This past weekend, we hosted a group of members from our Magna Wine Club for a dinner on Red Mountain. This was our third annual event, and some dared to call it the best yet!
We started the weekend with an early morning hike through the new Estate Vineyard. I'm not sure that we could call our attempt to beat the heat succesful.
Past years have allowed for dinner on the patio, but the triple digit temps forced us into the AC in the tasting room. It was cozy but the food was great and the wine was flowing! (take a peek at the awesome centerpieces: little cabernet vines!)
Guests loved doodling between courses...
...and loved the impressive display of library wines even more.
A wonderful weekend for all! Thanks to my great staff who put this on. They were working so hard this weekend, we didn't have the time to take pretty pictures of our own activities.
Jess and Charlie hosted a wonderful group in Suite 25. Fidelitas wines were flowing and the Mariner's played an awesome game! (if you squint, you can maybe see Michelle just above the scoreboard)
How great are our members, James and Kristi?
Erin took her husband for a suprise Father's Day game.
Chelsea chose wine over baseball and checked out our neighbors.
And Skye got to do a little babysitting...
Ben and I celebrated our 5-year anniversary this past week. Time flies. Since we got hitched on the slopes of Red Mountain, it only seemed appropriated to do a wine themed trip to celebrate the date. We headed to our neighbors to the south to explore the Willamette Valley. Our three days of vacation took us to 6 wineries, a slew of restaurants, and one tiny little ferry. Here is what I learned:
Willamette Valley is over 52,000 square miles, subdivided into 6 sub-avas. Most vineyard sites lie between 200 and 1000 acres, but the AVA hosts mountains as tall as 1,600 feet and is protected by the 3,500’ elevation coastal range. My point? There is a lot of variability. Some
vineyards cited sediment from the Missoula floods like we have on Red Mountain, others said they hosted marine sediment from when the Pacific Ocean covered the region. Alexana Winery told us that they have 15 different soil types in their 80-acre property, with 8 of those on display as the front of their tasting bar.
When you are essentially working with just one varietal (pinot noir) and all of that variability in the landscape, it makes sense that growers and winemakers are going to get geeky about clones. It was fun for me to see it in action since we are exploring the best clones for our own Estate Vineyard right now. (Remember, clones are genetically identical to their parent, reproduced via bud or shoot. Using clones is a way of promoting grapes that are more disease resistant, provide more or less skin to juice ratio, produced a desired yield…overall picking the right plant for the right vineyard. This is not genetically modified stuff…just natural selection with a little assistance via grafting.)
PS – I know that there is more than just pinot noir. We tasted some lovely pinot blanc and chardonnay as well :)
Willamette Valley is much more temperate than Washington’s growing regions. Higher rainfall, fewer growing degree days, cooling coastal breezes all contribute to being pinot friendly, but it also means that we can really taste the difference vintage to vintage. Just a little more heat in 2012 showed a lot more ripeness in the wines (in some cases, to a point of being uncharacteristic of pinot noir). Pretty much every winery mentioned that their overall tonnage and case production varied greatly based on the harvest year. We’ve seen a bit of this in Washington (2004 in Walla Walla, 2010/2011 in the Horse Heaven Hills) but definitely not to the same extent.
Just like Seattle and Portland. So close that to an outsider, you might not tell the difference, but there definitely is one. The tasting rooms were GORGEOUS. Most of the ones we visited were the ‘lifelong dream’ of a couple that had established their resources elsewhere then came to the Valley. The overall feeling from a visitor is that everything was just a little more palatial and polished than us Washington folks. More so than that, the stories were different. Many wineries almost justified the fact that they sourced their fruit from other vineyards and every rose we had was introduced as being an ‘intentional’ part of their line up. Biodynamic, organic, and sustainable certifications were a big part of the selling points as well. All great stuff…just different.
Yes - we work hard. But part of the fun is getting out and exploring what's around us!
Now that the warm weather is upon us, it is time for lots of outdoor dining and sipping on our favorite summer beverages. As someone who loves to entertain and host family and friends for dinner I find that this, Summertime Pasta Salad is a crowd pleaser. It is perfect for a light dinner or as a side dish for a weekend picnic and it is quick and easy to throw together.
This recipe takes an ordinary pasta salad to the next level, by using orecchiette noodles, spinach, shaved asparagus and burrata it’s a nice twist on a classic. I will say that the shaved asparagus was a great addition and as a fun tip, shave the apsargus in a downward motion away from the tassle. Next, I sautéed the spinach and asparagus in olive oil and seasoned it to taste with salt and pepper.
Then, I added charred cherry tomatoes by using my broiler. I simply mixed them in a pan with olive oil and let them broil for about 5-7 minutes Once everything was complete I mixed it all together with another drizzle of olive oil and lemon zest.
Serve yourselves a giant spoonful and pour a glass of the newly released 2014 Klipsun Vineyard Semillon and enjoy the joys of summertime.
The time has finally arrived! Our 2014 Klipsun Vineyard Semillon has been released and it was well worth the wait. I was able to pick Charlie’s brain because I wanted to understand why this white does so well in such a hot AVA like Red Mountain. His answer was not a surprise to me, vineyard management. Klipsun vineyard is a much more established vineyard on Red Mountain and is owned by Patricia and David Gelles but managed by Julia Kock. They grow many varietals but only two whites, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. With vines dating back to 1982 they have a grasp for what is most important when focusing on helping a white grape thrive. But who cares about the technical stuff…
This Semillon has zero residual sugar and is a dry, crisp, fruity and refreshing white to enjoy on your patio in this beautiful summer weather. If you like our Optu White which is 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Semillon, then this Semillon is sure to hit every one of your taste buds. It has beautiful aromas with notes of citrus, melon, and grapefruit that pair perfectly with your picnic salad. Be sure to come to our tasting rooms to enjoy a taste and buy yourself a bottle, or four, to have on hand for your summer parties!