Big Winemaker News at EFESTE

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Winemaker extraordinaire Brennon Leighton is becoming a consulting winemaker at EFESTE in Woodinville and after Crush 2012, he will be relocating to eastern Washington near EFESTE’s vineyards and taking on additional projects with other wineries.

He personally selected winemaker Peter Devison, formerly from Apex, Alder Ridge and Willow Creek, to join him on an expanded EFESTE winemaking team “because of his experience in reductive winemaking — a distinctive old-world style seldom seen in Washington.”

“Peter’s knowledge of our winemaking style is incredible,” Brennon explained. “We have similar philosophies and perspectives that will make for a great progression. It’s like being in a foreign country and finding someone who can speak your language.”

Regular readers of this blog know we’ve been fans of Brennon and EFESTE for years. My article about Brennon in Seattleite Magazine landed him in third spot in the magazine’s Top Ten newsmakers of the year (2011).

We first met him in 2008, when we barrel-tasted Jolie Bouche during a St. Nick’s event in Woodinville. We instantly became members of EFESTE’s Inner Circle wine club, and applauded when the next year, 2009, Seattle Magazine hailed Brennon as Winemaker to Watch and EFESTE as the Best New Winery.

As his star rose, Brennon remained constant – open, blunt, funny, sharp and passionate, a talented man whom my mother would have said “pulls no punches,” an artist who also likes to experiment and a thinker who reads several books a week.

We’ve also written numerous posts about Efeste’s award-winning wines such as Feral Sauvignon Blanc, Jolie Bouche Syrah,  Lola Chardonnay and Big Papa Cabernet Sauvignon, my personal favorite (although it’s hard to choose).

EFESTE’s new winemaker, Peter Devision, is fortunate to join Brennon and the owners whose last names make up the letters that spell EFESTE: Daniel and Helen Ferrelli, Patrick Smith, and Kevin and Angie Taylor are also passionate about wine, dedicated to several worthy causes, and fun to hang out with in the tasting room.

Devison began working with Brennon for crush 2012, taking place now.

We look forward to meeting him. In addition to talking wine, we have Canada in common – he’s from Nova Scotia and worked in my hometown, Vancouver before moving to Washington state.

Cheers!

Traveling to Wine Country with your K9 Kids

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As regular readers of this blog know, my passions include wine, writing and dogs — in particular, our three doggies Jewel (pictured left), Winston and Poppy Dot.

So whenever I hear about something that includes two of my passions, writing about it is a natural next step.

If you’re thinking about traveling to Washington state wine country with your K9 kids, have a look at Yakima Valley Wine Doggies. This site full of dog photos offers pet-friendly attractions, events and even a place to share your own doggie stories.

Do you like to hike? Tour vineyards? Take your dog to a museum? (Yes, seriously!) Wine Doggies offers a map, that features these and other attractions that welcome pets, along with a Doggie Bloggie. And how convenient — you can also book accommodations in Yakima wine country on the same page.

So forget the dog-sitter and the kennel next time you decide to tour Washington state wine country in the Yakima Valley. Take your K9 kids with you – but first, check out the Wine Doggies website or its frequently updated Twitter page.

Cheers! (Woof! says Jewel, Winston and P-dot)

Great Summer Idea: Yakima Valley Vineyard Tours

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One of our favorite vineyards in Washington state is Red Willow Vineyard – not only for the premium grapes grown there, but also for the down-to-earth (pun intended) wonderful owners Mike and Jon Sauer.

We had the privilege to spend time with the Sauers during a trip to Red Willow shortly after this blog launched in 2007. My first post discussed the Sauer family and their unique story, while the rest of the five-part series covered the terroir, the history and even Mariners baseball giant, Edgar Martinez.

So I was delighted to recently hear that more than a dozen lucky wine enthusiasts had the opportunity to experience the joy of Red Willow Vineyards and the Sauer hospitality a week ago, on July 7.

The Red Willow event was the first in a four-vineyard series conducted by the Wine Yakima Valley Association, whose executive director Barb Glover reported: “Owners Mike and Jonathan Sauer shared the inspiring story of their work operating one of the most historic vineyards in America, and why the Yakima Valley is one of the world’s true ‘sweet spots’ for wine grape production.

“This kind of experience is normally reserved for visits by influential members of the wine trade and the media. But the 30th anniversary of the Yakima Valley’s designation as Washington State’s first official wine region is on the near horizon; so we want to celebrate by opening some farm gates and sharing with the wider world how we have grown to greatness as a regional wine industry.”

After the Red Willow tour came the DuBrul Vineyard on July 14. The two remaining tours will be held at Upland Vineyard (July 21) and Boushey Vineyard (July 28). Tickets for each event are $75 and can be found at the Wine Yakima Valley website.

It’s been our experience that vineyard visits are always something to cherish for many years to come.

Cheers!

Cool down, go Feral

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Summer is here, which often means long, warm evenings on the deck with the dogs, our books and a nice refreshing glass of wine. The summer white that tops our list right now is Sauvignon Blanc – and our favorite of this particular weekend is Efeste 2011 Feral.

Made using native, wild yeast for fermentation, the grapefruit aromas inherent to Sauv Blanc are enhanced, and the mouthfeel is somehow both rich and crisp at the same time.

Native fermentation means that no commercial yeast was added to the pressed juice. As a result, the character of the varietal is showcased, along with the terroir at Evergreen Vineyard in the Columbia Valley.

In other words, if you love a classic Sauvignon Blanc, Feral is for you.

This is the fifth vintage of winemaker Brennon Leighton’s Feral. In his notes on the bottle, he dedicates this wine “to the esteemed Loire Valley vigneron Didier Dagueneau” – who inspired Brennon to reach beyond his comfort zone “and produce wines that do not adhere to the expected, but rather drive to make wines that surpass even my own concept of place, purity and excellence.”

We both think Brennon successfully reached his goal with 2011 Feral.

Cheers to Brennon, to Feral and to summer!

 

What we’ve been drinking lately

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I’ve been traveling so much lately that it’s been hard to find time to write individual posts about the wonderful Washington state wines we’ve enjoyed in the last couple of months. But I still want to share them with you, in hopes that you’ll also taste them one day soon.

We recommend all of them — cheers!