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.