Is it just me, or did 2019 come and go as fast as a glass of Optu White on a hot day?
As this year comes to an end I can’t help but reflect on all of the things that happened. From bad weather trying to come between us and your wine shipments, to Charlie gaining a new employee in the cellar, you can say we pretty much saw it all in 2019. Why don’t we all sit back, sip on some Red Mountain Cabernet (slowly) and reminisce together.
This year started off on let’s say…a very chilly foot. Washington saw some record snowfall while all our friends throughout the country were buried under ice. Florida was sounding really nice wasn’t it? We had to push back the shipping dates on not one, but two club shipments. You could say that Michelle and I were dreaming of easier days. A big THANK YOU to all our members who have their wines shipped. We appreciated you hanging in there with us!
We can’t forget the time that Charlie appeared on Diners, Drive-In’s, and Dives! As Will put it, if you never watched the episode you need to reevaluate how you spend your free time. Charlie can be seen chowing down on some delicious Porters BBQ in the episode titled “Southern to South American.” Do yourselves a favor and find a way to stream it.
One of the bigger things to happen within Fidelitas this year was Will’s transition from Woodinville Tasting Room Manager to Winemaker in Training. He joined his dad in the cellar and quickly learned that days off don’t exist during harvest. Charlie got a real kick out of that! I know our west side members miss seeing him during their visits but take comfort in knowing that he is thriving and has the worlds cutest puppy who is basically Instagram famous (@griffeygoodboy).
Who can take a guess at how many new team members we have at Fidelitas?
Team Fidelitas has gained some amazing and awesome faces. New Tasting Room Managers were hired this spring (shout out to Josh, Allie, and Bryce!) and with all the high foot traffic came some much needed help. If you’re a regular in Woodinville or on Red Mountain you’ll be able to point them out! Make sure to say hi. They love to chat all things wine!
Preview Tastings, Feast of St Fidelis, Winemaker dinners, Summer in the City at Block 41, Harvest Party and Pick6 all made their returns in 2019. What can we say? We like to party with you. I wonder what’s in store for next year?
Check out Charlie's blog posts Vintage of the Decade or Harvest 2019 if you haven't read them already! Hint: one comes with an adorable picture of Will wearing a questionable outfit. To get the low down, take a peek at a blog post by Will titled Reflecting on Fidelitas' 20th Harvest. He has some great insights including what pairs well with Top Ramen (sleep deprivation much?). To sum it up, 2019 was one for the books. According to Charlie “It might be a bit premature to declare 2019 the vintage of the decade but it does show tremendous potential.”
Who just got excited?
And lastly, because of our stellar members in the Wine Club, we are closing down yet again for the holiday season. Turns out you really like the wine! Another year where we can proudly say we sold all of the wine we produced. We take this moment to thank our members for coming through our doors and always leaving as family with a bottle or two to bring home. We hope whenever you open that bottle it reminds you of the good times and conversations.
We’ll see you in 2020!
(note: we realize it’s a little early to be chatting about wines coming out in April, but the nature of the wine industry is that we are always thinking years ahead! And, this way, we can be thinking about sunnier days while gazing at the holiday décor.)
One thing I’ve known about Charlie for a long time, is that he does not follow a recipe. There is no formula, no strict oak regime, no doing the same thing twice in order to achieve the same results. “Our best wines are yet to come,” he has said for years, which is amazing considering he just concluded his 33rd harvest. Charlie is always fiddling with new blocks, new blends, new clones, new barrels. A word that I would use (I don’t think he ever would, being Charlie), is that he is an innovator: someone who refuses to be complacent and wants to continue trying and learning new things in order to present the best possible outcome to our Fidelitas fans.
All of that is a preface to something that we’re changing up this year. Something that makes me, the detail-oriented (dare I say type-A), planner a little uneasy. We’re releasing Ciel du Cheval Vineyard wines in the springtime. But we don’t do that! They come out in the fall! And yet, we’ve done that not because it has anything to do with the wines themselves, but because in my little planning world, it’s easier to just follow a similar release schedule each year.
So why Ciel in the spring? It actually has nothing to do with the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard wines. Talking to Charlie about those five wines, he tells me: “we know we’re going to like the wines from Ciel du Cheval Vineyard. Being a more established site, with older vines, and a high demand, we do use the same blocks each year. We can count on the fruit being amazing. It’s a lower elevation site than a lot of the other vineyards we work with on the mountain, which I think gives it a little softer profile. I am now thinking that it is perhaps the most elegant of the vineyard designated Cabernets that we produce.”
So really, it comes down to the other wines. Those Quintessence Vineyard and Blackwood Canyon Vineyard Cabernets that we have traditionally released in the spring, but are now shifting to a fall release. Why the fall? These wines are getting more time in both the barrel and the bottle before they come to you in an allocation. In fact, the Quintessence Vineyard Cabernet was just being bottled this morning, in December, before the sun came up (most of our other wines were bottled back in August, before harvest started).
“What we’re trying to achieve with the Blackwood and two Quintessence Vineyard Cabernets – Clone 191 and the clone blend – is a bit more flavor integration on these big wines,” Charlie relayed. “They are so big that they could benefit from a little more barrel aging. We’ve previously dialed it in to 22 months in barrel, but what I’ve noticed is that they could go quite a bit longer. I think we’re going to see a better integration of the components with this extended aging. There are phenolic components that come from both the grapes themselves, as well as the barrels. In wines like these that are more concentrated to begin with, they could pick up some of the sweeter tannins and tame the tannins that may be harsh to being with. Of course, the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard wines are giving us the structure and complexity that we look for in that site, however we've always liked the 22-24 months in barrel and don't think they require these few extra months."
More to come soon on the 2017 vintage, as we get ready to release our first 2017 red the first weekend in January (hooray, Red Mountain Malbec!). “In general, we really like these 2017s, a lot. We source from all over the Red Mountain AVA, but really everything is in pretty close proximity. I think this AVA gave us great quality in the 2017 vintage that we are already seeing reflected in the wines.”
T'was the night before Christmas, when all through the cellar
Not a creature was stirring, not even a pup (Griffey);
The stockings were hung by the barrels with care,
In hopes that St. Fidelis would soon be there;
The cellar crew was nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of Ciel-du-Cheval wines danced in their heads.
It’s the season of giving and let’s be honest, finding the perfect gift to give can be hard! I’ve notoriously been a horrible gift-giver. Now, I’m a gifting professional. My secret? Wine.
I keep a steady supply of Fidelitas on my wine rack- and not just for me. Fidelitas is the wine I grab for those that are close to my heart or for invites to holiday parties and meals. Not only is it the perfect 'thanks for hosting' gift, it pairs beautifully with food.
It's no coincidence that a stocking is the perfect size for a bottle of wine. Just be careful not to turn that fireplace on! Wine doesn't like to be too toasty. But, if you do enjoy chestnuts roasting on an open fire, crack open that bottle while you're at it.
For those friends who live too far to cheers with, Fidelitas ships wine at a flat-rate. Spoil them with a case and shipping is free. (P.S. members get 25% off on case purchases). We even have a crew of elves that will gift wrap each bottle and leave your gift message in a hand-written card.
If you are like me, and want to give more than just a bottle of your favorite wine, give the gift of membership. A wine club membership is the ultimate gift that keeps on giving. Choose between our Optu Wine Club for those that are local or the Electus Wine Club for those in far away places.
Finally, spending time with those you love is one of the best gifts of all. Our hearts grow five sizes when members introduce us to their friends. Our tasting rooms are open 11-5 pm on Red Mountain and in Woodinville until December 22nd.