I almost hate to admit it, but I have worked every Taste Washington since 2007…making this year my 13th consecutive celebration of Washington wine. (writing that out, it makes me realize that is the same number of years I spent in my K-12 schooling…yikes) Year after year, it is a wonderful chance to see old friends and meet a few new ones. And with this many Tastes logged, I think I’m close to calling myself an expert. Here is my updated survival guide for Taste Washington.
This is so key in advance. You do not want to plan on you or someone in your party being able to drive home. If you are going to consume any wine…do not plan on driving. Extra fun this year: did you know that it’s the Mariners’ home opening games versus the Boston Red Sox? That is just going to make traffic and parking even worse. Since my last post, we now have the light rail, ride share options are so easy, and the Commission has partnered with even more hotels around town.
The 2019 Taste Washington event guide is now available! Take the time to scan through and highlight your must hit list. Challenge yourself to try a few new things! I love meeting people for the first time who have never encountered our wines before. Try a new winery (and learn their story!), a new varietal, or a restaurant dish that you’d never order on your own.
For the second time in this post, I’m going to age myself. Somewhere in my first few years, the slogan of Taste and associated events was “Hip to Spit”. Not the most hip slogan, but it’s a good message (super sorry, Taste WA 2019 - I don’t totally believe in must.taste.everything). You can’t have it all, nor is it responsible, nor will you remember it all (or your weekend) if you do. Try some amazing wines and be okay with spitting a few out. Use a spit cup to be discreet and dump at one of the many, many receptacles around the venue.
There is more to Taste than the 235 wineries at the Grand Tasting. There are dinners, lunches, seminars, and high end, intimate tastings. Charlie and I will be at Red + White this Thursday sharing some sold out, old vine wines out of the library. At the time of this writing, there are still Red + White tickets available! Find your red or white super suit and come down to see us on the waterfront.
Here is the basic sequence of tasting a new wine: smell, swirl, smell, sip, swish, swallow or spit! You want to experience the wine right when it’s poured, see what air does to the aromas with a light swirl, give it another whiff, and then taste it. Allow the wine to hit all areas of your mouth to get a feeling for the acids, the fruit, the tannins, and the structure of the wine. And then (see point 3) decide what you’re going to do with it.
Other basic etiquette involves caring about the wine beyond if it's red or white and holding your glass steady while someone is pouring (you don’t know many times I’ve poured wine on the table from people pulling their glass away - just because you move your glass doesn’t mean I’m going to stop pouring). If you really want to know what winery people are thinking, read THIS, which I’ll admit is old, but it makes me laugh every time I read it.
I can’t wait for another great Taste Washington weekend. Charlie, who has many more Tastes in the books, considers this a true celebration of the Washington wine industry, where we all gather to celebrate this amazing corner of the wine world. Please come by to say hi and check out the special wines we’ve brought to share. (hint: there is always a surprise for those who ask…)
For those who aren't up to date on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (bettter known as Triple D), stop reading right now, reevaluate how you spend your free time, find a way to stream the episode that aired on March 8th called "Southern to South American" featuring Richland Washington's own Porters Barbecue and you may recognize a certain winemaker chowing down on a dino beef rib:
Talking to some club members recently and helping them plan their trips to Red Mountain, suggesting food places that may or may not show up on a Google search got me thinking that I should gather all the food recommendations from team Fidelitas and create our own:
Bale Breaker Brewing Company, Yakima - if your getting mezmerized by the rows, rows, and rows of hops and need a little beer to warm up your palate
Los Hernandez Tamales, Union Gap - authentic tamales from James Beard award winning chef, Felipe Hernandez
Wine o'Clock, Prosser - wine bar and bistro located in Prosser's Vintner's Village
Miner's Drive In, Yakima - obligatory since I stopped here every away game for high school sports
Graze, Richland - soups, salads, and sandwiches, located right next to Porters for those who don't want the Dino Ribs
Tacos Super Uno, Richland - taco truck just off the highway on your way to Red Mountain from Tri-Cities, you need to have Mexican food while you're in Eastern WA. Your best bet is coming to our Feast of St. Fidelis event May 3rd for some of this:
and this view:
Drumheller's, Richland - located on the second floor of the Columbia Point Lodge overlooking the Richland waterfront, make sure someone at your table orders pasta
Anthony's, Richland - their back patio may be the best dining view in Tri-Cities
The Bradley, Richland - tapas bar
Fat Olive's, Richland - most popular after work spot for workers in the Tri-Cities research district
Carmine's Italian Restaurant, Kennewick - family-owned, it'll make you feel like you're at your Italian grandmother's for dinner
Aki Sushi, Kennewick - best sushi I've had, Seattle included
We’re in the midst of Taste Washington Wine Month which is the kick-off to all things happening in our industry! With spring around the corner, there are so many ways you can come out and support Washington wine and all it has to offer. I hope you’re ready to start planning, because we have a lot in the books.
Travelling to the vineyards a little difficult for you this time of year? Purchase your tickets and enjoy all the wineries that will come to Seattle! For some insider tips, check out a previous blog post of ours.
We are celebrating the release of our highly anticipated wines from Quintessence Vineyard on Red Mountain. Get more information on how to join our Wine Club and receive these member exclusive wines!
Purchase your tickets and join the crowds who are getting out in the sunshine to enjoy all the wines Yakima Valley has to offer.
A lovely intimate dinner put on by The Lodge at Columbia Point in Richland! Be sure to contact them for more details.
Our annual club appreciation party on Red Mountain! Enjoy delicious wines, and the famous tacos from That Guy Catering. Members, an invitation will be sent in April with tickets and more information!
Be one of the first to try newly released wines that can only be tasted at the wineries. A beautiful time of year to enjoy the vineyards in Walla Walla.
After our first trip visiting our neighbors to the south, we just had to keep coming back! Come visit us for our 4th annual Portland Roadshow. Be sure to signup for our newsletter so you receive the invitation coming out in April. Open to all!
Do you live on the west side of the Mountains? Check out the Woodinville Wine Country here for a list of all the upcoming events starting in May.
With the sun finally shining, come out and support your local wineries! We'd love a visit.
Here on Red Mountain, we have had snow on the ground since the Super Bowl. It’s packed around the chairs on the patio and covers the entire Fidelitas Estate Vineyard. Here are a few, quick facts, about the snow and potential impact that we can expect on Red Mountain.
With grape vines, we look at potential damage to the buds, as well as the phloem (bark) and Xylem (wood). We are lucky to have WSU’s Viticulture and Enology program providing us with real time cold hardiness monitoring. So far, they are showing that the outside temperatures are tracking well above what we’d consider critical temperatures that could lead to damage in the vines.
You’ll notice on these graphs that the temperatures and critical temps tend to track closely together. We were fortunate this year to have a slow decline in temperatures that allowed the vines to acclimate to the outside temperatures. A quick cold snap could have had a different result.
In addition to the cold temps, we saw a lot of snow, which is a good thing. A lot of people think snow = cold = bad. But, the snow is an insulator that allows the ground to freeze only to a depth of around 6 inches sparing the vine from root damage. Without the snow cover the level that the soil could freeze would be deeper, with greater potential for damage. Think about what our front yards look like now. The grass is dead, but we know the healthy new green grass is below the earth, waiting to come up soon.
If we have a concern right now, it is the long-term impact that this will have on the season. Bud break could be 2-3 weeks later than usual, which could drastically impact the growing season. This is a time where we feel lucky to be on hot Red Mountain, where we’ll still expect the fruit to get fully ripe. Cooler regions such as Walla Walla the certain sites in the Yakima Valley may experience some ripening troubles. On the flip side, extreme heat could potentially get the sugars to the proper levels, but the grapes won’t be physiologically balanced.
I suppose it’s the farmer in all of us who worry about the worst possible scenario. We all like to talk about the weather but so much can happen between now and September. At this point in time, we’ll just hope for the temperatures to slowly warm. A slow melting of snow will allow the moisture to go directly into the soil as opposed to a quick thawing where the soil not able to absorb the water quick enough resulting in water running off quickly causing possible flooding. This is one of the joys of farming and winemaking…every vintage presents a new challenge and we get to still work with Mother Nature to create wonderful wines.