And just like that, it's November. I've been getting happily settled into my fall routine and my favorite part has been making a warm, belly filling dinner, opening a bottle of red, and finding my place on the couch to watch my favorite shows. Have you seen "This Is Us" yet?? My new favorite! Here are five fall weeknight pairings that have been a hit at my house:
Show: This Is Us on NBC
Show: The Walking Dead on AMC
Show: Grace and Frankie on Netflix
Dinner: Chicken Kale Sweet Potato Stew
Show: Saturday Night Live on NBC
Dinner: Zucchini Noodle Skillet Lasagna
Show: Friends reruns on Netflix
I’d like to give a shout out to our friends who make our harvest go off without a hitch. To the crew who arrives in the early hours of the morning, often before the sun shines, and works hard through the afternoon. They show up 6 days a week all year round. They work together to make sure the processes are run efficiently and the grapes come in on schedule. They prune, they pick, they move fiercely down the vineyard rows and fill crate upon crate, and bin upon bin, full of the mighty grapes we use to make Fidelitas wines. A big thank you from Team Fidelitas to our Vineyard Crew and Vineyard Manager, Dick Boushey, who has brought in such a great group.
Cheers to the 2016 harvest!
You probably already know that Fidelitas has an Estate Vineyard on Red Mountain. That’s where we have our 3-acre 2009 planting of Cabernet Sauvignon (Clones 2, 6, and 8) that are absolutely thriving. The 2013 Fidelitas Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is to be released next month!
You may even know that in Spring of 2015 we planted 9 additional acres in our Estate Vineyard, and the babies are looking good!
But did you know that we also poured a giant concrete circle smack dab in the middle of the vineyard? From space you might think it’s a helicopter pad. From the ground you might think it’s a dance floor. We think it’s the perfect place to host our annual Estate Vineyard Winemaker Dinner.
Join fellow members, friends, Charlie, and Team Fidelitas for dinner between the vines during harvest season on Red Mountain on Saturday, September 10th. Ethos Trattoria will be preparing a multi-course dinner paired perfectly with Fidelitas wines (check out the menu here!).
I think we can easily say that this dinner is an event that is close to our hearts. Owning his own vineyard and winery on Red Mountain has been Charlie’s dream for decades (sorry to date you, Charlie) and now we come together each year to celebrate this reality and toast to the future of Fidelitas.
This is an intimate dinner and seats are limited. Dinner attendees are invited to join us for an Estate Vineyard walk Saturday morning, featuring a vertical of past and future Fidelitas Estate Vineyard wines.
$525 for two dinner tickets + 6-pack of 2013 Fidelitas Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon or $95 each.
For tickets, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 509.554.9191
We’ve set up room blocks at our favorite Tri-Cities hotels and I’d be happy to help you plan your trip. If you can’t make it to the dinner but want to reserve the 2013 Fidelitas Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon before its release, let me know and I’ll make sure we have some with your name on it.
We hope to see you in the vineyard!
Last summer a few faithful members in Bellingham, Washington ordered some wine in the heat of August when sadly, it was too hot to ship. Jess and I got the grand idea to throw the cases in the back of the trusty Subaru and head an hour north to deliver their wine directly to them. "Hey, let's make an evening of it!" we thought. So our members invited a couple of friends, and the friends invited some friends, and next thing we knew Fidelitas was main stage at a dinner party on Lake Whatcom. It was beautiful! But even more than that, we had an amazing time introducing new faces to Fidelitas and creating a fun experience for our members. Check out the view!
While sipping a glass of Quintessence Cab and watching this amazing sunset, a light bulb went off and became the idea for #FidelitasRoadshow.
This past weekend Charlie and Team Fidelitas set off on our first journey of the year and took #FidelitasRoadshow across the mountains to Bozeman, Montana for a winemaker dinner at The Food Studio. Charlie led the tasting through wines paired with each course specially prepared by Chef Daniel Wendell. Everyone loved hearing Charlie's vast wine knowledge and history and the story of how Fidelitas came to be. Plus the food was delicious! It was my first time trying bone marrow...and I liked it!
Next up we'll be hitting Portland, Oregon on June 12th! This two-part event will have a grand tasting at Plaza del Toro in SE Portland from 1-4pm where we'll debut our 2015 Klipsun Vineyard Semillon and 2013 The Canyons Red Wine. Members and friends are invited to join at no cost, just let us know if you plan to swing by! Then following the tasting the culinary team at Plaza del Toro has created a 5-course dinner menu to pair with Fidelitas wines. This winemaker dinner is a great way to rub elbows with Charlie and enjoy the finer things in life...wine and food, of course! Let me know if you're interested in purchasing tickets and we'll reserve your seat at the table!
Where's #FidelitasRoadshow headed next... maybe Bend? Charleston? DC? Send us your vote and maybe we'll come to your city next!
As most of you know, my position with Fidelitas doesn't just consists of helping members with shipments and orders. I get to serve as the concierge for our members and am available for trip planning assistance, gift giving services, party planning and much more.
Think back to the first time you visited Fidelitas or placed your first order. I can remember so many exchanges where we met as strangers and left as friends, you probably even got a hug out of one of us. I’m lucky in the fact that I get to reconnect with members on a regular basis.
Recently I worked together with one Optu member from Western Washington to help plan her Wine Tasting trip through Prosser, Red Mountain, and the Tri-Cities with no shortage of stops at wineries and restaurants, and even helped her to find a local hotel with discounted winery rates.
An FLT member from New Mexico came over to see us at Taste Washington this past weekend, and it only took seconds for us to be able to recognize him by name. We met his family and by the end of their quick tasting at this massive event, his sister from Arizona became a Club Member too. We aren’t kidding when we say ‘join the Fidelitas family’ because to us, Charlie, and many of our members, that’s exactly what this membership is. It’s a way to come together and enjoy the best things in life… wine and friendships.
Another wonderful member in Nebraska (Hi Jerry!) contacted me because he read about our wines and had decided he wanted to become a member. At that time, we didn’t possess the permit to ship there, but Jerry and I worked together to muster up a few more fans in the area and get the permit. We’re now planning a trip for Fidelitas to bring a tasting party to our Nebraska following!
Maybe your Fidelitas story is more traditional. Say you had our wines at a restaurant or maybe you stopped by one of our tasting rooms and enjoyed visiting with Team Fidelitas so much that you couldn’t leave without signing up. We look forward to sending you a reminder of that experience each and every time we send out a club shipment and strive to get to know each and every member a little bit better upon each release. This is how we can tailor your Wine Club experience to be a perfect fit for you.
Have you been thinking about joining the club or always had a question on your mind regarding your membership? Maybe you just feel like chatting about soil types on Red Mountain (don’t we all!) or about a wine tasting party you’re throwing… give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to meeting you if I haven’t had the chance to yet!
Just a typical day at the office... I wish!
“I think it’s our best vintage yet.” I can’t count how many times I’ve heard Charlie utter this statement about our newest release. Usually I just laugh and mutter an ‘okay Chuck’. I've thought hard about this statement: Best Vintage Yet. What does that mean exactly? Does it mean that previous vintages weren't good? No. It means that the newest vintage is the optimum example of the great wines we produce.
Each vintage we learn more about the region we call home and about the vineyards we’re sourcing from and what characteristics come from the grapes planted there. Now we’re even getting down to the root and specifically choosing which clones are going to give us the perfect balance for our blends. We know the optimal time to pick the grapes because we’ve experienced heat waves (such as 2012-2013) and we’ve experienced cold spells (such as 2010-2011). Over the years we’ve experimented with barrels and aging and know what grapes hold up well with French Oak or American Oak treatment. But beyond that, we’ve got Charlie. Not just a winemaker, but a man who has spent over a quarter century making wine in Washington, that’s a long time in this relatively young industry. His experience gives him the knowledge and skills needed to create wines that are going to knock your socks off, every time. Each vintage he puts under his belt he’s producing wines that are better than ever before.
Our Optu Red Mountain is one of the most fun wines to track each year. Each vintage Charlie blends his favorite grapes to create this optimum blend. Each vintage has a make-up that’s a little bit different from the last. Some years, the blend is nearly the same as the last because those grapes are just that good, but often you’ll find an emerging vineyard making its way into the blend or a new varietal from an old favorite vineyard. We hear stories from members (and even our own staff) who have hosted 10+ year vertical tasting parties featuring this Bordeaux style blend. This wine never ceases to amaze you upon release and it’s a treat to open up after a few years in the cellar. We couldn’t be more excited for the release of the 13th vintage because we know without doubt that ‘it’s our best vintage yet.’
to purchase the 2013 Optu Red Mountain click here.
We’re just a few days away from Thanksgiving and I’ve officially been dreaming about mashed potatoes for the last three weeks. I’ll pack up my bags and leave my home in Seattle and travel over the questionably snowy mountain pass to get home to my family in Tri-Cities where we spend the majority of the weekend eating, drinking, watching football and enjoying days off from work. The good stuff!
As I am packing my bags I’m also packing up the wine for the weekend. My initial response is to hold back my most treasured bottles for an occasion where I can selfishly drink them myself… but what’s the point? Isn’t the point of the holiday to celebrate and be thankful for everyone around you? Why are you saving that bottle of 2009 Red Mountain Red anyway? My guess is your answer is the same as mine “to drink on a special occasion.” This Thanksgiving try bringing one or two of your fancy bottles of wine and use them as a tool to bring your family and friends together to enjoy the good things in life. I bet you it will spark up some stories you've never heard about your father in laws time living in France or the first time your mom snuck wine out of her parent’s liquor cabinet.
Most importantly, enjoy one another and enjoy that special bottle you’ve been saving for an occasion just like this.
Now that we are waist deep into 2015 Harvest, what better time to finish out our Staff Retreat blog series with a post about our barrel program here at Fidelitas. Our final stop during our Staff Retreat this summer was to visit the Cellar, where Mitch gave us the low down on exactly how we use barrel components to produce great wines. Between Charlie, Mitch, and Hillary I was able to put together a wealth of information about how we age our wines.
A little summary: Once the grapes are picked on Red Mountain, they are trucked 14.7 miles to Wine Boss headquarters in Richland. The grapes are processed within 12 hours of receiving, then put into fermentation tanks for about 5-7 days, wines then go into barrel where they will age over the next 22 months before they are filtered and bottled, and put to their final rest for approximately 9 months until their release.
Barrels are used to compliment the fruit and the fermenting style you use, but also has one of the biggest impacts on the wines because it's the longest part of the aging process. In creating each wine there is no standard protocol, that's what makes crafting each wine such an art. You want the barrel to add an undertone and aromatic complexity, and not to overpower the fruit. Each barrel is made from a unique wood and toast which adds specific layers to the wine.
Typically, Fidelitas orders around 125 new French and American oak barrels per year which is used in combination with another 200 neutral oak barrels to produce about 7000 cases annually. Give or take! The winemaking team goes to work deciding which barrels are used on each wine. For example, a big bold Cabernet Sauvignon can withstand more oak than a Cabernet Franc which is generally a lighter to medium bodied wine this can also depend greatly on the vineyard which it's sourced from. Another huge impact on the barrels used is depending on the vintage. Wines from the cooler 2010/2011 vintages simply weren't as bold and complex when they were brought in off the vine, therefore they needed a lighter toast or neutral barrel to add a more subtle layer. In the hot vintages we've had the last couple years, we were able to use more new oak and heavier toasts because the wine could handle the extra intensity.
After taking in all of this amazing information we had to chance to see the Cross Flow Filtration system which we use to filter the wines before bottling. This process is state of the art, AMAZING! We're one of the few wineries in Washington who get to use the Cross Flow Filtration system and we couldn't believe what an amazing impact it made to the appearance and quality of the wine. Final stop was to the bottling line where Charlie's daughter Mary and her trusty crew made sure each wine was bottled to perfection and put into cases.
Now the bottling truck has left and cellar is busy taking in tons upon tons of grapes. We'll see what Charlie and the crew have planned for aging the 2015 vintage!
Not that I pick favorites, but I tend to always have a pretty big crush on our Champoux Vineyard Merlot. Check out my interview with Charlie on this current favorite:
“So Charlie, I know you're a fan of Merlot. Let's talk about the Champoux Vineyard Merlot which is being featured in the May Club release.”
Question 1: When did you make the 1st vintage of Champoux Vineyard Merlot and how/why did it come into the line up?
2005. I didn’t really ask for it, Paul asked me if I wanted some and so I took it. There have never been too many people who have made it. I was making Champoux Merlot for 3 Rivers back when I started Fidelitas, and we have since that vintage.
Question 2: What Vintage of Champoux Merlot has been your favorite so far and why?
I think if I remember right I really liked the 2005 because it was one of the greatest vintages in WA. And really, the 2012. In our recent Champoux Showdown, I thought that it was really standing out in the line-up. If there was a third, it’d probably 2009. A vintage where it’s not too ripe or too warm…it needs a little hang time because it’s an early ripening variety. These were all maybe a little warmer vintages but the grapes still got the hang time.
Question 3: Do you tend to have special wine making practices that are unique to the Champoux Merlot?
Yes in that the Champoux wines can be so big and so tannic that we really monitor our fermentations to know when to pull things off so they don’t get too extracted. We’re using 2 ton fermenters and smaller on these wines. Keeping them small and manageable gives us different components. This is also a wine that can stand up to more new wood because it’s already so concentrated. It borders on one of those wines where it could almost be mistaken as Cabernet…I love to make that style of merlot and try to push it as far as I can in that direction.
Question 4: What’s the biggest difference between Champoux Merlot and Red Mountain Merlot?
Red Mountain can also provide big Merlot, but we’re generally not grabbing from just one vineyard spot. I find Red Mountain Merlot maybe has a little more finesse than these powerful, concentrated wines from Champoux Vineyard.
Question 5: Whats a random fact about the Champoux Merlot that we couldn't hear from anybody else?
Not very many people make it! It’s unique as a varietal wine.
Bonus Question! Favorite food to have with Champoux Merlot…
Hmmmmm. Probably something red meat. Like a filet.