Cheers to another great day of wine tasting in Woodinville! The weather was pretty warm so we left Vegas behind this time; that allowed us to visit a couple places that don’t allow dogs. They were new to me as were a couple others. I swear there are new wineries popping up all the time. I keep thinking that I’ll find one that I hate, but no such luck. Here’s how the day went:
- Northwest Totem Cellars – This was a last minute addition to our line up. Just as we passed the turn to get there dad mentioned that since we didn’t have Vegas we should check it out. I am so glad he did! The winery is actually the home of the winemaker (Mike Sharadin) and his wife Kate. She and her three winery helpers (dogs!) greeted us at the door and welcomed us into their home. The kitchen/tasting room is beautiful – big, open and lots of windows facing out to thick trees and an enormous outdoor entertaining area. We tasted three wines, a lighter style Cab, a blend called Low Man and a Syrah – all were great. This is also a winery that gives back; Kate talked to us about several recent events where they donated portions of their sales for animal rescue. All three of their dogs are rescues as well. Great wine and great karma. Seriously, the wines were outstanding, the prices were great and Kate – along with her helpers: Luke, Minnie and Charlie (the pooches) were the perfect hosts. I’ll be back for sure.
- Ross Andrew– In case you’ve visited him in the past and weren’t aware…he’s moved! He is now in the same area as Mark Ryan’s new digs and the J Bookwalter Tasting Studio. (Behind the Hollywood Schoolhouse.) The new tasting room is nicely done. He and Mark did a great renovation and have some shared walls that can be removed for large events and even have access to a nice commercial kitchen in between both tasting rooms. I can just imagine some of the great future events that will be held here. But enough about the tasting room…Ross Mickel is such a good winemaker. Much like a lot of smaller tasting rooms in Woodinville, we had the pleasure of having the winemaker himself pour for us and talk to us about his wines, the winery and even the vineyards. He’s one of those wine guys that is full of great information but not at all a snob about it and doesn’t push his own wines exclusively. In fact, he and my dad raved about some of the great Pinots comingo out of Oregon. But I digress…back to his wines. We tasted one white and three reds. Dad is a huge fan of his white (a blend called “Meadow”) and I am a fan of his Cab. We each bought one of our favorites. I must say though, I was very tempted to buy one of his Syrahs too. I know I’ve liked it in the past but it was better than I remembered. That being said…as soon as I took a sip of the Cab I knew that was the one that would go home with me. I now have at least three of them and already want more. It stands up to many of my favorite Napa Cabs. I’d love to do a blind tasting to test that one day.
- Efeste– This was the other non-dog winery that I was excited to finally try. They are located in the old Januk/Novelty Hill building, just down the street from the warehouse district. The place is gorgeous. It’s a huge space, tall ceilings, a wall of windows, and a beautiful kitchen full of stainless steel. The line up of wines was one of the best, as far as variety, for the day. I love when a winery has wines in several price ranges. There were wines in the ‘teens’ in the ’20’s, 30’s and even one in the 40’s. Truly, something for everyone. Even better than the broad range of prices were the wines themselves. Really, there wasn’t a single on that I didn’t like. I bought a Riesling (so perfect for summer sipping) and an amazing Syrah that had the longest finish of any wine that day. Loved the Cab too but that was the one that was in the 40’s so I had to pass. The tasting room staff was friendly and showed us a really good time. Then on our way out, the guy that sold me the wine said that he would happily walk Vegas if we wanted to come back and had him with us. Great wines, a gorgeous tasting room, super prices and a dog walker…all under one roof? I think I’m in love.
- Red Sky– We only made a quick stop in here. I have to admit, I was terribly distracted by a big dog that was stretched out and laying outside. However, I did have another taste of the newest Sunrise blend that I bought last time I was up there. So very very good and I love that it has a twist cap closure. This is so handy when I have left over wine. Okay, okay…I admit it…it doesn’t happen often…especially when the wine is as good as this one.
- Smasne– Have I mentioned the steal of the summer yet? You can get a case of Farm Boy Rose for $50! The best part is – the wine is great! It’s a nice dry rose of Cab Franc and Sangiovese. It’s fantastic as-is and because of the price there is no guilt when using it for sangria or wine spritzers. I’ve lost count, but I think dad and I have hauled 3 or 4 cases out of there already. Aside from picking up yet another case of rose, we sat down and had a fantastic tasting. Dad did all the whites and I did all the reds. There are so many wines here that you really can’t sample them all unless you don’t plan on many other stops. There are multiple labels in this tasting room – all with Robert Smasne as the winemaker. Plan on spending some time here. The wines are good and the prices are even better.
- Robert Ramsay – Another new winery in Woodinville – imagine that! So far they only have one wine to try, a delicious Syrah. They have a slight tasting fee ($2) that is refundable with purchase. I know this because I bought one. We were lucky enough to spend some time with the winemaker (Robert Ramsay) and take a look at his barrel room. He’s got lots of Syrahs on the way and a Cab Sav as well. Very nice guy and very excited about his wines. Stop by and say hello if you’re in the area; you won’t be sorry.
- Hestia– Another new one for me!! They’ve been open for a while but I don’t get over their business park as often as I should. For those of you familiar with Woodinville, this is the group of warehouses that is across the street from what everyone refers to as “the warehouse district.” Neighbors include Stevens, Chatter Creek, Covington Cellars and another new one – Sheridan. I was excited to try Hestia because I’d heard some great things about the wines and also the people. We were lucky enough to get to spend some time with their winemaker (Shannon Jones) and really learn abouthow the wines were made. He was one of the most refreshing winemakers I’d ever met. He actually talked about what he liked and didn’t like about his wines and what he would do again and what he wouldn’t do again. Very rarely have I heard winemakers admit that they wouldn’t do something again or that something didn’t turn out exactly as planned. The funny thing is, everyone’s pallet is so different. One man’s mistake is another’s favorite wine! I really enjoyed my time here and I loved the Merlot. I look forward to going back on a more regular basis.
- Chatter Creek – We finished up the day with one of our favorites. They have a new wine (new to me at least) called Cellar Cat Red…and it’s only $10! It’s a really easy to drink red blend, complete with twist off top. Actually, many of their bottles have either a twist off or the newer glass closures. As usual, the wines were wonderful. The other usual part about our visit was that the people ahead of us were buying a case. I think the last half dozen times that I’ve been in there I’ve come in as someone was putting together a case. The wines really are terrific and the prices are great too. I can see why people buy a lot here; my dad and I do too.