

Since you don’t know me …..

Since you don’t know me ….. celo4life

Alex EagletonI figured I would introduce myself and tell you the story of how this all came about.  In case you didn’t read the “About” section, my name is Alex Eagleton.  In 2002, my ex-girlfriend sent me a referral link to a website called Club Vibes with a simple message: This looks like something you would like. I opened the link and was amazed at the fact that there is a website that tells you what’s going on in various cities around the world and how you can get in for free or a discount. As I browsed the website, I noticed that they were looking for people to promote the website and be a part of the street team. I immediately jumped at the opportunity and sent an email to the coordinator. Within a day, I got an email back about interviews. I immediately thought of ideas on how to get things going. Over the next couple of weeks, however, I encountered a set back as I found out the coordinator was being terminated from the company. I thought my opportunity was dead in the water, but I quickly realized that there was an opportunity to lead the region. After about 6 months of persistence, I was named the City Representative for Club Vibes.  Over time, I would grow the region to over 25,000, host a series of events, help many venues with their event promotions, and many other activities.

My Early Wine Experiences

In the summer of 2005, I met up with my friend Yvette in Los Angeles and we decided to go wine tasting in Temecula, CA. Not knowing much about wine, I figured the only wine region in California was Napa Valley. Along the way to Temecula, I noticed all the various billboards promoting all the wine in the area. I was really excited for my first experience and couldn’t wait to arrive. When we arrived at the first winery, I was amazed at how beautiful the area was. We sat down and enjoyed a nice flight of wine along with a light lunch as we pondered our next destination.  One of the most rememberable destinations on the trip:

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa

When we walked into the tasting room, we were greeted immediately by the friendly staff. The Seattle native who poured for us, told us all about the winery and the surrounding area. It was great I bumped into him because he was very knowledgeable and it was nice to find someone who was close to home. I had such a great experience that I joined their wine club. When the day was done, I left Temecula wanting to know more about wine.

My next wine experience was in 2006 when my girlfriend (at the time) invited me to Thanksgiving in Wine Country in the Yakima and Walla Walla wine regions in Washington.  I was shocked to learn that they had little to no tasting fees in the Yakima Valley. I was also surprised at all the great wines we had in Washington. My goal on this trip was to taste as much wine as possible and keep an open mind. I think this was the hardest thing to do because I was traveling with people who had their objections to various wines and wineries. Day two of the trip took us to Walla Walla, where I was treated to an experience that reminded me of Temecula. Beautiful and creative tasting rooms, great wines, and an overall positive experience. Over the next two years, I would visit other regions in Washington and venture off to the Willamette Valley region in Oregon.

How Stems and Legs Got Started!

Although I was learning more about wine, I felt like I was no closer to starting a wine tasting series than I was before. Well, that all changed in August 2009. I took another trip to the Yakima Valley region to see if things have changed since my first trip in 2006.  On this trip, I decided to learn more about the wine makers and how the wineries operate. All along the way, I met many wine makers who were all interested in coming to Seattle to pour for our future wine tasting series.  It was at this moment that I felt like I was on to something.

After the trip, I decided to start the wine tasting series. I consulted with Tom Wright, general manager for Six Seven Restaurant @ The Edgewater Hotel and he offered to host our first event. I reached out to the wine makers and wineries I visited  in August and managed to secure a few of them for my first event. There was just one problem that remained, we didn’t have a name for the series. I consulted with my team members and graphic designer and we finally came up with a name, “Stems and Legs“.

In November 2009, we launched our Stems and Legs wine tasting series with five great wineries: K Vinters, Charles Smith Wines, Kiona Vineyards and Winery, Airfield Estates Winery, and Milbrandt Vineyards. Guests were treated to light food from Six Seven Restaurant and a performance from a piano player. The night was a great success and the wineries really enjoyed the experience. Although the series is young, we have managed to host 3 more public events, 2 private wine tastings with a guest winemaker, and 2 wine tours. In the future, the series will expand to winemaker dinners, wine education events, and much more! Along the way, you will be to experience the journey as I blog about all my experiences.

People I Would Like To Thank

There are many folks I would like to thank and give credit to for the success of the series. Yvette from California who took me on my first wine experience. Charrina Bayne who expanded my knowledge in wine and took me to various wine regions. Valarie Baker who helped with the process and structure for the event. Sarah Richardson and Michelle Underwood and their creative geniuses that came up with the name for the series and an extra thank you to Michelle for the graphic design. I also would like to thank the great wineries who participated in the series so far, and the many friends and fans who have believe in me and the series from day one.