Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Undiscovered in Lake Chelan... Ventimiglia Cellars

from Lucha Vino:

Roll up, roll up for the Mystery Tour…

The majority of the wineries and vineyards in the Lake Chelan AVA ring the shores of Lake Chelan.  The views are stunning and the wineries are all just a short drive from one to the next.

Step right this way.

If you are willing to take a journey off the beaten path, a bit of a Mystery Tour, you are in for a treat.  Ventimiglia Cellars is just East of downtown Chelan, located half way between Lake Chelan and the Columbia river.  The small, unassuming, building is hiding in plain site behind several large fruit packing plants.  Don’t be intimidated, the place is actually easy to find.  When you roll up in front of the building you will be greeted in a most friendly way by Ron Ventimiglia, owner and winemaker.

That’s an invitation.

I visited with Ron on a recent summer day.  The sun was shining and the stories were flowing.  Ron is an engaging host.  As I was wondering to myself “Why do winemakers make some of the best story tellers?” Ron hit me with this gem – “There are not many businesses that let your personality show through.”  How true.  Ron’s enthusiasm and hospitality were evident as he walked me through his lineup, told stories of the history of wine and vineyards in the Lake Chelan AVA and showed off the content of his barrel room.

The Mystery Tour is waiting to take you away.  Every day is barrel tasting day at Ventimiglia Cellars. 

Ron showed me through the variety of wines in barrel.  Each one had its own unique story and Ron was happy to tell them.  The tasting room was buzzing with people so Ron was busy popping back and forth to make sure each of his guests received the attention they deserved.  Each visitor was treated like a family member returning for a long awaited visit.

As we toured through the barrels Ron shared more stories about the history of Ventimiglia and his plans for the future. 

On the history side of the ledger Ron shares that he has been making wine for nearly two decades.  He admits he is still learning how to hit the right level of production to match his supply with demand.  For example, Ron still has a considerable amount of his 2006 Amalgamarsi, a Bordeaux inspired blend, available due to some over exuberance.  The blend is predominantly Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with some Cabernet Franc, Malbec and a splash of Petit Verdot.  It is robust with notes of dark cherry, currants, toffee and clove spices.

On the future side of the ledger, Ron tells me about the estate vineyard he is planning for the property just to the South of his tasting room.  The vineyard will be home to grapes that will be used primarily for blending. 

I hope that Ron pays closer attention to what he is doing than the folks at the vineyard just to the North of the Chelan airfield.  The owners lost their vineyard map!  Ron makes an Airfield Blend that includes Tempranillo, Dolcetto, Refosco and Grenache.  Talk about a mystery, without the map nobody knows what the percentages are!  The 2012 has a slightly smoky character that is the result of the wild fires that raged in the Chelan area prior to the harvest.  This wine shows light red fruit, white pepper and some earthy spices backed up with some nice acidity.

The NV Pinot Noir was one of my favorite wines of the day.  This Pinot started as two barrels of 2005 vintage.  When Ron ran out of 2005 Pinot for topping off the barrels he started using 2006, then 2007.  When the wine was ready for bottling Ron realized he had added about 7% of the other vintages.  The percentages required the wine to be labeled as Non-Vintage!  No need to worry.  This Pinot Noir shows some nice character of medium red berries and earthy all spice concluding with a dry finish that features notes of cedar spices.

Ron is on a journey, perhaps a bit of a Mystery Tour.  He has about 6 wines in his current lineup and another 6 resting in barrel.  He is working, experimenting and producing some very interesting wines. 

If you go visit Ron you will be greeted like a long lost friend and treated to a Mystery Tour that will stimulate your senses. Every day is a barrel tasting adventure at Ventimiglia Cellars.  Roll up, roll up for the Mystery Tour.  Ron is waiting to take you away on a mystery trip.  Your satisfaction is guaranteed.

Thanksgiving Weekend marks the Fall Barrel Tasting in Lake Chelan and it's a great time to chat with the winemakers about what they think of this year's harvest. It's also another gorgeous time to go to Lake Chelan.


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