Why B.C wines are hard to find in WA

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As regular readers know, I moved to the U.S. more than a decade ago from my hometown of Vancouver, B.C. That’s where I first learned about wine before moving to California and Oregon, and then making my home in the Seattle area.

My hometown newspaper, The Vancouver Sun, frequently answers my burning questions about local wine. And now The Seattle Times is doing the same – recently responding to Why British Columbia wines can be hard to find in Washington.

The short answer: B.C. wineries produce a limited amount of wine, and the B.C. government’s Liquor Control Board (LCB) process is time-consuming, costly and complicated. So most B.C. wineries sell their labels at their tasting rooms or through LCB stores rather than sell retail across the border (or as we used to call it in Vancouver, “across the line”).

For more information, read the full article by clicking on the above link.

Cheers!

WineCHATr

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Anything with a name like WineCHATr is naturally going to pique my interest! And I decided that it was finally time to blog about it.

We first saw WineCHATr promoted at Woodinville Wine Country’s St. Nick’s weekend last December. A few months earlier, I had discovered WineCOW (Wine Connection of Washington) when I linked to it in this blog. But it wasn’t until early this month that I made the connection between WineCHATr and WineCOW. Perhaps the caps in both names should have been a hint?

That connection is Marcus Pape, who also happens to be an author!

Earlier this month, I discovered that Marcus was holding a signing for his new book, Eat & Drink in the Northwestat Brian Carter Cellars in Woodinville. So it seemed time to finally meet him and also taste the latest vintage of Brian Carter’s flagship wine, Solesce. My conclusions? The BCC Bordeaux-style wine continues to be rich and robust. Eat & Drink in the Northwest is an inspiring collection of seasonal “Northwest-inspired” food and wine pairings. And finally, Marcus has some great ideas for WineCHATr.

What is WineCHATr? Let’s go to the Web site to see how it’s described: WineCHATr.com is bringing both sides of the wine community together, wine drinkers and wine businesses, in order to create the ultimate online resource for everything wine related. … We’ve built upon the popularity of social networking and added a purpose. That purpose is to connect people and businesses with similar interests, in this case WINE, and provide them a space to share and learn.

The Web site goes on to explain the benefits to both individuals who love wine and businesses in the wine industry. Stay tuned for some exciting growth in the months ahead.

Cheers!

Stomani Cellars

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When we attended Vino Bello’s 2nd anniversary party last month, we enjoyed meeting Alex Manoni of the recently opened Stomani Cellars on Atlantic St. near Safeco Field. Alex makes Italian-style wines from Washington state grapes. Stomani’s first official vintage was conducted in the harvest of 2006.

Alex entertained us with stories of his life and his business. We also like this description of his wines from Stomani’s Web site: “… when reading about wines, ‘well balanced’ is a phrase often used. You will find that [in] the wines of Stomani Cellars this balance will be evident to the palate, the nose and your pocket!”

Stomani Cellars offers two whites and four reds, including a Dolcetto and Sangiovese. My favorite was the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, which was aged in new French and American oak barrels for 16 months.

Stomani Cellars tasting room is open on Saturday afternoons from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. through Sept. 27. And you can usually find it open when there are baseball games on Sundays! There’s even an outside bistro when the weather cooperates.

Alex scored when Stomani Cellars was the location of an event featuring the incredible Gary V (Gary Vaynerchuk) of Wine Library TV. Gary has captured national attention and become an Internet celebrity of sorts, so wine enthusiasts were lined up outside Stomani’s to see him and to taste Stomani’s wines.

We plan on stopping by Stomani Cellars in the near future. Hope to see you there!

Cheers!

Washington Wine Weekend

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We had an important family event this past weekend in Vancouver, so we had several occasions to drink some really good reds — and all from Washington state, I’m proud to say. First, my nephew Mathew opened up a bottle of Matthews Cellars 2003 Conner Lee Vineyard Cabernet Franc Reserve, which was awarded 96 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. It was heaven.

Much later, my sister poured a gem from the library collection at L’Ecole 41 – a 2001 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which was so amazing that it defies words.

Our contributions to our wine weekend came from Woodhouse Family Cellars – an excellent smoky and spicy 2003 Malbec – and from JM Cellars – their flagship 2005 Tre Fanciulli, which is one of our favorites (and sold out!) and their awesome blend, 2006 Bramble Bump Red.

Truth be told, we poured the JM Cellars wines back at home in Seattle last night. Nonetheless, they carried on the fine tastes of the other excellent wines that accompanied our weekend.

Cheers!

Blog Note

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I recently updated my blog program and then discovered that many of my previous posts now have typos in them. The typos all seem to come with an extra “A” at the beginning or end of words.

I have one more update to do in the next couple of weeks. If the typos aren’t fixed in that program update, I will attempt to edit at least the most recent posts.

In the meantime – my apologies.

Cheers!

Wonderful Woodhouse

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As mentioned in a previous post, I recently took our friends from Vancouver, Sue and Robin, on a wine-tasting trip in Woodinville. Our first stop was Woodhouse Family Cellars. Sue and Robin loved it there because of the superb wines and the fun and knowledgeable people (Jennifer and Steve) who were pouring. Robin raved about the smoky 2003 Kennedy Shah Malbec, which he purchased and later opened to pair with barbequed steaks that weekend. Delicious on all counts!

I just had to pick up a few bottles because so many are our favorites — 2001 Darighe (Woodhouse’s high-end Bordeaux-style flagship wine), BLT Barrel Select Cabernet Sauvignon and 2006 Kennedy Shah Auntie Meredith’s Picnic Blend, which is perfect for a hot summer day on the deck.

In fact we sipped on some Picnic Blend last evening, after temperatures reached record highs in the Seattle area.

Cheers!

Facelli Fascination

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Our friends Sue and Robin were visiting recently from Vancouver, so of course I took them to Woodinville for some wine tasting. One of our stops was Facelli Winery, where we enjoyed a number of pours. My favorite was the 2003 Syrah Reserve while Sue and Robin purchased the 2007 Lemberger, which we opened at home later that evening.

As we were headed there, I told them about Lou Facelli, who began making wine in 1981 and garnered a cult following, not only because of his quality wines but also because of his unique personal style — he autographed wine bottles in crayon and entertained visitors by playing the accordion in his tasting room in an industrial/business park in Woodinville. He was one of the first winemakers we heard about when we moved to the Seattle area a decade ago.

Lou still autographs bottles (but with a Sharpie these days) and he still entertains visitors — with stories, if not with the accordion. But this time, we also enjoyed chatting with his wife Sandy, who proudly told us that Facelli’s was the third winery to open in Woodinville. There are now 35+ wineries!

Sandy also told us that when Facelli Winery opened its current tasting room in 1988, people told them that they were “nuts” for locating in a business/industrial park. Now 20 years later, most of Woodinville’s wineries are in industrial parks and/or warehouses. With a big chuckle, Sandy said, “These days, people call us visionaries! From nuts to visionaries in such a short time!”

If you’re looking for something fun to do on a summer weekend, stop by Facelli Winery!

Cheers!

Fall Line Winery

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We were delighted to see Tim Sorenson, the fabulous and fun winemaker at Fall Line Winery, again when we attended Vino Bello’s 2nd anniversary party. It’s been a few months since we tasted Fall Line’s 2005 releases, and they just get even better and better. Yes, my favorite continues to be Fall Line’s 2005 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a blend of 100% Cab from all three of the winery’s vineyard sources. But Tim’s two blends of Merlot, Cab Franc and Cab Sauv  from Red Mountain and Horse Heaven Hills are also amazing!

We’re not the only ones to have that opinion. We were delighted to learn that Wine Advocate rated Fall Line’s 2005 Red Mountain Red Blend at 89, and rated 90 for both the 2005 Horse Heaven Hills Red Blend and 2005 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. And Wine & Spirits will soon be announcing that Fall Line’s 2005 Red Mountain Red Blend received a 90 rating, with a 92 going to the 2005 Horse Heaven Hills Red Blend!

Congratulations, Tim!

Cheers!

I’m back!

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Did you miss me? It’s been an incredibly busy summer and recently we’ve been on vacation. But we’re back and I have lots to write about. I’ll be posting more often about Washington wines, in addition to the occasional post about B.C. and Oregon wines.

So stay tuned to find out what we learned at Vino Bello’s 2nd anniversary party and a recent trip to Woodinville. Plus I finally discovered why it’s hard to get B.C. wines in the Seattle area.

Cheers!