West Coast Trip Part 2….
As many of you read in last week’s blog I recently spent several days in the Pacific Northwest exploring wine regions of Woodinville, Walla Walla and Willamette Valley. Here is the next part in the series of posts about my travels.
When we left off I was at the Ch. Ste. Michelle blending seminar and fully armed with my blend in hand and recommendations of places to visit in Woodinville, so off I went. The cool part about Woodinville is there are over 140 tasting rooms in the area, most are situated in strip malls much like where we are except there are 5 to 8 in each strip center. I made my way down the strip mall, seeking this one winery’s tasting room, based on the recommendation of the seminar leader at Ch. Ste. Michelle, its name, Darby. As I am walking up there I am met by a nice lady who reminds me of a wanna be hippie from Woodstock back in 1969, but she is clearly to young have been around for it, she asks me if I need help and I told her who I was and I heard about Darby wines and I could try them. She said sure, and at first seemed a little disinterested in tasting with me as it was Monday afternoon and I think she was more interested in getting lunch with her dog then showing a couple of wines to a retailer from the east coast who is not able to get the wines in the first place. But she started the tasting and from the first bottle I was impressed and we started talking more and more about wines and styles we liked and suddenly an hour passed and there were 22 bottles open on the bar… we had opened up all of their current releases and library releases that they had at the tasting room. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. One wine in particular stood out, their 2015 Petite Sirah Stonetree Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope. This wine was a powerhouse, beautiful in body and structure but the wine had restraint and balance. I ended up buying so another bottle to bring home. At this point I was starving and not wanting to eat the steering wheel on the way back to Seattle, I asked for a recommendation and she said I just had to go to the wine shop/restaurant right next door. I was like awesome want to see what other people are doing which is similar to me, so off I went to get lunch and learn about what my counterparts on the West Coast were doing. It was a cool little spot with a big rectangular bar and seats for about 60 people. The menu was not too complex but had great comfort foods – perfect. I sat at the bar and chatted with the owner and got a bite to eat and got a few recommendations of other places in Woodinville to visit next. Then I headed back to Seattle for the evening.
The next day I made my way back to Woodinville and hit several wineries which were recommended to me the previous day. The first winery was fantastic – Fidelitas a winery which is on Red Mountain, the wines and the people at the tasting room were wonderful. They make 5 wines of which 4 were reds and one white, the white was a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc; creamy, fresh, and bright, this wine was a pleasure to drink. The reds were all big and rich, one of which stood out above the rest, their Quintessence Cabernet 2015 – made from the Quintessence Vineyard on Red Mountain this 100% Cabernet was pure elegance from the moment it was poured into the glass. Silk. I had to buy a bottle, I had to, really, I did, and now I am kicking myself for not buying more because this wine is not yet available here in Virginia. Damn. My next stop was two doors down at Mark Ryan… and it could not have been a more opposite experience then Fidelitas. The tasting room was a loud mix of Rock n Roll posters and dive bar games over which hard rock music from the 80’s and 90’s was blasting. Needless to say this was not my scene and much to my dismay the wines matched the music and décor loud and flabby and without focus. By this time it was nearly noon and time to break for lunch. Lucky for me there was a great winebar in the shopping center called Purple. I had eaten at their downtown location several times since I arrived and loved their wine program, choices, and food. The décor at this location was more traditional than their restaurant in Seattle and had a different menu then that of downtown. I got several different tapas dishes and enjoyed a nice lunch, during which I made the decision to walk across the parking lot and visit DeLille Vineyards.
I was familiar with DeLille Vineyards from reading about the winery for several years in trade magazines and they also recently just started distributing here in Virginia. I stopped in and was greeted warmly by two lovely ladies who welcomed me out to the patio to taste their wines. I tasted through all of the new vintages and their Rosé which were classic styles of wines from Bordeaux. Stay tuned as we are going to definitely have a couple of these wines soon on the shelves.
After returning to Seattle for the night I was going to make the long drive to Walla Walla the next morning. Stay tuned to my adventures in Walla Walla next week….