Vegas Goes to Woodinville

Vegas inthe wildWhat a great day and what a great group of wineries.  I’ve been wanting to take Vegas with me on a wine day for a while but wasn’t sure how many of the wineries would allow it.  I also wasn’t sure how Vegas would handle it, being the neurotic little hairball that he is. 

  • Our first stop was St. Michelle and that was the only place not to allow dogs; we didn’t mind waiting outside because they have beautiful grounds to walk around.  We also ran into a woman with a 17 week old puppy that was adorable,  Vegas had a mini-meltdown initially but then was fine with her. 
  • Chatter Creek was next.  They had a wine club release and some great wines to taste.  The Barbera was my favorite this time.  Vegas spent most of the day in my arms and at this first stop he spent most of that time shaking.  People were very nice and gentle when I told them about his puppy mill past, but you could tell that even with all the special attention, he was still scared to death. 
  • We went to Gordon Brothers next and he was a little better.  There weren’t many people in there so I let him walk around and check things out for a while.  Had good wines here too; their Cab and Rose were my favorites. 
  • Senoj was next and we were the only people there at first.  I let him sniff around for at least 2-3 pours and then people started to arrive so I picked him up again.  This time I noticed that he wasn’t shaking too much.  Before I knew it, there were a lot of people in the tasting room and most of them seemed to be surrounding us and wanting to pet him or ask questions about him.  I should also mention that this is a really fun tasting room, big projection TV, huge space and all kinds of seating.  Back to Vegas…he did very well with the mob of people; I was so proud.  I was also so happy to be there because they had a lot of nice wines, the blends were the ones I like best at this one. 
  • Our next stop was Sparkman Cellars, always a favorite.  Dad and I drank and Vegas just kind of hung out on my arm and took it all in.  He let people pet him and didn’t seem to mind.  Loved the Ruby Leigh here and dad bought a Chardonnay – he never buys Chardonnay! 
  • We went across the street (parking lot) to Darby next and stayed until a large group showed up – we were just about done anyway.  I liked everything I had here, and I bought another bottle of Chaos. 
  • We went to Guardian Cellars next and I had him in my arms the whole time there.  I really like this place.  Jerry (owner/winemaker) and his girlfriend are so nice.  They welcomed everyone that came in and it kind of felt like being at a friend’s house for a wine party.  The tasting room is small but so well done, including black and white personal photos, a nice TV and the sofa where we parked for a while.  Again, Vegas wasn’t shaking.  He actually seemed to be getting the hang of it.  I even left him with dad when I went to pay and he was absolutely fine.  Favorites here were Chalk Line and Gun Metal. 
  • Our last stop in the warehouse district was Alexandria Nicole.  We went to the initial tasting bar up front and they immediately gave me a dog biscuit for Vegas.  He thought that was top notch.  Then we went through the ‘secret passage’ into the back tasting room – holy cow it was packed!!  My favorites here were the Cab and the Rock Star, no big surprise on either one.  We were able to squeeze into the bar but weren’t there long before all kinds of people wanted to pet Vegas.  I told them his story (which was starting to sound like a broken record at this point) and let them all pet him.  No more shaking and this was the biggest crowd so far.  He was either exhausted or had finally realized that nothing bad was going to happen.  Either way, he wasn’t a neurotic little dog anymore, at least for the moment.  He even let a little girl pet him and he kids always freak him out.  As dad and I were leaving, I bumped into a fellow wine blogger, Margot from Write for Wine and her dog, Jewel.  Such a nice surprise! 
  • Our last stop of the day was Fine Wine and Cigars in Redmond.  Hightower was there for a tasting and to introduce their new dog, Riley.  Riley (a 1 year old yellow lab) and Vegas did not hit it off.  We kept them separated and enjoyed the great Hightower wines.  Their Cab and their Merlot were (and always are) fantastic.

I’m very happy with his first winery outing and I am committed to making sure that wasn’t his last one.  My hope is that he gets better and better and starts to really enjoy it.  I’d also like to take some really fun pictures of him in various tasting rooms, on barrells, next to a magnum, eating the cheese and crackers – whatever.  Now if only there was some way he could drive me and dad around, that would be ideal!!


Home Alone

Home AloneCricket had a breakthrough that is worthy of writing about.  First, a little back story…I have been unable to successfully leave Cricket home without locking her in her crate.  She’s just a little over a year old and I keep thinking she’s ready to be left alone and not be locked up.  Until this weekend, I have been proven wrong every single time.  She has shredded paperback books, newspapers, paper towels and toilet paper.  She has scattered the sofa pillows (and their stuffing) all over the house.  She’s eaten a throw rug and a good portion of the baseboards in the living room.  Because of these issues, I’ve taught her that when I leave the house (I always say, “I’ve got to go to work”) she goes into her crate and gets a treat.  It’s a non-issue most of the time because she is so food motivated.  But this past Saturday I had to run a quick errand and decided I would try again.  Much to my delight, she did great!  There was nothing out of place, not one thing!  She was panting heavily when I got home so I think she was probably nervous and running around, but nothing was disturbed.  I was only gone an hour but I’m thrilled with the results.  I can’t wait to try it again soon.  Maybe one of these days “puppyhood” will be over…

Weekend Wine Reviews

I had a busy weekend but somehow managed to “force myself” to find the time to drink some wine.  I also did a current count and the updated total after this weekend is 210 bottles.  I have a little less than a year to get the count to 100 or less.  If I keep inviting D over, that should be no problem at all – the kid is a self proclaimed Wine Disposal!  Here’s what we had:

Baer 05 Ursa – Columbia Valley

  • Wine Info:  55% Merlot; 28% Cab Franc; 7% Cabernet Savignon; 7% Malbec; 3% Petite VerdotUrsa
  • Appearance:  Deep dark red
  • Nose:  Cherries, chocolate, sweet red jam
  • Taste:  Initially we tasted ripe cherries, then tart berries leading up to juicy plums
  • Finish:  Lingers for a bit with nice soft tannins,  mellows even more with decanting, great fruit and not over-oaked
  • Price Range:  $35 – $40
  • Remarks:  We started out having this with food (pizza) but continued to drink it after we were done eating.  This is always a great wine.  It’s the wine that first made us aware of the winery and it’s great every year.  The price point has gone up over the years and as a result, I buy fewer bottles.  That being said, I never pass up a chance to buy it.  It’s only made in small amounts so when it’s gone, it’s gone.


Kenneday Shah 04 Reserve Cab Franc – Rattlesnake Hills

  • Wine Info:  Cabernet Franc
  • Appearance:  Translucent ruby red, like a stained glass windowKennedy Shah
  • Nose:  Floral and spices (maybe cinnamon?)
  • Taste:  Fruit initially and then spices
  • Finish:  Lingering spice and moderate tannins
  • Price Range:  $35 – $40
  • Remarks:  We had this with chocolate cake and it was a great pairing, the spiciness of the wine cut the super sweet chocolate.  It had a different taste without food and the tannins seemed to be more evident.   This is not the ‘fruit bomb’ that some Cab Francs can be.


Brain Carter 04 L’Etalon – Yakima ValleyL'Etalon

  • Wine Info: 
  • Appearance:  Deep ruby red
  • Nose:  Berries, spices (maybe cloves?) and light wood (sort of like a cedar closet)
  • Taste:  Juicy berries and plums with a mellow spice finish
  • Finish:  Nice lingering finish with soft tannins
  • Price Range: $30 – $35
  • Remarks:  This is always one of my favorite Brian Carter wines.  It’s a great blend that does well with or without food.  Could probably cellar well for a while, but I’ve never been able to hang on to it long enought o find out.


Red Sky 03 Bordeaux Blend

  • Wine Info:  57% Cabernet Sauvignon; 36% Merlot; 7% Cab FrancRed Sky
  • Appearance:  Dark red, almost black
  • Nose:  Raspberries and chocolate (yummy!)
  • Taste:  All ripe and juicy fruit, raspberries, cherries, plums
  • Finish:  Soft finish with lingering fruit, very little tannins
  • Price Range:  $30 – $35
  • Remarks:  We absolutely loved this one.  There was so much good fruit in this wine and it didn’t fade after being open for a while.  We had no food with this one and didn’t miss it a bit.

Goodbye Old Friend

It’s the absolute worst part about having a pet…having to say goodbye.  One of my closest friends had to say goodbye to his best bud, Joey, today.  It was terribly unexpected and so so fast; I don’t know if it’s even sunk in yet.  Having worked at a vet clinic in college, I can say without a doubt that this never gets any easier, whether it’s a quick thing or a long drawn out process.  For the animals, I’m sure it’s much better for things to be quick and easy.  But for us…it’s so difficult to cope with the emptiness in the house and heart.  And it’s so hard to not doubt yourself and wonder if you did all that you could.  I have to believe that never gets any easier either.  I believe he did what was right for Joey today.  I know it wasn’t a decision that came easily and I know he didn’t take it lightly. 

I lived with Joey for a few years and I can honestly say that he was one small dog that really filled up a house.  His attitude and his energy were both endless.    I’ll miss him for being the Jack Russell “Terrorist” that he was when I met him.  I’ll miss his instant and complete devotion to my beloved and long lost Sheltie, Abby.  I’ll miss that if he didn’t like you, he’d just bite you – no questions asked.  I’ll miss him sneaking up on to the furniture and not making eye contact, as if that somehow made him invisible.  I’ll miss the way he worshipped the fireplace, so much so that he damn near burned off his tail.  I’ll miss the way he shook when he was cold and the way he pulled himself across the carpet like Super Dog.  I’ll miss the way he slid around (usually at high speeTogether Againds) on the Pergo floors right after they were put in.  Last but not least, I’ll miss the fact that he recognized me and seemed genuinely excited to see me after I’d been gone for a couple years.  There really is no love like that of a dog.  Goodbye old friend…kiss Abby for me when you see her.

Vegas Goes to the Vet

Did you say vet?

This is my least favorite outing with Vegas – the yearly vaccines.  I was really not looking forward to it this year because he’s recently gotten so bad around other dogs.  My vet has a small and very busy waiting area that can make even the most social dog feel a bit overwhelmed.  Instead of just bringing him to the vet, I decided to try and wear him out a bit prior to maybe help his attitude.  We started with a fast paced 45 minute walk on The Green River Trail.  I’d hoped that he would be better with meeting new dogs if he was out of his usual surroundings; normally we walk around the neighborhood and I think he’s decided that it’s *his* neighborhood.  We encountered quite a few dogs on the trail and, unfortunately, he wasn’t very good.  He was better than when we walk in the neighborhood, but he still barked and acted like a typical annoying little dog.  We still had all kinds of time to kill after getting back to the car, so I decided to take him to Petsmart.  I needed to pick up a few things and Petsmart is a great place for that and for some controlled encounters with other dogs.  Much to my surprise, he did okay.  We passed a couple small terriers and he was silent, no barking or growling.  Sweet!  Then we saw a Red Heeler that was about twice his size…friendly looking dog, but still twice the size of Vegas.  The first time we saw them, Vegas hid behind me but didn’t bark or growl.  The second time we saw them, we walked right past them and there was even some brief eye contact…still no barking.  And then it happened…we saw them a third time and (after telling the owner that Vegas has issues) we let the dogs meet.  They touched noses, wagged tails and had a very nice little moment.  I was stoked!  By now it was time to get to the vet.  As usual, the place was full of all kinds of animals…cats, dogs, birds and a lizard.  Vegas was silent!  He even went right up to a little Pomeranian, touched noses and sort of hung out with him.  There was a big dog across the room and I thought about taking him over there, but decided to not push my luck.  Vegas did well with the Pomeranian and with several other small dogs.  He even did well with getting his vaccines and his nails trimmed.  I have to say…I have a great vet.  She took her time and let Vegas get a little more comfortable before she asked to hold him.  She held him and talked to me for a few minutes, until he stopped shaking, and then slowly started giving him an exam – holding him the whole time.  He did so well with that approach; he almost seemed like a normal dog…almost.  When it came time to pay, he got a little cranky; I admit, I get cranky when I see the bills too.  He had a bit of an outburst when two puppies came at him.  He didn’t hurt them, but definitely gave them a message that he didn’t want to play.  Over all – I’m thrilled with the progress.  A couple months ago Petsmart and the vet’s office would have been chaos.  The next step is back to dog school.  Granted, he can use more work in obedience but mostly he needs the socialization.  He’s also going to start making the rounds at the wineries.  Stay tuned!