Warehouse Wines in Washington Act II


By Lisa Stefan*

The late afternoon found us traveling a little ways up the road, maybe 5 minutes, to the Warehouse District where we stumbled upon some fantastic small production operations.  Young, hip winemakers have rented warehouse space, and filled the back with their barrels and set up cozy little tasting rooms/salescounters in the front.  You could literally park in the parking lot and walk to 15 different tasting rooms if you wanted… definitely get the number for the local taxi service before attempting this! The feel was urban, grunge…with an understated and unjudgemental crowd, and very different from any wineries we’ve visited before. As I mentioned, the young, trendy, 30-40 something winemakers are the ones pouring their wines for locals and tourists alike. Everyone seems to know each other and say fabulous things about each other’s wines.  In fact, we were lucky enough to stumble upon 2 release parties that day. The first party was at Efeste (pronounced F-S-T), where winemaker Brennan Leighton was pouring, for the first time, his 2007 Jolie Bouche and Ceidleigh Syrahs. The other at Darby, where wine maker Darby was debuting his 2007 Darkside Syrah.  Darby even poured us the Efeste wine to compare the difference in style as they source their grapes from the same vineyard. Side note, Efeste 2006 “Ceidleigh” Syrah was rated #36 in Wine Spectator‘s top 100 of 2009, and Darby 2006 “Darkside” Syrah received 92 points from Wine Spectator.  We can’t wait to hear the reviews on the 2007 vintage.

Probably one of the favorites for us was Barrage.  Wine maker Kevin Correll, his partner Susana and their dog Murphy, welcomed us, poured us all their wines and spent close to an hour chit-chatting with us and everyone else who seemed to linger for a very long time over their wines, all with great names like Double Barrel and Secret Weapon.  We loved the 2005 Alias Cabernet Franc, a 100% Cab Franc from the Horse Heaven Hills area, aged 41 months in oak (50% new French oak and 50% once used French oak). This wine is big and bold, well balanced, with great fruit and aromas of cinammon, cocoa, clove and white pepper, a nice vanilla undertone and lengthy finish. This was one of only 4 bottles (duty free limit) we were able to bring back into Canada with us, and at a price of $38 we couldn’t resist.

I should mention that my wine adventure sidekick is Daniel Collins. In addition to being a wine lover, my partner, Dan is a real beer enthusiast, so the Red Hook Brewery was a perfect Sunday afternoon adventure.  Daniel shares his love of brews with his other passion, which is Latin America. Fluent in Spanish and with friends everywhere South of Rio Grande, he is the Director of All Access Volunteers www.allaccessvolunteers.com, an organization that helps match volunteers with non-governmental organizations throughout Latin America, and he so kindly posed for a couple pictures to help me capture the day on camera.

Exhausted after the day’s tasting, we retired to our hotel in Lynnwood, only about a 10-15 minute drive from Woodinville, and a great place to stay if you want to shop, dine out or catch a flick while you are across the line (where everything is so much cheaper, especially right now considering the strength of our dollar).

Our lazy Sunday took us back to the Woodinville area just in time for the one o’clock tour of Red Hook Brewery.  Yes, I said Brewery.  There is a fantastic craft-brewery located right in the heart of Woodinville and right next door to Willows Lodge where we had lunch the previous day.  Red Hook brewery offers a tour and tasting of 5 beers for $1.00 –the best $1.00 I think I’ve ever spent!  Valerie, our tour guide, was fantastic, funny, outgoing and knowledgeable about the history of the brewery and beer making. She kept everyone entertained by leading us in a cheerful and blasting music while we all lined up for our beer samples.  Of the 5 beers poured our favorite was the Red Hook ESB, Extra Special Bitter, and with an a/v of 5.8% this beer is not like many low alcohol beers we know of from the United States.  We had lunch at the on-site pub and bought ourselves a couple single bottles at the souvenir shop, full of all kinds of Red Hook apparel, to bring home and enjoy in the complimentary beer tasting glasses we received on the tour.

Our last stop on the way out of town to head home was at Brian Carter wine shop.  He has some great red blends, but we had to pick up the $58 bottle of 2005 Solesce, a Bordeaux blend (50% Cab Sauv. 34% Merlot) made from the best of the best grapes sourced throughout Southeastern Washington, that spent 28 months in oak, and was just released in November 2009.  Though drinking well now, with strong aromas of blackberry, currant, cedar, tar, chocolate, and earth, it is a bit tannic, but still quite smooth, and this wine will only improve with some age. We are assured it has the potential to age 12 years so I think we’ll sit on this one for a while.

We were so impressed with the Woodinville area’s wine culture, food, people  and of course – wine, we can’t wait to go back in the spring or summer time, when the weather is a little nicer, and perhaps this time we’ll bike the local river trail, which seemed popular even in rainy January, and stop at a few more winery tasting rooms along the way, and of course at the Pub for more Red Hook Ale.

To find out more about the Woodinville area and wineries, check out

wwww.woodinvillewinecountry.com

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