Guess what? It's finally summer! Get ready for the BBQ’s, pool parties, concerts, and a lot of dinners on the patio.
I’m sure with these exciting plans you are expected to bring something, probably the wine? Below, I am making it easy with some of our best current releases perfect for those summer extravaganzas! In case you are also expected to provide a dish, I’ll provide a recipe.
2016 Red Mountain Semillon - free 2 Day Air Shipping 12+ bottles!
fruit platters + cheese plates + salads + fish
check out a delicious recipe here!
pork chops + chicken + lamb
check out a delicious recipe here!
anything on the grill
check out a delicious recipe here!
2014 Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon - last vintage!
steak + steak + more steak
check out a delicious recipe here!
Stop by the tasting rooms, go online, or reserve a bottle through your Club Team.
Happy summer everyone!
If you find yourself with some free time, swing by one of our two tasting rooms on Red Mountain or in Woodinville. We’re open daily from 11am to 5pm, featuring a flight of summertime wines, and cheese plates by prior request while they last. Wine tasting is one of my favorite ways to spend a sunny weekend or random day off work. Best of all I like to visit when I have friends and family in town! Stop by anytime or let us know you’re coming for a special tasting.
With hundreds of wineries in Washington it can be overwhelming to know where to visit. The Fidelitas Club Concierge Team has recommendations of wineries to visit, and places to stay and eat in Wine Country. We’re always around to send you some of our favorite places to visit! Contact us by calling or texting 509.554.9191 or email us here.
Schedule tastings with wineries in advance and start early. You can usually plan for tastings to take between 45 minutues to an hour at each winery. Bring snacks like cheese and crackers and drink plenty of water in between tastings to maximize your trip. Make your dining reservations ahead of time so you know where you’ll refuel at the end of the day!
Can’t make it in? Ship orders placed by 9am on Wednesday, June 14th, are guaranteed to be delivered by Friday or give him the gift that keeps on giving with a membership to the Fidelitas Wine Club.
I recently found myself with a stocked fridge of white wines, just in time for the warmer Summers in Eastern Washington. Typically, I have always been a red wine fan and of course a huge supporter of Rosé, until recently. I had the realization that I was shutting myself off to wine, I was developing a “house pallet” and I wasn’t allowing myself to drink wines that would open my mind to new regions, flavors and in the long run improve my tasting skills. I began to sample and purchase several new wines I generally wouldn’t, hence the fridge full of white wine.
Through this, I could explore tons of new varietals and find that I do enjoy white wines more than I thought I did. I love an oaked Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon or even a Chardonnay. Preferably one that’s dry and crisp with a full fruit on the pallet. Luckily for me, Fidelitas has just released our 2016 Red Mountain Semillon that has all those characteristics making it my favorite patio wine this summer.
The 2016 Red Mountain Semillon is all sourced from Artz Vineyard which is located on the lower portion of Red Mountain. The lower elevation and proximity to the Yakima River allow for bright acid retention, while the varietal and slope provide ripe fruit flavors of white peach, bosc pear, nectarine and honey.
For most wine lovers, we are all tasting and enjoying wine for different reasons and that’s great. My challenge to all of you is the next time you are strolling through the Fidelitas website, the grocery store, or your best friends wine cellar grab something you typically wouldn’t try. The Semillon is the perfect pairing for Summertime or even the perfect red wine drinkers white.
Before we make predictions about how Red Mountain will look in the next 5, 10, or 15 years we must look at where we’ve been. More specifically the dramatic change that our AVA has undergone in the past 3 years. Since the completion of the 5-year-long Kennewick Irrigation Districts: “Red Mountain Project” which brought Yakima River water to the southwestern facing “scrublands” (as they were endearingly referred to in this 2015 Tri City Herald article, the total acreage planted has doubled to 2300-2400. Over half of the entire area. Taking a look at EveryVine.com, you’ll notice how dense Red Mountain planting (57.5%) is compared to other famous American regions’ % planted; Napa Valley = 2.9%, Oakville (Napa Sub-Appellation) = 24.2%, Saint Helena (Napa Sub-Appellation) = 5.4%, Yountville (Napa Sub-Appellation) = 12.1%, Sonoma Valley = 9%, and Walla Walla Valley = 0.9%, to name a few.
We know that Red Mountain produces extremely high-quality fruit from older vineyards that we’ve worked with like Kiona, Ciel du Cheval, and Blackwood Canyons planted back in the well-water days and think that the best is yet to come. We’re not alone. Charlie estimates that 5 more wineries will be built within the next 3 years. He’s not worried about the mountain losing its farmland charm as the entire area is zoned for agriculture -- It’ll be all vineyards and wineries for now. Plus the high-profile neighbors moving in, planting vineyards, and building wineries will make Red Mountain even more of a Washington Wine lover’s dream destination.
Although Charlie was first introduced to Red Mountain in 1989 and we’ve called it home for 10 years now, there’s still so much to be done. We’ve been highly impressed by the quality of our estate fruit for such a young vineyard (first planted in 2008). Charlie envisions future bottlings of Merlot, Petit Verdot, an Estate Red Blend, and was specifically excited about offering the wine club Individual Clonal Cabernet releases. As it stands now we have 6 different clones of Cabernet planted. The latest release of the Blackwood Cabernet was also a good sign to see that type of old-vine quality coming from a vineyard so close in proximity to ours.
The Estate isn’t the only young vineyard that we’re excited about. With the quality that we’ve gotten from younger places like Quintessence (established in 2010) and Canyons (established in 2009), Charlie believes that in 10 years’ time Red Mountain will be the best place to make Cabernet in the world. I jokingly told him that I’d quote him on that – I quickly realized he wasn’t joking. At a recent birthday dinner paired with some Santa Maria Tri Tip and grilled oysters we had our 2012 Estate Cab and some 2009 Napa Cab from Martha’s Vineyard, both incredible, but we wouldn’t say that one was of superior quality (although at our un-blind, and biased tasting we preferred Estate).
In the winery, Charlie and his team are also staying true to modern craft winemaking techniques by playing around with new and innovative ways to ferment reds in direct contact with wood. He estimates that 50% of the wines this year will be fermented using some sort of wood method while 100% of the Estate wines will receive the oak treatment. Depending on the fermentation method used the wines are barreled separately them to a) get a better sense on how the fermentation methods are affecting the wines, and b) giving them more to play with come blending time. From my understanding, the roller fermenters offer a more intimate cap contact with the juice since it’s fully enclosed and there’s nowhere for the cap to go – wood in general also provides better insulation that stainless steel. Charlie also admits that he doesn’t fully understand the interchange of the phenolics in the wood and grapes during this process (as opposed to traditional stainless-steel fermentation), however says that in general it gives the juice a more viscous mouth-feel, and that the investment in oak fermenters have been well worth the investment thus far across the board.
I for one am proud to be all-in on Red Mountain, and look forward to what the years ahead bring for Fidelitas and our AVA that we call home.
Charlie always had his heart set on Red Mountain and knew that one day he would own his own land so he would be able to call it home. In 2006 Charlie approached Stan Clarke, a colleague and well-known figure in the industry, and provided a proposal to purchase land even though it wasn’t for sale. The rest was history! He had purchased 5 acres soon after that meeting and already had some ideas of what he wanted to plant. Sadly, Stan passed away in 2007 and that is when Charlie purchased the additional 10 acres from Stan’s widow, Carol.
“I think Stan would be happy with that we have done with the land, I’m certain.” - Charlie
Once water was brought to the mountain, he planted roughly 3 acres with Dick Boushey back in 2009. Cabernet Sauvignon was number one on the list of grapes to be planted so they planted clones 2, 6, and 8. Clones 2 and 6 have both shined, especially clone 2 which we have used every year, and because of this Charlie was sure to plant more of each in the new planting of 9 acres.
In this new planting, they experimented with clones 412, another entav clone which Charlie is excited about, clone 33 which is equivalent to 191. This clone type can be a little more old world in style with a bit of softness to it. Along with those, he also planted clone 169 which is found in Quintessence Vineyard. Charlie has had great luck with this clone and is anxious to use more of it.
Aside from Cabernet Sauvignon we planted the remaining four Bordeaux varietals. Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and some Petit Verdot. Charlie think’s Petit Verdot will do great things for us in the future so they planted a little more than originally anticipated. Dick and his crew have done an amazing job with our vineyards and think everything is in great shape for the 2017 vintage.
So far, we have released two vintages of our Fidelitas Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 being the first. Later this fall we will release our third vintage, the 2014. He mentioned recently that the 2013 vintage might be his favorite so far however, the 2014 is “rich with black fruit and very concentrated, definitely drinkable young because of the warmer vintage.”
We asked Charlie what his vision was for the Fidelitas Estate Vineyard moving forward. He said that the new blocks could possibly contribute to the Cabernet Sauvignon we currently have, and that the different varieties lend itself to a blend. He is excited to see which specific varietals and blocks jump out at him because it could work as a separate wine.
“Wines will determine our destiny.” - Charlie
This upcoming harvest will be my 30th, and I can easily say that I’ve seen night and day differences in the Washington wine industry over the last three decades.
I was hired out of UC Davis in 1988 by Mike Januik to work at FW Langguth, just outside of Mattawa. Our emphasis was definitely on white wines: Riesling, Chenin Blanc, and some Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. We did a few reds (Cabernet, Merlot, and Lemberger) but they were somewhat of an afterthought, and 90% of our production at that facility was sweet, fruity whites that would be released by Thanksgiving of each vintage.
|At FW Langguth with daughter Emily, who called the grapes "peas", in 1988.|
At this point in time, the industry was still fairly small, and grapes were somewhat hard to come by. Chateau Ste. Michelle was dominating the industry, with a few small others starting to emerge, like Preston and Hogue. There were probably less than 35 wineries in the industry at that time. There weren’t as many opportunities or money in the industry, employment wise, but it was a great start for initial perspective.
This probably puts me in the realm of someone who is a veteran in Washington. There aren’t many of us who have been around that long who are still at it now. Maybe David Forsyth, Mike Januik, Joy Andersen, Doug Gore, Gordy Hill, and Brian Carter to name just a few. Not too many people!
When I reflect on 30 years in the industry, and think of where it has been and where it is going, I feel optimistic for our future. We’ve accomplished a lot in the time it has been going on, but I think we’re in a great place and poise to make an impact on the world of wine. Today, it’s easier than ever to enter the business in Washington, and we’ve found a lot of great grape growing sites over the decades. There are new opportunities, that even California wineries are taking advantage of by moving to the Northwest. We still make a lot of white, but often those are lower price blends from larger companies. At Fidelitas, 90% of our production is red wine. We’ve been able to find some really nice white grapes on Red Mountain, but our focus is really on the reds, as evidenced by what is planted in our own vineyard. This is really a trend for Red Mountain as a whole, and different from where I began, with 95% of its planted acres dedicated to red grapes.
Washington is differentiated from the old world, really by the market forces. Unlike France, there is no one telling us what we can plant where, and that has opened us up to being able to adjust with the marketplace demand without having to ask permission first. We can always plant, and pull, depending on what works in a vineyard site, and in the market. On Red Mountain, we are seeing that the plantings are mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, and probably 90% of the red grapes Bordeaux varietals. There are some other varietals planted as well, but in smaller quantities. Right now, I think that shows us the demand and where that is leading us in the future.
I, and now Fidelitas, was drawn to Red Mountain based on the wines that we were making, and wanted to focus on more. I always knew that I wanted to make Red Mountain wines, but the access to the fruit was so limited. We had to look elsewhere for fruit when we first started, and before I could ever make the wines that we are making today, I was tasting wines from other wineries who were able to get Red Mountain fruit. In the early 2000’s, that meant that grapes were sourced mainly from Klipsun, Kiona, Ciel du Cheval, Red Mountain Vineyard, and a bit of Hedges Estate.
|More than just Red Mountain has changed since 1989.|
I’ll always remember my first visit to Red Mountain, and it’s a story I’ve told many times, because it was the day my daughter Allison was born. I was at Lemberger Days at Kiona, on June 11, 1989, pouring Lemberger for Snoqualmie winery. That day, we drove around with my wife, Terri, her mom, and my first daughter, Emily. It was a warm day, with just a small crowd, maybe 50-60 people, and Don Mercer gave a long speech about the benefits of Lemberger and how great it’d be in the future. Ali was born later that evening.
In 1988, Red Mountain had just a pothole infested gravel road that went up the mountain and was otherwise inhabited by just apple orchards, sagebrush, rattlesnakes, and just a few vineyards. Still, I thought this could really be something someday. Trying the wines from this region, I could see they were different, intense, and special.
I worked at Chateau Ste. Michelle beginning in 1990, and as head red winemaker starting in 1993, and by 1998, found myself at a crossroads in my career, ready to try my own style. With a big winery like that, you can become a career winemaker and retire with the company, or decide to create something on your own. At that time, it wasn’t as common to have a label within the company, so I ventured out with the encouragement of family to start my own brand.
I feel like the first 30 years of my career could be called a pioneering stage. I made a lot of great wines from a lot of great vineyard sites, and growing regions, but now that we’ve been making Red Mountain wines since 2005, I’ve decided to completely focus our line up on Red Mountain. When I look at Red Mountain, I know that this is a region that can stand the test of time, and that is evidenced by the wines made by those 40+ year old vines. Everyone in the state gravitates to Red Mountain to make a really great, concentrated, tannic wine. That’s the style I thought I wanted to make, and although I couldn’t access Red Mountain fruit for our first vintage in 2000, we did find some great vineyards like Weinbau, Windrow, and of course, Champoux Vineyard. By 2005, we were able to add Red Mountain fruit to the line up and are now all in on this one region.
I still feel like we are just touching the tip of the iceberg on the potential of Red Mountain. I say that with a biased Red Mountain or Washington palate, but have tasted wines from all over the world, with Bordeaux and California as our competitive framework, and really feel like what we can do on Red Mountain can be every bit as good as those wines. Certainly, they are different, but I’m bullish on the future, and know that Red Mountain will be thought of in the same sense as all of those great growing regions of the world.
Today, our product line up - outside of Ciel du Cheval, and some anomalies like the old vines of Blackwood Canyon Vineyard, and Kiona Vineyard – is sourced from vineyards that are fairly young, including Quintessence Vineyard (planted in 2008), the Fidelitas Estate Vineyard, and the Canyons Vineyard (both planted in 2009). For the most part, we are just starting to see how these vineyards will show in the future, including our own Estate. It’s an exciting time. The winemaking style is constantly evolving, and I don’t feel like it’s ever totally figured out or dialed in, like you may see in California where blocks and barrels are determined without a ton of variation each vintage. Our own style is still emerging somewhat, and at least until the Estate Vineyard is totally up and going, and we continue to move forward with other vineyard sites on the mountain.
On the winemaking side, we’re constantly evolving as well. One of our newer focuses is fermentation in the presence of oak, which started in 2011 and 2012 vintage reds with oak uprights and roller fermenters. This year, we’ll add a few closed top oak fermenters, that will be used in the 2017 vintage, and enable us to have at least 50% of our reds fermented in wood. Over the years, our product line up that once included Chardonnay and Syrah, has been focused on Bordeaux varietals. In 2007, our physical presence on Red Mountain, and then the planting of our Estate Vineyard in 2009, guided that focus. It’s what I’m most comfortable and familiar with after my 30 years, and seems to be a natural fit for Fidelitas.
I am really excited to see what the Fidelitas Estate Vineyard is going to give us. The first few vintages have been great, and we’ll see more come on line beginning in the 2017 vintage. We always felt that establishing ourselves, with a tasting room and vineyard, on Red Mountain would be sustainable for future generations to pass on. This was a goal that we discussed when we first started to build Fidelitas, and are continuing to chat about as we look towards the future.
This winter we started a big and exciting project that Charlie had always envisioned for Fidelitas. We dug deep in the archives and pulled pallets worth of wine from our offsite storage facility to find the rarest Fidelitas wines in existence. Last Friday, May 5th, as we celebrated our 10th annual Feast of St. Fidelis on Red Mountain we were able to unveil the grand addition to our home on Red Mountain, the Fidelitas Library.
The Fidelitas Library, located in what was once our barrel display room, houses a new version of our iconic wine wall spanning over 18 feet wide and 12 feet tall, it holds 1,260 bottles. Wines dating back to our very first release of 2000 Meritage cover the wall and include some of our most sought after vintages and limited release wines.
Here’s what Charlie has to say about some of his favorite vintages to date:
1994 - I worked at Chateau Ste. Michelle at the time and we were really starting to figure things out in our new facility at Canoe Ridge. First vintage of Col Solare made with the Antinori's.
1999 - Very interesting vintage in that everything seemed to get ripe but also retained incredibly high acids. Very old world with high natural acids.
2005 - Right now for me the best wines we have made for Fidelitas since we started and the best vintage I have been affiliated in Washington since my first vintage in 1988.
2007 - Beautiful wines with incredible balance. Maybe not quite the same ripeness as 2009 but close.
2009 - Wonderful wines that have great potential for aging. Warm vintage and very ripe fruit.
2010 - A very nice vintage, and very much like the 1999 vintage from Washington.
2013 – A great, great vintage.
Other Great Ones - 2001, 1995 & 1989.
Best Vintage That I Tasted But Did Not Make: 1983. Considered by many as one of the greatest vintages ever from Washington. Had the opportunity to taste a vertical of all Woodward Canyon Cab Sauv/Old Vines in or around 2000. The 1983 Cabernet Sauvignon from Woodward Canyon stood high above the rest.
Finally, after years of aging, these wines are available for your enjoyment. In an effort to manage these limited wines the best way possible, wine requests may be submitted and we will follow up with you to confirm the availability. All requests will be managed on a first come, first serve basis, and have a 2 week fulfillment turn around.
Ready to get your hands on some of those special bottles from years past? Email us at email@example.com for more information.
Upon entering the Red Mountain Tasting room your eye is immediately drawn to two things, the view and the wine wall. Many visitors have asked us over the years, “how long have you been here? The building looks so new.” As we celebrate our Red Mountain Tasting Room turning 10 years old this month I sat down with Charlie and asked him a few questions about the design and planning that went into creating the layout of the tasting room.
The vision of the tasting room
“The tasting room looks exactly how we designed it. We have a contemporary label and we wanted it to translate into the design of the tasting room.” There were two guys involved in the original design, Joe Farmer and John Hoke. The two of them worked for several months on the design of the building and everything you see here, the finished product “was by design.”
Unique components that changed over the years
The tasting room was never meant to be a functional production facility; however, we did store barrels in what is now The Fidelitas Library. The barrels were stacked and gave visitors a chance to see what a production facility might be like. This was the largest change we made as of recently, the barrels were removed from the tasting room several years ago and we now have The Fidelitas Library in its place. The room itself wasn’t functional before and now we are able to share our not only our brand but the history of Fidelitas with every visitor. It gives us the opportunity to look back at how far our brand has come since its first vintage in 2000.
Unique concepts that went into the design and construction
Bryan Alford tells a story of sitting out on the patio and studying the sunset from different angles, how did that play a role on the design. “He did, and we ended up changing the angle. If you can imagine how low the vineyard line is, that’s how low the tasting room would have been. We decided to bring in additional dirt and elevate the structure giving us a view that looks down at our Fidelitas Estate Vineyard.
Future dreams and concepts for the next 10 years
The patio is our next big project over the next few years. If you’ve ever experienced summer on Red Mountain, the largest concern is the heat. “We would try and do something with the patio to create more shading. It’s just too hot and with the winds it’s challenging. It’s something we are still open to doing. As far as what we wanted, this was it. It’s still relevant and reflects our label and who we are.
“I’ve visited many tasting rooms over the years and admired their designs but at the end of the day, this is our home. It’s comfortable and is a true reflection of our brand and who we are.”-Charlie
A lot can happen in 10 years. In 2007, I was just starting to date my now husband, exploring a transition from education to the wine industry, and paying $800 rent for a condo with a water view…in Seattle (I don’t want to even think about what that place goes for now). Since then, I started with Fidelitas, got engaged, bought a house, got married, had a kid, expanded my role with Fidelitas, and have accomplished a million things I wouldn’t have thought possible 10 years ago.
10 years ago this spring, Fidelitas was also on the brink of something new. The doors were about to open at our new home on Red Mountain. Prior to this, Charlie’s family-owned winery had spent its first six years relying on tasting tables in the back of other tasting rooms and home deliveries by Charlie himself. I’ve heard countless stories of Charlie hauling a case of wine on his shoulder to this house or that, or people finding our wines in the “Sandhill days”. To have his own tasting room open, fulfilling a decades old dream, must have meant so much.
It took a lot of hard work to get the Red Mountain tasting room to open, and a bunch more to keep us open for the past 10 years. It’s beyond Charlie, beyond me, and our staff, and our families. We’ve had support from growers, fellow winemakers, neighbors, Club members, and extended friends and family that we maybe didn’t even know we had.
Over the next several weeks, we’ll be sharing our stories on how we came to be on Red Mountain, what we’ve learned in the past 10 years, and our vision for the years that lie ahead.
Crazy to think that Easter is right around the corner. Let’s hope the sun is shining because it’s a great day to spend with family, relax, and sip on something delicious. Our family likes to keep things a little more low key but you can guarantee that we will be sipping on some of our Fidelitas favorites. Let’s look at our inventory and see what would pair well with most dishes…
2016 Quintessence Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc - NEW RELEASE
A great wine to start the day off with and sip on its own, or pair with a nice salad! My Italian sister-in-law will be making her famous “Easter Pie” and this will be right by it’s side.
2014 Canyons Vineyard Red Wine - NEW CLUB ONLY RELEASE
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Merlot. I tasted this the other day and it was smooth, fruit forward, and friendly! Ideal for any meat option you might be making on Sunday.
A heavier style Cabernet that would add just the right touch to those bigger dishes. Plus it’s a Cabernet from Red Mountain…need I say more?
Another must have at any holiday gathering! A big Bordeaux style blend will perfect any dish in my opinion.
Everyone at Fidelitas hopes you have a safe and wonderful Easter! Please note that both tasting rooms will be closed so that we can spend time with our families.