Visiting Villa Maria in Marlborough-Part 1

On a recent trip to New Zealand, we had the fortune to spend time at the country’s most-awarded winery, Villa Maria. Thanks to our host, talented and knowledgeable winemaker Kathrin (Kat) Jankowiec, we tasted many amazing wines at the Cellar Door in Marlborough. Of note, we have enjoyed Villa Maria’s popular wines many times in the past. This made our experience in New Zealand even more exciting and memorable.

Villa Maria crafts excellent wine at affordable prices. Wines from 28 grape varieties are exported to more than 60 countries. Many are widely available in the United States, and we strongly recommend you try them.

On a local note, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is a distribution partner for Villa Maria.
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Burning Desire

Year after year, Burning Desire Estate Cabernet Franc from Hard Row to Hoe is one of our favorite Washington state Cab Francs. The 2016 vintage is no exception.

First, this fine wine from the Lake Chelan AVA is beautiful, rich, concentrated and elegant. Deep purple in color, the wine features notes of bright raspberries, violets, pencil lead, bell pepper and herbs. Classic Cab Franc from a unique Washington state winery with a memorable brand.

While definitely drinkable now, we suggest decanting it first. Or if you have patience, put it down for a couple of years. It will be worth the wait.

And considering the name, don’t you think this wine would make a great Valentine’s Day present?
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Grape Clones at Red Willow Vineyard

Red Willow Vineyard's stone chapel is one of the most recognizable buildings in Washington wine countryWe recently stopped by Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima Valley and spent an incredible afternoon with the Sauer family, Washington wine royalty.

As mentioned in our previous post, one of the highlights of our visit was learning about Mike Sauer’s clone program, which he started with Master of Wine David Lake in 2005. The two Washington wine legends experimented with different cuttings certified from UC Davis Viticulture and Enology. Their clone program continues today.

 

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Red Willow Vineyard and WA Wine Royalty

Jon Sauer, Karen Sauer and Mike Sauer stand in front of signs from Red Willow Vineyard.Last week, we had the honor of visiting Red Willow Vineyard and spending an afternoon with the incredible Sauer family, Washington wine royalty.

We toured part of the vineyard with Mike, Karen and their son, Jon, and later were joined by Jon’s wonderful wife Kelly and their five lovely children. In this photo, (from left) Jon, Karen and Mike stand in front of old signs of grapes planted at Red Willow. Of note, the sign for the 1986 Syrah represents the first grape planted in Washington state.

During our visit, Mike told us about the harvest, which was almost but not quite over. He also discussed his clone project, and we tasted three wines made from some of those clones.

Although we spent time with Mike and Karen at a wine event in 2017, we hadn’t been to Red Willow in nine years. It was an amazing experience.
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