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

Bellingham Herald Articles

May 30th, 2015

nullPosts on this web site under the category “Bellingham Herald Articles” were originally printed in the Bellingham Herald…the source for Whatcom County, Washington news.

For the latest updates in local, regional and national news, visit their web site at

Looking for Good Spring & Summertime Wines? Here Are Several to Try

May 26th, 2015

Are you having enough white wines and rosés this spring? If not, you should be, because this is the perfect time of the year to enjoy them.

Served well-chilled, these wines are exceptional springtime adult beverages. A little cheese, a sliced baguette, perhaps some fresh fruit and a glass of white wine or rosé is a terrific combination to start off an evening or a nice way to reward yourself for completing that weekend chore list.

Although most whites – especially those that are sweeter or high in acidity – taste better with several hours in the fridge, be careful not to overdo it with full-bodied white wines such as chardonnay or viognier, where too much chilling can mask those wine’s flavors.

Here are some recommendations of white wines and rosés worth checking out this spring:

Stemmari Non-Vintage Baci Vivaci (about $14) – This sparkling white from Italy serves as a perfect starter wine with mild cheeses. Made in a lightly carbonated frizzante style, it features a fragrant bouquet of white flowers, gentle stone fruit flavors. and a soft finish.

Clos du Bois 2013 Chardonnay (about $14) – This easy-to-drink, easy-to-find California chardonnay is lighter in body than most, with understated flavors of apple and lemon chiffon and a touch of spiced, buttery oak on the finish. Serve slightly chilled and enjoy.

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé (about $14) – Fragrant aromas of citrus and blood orange lead off with this pale red-orange rosè from South Africa. On the palate, an edgy burst of ruby grapefruit predominates before melting into a bone-dry finish. It should serve as a nice accompaniment to a variety of shellfish and seafood.

nullPalencia Winery La Monarcha 2014 Pinot Noir Rosé (about $15) – Victor Palencia serves up yet another knockout selection from Washington’s Ancient Lakes Appellation. Its striking pink hue is matched by the wine’s sassy strawberry and watermelon flavors, while a laser-sharp finish with steely minerality completes the package.

Palencia Winery 2014 Sauvignon Blanc (about $18) – Juicy Fuji apple, white peach, and Seckel pear flavors fill the glass with underlying layers of key lime, melon and green herb accents. Vibrant acidity peaks at the finale for a crisp, clean finishing note.

San Juan Vineyards 2014 Madeleine Angevine (about $18) and 2014 Siegerrebe (about $22) – Winemaker Chris Primus dazzles wine enthusiasts again with this pair of delightful wine whites that should be on your must-try list.

The Madeleine Angevine displays lovely floral aromatics, green pear and melon flavors, a flourish of spice, and bracing acidity that make it perfect for springtime sipping.

And Primus’s Siegerrebe is completely over-the-top with generous casaba melon and apricot flavors framed with hints of nutmeg and allspice. There’s also a good splash of acidity to complement the gentle ambrosia-like sweetness on the finish. Exceptional!

Barbequing? Don’t Forget the Red Wines!

May 19th, 2015

The Memorial Day holiday is coming up this weekend…really. For many, it’s the unofficial start of barbequing season, although, if you’re like me, you’ve probably jumped the gun and been cooking outdoors on the grill for weeks.

No matter what your time frame, having a good selection of red wines on hand to pair with your barbequed and grilled foods is a must.

Red wines make good pairing partners because many of them complement the smoky, charred quality that meats and vegetables pick up after they’ve been on the grill. Malbec, cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, syrah, and petite syrah are all good examples of red wines for you to consider and even mid-range varietals such as tempranillo, grenache, cabernet franc and sangiovese can go well with grilled foods.

My only note of caution is to go easy on any accompanying sauces and spices in your cooking. These might drown out the flavors of your wine if used to excess.

nullHere are a few suggestions of red wines I’ve enjoyed as of late that are worth a try:

From Chile’s Colchagua Valley, the Montes Alpha Dry Farmed 2012 Carmenère and 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $18 to $24 each) were produced from grapes grown utilizing a farming method with virtually no irrigation.

This decreases water usage by up to 65% and results in smaller grapes with more of a dense, concentrated flavor profile.

The Montes Carmenère is outstanding, with a whiff of white pepper to begin, ultra-dark blueberry and black currant flavors, and a spritz of pepper and dried herbs on an elegant finish. The Montes Cabernet displays more red plum and cherry fruits and a bit more grippy tannins. Both should pair nicely with steak, lamb or pork.

The Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni 2011 (about $25) is a cabernet sauvignon-based red with merlot, cabernet franc, and sangiovese blended in. Bright fruits of red currant, pie cherry, and field berries lead off, with a slightly spicy finish and firm tannins. Try it with grilled vegetables basted in butter, roast chicken or pork tenderloin.

From Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills Appellation, the Double Canyon 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $25) is a must-try red. Big blackberry and dark cherry flavors fill the glass, with a dusting of baking spice for starters. As the wine progresses, brighter red fruits come through on the finish with a trailing note of licorice root and black pepper. Excellent!

Sourced from Yakima Valley grapes, the Palencia Wine Company 2012 Casa Amarilla GSM (about $36) is a 60/30/10 combination of grenache, syrah, and mourvedre. The grenache really shines through with its vibrant red cherry flavors; then there’s just the right balance of tannic structure and a bit of spicy smokiness on the finish. Perfect with barbeque pork or beef brisket.

Spokane’s Latah Creek Winery a Model of Consistency

May 12th, 2015

Keeping a winery up and running with a consistent product year after year is no small feat. The fact that Mike and Ellena Conway of Latah Creek Wine Cellars have been doing just that since 1980 is nothing short of amazing.

When the Conways started their winery in Spokane nearly 35 years ago there were only 17 others in Washington. Since that time, the state’s winery count has swelled to 850-plus.

What’s the their secret? Certainly their commitment to affordably priced wines in a relaxed atmosphere has to be a consideration. The tasting room, located just off Interstate 90 a few miles east of downtown Spokane, is as unpretentious as they come, with an unabashedly kitschy retail inventory that engulfs the tasting bar.

nullWhile this might be off-putting to some, those with more of a laid-back, casual approach to tasting wines will probably feel right at home.

That’s likely what the Conways envisioned while nurturing this mainstay Washington winery to its current annual production level of around 15,000 cases. And to insure this sense of family continues, their daughter, Natalie Barnes, joined the winery in 2004 and now shares winemaking duties.

Here are my tasting notes on some current releases I sampled during a visit to Spokane last month:

2013 Riesling (about $10) – Gentle floral aromas lead off, with juicy melon and tropical fruit flavors. Steely acidity balances out the sweetness that comes through as a whisper of honeycomb on the finish.

2012 Chardonnay (about $12) – This biannually produced chardonnay bears some nice minerality from the Ancient Lakes region’s terrior along with Golden Delicious apple and pear flavors. There’s a touch of citrus in the latter stages along with a hint of toasted oak.

2014 Moscato (about $15) – Mike Conway believes that muscat is one of the state’s most underappreciated grapes and his interpretation of the varietal offers a nice balance of fruit, acidity, and sweetness. White flower aromatics, lychee and pineapple flavors, and a finish of subtle spices highlight this aperitif-style wine.

2012 Ellena’s Sangiovese (about $18) – Bright red fruit flavors of cherry and currant melt into a slightly smoky finish with grippy tannins in the background. A pairing with pasta and marinara sauce immediately comes to mind.

Non-Vintage Monarch Red (pictured above, about $20) – This complex blend of merlot, tempranillo, malbec, and syrah is drinking beautifully. Delicious plum, dark cherry and black currant flavors melt into layered finishing notes of espresso and mocha.

2010 Natalie’s Nectar (about $15) – This blend of finished and unfiltered juice from syrah grapes displays a mouthful of dried cherry flavors and slightly sweet finish. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind red wine that pairs well with dark chocolate.

Latah Creek Wine Cellars’ tasting room is open daily from 9am to 5pm. Order online at

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