Fidelitas Staff Retreat 2015 kicked off with coffee and a light breakfast before venturing out into the Red Mountain Vineyards. Charlie’s tour started in our back yard, with our 2008 planting of Cabernet Sauvignon.
The original portion of the Estate vineyard was planted in 2008. The entire area was planted in Cabernet Sauvignon, consisting of three blocks which included Cabernet Clone 2, Clone 8, and Clone 6. As a winemaker, Charlie loves the flavor of the Clone 6 Cabernet. This particular clone isn’t quite as popular from a grower perspective because of its smaller, scattered cluster size and lower yield. However, from his position as a winemaker and a vineyard owner, Charlie decided it was worth sacrificing a lower production with a clone that produced amazing flavors. When planning the next portion of the Estate Vineyard, he decided to expand the Clone 6 portion of the earlier planting.
2012 was our first harvest from these blocks, and we are excited to be releasing an Estate Cabernet later this fall that consists of the Clones 2 and 6. Our currently released Optu Red Wine also includes some the Clone 8 Cabernet as well.
While in the more established portion of the vineyard, Charlie explained the art of canopy management which is especially important this year with its early, unseasonably hot weather. Our vineyard crew works hard to ensure that there is a balance between the amount of fruit hanging on the vine versus the amount of leaves available to supply the needed energy for the grapes to ripen and develop properly. They must also ensure that the canopy is shading the young grapes to protect them from the harsh Red Mountain heat and sun, while they are also receiving enough sun and heat to ripen properly. That’s quite the job this time of year!
Charlie then guided out of the shade and into the newly planted portion of the Estate Vineyard. Most of the 2015 planting is Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet blocks include more of Clone 6, as well as Clone 33, Clone 2, and Entave Clone 169. Charlie also decided to plant a Cabernet Clone that he was introduced to by a fellow winemaker, Clone 412. Very little of this clone is planted elsewhere in Washington, but Charlie who is always in search of a better, more balanced wine, decided to plant over ¾ of an acre of this clone to give it a try.
The new planting also includes a 1.6 acre block of Merlot, over an acre of Petit Verdot, and smaller blocks of Malbec, and Cabernet Franc. Because of the large demand for vines this spring, a portion of the new vineyard, including all of the Cabernet Franc, was greenhouse potted plants instead of strictly stick root stock. It was interesting to see that while the potted plants had an obvious head start, the rest of the plantings were thriving!
I’m lucky enough to spend most of my days watching the daily routine of the vineyard and enjoying the progression from bud break to harvest every year. We speak to our guests on a daily basis on the work, planning, patience, and love that goes into our young vineyard. I’m so thankful for every opportunity I have to walk through the vineyard with Charlie and Dick and learn even more about the place I get to call home.
Friday, May 1st we celebrated our annual Feast of St. Fidelis celebration on Red Mountain. Or as many of our wine club members know, this is our can’t be missed taco party!
Notice who is first in line for the tacos!
Sadly, we had already sold out of our favorite wine pairing with Eric’s famous tacos, our 2012 vintage of single varietal Malbec.
However, after careful tasting, (and perhaps a bit of re-tasting) Team Fidelitas felt confident that our line up of the 2011 Boushey Red and the 2012 Optu Red Mountain also paired beautifully.
As a special treat, Charlie poured hefty samples of our newly released 2010 Champoux Block One. This is our second vintage of this wine, which is a 100% varietal Cabernet Sauvignon all sourced from the Champoux Vineyard’s oldest block planted in 1972, known as their Block One. It was such a special treat to be able to sip on such a spectacular wine with some of our favorite long-time wine club members!
After a few bottles of wine, and a plate (or four!) of Eric’s amazing tacos, the infamous Red Mountain wind settled down and the evening treated us to a gorgeous sunset.
Thank you so much to Eric and his crew, Charlie, Team Fidelitas, and all of our wine club members who made this year’s Feast a great success!
Wow! It’s November! It seems like just a few short weeks ago we had just started harvest, and it’s only been a few days since our Harvest Party! How is it already November?!
I’m going to blame my faulty time perception on the fact that my husband and I finally went on our honeymoon the beginning of October (over two years late!). So, in my world, a good portion of the fall season has been focused around chartering a gorgeous Nordic Tug Boat, researching, and then traveling around the San Juan Islands and exploring. I hope you forgive me for my maritime/honeymoon distractedness.
Anyways! October was such a great month on Red Mountain as well! This year’s Harvest Party was a great success….I might even use the word, ‘perfect’!! October can always be a tricky month weather-wise, and in the past few years it’s been cold and blustery. We were blessed with a gorgeous, sunny day. The only hint of wind was the perfect vehicle to spread the savory smells of Eric and Alfonso’s infamous tacos throughout most of the Red Mountain area. Delicious!
We were also fortunate enough to have Jess and Charlie for the Party, both pouring a few upcoming fall releases….and a few wine club members were lucky enough to catch Charlie pour a brand new 2012 Ciel du Cheval Red Blend that will be released later in 2015!
It was such an exciting day, filled with great wine, food, and conversation. We enjoyed ourselves so much, we only managed to take a few photos throughout the day! Here are a few my favorites. Enjoy!
Freshly Harvested Estate Vineyard.
Perfect, sunny day for the 2014 Harvest Party!
Special tasting room for our Magna Release.
Ok, one honeymoon photo, just because. This is me and our chartered tug right after we completed our check-in and were ready to leave Bellingham on our week-long adventure. Such a fun, relaxing trip!
If you have photos of the Harvest Party, or any of our other events or tastings, and would like to share them with us, please do!! Feel free to email your photos and stories to myself at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.
Throughout the year, the Team Fidelitas staff shares our story and the uniqueness of Red Mountain wines with our guests at our two respective tasting rooms. While most of our staff is able to individually visit our Red Mountain or Woodinville tasting rooms on a regular basis, it’s not very often that the entire Fidelitas Team is able to get together as a family. For two days in the middle of July, our Woodinville family made the trek to the east side of the state to visit Red Mountain for our second annual Staff Retreat.
After the initial hugs and introductions, we settled in and were treated to a delicious lunch with Jim Holmes of the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard. Jim shared memories and future plans about Red Mountain’s romance, terrior, and bright future. It was such a privilege to learn more about our home from such a great and knowledgeable man!
Lunch was followed by an extensive tour of Red Mountain’s vineyards lead by Charlie, while enjoying the oppressive sun and heat of a Red Mountain afternoon. But seriously…it was so hot! We also spent the later part of the afternoon visiting a few of our neighbors (a huge thank you to the Frichettes and Kiona for hosting us!) for a late afternoon wine tasting.
Kiona Vineyard - some of the oldest vines on the Mountain
Shaw Vineyard, looking west
East end of the AVA
Our evening consisted of relaxing at the Corvus Casa, where we enjoyed their gorgeous patio and farm-style table and sipped on some of our upcoming releases, which had come to us straight off of the bottling line! We also ventured out of our Fidelitas taste buds and sampled a few bottles of Bordeaux white and red blends; while playing a very competitive game of Fidelitas trivia.
Nothing says, ‘I’m a wine professional’ like tasting barrel samples bright and early in the morning with breakfast, which is exactly what we did on our second day of the retreat. Inland Desert Nursery visited us to share a bit of their extensive knowledge on various cabernet sauvignon clones. Then, we sipped from a few of our 2013 cabernet barrel samples that displayed the intricacies of the Red Mountain Vineyards.
Clonal Cabernet Tasting
Afterwards, we made a visit to Anelare’s gorgeous new tasting room on McBee Road, in Benton City. We then took our retreat on the road to the newly finished, Walter Clore Center, in Prosser. However, all good things must come to an end, so we sadly parted ways with the Woodinville staff so they could begin their journey home. I feel so incredibly lucky to work with such a generous group of people who share such a passion for Red Mountain.
Thank you so much Charlie, Jim, Inland Nursery, Hillary, Mitch, and Jess for making our 2014 Staff Retreat so special!
Spring is my favorite time of year! I love the hope and early promise that the season’s first warm days and sunshine bring. All winter long I’ve watched as our little estate vineyard has laid dormant, patiently waiting for the longer days, sunshine, and wind that spring brings to Red Mountain.
My excitement for bud break and the 2014 season grew as the trees around our Red Mountain tasting room started to produce their first buds and blossom into gorgeous pink and white flowers! My anticipation for things to come was barely contained when on March 31st we pruned the three acres of our Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The blue sky peeked through the clouds as I wandered around taking photos of the action; it was almost as if I was receiving a (slightly late) birthday gift from Red Mountain!
These last few days as I have traveled down Sunset Road, exploring different portions of the AVA, I noticed other vineyards had started to magically sprout small, green leaves. Each morning I would race to our vineyard to see the slightest hint of green on our beloved vines… not quite yet...
Charlie stopped by earlier today to pick up some wine. After a quick chat, we said our goodbye’s and I went back to my tasks. As he was leaving, his well trained eyes picked up what I had previously missed! The first buds of the season on our vines!! Such a happy sight for me!
Here are a few more photos of our Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and early bud break for your viewing pleasure. I hope all of our Faithful, Loyal, and True wine family is just as excited as I am for the upcoming season.
I wish everyone a happy and hopeful Spring Season and I cannot wait to share more wine, stories, and laughter with all of you in 2014. Cheers to a fantastic Spring!