Fidelitas is OPEN…just not as usual.
At Fidelitas, we are faithful, loyal, and true, and this means prioritizing the health and safety of our Team, our fans, and our greater communities on both sides of the state. In the era of “Stay Home, Stay Safe”, wineries have been lucky enough to be deemed an essential business, with several safety precautions taken. And while we are so fortunate as a small business to keep our doors open in a modified fashion, to keep many staff members employed, and to be able to continue sharing wine (because, we all need a glass right about now!), we are doing so with safety as a top priority.
In addition to increasing our established cleaning regimen, and limiting contact between staff and customers, we are asking that all team members self-certify their own health before coming to work. All Team Fidelitas members have confirmed that they are healthy (no fever or symptoms of any type of illness), they have not had contact with anyone who is ill, and they have not traveled to areas deemed high-risk. We are asking that all visitors do the same.
With these precautions in place, we pleased to offer contactless delivery in both locations. We may place an order ONLINE for tasting room pick up or just give us a call.
RED MOUNTAIN: 11am to 5pm, daily
WOODINVILLE: 11am to 5pm, daily
We so value your support as Fidelitas fans. As a small business who relies on visitors coming through the doors - especially during the spring and summer - we appreciate all of you who are supporting us during the months of closures.
As the spring of 2020 wears on, we seem to be getting into a bit of a routine: wake up, drink coffee, do some work, drink some wine, go to bed. The added bonus is that on Thursdays, we get to do virtual tastings, which are really just a good excuse to learn something will drinking wine.
So many kudos to Will for really spearheading these tastings. We’ve been learning and making adjustments and trying new things along the way. In all honesty, none of us know when we won’t be at home, searching for fun activities to pass the days. But what we do know is that these tastings are a great way to connect with Fidelitas fans all over the country, and we’re having a lot of fun hosting them. So, here is a summary of our next 4 Thursdays:
Thursday, April 23: a discussion of barrel selection and aging with Charlie and Mitch. This is a great opportunity to open a special wine from the cellar. Maybe go for a big Cabernet and see if you can get any of the oak treatment notes that they’ll be talking about. I think I’ll try to find a Red Mountain Cabernet from either 2009 or 2012 and pair it with pasta puttanesca, since I have all of that stuff in the cupboards, and no intention of going to the store this week. On Fidelitas Facebook and Instagram at 5pm.
Thursday, April 30: Will is chatting about unusual BBQ wine pairings, featuring the Optu White Wine, Red Mountain Merlot, and Ciel du Cheval Merlot. If you have a trip to the store planned, do it this week and see if you can grab some extra fun groceries. Call it a splurge away from rice and beans. Here is what I’m thinking of:
This event is happening on the Red Mountain AVA’s Facebook Live at 5pm.
Thursday, May 7: Charlie and Will chat varietal and vineyard blending with Optu Red Mountain and 4040 Red Wine. I’m not going to lie, you can definitely pick whatever vintage you have of either of these wines for the tasting. It’s all about blending, so vintage won’t matter. However, the 2017 vintage of Optu Red Mountain is close to one of the best I’ve ever had. I’m thinking that Grilled Flank Steak with Chimichurri is going to be awesome to enjoy with the rest of that bottle after the tasting is done. Fidelitas Instagram Live at 5pm.
Thursday, May 14: We're focusing on single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Ciel du Cheval Vineyard. Again – and I might be biased – I feel like this 2017 vintage is just amazing. Talking blends is fun, but there is something so intriguing and focused about single vineyard and single varietal wines. It might be a good excuse to try Charlie’s favorite: Ribeye Steaks and Broccolini. Fidelitas Instagram Live at 5pm.
Stay safe, everyone! We cannot wait to see you at one of these tastings in the near future, and in person not long after.
It’s been a bit since we last posted. Sometimes it’s hard to know the right words to say. However, our friends in the Washington Wine Industry kickstarted “SipGlocal”, which encourages us all to sit down and spend some time reflecting and writing with a bottle of wine. Once the letter is done, roll it up, place it in the bottle, and save it for another day.
Wine is a different kind of industry. It’s not a ‘make today, sell tomorrow’ kind of product.
At Fidelitas, we are just starting to release our red wines from the 2017 vintage. Three years ago, in the spring of 2017, I was 6 months pregnant with my second child. Charlie and I were working together to determine which grapes he’d source later that year and he then worked with growers to secure blocks of the perfect fruit. By that fall, my daughter was a few months old, and Charlie was deep into harvest, bringing in fruit and working long, long days in the cellar. For weeks on end, he cared for these wines before nestling them in their perfectly matched barrels where they’d hang out for the next couple of years.
In the winter of 2018, my daughter was going from walking to running, and Charlie was starting to put the blends together for his 2017 reds. We carefully charted out the exact number of cases to make of each product, knowing that we got to share them with our members later on. The following months, I was ordering glass, working with screen printers, and sourcing our corks. In the summer of 2019, about the same time that Charlie was bottling, we were celebrating my daughter’s second birthday. Finally, this spring, just after she was settling in at preschool, we are ready to share the 2017 reds with our members – passing them from our house to yours.
For three years, we’ve been working towards the point of sharing these wines, but suddenly, we’re doing so at such an uncertain time. Do we all want the wine on days like this? Of course! But as an individual, a mom, and someone who runs a small business, I know everyone is thinking about their priorities right now.
In writing this, I’ve learned that it is an emotional exercise to ponder all that has happened in the past three years. Even more emotional, is pondering what is coming in the next three.
What I do know is that we are more than fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing base of fans and customers. Life may look pretty different for a while, and that is okay. It’s a great time to get to the bottom of our to do list and to open a few awesome bottles from the cellar. And when we are able to leave our houses, go back to the tasting rooms, share wine with friends, we get to shape those interactions to be intentional and meaningful. Who knew that being so distanced from one another would be the thing that actually connects us and brings us closer than ever?
Yesterday, I was interviewed on what we call custom clubs or user choice clubs. Basically, the style of the Fidelitas Wine Club, where we are encouraging our members to select the wines that will go into their allocations. Once I got off the call, I sat back and thought about why this is such a unique model and how it truly does benefit our members.
Touting the benefits of custom clubs is nothing new on this blog. We wrote about it just last November and again back in 2018 when we brought our third Club with the most members over to this Club style. My apologies if it is getting redundant. We are JUST THAT EXCITED about giving our members the option to select their own allocations. Top reasons we love selling wine via Custom Club:
Our members get what they want.
We used to have members we would hand-customize their shipments because they didn’t want the Merlot (which is crazy because Charlie’s Merlots are out of this world) or even Cabernet (which might be even crazier). We’ll always release a variety of wines that are available to customize with so members can still get a variety, but only with the wines they really like.
The selections go beyond just varietals, though. I recently realized that this gives people the power to buy wines how they want to drink them. If you like to drink your wines sooner than later, and love a sampling of different things, grab one bottle of each new release. If you have an awesome cellar, go all in on your favorite one for your allocation and then round up to a case with a few more plus some daily drinkers for variety. Charlie and I both love to check in with one wine year after year just to see how it’s maturing in the bottle.
We also realize that what a lot of people want is to not make any choices at all, and we can totally do that. You know you like the wines, and we are more than happy to build an allocation for you.
We can design wines with the Club in mind.
This is one of my favorite things about Fidelitas. Many wineries may be scared of selling via Custom Club because it doesn’t fit with the wines that they are already making. However, we are making wines that we know our members are going to love, no matter the amount of cases produced, and allow these small lots to be sold via Club allocations because it is first come, first served. Once those 48 cases of Clone 191 are gone, they are gone but the members who really wanted them made sure to get them!
I’ve talked about this many times over the years. Charlie, like pretty much any winemaker I’ve ever met, is a sort of mad scientist. And he looooves making wines. Like, wants to make little tiny lots of everything and has an amazing knack for knowing what people are going to want in three years. This is how we end up with 48, 96, 142, 244 case lots. Allowing members to put these tiny production wines in their Club allocations guarantees that Charlie gets to make those amazing wines and members don’t necessarily have to buy above and beyond their allocation to enjoy them (although, as stated above, you should get more because once they are gone, they’re gone).
Further, “Club-exclusive” is a common thing to see at wineries. However, I realized that it is so much more than that at Fidelitas. One of part of my job is to work with Charlie and design how our releases will look up to 3 years in advance. Already, we are talking about which wines we want to make from grapes that will be harvested this upcoming fall. That means, we are having discussions about how much fruit to buy 5 months from now to make a wine that won’t be released until 3 years from now. We are looking at spreadsheets, and forecasts, and weather patterns, just to determine what wines we’ll make for just our Club members. This isn’t an after the fact decision. The wines available in your Club selections are truly chosen by Charlie 3+ years before you will take it home. Over the course of those 3 years, Charlie is ensuring that wine in your allocation is “one of the best we’ve ever made” (one of our favorite Charlie-isms).
Custom Clubs allow us to interact with our members in all new ways.
This is kind of a unique topic that I’ve been exploring. However, in 2019 we sold 75% of all wine to members and roughly 14 products never made it beyond the Club to even the tasting rooms. So – if a wine isn’t being poured in the tasting room, how do we know if people will like it?
Running Custom clubs for a few years now means that our team has really gotten to know our Club: their likes and dislikes, and how much they are wanting to take in each offering. Skye spends hours a day on the phone chatting with members to hear how past vintages are tasting now and helping them to select the wines that they’ll be taking home. In the tasting rooms, Team Fidelitas is sitting down with members to chat through each release to ensure that members are securing the want, and then diligently getting those orders fulfilled and sent home weeks later. It’s a little different than the traditional tasting room model, but gives our members a much more personal experience.
I can’t wait to release these new wines and will be spending next week on Red Mountain making sure that the exact right selections are making their way to their forever home. Enjoy them once they arrive!
In preparation for this Sunday’s Preview Tastings, Team Fidelitas sat down with Charlie to taste through the upcoming releases of 2017 red wines. As always, it was an awesome time to hear Charlie’s honest thoughts on each wine as he tasted through each one and fielded the questions from our staff.
side note: we started our tasting time with a 2006 Columbia Valley Malbec, generously shared by Therese from her cellar. All of us were floored by the fresh, bright fruit tones that appeared in the wine! I’m not going to lie: 2006 was a warm (not hot…warm) vintage. I vividly remember Charlie’s comment on that vintage when we released it: “sure…you can age them, but why? they taste great now.” This wine was amazing, fresh, and surprisingly bold upon opening but wasn’t as stunning when I tried it three hours later. It’s Malbec…not Cabernet…so don’t risk it. If you have it in your cellar still: it tastes great now.
I was in the tasting room recently, and someone asked me, “what is the plan of attack on the Preview Tastings?” and I honestly had a hard time coming up with the answer. To me, you taste the wines, you decide which you really like, and then you mark them down on your sheet and go. But what if you like them all or can’t make up your mind or are honestly overwhelmed by the whole thing?
I think that as a taster, you need to think about your drinking habits. If you know that you are going to drink your wines in the next few months, maybe you want to get one of each offering for your allocation (quick! try them and reorder any that are still available!). If you have a good storage system (cellar, garage, or cases stacked against your dining room wall) maybe grab 4-6 of those awesome, cellar worthy Cabernets and then round out your add-ons with daily drinkers. Charlie says he never buys a wine in a quantity less than 6 bottles because he wants to taste it over the years.
If you’re like me, you’re going to play the inventory game. I’m only able to grab 2-3 bottles of each wine at a time, but you know that I’m going to get the ones that will disappear the quickest. Get those first, then maybe 1 bottle of the others so I can check in on it in a month or two and order more before it runs out. Since I’m the one who gets to count Fidelitas inventory on a weekly basis, I’m going to share my thoughts on which wines to grab first. Watch for full tasting notes on each wine to come next week!
2017 Red Mountain Merlot: When we asked Charlie what he liked about this wine he grinned and nearly shouted “it’s Merlot! it’s just fun!”. My whole team could not stop making yummy noises about this wine. We’re Merlot fans, but this is one that you’re going to want as a daily drinker in your house. If you’re looking for a wine to round out your case with, this is the one. Remember: you get an extra 5% off mixed case orders.
2017 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon: We’re so excited to see this as one of our first releases of the year, versus one of the last. This means that we’ll hopefully be able to keep it in stock for a bit to enjoy over the summer. However, don’t assume it’s going to be around forever. This is such a lovely blend of Quintessence and Fidelitas Estate Vineyards that I don’t anticipate it will last too long.
2017 Optu Red Mountain: *currently sipping this wine and blogging at the same time* This is the one wine that we have produced in every single vintage since our first one, way back in 2000. About a year ago, I got the technical info from our winemaking team on this vintage of Optu, and had so many questions. It was an amazing lesson for me in looking at a wine by the BLOCK (i.e. individual rows of grapes within a vineyard) versus the name of the vineyard itself. Charlie told us that he has this wine on his mind through the growing season. He’s constantly tasting and testing each site to decide what will make it in to Optu. While this, like the Red Mountain Cabernet, is a higher volume wine for us (still less than 700 cases), I really doubt it will make it past the summer months.
On to the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard releases. If you haven’t already, read THIS BLOG POST on why we moved Ciel du Cheval wines to a spring release time slot. During the course of our tasting, Charlie said “Ciel du Cheval Vineyard has a tremendous reputation. If Washington state had Grand Cru designations for our vineyards, Ciel du Cheval would definitely be one of them.”
2017 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Cabernet Franc: Charlie says, “of all the varieties grown on Red Mountain, Cabernet Franc probably has the most finesse. We don’t go out of our way to make Cabernet Franc from other sites because they just don’t show quality like the fruit from Ciel du Cheval”. Only 142 cases produced on this guy…you’re going to want to GET IT NOW.
2017 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Merlot: Another very low production wine from Ciel, but with less volume allocated to Club selections. Basically, add-on with this wine because you can’t customize with it. While tasting, our team was nothing but joyous giggles as we envisioned drinking velvet. That is basically what it's like to drink this wine.
2017 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Wine: Do we all love Charlie’s Merlots? His Cabernets? His blends? Ciel du Cheval Vineyard? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. There is a reason that Team Fidelitas loves this wine. It is fully a blend of all things good about Fidelitas. By the time our members grab their allocations, there will be very little, if any, left of this wine.
2017 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Petit Verdot: Spoiler alert – we’re releasing our first ever Red Mountain Petit Verdot later this summer. It’s a multi-vineyard blend that is so much fun. We tried them both and I loved that each one was so different. The Ciel du Cheval, by comparison, was rich, floral, and focused. We’re finding that Charlie’s Petit Verdots are highly age-worthy, so definitely grab this if you have that storage system…whatever your style is.
2017 Ciel du Cheval Cabernet Sauvignon: I am hoping that by the time we are done with the Club allocation, we might have 30 cases available of this wine. That isn’t much. Someone in our tasting mentioned that Ciel du Cheval has been nicknamed the “Queen of Red Mountain”: a perfect balance of elegance and power. We all agreed that this could be called Queen Cabernet. So powerful, present tannins, loads of fruit, yet delightfully…feminine. Don’t tell Charlie.
We can’t wait to see so many of you this weekend! For those of you who are coming, take advantage of our Team, and ask them questions as you taste through the line up. For those who cannot attend, we look forward to helping you customize your selections when the allocation season opens next Tuesday! Finally, for those who are not yet members…you really might consider joining.
(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.”
It’s Thanksgiving time! Not a one of us can believe that 2019 is winding down, and that once again, we are just about to run out of wine. In the spirit of the holiday week, let’s check in with our team to find out what we are each thankful for.
I know that I have said this before, but it still holds true. I am thankful for Team Fidelitas. All the way from the production staff, which includes the cellar, lab, and winemaking team who make the wines and get it into the bottles, to the great staff people in the tasting rooms who make that final sale. Everyone has a role and they are doing a great job with it.
I am thankful for the wonderful people that I have the opportunity to work with and learn from, as well as all of the amazing club members that come in and brighten each and every day!
Where to begin!? Most importantly, I'm thankful to work with people who now double as friends. From weddings and birthdays, baby showers and trips, I have memories with Fidelitas that will last a lifetime. And to our members, I'm thankful that you have made my job so enjoyable these past 5 1/2 years! Many stories and laughs have been shared over a bottle of Fidelitas and I look forward to more of that in 2020.
I’m thankful for team Fidelitas and our Fidelitas wine club! Im alway look forward to sharing the excitement of limited release wines with our club members!! There’s no better group to geek out with.
Things I'm thankful for:
I am thankful for our hard-working winemaking team! They make our jobs easy in the tasting rooms. Every wine, every vintage is just amazing, and it is a pleasure to share their work with our guests.
I am so very thankful for all of the people I have met while working at Fidelitas. They have started out as friends and become family. I am very blessed!
Running a winery is no joke, and so it is easy for me to recognize all of the people and things I’m thankful for, knowing that there is no way I could do it alone. Thank you to...
Team Fidelitas: we have a bunch of new faces in Fidelitas leadership this year, and my newest members (Josh, Allie, and Bryce) each bring a unique quality and special talent to the team. In many ways, I feel like I’ve known them forever! Mix them with such a strong tasting room force in both locations, Stacey keeping me on track, my absolutely amazing Club team, and CHARLIE HOPPES at the helm, it’s magical.
Our Members: we started 2019 with 0 available bottles to sell and are going to be ending the year in just about the same boat. That means every wine we released this year, we sold, and almost all of that is going to our Club members. Thank you, thank you, for bringing Fidelitas into your homes and sharing it with your closest friends and families. It means to so much to us. You all are faithful, loyal, and true.
Red Mountain Wines (and the people who make them): There is no way we have such happy members or such a strong Team without absolutely incredible wines to showcase. Charlie and his winemaking team have committed to finding, sourcing, and producing the best blocks of fruit on Red Mountain, and we are all so thankful for that dedication to quality and craft.
It hasn’t always been like this. For those who have been with for a while, you may remember that I used to throw full, themed dinner parties for my friends to try out recipes with each new release from Fidelitas. But, eight years and two kids later, I find myself in the middle of a 1.5 hour kid pick-up commute, listening to ‘Let It Go’ for the 119th time, and pondering the inventory counts I did earlier in the day. Could we really be down to 15 cases of Quintessence Cabernet? Only 35 cases of Malbec? When was the last time I went to the grocery store and what exactly am I going to make for dinner tonight? Somewhere between the Quintessence Cabernet and the thought of going to the grocery store with two kids after 5pm, I remembered an Instagram post I saw for a recipe that promised I had all the ingredients in my pantry…and then remembered I had Quintessence Cabernet in my cellar.
Was my finished product as beautiful as Smitten Kitchen? Certainly not. But did it turn out delicious, feed the fam, and pair awesome with Cabernet on a rainy night? Yes, yes, and yes.
|Deb's version||my version||kid version|
In one of the first wine courses I ever took – a food and wine pairing class – the teacher told us “it’s not so much about the perfect pairing, but about the perfect wine with the perfect meal with the perfect company” and that was certainly how this dinner ended up. Sooner than later, I am positive that I’ll be enjoying that glamorous wine country lifestyle again. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the small wins of grown-up spaghetti-os and awesome wine on a weekday night.
We're now heading in to the time of year where I barely see Charlie and am happy to get quick texts from him and pictures from Will. Harvest is underway! Here is what we're hearing from Charlie: "We picked our first reds on Wednesday: Merlot from Quintessence Vineyard. The fruite seems to have more, riper flavors this year but at lower Brix than normal. I believe it is from having nice warm weather but not having super hot days exceeding 100F during the growing season. All of the whites we have picked have been lower brix than normal but have had great flavors. Things are looking great so far!"
pick schedule looks easy to start
Sauvignon Blanc in Artz Vineyard
out for the first pick: Klipsun Sauvignon Blanc early on August 29
first day of harvest...still smiling
the pick schedule is getting fuller...but he's still smiling!
Merlot in Quintessence Vineyard, consistently our first red block of the year
Quintessence Merlot coming in to the cellar
and then finding a rest spot to ferment in a Boutes tank
When I started with Fidelitas in 2008, my job was solely to work directly with the members of the Fidelitas Wine Club. Over the years, I’ve had the joy of interacting with so many of you on Red Mountain, in Seattle (remember that?), in Woodinville, and lots of time on the phone with those of you who live a little further away. I know dog’s names, locations of vacation houses, and your mom’s favorite beverage (which isn’t always wine). Members remember when I got married on Red Mountain and my kid’s names, but I still manage to confuse many on where exactly I live in the state.
Over the years, my job has evolved, and I don’t get to work with everyone on the individual level as often (shout out to Skye and Michelle on the Club Team who get the pleasure now). However, one thing remains the same since we as a company committed to the Club back in 2008: everything we do is for you. We make products designed with the Club in mind, many of which were requested by you. We’ve opened tasting rooms, hosted unique and educational events, and created a special Club just for people who live out of state.
Our vision for 2020 and beyond is to continue this trend and be even better at it. We have plans in the works to enhance the guest experience in all arenas of the Club and are so excited to share them with you. In the meantime, we’d love to know how you’re doing. Drop us a note, tag us on Instagram (@FidelitasWines), pick up the phone, or come visit us in the tasting room. We’d love to hear all about it.
Thank you for being a member. We truly appreciate your being faithful, loyal, and true to Fidelitas.
Jess Zander, Fidelitas GM
Magna Dinner, June 2019