Va Piano, Va Delicious

I never met a wine from Va Piano Estate Vineyards that I didn’t like. A lot. Or love.

We first went to Va Piano Vineyards after the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla one year ago.

Our dear friend Melanie, aka Dallas Wine Chick, suggested we start at Va Piano, south of downtown Walla Walla, for our apres-conference tour of Washington state wineries.

At the time, I wrote that we had so many superlatives for Va Piano wines that we all joined their estate wine club.

One year later, we still feel the same way. And winemaker Justin Wylie remains an honorary member of Write for Wine’s “Favorite Winemakers Club.”

This weekend, we enjoyed a late spring barbeque, accompanied by the luscious 2008 Va Piano Uniti. This robust Bordeaux-style wine is a  blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cab Franc, 14% Merlot and 14% Petit Verdot. Smooth, elegant, rich and expressive, this is one standout wine. As regular readers know, my palate prefers Bordeaux blends, and the 08 Uniti is right at the top of my list.

In addition, Va Piano’s 2008 Estate Merlot rises far above most Merlots we’ve tasted, both in Washington and elsewhere. And let’s not forget the 2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon; we tasted it at one of Justin’s winemaker dinners, and immediately recognized its “wow factor.” We put a couple of bottles in our cellar for a special occasion.

The fruit for all wine for Va Piano’s estate club program comes from the estate vineyard that surrounds the winery. These wines — Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Bordeaux Blend — are not sold in their tasting room, wine shops or restaurants; the only way to get them is to join the Va Piano Vineyards Estate Club.

We highly recommend it!


Mark Your Calendars: The Prestigious WA Wine Weekend

Mark your calendars for July 7-9, the non-profit Washington Wines Festival weekend of amazing activities that benefits Camp Korey and Washington Wine Education.

Uniquely, more than 60 premium Washington wineries must be invited before they can pour at this prestigious event.

On July 7, as is tradition for 20 years, winemaker dinners with locally renowned chefs are held in top Seattle restaurants and private homes for $200-$350. The $850 per-person dinners in Walla Walla and Red Mountain include round-trip chartered jet from Seattle.

The fun continues on July 8, with a magnum tasting for serious wine lovers at Waterfront Seafood Grill and Vinolution 14 – wine under the stars at the SAM Olympic Sculpture Park. All activities are $350; Vinolution tickets only cost $65 ($75 with parking).

The main event, though, is an auction of extravagant wine-related packages, a sunset barbeque from Waterfront Seafood Grill, and music on the rooftop of the Bell Harbor Conference Center ($350 and up).

The Washington Wine Festival is a nonprofit, created to educate the world about the Washington state wine industry and to raise funds for charitable organizations.  Last year, more than $850,000 was raised for Camp Korey, a free-of-charge, medically supervised camp for seriously ill children.

On the festival’s website, you can find more information about tickets, wineries, restaurants and chefs.

We hope you consider this worthwhile and lavish event.


Good Wine, Sunshine and Chateau Ste. Michelle

If you haven’t bought tickets yet for the Chateau Ste. Michelle Summer Concert Series, what are you waiting for? We attended the series opener last night, and highly recommend the experience!

We were VIP guests at The Moody Blues concert, which kicked off the 28th year of summer concerts at the beautiful Chateau Ste. Michelle. As luck had it, the concert was held on a gorgeous, warm evening after a 70+-degree day – one of the sunniest days in Seattle this year and fitting for the opening of a summer concert series.

The music took us on a trip down memory lane. All around us, people were dancing and singing to “Nights in White Satin,” “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” and many other classic Moody Blues hits.

Glasses were filled with delicious Chateau Ste. Michelle wines ranging from Pinot Gris to Cabernet Sauvignon. The scenery was lovely, and we couldn’t think of a better location for a concert so close to home.

So, as I mentioned last month, you can kick back and listen to Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges and his band performing songs from Crazy Heart (Aug. 28).  Or maybe you prefer oldies such as the Steve Miller Band on July 16 or Peter Frampton on Aug. 12.

Or maybe you’d enjoy Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter, Sarah McLachlan and friends (July 19 and 20), an acoustic evening with Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt (June 12) or the high-energy Gipsy Kings (Aug. 7). The series wraps up on Sept. 10 with the B-52’s and The Human League. There are many more options on the concert calendar along with answers to any questions you might have about an outdoors concert.

And don’t forget – net proceeds help fund Chateau Ste. Michelle’s charitable contributions program, which supports a broad range of non-profit organizations.