As we come in to the end of April, I thought I’d take the time to talk a little bit about what’s going on here at the winery and in the vineyard.
We’re working hard in the cellar. Already, we’ve bottled some of the 2017 whites, including Quintessence Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, which came out of the Ovium Barrel, and later this week will be the Semillon. With the Optu White Wine, we are going to let things age out a little bit longer. We have equal parts of the Sauvignon Blanc for this blend in our new concrete egg, and in the standard French Oak that we’ve used in the past. We want to see what each component is like and can bring to the blend and will either use one or the other, or maybe a mixture of both in the final blend. Overall, we like to give the Optu White just a little more time to pick up some creaminess and a bit more flavor.
On the reds side, we’re doing some testing with letting the 4040 spend some time in the oak upright tanks before bottling. That blend doesn’t get a bunch of oak aging otherwise, so we’ll see what this ‘flashing’ at the end does as far as boosting the final product. This is another example of how we aren’t ever following the same recipe and are always willing to try new things to make excellent wines. Beyond that, in June we’re planning to start bottling some 2016 reds, including that 4040, as well as some Malbec, and Merlot, and then the Cabernets and bigger blends will fall later in to the summer.
4040 spending it's final days in Oak Upright tanks, prior to June bottling
Out in the vineyard we’re starting to see some bud break, and it’s like we’re starting anew. Like in the fall, when we’re in the cellar and starting to make wine again, you feel like you’re starting a new vintage. Really, that vintage starts right now when you’re starting to see some growth and are starting to prune things a certain way. I think one of the things that is great to see is that there is a lot of new planting on Red Mountain. A lot of the fruit we take, and wines that we make, are from these newer sites. This includes Quintessence, which was planted in 2010, and we took the first crop in 2012. Same thing with The Canyons Vineyard, that was planted in 2009, and we took our first crop in 2012 as well. As these vineyards age out, I think that these wines are going to settle and even out, and we’re excited to work with them long term.
Bud break in the Fidelitas Estate Vineyard
The other thing that is exciting for us to see is getting to third leaf in our new planting of the Fidelitas Estate Vineyard. These are the 9 acres we planted in 2015, that we will now be coming in to perhaps half production this year, based on what we’ve seen so far. This is really going to give us the chance to see what the wines might be like. Not only with some new Cabernet Sauvignon clones that we planted out there, like 412, 33, 169, but also some clones 2 and 6 in addition to the original planting of 2, 6, and 8. We’ll also be looking at how the Merlot is going to come on, as well as the Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc. We’re really looking forward to seeing how those are going to start turning out and are thinking about the next chapter of the vineyard.
Exploring the new plantings of the Fidelitas Estate Vineyard
Overall, on Red Mountain, things look good. We’re maybe a little bit behind a normal year, but as we know, a nice little heat boost along the way can push things forward really quickly. Already, we are scheduled to get to 86 later this week, which is really warm for the end of the April, and believe me, will push shoot growth and get us closer to a normal year.
As far as newly released wines, we are focusing a lot on Quintessence Vineyard right now. I really think that this is a great vineyard. The main blocks we take from give us extreme southern aspect, we are working with some great clones, and probably the most essential part of the vineyard, is the human factor on the terroir and what a great job they are doing there. The Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon are all tasting great upon release.
Back in 1988 as a recent graduate from UC Davis' Viticulture and Enology graduate program, my dad was hired by Mike Januik (a fellow Davis grad) at Snoqualmie/Langguth near Mattawa, WA for his first winemaking job. After doing a harvest at Waterbrook in 1990, he rejoined Mike as a part of the winemaking team at Chateau Ste. Michelle, and worked alongside him for just under a decade, becoming the head red winemaker in '93 as Mike was serving as the head winemaker. They worked on the the first few vintages of the Col Solare project together from '95 to '98 and helped push Washington onto the world scene with the wines they crafted together during their time at the Chateau. Itching to start their own projects they both left around 1999, Mike staying on the west side of the state and creating Januik and my dad starting Fidelitas on the eastside. But you probably know this already, it's been well documented and touted by us throughout years.
What you may not know is that Mike's son, Andrew, who apparently I spent a lot of time hanging out with when I was too young to remember, has stepped into a winemaking role at Januik, and has his own "Andrew Januik" label since 2011. He started working part time at the winery when he was 13 and shortly after started working full time during the summers - a sentence that sounds all too familiar to me.
Since starting to manage our Woodinville tasting room about a year ago I reconnected with Andrew - which felt natural to say least with how much we had in common with our lives following very similar paths. After many glasses of wine, nights at karaoke bars, times spent dog-sitting for him, and quests to find the best beers in Seattle we became good friends and thought it'd be and awesome idea for me to join him for a Malbec project he had going in the famed Uco Valley region of Mendoza, Argentina. Not wanting to pass up on the opportunity to travel and learn from a talented winemaker like Andrew it was a no-brainer. Below are some highlights of past few weeks spent harvesting in Argentina:
We flew into Buenos Aires after a layover in London (this is what happens when you buy tickets at the last minute) and spent 1 night there before heading over to Mendoza. We spent hours and hours exploring the city with plenty of stops to drink beer and play cards:
Then over to Finca Agostino in Mendoza to check in on Andrew's 2017 Vintage:
Checking our fruit the day before the first pick:
Note how high these Cabernet vines are planted
First day of crush at O Fournier
Early Morning Pumpovers with a view
If it weren't for the snow-capped Andes in the background you'd think this was Eastern WA
Before and after pumpovers
With plenty of breaks for empanadas
Thanks to Andrew for letting me tag along.
There's so much I can take away from this trip to help me in my winemaking journey.
Make sure to go taste his wines if you haven't yet!
Come see me in the tasing room this weekend!
It’s that time of year where people want to hit the road to wine country. After just recently making tasting appointments for my family, I have a few tips to provide for those who want to plan a weekend at some of their favorite (or new!) spots.
Research the area you want to visit! Create a plan of attack. That way, you aren’t totally winging it and you have some sort of game plan. During your visits, even ask the staff where their favorite spots are! I have found my favorite wineries by doing just that. And trust me, the staff loves to chat all things wine!
Make a Reservation
If you are traveling with 6+ tasters (or even less) I recommend making a reservation wherever you hope to taste. This will ensure that your group has a place to sit while you enjoy your tasting. Curious if that location may have more than just their daily tasting lineup? Just ask! Some locations may offer special wine tastings at different prices.
Bring Bottled Water + Snacks
Typically, you taste anywhere from 4-5 wines at any given tasting room. That’s roughly a glass of wine at each stop. Going to multiple locations that day? The wine really adds up! Be sure to bring some bottled water for your group that way you can stay hydrated throughout each tasting. It’s also important to fuel up with food. If you are making a reservation, ask if they offer cheese plates for purchase. They can have them ready for you ahead of time. Or, if you’d rather, pack up some cheese and crackers and bring them along!
Watch Out For the Heat
If you are planning your wine trip during the hot months, this can be dangerous for any wine purchases you have made if you store the bottles in your car. Bring a wine cooler so your wine doesn’t get too hot! Or, ask the staff if you can leave your wine purchase at the tasting room and grab it later that day or on your way back out of town.
Most of all, have fun! Buy that special bottle that will help you to remember the experience you had with your friends and family.
Contact your Club Concierge Team to help plan your next visit to Red Mountain!
The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate from Fidelitas, one of the flagship releases from the estate, spent 22 months in 71% new French oak. Its deep, inky purple/ruby color is followed by an impressive bouquet of ripe plums, black cherries, tobacco, and leafy herbs. Picking up more chocolate and graphite characteristics with time in the glass, this full-bodied, rich, nicely concentrated effort has fine tannin, good purity of fruit, and nicely integrated acidity.
The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Quintessence (100% Cabernet aged in 83% new French oak) offers more tobacco, spring flower, and violets characteristics, as well as a full-bodied, pure, balanced style on the palate. With lots of blue fruits, ripe tannin, and terrific purity, it's going to keep for 10-15 years. It's another high-quality, balanced wine from this estate.
Another 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from this estate, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Blackwood Canyon (22 months in 71% new French oak) offers a plumper, more sweetly fruited, sexy style. Blackcurrants, blueberries, scorched earth and Asian spice notes all give way to a full-bodied, plump, rounded, yet still structured effort that has considerable depth and richness, all while not being heavy. It too will keep for 10-15 years. While I found all these 2015s to be outstanding wines, they're certainly more similar than different.
From one of my favorite vineyards on Red Mountain, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Ciel du Cheval spent 22 months in 29% new French oak. Black cherry, blueberries, violets, spring flowers, and lavender notes all emerge from the glass and it has a rich, rounded, voluptuous style on the palate. Nicely balanced, with sweet tannin, it's another rocking wine from Fidelitas to enjoy over the coming 10-15 years.
The 2015 Optu Red Mountain is a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and 4% Cabernet Franc. It's another inky-colored effort that gives up plenty of graphite, tobacco, and black cherry/currants styled fruits. It has lots of Cabernet Sauvignon character, the savory tannin of the Red Mountain terroir, and a great finish.
The classic 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain (100% Cabernet aged 22 months in 80% new French oak) offers pure, elegant notes of crème de cassis, crushed flowers, and violets, with a medium to full-bodied, silky, nuanced style on the palate. Less powerful and tannic than some of the other cuvées here, it still has beautiful purity and well-integrated acidity, and is a beautiful wine that's going to drink well for 10-15 years.
We’re finally coming into that time of year when things start to get really exciting on Red Mountain, and we have no shortage of events to celebrate all that is great about the wine and region we love. Plan your trip and party with us this spring!
visit the links for tickets and more information
Explore the Fidelitas Estate Vineyard that sits outside our Red Mountain Tasting room. Join us at the tasting room as we venture through the vines and make our way to the heart of our vineyard. We will then make our way back to the tasting room and enjoy a seated tasting of 5 wines, all sourced exclusively from Red Mountain.
Fidelitas is visiting our neighbors to the south, bringing a wine tasting event to you at Union/Pine in SE Portland. We invite members and friends to mix and mingle with winemaker, Charlie Hoppes, and Team Fidelitas while sipping on our newest releases and enjoying bites from White Pepper. Invite friends to join you at this event to taste Club only wines + the opportunity to receive joining prizes!
The Feast of St. Fidelis is a celebration of all things good on Red Mountain. We're kicking off spring on the mountain with our annual event for Fidelitas Club members. Join us for new releases and amazing tacos while taking in the sights of the vineyards.
We are hosting an intimate Winemaker Dinner on Red Mountain to showcase the spring vineyard designated wines, and wonderful foods of The Q Wood Fired Grill. We have just 18 seats available for this paired dinner showcasing Red Mountain, with Fidelitas Owner + Winemaker, Charlie Hoppes.
An afternoon on the Red Mountain patio with delicious BBQ and lively tunes.
Take in the sweeping views of Red Mountain and The Yakima Valley while enjoying the highly acclaimed, hand crafted wines by Honorary Vintner, Charlie Hoppes, expertly paired with a memorable meal.
The Auction of Washington Wines is proud to present the 4th Annual Wine & Music Festival in the beautiful Red Mountain AVA area. The Wine & Music Festival will feature live entertainment, tasty appetizers and tastings from 20 Washington wineries.
And we’re just getting started! Check out our events calendar for more summertime fun!
Contact the Fidelitas Club Concierge for trip planning assistance and recommendations:
firstname.lastname@example.org | 509.521.9319
On one of the most classic spring mornings I ventured up the Red Heaven Vineyard and strolled through the vines enjoying the morning light and dreaming of sipping this amazing Cabernet in a few short weeks. Charlie continues to hand craft each wine from the vineyard to the bottle and one of his favorite most diverse sites to work with is the Red Heaven Vineyard. Perched on the slope of Red Mountain, provides us with Clone 8 Cabernet Sauvignon for this limited-edition wine. This is one special Cabernet, Charlie only chooses to source from this vineyard when the fruit is the most exceptional.
This beauty is a full varietal Cabernet Sauvignon and sees about 83% New French Oak, he’s also fermenting this wine in 100% Wood using 66% 500L Roller Barrel, 34% Oak Upright Barrel. We’ve only produced 144 cases and expect this wine to be gone in the blink of an eye. To get on the wait-list or to pre-order please contact our Club Team!
Fidelitas Owner + Winemaker, Charlie Hoppes, named
2018 Honorary Vintner
by the Auction of Washington Wines
As Charlie marks 30 years of making wine in Washington, we are thrilled to announce that he has been named the Honorary Vintner by his industry peers for the 2018 Auction of Washington Wines.
This recognition is reserved for people who have exemplified leadership in the industry, and for those who have made significant contributions to the Washington wine community. Charlie shares this honor with the Honorary Grower, Marshall Edwards, who manages Quintessence Vineyard, a favored site for Fidelitas on Red Mountain.
“Charlie and Marshall both reflect what makes the Washington wine community so special,” said Shelley Tomberg, Executive Director of AWW. “Their sincerity in building relationships is inspiring, and it results in top-notch, innovative, premium Washington wines that influence the industry on a global scale.”
We look forward to celebrating Charlie, while supporting the mission of the Auction of Washington Wines, at events coming up this spring and summer on Red Mountain and in Woodinville: LEARN MORE
Read more about Charlie's history of Washington winemaking.
With 3 different releases coming out of one of our favorite vineyard sites next month I wanted to look at the history of our relationship with Quintessence vineyard and what makes their site so special.
Quintessence is a young site with the first phase of planting taking place in 2010. The first fruit we pulled from this initial phase was cabernet in 2012 which blew us away with the quality for such young vines. So much so, that we decided to blend the clones 169 and 191 Cab into a single vineyard Cabernet, and our Optu Red Mountain for that same year was 47% sourced from Quintessence. This was the beginning of a love affair – since then we’ve made 3 more single vineyard cabs (always sourced from those same French ENTAV clones), 2 single vineyard sauv blancs, a new single vineyard malbec, and likely more vineyard designated wines to come.
While the general slope of Red Mountain gently angles to the Southwest, Quintessence is slightly more Southeastern facing right into the teeth of the morning sun. This early morning heat and rocky top layer that retains and reflects that solar energy is why I think Quintessence is consistently one of the first sites to ripen in the AVA and results in extremely concentrated wines across the board.
An incredible vineyard site can only take you so far if it's not placed in the right hands. Luckily Quintessence has Marshall Edwards to look after it, who like my dad, has over 3 decades of experience managing some of the best vineyards in Washington to draw on. It's great that the two of them have known each other for so long too, because Marshall enjoys harassing my dad: last time we were there for harvest a couple days before the first pick he told him that "all of the work was done - now don't mess things up."
One of the most unique aspects of Quintessence is all the different clones of Cabernet that are planted there: go wild and explore their interactive map. In one block you can taste the sweet, bright, red fruit, large clone 8 clusters and walk 10 yards to another block and taste the lower yielding ENTAV clones where the taste of the thick skins and seeds is much more present and the fruit tone darker.
Harvest 2017 - making sure Marshall hadn't messed anything up
Quintessence Clone 8 Cab
Often the winemaking team isn't sure what wines are going to be released for the upcoming year until they go through and taste all of the finished wine in barrel and see if anything jumps out at them. This is where we get small production releases such as Canyons Malbec, Ciel du Cheval Petit Verdot, Old Vines Merlot, and the upcoming April release Quintessence Malbec which will likely never make it to the tasting bar for long.
Tasting 2016 Quintessence Cab
And just like that, we are already half way through spring club season! This spring we had/have some amazing releases in store. A few that definitely stick out and really fit the term “limited release” are listed below. Some of these wines never even make it to our tasting bar! We do wish that everyone could get their hands on these exclusive wines but, that’s what makes them so exclusive. To get on the wait-list or to pre-order please contact our Club team!
After making way through our Wine Club, we do have two new releases that have found their way to our tasting lineup. Come in to get your taste of some Fidelitas favorites!
On a regular basis, I am asked by guests, “what makes Red Mountain so special.” It’s one of my favorite questions and topics to share with visitors! Red Mountain is woven into our story from start to finish. From our first vintage of Red Mountain Merlot that dates to 2005, to our tasting room that opened in 2007, and our Estate Vineyard that was first planted in 2008, we are all in on Red Mountain. As an AVA, we’ve established six points that make the region we call home unique and specific to Red Mountain.
The southwest slope provides the vineyards in the region with a direction aspect to the sun that is ideal for prolonged sunlight and exposure. These conditions allow for prolonged sun exposure and warmth provide for ripe tannins, a primary characteristic of Red Mountain.
More growing degree days create ripeness and concentration, while cool nights help retain acidity for balance and structure.
Red Mountain gathers less than 8 inches of rain per year. Drip irrigation and canopy management create ideal grape growing conditions. In addition, Red Mountain experience lower mold and mildew pressure compared to most other vineyard regions.
Defined by natural borders, the AVA is reminiscent of Old World, where every block is seen by a single vantage point. The Red Mountain AVA which was established in 2001, is comprised of 4,040 acres, 2,338 of which are planted with predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wind-blown Loess (Warden, Hezel, and Scooteney) were brought in by pre-historic floods. The high alkalinity and calcium carbonate content of the soil, along with the granular consistency, allow vines to form well-established root systems that reach deep nutrients and moisture.
Regular gusts of warm air keep grape clusters small and concentrate for flavors of the fruit for richness and intensity.