I recently found myself with a stocked fridge of white wines, just in time for the warmer Summers in Eastern Washington. Typically, I have always been a red wine fan and of course a huge supporter of Rosé, until recently. I had the realization that I was shutting myself off to wine, I was developing a “house pallet” and I wasn’t allowing myself to drink wines that would open my mind to new regions, flavors and in the long run improve my tasting skills. I began to sample and purchase several new wines I generally wouldn’t, hence the fridge full of white wine.
Through this, I could explore tons of new varietals and find that I do enjoy white wines more than I thought I did. I love an oaked Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon or even a Chardonnay. Preferably one that’s dry and crisp with a full fruit on the pallet. Luckily for me, Fidelitas has just released our 2016 Red Mountain Semillon that has all those characteristics making it my favorite patio wine this summer.
The 2016 Red Mountain Semillon is all sourced from Artz Vineyard which is located on the lower portion of Red Mountain. The lower elevation and proximity to the Yakima River allow for bright acid retention, while the varietal and slope provide ripe fruit flavors of white peach, bosc pear, nectarine and honey.
For most wine lovers, we are all tasting and enjoying wine for different reasons and that’s great. My challenge to all of you is the next time you are strolling through the Fidelitas website, the grocery store, or your best friends wine cellar grab something you typically wouldn’t try. The Semillon is the perfect pairing for Summertime or even the perfect red wine drinkers white.
Upon entering the Red Mountain Tasting room your eye is immediately drawn to two things, the view and the wine wall. Many visitors have asked us over the years, “how long have you been here? The building looks so new.” As we celebrate our Red Mountain Tasting Room turning 10 years old this month I sat down with Charlie and asked him a few questions about the design and planning that went into creating the layout of the tasting room.
The vision of the tasting room
“The tasting room looks exactly how we designed it. We have a contemporary label and we wanted it to translate into the design of the tasting room.” There were two guys involved in the original design, Joe Farmer and John Hoke. The two of them worked for several months on the design of the building and everything you see here, the finished product “was by design.”
Unique components that changed over the years
The tasting room was never meant to be a functional production facility; however, we did store barrels in what is now The Fidelitas Library. The barrels were stacked and gave visitors a chance to see what a production facility might be like. This was the largest change we made as of recently, the barrels were removed from the tasting room several years ago and we now have The Fidelitas Library in its place. The room itself wasn’t functional before and now we are able to share our not only our brand but the history of Fidelitas with every visitor. It gives us the opportunity to look back at how far our brand has come since its first vintage in 2000.
Unique concepts that went into the design and construction
Bryan Alford tells a story of sitting out on the patio and studying the sunset from different angles, how did that play a role on the design. “He did, and we ended up changing the angle. If you can imagine how low the vineyard line is, that’s how low the tasting room would have been. We decided to bring in additional dirt and elevate the structure giving us a view that looks down at our Fidelitas Estate Vineyard.
Future dreams and concepts for the next 10 years
The patio is our next big project over the next few years. If you’ve ever experienced summer on Red Mountain, the largest concern is the heat. “We would try and do something with the patio to create more shading. It’s just too hot and with the winds it’s challenging. It’s something we are still open to doing. As far as what we wanted, this was it. It’s still relevant and reflects our label and who we are.
“I’ve visited many tasting rooms over the years and admired their designs but at the end of the day, this is our home. It’s comfortable and is a true reflection of our brand and who we are.”-Charlie
While every sports fan is making their bracket selections for March Madness, I realized I have never created a bracket. As I’m not the biggest basketball fan, (I know…tall girl who doesn’t like basketball is shocking) I decided to complete my first bracket, with wine selections.
That’s right! I compiled a list of my all-time favorite Fidelitas Wines and put them to the test. This was quite the challenge, for those of you who have asked me what my favorite wine is, you know I don’t usually pick favorites. I typically end up naming every wine we have in our lineup. For me, a physical challenge that pushed me to my wine limits.
For those of you who do follow March Madness, go ahead and use my bracket to pair each round with a new favorite!
This last month I had the pleasure of touring the Seguin Moreau Cooperage in Napa. First, to be able to do this is beyond amazing, so thank you to Fidelitas and Seguin Moreau for your generosity and allowing me to take a million photos.
Barrels are an essential tool to the winemaking process. The largest take away was that the entire barrel is used during the build, that everything from the left behind scraps are used to start the fires for toasting, this is to help maintain consistency.
At Fidelitas we are purchasing mostly French Oak and American Oak and using a medium-medium plus toasting. This is always dependent on Charlie’s preference and the expression of the wine.
The winemaker will order barrels to their specification and these guys handle the rest. If you notice the gentleman in the above photo he is hammering down the toasting hoops and rotating each barrel around the fire to ensure the proper toasting is achieved. We had the pleasure of smelling inside the barrels right after they had been removed from the fires. The most intoxicating aromas of fresh baked bread!
Then, after the barrels have slightly cooled they are then laid and start making their way to have the toasting hoops removed and replaced with galvanized steel hoops.
Then, the tops are laser cut to fit each barrel. Doesn’t it look like a giant stack of toasty, cookies?
Since French Oak is so delicate reeds are then woven in between the slats to prevent leaking. Then, the barrels move into the final stages, everything is then tightened, sanded, stamped and sealed.
As we begin to release our first club wines of the year we can’t help but cherish the tools that go into crafting each glass of wine.
As many of us have experienced the warm summer heat that comes from summer in Eastern Washington it’s hard to picture what Red Mountain can look like in the winter. Well folks, if you can believe it we have snow on the mountain and we have photos to prove it! Personally, I have been enjoying the blanket of snow that is surrounding the region we call home however, with the start of January it’s hard not to dream about what’s to come this year and that means warmer weather for some of us and amazing newly released wines of course!
Every year I try and prepare for the holidays and every year I am left in the dust and scrambling around last minute. The true reason I am always last minute scrambling for gifts is because I spend my free time dreaming and planning of my next meal or glass of wine to share amongst family and friends. Below are some of my “must shares” for this seasons next gathering.
Recently, served this at the last Fidelitas gathering and it was such a crowd pleaser. I might also add that it took little to no time at all to make, it’s a sure way to impress!
I always have this little number on hand for gifts! Amazing how easy it is to mix up, place in jars and pass them out. It’s also a perfect snack for football Sundays or snuggling up on the couch watching Christmas movies and enjoying a glass of wine.
This one takes a smidge more work because it has a few additional steps but totally doable. To me this has Christmas Eve written all over it, melted Brie, crunchy pastry, and the sweetness of the reduction sauce (don’t let that scare you, it’s simple).
I am always searching for a pretty appetizer for the picky eater and this is it! This is sure to be a preferred treat in my household for years to come.
Here’s hoping these recommendations help with your next party or night in! I am still no closer to finishing my holiday shopping, but at least my next meal and glass of wine are covered, Cheers!
Driving down Sunset and around Red Mountain it is so clear why this truly is my favorite time of the year. The leaves have been changing and if you’ve recently paid a visit to Red Mountain you can see the beauty that is hiding down every row. As we begin to release the last wines of the year we are set to showcase our Ciel du Cheval Release, which is always my favorite release of the year.
The Ciel du Cheval Vineyard is the second oldest vineyard on Red Mountain and was planted in 1975. Many people often ask the translation of Ciel du Cheval and for those of you who speak French or remember learning French in school know it as, “sky horse.” Now flashback to the 1970’s when Red Mountain was nothing more than a hill with sagebrush and you have a newly planted vineyard that looks in the direction of the Horse Heaven Hills. And there you have it! The long unanswered question of the meaning behind Ciel du Cheval. These wines are the perfect pairing for every holiday table and gathering. Recommended to drink now or share with friends and family.
2013 Ciel du Cheval Cabernet Sauvignon
Ciel du Cheval Vineyard provides the fruit for this big, bold, Cabernet Sauvignon, giving us everything we’d hope for from a Red Mountain Cab. We find red and black fruits on the nose, along with chocolate, tobacco, and a touch of baking spice. These are confirmed on the palate, adding blueberry and cassis, currants, mulled berries, and vanilla, all amongst chewy tannins, and a lengthy finish. Drink now through 2025.
2013 Ciel du Cheval Merlot
Merlot is one of Charlie’s favorite grapes to work with, so the opportunity to create a varietal Merlot from one of the most established vineyards on Red Mountain was irresistible. The aromatics on this 2013 vintage are dense and plentiful, with raspberries, strawberries, violets, and white pepper. The palate is rich, adding notes of bourbon soaked cherries, sweet tobacco, and a slight minerality, all with a soft intake, and elegant, rounded tannins. This wine has plenty of time to develop in the cellar. Drink now through 2023.
2013 Ciel du Cheval Red Wine
Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Wine is our ‘right bank’ blend, comprised mostly of Merlot. This wine is soft and elegant, showcasing raspberry, blackberry, dried thyme, and just a touch of cocoa. The palate is plush and velvety, full of red and blue fruit tones, cedar, and baking spice, surrounded by fine grained tannins and a lasting finish. Drink now through 2021.
2013 Ciel du Cheval Cabernet Franc
This varietal Cabernet Franc from Ciel du Cheval Vineyard is a perennial fan favorite, and is always hard to come by. The nose is delicate, with blueberry and plum notes, fresh figs, and a soft mocha characteristic. The palate is lush, showing velvety tannins, and an elegant, lengthy finish. Drink now through 2021.
2013 Ciel du Cheval Petit Verdot
Petit Verdot, rarely a standalone varietal, is the sole grape in this unique wine from Ciel du Cheval Vineyard. We love the unique, bold style, and deep purple hue of this limited production wine. Aromas of dense, dark cherry, cola, plums, and sage rise from the glass, backed by a palate of blackberries, dried herbs, and minerality, all set with balanced acidity and structured tannins. Drink now through 2021.
Before the busy season of harvest, each year we participate in an all staff vineyard tour of Red Mountain. This has always been one of my most favorite activities we do and this year it was by far the best year yet. Now I am not sure if it was more special because it took place in the morning (not nearly as hot as our usual time of mid-afternoon in July) or if it was the fact that it was just the Red Mountain staff who piled into Charlie’s truck early in the morning.
Our first stop on the tour was the beloved Fidelitas Estate Vineyard, located outside our doors on Red Mountain. Our Estate Vineyard consists of 13 acres, predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon of course, along with Merlot, Cabenet Franc, Malbec and an acre of Petit Verdot coming together to create the future of Fidelitas wines.
We then travelled over to the Canyons Vineyard; this vineyard was planted just in 2009 and is about 56.9 acres on a 6.3% slope. The debut of our 2013 Canyons Vineyard Red Wine is sourced from block 11 and the photo below shows you just how steep of a slope we are talking about.
From there we traveled up around Shaw Vineyard, which has about 175 acres of Cabernet along the Northwest corner of the appellation. Then passed through the Red Heaven Vineyard, another one of my favorites. Red Heaven had an interesting aspect to their vineyard; there were several vines that have been grafted. They are grafting over from a different varietal which is very interesting, for example the base and root could have been Zinfandel and then Cabernet Sauvignon was grafted and it will grow as such, this is done for varietal purposes and not from damage to the vines. How cool is that!
Then, we travelled up Antinori Road and went through another one of my favorite vineyards (can you tell I have a lot of favorites?) Quintessence Vineyard. This vineyard was planted in 2010 and is showing exceptional fruit coming from its vines.
We even explored a new area I had never visited before, just by the pond there is a block of clone 412 that Marshal Edwards (Vineyard Manager) planted for Fidelitas. Calcium carbonate can be found in the Quintessence Vineyard however brown loam soil was brought in to create topsoil. The photo below show the many layers of soils found from this vineyard.
Keeping with tradition we had to take our staff photo, after Charlie searched the area for snakes, the coast was clear. Cheers until next years tour!
As I pulled into the parking lot the other day, the vineyard rows were catching my eye a little more than usual. Every day I am fortunate enough to work directly from our Red Mountain tasting room, with that I get the joy of watching the vineyard change and grow with each passing day.
On this particular day I noticed Veraison was taking place in the vineyard. Veraison is the change in color of the grape berries or the ripening of grapes. Depending on the varietal, Veraison takes place at different rates, especially with the warmer temperatures that we experience on Red Mountain it seems to happen earlier. During Veraison white wine grapes are a yellow hue and red wine grapes are shades of red and purple.
As Red Mountain is one of the hotter regions in Washington and home to Cabernet Sauvignon, we know that Cabernet Sauvignon is typically one of the last varietals to ripen in the vineyard. It’s an exciting time when Veraison takes place in the vineyard it means that harvest and new wines are fast approaching.
For many of us we are self-proclaimed wine aficionados, I know I have my moments. If you are asking my family and friends, they will tell you I am their go-to for wine knowledge. Although, I think I speak for many of us when I say, "I don’t know nearly as much as I sound like I do." Quickly after starting at Fidelitas a few years back I soon realized the most I knew about wine was how to drink it and that I only drink wines from Washington. I have since come along way and picked up great knowledge from fellow staff members, our customers, and a little lite reading along the way.
This morning I had a lovely couple who was new to wine tasting, Red Mountain, and Fidelitas Wines. I was delighted to share a few educational tips that helped them not only during their visit but hopefully on their future tasting adventures. My favorite way to taste is to smell, sip, and savor.
SMELL! First things, first…swirl and smell the wine. Swirling the wine helps to open up the aromatics within a wine. Then, don’t be shy get in there and smell your wine. Don’t think large scale while smelling a wine, start small. Try and pick out categories, red fruits, spices, smokiness, etc. These are some great characteristics to help build range and memory association. For me the hardest part is placing what I am smelling to something I am familiar with.
SIP! My favorite part, now after you have smelled the wine go ahead and give it a try. Allow the wine to hit your taste buds and think about whether you are tasting bitterness, sweetness, sour, acidity, etc. For each wine this is different based on where it is grown, oak treatments, winemaker and all of that other fun stuff that plays apart in wine tasting.
SAVOR! Now spend some time thinking about the wine, did you like the finish? Was it to fruit forward? Was it bold or soft? The number one thing when wine tasting is to decide if it was enjoyable or not. In my opinion, this is the hardest part. It is so easy to fall into old patterns and buy what we are comfortable with, but remember that you are wine tasting and exploring new things while building your palate.
This time of year is perfect for wine tasting, there are new releases and fun things happening at almost every winery, get out there and explore! Also, in case you haven’t picked up or explored a copy of Wine Folly, it’s the perfect tool for every taster.