Yakima Valley Among Many With Record Early Harvests

August 8th, 2015

Barbara Glover from Wine Yakima Valley reports the following on the 2015 wine grape harvest:

“Washington’s first wine grape harvest of the season began in the Yakima Valley on August 7, 18 days earlier than 2014, which was an early harvest year. 2015 is believed to be the earliest wine grape harvest in Washington State history. The warm season has winemakers throughout the state watching and planning their next move.

Yakima Valley’s David O’Reilly of Owen Roe winery is contemplating his next move. He plans on harvesting chardonnay and sauvignon blanc this week. “We will be harvesting chardonnay from DuBrul vineyard just north of Sunnyside and chardonnay and sauvignon blanc from Outlook vineyard on the western side of the Yakima Valley AVA” says O’Reilly.

Treveri Cellars kicked off 2015 with their first load of Chardonnay from Hilltop Vineyard in Zillah on August 7, 2015. “Sparkling wine producers typically pick earlier than still wine producers to keep the alcohol lower as sparkling wine made in the traditional method undergoes secondary fermentation,” according to owner/winemaker Juergen Grieb. “This year is the earliest start to harvest ever for Treveri”.

Todd Newhouse, owner of Upland Vineyard on Snipes Mountain in the center of the Yakima Valley AVA will begin harvesting sauvignon blanc on Wednesday, approximately two and a half weeks earlier than 2014.”

CorkSharing Makes Planning Your Wine Tasting Trip a Breeze

May 31st, 2015

One of the best ways to learn about wines and fully enjoy the winemaking experience from barrel room to tasting room is to plan a trip to the wineries.

Knowing where to start is often easier said than done, especially when you consider there are so many wineries to choose from.

Enter CorkSharing, a reservation platform-style app designed to assist both novice and well-seasoned wine drinkers by allowing them to set up appointments for tours and tastings and pay for any applicable tasting room fees in advance.

CorkSharing is the brainchild of California-based CEO Bryan Petro. Petro says the goal of CorkSharing is simple. “We’re trying to attract people who are serious (about wine tasting)” and help them make it “a seamless experience.”

nullBy downloading the free app on your smart phone, you’ll have access to a service that provides you with location-based wineries for staters, and then filters them based on your preference such as group size, price range, or even the type of wine you enjoy most.

This is a great tool to have not only for people who are traveling together and want to plan their tasting route in advance, but also for those “on the go” who may feel the need to check out tasting availability at a nearby winery at a moment’s notice.

“It’s a great app to have for mobile and desktop users,” notes Petro, and also for those who want to just “dive into the world of wine.”

Based on the feedback he’s received, the process has been great for both users and tasting room personnel alike. “It helps wineries with staffing needs (for groups)” and allows them to better plan for visitors. And that helps contribute to an enjoyable experience for everyone.

The app only takes a few seconds to download on a smart phone and the booking process is concise and easy to follow.

Sign-up and access to the service is also available on line at www.corksharing.com

Wine Press Northwest Names Wineries of the Year

March 20th, 2015

Here are Wine Press Northwest Magazine’s 2015 Wineries of the Year:

Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year - Maryhill Winery

Washington Winery of the Year – Brian Carter Cellars

Washington Winery to Watch – Palencia Wine Co.

Idaho Winery of the Year – Clearwater Canyon Cellars

Oregon Winery of the Year – Brandborg Vineyard and Winery

2014: Another Good Year for Washington Varietals and Boutique Wineries

December 2nd, 2014

As we move into December and begin winding down on 2014, here’s a quick look ahead before we take a look back.

Today and over the next three weeks, I’ll feature primarily red wines as we move into the heart of what I refer to as “red wine season.” Included will be some special splurge wines for the holidays and I’ll even throw in a few chardonnays for white wine drinkers.

Then as we approach New Year’s Eve, I’ll give you several recommendations of sparkling wines to help you begin 2015 with a festive touch.

As for 2014, the growing season for Washington vineyards was warm, long and beautiful. Harvests for many of the state’s varietals were a good two weeks or so ahead of the norm, and the wines you’re likely to see from this vintage will be big, flavorful and full-bodied.

This will be quite a contrast to the cooler 2010 and 2011 growing years but more in line with 2012, a vintage from which the red wines have been hitting the market in full force as of late.

nullI sampled several of these wines during my annual trek to the Tri-Cities Wine Festival in Kennewick last month. The 2012’s are drinking beautifully, with lush fruit flavors and plenty of character.

Another thing I noted at the festival was the proliferation of boutique wineries (by my definition producing around 500 to 1,000 cases annually) and ultra-boutique wineries (under 500 cases a year).

These wineries are making some truly remarkable wines and, recognizing they’re fighting for shelf space in the market of Washington’s ever-expanding wine industry, keeping their prices within reason.

Standout smaller wineries at the festival I was able to visit included Benton City’s Tucannon Cellars and their four varietal, 2011 Red Fusion blend (about $25); Pine Lake Cellars from Seattle, whose 2012 Spice Cabinet Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (about $28) was exceptional; and Walla Walla Valley’s J & J Vintners, who poured an outstanding double gold and best of varietal 2012 Les Collines Vineyard Syrah (about $30).

Other notables that should be on your must-try list: Lodmell Cellars and their gorgeous, still available 2007 Merlot, Smasne Cellars’ 2012 Zinfandel and 2011 Reserve Malbec, and two other double gold winners, the DavenLore Winery 2011 Mourvèdre and a stunning 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Gingko Forest Winery.

And keep your eye on winemaker Jessica Munnell. Although she’s been around for several years and currently the head winemaker for Mercer Estates, she also has her own label in Wautoma Wines. I sampled two of her current releases, a 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2011 El Prat Red Wine and thought they were among the festival’s finest.

Wines Becoming More Popular at Football and Tailgate Parties

September 30th, 2014

Wine? At a tailgate or football party? Alongside bloody marys, assorted other cocktails and the king of football beverages, beer?

I say, there’s absolutely no reason not to include wine and I’ve got a few theories as to why wines have become increasingly popular at football-related events.

nullFor starters, there’s simply more (and better) food being served. Go to a football party at someone’s home or a tailgate party in the parking lot of a stadium at game day. The tableful of chips and dips has expanded to include a sometimes massive spread of salads, carefully prepared side dishes and desserts.

That cool guy who fired up a hibachi and threw on some hot dogs? He’s been replaced by a master chef with a propane grill barbequing any cut of beef, pork or chicken you like.

It’s clear that we’ve become much more sophisticated with our football dining habits, and that allows for more beverage options, including wine.

Second, there’s the evolution of the metrosexual. These are the “in-touch-with-your-softer-side” men who aren’t afraid to wax their chest, put product in their hair, or go see a chick-flick with their girlfriend or spouse.

nullWhile some guys are still perfectly content with a six-pack of beer and a bag of Doritos on game day, metrosexuals aren’t buying it. They avoid pre-packaged foods and are more likely to have the occasional glass of wine rather than something out of an aluminum can – unless it’s a craft beer, of course.

And let’s not underestimate the increasing presence of women at these events. They too, often prefer wine over beer as their drink of choice. That influences the selection of beverages that party hosts have to take into consideration.

So what’s the best wine or wines to serve at these gatherings?

Because there are often so many different foods involved, it’s difficult to pin down the “perfect” wine. But parties of this kind usually involve pretty heady stuff; grilled brats with all the condiments, homemade chili, pasta and potato salads, spicy buffalo wings, and nachos with jalapeño peppers are just a few things that come to mind.

That said, it might be best to serve a slightly sweeter white wine. You’ll find that a sweet wine will compete and contrast nicely with the spice and heat components of these foods, while a basic chardonnay or light to medium-bodied red wine could be overwhelmed and rendered tasteless.

Riesling, gewürztraminer, muscat, and chenin blanc should make good choices and even a white zinfandel (gasp) might be a consideration. Not only are these wines sometimes enjoyed by well-seasoned wine drinkers, they may be the only thing that occasional, sweet wine drinkers will consume. That gives them broad-ranging appeal and makes them a solid addition to your next football party.

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