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.
On the 7th day…well we rested! Eating Pizza and Sucking Glass with Maloof Wines.
Eat pizza, suck glass.
The Mantra from RossandBee at Maloof Wines
We have been cooking a lot lately, and these 12 Days of Wine are keeping us busy. Today on the 7th day of Wine, we rest. We pick up a white pizza, make a bowl of popcorn and watch a movie, thanks to the recommendation of Ross & Bee of Maloof Wines.
This wine is a blend of Pinot Gris and Riesling, they consider it their version of a rosé.
“Ross: (This) wine is our fun little spring blend, this is what we think of as our answer to a rosé. This is a blend, it’s 55% Pinot Gris and the Pinot Gris was fermented on the skins, kind of as you would traditionally ferment a red wine. So we ferment that, on the skins in two different fashions; we do half of it with full skin contact and daily punch downs and then the other half we actually do carbonic masceration. Then that’s pressed off and blended with Riesling. So it’s like 55% skin contact Pinot Gris and 45% Riesling. And this wine is called “Where Ya PJs at?”
Ross Maloof at the 2018 Uncommon Wine Festival
So what to pair? On the Maloof site they suggest”
Serve chilled or at cellar temp with white za pies or with a bowl of popcorn over your favorite John Cusak movie. Ours is Grosse Point Blank.
From the Maloof website http://rossandbee.com/wines/
We pulled out the “Where Ya PJ’s at” and donned our PJ’s for pizza popcorn and wine (no lounging in your underwear here). We could enjoy the tree, the lights, a movie and rest a bit.
This was quick, easy, and just the right size to pair with our bowl of popcorn. We ordered the “White Top” signature pizza, which is white cream sauce with mozzarella, applewood bacon, chopped garlic, oregano and fresh arugula, which they add at the end after it has baked for all of 3 minutes in the high heat pizza oven, while I watch.
Trust me there was plenty of garlic! (they people making the pizza are generous with toppings and always check to be sure if they’ve added enough or if you want more!)
We popped up some buttered popcorn to go with the ‘za, popped the bottle of “Where Ya PJ’s At?” and curled up on the couch with a movie.
The Where Ya PJ’s At? is coppery in the glass from that pinot gris with skin contact. The pinot gris gives it a rich nose also. There is a bit of sediment in the bottom of the bottle (which I kinda like). The flavors are rich and the bit of effervescence tickles your tongue and your taste buds.
We actually watched Sofia Coppolas “Marie Antoinette”and the wine channeled that everyday luxury kind of feel for me. It was a day of lounging about, enjoying tasty bits and wine, like lounging at court. Overall the food and wine pairing was perfect. The movie…hmmm. (maybe we should have gone with a Cusack film)
Want to find a bottle of this stuff? Well, they don’t yet ship, but if you are in one of the lucky areas where their wines can be found… here’s the list.
Perhaps there is a bit of the 90 cases of this wine that they made, left out there in the universe. You can hope!
Maybe you should drop by and see them?
If you want to visit them…drop a note from the website where you can join the Maloof Tang Clan
We spent the weekend in Paso Robles arriving mid-afternoon at DAOU where they were having music out on the patio. The views from this vineyard are incredible.
It is 360 degrees of the Paso Robles area from the top of a mountain on the West side. Watch for a slide show of amazing photos of the view coming up this next week!
Tablas Creek Wine Walk
The end of our day was filled with a Vineyard Walk at Tablas Creek. The walk was led by Tablas Creek Viticulturalist Levi Glenn. We and about 50 other wine lovers hiked through the vineyard tasting wines as we walked learning about the vineyard and the grapes and then enjoying small bite pairings prepared by Chef Jeff Scott. We watched the sunset by the head-pruned Tannat. This was just a joy. We promise a video in the next week or so to let you enjoy the walk with us vicariously!
The next morning found us up too early again, so we roamed the West Side hills enjoying the views.
Lone Madrone Tasting Room
We started our day of tasting at Lone Madrone’s new tasting room across from the Adelaida entrance. This is Neil Collins’ winery (the winemaker at Tablas Creek). The renovated barn is beautiful with great art. Inspired by this little bit of Paso Robles 6 degrees of separation we headed to Le Cuvier. Okay, let me double back and explain. When Neil first started in Paso Robles he was working at Adelaida for their winemaker at the time, John Munch. Tablas Creek stole Neil away from Adelaida and then John Munch left Adelaida. He now is the co-owner and winemaker at Le Cuvier.
Le Cuvier View
So after an evening a Tablas Creek, a tasting at Lone Madrone where else could we go but Le Cuvier. They do small pairings with all the wines here. John Munch is an exceptional character and his wines are unique. His flamboyant writing style makes his blog well worth the read! You can look forward to a fascinating blog post on this fascinating man.
Our next stop was Jada on Vineyard Drive where they do cheese pairings with all of their tastings. The hospitality here was exceptional. We were greeted downstairs and guided up to the tasting room and offered a table on the patio. They brought us our cheese and they came around with each wine. This is a young winery, but the staff is knowledgeable and thoughtful and really made this a great experience.
Vineyard at Proulx
On our last trip we had stopped by Shale Oak and I found that Kevin Riley their consulting winemaker had his own winery called Proulx (pronounced: Pru). We stopped by to find Kevin and his wife Genoa running the tasting room and were able to taste their wines and have a great conversation with them.
Halter Ranch Dinner
This day finished with the Vineyard View BBQ at Halter Ranch. We were early, so we sat and enjoyed a glass of wine on the patio by the tasting room and then headed up for the dinner. The food, the wine and the view were all perfect. To top it off we were seated alphabetically which put us next to the Sass family and we enjoyed the evening chatting with the winemaker, Kevin Sass’ parents, brother and sister-in-law. Good wine and good company…that’s what this is really all about. You can expect some great photos and a blog with more details on this wonderful and relaxing dinner.
Sunset Moonstone Beach
Our final day saw us paying homage to the sea, which brings the climate that allows all of these grapes to thrive. We headed out to the coast and drove from Morro Bay to Ragged Point enjoying the views along the way.
So that’s the highlights! Stay tuned for photos, videos and more detailed blog posts!
Frangipani…for me I immediately think of the musical “South Pacific”. Frangipani is the word they use for plumeria the island flower that I grew up making leis with in Hawaii. So…I envisioned a tropical paradise. I thought, this winery must be owned by someone creating their own paradise. Well…it’s a bit simpler than that. The owner/winemaker is Don Frangipani. He has however created his own piece of paradise here on the De Portola Wine trail.
We stopped by Frangipani on our final morning in Temecula on our last trip. They had Sunday Brunch advertised on their website and it seemed like the perfect way to wrap up our trip.
Frangipani Dog Frannie
We were greeting in the parking lot by “Franni” dog and greeter. After getting a good scratch he led us to the door. We were early (as usual) and it was pretty quiet when we arrived. JoAnn Frangipani, Don’s wife set us up with Mango Mimosas with their house sparkling and pointed us to the buffet. There were fresh muffins and pumpkin bread as well as bagels with lox. The cook made us fresh pulled pork benedicts and we enjoyed the granola fruit parfaits while we waited for that to finish. Several groups came in while we were there.
They have an outdoor patio with a great view and bocce ball courts. JoAnn says the patio stays pretty full in the summer. We didn’t taste here as we were getting on the road to head home. I look forward to coming back, tasting and enjoying the patio. The atmosphere here is warm and friendly and JoAnn immediately makes you feel welcome and at home.
Don began working with wine in 1995 at Cilurzo Winery in Temecula. He opened Frangipani in 2003. He loves red wines and mixes classic French varieties of Petite Verdot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with old world Italian styles. They grow Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petite Verdot, Sangiovese, Grenache and Petite Sirah on their estate.