As if we didn’t have enough wine the day before, dad and I headed out the very next day and had a bit more.
Dusted Valley – We’d planned to go here the day prior but it was just too nuts. They were having a wine club pick up and I must say that I love the way this wine club works. You get to pick the wines you want, and I don’t just mean from the new releases. They had over a dozen wines to taste and club members could choose whatever they wanted for their club allotment . We liked everything we tried but really loved The Barrell Thief Red (a Sangiovese/Tempranillo blend) and The Stained Tooth Syrah. (The wine club is called The Stained Tooth Society – love it!) Great wines, super nice people and a great wine club….and have I mentioned they use screw tops on all their wines? I’m a big fan of that. This was my first visit but I will certainly be back.
Gifford Hirlinger – This is a couple doors down from Dusted Valley. It’s another Eastern Washington winery (Walla Walla) that decided to open up a tasting room in Woodinville. They had a nice line up of wines and great prices…AND a great sale was in progress…50% off! Of course I had to take advantage of that. I loved their Merlot and the 2007 LV, which is a Cabernet made with grapes from Napa. Yes, I said Napa. Every year they get grapes from Napa and make a Cab. It was phenomenal.
Fine Wine & Cigars – Dad and I attended their Semi Annual Winemakers Event. I love this event! Picture it if you will…a big/beautiful wine shop full of winemakers sampling their juice. It’s always very well done. This time there were quite a few wineries I’d never heard of or had heard of but had never had the chance to taste their wines. Of course there were some well-known and well-loved wines and wine makers as well. Really a very nice event. Some standouts were:
- Five Star Cellars – 2007 Petit Verdot/Cab Franc Blend
- Pondera – 2007 Sangiovese
- Spring Valley – 2006 Uriah (54% Merlot, 33% Cab Franc, 7% Petit Verdot, 6% Malbec)
- Stevens Winery – 2007 Black Tongue Syrah and 2007 Oui Red Table Wine (75% Merlot, 10% Cab, 8% Cab Franc, 7% Petit Verdot)
- Gorman Winery – 2007 Zachary’s Ladder (42% Cab, 25% Merlot, 25% Mourvedre, 7% Syrah, 1% Petit Verdot)
- Mark Ryan – 2006 Long Haul (48% Merlot, 46% Cab Franc, 6% Petit Verdot)
- Laurelhurst Cellars – Cab Franc
What a great day in Woodinville. Dad, Vegas and I hit TEN wineries yesterday and each one was (as usual) friendly and full of great wine. Even Vegas had a good time. One of these days I’ve got to take his picture while we’re there…I’m just so distracted by the wine that I keep forgetting. Here’s a run down of where we were:
- Cuillin Hills – We started with one of my favorites. The winemaker (Derek Des Voigne) is a blast, as is his brother who we saw later at Des Voigne Cellars. And the wines are not only fantastic, but really well priced. There aren’t many “screaming deals” here but just about everything is priced under $30. The news here is not only the new releases, but the birth of a new wine club! I think I might actually join this one; dad is a member everywhere else so I guess it’s my turn. My favorite wines – Cab Franc, Riff Raff, Claret, Shackled.
- Smasne – There are several wineries in this tasting room and all of them have the winemaker (Robert Smasne) in common. There is a huge line up to taste here. We were very selective b/c we knew we had such a full day. Very good wines, very good prices…in fact, we found the “screaming deal” of the day. A case of his Rose for $50! I was planning to buy that anyway so when I heard of the sale I gladly bought a case. So perfect for summer. My favorite wines – Rose (two kinds), Riesling (two of them) and the Cabs – all of them.
- Red Sky – We stopped to do a wine club pick up here and were (thankfully) quickly escorted to the back/barrel room because the lobby was packed. We sipped the new wines with the winemaker (Carol Parsons) and avoided the crowd up front. The wines and the people are always so nice here. Dad is especially fond of the girl behind the tasting bar that speaks German with him; Michelle I think is her name? My favorite wines – Sunrise (with a new screw top!), Serendipity, Merlot Rose, Bordeaux Blend.
- Barrage – The is one of (if not the only) winery that does not do blends. The winemaker (Kevin Correll) likes to make varietals. And I like to drink them. This tasting room is very laid back, super friendly and LOVES dogs. They usually have their dog, a Chocolate Lab named Murphy, hanging around greeting people. Vegas is not a fan, but he’s getting used to bigger dogs so visiting this tasting room often is good for Vegas…and Vegas’ mom. Ha! But I must admit, I was so busy talking about dogs while I was here that I somehow managed to pick up someone else’s bag when I left! The lovely Merlot that I paid for turned into a Chardonnay from a completely different winery by the time we got home. Bummer! My favorite wines – Merlot, Cab Franc, Double Barrel Cabernet. UPDATE! I sent Kevin an email to apologize for basically stealing somebody’s wine. He told me that they’d realized it right after we left and since we were nowhere to be found, he put my wine off to the side for me and bought a replacement one from the other winery for the other customers. Great customer service and a great guy!
- Patterson – This place is another one of those little gems that has great pricing and super wines…and the people – oh so much fun! There isn’t a wine snob for miles. The tasting room has a couple great windows that look into the barrel room. Quite often the winemaker (John Patterson) and/or his dad (Jack) can be found doing barrel samples back there. If you ever have the chance – do this – I’ve never had a wine I didn’t like. My favorites – WoodsLake Sangiovese, BDX, Recession Red, Volterra Red
- Des Voigne – Finally, the new San Remo (Sangiovese) is out! It was well worth the wait; the wine is excellent. No real surprise there, it’s wonderful every year. Heck, everything in that place is good. The winemaker here (Darren Des Voigne) is the brother to the winemaker at Cuillin Hills. There must be something in the genes – these boys know what they’re doing, know how to have a fun atmosphere in their tasting rooms and know that wines don’t have to cost a small fortune. And have I mentioned the labels here yet? All jazz inspired and gorgeous! My favorite wines – San Remo (Sangiovese), Emcee (Merlot), The Duke (Zin Blend), Montreux (Syrah).
- Alexandria Nicole – It’s so hard not to go into this place every time I’m in the Warehouse District. The winemaker (Jarrod Boyle) makes some terrific wines and the people in the tasting room really treat customers like family. I almost expect them to call out my name when I walk thru the secret passageway into the members-only area in back…kind of like “Norm!” in Cheers. Kathy is always back there and always quick to greet us with a smile, a hug and a glass that she’s willing to fill with anything we desire. The tastings back there aren’t done by a set list; they’re done by what you want to try. Believe me, it’s hard not to ask for one of everything! My favorite wines – Cab, Rock Star, Syrah, Merlot.
- DiStefano’s – This was one of the first wineries I fell in love with in Woodinville. Because they aren’t in an area with a bunch of others, I don’t always get out to see them. I was glad we had to pick up wine for some friends; what a great excuse to go in and enjoy their wines. Their tasting room is so pretty and really holds a lot of people. Speaking of people, the ones working behind the tasting bar are so friendly and so knowledgeable about their wines. My favorite wines – Sogno (Cab Franc), Syrah, Cab, Merlot.
- Bookwalter – This is a relatively new tasting room in Woodinville. It’s located right behind Hollywood Schoolhouse and has a huge space for tasting. One of the things that sets them apart from other wineries is the literary theme that can be found in the titles of their wines. In addition, they are very nice, have super wines and have started a great wine club (I think they call it a book club – ha!) with nice discounts. Yes, dad joined. My favorite wines – Couplet (Riesling), Subplot (Blend), Foreshadow Merlot.
- Mark Ryan – What luck, we were there for the first day of business in the new tasting room! Rock star winemaker (Mark McNeilly) is open for business behind the Hollywood Schoolhouse. The tasting room is big and bright and was full of people when we were there. There is a $10 tasting fee which is one of the highest, but is fully refundable if you buy a bottle. Trust me, you’ll find something you like. I love, love, love his wines; I just can’t often afford them. That being said, when I want to splurge on a really special bottle, it’s usually one of his – the Long Haul in particular. My favorites – Long Haul, Dead Horse (don’t be fooled by the name), Red Dissident.