Wine, Dogs and Cats for a Cause!

There’s a party for the animals this weekend – and it involves wine! Bonza Bash Summer 2009 will benefit  The Seattle Humane Society, and juice will be flowing from Washington wineries such as Darby, DiStefano, Sparkman Cellars, Barrage Cellars and Bookwalter, in addition to Australian wines, The Black Chook and Woop Woop.

The fun begins Saturday (Aug. 22) at 8 p.m. at Seattle’s Fremont Studios with wine tasting and appetizers; dancing “to old school and new school beats” begins at 11 p.m. and goes through 2 a.m.  There also will be raffles and a silent auction including restaurant and spa gift certificates, winery packages and tickets to sports events.

The Seattle Humane Society will benefit from ticket sales, raffles, silent auctions and donations. And you know what a good cause this is — the shelter in Bellevue gives healthy and adoptable animals as long as it takes for staff to find them homes, regardless of their age, breed or beauty. We know this from first-hand experience because we have two shelter dogs.

Two items to note:

  • All previous Bonza Bash events have sold out quickly, so you are encouraged to purchase tickets soon at the Bonza Bash Summer 2009 website.
  • There’s a “Red, White and Bright” dress code of colorful summer cocktail attire


Want to go back to Goosecross Cellars

Goosecross Cellars in Napa Valley has been into social media for a long time. That’s a great thing – all wineries should have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, in my opinion. Even better, Goosecross also has a blog and a podcast, which is awesome.

As a result, I’m inundated with the news at Goosecross Cellars – I know what’s going on in the valley, I learn about new releases and events and … it makes me want to go back to Goosecross Cellars. NOW.

Unfortunately, we can’t. But fortunately, we bought some wine when we were there in May.

So we recently opened a bottle of Goosecross 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon to complement our barbequed steaks. This wine is lush, rich and a perfect example of why Cabernet is King in Napa Valley.

A few weeks back, we enjoyed a bottle of Goosecross 2006 AmerItal Red, an American Italian blend of 50% Sangiovese and 50% Barbera that paired nicely with Dave’s delicious spaghetti.

And now, with another heat wave on the horizon, I wish we had also bought Goosecross Cellars 2007 Sauvignon Blanc to help us cool off on the deck!

So I’ll say it again – we want to go back to Goosecross Cellars!


Seattle Release Party for Col Solare

We met Col Solare‘s resident winemaker, Marcus Notaro, at the Auction of Washington Wines picnic at Chateau Ste. Michelle yesterday, and we had an opportunity to taste their just-released 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon blend. We also met Gracie, who is the friendly manager of the @Col Solare Twitter account. (More on Twitter in a minute!)

All I have to say is this: If you like  full-bodied red blends, try this one at Col Solare’s release party on Wednesday from 5-7 p.m. at the Palace Ballroom in Seattle.

Want to know more? Col Solare is a complex blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Syrah. And it’s the first vintage made start-to-finish at their Red Mountain estate winery.

But don’t let me influence you – look at the tasting notes and decide for yourself: Aromas of black cherry, currants, and blackberry blend with subtle notes of vanilla and milk chocolate. Tannins are rich and refined on the finish, a characteristic of Red Mountain fruit, with flavors of berries, black fruit, and cocoa.

Tickets to the release party are $30, or you can follow @Col Solare on Twitter, like I do, and ask how you can enter the contest to win free tickets.

And while you’re at it, you can follow me on Twitter too: @writeforwine

And yes, I will write more soon about the AWW picnic!


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.


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!


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.