St. Nick’s in the Snow

First, I have to say that Woodinville Wine Country and the wineries of Woodinville know how to throw a great event. We braved the predictions of snow today and went to our first Saint Nicholas Day Open House tasting, and it was fabulous! I’m sure I’ll be writing blog posts about it for days to come.

We decided, in our limited time before the snow started to fall, to visit wineries that we had never been to before. Our first stop was DeLille Cellars. This superb, renowned winery is rarely open to the public, which explains the long lineups outside and the (friendly) crowds inside. We also visited the tasting rooms of Mark Ryan Winery, where I had an opportunity to chat with the winemaker himself, Arlington Road Cellars, Baer Winery, Cuillin Hills Winery, Edmonds Winery, Page Cellars, Red Sky Winery and Woodinville Wine Cellars.

I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll say it again. Washington state wineries make some excellent world-class wines.

I will write specifically about my favorite wines and wineries in the days ahead, in addition to special treats (appetizers, music and art) that we found at many of the tastings. I wish we had time to go back for the second day of St. Nick’s tomorrow, but we’re heading to Portland for the first time in almost ten years. And thanks to your suggestions, I’m sure we’ll find some great tastings there too.

So come back often in the next couple of weeks to read details of both St. Nick’s and our brief trip to Portland.


Alexandria Nicole Cellars Knows How to Party (and Make Great Wine)

Our wine weekend started out last night with an amazing release party at Alexandria Nicole Cellars’ tasting room in Woodinville. The party was for wine club members, and the celebration was particularly sweet after Paul Gregutt of The Seattle Times ranked ANC’s wine club the best in Washington state.

About 400 people packed into the tasting room. The crowd was so deep that we overheard conversations such as “It’s so packed in here, if you get drunk, it’s impossible to fall over” and “There are so many people here that ANC should start holding this event at Qwest Field!”

The wine was flowing, the appetizers were delicious, the staff and volunteers were amazing, and the music was perfect for this type of event. Most importantly, people were buzzing about winemaker Jarrod Boyle’s new ANC releases: 2005 Block 17 Syrah, 2005 Estate Merlot and 2006 Syrah Ice Wine.

2005 Block 17 Syrah is made from 100% estate fruit from Destiny Ridge Vineyard–77% Syrah, 13% Grenache, 7% Roussanne and rounded out with 3% Viognier. As a result, this wine is full-bodied with a rich bouquet of fruit aromas, along with white pepper, smoke and other spice flavors that identify good Syrahs.

2005 Estate Merlot is from the Horse Heaven Hills and is overflowing with a rich, dark berry and smoked cedar bouquet. This elegant wine is made of 76% Merlot, 21% Malbec and 3% Petit Verdot.

2006 Syrah Ice Wine is made of 100% Syrah grapes that were hand-harvested and pressed while frozen. According to the tasting notes, “Left on the vine to hang weeks past normal harvesting, severe shrivel and dehydration increased concentrated flavors and aromas when temperatures fell to 17 degrees and finally picked in the pre-dawn hours of Nov. 1, 2006 at 43 brix residual sugar.” Jarrod suggests this ice wine should be paired with fresh fruit, nuts and gorgonzola … “or treat the wine as the dessert itself and pour over a bowl of fresh berries.”

So we’re happy to say that Jarrod has done it again! And it was great to chat with him, and briefly see Ali as we were leaving.