Amphora Cabernet Franc

Hard Row to Hoe Amphora Cabernet Franc LabelJust in time for Valentine’s Day, Hard Row to Hoe offers a new Amphora Cabernet Franc that is light, fresh and beautiful. This organically-grown Cab Franc is produced under the winery’s new Whole Picture label, which features wine made exclusively from their estate vineyard. Overall, the new packaging is a departure from the titillating brothel story that has been integral to the winery. Most importantly, it shows the growth of winemaking by co-owner Judy Phelps, and vineyard practices by her husband and co-owner, Don Phelps. Hard Row to Hoe has been one of our favorite Washington wineries for years. Certainly, this beautiful 2019 Amphora Cabernet Franc underlines why.

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Stats and Facts

Glasses of red and white wineEvery year around this time, we love to share stats and facts about the wonderful wine industry in Washington state. Therefore, we hope you enjoy this 2020 version, courtesy of Washington Wine.

Firstly, the number of wineries grew to more than 1,000, compared to 19 in 1981. Secondly, more than 70 varieties of grapes are grown now. That compares to 30 just six short years ago. Thirdly, the ratio is 59% red and 41% white, a flip from 55% white and 45% red six years ago. Further, the average amount of summer sunshine in Washington state, compared to California, might surprise you! Read on for fun stats and facts about Washington wine. Continue reading

Amazing Wine from Hard Row to Hoe

Hard Row to HoeHard Row to Hoe has been one of our favorite Washington wineries for years. If you ever get a chance to visit their tasting room in Lake Chelan Valley, take it! We first visited in 2016, and were delighted to go back this past summer.

First of all, the name of the winery itself has two meanings — one obviously related to vineyard management; the other is racy! For the full story, see our 2016 post. Above all, Hard Row to Hoe makes really good wine.

During our recent visit, co-owner and winemaker Judy Phelps poured many of her winning wines, whose names reflect those racy stories.
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Hard Row to Hoe – Wine with a Story

img_0004We’ve been fans of Hard Row to Hoe for years, and we finally made it to their intriguing tasting room in Lake Chelan Valley last month. Co-owner and winemaker Judy Phelps poured us tastes of many of her winning wines and shared some stories behind their names. First, the name of the winery itself has two meanings — one obviously related to vineyard management; the other is racy!

Back in the late 1930s, construction was winding down at the Grand Coulee Dam, and the area’s “professional ladies” decided to travel to the then-remote Lake Chelan, where a new mine had just opened near the town of Lucerne. The ladies moved into the Edgemont Lodge, located a few miles uplake from Lucerne at Point Lovely. Their goal: to take care of the miners. Yes, the lodge became a brothel.

As the story continues, a long-time resident, an entrepreneur some might think, ran a rowboat taxi service from Lucerne to Point Lovely to transport the miners to and from the brothel, in support of the soon-thriving enterprise at Edgemont Lodge. Eventually the miners’ wives decided to retaliate by burning down the brothel.

Fast forward to present times, and the decor in Hard Row to Hoe’s tasting room reflects the theme: an actual bed from the brothel, feather boas, pink panties and — well, let’s just use the word intriguing again – intriguing wall paper. The names of wines also contribute: Burning Desire, Shameless Hussy, Seduction, Good in Bed and S&M (Syrah and Malbec).

img_0005In addition to the names, the stories are also illustrated by little caricatures drawn on the wine bottles — one depicts the miners in the rowboat taxi, heading to the brothel. Others show the brothel beds or the building itself, with the shutters up when the brothel was open for business, or the shutters down when the miners were visiting. For example, Hard Row to Hoe’s stellar Cabernet Franc, Burning Desire, has a drawing (right) of the wives carrying torches in the rowboat taxi en route to burn down the Edgemont Lodge.

So let’s take a look at the Burning Desire, along with some of the other wines we tasted.

2014 Hard Row to Hoe Burning Desire Estate Cabernet Franc ($45)
This big juicy wine has made our list of favorite Cab Francs for years, and this vintage is no exception. Tasting notes: “Showing great purity of fruit with a long, vibrant finish. It is loaded with dark cherry and plum flavors with a complex aroma of herbs, spices and violets. Well-balanced, with richness, good acidity and a judicious use of new oak.”

2014 Hard Row to Hoe S&M ($38)
A delicious blend of 60% estate Syrah and 40% estate Malbec, this is one big beauty of a wine. Tasting notes: “Shows beautiful fruit flavors of black cherry, blackberry, black pepper and blueberry with aromas of black pepper, leather and tobacco.”

2014 Hard Row to Hoe Barbera ($40)
The Barbera grapes come from a single vineyard in Oroville near the Canadian border. We plan on pairing this wine with Dave’s famous spaghetti or maybe Margot’s beef stew. Tasting notes: “Offering flavors of cranberry, dried red currant, allspice and anise, the palate showcases the freshness and purity of this varietal, with pure cherry and dark berry flavors, alongside an earthiness of spiceand leather.”

2014 Hard Row to Hoe Primitivo ($49)
Oh do we love this wine – robust and beautiful with flair. Tasting notes: “Bold and delicious; filled with plum and cherry flavors. Aged in mostly neutral barrels so as not to overwhelm the fruit flavors with oak, this wine is incredibly food friendly and supple. It has an exotic spice finish that goes on forever.”

These were our favorites in Hard Row’s extensive lineup, and the ones we brought home to our cellar. All of these wines will drink well through 2020 or longer.

We highly recommend a visit to the winery tasting room if you are even remotely close to Lake Chelan. If not, you can purchase these wines at some wine shops or at the winery’s website.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave