Smasne Cellars-An Experience and Education

If you’re fortunate enough to stop by Smasne Cellars on a day when both winemaker Robert Smasne and viticulturalist Dr. Alan Busaca are in the tasting room, plan on staying awhile. Because this dynamic team will educate you – in a captivating way – while you taste their magnificent wines.

Alan was there on the day we visited. With every word he spoke, this man oozed passion for the terroir and the role of soils in viticulture. As we tasted pours from the Alma Terra label, Alan told us about the Alma Terra project “that expresses terroir in every glass.”

Our Alma Terra tasting comprised of 2006 Syrahs from three northwest vineyards: Ciel du Cheval in Red Mountain, Coyote Canyon in Horse Heaven Hills and Minick Vineyard in Yakima Valley. For this project, grapes for each wine were treated the same way — from harvest to crush to fermentation to barrel and bottle.

These identical practices were combined with the unique climate, soils and geography of each vineyard. As a result, you can truly taste the differences in terroir. And as you know, terrior, along with great wine-making, is what makes every bottle of wine unique.

Because Alan was in the house when we visited the tasting room, we focused on the Alma Terra wines and didn’t taste any of the Smasne Cellars  wines, or wines from Smasne’s value-priced Farm Boy label. 

So I can guarantee that we will go back. And one day we hope to meet Robert too. He is a legend in Washington state and currently consults or custom-makes wine for 14 different labels in the northwest.

Cheers!

William Church Winery

This is a blog post that I’ve been meaning to write for a long time: William Church Winery offers unique wines from wonderful people. Owners Rod and Leslie Balsley live true to their mission, creating limited productions of “wines that are approachable and delicious upon release but will also express themselves well over time.”

We first tasted William Church’s 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon in March 2008, thanks to my nephew Mathew in Vancouver, who was an early fan of William Church wines. I’ve written about these wines frequently — including that 2005 Cab (last September), the delicious 2005 Bishop’s Blend (I just bought a couple more bottles yesterday) and the soon-to-be released 2 Spires (can’t wait!).

Rod and Leslie are as friendly as their wines are indeed approachable. Whenever I visit, we never seem to have enough time to talk about everything they are interested in – the grape, of course; the art of blending; wine education; Woodinville wineries and events; Washington wine; and more recently, the importance of social media to the wine industry.

They recently joined Twitter @wmchurchwinery. And their talented and friendly assistant winemaker, Marcus Rafanelli, also manages their Facebook presence.

And that’s not all! Rod has a great sense of humor and always leaves us laughing – and he’s also intelligent, smart and handsome. (And no, he didn’t pay me to write that, but it was a dare!) And of course, Leslie matches Rod on every one of those attributes!

But the bottom line – I’ve always blogged about how Dave and I favor wineries with three important aspects – awesome wine, great people and fun events. William Church Winery has it all. Keep your eye on their new releases coming out soon!

Cheers!

Woodinville Warehouse Wineries Wine Walk

Woodinville’s Warehouse District is holding its fourth Wine Walk on Aug. 20 and this time, each winery is being paired with a restaurant.

What’s Woodinville Warehouse Wineries? Since you asked – it’s more than 30 wineries in Woodinville, Washington, within one minute of each other. A slice of heaven or what?

From 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., you can walk to the different wineries where you can taste specially prepared dishes from local restaurants along with pours from each winery. Thirteen of he wineries are participating – and each will be paired with a different restaurant.

For example, our friends at William Church Winery will be featuring dishes from Russell’s Restaurant in Bothell. Gård Vintners and Kathy’s Kapers Catering are pairing up.

This sounds like fun! C’mon – more than 30 wineries in a one-minute radius? Find out more about the wineries at Woodinville Warehouse Wineries.

Cheers!

Next Weekend-Auction of Washington Wines

The Auction of Washington Wines, an event that I first blogged about on July 20, is around the corner, and the wine auction catalogue is now available at the auction’s website.  A few tickets remain to this event, being touted as “the largest and most prestigious charity auction showcasing the stars of Washington wine.”

The event features many exciting highlights over the weekend of August 13-15. The kickoff – which we’ll attend – is a Barrel Auction and Picnic with wines from more than 80 wineries and a gourmet picnic prepared by local chefs.

Here are the latest details from the auction’s news release:
A listing of all featured Barrel Auction wineries, as well as the specific wines that will be up for grabs, can be found at www.auctionofwashingtonwines.org.

Auctioneer John Curley will also give attendees the opportunity to bid on several amazing “mini live” items including a Ski & Wine Tasting for four with football star Drew Bledsoe, a Hood Canal Getaway Package with Walter Dacon Wines for six, and even a spectacular lot of wines – 107 different bottles –  from 2009 Taste Washington participants.

Following Thursday’s bidding frenzy, Saturday evening’s elegant Gala Auction will feature more than 105 auction items up for bidding in the live, almost live, and silent auctions.

Guests looking to explore Washington wine country could win a fly fishing trip with Gary Hogue, Hogue winemaker Jim Mills and three friends; a round of golf and wine tasting with three friends, Drew Bledsoe and Chris Figgins in Walla Walla; or a three-day weekend of wine drinking, dining and dancing for four at Lake Chelan.

Those just looking for some Washington wine to enjoy will find amazing collections of wine up for grabs from celebrated Washington wineries including Betz Family Winery, K Vintners, Quilceda Creek Vintners, Leonetti Cellar, Cayuse Vineyards, and DeLille Cellars.

Don’t miss the rest of the incredible live auction items including Super Bowl XLIV tickets and much more.

Additional information can be found at the auction’s website.

Cheers!

Seaweed Wine – Seriously

As soon as Laura, my boss at the PR agency, sent me a link to an online article about seaweed wine, I immediately wondered if it would pair well with sushi. My second thought was – why would someone want to drink seaweed wine?

I’m not sure what that says about me but nonetheless this wine, made of sweet brown seaweed (aka sugar kelp algae or more scientifically laminaria saccharina seaweed), is the real deal.

According to Colorado Biz Magazine, Foods Matter and a number of other online publications, Dr. Inez Linke, a German marine biologist, is making healthy wine from this seaweed. 

Apparently the wine tastes like fine sherry, and there are claims that it boosts the immune system and might have a beneficial effect on skin, particularly for those who suffer from eczema. 

The cost of a bottle in Germany is $25-$28, and Linke says it has started to gather a fan base of connoisseurs and chefs, who use it in cocktails and haute cuisine. Nothing about sushi. I still think seaweed wine and sushi would go together swimmingly!

Cheers!

VIP Wine Club

Alexandria Nicole Cellars is offering a new twist to its wine club — a VIP Program that provides members with exclusive discounts and benefits at restaurants, lodging and touring busineses in Washington state. And two of our favorites — El Gaucho in downtown Seattle and Salty’s on Alki — are participating.

Sure glad we’ve been members of ANC’s wine club for a couple of years. We joined for the fine wine and because of the great people – winemaker and owner Jarrod Boyle and his wife, owner and marketing director Ali, plus Vida and Kathie (and the list goes on and on)! But the reasons to join this great club increase every year.

Here’s how the new VIP program works: Wine club members just have to show their membership cards to partipating restaurants, wine bars, lodging and touring services, and they receive discounts. It’s that simple!

According to Jarrod, “Our wine club members tell us they’re passionate about food and wine and they enjoy exploring the great dining, lodging and touring opportunities our beautiful state has to offer. The VIP program is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to our loyal club members by creating partnerships with highly regarded businesses that have also been extremely supportive of Alexandria Nicole Cellars.

“No matter which side of the Cascades people are on, we believe these perks will enhance their overall wine experiences while adding value to their Alexandria Nicole wine club membership.”

Here are the current participating businesses — more will be added in the future:

Restaurants

Western Washington
·       Salty’s on Alki, West Seattle
·       El Gaucho, Downtown Seattle
·       Cellar 46, Mercer Island
·       Russell’s, Bothell
·       Barking Frog, Woodinville
·       Brix, Kirkland
·       O/8 & Twisted Cork Wine Bar, Bellevue
·       Brix 25, Gig Harbor
·       Uncorked Wine bar, Snoqualmie
Eastern Washington
·       Picazo 7Seventeen, Prosser
·       The Greystone Restaurant and bar, Yakima
Lodging
·       The Inn at El Gaucho, Downtown Seattle
·       The Cozy Rose B & B, Grandview
·       Sun Set House Wine Country Inn, Prosser
·       4 Seasons River Inn, Prosser
·       A.N.C. Glamping, Alderdale
Touring Services
·       Butler Valet Services, Seattle
·       J.R. Helicopter Tours, Yakima
Check out Alexandria Nicole Cellars website for more details about the wine club. And also have a look at the winery’s Glamping at its Estate Vineyard, Destiny Ridge.
Cheers!