DuBrul Vineyard is one of the older vineyards in the Yakima Valley. Hugh and Kathy Shiels purchased the property in 1991 and pulled out the orchards to plant vines. This is a family business and the winemaker is their daughter Kerry Shiels.
Last summer we spent a morning with Kerry first at their Sunnyside tasting room and then in the family’s DuBrul vineyard.
The tasting room is in the historic Grandview Train Depot, on the line that connected Walla Walla and Yakima. After it’s life as a train stop and before becoming a tasting room it was home to her father’s orthopedic practice.
The DuBrul vineyard is a bit of a drive up into the Rattlesnake Hills. The rolling terrain has multiple aspects allowing them to grow a variety of grapes types in the micro climates. We felt the micro climates just walking across the vineyard from one side to the other.
2018 DuBrul Vineyard Riesling Yakima Valley
This is the oldest block on the DuBrul. I assume it predates their purchase of the property as it was planted in 1982. These almost 40 year old vines produce fruit that Côte Bonneville turns into spectacular wine a Spätlese style riesling that sits at low 10% abv. I must share with you the beautiful quote from Kerry on the back label.
On a rocky windswept plateau high above the Yakima Valley DuBrul Riesling vines struggle to survive. Among the oldest planted in Washington State, their small truncks bear witness to the severe growing conditions. Yet their tiny berries transform into wine glowing with intensity.
On the bottle – 2018 Côte Bonneville Riesling
When we spoke with Kerry, she was in the midst of her Summer of Riesling. They had taken a cruise on the Mosel with their wine club earlier in the year, tasting Mosel Rieslings side by side with those from DuBrul. I have no doubt, that as good as this wine was, the Rieslings from Côte Bonneville will continue to get even better. I like to explore wines, and rarely keep more than one bottle of a wine in the cellar. Life is too short to drink the same wine! I’ll make an exception here. This is a wine that I want to have around all the time. Oh…I guess we should get on to the…
This wine has a light golden color. It’s a wine that I want to dab behind my ears. You get that classic petrol and then citrus and tart pear. It is rich with a bit of sweetness (it is spätlese in style after all). With the low alcohol it is quaffable, but you will find yourself wanting to savor this wine.
Riesling with Thai food is classic right? We paired this with a lunch of Pad Thai. Lunch seemed appropriate. This wine is bottled sunlight and it felt appropriate to bask in the winter sun as it came through the window while we enjoyed this wine.
Australia…it’s the other side of the world and a day away. Far from our normal life. A place where they drive on the other side of the road and sit on the other side of the car to drive. Where the signs on the road tell you to watch for kangaroos and wombats. But…the language is the same, well, mostly. The slang can be a bit of a hang up to translate.
In October, we got on a plane for the short (that’s sarcasm) flight to Sydney. Our destination was the Wine Media Conference in the Hunter Valley which is north of Sydney, but we flew in early to visit a bit more. Mind you Australia is a large country, almost as large as the US, so we focused on the region of New South Wales which surrounds Sydney and of course, primarily, we were looking at the wines of this region.
If you’ve followed our trips before, you will know that we are not afraid of a little bit of driving. That held true on this trip, as you can see by the map below. It allowed us to take in quite a bit of New South Wales, but not all of it. This region has quite a bit to explore.
New South Wales
New South Wales is the region surrounding Sydney. Good ole’ Captain James Cook discovered and named this region. Okay…we will amend this. He didn’t “discover” it. It was there and inhabited by aboriginal peoples. But none the less, he donned it with the name “New South Wales” and soon the Brits were sending Convict Ships this way. (The American Revolution meant they couldn’t send their convicts there any longer).
first fleet of six ships included the Scarborough (that name will come up again
later). They landed in what is now
Sydney. In this region you find the Gadigal people. Future settlements moved up and down the
coast and inland and provided the infrastructure for much of the region as it
is known today.
We visited 5 of the 14 wine regions in New South Wales: Shoalhaven Coast, Southern Highlands, Mudgee, Hunter Valley and Orange. These are the regions closest to Sydney. A little further north on the coast takes you to Hastings River, then even further north and inland you find New England. Inland to the West of Sydney (and mostly to the south) you find the regions of Cowra, Hilltops, Gundagai, Canberra District, Tumbarumba, the tiny Perricoota and the really large Riverina. We would have needed far more than 2 weeks to explore all these regions.
(don’t worry we will come back)
Our visit started and ended in Sydney which sits on the coast of New South Wales. It sits only a little closer to the southern border with Victoria, than the Northern border of Queensland along the 2137 miles of coastline.
Royal National Gardens & the Sea Cliff Bridge
We drove south from Sydney on what was (unbeknownst to us) a holiday weekend and into the Royal National Gardens. Sadly we had no time to hike and explore (the Figure 8 pools sound amazing, but that was a 2.5-4 hr hike!). Instead we took in the scenery (and met a stick bug, who dropped in our window landing on my shoulder and sadly lumbered away before I could get a photo) as we drove through. The coast is beautiful and we drove across the Sea Cliff Bridge as we made our way south, stopping for lunch and a view in Gerrigong.
The Shoalhaven Coast is about 2 hrs south of Sydney. This is a popular weekend getaway for people living in Sydney and the area has embraced tourism. Gerrigong, where we enjoyed lunch was a cute town with small shops and restaurants, the perfect beach town with a view. Our lunch at The Hill, set us up with high expectations for the food we would encounter in New South Wales.
The vineyards here often have a view of the ocean, so the maritime influence is a major factor in the vineyard. The primary concern here is summer rainfall, which can create issues for ripening as well as problems with disease and molds. We also heard that birds can be a huge problem, sneaky birds that get under the netting during harvest and can gobble up and entire crop.
We arrived at Coolangatta Estate to meet with owner/vigneron Greg Bishop. The Estate is a renovated historic convict built estate where we stayed in the servants quarters.
This historic property of a convict built estate, and was the first European settlement on the South Coast. The name derives from “Collungatta” which was the Aboriginal word for “fine view” The Estate sits at the foot of Mt. Coolangatta from which this “fine view” can be enjoyed. The Estate fell into disrepair in the first part of the 1900’s.
In 1947 Colin Bishop acquired land here for farming. He and his wife (Greg’s parents) then began to restore the property and turn it into a historic resort.
Greg planted the vineyard here in the 1980’s and they are producing a wide variety of wines including: Semillon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Verdelho, Savagnin, Chambourcin, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and surprisingly a Tannat.
After our conversation with Greg, it was time for a bit of a nap before enjoying dinner at their restaurant Alexander’s paired with Coolangatta wines.
We did stop by Two Figs to take in the views, and tried to do a tasting, while we were in the area. But remember I mentioned it was a holiday weekend? Two Figs does tastings by reservation and we had not pre-booked. The place was packed and hoppin’. The views had to suffice.
The next morning we awoke early to head inland to Southern Highlands. Our drive took us through Nowra, where we picked up a quick (and delicious) breakfast at a gas station. (Really the food here…it’s like getting every meal from Whole Foods!). We then drove into the mountains in the Budderoo National Park, through Kangaroo Valley, past Fitzroy Falls and finally into Mittagong.
The region, on a plateau, was a place for the colonial squires to escape Sydney’s summer heat (think Hamptons). The villages are picturesque, the streets wide and tree lined and the region sees all four seasons. It was most definitely spring when we arrived with flowers blooming everywhere.
As to growing vines here? It’s altitude and cool climate make it perfect for crafting beautiful white and sparkling wines. You will also find Merlot, Shiraz and some Pinot Noir grown here also. The region has 12 wineries around 6 towns: Berrima, Bowral, Exeter, Mittagong, Moss Vale and Sutton Forest.
Our destination in Southern Highlands was Tertini Wines near Mittagong, to visit with winemaker Jonathan Holgate. Jonathan spoke with us about the region and his wine making style before taking us out to see the winery and then to visit their Yaraandoo Vineyard. We returned to the cellar door for a tasting, and I look forward to telling you later about his spectacular wines, which include a decidedly unique Arneis.
Jonathan’s Private Cellar Collection Arneis is made from fruit from their Yaraandoo Vineyard which is partially fermented in French Oak. This is unlike any other Arneis you will taste.
We left as the tasting room filled up with booked seated tastings, some of them scheduled specifically with Jonathan.
We made one more quick stop for a tasting at Artemis Wines. This winery is set up to host. Views of the vineyard right around the tasting room, with a patio that was set up for wood fired pizza. This is a gathering place, and it was crowded when we arrived. We did a pretty hasty tasting of their wines with a very knowledgeable (and busy) staff member. They also do tastings of ciders and beers.
Camberwarra Mountain Lookout
On the way back to Coolangatta we took in the views from Camberwarra Mountain Lookout. You can see Mt. Coolangatta out toward the coast as well as the Shoalhaven river that runs out to the coast. The lookout has a tea room, so it’s a lovely spot to take in the views and a cup.
After enjoying another evening soaking up the great atmosphere at Coolangatta Estate, we drove North, swinging wide around Sydney and up the coast to Newcastle.
port city north of Sydney is Australia’s second-oldest city and 7th largest. It is known for shipping
coal. Mind you the Aussie’s are
environmentally minded and don’t use much coal.
They do however mine it and ship it out for other countries to use.
As an important side note here, every vineyard owner and winemaker I spoke with in Australia acknowledged the affects that climate change was directly having on their vineyards. In addition (or as a result), the bush fires have increased in the northern part of New South Wales and in Queensland. They are in a drought, the second in a dozen years. The sad cycle of lack of water due to climate change, causes agricultural businesses to struggle, and I can’t help but feel that this leads back to exporting coal to support the economy, that same coal that leads to further pollution and climate change.
city is on the coast of the Hunter region.
We soaked in a bit of beach, had dinner wharf and enjoyed an artsy
stroll through the downtown district back to our hotel. The arts college is here and walls are covered
in murals, music on this October long weekend (a holiday weekend that we didn’t
realize we were in the midst of) poured out of doorways with pubs and cocktail
bars. The town was busy and full of
people enjoying the holiday weekend.
Places to stay…
Here I will do a shout out to our hotel. In the states, most Holiday Inn Expresses are mid to low range hotels. We find them in the smaller sections of wine country and they are always reliable. Here we were staying in the Holiday Inn Express in Newcastle, a relatively new hotel. It was pretty spectacular, much more like the Hotel Indigo’s at home, but larger. The design was beautiful, the staff friendly and helpful and the included breakfast…? I’m ruined for breakfast ever again. It was fresh and beautifully laid out. I felt so elegant eating so healthy. It was the perfect meal to send us off for our drive into Mudgee, where we will continue Our Aussie Wine Adventure.
We headed out early. Not pre-dawn, but early enough to beat the heat in Death Valley. It was the top of a 12 day road trip that would take us almost 3800 miles, through so much stunning scenery that we almost became numb to the beauty. Almost.
This was the Flash Tour 2019, that we are dubbing “The Scenic Route”. We visited vineyards and winerys and met many really wonderful people. We look forward to telling you each of their stories. But for now, we will tell you ours. This is our adventure. A sometimes over-planned 12 day epic trip that was filled with exceptional places, some of which were far beyond our expectations. A few things were skipped along the way as we prioritized in the moment. So hop on for the adventure!
Back to the top of the drive. Day One’s plan, out early to travel North to Lake Tahoe. We could have taken a quicker route, going through some expansive empty desert, but, with all the driving on this trip, we opted to take the scenic route.
We headed North out of Vegas, passing the exit to Mount Charleston, up past Creech Air Force Base, past the High Desert State Prison and on to the Armagosa Valley. The morning light gave us a fresh morning feel, a start to the day and our adventure. My cannister of hot coffee was close by to help me slowly enter the day.
From the Armagosa Valley we took a turn south, as anti-productive as that seems for a trip north. This was onto Route 373 which would take us to Death Valley Junction. There we would pick up Route 190 taking us into California and Death Valley National Park. We soaked in the expansive arid beauty of the area and stopped for a quick break at the Furnace Creek Visitors center.
Furnace Creek is a small oasis of green in the midst of the Valley, with places to stay or camp. We continued North from here passing the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Panamint Spring and then stopped at the Father Crawley Vista Point. It was time to stretch our legs before getting onto Route 136 which took us to US Route 395.
This drive took us through the quaint towns of Lone Pine & Independence. Roads here were lined with banners and bunting for the previous day’s Fourth of July Celebrations. By this time our tummies were grumbling and we headed toward a rest area Michael discovered on a previous trip.
Division Creek Rest Area
Division Creek Rest Area sits on Division Creek and has views of Mt. Whitney, Black Mountain and Mt. Pinchot in Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. We pulled out the cooler to a picnic table and fended off the birds while enjoying the sounds of the creek and the view of the snow capped peaks.
In this beautiful setting there is a darker side. The rest area tells the story of this plentiful valley and the Piute Indians who lived here, who were bit by bit driven out as settlers took the area. You can explore the details of the story here.
Back on the road we drove north through Big Pine and into the Inyo National Forest. We passed Mono Lake and the back entrance to Yosemite and drove through the Stanislaus National Forest.
At last we turned on the tiny Route 756 to head to Lake Tahoe. The drive up the mountain to get to the Lake which sits at 6,237 feet above sea level reminded me of how far we had come. Earlier in Death Valley, the elevation was 286 feet BELOW sea level.
South Lake Tahoe
As we arrived on the Lake in South Lake Tahoe, it dawned on me that the day before was the 4th of July and while the Independence Day fireworks were done, the lake was still teaming with visitors for the holiday weekend. We headed to Zephyr Cove to set up to catch sunset views to find it packed. So we traveled further North and found a place to park at Logan Shoals Vista Point. After a bit of exploring, and a bit of getting lost and climbing, we settled on a spot just above the lake where we could camp out and watch sunset.
By the time the sun had set we were hungry! We headed back to our hotel for the night in Minden and then headed late night to the Carson Valley Inn & Casino, to Katie’s Country Kitchen for a good ole stick to your ribs dinner (or breakfast…I had the breakfast burrito). While waiting for our food, we checked our social media. We found another earthquake had shaken Las Vegas and LA just a few hours earlier. The shallow quake had friends from both cities reporting waves in their pools. We checked with the neighbors to be sure the house looked okay and the cat sitter to check in on Loki. We then finished our dinners and headed back to catch a bit of sleep.
Day Two had us up early and traveling North around Reno. We took Route 44 to the Lassen Volcanic National Forest, stopping to enjoy views of Lassen Peak, then traveling North on Route 89 to take in some spectacular views of Mt. Shasta.
On to Oregon
We continued up through Ashland and Medford on Interstate 5. We veered off on Route 238 to Jacksonville, driving through the super quaint town as it teamed with visitors. Then it was out into the country, venturing into Southern Oregon Wine Country in the Rogue and Applegate Valleys. Our first stop would be at Wooldridge Creek Winery and Creamery.
I had spoken with Monica at Wooldridge Creek via email a bit before our trip. Sadly for us, a staff member was getting married this day, so most of the staff would be away. While there would be no one to give us a full tour of the property, they gave us permission to photo to our hearts content.
The property houses goats, chickens and a garden on top of the vineyard. This is a perfect spot to spend an afternoon. Just bring a cooler, because you will want to leave with some of their specialty products. They set us up with a tasting out on the crush pad with a cheese and charcuterie platter. Everything on the platter was made on site, most of it grown here also. It was a delightful sensory experience enjoying wines from the site with mustards, cheeses and pickles from the site. (You will need to watch for our future post for all the details).
After a visit to the barrel room and a bit of time in the vines, we picked up a few bottles of wine to take with us and headed on to our next stop.
Our stop at Red Lily was simply to taste. No one knew we were coming. We didn’t know how much time we might have left after our first stop and didn’t want to have to rush. We arrived at Red Lily, just before their last pours of the day. This winery focuses on Italian varieties. Our tasting was served in test tubes in a test tube rack that we could take with us to the patio.
After our tasting we strolled to the river or creek that runs along the property. Red adirondack chairs dot the shore, many right in the water with people cooling their feet with a glass of wine in hand. There was a bar with bottles and glasses, picnic tables, live music and a food truck up the hill by the winery. It was a lovely place to spend an afternoon. One tree was roped off as there was an otter nest that they did not want disturbed.
We soaked up a bit of ambience and headed back to Medford to our hotel for the evening.
Next up we visit Cowhorn Vineyard a biodynamic vineyard in the Applegate Valley. We then travel north to the Umpqua Valley and Girardet, where they planted French and French American hybrids in the early 70’s!
It was early morning of our last day in the Willamette Valley and we drove North from (where we were staying) heading toward the Chehalem Mountains. The road into Portland was moving fast and we came up a hill, with the side of the roads deeply forested. There was our turn. We had to make it fast. And suddenly, from the whirl of fast trucks, we turned and turned again into the quiet of the forests on Chehalem mountain. This is timber country. Deep forests with early morning mist. It was a magical escape from the fast morning pace on the road behind us.
We were running early (it’s in our nature), so we had time to drive and explore the mountain. When you reach the top, you find clearings, fields with houses or sometimes, giant pink painted adirondack chairs, between bunches of Douglas fir. We followed the google maps and ended up on a gravel road at one point, but found our way back around to Beckham which actually sits on Parrett Mountain on the South west end of Chahalem Mountain. We knew we were in the right place before we could read the sign, because of the clay amphorae at the gate.
I came upon Beckham in the usual way, at least for me. When researching where to go in a region, I head to the regions site, in this case the Willamette Valley Wine and one by one, I click through the links and check out the sites for each winery. The Beckham site stopped me as I saw their Amphorae Project video. I read on, and knew that these were people I wanted to meet.
We arrived and met Annedria Beckham who walked us to their tasting room, that sits just down from their home, next to the garden. We met Ruby Tuesday, their dog and Annedria set us up at the picnic table on the patio for a tasting.
She and Andrew bought this property in 2004 to build an art studio. Andrew is a high school art teacher and a ceramics artist. He teaches in Beaverton at the High School. They bought this little house in the woods to grow a garden and raise a family.
Directly across the street there was a little 2.5 acre vineyard. The owners were in their late 70’s early 80’s and had 20 year old pinot noir and chardonnay vines back in 2004. They farmed the fruit and had someone else make the wine for them and then on Saturdays they would sell their $11 pinot noir out of their garage.
… we were there quite often, fell in love with the idea of growing something on our property. Andrew went and helped Fred prune the vineyard that first year, came back with a truck load of Pinot Noir cuttings and said “Hey hun, how ‘bout we plant a couple rows right over here for fun.” I humored him thinking he will get over this crazy notion, we didn’t know anything about growing grapes. Next thing I know we are propagating vines on the coffee table in the living room.
Annedria Beckham, Beckham Estate Vineyard July 2018
As the tale goes, the vines then went to heat mats in the garage and then a timber company was called to see what the 60 year old Douglas Fir on the property was worth. They negotiated and had the company come and cut the timber, but they were left with the stumps, limbs and the mess. They cleaned that up themselves with a rented track hoe and a cat. There were some pretty big bonfires and they have been using the limbs for firewood ever since. Finally, after some grading, the first block was ready to be planted in May of 2005.
They began with own rooted, dry farmed Pommard and Wadenswil. They added on and planted about 2.5 acres the first year and another 1.5 the next. This was a gradual slow process, bit by bit as their budget and time could allow. This is a labor of love, that grew out of a passion. They dove in headfirst into farming.
So once we put our little baby sticks in the ground we had to keep them alive. So when I mentioned dry farming, we hand water about 15 lengths of hose and a few beers and me after work every day, watering just to keep them alive that first year, and then after that they were on their own. Just a little in 2005 and spot watered some stressed areas in 2006 but since then they haven’t seen a hose.
Annedria Beckham, Beckham Estate Vineyard July 2018
At this point they were focused on the farming, so they sold their first tiny batch of fruit to a winery in Dundee in 2007.
But we had those first few babies, we were really excited for and at that point you’ve hand rooted every vine, pounded every post, run every wire, hand hung every cluster and then at that point to give them away to someone else was nearly heartbreaking. But Andrew got to stay and help with crush deliver the fruit and help with processing and then went back every couple of days. He came home and said “I don’t know that I can continue to farm with this much energy and effort and then just hand it off to someone else. I think we should make wine.”
Annedria Beckham, Beckham Estate Vineyard July 2018
They did spend another year selling off fruit, while Andrew apprenticed for a few years with different wineries. In 2009 they kept the fruit to make their own wine. The first year it was 250 cases of one wine. In 2011 they opened the tasting room. At the time it had a roof, but no sides, only one light and no running water.
.. but people came and they got to taste one wine about 5 different times, because that was all I had. And they came back and they bought and they came back and they brought their friends.
Annedria Beckham, Beckham Estate Vineyard July 2018
All this time Andrew was still teaching as well as working for a couple of different winemakers and they now had 3 children. Annedria began working for the Chehalem Mountain Wine Growers Association in 2008. Their executive director went on maternity leave and Annedria was asked to fill in, and the previous director never returned. She found this to be a wonderful way to immerse themselves in the community.
When we speak about Oregon wine country, you always find people speaking about the generosity of the community, with people happy to share their time, resources and knowledge.
To have David Adelsheim on speed dial? How lucky was I to be in that position. It was a wonderful way to learn how winemaking works and making business decisions….hey this first restaurant wants to have our wine, how do I price it? I have no idea? So asking those important questions and having the right people to be able to talk to while Andrew was working in the vineyard and the winery.
Annedria Beckham, Beckham Estate Vineyard July 2018
At this point we tasted the first of the wines. It was the 2015 Estate Pinot Noir, which is a composite wine from the entire site. They make about 300 cases of this. It’s 30% whole cluster with native yeast fermentation.
They farm organically here and have been farming organically since 2013. They are not certified. It’s expensive and time consuming to become certified, and they are looking into that now. They would need to hire someone just to deal with all the paperwork for this and they are a small operation.
A lot of folks are like “how do we know that you are doing everything organically unless you are certified?” I’m not doing something for someone else, we are small enough that I’m not putting it on my label, we still sell the majority of our wine direct to consumer. You can walk around and see that we farm things organically. I grow for my family. My kids are running around these vines, our chickens are running around these vines. That we are eating the eggs from, we have sheep around the vineyard the majority of the year. We do it for us.
Annedria Beckham, Beckham Estate Vineyard July 2018
They’ve started some biodynamic practices, burying their first 500 cow horns in 2017 with their first sprayings of the solution in 2018.
Annedria poured us the Dow’s 2015 Pinot Noir, which is from Andrew’s favorite couple of barrels from each vintage.
Their first vintage was in 2009 and all they had was the Estate bottling. Of course it’s tough to do a tasting with just one wine, so she asked Andrew how they might make a second wine, and that is how the Dow’s came about.
Dow is a family middle name in the Beckham family with over 20 Beckham sons carrying the name. In 2011 they added their wine club and Annedria asked how they might get a 3rd release. They only had Pinot Noir, and rosés were just becoming popular again so Andrew made her the Olivia’s Rosé and Sophia’s Pinot Noir. Sophia’s is the first release, elegant and delicate, the Estate follows with more complexity and then the Dow with a little new oak and a darker fruit profile.
This was all of their estate wine until 2013 when they started the Amphorae Project.
We will continue our visit with Annedria and Andrew Beckham with a pod cast speaking with her about the addition of their riesling, their inspiration in the Jura and the Amphorae Project
Last July we made the drive out to Illahe Vineyards in the southern part of the Willamette Valley. The vineyard is south west of Salem, Oregon, in the proposed Mt. Pisgah/Polk County AVA. Kathy Greysmith, the tasting room manager, took us through a tasting of the white wines and then Lowell the owner and grape grower walked us out front to look at the view of the vineyard. We then made our way back into the winery space.
Wines for the people
Illahe they have a wide range of wines and one of the things they find
important is keeping their wines at a price point that makes them accessible. They want people to be able to buy 2 bottles
rather than just one and they wanted the wines to be at a price point that their
neighbors could afford.
they released their 2004 vintage in 2006 they priced their Estate Pinot Noir at
$19 and the price has only increased to a still very affordable $25 for their
Estate Pinot Noir. The white wines across
the board are $19. Do they have more
expensive wines? Well yeah! These are the specialty reds and the block
designates. But even so, these wines are
2016 Bon Savage
this point we were tasting the 2016 Bon Savage, https://www.illahevineyards.com/our-wine/illahe-bon-sauvage-estate-pinot-noir-2015 which spends 16 months in barrel. It was
bottled in the spring so it was still quite new as we tasted it. This is a barrel select wine from the lower vineyard
sections. This lower section is less
influenced by the summer sun and is lighter.
They age in 25% new oak and get a more Burgundian style from this
wine. There is oak influence but you get
a lovely cedar on the nose. This does
have some tannins that will make this wine age worthy.
Simple Gravity Flow
Kathy gave us the tour of the winery, with the Barrel room to the side, the tasting room is on the winery floor. During harvest the tasting bar is rolled away, the barrel room emptied and the winery floor is busy. The winery is a very simple gravity flow design with the grapes coming in at the higher back level and sorting tables there, they come down into the winery floor through a garage door high on the back wall and drop into bins for fermentation. Gravity flow is just smart design. It allows for less energy use (use gravity to move things), it’s easier on people, (again gravity is your friend, moving things down is less work) and it tends to be easier on the grapes. For more on Gravity Flow Wineries, check out the article below.
The Percheron and the 1899 Pinot Noirs are foot stomped in the wooden fermentation tanks. Everyone takes a turn. Well almost everyone, there is a height requirement for safety sake and Kathy sadly is not tall enough to see over the top of the tank when she is stomping…so she is out when it comes to stomping.
Games you don’t really want to win at
that this is a family affair, with the extended team included as family. During harvest they have a team board and
have a bee sting contest, which Assistant Winemaker Nathan won easily. They also have the beer board. If you do something stupid, you are required
to bring a 6 pack. Sadly, Nathan won
this also this year. (Rough year Nathan).
up the steps to the upper level and Kathy pointed out the wooden basket press
they use for the 1899.
Feel like you are standing in a
got to the top the open-air crush pad was stacked with bins and equipment as
well as a tank that was doing cold stabilization on the 2017 Estate Pinot Noir.
shape of the roof is curved and immediately you feel as if you in a giant wine
I asked about bottling, did they bring in a bottling truck? Up to this year they had hand bottled. This year with the growth they have seen they updated to a bottling system. A bottling truck is limiting. You have to schedule in advance and who knows if that is really when the wine is just right for bottling? So they had a local company design a bottling rig on a trailer. They keep it in a storage building below the vineyard and bring it up when they are ready to bottle. It can be easily moved and allows them control on their bottling.
will head over to the cave!
Where and how to find them!
Vineyards is located at 3275 Ballard Rd, Dallas, OR 97338.
a call for an appointment at 503-831-1248 or drop her an email at [email protected].
are $25 per person and are waived with a $100 purchase.
they don’t serve food, they have a lovely patio with tables overlooking the vineyard,
where you can bring your own lunch and enjoy the view.
Join us on our exploration of Wine from across the Oregon Wine Region. Interviews with winemakers. Wine Festivals. Explore the AVA’s and discover the Terroir, The stories, The Wine, all across Oregon Wine Country beginning in the Willamette Valley. Follow us at Crushedgrapechronicles.com for your Oregon Wine Adventure.
We got in a van not knowing how long the drive might be. I suppose I could have looked at a map, but I’m not sure that would have helped. We actually ended up in Oregon. Walla Walla AVA is a border AVA with part of the AVA in Washington and part in Oregon.
We were headed to Cadaretta’s Glasshouse on their Southwind Vineyard for dinner. We arrived as the sun was setting to amazing views. We were greeted with a glass of wine and trays of passed hors d’oeuvres. The food and wine were lovely, but that view…
Sunset through the lens of the 2016 Cadaretta SBS (Sauvignon Blanc Semillon) from the Columbia Valley
The North Slope at Cadaretta’s Southwind Vineyard. These are the Glasshouse blocks of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon
Cadaretta Glass house and tent at sunset with the tent that kept us warm from the Southern winds at the top of this beautiful site.
The name comes from the name of the schooner that carried the Anderson & Middleton lumber products to market in the early 20th century. The family has a history in Washington having been in lumber on the coast since 1898. That’s 120 years in business in WA this year, which is no small feat. The timber company was based on the coast in Aberdeen WA (of Nirvana fame).
Getting into Grapes
Issues came up with the decline of old growth and the family, always looking to preserve the land, closed their mill. In the 70’s issues with the spotted owl came up and many companies went out of business. The family bought property in California’s central valley and started growing table grapes. This led them to Paso Robles where they have been growers of wine grapes at their Red Cedar Vineyard for 30 years.
They started Clayhouse wines in Paso Robles. Their roots were in Washington though, and they returned to purchase this piece of property in the Walla Walla AVA.
Back to the ship
The Cadaretta carried lumber to San Francisco and LA. Kris’ father used to ride on the ship as a kid on it’s journeys. During WWII the ship was requisitioned by the Government. Family lore tell the tale that on the final trip as the Cadaretta the ship was followed down the coast by a Japanese submarine. The ship was later renamed Southwind, which is where this particular vineyard derives its name.
This vineyard sits just west of Milton-Freewater on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla AVA. L’Ecole, Doubleback and Sleight of Hand also have vineyards nearby. The view and the company are impressive, but what makes this place special for wine is the soil.
Soil at Southwind Vineyard
Most of the soil in the surrounding area is loess (blown dust) from the Columbia and Missoula Floods and you find that in the soils on the Northern slope. Those are the relatively young 15 million year old soils. On the South slope you find fractured basalt soils. These are ancient soils. They were just behind the tent we were sitting in. You find them only on steep hillsides above 1250.
When they bought the property they spent 2 years digging test plots. After soil analysis they planted 1 acre test plots. Digging into the basalt is difficult, time consuming and expensive. The vines have to work harder and dig deeper, but the characteristic they were getting in the wines from this soil made it worth it.
They have been working on this for 8 years and only 2 years ago release the first of the Southwind wines. Kris said that as a timber family they have a saying…
“It takes 40 years to grow a tree, we have patience.”
They wanted to get it right. They find Syrah and Malbec do best in this soil. There are few other vineyard grown in fractured basalt. These Southwind wines are pretty rare also with just 50 cases of each released.
Sustainability is common sense
The family comes from timber and it was always just common sense to take care of the land. It’s no different with the vineyard. Being salmon safe and sustainable isn’t something they advertise, they just do it. They have falconers from Paso that they used in the vineyard there who come in to help keep the vermin down, as well as owl boxes on the property. They use arugula for cover crop and have a bee keeper who comes in with the bees. It just makes sense to be sustainable.
With that idea in mind, they also didn’t see the need for a big showy winery. Instead they worked with Norm McKibben and JF Pellet and created Artifex in Walla Walla which is a custom crush facility for small lot, high end wines. The name comes from a Latin term meaning “Made skillfully” and it is a state of the art facility. The facility houses multiple wineries and they are customers to themselves.
So they had determined that they didn’t need an extravagant tasting room, but her brother still wanted a place to entertain. The view here from the vineyard was stunning and he wanted to create a place to enjoy that view. He had seen a building at the Santa Rosa Airport and honed in on the idea of a glass house with garage doors to open to the view. The timber is recycled, of course. To keep this a “special” place they limit it to just a few events. We were lucky to be one of those few events.
Our tables in the tent, protected from the wind at Cadaretta.
The menu for our dinner at the Glasshouse by Olive Catering in Walla Walla
Wild Canadian Arctic Char with Yukon potato emulsion, chanterelle mushrooms and plum relish by Olive Catering at the Dinner at Cardaretta’s Glasshouse
Over the course of the evening, Kris spoke to us between courses and we enjoyed dinner from Olive Catering in Walla Walla to compliment the wines.
The 2014 Cadaretta, Windthrow
This wine was paired with Wild Canadian Arctic Char with Yukon potato emulsion, chanterelle mushrooms and plum relish.
The Windthrow is a Columbia Valley Rhone Style Blend (76% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre and 9% Grenache) sourced from Stonetree, Southwind and Monetta’s Vineyards. Aged 22 month in 50% Hungarian Oak, 40% New French Oak and 10% Neutral French Oak. Unfined they made just 259 cases.
The 2015 Cadaretta, Southwind Malbec
Paired with maple braised lamb shank with black truffle risotto, foraged mushrooms and dates.
The Southwind Malbec is a Walla Walla Valley wine specifically from the Southwind Vineyard. 2015 was a warm vintage with an early bud break. This was a wine that opened in the glass.
The 2014 Cadaretta, Springboard
Our dessert pairing of petite fours & truffles.
The Springboard is a Columbia Valley wine and is a Bordeaux style blend of 81% Cab Sav, 10% Malbec and 9% Petit Verdot sourced from Obelisco, Southwind, Red Mountain and Alder Ridge Vineyards. It is aged in 60% new french oak with the remainder in more neutral oak. Only 249 cases of this wine were made.
The evening was beautiful, the hosting was warm and the wines were truly stunning. Getting to speak with Kris and being so warmly welcomed to the place that is so special to their family was a wonderful experience.
You can taste them at their tasting room in Downtown Walla Walla at 315 E. Main Street Thursday through Sunday. Visit there website here for details.
Today I will get up for sunrise over Lake Tahoe. Ok maybe not, was ahead of the rain yesterday not. Today.
Leaving Lake Tahoe
Leaving Lake Tahoe.
Had a spot of sun near Rogue river.
Made it to Salem OR, at around 730pm. Quick nap and wait, text from Alaska Air your flight has been cancelled and re-routed.
Called the agent, the original flight was from portland to seattle, then seattle to tri cities. The tri cities was cancelled. so they rerouted me direct from Portland to Tricities at 10:15 to 11:00 am. My original flight was at 6am. Yeah for me.
Robin had to be Redirected to Portland,(she was flying to Seattle to connect to same flight.)
We are headed to Walla Walla, Washington to attend this years Wine Bloggers Conference. I am going to drive up, stop and take some pictures and video with a small drone and some new cameras. I hope to get some footage of some great landmarks along the way. I plan to take the scenic tour, starting by heading north on 95 until 374 south and 190W through Death Valley, up the California US 395 past Mt Whitney, Kings Canyon National Park, Mammoth Lake, Yosemite National Park, Mono Lake, on the way to Lake Tahoe, for the night.
We just bought a new Kia Niro Electric Plugin Hybrid named “Nuit” pronounced (new-ee). It runs on 24 miles of electric power, and charges via a port or braking power, so we will see how the hills and down hills charge the battery. The first day we will see how gas mileage works, as there will probably not be any charging stations along this route.
I will be playing with a Video Blog diary, with short snippets to chronicle my trip. Robin flies out Wednesday and I will pickup a plane in Portland, to fly into PSC Tri cities Airport. There we will start our wine excursion to Yakima Valley Wine.
I plan to video blog my way up and back, then we will put together several videos, including a full featured video of Walla Walla and our stops along the way, along with Adventures with Nuit, and many more.
We also have a number of new camera’s for this trip and will be playing with all of the modes. We got new Samsung S9 which has slow motion, hyperlapse, and emoji mode. So I will be recording some snippets with my New Emoji for small previews along the way. Let us know how this works.
After several jam packed days of Wine education, we have a post conference excursion to Maryhill Winery and Cathedral Ridge and we end up in Portland.
That night we spend in Portland. We plan to drive down the West coast pick up some Ocean views on the way to Grants Pass where we have a Yurt booked.
The next day we plan to explore a little bit of Applegate AVA and Rogue Valley, then make our way back to Vegas.
Oregon-Wine-Map-Southern-OR-AVA Courtesy of Oregon Wine Board
So follow along with a couple of travel Posts, and then some teasers from the Wine Bloggers Conference, then a deluge of content starting mid October thru the end of the Year.
Maryhill Winery hit my radar as we planned to head north for WBC18, which was to be held in Walla Walla. We had looked at the pre and post tour offerings and settled on a post conference tour to the Columbia Gorge area. Maryhill was to be our first stop. Amie and Cassie of Maryhill reached out to me in advance and I was able to meet and speak with them briefly at the conference. I saw the photos and tasted some of the wines, but I was not prepared for the view.
Maryhill is in the tiny town of Goldendale, Washington and sits on the north side of the Columbia River Gorge. The views are spectacular. The winery is relatively young having started in 2001.
The name Maryhill
The name “Maryhill” comes from the museum that is on the site. If you are on the Columbia Gorge and see any of the history, you will hear the name Sam Hill. This millionaire attourney made the creation of roads in this part of the country his goal. He is recorded as saying “Good roads are more than my hobby; they are my religion” (from historylink.org)
Sam Hill was a philanthopist and in honor of his wife Mary, created the Maryhill Museum which houses a world-class art collection. This museum is set overlooking the Gorge about 100 miles from Portland.
When Craig and Vicki Leuthold looked to create their winery, this site spoke to them. They approached the Museum about building a winery on the property. While that didn’t go through, they met the Gunkel family who had a vineyard a permit to build a winery just 1 mile west of the museum, and were able to build their winery there. (Wine Press Northwest Spring 2015)
This is a winery. While you will find vineyards surrounding it, these vineyards are not owned by the winery. This is the Gunkel Family Vineyards which have been farmed by the Gunkel family for three generations. As the vineyard is on site, and they work very closely with the Gunkel family, they refer to it as their “estate” vineyard.
The Wines of Maryhill
The goal here is to showcase all the different regions within Washington and the wide variety of grapes. They source from multiple AVAs and areas including Horse Heaven Hills AVA, lower Yakima Valley, Columbia Gorge AVA, Elephant Mountain in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA, Red Mountain AVA and the Walla Walla Valley. They strive to create affordable and approachable wines. We were visiting on a wine club pickup day and watched people exiting with hand trucks stacked with cases.
Maryhill Winery is one of Washington state’s largest wineries producing 80,000 cases annually. We partner with 12 growers and 23 unique vineyard locations in eight of Washington State’s 14 major American Viticultural Areas, making our family-owned winery a true representation of Washington’s winemaking prowess.
We invite you to visit one or both of our Washington state tasting rooms to sample additional varieties, enjoy stunning views and meet the people behind our award-winning wines. Maryhill’s winery and premier tasting room in Goldendale, Washington is located at the edge of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area just 90 minutes east of Portland. A true destination winery, we offer an outdoor terrace with panoramic views of Mt. Hood and the Columbia River, outdoor seating and live music (Memorial Day through September).
We’ve all heard of Malbec. First thought that popped in your head? Big bold Argentinian Malbec. Right? This month with the French Winophiles we are exploring Cahors, France the original home of Malbec.
History of Cahors
This region sits in the south west of France about 100 miles east of Bordeaux in the Midi-Pyranees and is divided by the Lot river that does a half a dozen or more “S” curves through the area. The original home of Malbec, here it is often known as Côt or Auxerrois. First planted by the Romans, the Englishmen named the wine from this area “The Black Wine of Cahors”. It is said that if you can see your fingers through the glass, it’s not from Cahors. At one time widely known throughout the wine world, the 100 years war and later phylloxera dampened it’s growth.
The city of Cahors from Mont Saint Cyrin along the river Lot in France
Cahors is also the name of the city at the eastern end of the area that sits on the last of those hairpin turns of the river Lot. The Pont Valentré has become the symbol of the town. It is a 14th-century stone arch bridge crossing the Lot River on the west side of Cahors.
The Pont Valentré in Cahors France
The AOC and the wine region
Cahors is located in the South West of France North of Toulouse
The AOC was founded in 1971 and produces only red wine. The terroirs here are divided into the Vallée – the valley that runs near the river; the Coteaux – the terraces up the sides of the cliffs and the Plateau, which sits at around 980 feet and has limestone soils. The wines of the Vallée and Coteaux tend to be more fruit forward, where as the wines from the Plateau have a bit more finesse due to the wide diurnal shifts (day to night temps) which make for slower ripening and a later harvest.
Countryside and local cuisine
The country side here is out of a storybook with villages perfect for biking, boating on the river and hot air ballooning. It is also home to many Michelin starred chefs, due in no small part to the abundance of truffles in the region. The annual truffle festival early each year brings people from far and near to bid on truffles from vendors walking the street. The region is also noted for chestnuts, wild mushrooms, foie gras, goose, duck and walnuts. All of these things play beautifully with the local wine.
While I was doing that fabulous Grower Champagne tasting last month at Valley Cheese and Wine, I was thinking about this month and our Cahors tasting. So…before I left, I picked up a bottle of Cahors and a cheese that Kristin suggested to pair with it. We later picked up two other wines to compare, of the 3 we ended up with 3 different vintages.
Château du Cèdre – Cèdre Heritage 2014
Cedrè Heritage 2014 Malbec from Cahors
This wine is 95% Malbec and 5% Merlot
This family estate is run by Pascal and Jean-Marc Verhaeghe. They have 27 hectares of vienyards growing 90% Malbec with 5% each of Merlot and Tannat. They do have a little bit of white grapes growning with a hectare of Viognier and then a little bit of Sémillon, Muscadelle and Savignon Blanc. Vines here are between 10 and 60 years old.
Verhaeghe might not sound French to you. Well that would be because the name is Flemish. Charles Verhaeghe started a farm in the area in 1958. His father Léon had left Flanders for south west France in the early 20th century. They planted some vines and added to the plots each year. Charles bottled his first wine in 1973. His sons Jean-Marc and Pascal now run the estate.
The vineyard was certified Organic in 2012. The vineyard is divided into three parts. The largest section sits on lime stone soils, it has a southwest orientation and produces wines with very fine tannins. The other 2 plots face south. The soil here is red sands and pebbles with clay below. These wines have a bit more power.
Maison Georges Vigouroux
This Maison spans four generations since 1887 with Bertrand-Gabriel Vigouroux now at the helm as winemaker. In 1971 they replanted Haute-Serre, the first vineyard replanted in Cahors after the phylloxera. They increased the density of planting to reduce the yield and stress those grapes. They find that this increases the delicacy of their wines. They now own around 150 hectares of vineyards and are considered to be the premiere producers of Malbec in the region. They have 4 wineries and produce a variety of styles of Malbec.
Wine/Agro-tourism is also a focus for Georges Vigouroux. They have “La Table de Haute-Serre” a restaurant at the Château de Haute-Serre winery and are devoted to promoting the local products that enhance and pair perfectly with the wine. They do tours, workshops and cooking classes. The Château de Mercuès is a luxury Winery Hotel in Occitanie that immerses it’s guests in a high end wine country experience.
We found 2 wines locally from this producer:
Antisto Cahors 2013
Antisto 2013 Malbec from Cahors
This wine from Georges Vigouroux is 100% Malbec and comes from slope vineyards in Cahors (that would be the Coteaux vineyards we spoke of above). These are clay-limestone or gravel and silt on terraces overlooking the Lot Valley. They list the winemaking method as short maceration and long fermentation. This wine can age for 5-8 years.
They also do an Antisto Mendoza, the idea is to have the ability to compare Malbec from France and Argentina, done in the style of the region.
Atrium Malbec Cahors 2016
Atrium 2016 Malbec from Cahors
Another wine from Maison Georges Vigouroux. Their website speaks of the name of this wine in this way
“Place of convergence in the Roman house, the atrium is also the centerpiece of castles, the forecourt of cathedrals … Another theory also suggests that the word atrium is derived from the adjective “ater”, which means “black”: a a haven of choice for Malbec.”
The grapes for this wine are again grown on hillsides. It is a Cuvée from multiple vineyards and is aged on oak for 6 months. This wine is a blend, of the region’s 3 main varieties, Malbec, Merlot and Tannat.
The Atrium name is also the overall name for the group of boutique wineries that highlight the wines from Southwest France. They continue this local focus with wine/agro-tourism, promoting local products that pair perfectly with their wines.
Tasting and Pairing
When I picked up the bottle of Cèdre Heritage at Valley Cheese and Wine, I asked Kristen for a recommendation for a good cheese to pair. She set me up with a raw cows milk cheese from Sequatchie Cove Creamery http://www.sequatchiecovecheese.com/
This is a semi-soft washed rind cheese with a layer of decorative vegetable ash down the center. This cheese is not a flavor bomb, rather it is comfortable, like the quiet but really interesting person sitting by the window.
In addition we picked up bleu cheese (gorgonzola), some prosciutto, sliced strawberries, fig jam, raw honey and walnuts.
Cheese platter with Sequatchie Cove Creamery’s Coppinger cheese, gorgonzola, prosciutto, walnuts, fig jam, honey and strawberries
For dinner we paired beef barbeque, herbed potatoes and a salad.
Beef barbeque with herbed potatoes to pair with three Malbecs from Cahors
The wines spanned a few years and we tasted them youngest to oldest.
The 2016 Atrium had black plum and tobacco and unsurprisingly, as it was the youngest, seemed the brightest. I really enjoyed this with the gorgonzola.
The 2014 Cèdre Heritage gave black cherry and ground cinnamon. It had tart acid and opened up to give off more leather and barnyard.
The 2013 Antisto felt like the most complex on the nose with leather, black plum, fresh eucalyptus leaves. It was a little less complex on the palate, but I had a hint of black olive that appeared later as it opened. This went beautifully with the fig jam.
I will admit that all of these wines were purchased for under $20. I enjoyed them, but didn’t have my socks blown off. They all disappated fairly quickly on my palate. I look forward to locating and exploring more wines from Cahors and noting the differences in wine styles and vineyard locations. Perhaps a Malbec comparison with French and Argentinian wines is in order!
I look forward to hearing about the other Malbecs my fellow French #Winophiles tried, as well as their pairings and finding more wines from this region to search for!
The French #Winophiles
This group of writers monthly take up a French wine or region to taste, pair and discuss! If you want to join us for the discussion, it will happen on Twitter on Saturday September 15th at 8 am Pacific Time, 11 am Eastern Standard Time. Just jump on and follow #Winophiles!
I’ve started this post at least 3 times. How to sum up a year? My tendency is to go analytical and spin out the year chronologically. But remembering a year doesn’t really work that way. Even scanning through my Instagram feed, I found my mind drifting, one memory taking me to another, rarely chronologically and I would swipe from one end of my feed to the other as the thoughts took me. The visuals, the photos, were the things that drew me in, so that is what I want to share with you.
A Year of #_______Strong and of people coming together
2017…It’s been a year. It was the year of #(currentdisasterousevent)strong. There were so many, it was overwhelming at times. These events, that used to happen in some far away place, to people we didn’t know, suddenly, as we become a global community, have become things happening to people we know in places we have often seen. I had friends in Florida, Houston, in Sonoma, in New York City, in the Dominican Republic. And then of course there was Vegas. That’s home, and while I was not on the strip that night, many people that I work with daily and care for deeply, were. It was a year of stress and struggles, but also a year of people coming together. These events reminded us what is important, they caused us to be in touch with people who are dear to us and let them know they are dear to us.
Nature and home
As I sifted through the photos from this year, the ones I found the most moving, were those I took on our family farm early this spring. No, they have nothing to do with wine, but returning to this place during some torrential spring rains, brought some perspective to the year. The day was wet and rainy, but it only drizzled a bit while we were there. We watched the creek rush overflowing it’s banks, and trudged from the ridge to the meadow and were soaked to the bone by the the dripping trees and wet underbrush by the time we left, but bits of astounding beauty were everywhere.
Fungus on the Farm
Friends and Wine in Virginia
While we were on the East Coast we were able to catch up with friends and spent a weekend with my best friend and another friend from college as well as their husbands and did a bit of exploring of Virginia Wine Country. A few years ago, we did a girls weekend in Virginia wine country and this was a great opportunity to do Wine Country II, Electric Boogaloo tour with the boys.
I did a bit of research on the history of Virginia Wine Country before we traveled, and we tried to take in a few different areas starting at Chrysalis and Stone Tower in Northern Virginia. Chrysalis Vineyards is the Champion of the Norton Grape, a grape native to North America and have their tasting room at the Ag District Center. The Winery is the vision of Jennifer McCloud who started Chrysalis in the late 1990’s. This is a from scratch business. In Todd Kliman’s book “The Wild Vine – A forgotten grape and the untold story of American Wine” he talks about meeting Jennifer at the Vineyards and riding out with her in her pickup to see the vines. She is the heart and soul of this winery.
Norton Grape Vine at Chrysalis Tasting Room
Stone Tower Vineyards, is something completely different. You drive up Hogsback Mountain to find an impressive Estate with a “stone tower” hence the name. Part of the property had been in the family for 40 years and in 2005 they added to the property when a neighboring farm was available. Many of their vines are still too young to yield fruit, so their winemaker brings in juice from California for some of their wines, which are labeled under “Wild Boar Cellars”. Regardless, the wines were all beautifully made and the Estate wines made from grapes grown on site are really exquisite. The tasting room at the vineyard in Loudoun County is expansive and beautiful and as such is overflowing with wine tasters from the DC area on the weekends, so go early!
Stone Tower Winery in Virginia
We ventured south from here to meet my dearest friend at Barboursville Vineyards in Central Virginia. This Vineyard is on a historic estate between Monticello and Montpelier. On the property lies the remnants of the home designed for James Barbour by Thomas Jefferson. In 1976 the Zonin Family, who command a portfolio of 9 wineries in 7 regions of Italy, acquired the property.
We then headed to Charlottesville (this was early in the year, before they needed a #CharlottesvilleStong). We had a great dinner on the Historic Downtown Mall and then planned our morning trip to Monticello.
Jefferson wanted so desperately to grow grapes and make his own wine. He was a renaissance man and as such tended to get wrapped up in some things to the detriment of others. The property is beautiful, the house unique and quirky, with it’s wine elevator among other things and the gardens are lovely, if filled with non native species. The vineyards speak to the longing to make his own wine and on this spring day, in the mist, they seemed to echo this.
Vineyards at Monticello
We had lunch at the historic Michie Tavern and visited a few other wineries, a standout being Blenheim Vineyards, owned by Dave Matthews.
How much California Wine Country can you see in 6 days?
August took us on a Flash Tour of the California Coast and it’s wine regions. We spent 6 Days traveling the coast hitting Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, Monterey, Napa, Sonoma, the Livermore Valley, and Santa Cruz. You can check out our travels here. The trip was amazing, here are some visual highlights.
Those are the big highlights, but we were busy all year.
At the beginning of the year I did a tasting of Natural Wines with Matthieu at the farmers market.
And what about 2018? I love the New Year. It always feels like a clean slate. Will there be good wine and some wine travel? Yes! Adventures and meeting new people and sharing their stories is what we are all about, and we get better at this all the time. Plans are in the works for this year, but who knows where the wind may blow us. I look forward to more spontaneous trips this year.
And I have been inspired seeing people post their “power words” for the new year. Mine…”Exploration”. I love research and if I want to be more spontaneous this year, it actually probably means chasing tangents down the research rabbit hole, and I’m okay with that! I do have a few things on my list. Expect to see more on French wines and wine regions this year. Between trips to wine regions, we will be taking some virtual trips to France and digging in deeper to it’s wine regions. There is a reason that when people think of wine, they first think of French wine. I am also anxious to search out more “natural wines”. I know, I know, it’s a really open term, but I love pét-nat and I want to explore deeper into this movement and I’m anxious to see how this category of wines develops and evolves. And then of course there will be the tangents. I always start the year with plans, and I will be sitting down soon to create my list for 2018. By the end of 2018 I am sure that I will have happily strayed from it.
Happy New Year! I’m off to make my exploration planning list. I should probably pour a glass of wine as I head down the rabbit hole.