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Fidelitas Wines


 

Michelle Marsh
 
June 12, 2019 | Michelle Marsh

Bill Hamlin, Mobile Bottling Expert

Every year we are met with the same signs that summer is here. At Fidelitas it’s a once brown and bare vineyard turned to lush green, the release of our Semillon for patio season, and our dreadfully quiet tasting rooms once again filled with friends and new faces. One less obvious indicator that summer has arrived is bottling week at Wine Boss. There’s nothing like watching the bottling truck pull up knowing that soon the wine that been waiting in barrel for the last 2 years is finally going to make its way into bottle, and eventually out into the world.

Bill Hamlin of Custom Mobile Bottling spent much of his early career bottling and packaging fruit juices and wine at Ocean Spray then Chateau Ste. Michelle which is where he and Charlie met back in the ’90s. At that time, Charlie encouraged Bill to branch out on his own and what do you know, he just as well did it, and he’s arguably the best in the biz.

His mobile bottling truck doesn’t look like more than a semi-truck from the outside, but on the inside is state of the art bottling machinery. Most small to medium-sized wineries, like us, choose to use mobile bottling as it’s more cost effective than investing in a $50,000 bottling line that only gets used a few times per year. Instead, we call in the expert who does this every day. He and his truck are an invaluable part of the final process before wines get introduced into the world.

In addition, Bill uses a cross-flow filtration system for filtering wine before bottling. Yeasts that escape the filtering or fining process, for example, can result in refermentation in the bottle and can alter the flavor. His equipment is the best for filtering out all the leftover junk and leaves nothing but the purest juice. You can actually see and taste the difference between the wine before and after cross-flow filtration, the latter being less murky and much softer on your pallet.

His truck has a bottom-feed volumetric filler, designed to minimize splashing as the wine is transported into bottles. After the bottles are vacuum-sparged, wine pumped from tanks into the filler is measured into the bottles, and then automatically leveled to a consistent volume. Then bottles are sealed with a cork and pushed off the line and placed in boxes. From there the wines are palletized, 56 cases per pallet to be exact, and sent to Vintners Logistics until they are ready to be released.

This week we are bottling the 2017 vintage red wines for Fidelitas, roughly 7500 cases or 90,000 bottles. These wines will be released in 2020. 

Honorable mention to our team of bottlers who put loads of manual labor on bottling day. Thank you for waking up with the sun and lasting through the long, hot, hours in the truck.

 

Ideas and facts for this post came from https://www.goodfruit.com/bottling-on-wheels/. Thank you for the great publication.

Time Posted: Jun 12, 2019 at 1:30 PM
Will Hoppes
 
June 5, 2019 | Will Hoppes

Tips on Throwing a Blind-Tasting Party

Tasting wines completely blind is one of the most humbling things you can put yourself through especially if you consider yourself somewhat of a connoisseur.  When we open a bottle of wine, pull a barrel sample, or step up to a familiar tasting bar we bring all sorts of baggage with us that effects our perception of what we're about to taste and makes it impossible to be unbiased.  For example, in the winery, if we walk up to a barrel that's holding our favorite varietal from our favorite vineyard site and the specific barrel producer is one that we love we've already decided our opinion of the wine before even taking a sip.  We constantly go through and taste blends and barrel samples blindly to make sure that we're critically and fairly judging all of our wines. 

Here are some tips for you and your friends to throw your own blind-tasting party!

  1. Leave all egos at the door!  Bounce ideas off of eachother and no making fun of descriptors or people's opinions.  Tasting blind is a learned skill and takes a lot of practice.
  2. Choose a theme.  Whether it's tasting 5 different Syrahs from all over the world, white wines with different sugar levels, WA cabs vs. old world cabs, red blends at different price points, etc... pick a theme and stick to it so that you can make meaningful comparisons between the wines and learn from them.
  3. Pool all your money together and have 1 person lead the tasting.
    • Combinging $ will help you in buying multiple bottles
    • If you rely on people bringing their own wines you'll get too much variety and the price points may be all out of whack
    • Having 1 person host the tasting means they can ask leading questions + keep all of the wines organized.  The host can also ask people specific questions to get them involved in the discussion.
  4. Use paper bags, pre-pour all of the wines, or use decanters so people don't cheat!  For example Fidelitas bottles are a hair taller than most so they're a dead giveaway in a tasting even when covered up.
  5. Use wine evaluation templates as a guide.  The Court of Master Sommeliers has some great resources:  https://www.mastersommeliers.org/resources
  6. Make sure to have plenty of stemware.  It really helps to taste the wines side-by-side.
  7. Make sure to have plenty of snacks and water to cleanse your palate.
  8. Enjoy yourself, it's just wine.  Too often I've been to tasting groups where people don't leave their egos at the door and are too critical of others or themselves and take things too seriously.  At the end of the day the point is to learn and drink wine with your friends!

Cheers!

Time Posted: Jun 5, 2019 at 2:00 PM
Jess Zander
 
May 29, 2019 | Jess Zander

2018 Red Mountain Semillon

It’s that time of year again. The days are getting longer, the temperatures are (inconsistently) warming, I can smell BBQs around the neighborhood, and white wines and roses are starting to fill my inbox. It must be time for Semillon!

This upcoming weekend marks the official release of Fidelitas’ 2018 Red Mountain Semillon. Charlie sources this fruit from Klipsun Vineyard, which is the perfect site for white wines on Red Mountain. While it gets the hot days the region is known for, this lower elevation block, also experiences cooler nighttime temps, which lets the grape take a break and retain a nice acidity. In the 2018 vintage, Charlie used a 225L French Oak egg with a small portion of the Semillon, which subtly rounds out the finished product. It’s a perfect summertime sipper, brimming with bright, fresh fruit tones.

We love this wine around my house. Pre-children, my husband and I would share a bottle on the front porch, watching people stroll by and enjoying the summer nights. We don’t have quite as many quiet moments now days, but I still love a glass on a sunny evening, cooking dinner and watching the kids tear the house apart. Here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy Semillon:

 

P A R T Y   P O U R

Nothing kicks off a Fidelitas party quite like a long line up of pretty glasses, filled with Semillon.

On Vacation

We always pack a few bottles with us on our summer trip to Lopez Island. Semillon and fresh crab? Yes, please!

With Dinner

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. While writing the technical notes for this new release, I whipped up a quick dinner of roasted sweet potatoes, purple cabbage and edamame slaw, and coconut rice. This may have been one of my favorite pairings I’ve ever done with this wine.

On the Red Mountain Patio

This is by far the BEST way to enjoy Fidelitas’ Red Mountain Semillon. I hope everyone can make it to Red Mountain at some point to relax in an Adirondack, soak in some sunshine and views, and enjoy a glass of white wine. With friends…or on your own for a bit of quiet time (again: yes, please!).

Ready…set…GO!

With only 157 cases produced…this won’t make it til the end of the summer.

Time Posted: May 29, 2019 at 4:23 PM
Skye Dissette
 
May 22, 2019 | Skye Dissette

Party on the Patio

What are your plans for Memorial Day Weekend? 

Every year Fidelitas hosts BBQ + Band on everyone's favorite patio. Did you know it's supposed to be in the 80's at our home on Red Mountain this weekend? What better way to celebrate the sunshine than by enjoying some delicious BBQ by Outlaw Catering, and listening to some soulful jams by Black Dolly? Pair that with some of our 2016 The Canyons Vineyard Red Wine and your weekend really can't be beat. An insider tip...we may be featuring a special wine that isn't being released until June. Any guesses what it is? Hint: we only produced 190 cases and it's our favorite summer sipper! 

We hope to see our members and their friends this Sunday, May 26th. We'll have a glass waiting! 

Time Posted: May 22, 2019 at 9:00 AM
Michelle Marsh
 
May 16, 2019 | Michelle Marsh

Free Ship Day

Today is Free Ship Day. Actually, yesterday was also free ship day but nobody knew about it.

We prepped the days before getting everything ready for lots and lots of packing and formatted our email late in to the night Tuesday until it was just right. We fiddled with our UPS strategies making sure the promotion was set up correctly and you’d receive free shipping just like we promised. Team Fidélitas was in place ready to field calls and emails and tell you all about the amazing wines that we could send your way.

When we sat at the computer early Wednesday morning and tried to send the email, unfortunately, we ran into technical difficulties. Of course, this happens on Free Ship Day! The posts were already out on social media so we thought that would be good enough and we worked all day with the amazing support team at WineDirect to get our emails back on track and try the email again Thursday. It turns out that the Facebook and Instagram algorithm didn’t like our posts because it included text on the image. We got only 20 likes (shout out to you 20 people!). 

Yesterday, technology was not on our side. The cool thing about it was the amazing people who worked together to resolve the issues and get us back on track today. Did you know that our small team sees every single order that comes in and, quite literally, does a little happy dance every time? Free Ship Day is more than a promotion to us. It’s a day when we get to send a little piece of Red Mountain out to all of our friends. We pack each box in house, by hand, with care obsessing over every detail.

Some days these are the tales of being a small business. We are so excited that today is (finally) Free Ship Day. We hope we get to send a piece of Red Mountain to you.

Order 6+ bottles by midnight tonight for complimentary ground or $25 2-Day Air.

Time Posted: May 16, 2019 at 2:30 PM
Will Hoppes
 
May 9, 2019 | Will Hoppes

5 Things I Learned from Chuck at the Leadership Summit

This past Tuesday the entire Fidelitas management team met for our First Annual Leadership Summit to plan our attack for the rest of the year + set our big long-term goals.  As is custom at these type of meetings we pepper my dad with questions about Fidelitas history, vineyard philosophy, his career, etc... Every time I hear him talk I learn new things and I'm reminded of things that I haven't heard in a while.  Here's my top 5:

1. The original 400 cases of the Fidelitas Meritage had "Fidelis" printed on the corks which was the original name of the winery before we got a cease and desist letter from Safeway re: a "Fidelis" liquor brand that was in their posession.  Does anyone have any of the original Fidelis brandy that they're willing to share? 

Pictures borrowed from Great Northwest Wine

2.  Although his first "official" vintage in Washington was in 1989 at Snoqualmie-Langguth working under Mike Januik the first ever Washington wine that my dad made was a 1983 Riesling from a vineyard just outside Pasco, WA made in my grandfather's, his father-in-law's kitchen.  His name, Daniel Fidelis O'Neil.

A young Daniel Fidelis O'Neil picture in the Seattle Times

3. He got hired on at 3 Rivers in 1999 as their first winemaker with the agreement that he'd be able to start his own wine label.  He spent the 2001 & 2001 harvests there commuting from Tri-Cities everyday.

4. In 1993 he was hired as the head Red Winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle after focusing on their white wine making from 1990 to 1992.  His first task was to manage the Canoe Ridge facility which was the first, modern, large-scale red wine-making facility in Washington state.  He said from 1993-1998 so much was getting thrown at him that he was able to learn massive amounts in such a short period of time all while at the forefront of red winemaking in the state.

A bottle of 1993 Ste Michelle Cab that we were able to enjoy recently courtesy of Compass Wines. We were amazed at how well this wine was holding up, Mike Januik wasn't lying!

5.  His first job in the wine industry was in 1985-86 as a lab tech at Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma while studying at UC Davis.

Time Posted: May 9, 2019 at 5:00 PM
Skye Dissette
 
April 18, 2019 | Skye Dissette

More Releases Still to Come...

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.

2018 Red Mountain Semillon

coming in June

2016 The Canyons Vineyard Malbec 

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.

2017 Red Mountain Optu White

only 55 cases remain

2016 The Canyons Vineyard Red Wine

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.

Time Posted: Apr 18, 2019 at 1:10 PM
Michelle Marsh
 
April 3, 2019 | Michelle Marsh

Five Reasons to Attend Feast

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:

  1. It. Is. Finally. Spring. After the long winter we had, do you need any other reason to party? Pull up a seat in one of the Adirondack chairs overlooking the Fidelitas Estate Vineyard, which will be full on blooming by that point, and enjoy a warm spring evening of fresh air and solitude on Red Mountain. Watch the sunset over Rattlesnake Mountain by the firepit or cozied up with a blanket, we’ve got you covered.
  2. Brand new wines and a stroll through the Estate. Get a VIP ticket to come early and join Charlie for a tour of the vineyard and enjoy our newest wines from the 2016 vintage. Our favorite taco wine, Red Mountain Malbec, will be flowin’!  
  3. Can you believe that we’ve had the same taco wagon at Feast for over a decade now? I still remember my first Feast when my turn came up in the taco line, long time employee Alissa was beside me and gave me the pro-tips: Get 4 tacos, trust me. Ask for onions and peppers. Don’t skimp on the salsas. Drooling just thinking about it…
  4. We got a band!! I am sooooo excited to announce that this year we are kicking up with fun times with one of our favorite local bands The Knutzen Brothers. You can catch them at all the good spots around town and we can’t wait to turn up the volume on the patio!
  5. Good times for all. In years past we’ve kept this event mostly exclusive to Club members in an effort to give members a private party to say thank you for the support. However, we realized that our members have friends that like wine too and bringing people together to share good times over a great glass of wine at our favorite place on earth is possibly the best thing ever. Members can now bring up to 4 guests with them. Not a member yet? There’s still time to join so that you can come too! 

Members can purchase tickets here. See you in the taco line! 

 

Time Posted: Apr 3, 2019 at 4:00 PM
Jess Zander
 
March 26, 2019 | Jess Zander

Taste Washington Survival Guide

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.

Figure Your Ride

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.

Figure Your Plan of Attack

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.

It’s Hip to Spit

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.

Elevate Your Experience

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.

Whatever the Event…Figure the Etiquette

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…)

Time Posted: Mar 26, 2019 at 9:23 PM
Will Hoppes
 
March 21, 2019 | Will Hoppes

Diners, Drive-Ins, and Wines

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:

"Meat Boss"

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:

Diners, Drive-Ins, and Wines

Places to stop along the way:

Bale Breaker Brewing Company, Yakimaif 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

Garcia's Drive Thru, Grandview

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

Lunch spots for something to grab in between tastings:

Porters Barbecue, Richland

Graze, Richlandsoups, 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:

Tri-Cities Tap and Barrel, Richland

Foodies, Kennewick

Andrae's Kitchen, Walla Walla

Dinner:

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

Fiction @ J Bookwalter, Richland

Carmine's Italian Restaurant, Kennewick - family-owned, it'll make you feel like you're at your Italian grandmother's for dinner

Europa Itialian & Spanish Restaurant, Kennewick

Proof Gastropub, Kennewick

Aki Sushi, Kennewick - best sushi I've had, Seattle included

Time Posted: Mar 21, 2019 at 5:00 PM