Birthdays, Wineries and a Side of Beef

Dad turned 75 last Saturday and to celebrate we went to Woodinville for the afternoon.  Here is a brief run-down:

  • Cuillin Hills– We like this winery so much that dad decided to join their new wine club.  Wines are always good and their prices are really good too.  Today we tried the new Dungeon Syrah – wow!  I can see why last year’s sold so quickly.  Great flavors and a nice long finish. 
  • Senoj– They are open again after being closed for a few months.  They’ve had to make some alterations to the tasting room and it was so new that you could literally still smell the new paint.  (That didn’t do much for the nose of the wines unfortunately.)  We tasted a brief line up and both really liked the whites.  They are sold out of our favorite, the Riesling, but will have it again in a few months.
  • Darby– This is another one that we consistently love.  He had several new releases: Chaos, Purple Haze (both are blends) and the wonderful Aunt Lee Syrah.  This is the winery that I thank and/or blame for really getting me into Syrahs.  I was just starting to like them when I tasted one of his.  WOW.  It blew me away.  His Syrahs have been blowing me away ever since.  His other wines are really good too – in fact, I bought a white for dad and a Purple Haze for me.  Not a bad one in the line up.  Oh, and Darby is a dog lover.  He’s the only person all day that Vegas actually kissed.  It kinda shocked me; Vegas doesn’t usually kiss strangers.  Maybe Darby had some of the Syrah on his hands.  🙂
  • Patterson – I sound like a broken record, but this is another place that we absolutely love!  It’s a father-son team for the most part and their wines are wonderful!  The tasting room is always fun because they are so outgoing and down to earth.  It was pretty crowded while we were there so we didn’t stay too long.  Not to worry though, we’ll be back.
  • NW Totem Cellars Pouring for Homeward Pet Charity – Kate was pouring their wines and donating $10 a bottle and all tasting fees to the charity.  In addition, they had a dog (Coco) with them that was up for adoption.  He was ADORABLE, he looked like a Corgi mix of some kind and he was so happy to meet any and everyone.  If I didn’t have two wild dogs of my own, I’d have adopted him.  In fact, I am going to contact Homeward Pet to see if he’s still available and then try to find him a home with one of my friends.  (Consider yourselves warned – ha!)
  • Gordon Brothers– We went here because they were right next-door to where NW Totem Cellars was pouring and because they sent over a dog biscuit for Vegas while we were there.  Vegas doesn’t usually take food from people he doesn’t know but he loved this one – ate every bite!    Oh, I should mention the wines too.  As always, the wines here were great and the prices are great too.  They have a Cab that I adore and is a steal!  Love this place.
  • Sheridan Vineyard – This was one that I’ve been wanting to try for a while and boy, it was worth the wait!  There is a non-refundable tasting fee, one of the few in Woodinville.  However, the wines and the people are fantastic.  The Cab Franc ROCKED!  I’ll go back here again, even with the tasting fee.
  • Adams Bench – What a treat!  This place is never open so when dad told me that they were open for a release party I was thrilled!  They were pouring in a neat little barn on the property.  It was a gorgeous day and the winery is in a very pretty little neighborhood filled with white picket fencing, seriously!  The winemakers ( Tim and Erica Blue) were there pouring and couldn’t have been nicer.  The new release, “Myth”, was fantastic.  It was a blend of Cab Franc and Merlot…wow!  I had to have a bottle.  The other two were great too, a Cab and a Bordeaux Blend.  Great wines, nice people and a beautiful setting.  I have signed up for their mailing list and will try to get back there as often as possible.  Honestly – a nice little find.  Oh, and totally dog friendly too! 

 After spending the afternoon on Woodinville, we went to Daniel’s Broiler (Bellevue) for his birthday dinner.  This is our second year in a row to dine here and I swore last year that I’d had the best steak of my life.  But I swear…this year’s was even better!  It was damn near the size of half a cow, but I passed on eating any sides and managed to finish it all.  I had the Bone-in RibeyHoly Cow!e.  Holy Cow (pun intended) it was fantastic.  I wish I’d have taken a picture of it.  This picture is one I found online…it’s pretty close.  I need to start a new routine…if I’m going to write about it, I should photograph it too.  The steak I had would have made a prettier picture.  Along with our steaks, dad and I enjoyed a wonderful bottle of 2000 Clos de Betz.  I bought it for Father’s Day 5-6 years ago now and it made the perfect pairing with our meals.

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A Perfect Ten

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.