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Memorial Day weekend trip to the Columbia Gorge (Day 3)

Memorial Day weekend trip to the Columbia Gorge (Day 3) 1280 960 celo4life

Over Memorial Day Weekend, I decided to take my third trip to the Columbia Gorge and also take another look at the Willamette Valley. I was really excited about this visit because it was my first look at the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge. I got a late start leaving Seattle and got caught in the usual “look at everyone around you” traffic, but I managed to make it to four really good wineries. Each of the wineries on this trip was unique in their own way and I was really pleased with what’s coming out of the region. The picture above is a shot from the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge. You’ll see these rock formation throughout this region. The Washington side of the Columbia Gorge is like night and day compared to the Oregon side. The climate & terroir is very different from the Oregon side which makes this region very exciting to visit. So without further adieu 🙂

Cor Cellars

Cor Cellars

When I arrived at Cor Cellars, I was greeted by Lana in the tasting room. On this windy day, I was wondering if anyone was going to be coming around the vineyards, but it wasn’t long before a large group of people arrived as I was leaving. Cor Cellars had 5 wines available at the time, but have expanded to 8 wines in their collection. The price points are very approachable and the wines are great for any level of collector. I managed to pick up 3 great wines on my visit and have plans to pick up more in the future!:

Cor Cellars 2009 Alba Cor

Refreshingly different, this wine is made with a nod to the Alsatian wines of northern France. The barrel fermented Gewürztraminer adds spicy honeysuckle and floral spring aromas, while the Pinot Gris contributes vibrant pear and melon, refreshing acidity and structure.

  • Varietals: 54% Pinot Gris / 46% Gewürztraminer
  • Vineyard: Celilo Vineyard
  • Appellation: Columbia Gorge
  • Fermentation: Pinot Gris: Stainless Steel / Gewürztraminer: 100% neutral French oak
  • Time in Barrel: 5 months

Cor Cellars 2008 Sauvignon Blanc

There are no tasting notes available on this wine and I believe it’s because it is sold out. I will contact the winery and see if I can obtain them. One thing to note, they have released a 2009 Old Hwy white wine which is a Sauvignon Blanc blend. I will definitely check this out!

Cor Cellars 2008 Momentum

Black cherry, plum and cassis, with hints of dark chocolate, spice and violets. Starting with a base of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is floral, regal and extensive, we add Merlot for silky texture, Petit Verdot for spice and then finally Malbec for its earthy and expressive personality.

  • Varietals: 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Petit Verdot, 21% Merlot, 21% Malbec
  • Vineyards: McKinley Springs Vineyards / Alder Ridge Vineyards
  • Appellation: Horse Heaven Hills
  • Barrel: 90% French / 10% American (40% new / 60% two-year-old)
  • Time in Barrel: 10 months
  • Bottled: August 2009

Syncline Wine Cellars

Probably one of the more talked about wineries in the Columbia Gorge, Syncline Wine Cellars offers many wines in their collection. Some of their wines are blended with grapes you may or may not be familiar with: Cinsault, Counoise, Carignan just to name a few. I found most of their wines to be light and have a very european feel to them. If you’re looking for wines that you can hold onto or drink immediately, this is the winery for you.

The tasting room is very large and was busy during my visit. I was greeted by Georgia and Sara who were very pleasant and fun to talk to. I had the opportunity of taking home 3 wines on my visit. I would’ve taken home more, but it was only the beginning of my trip 🙂

Syncline Wine Cellars 2009 Rosé

Following our faith in Rhone varietals, this Rosé is in direct response to our fascination with hedonistic country wines. Immediately striking with pale water-melon color, the aromas practically leap from the glass. A medley of different grapes yield a full satisfying dry wine: The Cinsault base gives the unmistakable aroma of rose water and violets, Grenache gives juicy strawberry and musky watermelon rind aromas and flavors, Mourvedre sends its characteristic spice to the mix, Counoise and Carignan bring fresh acidity and ripe berry notes. Finishing completely dry, this is as serious as rosé gets.

Harvest Notes

Appellation: Horse Heaven Hills and Wahluke Slope, Columbia Valley
Varietals: 37% Cinsault / 35% Counoise / 12% Grenache / 11% Mourvedre / 5% Carignan

I picked this wine up in my belief that it will develop quite nicely over time. The blend on this wine is unlike anything I have tried or have in my collection. It was a very subtle wine and had a good balance. I’m looking forward to opening this bottle sometime next year or the year after that.

Syncline Wine Cellars 2008 Roussanne

Unfortunately, the tasting notes for the 2008 Roussanne are unavailable, but here are the 2009 tasting notes to give you an idea on the wine. I’ve always enjoyed Roussanne wines from Washington State and this was among my favorites. The nose on this wine was very nice and the flavors came through very nicely. Definitely one for the summer time or to be enjoyed with a nice dinner.

Syncline Wine Cellars 2008 Subduction Red

Long inspired by the wines of the Southern Rhone Valley, this is our answer to a Washington version of a Cotes-du-Rhone Villages wine. Ripe and hedonistic, this wine displays vivid ruby color with varying degrees of purple-black. This is a blend of classic southern French varieties that are unique and expressive on their own; yet each contributes to create a harmonious whole. Bold and seductive, this wine exhibits ripe raspberry, violet and game aromas, with juicy plum flavors. The bright, supple finish and pleasing fruit-filled mouthfeel make Subduction Red adaptable to many foods and occasions.

Harvest Notes

Appellation: Columbia Valley (80%Horse Heaven, 20% Wahluke Slope)
Varietals: 26% Grenache / 25% Syrah / 24% Cinsault / 12% Mourvedre / 9% Counoise / 4% Carignan

This was one of my favorite wines during the tasting. Just look at that blend of varietals above 🙂

Memaloose Winery

Overlooking the Hood River is Memaloose Winery. Driving up to the winery, I noticed the great views of the river and the high winds in the area. It’s very unique and definitely worth the visit. As I was getting out of the car, I was greeted by a curious, 4 legged friend:

Wine dogs are just so entertaining 😉 Inside the winery, I was greeted by Rob who was quite knowledgable about the region and quite friendly. Memaloose had 4 wines at the time and was barrel tasting a 5th wine. Now they carry 6 wines. All their wines have a european feel to them and weren’t high on alcohol volume. I only took one wine home, but I would’ve taken home two if the other one was available at the time:

Memaloose 2008 Rosé of Tempranillo

Unfortunately there are no tasting notes available for this wine. I can tell you that it was a very pleasant rosé that you can enjoy during those summer months. As their tag line suggests, Memaloose wines go well with food.

Domaine Pouillon

My last stop on day one, and my favorite, was Domaine Pouillon. This winery focuses on Rhone style blends. I had the pleasure of hanging out with the winemakers while I listened to some classics on their antique record player. The feel of this winery is very warm & inviting and I highly suggest taking a visit. I tasted through all their wines and I wound up taking these home:

Domaine Pouillon 2008 Deux
Double Gold, Seattle Wine Awards, May 2010

Unfortunately there are no tasting notes for this wine, but here are the stats:

Columbia Valley AVA
Source: Brehm Vineyards & Coyote Canyon Vineyard
57% Chardonnay  43% Viognier
Cases Produced: 199     ABV: 13.8%

This is an excellent wine that you can have with a nice dinner or it can stand alone. I’ll be looking forward to trying out the 2009 vintage in the spring. To give you an idea, here are the tasting notes for the 2009 vintage.

Domaine Pouillon Black Dot

Horse Heaven Hills AVA
Source: McKinley Springs Vineyard & Coyote Canyon Vineyard
35% Grenache 25% Syrah 30% Zinfandel 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Cases Produced: 352 ABV: 14%

“The nose of Black Dot delights with hits of curry spices, licorice, and blueberries. This wine has a balanced tannin structure with an extremely long and nuanced finish of marionberries, anise, and earth.

The blend for Black Dot changes every year. This wine is blended by spirit and flavor, (we’re always trying to recreate the first magical vintage that contained grape varieties that no one can seem remember). An experiment in non-conventional winemaking, Black Dot proudly breaks the rules.”

The first words out of my mouth when I tried this wine were, “DAMN!”  I was really impressed by the flavor of this wine, it was quite unique. This wine has a lot of depth and its worth holding on to.

After a long day of tasting, it was time for me to head back to my hotel and rest up for the Willamette Valley portion of the trip. Overall, it was a great day of wine tasting and I will be looking forward to my next visit on the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge.

A day at Bartholomew Winery

A day at Bartholomew Winery celo4life

On October 9, 2010, I had the pleasure of touring various wineries throughout the day. My first stop was Bartholomew Winery, where I had the pleasure of pouring for their opening weekend. Bartholomew Winery is an up and coming winery next to the old Rainier Building in the SODO District of Seattle. They feature 4 wines with 2 more soon to be released. In the early stages of existence, Bartholomew Winery is already receiving rave reviews.

As I walked in the door, I was surprised to see Antoine Pin from Parallel Winos Live filming a few segments.  After a few moments of catching up and making fun of DC United (GO SOUNDERS!), I was invited to jump in on the last two segments they filmed. For your viewing pleasure, here is a video review of two wines from Bartholomew Winery.

Bartholomew Winery 2007 Jaxon (Walla Walla Valley)


If you didn’t catch it from the video, this is a 50% Cabernet Sauvignon-%50 Merlot blend.

Bartholomew Winery 2007 Reciprocity (Horse Heaven Hills)


This wine is a 50% Cabernet Sauvignon-%50 Carménère blend

I hope you enjoyed the videos as we will have more on the way!

Bartholomew Winery is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm – 5pm. They also host various events throughout the year which you can find on the Bartholomew Happenings Website. You can also find Bartholomew Winery on Twitter (@BartholomewWine), on Facebook, or on their actual Bartholomew Winery website.

June 3, 2010: Woodinville Wine Country Tweet Up @ Purple Wine Bar, Part 2

June 3, 2010: Woodinville Wine Country Tweet Up @ Purple Wine Bar, Part 2 1316 1600 celo4life

As I mentioned at the end of Part 1, we’ll now focus on the remainder of the Woodinville Wine Country Tweet Up covering wines from  Pomum Cellars, William Church Winery, Patterson Cellars, and Matthews Estates.

Pomum Cellars

Pomum Cellars

Pomum Cellars is another winery in Woodinville I have yet to visit, but based on my conversation with the winemaker, I’ll be stopping by very soon. Pomum had two wines at the event:

Pomum Cellars 2005 Shya Red (video link – fast forward to the 10:50 mark for the review)

Unfortunately, I do not have tasting notes for this wine, but we have something a little bit better. Gary Vaynerchuk, the star of Wine Library TV and Director of Operations at Wine Library in Springfield, NJ., reviewed this wine on his show and gave it great reviews. Here is a link to the episode: Wine Library TV review on Pomum Cellars 2005 Shya Red (fast forward to the 10:50 mark)

My take: I really wish this one was still available. If you’re into wines that have a great earthy quality, this is the one for you.  Great earthy flavor and an excellent blend that can stand-alone, but it would be a shame not have it with a meal. If you happen to find someone who has it, convince them to open it 😉

Pomum Cellars 2008 Riesling

Washington State is one of the few places on Earth that excels at growing the classiest white grape of all: Riesling. This fact has been well-known in the State for decades and as a consequence some of the oldest vinifera plantings happen to be Riesling. One of the finest old vine Riesling vineyards is the excellent Upland Vineyard near Sunnyside. Approaching 40 years of age, these vines have become entrenched with their environment and therefore yield some the best expression of Washington State Riesling available. Our 2008 Riesling is made with the utmost respect for the fruit. Our goal is to best convey the vines’ complex story without any obstructions. This means no oak, fining or cold stabilization was used during winemaking. Aromas of citrus, apricot and nectarine are followed by noticeable minerality and a long finish that is perfectly balanced by the excellent acidity. This wine is ready to enjoy on release and may even evolve further in the bottle for a few years. One hundred and twenty-five cases produced.

My take: MaryCatherine and I both found this to be a very nice wine. MaryCatherine picked up hints of vanilla when she tried the wine while I picked up a bit of citrus fruit. This is a very smooth and easy drinking riesling that I would definitely pick up. You can find this wine at Village Wines, Pete’s Wine Shop, Esquin, at Pomum Cellar’s tasting room for about $18

William Church Winery

William Church Winery

William Church Winery is a winery we’ll be paying a visit to in the coming weeks/months. Their selection for the evening is one that opened the floor to a fun and spirited debate 😉

William Church Winery 2009 Viognier

Our award-winning Viognier has gained a reputation for its beautiful aromatics, rich flavors & incredible balance. The heat in the summer of 2009 resulted in a concentrated wine full of ripe tropical and honeysuckle notes and rich flavors of pear & apricot. It’s the perfect summer deck wine that has the acidity to keep it fresh and inviting while less than 1% residual sugar rounds out the flavors. A long slow fermentation helps retain the beautiful aromatics this grape is known for. Everything you’ve come to expect from our Viognier and more.  Serve with gourmet cheeses, seafood or try it with your favorite spicy Asian dish.

My take: If you notice in the description, it suggests that you can enjoy this “with your favorite spicy Asian dish.” This is where the debate comes in 🙂 It is my suggestion that this wine can be enjoyed with habanero bbq ribs or another spicy blend of bbq. The representative from William Church wasn’t so sure. So, what we’re going to do is make this wine and my ribs as part of our next food and wine pairing challenge! As far as the wine goes, it has a light sweetness to it and I picked up hints of pear flavor on it. You can find this wine in grocery stores & wine shops throughout the Puget Sound or at William Church Winery.

Patterson Cellars

Patterson Cellars

Patterson Cellars brought two wines to the event which includes a grape that’s on the rise in Washington.

Patterson Cellars 2009 Chardonnay

Straw colored, with lush pineapple, honeydew and nectarine followed by a bright acid finish. This Chardonnay has depth and balance with a hint of toasty oak and a crisp fruit finish.

My take: The nose on this wine was a bit unique and it kept drawing me. I’ll need to revisit this wine so I can tell you more about it. At the time I tried this one, I couldn’t tell if it was crisp or had a little bite to it. Currently, this wine is only available in the tasting room.

Patterson Cellars 2009 Late Harvest Roussanne

This dessert wine was made from Roussanne that was left to hang until mid November, this extended hang time allowed the fruit to dehydrate and concentrate the sugars. The fruit was whole cluster pressed, after pressing, the sugar was 38.5 Brix, the fermentation was carried out for four months in once used French oak barrels using Sauterne yeast. The fermentation was stopped when it was determined there was a proper balance of sugar and alcohol. 11.5% alcohol, 9.2 g/L TA, 3.51 pH, Residual sugar 18%. Enjoy the aromas of dried apricots, mango, and honeysuckle, followed by flavors of pear, nectarine, and honey, firm acidity with a long peach finish.

My Take: This is just an excellent wine throughout. I find myself wanting to include this in a dessert, whether in the baking process or just putting it on top of ice cream. This wine is available in wine shops, select grocery stores, and in the tasting room.

Matthews Estates

Matthews Estates

Our final wines of the evening were the most fun. The representative from Matthews Estates provided us with a taste test that you won’t find in most tastings. They brought two wines and had us try a bottle that was opened between 5 – 10 mins and 1 hr 30 mins  – 1 hr 40 mins. The results were surprising:

Matthews Estates 2009 Sauvignon Blanc

“A pale golden hue, with notes of pineapple and honey. A quick swirl releases additional aromatics of ripe peach and melon, plus a hint of flint. The palate is bright and vibrant, exhibiting lush minerality and a balanced silky texture.” – A.M.

At 5 mins: When we tried the bottle that was open for 5 minutes, we felt the wine was fairly light and had a taste of stone fruit.

At 1 hr 30 mins: When we tried the bottle that was open for an hour and a half, we enjoyed the wine a lot more. It was a bit more subtle on the nose, the taste was more smooth and it just got better as it opened up. One other interesting fact is that this wine tastes a lot better in an enclosed wine glass vs a wider glass. Keep that in mind when pouring this for friends.

Matthews Estates 2007 Claret

Deeply colored, dark garnet to the rim. A super-ripe nose of currants, blackberries, black cherry, plum and licorice. A touch of spice in the background, with a hint of vanilla bean. This wine is thick and rich, with super-fine mouth-coating tannins and the texture of fine dark chocolate on the finish. A Claret unlike any we have produced to date.

At 10 mins: At 10 minutes, we couldn’t really taste the fruit in the wine. It felt confined, tight, and/or not very open. The nose of the wine did smell good though.

At 1 hr 40 mins: The 1 hr 40 minute bottle had a lot more depth and a nice smokiness to it. It really came alive with more time to breathe

Overall, we learned a few lessons from this test. The first thing we learned was never judge a wine by your first taste. Sometimes a good wine needs time to breathe and open up as wines evolve over time. What you taste at one moment will taste different the next. Had I tasted these two wines at their early points, I may not purchase them. Knowing what I know about them now, I would highly suggest them.  You can pick these wines up online or at their tasting room.

Those were all the highlights from the Woodinville Wine Country Tweet Up. We had a great time trying all the wines and I look forward to visiting each of these wineries and/or having them at one of our events very soon!

June 3, 2010: Woodinville Wine Country Tweet Up @ Purple Wine Bar, Part 1

June 3, 2010: Woodinville Wine Country Tweet Up @ Purple Wine Bar, Part 1 1316 1600 celo4life

The other day, I received an invitation  to attend the Woodinville Wine Country Tweet Up at Purple Wine Bar in Bellevue, WA. I was surprised and honored to receive the invitation, considering that I’m relatively new to the scene. I didn’t know what to expect, but I love surprises :D.

When I arrived at the event, I was greeted by Cynthia Daste, executive director for Woodinville Wine Country. Around the table was a collection of bloggers from around the area and representatives from various wineries. After some initial introductions, I took my seat at the table and started on a whirlwind tour of 15 different wines. For this entry, I will introduce you to each winery & the wines I tasted, where you can find them (if available), and a few of my personal thoughts on each. So without further adieu….

Brian Carter Cellars

Brian Carter Cellars

Brian Carter Cellars is a winery I have yet to visit, but has been on my early list of wineries to check out in the Woodinville area. It was fitting that they would be present at the event so I can learn a little bit about their wines. Although they only had one wine at the event, it was enough motivation for me to want to try all their wines!

Brian Carter Cellars 2009 Abracadabra Rosé
Beautiful electric pink in color, aromas of ripe strawberries abound with more subtle notes of peaches and orange blossoms. On the palate is beautiful fruit backed up by deliciously crisp acidity.

My Notes: This wine was just released on June 1, 2010 and is a great addition to the collection of wines at Brian Carter Cellars. The wine had the kind of creamy finish that you’ll find with some rosé wines and had a very nice flavor. This is definitely a wine I could enjoy on many occasions and is one to pick up this summer. The current price is $20 and you can either pick this up online at Brian Carter Cellars, buy it at their tasting room, or limited retail shops.

Dusted Valley Vintners

Dusted Valley Vintners

Dusted Valley Vintners is another winery I have yet to visit, but is high on my list of wineries to check out. Their lone wine at the event was one of my top picks out of all of the wines throughout the night!

Dusted Valley Vintners 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon V.R. Special
The blood, sweat and tears that went in to growing this wine are dedicated to the loving memory of my Grandpa Vernon Rhodes. He was a truly amazing man. This Cab takes its name from his miraculous chocolate chip cookie the “V. R. Special”. I bet you wish you could dunk one in a glass of this wine right now. Rest easy Grandpa Rhodes. We love you!

This Cab has a beautiful bouquet on the nose, great fruit and silky tannin on the palate, and a lingering finish that will keep you wondering for minutes.

My take: This is a wine that has a lot of heart & soul and I highly recommend picking up a bottle. I found this wine to have a great earthy quality and it brought on visions of pairing this with smoked salmon or a dish that involved some sort of cream sauce, like pasta. This wine is only available at their tasting room and goes for $53.

Woodinville Wine Cellars

Woodinville Wine Cellars

Prior to this event, I had the pleasure of tasting four of Woodinville Wine Cellars’ wines and was really impressed by their depth and drinkability. So it was nice to revisit two of the four wines I had at a previous wine tasting which are currently in my wine cellar.

Woodinville Wine Cellars 2009 Sauvignon Blanc
After a long warm summer, we harvested amazing fruit from our two Sauvignon Blanc vineyards. The Artz Vineyard on Red Mountain is in a warmer region infusing the grapes with wonderful full-bodied tropical tones, while Stillwater Creek Vineyard is a cooler climate giving the wine more classic notes such as grapefruit, green apple and star anise. Together, they make a wonderful, balanced combination.

The nose has nice tropical tones as well as white peaches and mineral. Vibrant acidity washes over the palate with flavors of honeydew melon, and grapefruit. Citrus notes mingle together — reminiscent of biting into a cold green apple. A great complement to seafood, chicken, or your favorite soft cheese.

Woodinville Wine Cellars 2007 Little Bear Creek Red Wine
The fourth release of our favorite “entry-level” red, goes back to the 2005 Bordeaux style – predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon blended with hints of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. With aromas of red cherry and raspberry followed by huge red and black cherry flavors, this sweetly fruited, lengthy wine has the most “bang for the buck” yet. Bring this wine to your next dinner party or wine tasting and be the star.

My Take: The Sauvignon Blanc is a great wine for the summer time that should be enjoyed on your deck, boat, beach, etc. Make sure to enjoy this wine with a lot of friends because its great for parties. This wine is available at their tasting room for $18 or you can find it in retail wine shops around the area. The Little Bear Creek is a clear winner and at $20, is a steal. This wine goes down smooth and is great to bring to social gatherings or dinners. Since it’s in my cellar, you know I recommend it 😉

DeLille Cellars

DeLILLE Cellars

Another winery on my hit list is DeLille Cellars. I’ve been hearing many great things about the winery and have received many requests to invite them to a future wine tasting.  Their lone wine of the evening is a varietal that is starting to create some buzz in Washington and is turning out to be one of my favorite whites:

Doyenne 2008 Roussanne (DeLille Cellars)
This wine is so complex this year, we found ourselves trying to one-up each other with notes on the nose and palate. The trademark lime and floral notes on the nose are surrounded by subtle hints of sweet green tea, white pepper, hibiscus and chamomile flowers, wet stone and capsicum. On the palate, this wine has a balanced mouthful of lime, honeydew melon, Bartlett pears, and the aforementioned flowers and spices. The acidity perfectly supports the broad body of the wine, and echoes in the long and complex finish.

My take: This wine is great from the moment you smell the wine to when it hits your palate and goes down your throat. Very flavorful and balanced. Lucky for you, you can pick this wine up at QFC’s, Wholefoods, Metropolitan Markets, PCC’s, various wine shops, or you can either purchase it online through the winery or go to the winery! The price is $32 a bottle, but it’s well worth it.

Page Cellars

Page Cellars

We end part 1 with Page Cellars, a tasting room I have visited before. When you visit the tasting room in Woodinville, you’ll be greeted by a very friendly and knowledgeable staff. For the event, they presented us with a wine that currently resides in my cellar:

Page Cellars 2009 Sentimental Blonde Sauvignon Blanc

Unfortunately, there are no tasting notes available for this wine, but I can tell you that it’s a blend of 80% Sauvignon blanc and 20% Semillion. When my friend MaryCatherine tried this wine, she described it as girly. I kind of laughed and asked what she meant. She described the wine as having a flowery nose to it and I got what she meant 🙂 This wine doesn’t have much sweetness to it, but it does have a lot of flavor & depth. This is another wine that you can enjoy during the summer months or whenever you feel like drinking a white wine. This wine is available at QFC’s, Albertson’s, various wine shops, or online & at their tasting room

So that’s all for part 1. Coming up in part 2, we’ll go through the rest of the wines that include Pomum Cellars, William Church Winery, Patterson Cellars, and Matthews Estates.

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, http://www.trollhaven.org 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!

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!