Amazing Woodinville Wines

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What a great time we had at St. Nick’s weekend in Woodinville. We spent a lot of time visiting wineries that we hadn’t visited before. And we also were fortunate to experience some barrel tastings of new releases. I plan to write a lot about this in the coming days. But first, I wanted to give an immediate overview. Here are my top-line notes.

1. Props to Woodinville Wine Country for once again organizing an event that lets people experience the amazing wines of Woodinville. There are more than 40 wineries and tasting rooms, just 30 minutes from Seattle. And this event lets everyone visit wineries that aren’t always open to the public, in addition to old favorites.

2. Keep your eyes/ears open for new releases from Efeste Cellars. I plan to write more about this winery in the near future. For now, I will just say that Estefe winemaker Brennon Leighton is doing some native fermentation, which results in awesome, softer wines. We’ve already pre-ordered 2006 Jolie Bouche Syrah, which is coming out in a few months. We barrel-tasted the 2007 release and wow, what a winner! And I love the name, which translates from French to “pretty mouth.” We also met the friendly and knowledgeable owners of Efeste, Kevin and Angie Taylor, so come back soon for more details.

3.  William Church Winery also has some great new releases. It was great, as always, to see owners Rod and Leslie, along with their welcoming assistant winemaker, Marcus Rafanelli. We pre-ordered  2006 Bishop’s Blend and barrel-tasted an incredible new blend called La Rochelle — another winner, which will be released in 2010. (I hope I have the name right – it was near the end of a wine-intense day!)

4. We also enjoyed meeting the winemaker at Stevens Winery, Tim Stevens and his wife Paige. Tim had some great stories to share, which I’ll also write about in the future. And I now see why readers of this blog recommended that we try Stevens wines. Tim was pouring 2006 Stevens Merlot and 2006 Stevens Black Tongue Syrah, and they were both awesome. And then there’s Tim’s incredible art, which is both at the tasting room and on the wine labels.

5. Gordon Rawson at Chatter Creek poured some very balanced, fruit-forward wines for us, and told us some interesting history about the Washington state wine industry. Our favorite wines there were Chatter Creek Grenache 2007 and Blend 105 2005.

6. As always, we had a special time at Woodhouse Family Cellars, where you can find a wonderful holiday blend that will brighten up any party. Woodhouse has so many excellent wines, that it is a must-stop tasting room on any trip to Woodinville. There’s also a case sale going on right now too, which is perfect for entertaining this season. And we met the engaging Auntie Meredith, whose name graces the label of the Kennedy Shah Auntie Meredith’s Picnic Blend, which is one of our summer drinks of choice on the deck.

7.  Alexandria Nicole Cellars always holds a good party, in addition to offering some of the best wines in Washington state, and tasting room manager Kathie Statler added her own unique verbal twists to the pours yesterday. It was great fun! And I’d be remiss to not mention the clever marketing tactic — an announcement about the Dec. 13th release of their excellent 2006 Destiny wine was prominently placed in the restroom!

8.  It was wonderful to see Rothelle Page at Page Cellars again too — although we have yet to meet her Canadian husband, whom I’m looking forward to trading stories with from the homeland. But we can say this — their house band, “Nice Legs” (as in wine legs) rocked the house! Son Brett Cummings wailed that saxaphone, and we just hated to leave. We also had an opportunity to taste the 2005 Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon, which was just released on Friday. Magnificent! You’ll find more about Page Cellars’ 2005 Preface and 2005 Libra in future blog posts. Every year, these three wines have been on our list of favorites.

9. I hate to end on a sad note, but we were so sorry to hear that Arlington Road closed its doors yesterday. We are big fans of Arlington Road’s 2005 and 2006 Monolith and it was heart-breaking to hear the news. We wish the best of luck to Ken Nydam and Robin Rutz in their future endeavors.

Thanks to the wine makers and tasting room managers and welcoming people in the Woodinville wine industry! And please come back often to read more about our experiences at St. Nick’s weekend. And if you didn’t get a chance to go, do not miss Passport in April.

Cheers!