As we near the end of club season, some might be wondering how they are going to wait until September for a whole new set of releases. Don’t worry, Fidelitas will always have you covered (except for that one time we ran out of wine). To pair perfectly with your summer BBQ’s, family reunions, and parties galore we have two wines that you'll need to add to your collection.
coming in June
coming in July and only 96 cases produced
But before we add those two new additions to the tasting lineup, there are a couple of wines you might want to snag now before they sell out.
only 55 cases remain
only 95 cases remain
members only, contact me to order
All four of these wines together create the perfect bundle. Does someone want a 100% Semillon, or something with a little more acidity like the Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend? Do you have a big Malbec lover at the party, or someone who likes a blend but still enjoys what Malbec has to offer? Be sure to get on our mailing list if you’re not already so you can stay up to date on our newest releases.
The Feast of St Fidelis is our longest running annual event dating back to when we first opened our tasting room on Red Mountain in May 2007. While this is only my 6th time attending, I must say the Feast is my favorite way to ring in warm Spring days on the patio while celebrating our wonderful members and the anniversary of making our home on Red Mountain.
Five Reasons You Should Attend the Feast This Year:
Members can purchase tickets here. See you in the taco line!
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.
We've got a bunch of new events on the calendar for the Spring!
Dates: March 8, March 22, April 26, May 10, and May 24 - 6:00-7:00 p.m. - $30 members, $40 non-members
Location: Woodinville Tasting Room
How to make a reservation: email email@example.com
Kathleen provides in-depth tastings through flights of 5 wines, both library and current releases, with hand-selected food pairings for each event. Themes from the past include 5 Cabernets of Red Mountain, Vertical tasting of Optu Reds, and vineyard specific tastings featuring Ciel du Cheval and Quintessence. Come taste some of the best Fidelitas has to offer in a more intimate setting.
Dates: March 29 - opening weekend, Red Sox + July 6 - Oakland A's
Location: Suite at T-Mobile Park
How to make a reservation: email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tickets include VIP ballpark access, premium gametime food in the suite, quality time with owner-winemaker Charlie Hoppes, and a selection of Fidelitas Wines to enjoy while you watch the game.
Date: April 12, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Location: Woodinville Tasting Room
How to make a reservation: email email@example.com - Club-Only - $30
Join Charlie and our winemaking team for a special tasting and panel discussion + Q&A to follow. Each ticket includes a flight of wines and the opportunity to learn from our team with 70+ years of combined harvest experience.
Dates: April 13-14 + 20
Location: Woodinville Tasting Room
How to make a reservation: no reservations necessary!
Every time we release new wines to the club in February, April, September, and November we close off the tasting rooms for the following 2 weekends to give our members the chance to come in, try the new releases in an extended flight, and pick up their wines. Often this is the only time to sample and get your hands on limited wines after they're released!
Feast of St. Fidelis
Save the date and start planning your weekend: Friday, May 3
Location: Red Mountain Tasting Room
Watch for more information and an invitation to come in early April!
Note: a big hats off to Chef Pauline Garza and her team at Drumheller's for hosting Team Fidelitas’ holiday party this year. This restaurant, found in the Lodge in Columbia Point in Richland, is awesome. However, of the amazing dishes we enjoyed that night, the one that stood out to me most was Chef Pauline’s showstopping Curried Lentil, Tomato and Coconut Soup. She was kind enough to share the recipe with us, since the whole team wanted more. I did make some minor adjustments to bring it down to family sized (versus restaurant sized) cooking portions. This also errs on the side of caution with the ginger because I was serving it to small children but I’d say the more the merrier! Chef Pauline had some chunks in hers that made the dish.
Thank you, Chef, for sharing!
I’ve never been a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions. Mostly because I don’t like to fail, and setting something like that for myself is pretty much guaranteed failure. Also, I love the concept of some healthy eating after the holidays but most of my Januarys involve playoff football and a trip to Napa, and that’s just not the time to limit yourself. To those who can…kudos.
So – post Superbowl resolutions tend to be more my thing. Add in this snowstorm we’re experiencing in Seattle, and it make it the perfect time to reshare this tasty, and healthy lentil soup. For those who just can’t say no to wine with dinner (🙋♀️), the Optu White Wine is pretty much a perfect pairing. The rich body tampers the heat, while the bright acidity lifts the fresh ginger and cilantro tones. As a bonus, if you didn’t make it to strip the grocery shelves bare, many of these ingredients are things you may have on hand around the house.
Curried Lentil, Tomato, and Coconut Soup
I am in no way a chef, food stylist, or photographer. I just like to cook it and eat it. And drink wine with it. I hope you do to!
With our first releases of the year coming up in a matter of days, I need to take a moment to publicly recognize and honor a wine that is absolutely as good as one of our Cabernets and can stand up to our Bordeaux style blends with the best of them. I’m talking about our Red Mountain Merlot. “It’s just Merlot,” you say? This isn’t your classic Merlot that movies like Sideways put down back in the day.
Did you know that Charlie says Merlot is actually his favorite grape to make wine out of and fun fact: it’s also the most planted variety in France? Merlot is what put Washington on the map. When Charlie works on creating his various Merlots, he fondly remembers his early days as a winemaker, working with Merlot in the early 90s and wowing fellow producers from neighboring regions with the quality of Washington wine.
Most of the Merlots that we will release this year will be club only and highly limited including vineyard-designated Merlots from Quintessence and Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, plus the super sought after Old Vines Merlot. But first, in February, will come our 2016 Red Mountain Merlot which we intentionally make enough of to have in stock for most of the year. It's so good, we don't want to run out. Red Mountain Merlot is a wine we can relax with, enjoying bruit red fruit tones, and a bit of a spicy, dusty quality that we expect from Red Mountain wines.
This isn’t just Merlot, this is the Merlot that you can have in your cellar all year and never get sick of. To be released on Friday, February 8th. Click here to reserve yours.
With the first couple 2016 red releases now available in the tasting rooms and much more to come in February and April (see Jess' most recent post) I figured now is a good time to take a look back at what all went on in the 2016 vintage and how it affected what went into the bottle.
What team Fidelitas was saying in the midst of 2016:
When we look at the differences in vintages the biggest factor on Red Mountain is heat; there are many other influential variances such as rain-fall, humidity, damaging frosts (*knocks on wood), etc..., but air temperature at different times of the year drives the ripening cycle. The main way we look at the difference in heat between vintages is growing degree days (GDD):
One of the main factors of grape development or the "ripening cycle" is air temperature. The running total of cumululative GDD during the "growing season," deemed to be April 1 to October 31 in Washington, is used to compare different vintages in the same region and different regions around the world. A base temperature is 50 (Farenheit) is chosen by WSU based on their experience that when the average temperature > 50 vine development/sugar development takes place.
Quote from the Washington Wine Commission which perfectly sums up the chart above:
"2016 continued the trend of warm growing seasons in Washington marked by an early start. Bud break and bloom were significantly advanced from historical dates, with bloom occurring in some areas as early as the third week of May, a good two-plus weeks ahead of average. By the end of May, 2016 was easily on pace to surpass 2015 as the warmest vintage on record. To everyone’s surprise, beginning in June, temperatures swung back toward normal. “As we all know weather is very unpredictable and we did not see the cool second half coming,” said one winemaker. These cooler temperatures persisted throughout the majority of the summer."
Here's a summary of a few conversation I had with my dad about 2016 on Red Mountain:
2016 started out warm, extremely warm, and some were predicting a vintage that would break the previous heat records of 2014 and 2015. We had an early April bud break which made us a little nervous, luckily with Red Mountain being one of the warmer areas we aren’t at as high of a risk for Spring frost as others (once it starts to get warm on Red Mountain it stays warm). The fruit set beautifully and we could already tell that yield was going to be on the high side. The summer cooled way down compared to previous vintages and the final ripening stages into the fall were drawn out to aid with flavor development and giving us the opportunity to let the fruit hang for some of our later ripening varietals without having to worry about sugar delevelopment or over-ripening. Expect more age worthy wines in 2016 – with acid levels a little higher – somewhere between the cooler vintages, 10 and 11, and the warmer 14 and 15. These wines may need a little more time to open up especially for bigger/bolder releases like Esate Cabernet or Quintessence Cabernet but we’re excited about the balance and age-worthiness of these wines. With more "normal" weather our single varietal wines are going to be more "true to their traditional varietal characteristics" - you won't taste the warmth of the vintage as much in these wines.
Also, we’re seeing year after year just how incredible fruit is coming off Red Mountain as some of our younger vineyard partners are continuing to develop and we continue to work with the same blocks year after year – always fine tuning our winemaking techniques to get the most out of the fruit.
(above) Charlie's view at 6:00 a.m. on a Sunday. This is the 2016 Quintessence Merlot that will be released in April!
(below) My similar view of early-morning pumpovers - Willamette Valley, 2016