A Cabernet Experience

Exploring Terroir with Forgeron Cellars

Oregon's French Connection

Maison Louis Jadot's Résonance

The French Connection

Rhone to Columbia Valley: The Syrah Doctrine

C'mon Get Happy

New Growth at Matthews Winery

A Tasting Across Terroir with Willamette Valley Vineyards

Revisiting 2010 Across the Willamette Valley

Who We Are

The staff of the Northwest Wine Anthem, we're good

Friday, September 09, 2016

Live From Walla Walla; It's SODO

From Lucha Vino:

Hello Seattle!  Please welcome your newest neighbors.  Live from Walla Walla!

The Seattle urban wine scene has been gaining some serious momentum over the past several years.  What started as a small group of wineries banding together in South Seattle to promote their wines has grown to a collection of about 30 wineries within the greater Seattle area.
The latest wineries to move into the neighborhood come from Walla Walla.  Rotie Cellars, Sleight of Hand and Waters have all moved into the SODO neighborhood in the SODO Urban Works complex. They join Kerloo Cellars, Structure and Full Pull, who have been operating in the complex for a couple of years already.
The new neighbors were welcomed with a smashing Block Party on Saturday, August 27, 2016.  Each winery featured a stellar lineup of wines, small bites and other attractions including live DJs and an aerial burlesque show!  The party started at 1 PM and kept on growing well into the early evening.  By 6 PM all the tasting rooms were wall-to-wall with people reveling in the party atmosphere.
Ryan Crane founded Kerloo Cellars in 2010 in Walla Walla.  Ryan is a long time Seattle resident, so it was a natural move for him to bring his production back to the West side of the mountains.  Ryan’s SODO operation has been open for about two years now.  His space is open and inviting with minimalist modern design touches.  You can see right away that this is a working space with the barrels stacked high along the wall opposite the tasting bar.
Ryan’s Majestic red blend is a classic Southern Rhone blend featuring Grenache and Mourvedre.  With 78% Grenache and the remainder Mourvedre you get primary notes of dark red raspberry followed by dusty, savory, dry white pepper.
Sean Boyd’s inaugural vintage with Rotie Cellars was 2007.  Prior to starting Rotie, Sean made wine with Rich Funk at Saviah Cellars and Jamie Brown at Waters.

Sean is in search of the best locations in Washington for growing each grape variety that he uses to make his wines.  He figures if his quest is successful that his kids are going to be rich!  He is especially excited about his estate vineyard in the Rocks AVA.  The vineyard is still young and should provide the majority of the Syrah for Sean’s Northern Blend in the 2017 vintage.
The Rotie Cellars Southern White is a blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne.  This wine shows excellent minerality with notes of sea breeze and herbal white flowers followed by light tropical notes of jack fruit and honeydew melon rounded out with excellent acidity on the finish.  
Sleight of Hand Cellars is a collaboration between Trey Busch and Jerry Solomon.  After meeting in 2002, Trey and Jerry finally started making wine together in 2007.
Also in 2007, while travelling in Spain, Jerry’s interest in Rose’ was piqued.  He was so fired up that he couldn’t wait to get home to pitch his idea for making a Rose’.  So he called Trey from the airport in Spain.  The conversation went something like this:
Jerry: We’re going to make a Rose’
Trey: Great!
Jerry: It’s gotta be Cabernet Franc
Trey: I love Cab Franc!
That phone call lead to the production of two barrels of a Rose’ of Cab Franc made mostly for their personal consumption.  The remaining bottles sold out of the tasting room in less than two weeks.  Today production for the Magician’s Assistant is up to 22 barrels.  It takes a bit longer to sell out, but you shouldn’t wait too long to buy some if you see it!
The 2015 Magician’s Assistant is a rose’ of 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from the Black Rock Vineyard.  It fires off herbal notes mingled with strawberries and melon backed with a wicked streak of acidity.
Structure Cellars ( has always been a Seattle based winery.  Brian and Brandee started Structure in their home in 2008 and moved into the SODO Urban Works complex in 2014.  The 2016 vintage will be the second vintage produced at their SODO location.
Brian loves Syrah and Brandee loves Cabernet Franc.  Their tastes come together to produce some excellent blends that you aren’t likely to find anywhere else.
A more traditional wine is their Bauhaus Syrah.  The grapes are sourced from the Destiny Ridge, Upland and Wallula vineyards.  This 100% Syrah features flavors of dark berries and light white pepper followed by subtle hazelnut and cracked pepper on the finish.
Waters Winery was started in Walla Walla by Jamie Brown in 2005.  Jamie moved to Seattle a couple of years ago and has been working to convince his partners to open a tasting room here ever since.  He finally got his way and we’re all benefiting from the decision!
Jamie was pouring a reserve tasting lineup that featured the 2008 and 2011 vintages of his 21 Grams wine.  21 Grams is Jamie’s top flight wine, which is made by selecting the best barrels in a blind tasting.  Not surprisingly, Cold Creek fruit typically drives the blend.
The current release is 2011.  Not only do you get a wine made from Jamie’s best grapes, you also get a wine that has already been aged for you.  If you are impatient, go ahead and drink it now.  If you can wait, you will be rewarded.  The 2011 and 2008 both tasted fabulous at the party.
The 2011 21 Grams is lush and lively.  The blend is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with a touch of Malbec and Petit Verdot.  The wine features notes of dark currants, cherries and earthy white pepper with plentiful silky tannins.

Full Pull is not a winery per se.  Paul Zitarelli started Full Pull back in 2009 as an email list focusing on Washington wine.  Fast forward to 2016 and Paul is offering wines from around the world and has also started his own negociant wine label “Full Pull and Friends.”
A new addition to Paul’s wine portfolio is the Block Wine Project.  These wines are a collaboration between Team Full Pull and select wine makers.  Each wine is a single variety that comes from a single block in a single vineyard.
The NV Block Wines Extra Brut Rose’ was open for tasting at the block party and it definitely got the party started!  Full Pull collaborates with Treveri Cellars to make this sparkling rose’ from Pinot Noir grown in the Yakima Valley AVA.  This pink sparkler features notes of bread dough, yeast, straw and herbal strawberries.  There is plenty of acidity and a jet stream of bubbles to keep the party rocking!
The party may not be as lively the next time you visit the SODO Urban Works complex.  But, one thing is for sure; friendly, knowledgeable people will treat you to some awesome wines from your newest Seattle Urban Wine Scene neighbors.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Experience Cabernet from Forgeron Cellars

For Marie Eve of Forgeron Cellars, it begins in the soil. When she was a young girl, she was always playing in the dirt. It’s no wonder then, as she grew older, she developed an interest in chemistry, studying it in college and her initial interest in soil, combined with her new knowledge of chemistry  translated to a love of wine-making. Marie Eve chooses her grapes from the finest vines across Washington State, visiting each grower and hand selecting the clusters that will be used to create her wines. It is no accident when a particular vineyard or AVA is chosen for a Forgeron wine. Marie Eve utilizes each region’s individual terroir to influence each wine’s unique characteristics. While soil is only a part of what contributes to the terroir of a specific vineyard, its influence may be the most essential.
This summer, Forgeron Cellars offered an “Experience Cabernet” event to the public, focused on offering wine enthusiasts and members of their wine club Societe a chance to compare three wines across a single variety all made from Washington grapes in different parts of the state. The goal was to allow participants to experience first-hand what the terroir of a region contributes to a vintage, as well as learn more about characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon world-wide and the history of Cabernet in Washington State.
Summer is an important time in any growing season. Having grown up on a farm, I’m most reminded of my upbringing when the heat bears down on the Pacific Northwest, bringing sun to Seattle and gold to the fields East of the Cascades. My own farmer father is constantly reminding me about the impact soil can have on crops and, aversely, the impact a grower can have on the soil, which immediately drew me to Marie Eve’s story. The bottom line is – soil matters.  
These are three fantastic Cabernets, created by an inspiring woman, each chosen because of the unique terroir of the region or vintage and an excellent chance to see what this grape can do across the state of Washington.
Sourced from three different AVA’s (Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley and Red Mountain), each area was selected to contribute specific characteristics; Walla Walla’s warm growing region and loess soil likely adding earthy spices and Red Mountain contributing a tannic structure and robust desert red hue. The aromatics on this wine are spice forward with roasted herbs on the upper lip and dark fruit deeper in the glass. It tastes young and full-bodied on the palate with hints of pepper, plum, chocolate and coarse tannins. It has a lasting finish with just a ghost of tart which leaves you eagerly awaiting the next sip. With just over one year in the barrel and priced at $35 this is a great wine to keep on hand for social events.
Grapes from the Lacoye and Hightower vineyards in the Red Mountain AVA contribute power and spice, with quite a bit of austerity. While normally the warmest AVA in the state of Washington, this particular vintage in Red Mountain was much cooler, and Marie Eve picked it specifically to highlight what a site could do in difficult growing conditions. On the nose, this wine is intensely sweet with bright aromas of strawberries and vanilla, making its dark cherry palate with chalky tannin and silky moderate finish a true delight. This is a full-bodied, smoky wine and priced at $45 is an excellent treat for guests or personal use in pairing with bold cheeses.
For Marie Eve and Forgeron, ANVIL wines are the top tier label and much more rare than similar wine varieties. This particular ANVIL is sourced from the Walla Walla Valley (Pepper Bridge and Minnick Hills vineyards) which both provide a slow, full-ripening allowing for good aging. Aged for almost two and a half years in 100% new oak barrels, there is an immediate earth aroma on the nose as well as deep plum. The palate is full of smooth, rich plum, oak and warm cigar smoke that lingers long on the finish like a haze in the air.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Oregon with a French Accent: Résonance from Louis Jadot

The Resonance Vineyard has been one of the Willamette Valley's gems for some time. It is perhaps less well known than places like Shea or Temperance Hill,  owing to its small size, but it has long produced wines of intensity and focus and has overtime become synonymous with the name Peter Rosback and Sineann Wines.

The vineyard has long been organic and is certified biodynamic; it was planted in 1981 by the Chambers Family. A warm site in the cool Yamhill Carlton AVA. In addition to the Sineann Wines, there have been well received bottlings from Big Table Farm and Lemelson from fruit from Resonance Vineyard. The vineyard is on its own rootstock and includes nineteen acres of Pinot Noir including the clones Pommard, Wädenswil, and Dijon 777 as well as a bit of Gewurztraminer (one and a half acre)

The wines from this site are always single vineyard bottling material. The Resonance Vineyard fruit reliably produces wines of intense elegance. There's a mineral emphasis, a core of layered fruit and perhaps what makes it stand out the most is the incredible, refined structure. The site is a Willamette Valley original, while perhaps not as old as a handful of plantings by the pioneers, it is certainly among the Valley's founding vineyard sites.

All of these features caught the eye and perhaps more importantly the palate of the folks at Louis Jadot, the famed Burgundy negociant. A winery that has been in operation since 1859 and in the business of vineyard acquisition since 1826. This then is high praise for the potential they see in Oregon and in the Resonance Vineyard. This is a site that has always made notable wines and so in getting their foot in the door the folks at Jadot went straight to one of the Willamette's gems. 

After forty two years heading up the wine production at Jadot, Jacques Lardière decided it was time to retire. However that retirement was short-lived and he was called into service by Jadot to head to the Yamhill-Carlton AVA and head up the stateside production. These are the only wines and the only vineyard Jadot has ever made outside of France.  Lardière is producing the wines but also keeping tabs on the vineyard and learning about what makes Oregon so special. The wines are being made at the Trisateum facility initially, but they will likely continuing growing their Oregon presence and footprint.

In the first wine that the Jadot has produced you have a perfect blend of what is purely Oregon with a winemaker who has for a long time made very classic Burgundy. The wine is stunning.

2013 Résonance Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton AVA

This is a really incredible first go at Oregon Pinot Noir by the uber talented Burgundian winemaker Jacques Lardière. This Pinot Noir is ripe certainly but it's richness is not in a rounded character so much as an intensity of elegance and minerality. Aromas of violets, fresh turned earth, crushed stone and clove. The palate is intensely focused and beautifully structured. Freshness of fruit pulsates through the wine's flavor profile, ripe blackberry and hints of fresh fennel around a core of mineral driven, black fruit.  $65

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Syrah Doctrine: Tenet Wines

Washington state has long been a hotbed for Syrah. A wine that the industry will tell you they have a tough time selling. It is perhaps a blessing and a curse then that Washington seems to make the best Syrah in the New World and perhaps outside of certain special pockets in the Rhone Valley, the whole world.

It has been Syrah that while not putting Washington on the map, has raised its profile as a world class wine producer. The grape is still fairly young here with its first plantings in 1986 in the Yakima Valley, at the state's iconic Red Willow Vineyard. The collaboration between wine grower Mike Sauer and wine genius David Lake launched what has become Washington's most important wine grape.

The wines of Cayuse, Betz and L'Ecole have come to be known for their Syrah, and new labels launched in recent years like Avennia, Kevin White and Rotie Cellars have shown their brilliance with Syrah. It makes sense then that the people at Washington's founding winery, Chateau Ste Michelle would look to take Washington's signature grape to the next level with their Tenet Wines project.

In a partnership with some of the most revered names in France's Rhone Valley, Chateau Ste Michelle looked to make the purest expression of Washington Syrah, (along with other Rhone varietals) that it could. Working alongside renowned Rhone winemakers Michel Gassier and Phillipe Cambie, CSM's Bob Berthau wanted to look at making the best Syrah from Washington possible.

The collaboration, rather than starting in the winery began with Gassier in the vineyards. To begin with, cooler vineyard sites were selected. Looking at canopy, crop load, irrigation and other manipulable factors allowed the team at Tenet to end up with fruit that came in smaller clusters, with concentrated, but perhaps less opulent flavors, along with ample acidity.

In the winery, the team looked at adding whole clusters, along with stems and rachis that give the wine more nuanced elements. This was certainly a diversion from the fruit focused wines typically produced by CSM. The whole clusters, along with extended maceration and only neutral oak created some very elegant, albeit powerful wines. The wines, each unique give a glimpse at the contrasts and similarities of Washington and the Rhone Valley.

2013 Pundit Syrah
A blend of Syrah (94%), with only the faintest bits of Grenache, Mourvedre and co-fermented Viognier. This is a wine with bits of whole cluster and a mixture of French and American oak barrels. It's absolutely gorgeous. Aromas of subdued elegance with notes of violet, blackberry and smoke. The palate is fruit focused with elegance and complexity from notes of crushed stone and smoke that mingle with a classically Washington fruit core. The price point on this wine has to rank it among some of the best values in all of Washington. (2014 is the current release) $20-25

2013 Le Fervent Syrah 
As a bit of a study in contrast, in terms of location the Le Fervent comes not from Washington but rather from Gassier's home vineyards in the Costières de Nîmes. The southernmost AOC within the Rhone Valley theCostières de Nîmes have soils similar to the most famous southern Rhone AOC, Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The very close proximity of the Mediterranean Sea however cools this site substantially. The wine is less opulent than its stateside counterpart, though the blend is nearly identical. More elements of minerality show up in the aromatics of fennel and turned earth. Rather than seeing any American oak this week is fermented in both steel and older French barrels. The wine offers a fresher palate, with sweet blueberry, turned earth and sage. $20-25

The flagship wine of the Tenet experiment is not Syrah but rather a really well made, higher end Grenache(40%), Syrah (35%) and Mourvedre (25%) blend. This wine is a great demonstration of the quality that CSM efforts can attain. They largely make very good wine, when they want to it is downright outstanding. This is one of those times. Power and elegance interplay with aromas of dried rose petals and violets, garrigue and white pepper. The palate is an interplay of refined structure and opulent richness. Blackberry and cherry flavors with notes of spicy pepper. This is a mouth coating wine that unveils layers of complexity and flavor, and a long, long finish.$65-70 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Home Grown Happy at Matthews Winery

from Julia Esser
We all have more than one happiest day. They range across times, places and categories – adding lighter hues to moments at work, with family, on top of a mountain, or out with friends enjoying a glass of wine. For Bryan Otis of Matthews Winery, one of his happiest days in the newly remodeled Matthews tasting room occurred on June 25th – the day that Matthews launched its first ever Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
If you were to walk in the door of Matthews on June 25th, you would have felt a slightly higher than normal buzz in the air. The new tasting room is brighter (no longer reminding visitors of the “inside of a barrel”) with seating for large or small groups and two outdoor spaces. Amidst all this, on June 25th you would have seen, stacked neatly on a back table, the last few CSA boxes, overflowing with greenery, waiting for their owners to come and claim them. These seemingly unassuming boxes represent something much greater than their simple, elegant appearance – hours of brainstorming, careful growth, constant tending and an effort to extend the vibrant Matthews community into the homes of their greatest enthusiasts.
All of the food in the CSA came from Matthews own Creekside Farm – named for the clear, spring-fed creek that runs through the winery’s property – located just feet from the main tasting room. Creekside has been producing food for over a year, providing flowers to the winery and produce to many local businesses including Sitka and Spruce and Damn the Weather. This year, Bryan Otis wanted to expand the scope of Creekside in a way that speaks to the passion for community shared by the family owners, and everyone at Matthews.
“We make the wines that we want to drink,” said Otis, who continued on to say that, if you enjoy their wines, it makes sense that you would become a part of the Matthews family – as a consumer and a figurative extension of the actual family who runs the entire venture. Creekside and its new CSA program not only expands the family of businesses with which Matthews collaborates and supports, but encourages members of the CSA to bring that family atmosphere into their own homes.
Carefully tended by local master farmer Alex Meizlish, the CSA program currently provides 14 members with fresh produce and locally sourced meats and cheeses, as well as a select bottle of Matthews wine over a span of 20 weeks. There is bread from The Commons, artisanal cheese and dairy products from Cherry Valley Dairy in Duvall, as well as local eggs and honey. Each box is carefully curated to provide families or individuals with the opportunity to savor an entire dinner experience – from the preparation to the finale – all accompanied by a phenomenal bottle of Matthews wine.
I tasted my way through several of Matthews most popular wines while enjoying a baguette (The Commons), creamy Fromage Blanc and deliciously salty Herbed Rose Butter (Cherry Valley). I want to especially highlight their flagship Claret, which makes an appearance in each of the CSA boxes.
2008 Columbia Valley Claret
The 2008 Claret has a red, desert clay color and an instant spice on the nose. The palate is dark and fruity with hints of blackberry and plum. This wine has a nice balance between earth and fruity flavors and long finish. It’s a young wine, so can be enjoyed immediately or stored for a number of years without losing any structural characteristics.

The current CSA season is already underway, but if you’re interested in learning more about the farm and current CSA pricing, you can visit Creekside Farm’s page HERE. The current release of the CLaret is 2013 and it’s available for $40 here.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Perfect 10s: A Look Across the Valley and Vintage from Willamette Valley Vineyards

The 10s were 10s they said, somehow, through all of that. 

 The 2010 vintage in Oregon was tough, it was a year for the birds if you remember, a cool vintage, rainy and then there were those damn birds. In the Willamette Valley, in 2010 people were a bit on the nervous side come harvest, but not because of the condition of the fruit, it was damn near perfect. The cooler vintage meant that folks had to leave the fruit out there quite a long time, with many folks picking 2 plus weeks later than they did in 2009. Unfortunately it went long enough that most of it was still out there when birds started migrating south for the winter. That made the Willamette Valley a popular stopover for birds moving through for destinations in California, or as far south as Chile.

The other factor at play was the impeding rain storms. Few vintages, even cool wet years are marked with a nearly universal end date. For 2010 it was October 23rd. The valley saw serious storms that day that lasted a few days, that was more or less the end of harvest 2010. Fortunately, most of October was just about perfect, and so, it may be argued are the Pinot Noirs.

The previous cool vintage for Oregon to that point was 2007 and while those remain my favorites, what made them starkly different from the 2010s was that the 2007s were not so obviously fantastic so early. The 2010s were such a darling because the media loved them, from the jump. The same media that more or less damned 2007 loved the 2010s for the same characteristics, only the media has zero patience and the 2010s were good for people with the patience of a 5 year old, people like Harvey Steiman

In 2013 I wrote this about the 2010s I had been tasting: Alcohol levels are low across the board but the wines were plenty ripe from a flavor standpoint, thanks to that long hang-time and the lower yields, many vineyards produced half of what they would in a normal year. The result generally, is medium bodied wine, with lots of red and blue fruits, and really fine, pretty tannin structures. As great as they're drinking now, the acidity allows you to hold onto some favorites, it appears to be a very age worthy vintage.

As it turns out, I'd have the opportunity to taste through the vintage, across the valley, nearly three years later to see how they were doing. Willamette Valley Vineyards is one of the Valley's greatest champions. Not in that they like one a contest, but in how they conduct themselves. I liken them to the role that Chateau Ste Michelle plays in Washington state, while they are a fraction of the size of CSM. Like that big winery in Washington, Jim Bernau is committed to the quality not just of his wines, but of his region. Willamette Valley Vineyards makes quality wines across the board, but more than that, they use their resources for good, not just their good, but the good of the rest of the Oregon Pinot industry. They're also concerned with the good of my curiosity and to that end sent my a cross section of the Willamette Valley in 2010, a study in that instantly delicious vintage, and an opportunity to see how it's fared. (For brevity's sake I am going to start using WVV, I'm not paid by the word, in fact, I'm not paid, which is a great explanation for why you don't see me publishing nearly as much as I used to on this site.)

The winery has plenty of estate fruit but they also do an AVA series bottling to showcase the site specificity all across the Willamette Valley.

Let's start in the north and work our way southward.

2010 Willamette Valley Vineyards, Ribbon Ridge AVA
 Ribbon Ridge along the Chehalem Mountain AVA mark the coolest parts of the Willamette Valley and are reliably earthy, at least in my experience. This 2010 bottling from WVV is from Redman Vineyard, which was a bit of a surprise to me because I was unaware that the New Jersey rapper had any stake in vineyards in Oregon, or anywhere for that matter. There's a lot to like in this wine, the structure comes to the fore, with great tannin and texture. This was a cool vintage but the palate is mouth filling and elegant, not the least bit meek, while it remains a bit angular. Aromas of brambleberry, turned earth and dried violets and a palate that is a core of blue fruit, wrapped in earthen minerality and dried fig. 

2010 Willamette Valley Vineyards, Yamhill Carlton AVA
In the Yamhill-Carlton AVA the closest thing to a rapper is probably Byron Dooley and he owns the Luminous Hills vineyard which is one of the AVA's most dynamic. It's a kaleidoscope of soil types and exposures and as a result allows him to grow fruit with a variety of different characteristics. I tasted Byron's own 2010 bottling in 2013 from this vintage and it's interesting to taste the wine from a different winemaker and winery. The aromatics on this wine include a fair bit of clove and maybe even a note of cinnamon, all backed with a sweet blueberry note. The palate is more of an intensity of fruit than it's northern (sort of) counterpart. Flavors of black plum, fennel and a slight kiss of fresh mint that brings on the finish. 

2010 Willamette Valley Vineyards, Dundee Hills AVA
The Dundee Hills is pretty much the sweet spot for the whole Willamette Valley, it's damn near the bullseye and it's of course where David Lett set-up shop and paved the way for the best wine in all of America (Oregon Pinot Noir), if you ask me anyways. The Dundee Hills bottling from WVV is out of the Winter's Hill vineyard, which is just west of the Stoller estate. This is an impressive wine from one of the Valley's greatest AVAs, it is so loaded with floral and mineral aromas as to make you think it came from the Chehalem Mountain AVA. Red fruit intensity and minerality mark the palate of this wine, which I imagine was singing upon release. The structure has further buoyed it over time.

2010 Willamette Valley Vineyards, McMinnville AVA
Heading south to McMinnville AVA we land in the Momtazi vineyard, another growing site in the valley that has established a reputation for excellence. The vineyard itself is managed using holistic farming that integrates a lot of biodynamic practices. The wine shows up, six years on, with outstanding structure, and intense aromas of moss, earth and dried fig. Flavors of candied blueberry, herbs and soaring acidity.

2010 Willamette Valley Vineyards, Elton Vineyard, Eola-Amity Hills AVA
The WVV has most of its vineyard holdings in the Eola-Amity hills area around Salem, and so it makes sense that this is the first of the their single vineyard serious that is from estate fruit. There's an intensity of blue and black fruit aromas, dusty blackberry and clove. The palate is rich, lush and full of fruit. Black cherry, currant and black plums along with clove and cola notes. The finish is elegant, fresh and lively. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Straight from the Barrel in Lake Chelan

from Marty Sparks 

Lake Chelan’s Spring Barrel Tasting Weekend is coming up on May 21st and 22nd.   This event provides a great opportunity to get a sneak peak at upcoming releases, meet the area’s winemakers and escape to the East side of Washington state for some glorious Spring time weather.
The Lake Chelan AVA has been growing in acclaim, and number of wineries, since being recognized as an AVA in 2009.   The area has been known as a family vacation destination for many generations.  Our current generation is seeing the region gaining notoriety for their wineries.  As of 2016, Lake Chelan is home to 25 wineries.  Many have estate vineyards where the winemakers oversee the entire winemaking process from tending the vineyard to bottling the wine that winds up on your table.  
The Spring Barrel Tasting weekend is a great opportunity to discover the wines from the wineries that surround Lake Chelan.  The majority of the wineries have something special planned for the weekend.
Here are three wineries to visit:
South Shore – Fielding Hills
Fielding Hills has been making wine made from grapes grown on their Wahluke Slope estate vineyard since 2000.  They are a relative new comer to the Lake Chelan area with a gorgeous tasting room that opened on the South Shore of the lake in September of 2014.   The views from the tasting room and the wines are both fabulous.  
The Fielding Hills 2010 Wahluke Slope Syrah is dark, lush and full bodied with notes of dark blue fruit, dusty cracked pepper and cocoa powder that all come together in a well integrated tannin and barrel spice driven finish.
North Shore - Cairdeas
Charlie Lybecker started making wine in his West Seattle Garage.  He moved to Lake Chelan about 4 years ago and has settled into his current location on the North Shore of the lake just off highway 150.  He is making some excellent Southern Rhone style red and white wines.
The Cairdeas 2013 Nellie Mae is a blend of Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Rousanne and Picpoul.  The nose shows great minerality with notes of white flowers, honey dew melon and lemon zest with a palate featuring similar flavors along with some smoky herbal notes backed with a mean streak of acidity.
Manson – Hard Row to Hoe
Judy and Don Phelps are the Wine Maker and Vineyard manager, respectfully, at Hard Row to Hoe.  They combine serious wine making with local history that has a slightly naughty twist.  You will have to visit their vineyard and tasting room in Manson to hear the story and see some mementoes of the area’s ribald history.
The Hard Row to How 2012 Burning Desire Cabernet Franc has a nose featuring dark berries, dried herbs and flower petals with a palate of dried dark fruit, white pepper and funky herbal notes that are followed by a pencil lead and tannin spice fueled finish.

Make a plan to visit Lake Chelan the weekend of May 21st and 22nd to get a sneak peak at the upcoming vintages from this up and coming Washington state AVA.  You will be met by some down to earth people making seriously delicious wines in one of the most beautiful places in our state.