Monday, June 28, 2010

No man is an island: Wine Blogger's Conference - Walla Walla

In the next few days I will be catching up on emails and deadlines; as well as catching up on hydrating, potassium and sleep. Throughout the week I will be blogging about the events of the weekend. At this moment I am overwhelmed with valuable information about the wine world, social media and even from my own valley - Walla Walla. Most of all, I am overwhelmed with spirit and friendship. It is the energy from the collaborative spirit and these friendships that I realize that I would not be where I am with my wine blogging, if it weren't for these valuable friendships. I have never been involved with a group of people before who could come together so quickly in the last three years through online social media tools and embrace each other face-to-face as if we had been long-time friends forever.

Friday afternoon I was privileged to be on a panel, Wine Blogging 101, with wine blogging collegues Joe Power from Another Wine Blog, and Colby Voorhees from Wine Peeps. The most important thing I shared with the group, or I can share with any beginning blogger is just three things: 1.) Find your voice. 2.) Be consistent and most important; 3.) Build community.

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." John Donne, Priest, Poet, and Preacher - 1631

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wine Bloggers Conference 2010: Follow Me in Walla Walla!

The flowers are blooming all over downtown Walla Walla and even part of the new highway is done! We are about as ready as we can be for the 300+ wine bloggers, media and other members of the wine industry to converge on Walla Walla for the Wine Bloggers Conference 2010! To answer a few questions:

So, what exactly is a wine blogger's conference?

In Walla Walla it will be three-days of academic sessions, keynote speakers (Steve Heimoff, author and West Coast Editor for the Wine Enthusiast magazine and Lettie Teague, formerly with Food and Wine magazine and now the Wall Street Journal), winery and vineyard excursions, great food experiences, including a local taco truck tasting and a food and wine pairing with Chef Jeffrey Saad from the Food Network. And last, but not of course the very least, is lots of wine tasting! There are even pre and post excursions going on through the State of Washington so wine bloggers can see the best of Washington State wineries. Several buses are rolling in tonight. And let it be known this is the third annual conference in North America and the first to sell out early. They are taking planes, buses and automobiles to find out what Walla Walla and her wines are all about!

Where will we be seeing wine bloggers? Are they friendly and approachable?

They will be migrating at the Marcus Whitman Hotel and you will see them out and about Friday evening enjoying the sights and sounds of downtown Walla Walla at Main. You may see groups of 25 or more at the various wineries and vineyards on Saturday. And yes, wine bloggers are known to be very friendly and approachable. Just don't call them "blobbers, gadflies or poodles."

And what about the Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman?

I will be roaming around Walla Walla according to the WBC agenda along with the rest of the citizen wine bloggers. This will be a new experience for me as I am going to try my best not to view Walla Walla as my 'hood, but look at it as a new-comer to Walla Walla, like the rest of my blogging collegues.

To get an update on what is going on with the wine bloggers and me, you can check us out on Twitter. The majority of the wine bloggers will be Twittering every move. In fact, Friday and Saturday afternoons you will find us tasting wine and reporting live using Twitter and Facebook. I will be laptop-will-travel and if there is a access I will be online. To look for specific tweets from Twitter, look for #WBC10 (see special Twitter widget) and follow us!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Women Who Wine: Road Trip to Walla Walla

When Gail Garvie of Women Who Wine in the Tri-City area invited me on one of their road trips, of course I was ready to go!

I first became acquainted with this group, of course online. The Women Who Wine blog shares with their readers all of the fun tours and parties this active group enjoys from: art, food, road trips, chattering, and of course sipping great wines. And they go beyond the social aspects of wine, as a few of them have now become semi-winemakers with a little bit of help from their winery friends.

This fun day included a stop at Don Carlo Vineyard, Petit Noirs Chocolates, Va Piano Winery, Balboa Winery, Long Shadows Vintners and we even made a last minute detour to Saviah Cellars! So what did I learn? I learned that no matter where a "wild wine woman" comes from we all have many things in common: lots of laughter, chatter, we eat well and drink well and of course, - - shop well.

I also learned that Tim's Cascade Chips warmed up and sprinkled with parmesan cheese goes great with Don Carlo Vineyard Chardonnay. Together we learned that the only time to be happy with a larger shoe size is when it is made out of solid Petit Noirs Chocolate. I learned at Va Piano that their Bruno's White (Sauvignon Blanc) can give you a sunny disposition even on a wet rainy day. Something I had just learned was that Balboa Winery changed from screw caps to corks. Also, many thanks to Tom and Matt for their hospitality at Balboa Winery for setting up tables inside of their winery so we could have a dry picnic instead of a damp one.

We learned that Rich Funk at Saviah Cellars is prepared for anything even when two car loads full of women drop in on him unannounced yelling for Malbec. And last, but not least we learned at Long Shadows they had some new and very different styles of Rieslings soon to be released. Gilles and Denise were charming hosts, as always. Cheers!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Women Wine Bloggers: Too Hot to Handle?

The other day, Dr. Deb Harkness of the award winning wine blog, Good Wines Under $20 announced her newest project, A Discovery of Witches. This new book will debut from Viking Press in February 2011. It is a novel about an ages-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Last summer at the wine blogging conference in Santa Rosa I finally got to meet and spend some time with Dr. Deb on one of our long bus excursions. Deborah Harkness is a Professor of History at the University of Southern California and is a historian of science and medicine from antiquity to the present. I first got acquainted with her online when she asked the big question on her blog as to why we only see male contributors at the Wine Spectator. It created a bit of a shake-up.

As I was reviewing some of her research she posted on the Discovery of Witches Facebook page, there was one comment she posted in regards to Bridget Bishop, a woman that was hanged on Gallows' Hill near Salem, MA in 1692 for the crime of witchcraft. It seems as if Bridget Bishop's crime was flaunting convention, wearing clothing that others didn't approve of and most of all, Bridget spoke her mind. Women who spoke their mind were perceived as dangerous women.

I commented to Dr. Deb that I was happy women wine bloggers weren't back in the time of witch burnings or many of us opinionated ones would be toast. She commented back to me that she thought a lot about me while she was writing it. Would I have been hung at the gallows or burnt at the stake for writing a wine blog?

In the 1960's and 1970's when the woman's movement was taking place, I was in junior high and never understood what the commotion was all about. Several years later, I looked back at this time and realized my father was way ahead of Betty Friedan, author and co-founder of National Organization for Women (NOW). He was one of the original "women libbers." There were no male or female "jobs" in our household when I was growing up. My father spent just as much time in the kitchen as my mother did. He believed that little girls could wear pretty Sunday school dresses and anchor a slimy worm on the end of a fish hook at the same time, and often he would be the one starching and ironing the frills of those pretty little Sunday dresses. When the youngest of my siblings were born, Dad changed his work hours to manage the household, so my mother could go back to college to get her teaching certificate. This was pretty "hip" when you considered our TV role models were Ward and June Cleaver. Ward came home from work and immediately sat to read the paper while June continued her work day until the last dirty dish was washed, dried and put away. Most of all, I remember my father teaching my siblings and me to have opinions and speak them loudly, reminding us that nobody would do it for us and especially, as well.

When I first started blogging about wine, there were just a few women blogging away. In fact, I had that very discussion with Alice Feiring when I had the privilege of meeting her a couple of months ago. Like most of the wine industry, from media print to winemaking, it was definitely a man's world. Within a few years later, it has changed and it especially pleases me as I look through the list of the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference of participants and I see the many women who will be in attendance.

A special shout out to some of the women in the Northwest who have been known to get a little sassy and flaunt convention: Tamara Belgard, Barbara Evans, Melinda Knapp, Shona Milne and Margot Savell. For sure, you won't see them attached to any burning stake, as they are already too hot to handle! Ssss ...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Reunions: Family and Wine Bloggers

Today starts an exciting week for many wine bloggers around the nation and especially an exciting week for the Washington State wine industry. Most of all, it is a great week for the Walla Walla wine and hospitality industry because - - the Wine Bloggers are coming to town! The Wine Bloggers are coming to town! Over 300 lovers of the grape and the grape media will gather together as early as this Thursday in Walla Walla, Washington. They will soon discover that there really is a Walla Walla and it is more than a mythical name for cartoon character Bugs Bunny's door-to-door sales pitch repping for the "Wishy Washy Washing Machine Company of Walla Walla Washington."

This has been a morning of great pondering for me. I just said goodbye to my favorite brother (my only brother and who lives in the Nashville area) after spending a week with him and just returning from a weekend with other family members at our tri-annual reunion camp-out. And very soon I will be having another reunion this weekend with "old" wine blogging friends and hopefully meeting many "new" wine blogging friends who I may be in touch with everyday online, but haven't yet met face-to-face.

Last Friday morning before I packed the SUV with my mauve-colored tent, wine, sleeping bag, wine, air mattress, wine, artichoke tapendade, the "Squeaking Box" (aka Igloo ice chest with creaky sounding lid), a bottle of Cava, cheese, wine, a bag of licorice, and a fashionable new camping scarf for my little dog - - you know, all the important things one needs to survive in the wilderness; I took some time to catch-up on some of my favorite wine blogs before I went into the woods. (Lions and tigers and no Wi-Fi! Oh my!) I came across one read, that in my opinion was possibly what I felt, was diminishing other wine blog's styles and themes to bring attention to their own. Needless to say, I was disappointed and many of you know me all too well, that of course I wasn't going to leave without dropping my opinion off like a seagull in the sky. However, after reading many of the other comments later last night, I wanted to continue a rant, but I decided it was best that I rant on my own forum - my wine blog.

The wine blogger pointed out that most wine blogs do not pay enough attention to the average wine consumer and it was suggested that many blogs are written with the intent of attracting the audience of professional wine trade, wineries, and even other bloggers. There were feelings that some wine blogs are "guilty" of using sex, profanity, and even plagiarism as keys to their success. Gasp! Oh no! S-E-X! Please say it aint so! Or should I just say, "Yes please!"

Hmmm ... as I ponder. First of all, who says wine blogs should be limited to writing to an audience of "average" wine consumers? It may be true that many wine blogs do not pay enough attention to the average wine consumer, but then again - what and who is exactly - - well - - "average?" I don't think I like that term, "average wine consumer."

To me the beauty of a wine blog, or just blogs in general, is the different themes and approaches authored by the unique wine-loving personalities. The wine blogging community has taken the once stodgy and one dimensional attitude about wine into a subject that is finally approachable for the novice, as well as the professional. There are wine blogs written about social media, wineries, wine politics, specific regions, price ranges and winery tours to name a few. No theme or expression is deemed "better" than any other wine blog, especially if the wine blog has an audience.

I find it fascinating, and in fact embrace, that the blogging community has been able to take the subject of wine and make it more approachable whether they use sex, rock 'n roll, corny videos, sports or even satire. The point is, they are finding an audience who is interested in wine, no matter what style and verve they use. It would be awfully boring if we were just stamped cookie cutters of each other. For the most part, we have already seen that and been there with traditional print media. At this point of the growing wine industry, I would like to think that the wine blogging community has played a big part of that success, and especially with marketing and social media.

It was later pointed out that we won’t reach our financial potential as a group nor individually until we basically provide consistently "good" content that is of value to the wine consumer.

Regarding the later comment from the blogger about “financial potential as a group” I thought it rather odd and still trying to figure why now worry about “group,” when the original post seemed everything but being cohesive as a group by calling other wine bloggers out. And about our reaching financial potential: Hello! News flash! We are on the road to financial potential and within reach, if not already there. We have been scrutinized and criticized by traditional media and now the traditional media who has criticized us in the past have their own "blogs." Most of all, we are on our third North American wine blogger's conference with many traditional media and wineries gathering to see what we are all about. This just didn't get done over night or by one person alone, but by several wine blogging enthusiasts coming together to obtain success for one and for all.

And again, what the blogger may think as consistently “good” content may not be what some wine consumers view as good content. That’s been the point of wine blogging – to be able to be anything but the usual, stodgy and predictable. If there are wine blogs that want to talk sex and rock ‘n roll, smattered with profanity and they have built an audience of cursing-head banging-wine consuming-sex maniacs, then they are providing “good content” to their readers. If you want to talk "financial" the bottom line is the wine industry coffers do not recognize the difference between the puritan and stodgy wine consuming dollar from the extreme Sodom and Gomorrah profanity-screaching wine drinking dollar. The point is a dollar is a dollar no matter where it comes from, but what the wine coffers do recognize is growth - more dollars - more dollars from various genre of wine loving enthusiasts.

To be a successful wine blog, I think the three most important things are: find your voice, be consistent in your posting and most of all, build community. I am working on my sixth year of wine blogging and the first thing I learned was the importance of community. When I first started my wine blog I believe the count of wine bloggers were just at 350+ and I was immediately embraced by some of the best out there: Craig Camp, Deb Harkness, Lenn Thompson, and Joel Vincent to name a few ... and I certainly wasn't the "norm" as I was one of a few wine bloggers in the State of Washington and not too many wine lovers out there even knew Walla Walla was producing wine, let alone a real city.

Wine blogging is not a competition against other wine bloggers. Many of the awards and accolades we receive are often from our own wine blogging peers - - and there are certainly enough awards and accolades to give everybody their 15 minutes of fame, or even 30 minutes if you are lucky, without having to discount what other wine bloggers are doing or - - "not doing." It is not to say I am against self-promotion. I am not. If you've been a reader of my wine blog, then you know I am my biggest fan - my biggest self-promoter. I believe nobody can promote yourself better than you can. I would tell other wine bloggers to do their own "shameless self-promotion" but you can do it without comparing and down playing other wine bloggers and do it by standing on your own. And if you are really just writing for the "average" or the "not so average" wine consumer, then why care about what other wine bloggers are writing about if you are writing for the "average" or the "not so average" wine consumer and doing it well.

The wine blogging community that I will be with this coming weekend reminds me of my own family reunion I attended this last weekend. At the family reunion we celebrated promotions, vacations, new babies and even letterman jackets. Hand shakes, hugs and even bottles of wine were shared with familiar faces that we see maybe just once a year. Sure, there was certainly competition at my family reunion, but it was kept within friendly games of horse shoes, volleyball and auctions of heirloom quilts and bottles of wine.

As wine bloggers, we have already had enough poo thrown at us from traditional wine media and we sure as hell (Oops! There's that profanity...) don't need to give the poo-tossing-enemies snorts and giggles by tossing poo towards each other. That is surely the path to our own undoing and everything we have worked for - the freedom of our own opinions and our own unique wine blogging styles. And like the Wine Bloggers Conference 2009 in Santa Rosa and now the Fairchild Family Reunion 2010 at Mary Hill, no matter the miles we traveled, we all left with a feeling of community; learning something new and knowing that we are all in this together. Hopefully, this upcoming weekend we are going to again learn something new and leave with the knowledge that we are all in this together, no matter our styles and creative differences because we all have the same goal - sharing our enthusiasm.

See you all-a in Walla Walla!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Wine Blobbers and Gadflies and Poodles! Oh My!

That's right fair citizens of Walla Walla. Save yourselves! The wine bloggers are coming to town! The wine bloggers are coming to town! Women and children first and then every man for themselves!

How will you know them? Look for computer geeks who never look up from their iPhones and laptops. Oh wait - never mind. Everybody is doing that now days. So how's this description? Ye shall know them by their fruits. (What? You mean there were evil wine bloggers even back in the biblical times? Did they use stone tablets?) Also, look for purple stained teeth and orange Cheeto dust under their fingernails. Another clue is transit bus passes hanging from their car keyrings.

For even easier identification, many wine bloggers may be wearing t-shirts that are printed #IBlameParker. Sometimes winebloggers will wear t-shirts identifying themselves by which state they hail from. I Drink 2 Buck Chuck is often worn by many of the California wine bloggers. New York wine bloggers can be identified by We make wine, too! So there! and then our own Washington State wine bloggers can be seen wearing their t-shirts printed, More Than Just Walla Walla. With the exception of me. I can usually be identified by a t-shirt that's printed, Live Walla Walla or Die! (with apologies to the state of New Hampshire) or sometimes I glue real Walla Walla Sweet Onions on my shirts.

You may even find a cluster of :-( frownie-faced wine bloggers wearing t-shirts printed, "Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones ... Neener, Neener, Neener!" You see, in recent press wine bloggers are being called names. They have been called names by the Best, the Worst and the Hosers. BOO-HOO! The "Best" being Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate. He bravely referred to wine bloggers on his "ebob" forum as "blobbers" since we are "the source of much of the misinformation, distortion, and egegious falsehoods spread with reckless abandon on the internet…" But then again, us blobbers question that Parker really even said that. Robert Parker is a good guy - an epitome of a Norman Rockwell painting as we saw in the documentary Mondovino. I mean, he looked liked the kindly and wise, Ward Cleaver - everybody's favorite TV Dad. I personally think Mark Squire the ebob forum boy, is the one who was guilty of calling us names. I think he did it while Parker was out on a wine tasting junket around the world. Besides, Parker would never call us, "Blobbers." because it's too close to his own name - Bob!

Then the "Worst" came when Anthony Dias Blue of the Tasting Panel Magazine called the wine bloggers, "... bitter, carping gadflies who, as they stare into their computer screens and contemplate their dreary day jobs, let their resentment and sense of personal failure take shape as vicious attacks on the established critical media." Hmmm ... shortly after that announcement, Mr Dias Blue participated in a wine conference where he was a moderator for a panel regarding social media and how the internet - from blogs to Twitter - is a buzz (Buzzing like a carping gadfly? Buzz ... Buzzz ...) with new social media tools and techniques for reaching, informing and entertaining tomorrow's wine consumer. So does this mean, what I think it means? Dias Blue moderated a bitter and resentful group that stared into their computer screens wishing they were him?

Last, but not least, the "Hosers." Wine blogger, Ron Hasham, aka the Hosemaster of Wines referred to wine blogging as "attention-seeking barking of lonely poodles." Oh yeah? Well, at least we can be pretty poodles and be dyed the happy pastel colors of Easter eggs and wear cool diamond collars and - and - stuff and then hang-out with Doris Day for the - ummm - - day. Afterall, wasn't it Sigmund Freud (or maybe it was Caesar Millan?) who said, "Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and hate."

Oh wait, now I get it! There's an order of "collective nouns" such as a covey of quails, a pod of whales, a gaggle of geese. That's what a collection of winebloggers are - a poodle of bloggers!

So as a Public Service Announcement to the kind people of Walla Walla: Load up on ice cubes and fire extinguishers. Remember, Steve McQueen talked his high school buds into stealing fire extinguishers to freeze the Blob until they could get a US Air Force jet to transport the Blob to the North Pole to keep it frozen infinity. Hold on, because it's going to be awhile before we get a US Air Force jet back in Walla Walla since the old Air Force barracks and hangars are now filled with wineries.

Also, don't forget the fly spray, fly swatters, several boxes of Poopy Pickup bags and bacon-flavored Beggin' Strips, because - -
the Wine Bloggers are coming to town!

Friday, June 11, 2010

In Living Pink Color: TasteLive! Washington Rosé #WARose

Okay, so I will never become the next Kathryn Bigelow, let alone the next Oliver Stone or Martin Scorsese. Hey, it's fun to play with these toys! So give me a break. And speaking of toys, ignore the dog toys on the floor. You're suppose to be paying attention to the wine - the pretty pink wine.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

#WARose Tasting with Paul Gregutt

Gertrude Stein once said in a poem from 1913, "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose," but it is obvious Gertrude wasn't talking about rosé as these are not very ordinary. Washington State really has the right "touch." The fine crisp rosés from Washington State really bring the best out of the red fruit, but with a lighter touch. These pink luscious wines from Washington State are no longer your Gramma's jugs of blush she bought out when the other ladies came over to play bridge.

And to prove it, our favorite wine writer from Washington State, Paul Gregutt is going to host a wine tasting of these pretty pink Washington dry rosés tonight at Lake Union. And unfortunately there are a few of us who cannot be there with him, but through the magic of "TasteLive" and Twitter we can taste the wines along with MrG. Participants are invited to watch the Live UStream from the Randall PR Tastelive page, ask Paul Gregutt questions and tweet their thoughts on Washington dry rosés using the hashtag #WARose.

It is an impressive and rather diverse line-up featuring rosés from all over Washington State:

Syncline Wine Cellars 2009 Rosé, Columbia Valley ($16)
Waters Winery 2009 Rosé, Walla Walla Valley ($18)
Chinook Wines 2009 Cabernet Franc Rosé, Yakima Valley ($14.99)
Sleight of Hand Cellars 2009 Rosé of Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley ($17.99)
Charles & Charles 2009 Rosé of Syrah, Columbia Valley ($12.99)
Lullaby Winery 2008 Rosé of Grenache, Columbia Valley ($16)
Barnard Griffin 2009 Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley ($12)
Dusted Valley 2009 Rosé, Columbia Valley ($18)

I didn't receive all of the wines, but have already tasted a few of them. And I will have my past notes in hand. Also to the list I will personally add: Skylite Cellars 2008 Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley ($17)

Stay tuned on Twitter and watch the #WArose. I will be there @Catie and @Walla2WineWoman. Stay tuned later for film at 11:00 pm. Now off to turn on a little Edith Piaf to get in the mood and open some chilled rosés

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Twitter Brings Washington Wine to the World and in Walla Walla #WAWine

There were over 100 wineries and wine bars across Washington State celebrating our wines tonight via Twitter. On my Twitter board of "followers and followings" I also noticed a few of my blogging collegues from other states celebrating with us: Lenn Thompson of Lenndevours and the New York Cork Report; as well as Rick Bakas Director of Social Media at St Supery Winery (Napa), certified sommelier and author. Also joining us tonight in Des Moines, Iowa was Grace Hoffman of Cellar Mistress (who, along with Rick, we'll be seeing in Walla Walla in a few weeks). Lenn and Rick were drinking wines from L'Ecole No 41 and I believe Grace was drinking Hard Row to Hoe Zinfandel produced in Lake Chelan.

Many thanks to Josh Wade of Drink Nectar for coordinating this event, along with Sean Sullivan of Washington Wine Report. Also event sponsors Washington Wine Commission and Washington Tasting Room Magazine, and fourteen Washington Wine Bloggers and Twitter enthusiasts who assisted with promoting the event (one of them - yours truly!)

Last but not least, in Walla Walla, many thanks goes to Chad, Corey and Tyler of Dusted Valley Vintners and Tom of Olive Marketplace and Cafe for being our Walla Walla hosts this evening. It was a great night tonight and most of all an evening where wine lovers came together to appreciate our bounty. It was all about #WAWine.

For some highlights check it out (Yes, I know. The video is sometimes fuzzy, dark and just plain corny. But hey - - I am not a professional video/camera person. I'm a writer, dammit!)


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

A Field Trip to Woodward Canyon Winery with Chef Bear

When Chef Bear Ullman, of the Marcus Whitman Hotel asks you to attend a field trip, well - - you just do it. You show up on time. No questions asked - with or without a note from your parents.

Hank "Bear" Ullman, Executive Chef has built The Marc Restaurant's excellent reputation by highlighting the Walla Walla Valley's "Sense of Place" profusion with the freshest locally grown products available. Chef Bear also has a bold and adventuresome palate pairing local wines from The Marc's award-winning wine list. And he just doesn't talk the talk. Chef Bear gets out there and walks the walk. It's important to Chef that he keeps a rapport with his local food purveyors and wineries - - and it goes beyond just work, as many of them have become friends. There is a sense of admiration and trust for each other and of their talents, whether it's growing asparagus, making wine or creating a finishing sauce.

The restaurant's Wednesday morning field trips can also be a learning experience for the staff members of The Marc. Previous field trips have included visiting the Monteillet Fromagerie, L'Ecole No 41 winery, and indeed a real "field trip" to the Locati Brothers' fields to check out how asparagus is farmed. This particular field trip that I would be joining with Chef Bear and his assistant, Nate would be a journey to Woodward Canyon Winery to visit with Rick and Darcy Small to check out their organic commercial vegetable gardens. Besides the Small's producing world class wines, who knew they would find time to grow produce for commercial use, as well?
(Photo L-R: Nate, Chef Bear and Rick)

We started at the new Reserve House located on the grounds of Woodward Canyon. The Reserve House was built for intimate, sit-down tastings and meals. It also features a commercial kitchen. The large event room is light and airy with a view of the neighboring vineyards. Located in front of the building are raised beds of produce and herbs. Did you know that you can grow artichokes in Walla Walla climate? I didn't know that you could, but Darcy and Rick can! Overall, the Small's have been growing commercial produce now for five years.

Rick loaded us all up in his vehicle and off we went to the famous Woodward Canyon Vineyards. It is important to the Smalls that all grapes are sustainably or organically grown at the Woodward Canyon Estate Vineyard. Of course, this means the same practice for their produce. The vineyard is located at over 850 feet of elevation, three miles north from Lowden in Washington. It was quite a view from the top as we could see our neighbors in Oregon. There are 42 acres of estate vineyards with a surrounding of 320 acres of land which is in conservation. Three generations of family previously used the land, including the vineyard area, for cattle and wheat.

Woodward Canyon Vineyard was first planted in 1977 and to this day old vines of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc face the valley along with small amounts of Italian and Rhone varieties. It is like a treasure hunt up and around the canyon of vines as there are nooks and crannies with gardens of tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, egg plants, leeks, shallots and even a hot house for the seedlings.

We later came back down to "earth" and went back to the winery and continued to tour the grounds, as well as Woodward Canyon's wine library. What a wine feast for the eyes! And speaking of feast, if you are taking a field trip with a chef and a winemaker, chances are there is going to be one - - and there was! Chef Bear and Nate had prepared and packed a picnic of flavorful and moist baked chicken, fresh green salad with a light vinaigrette and a plate of fresh local asparagus, soft cheese, red bell peppers and olives. Shari and Marlene from the winery joined us to complete the party and Rick and Darcy generously brought out the wine! Our lunch was paired with Woodward Canyon's Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and the newly released 2007 "Old Vines" Cabernet Sauvignon.

This was where I had to remember to "mind my manners" as I could have taken off with that bottle of Cabernet and not shared a drop. It was dark and earthy with notes of cherries and ... okay, enough of my dreaming about wine ...

With or without a "note from my mother" this was a field trip to top all. It fact, I discovered something new I didn't know before about the Walla Walla Valley. It was exactly what a field trip should be about: experiences outside our everyday activities. It is also an experience that Chef Bear Ullman can bring back and share with his guests at The Marc.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Seattle Wine Awards 2010: Walla Walla Winners Winners!

The Seattle Wine Awards is the largest and most comprehensive independent Washington wine recognition program. The wines that earn recognition in the Seattle Wine Awards must achieve tasting panel consensus where they earn one of the following awards: Double Gold, Gold, Silver and Bronze Grand Awards of Excellence in their respective price/wine categories.

The Seattle Wine Awards tasting panel consists respected wine directors, buyers, distributors, educators and Seattle’s top sommeliers who know what Washington wine is all about. The panel tasts the wine "single-blind," which means the panel will only know the varietal of the wine. They will not know the price nor producer. The panel uses a modified 20-point system to score each of the wines.

Recently it's been pointed out that Washington State wines are more than just about Walla Walla, but if you view the full list of winners and the concentration of those from the Walla Walla Valley, you sure wouldn't know it. Congratulations to the all of the wineries and especially those from Walla Walla! (For the complete list of Washington State winners you will find them at 2010 AWARD WINNERS)

AWARD-WINNING "WHITES"

Chardonnay: $20.00 – Under

Silver 2009 Substance Chardonnay (Ch), Washington State

Chardonnay: $20.01 – Over

Double Gold 2007 àMaurice Cellars Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2008 Le Chateau Winery Chardonnay, White Bluffs
Gold 2008 Dunham Cellars Chardonnay, Lewis Vineyard
Gold 2008 Dusted Valley Old Vine Chardonnay, Yakima Valley
Silver 2008 L'Ecole No 41 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
Silver 2008 Woodward Canyon Chardonnay, Washington State

Dessert Styles: All Pricing

Gold 2008 Dunham Cellars Late Harvest Riesling, Lewis Vineyard
Bronze 2008 Tertulia Semillon Ice Wine, Columbia Valley

Riesling: All Pricing

Double Gold 2008 Long Shadows Poet's Leap, Columbia Valley
Gold 2008 Dunham Cellars Lewis Vineyard Riesling, Columbia Valley
Bronze 2009 Rasa Vineyards “The Composer,” Sagemoor Vineyards
Bronze 2008 Three Rivers Riesling, Columbia Valley

Sauvignon Blanc: All Pricing

Silver 2008 CAVU Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley
Silver 2008 Three Rivers Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley

White Bordeaux Styles: All Pricing

Double Gold 2008 L'Ecole No 41 Estate “Luminesce,” Seven Hills Vineyard
Gold 2008 CADARETTA “SBS,” Columbia Valley

White Proprietary Blend: $20.00 – Under

Double Gold 2008 Waterbrook Winery “Mélange Blanc,” Columbia Valley
Gold 2008 Magnificent Wine Company “House White,” Columbia Valley

White Rhone Styles: All Pricing

Silver 2008 Rotie Cellars “Southern White,” Columbia Valley

Viognier: All Pricing

Double Gold 2008 Skylite Cellars Viognier, Snipes Mountain
Silver 2008 Dusted Valley Viognier, Yakima Valley
Silver 2008 Watermill Winery Viognier, Columbia Valley
Bronze 2007 Reynvaan Family Vineyards “Queen's Road White,” Walla Walla

Rosé — Single: All Pricing

Gold 2009 CAVU Cellars Barbera Rosé, Alder Ridge Vineyard

AWARD-WINNING "REDS"

Red Bordeaux Styles: $20.00 – Under

Bronze 2007 Sweet Valley Wines “Double Barrel,” Walla Walla

Red Bordeaux Styles: $20.01 – $35.00


Double Gold 2006 àMaurice Cellars "The Tsutakawa," Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2007 Bunchgrass “Triolet,” Walla Walla
Gold 2006 Saviah Cellars “Big Sky Cuvée,” Columbia Valley
Gold 2008 Waters Winery “Interlude,” Columbia Valley
Silver 2007 Otis Kenyon Wine “Matchless Red,” Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Tertulia “Sobra,” Columbia Valley
Bronze 2006 CAVU Cellars “Horizon Red,” Walla Walla

Red Bordeaux Styles: $35.01 — Over

Double Gold 2006 Woodward Canyon “Estate Red,” Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Glencorrie “éMarquis,” Columbia Valley
Silver 2007 L'Ecole No 41 “Apogee,” Pepper Bridge Vineyard
Bronze 2006 Le Chateau Winery “Masterpiece Red #1,” Walla Walla
Bronze 2007 Sleight of Hand Cellars “The Archimage,” Walla Walla

Cabernet Franc: $20.01 – $35.00

Gold 2007 Watermill Winery Estate Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla
Bronze 2008 Tamarack Cellars Cabernet Franc, Wahluke Slope

Cabernet Franc: $35.01 — Over

Double Gold 2007 Dusted Valley Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Three Rivers Cabernet Franc, Weinbau Vineyard

Cabernet Sauvignon: $20.01 – $35.00

Double Gold 2007 Dusted Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Double Gold 2007 Five Star Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Double Gold 2007 Walla Walla Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Gold 2006 Gifford Hirlinger Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Glencorrie Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Silver 2007 Bergevin Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Silver 2006 Tulpen Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla

Cabernet Sauvignon: $35.01 — Over

Double Gold 2006 Dunham Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Lewis Vineyard
Double Gold 2007 L'Ecole No 41 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Double Gold 2006 SYZYGY 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Gold 2007 CADARETTA Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Gold 2006 Dumas Station Minnick Hills Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Glencorrie Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Pepper Bridge Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Skylite Cellars Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Gold 2005 TL Cellars “Release No. Two” Cabernet Sauvignon, Les Collines Vineyard
Gold 2007 Woodward Canyon “Artist Series #16” Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State
Silver 2006 Basel Cellars Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Pheasant Run
Silver 2006 Canoe Ridge Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Silver 2006 Long Shadows “Feather,” Columbia Valley
Silver 2007 Waters Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Cold Creek Vineyard
Bronze 2006 Dunham Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon XII, Lewis Vineyard
Bronze 2007 Spring Valley Vineyard “Frederick” Cabernet Sauvignon Blend, Walla Walla
Bronze 2006 Three Rivers Cabernet Sauvignon, Champoux Vineyard

Merlot: $20.00 – Under

Gold 2007 Dusted Valley Boomtown Merlot, Columbia Valley
Gold 2008 Substance Merlot (Me), Washington State

Merlot: $20.01 – $35.00

Double Gold 2006 Gifford Hirlinger Estate Merlot, Walla Walla
Double Gold 2007 Watermill Winery Merlot, Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Five Star Cellars Merlot, Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Glencorrie Merlot, Stillwater Creek
Silver 2008 Walla Walla Vintners Merlot, Walla Walla
Bronze 2007 Seven Hills Winery Merlot, Seven Hills Vineyard
Bronze 2007 Tamarack Cellars Merlot, Columbia Valley
Bronze 2007 Tempus Cellars Merlot, Seven Hills Vineyard
Bronze 2007 Tertulia “Pepper Bridge Merlot,” Walla Walla
Bronze 2006 Tulpen Merlot, Columbia Valley

Merlot: $35.01 — Over

Double Gold 2006 Canoe Ridge Vineyard Reserve Merlot, Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2006 Dunham Cellars Merlot, Lewis Vineyard
Double Gold 2007 L'Ecole No 41 Estate Merlot, Seven Hills Vineyard
Double Gold 2006 Northstar Winery Columbia Valley Merlot, Columbia Valley
Gold 2006 Northstar Winery Walla Walla Merlot, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Spring Valley Vineyard “Uriah Merlot Blend,” Walla Walla
Gold 2006 Three Rivers Winery Merlot, Champoux Vineyard
Silver 2006 Long Shadows “Pedestal,” Columbia Valley
Silver 2007 Pepper Bridge Winery Merlot, Walla Walla

Sangiovese: All Pricing

Double Gold 2007 Trio Vintners “Sangiovese Riserva,” Yakima Valley
Double Gold 2008 Walla Walla Vintners Sangiovese, Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2006 Yellow Hawk Cellar Sangiovese, Walla Walla
Silver 2008 Sweet Valley Wines “Righteous Sangiovese,” Walla Walla

Red Proprietary Blends: $20.00 – Under


Bronze 2007 Magnificent Wine Company “House Red,” Columbia Valley
Bronze 2007 SuLei Cellars “Beet Red,” Walla Walla

Red Proprietary Blends: $20.01 – $35.00

Double Gold 2006 Tulpen “Coalescence Red Blend,” Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2007 Walla Walla Vintners “Cuvée,” Washington State
Silver 2006 Dunham Cellars “Trutina,” Lewis Vineyard
Silver 2005 Whitman Cellars Narcissa Red, Walla Walla

Red Proprietary Blends: $35.01 — Over

Double Gold 2007 Skylite Cellars “Reserve Proprietary Blend,” Columbia Valley
Gold 2007 Sleight of Hand Cellars “The Illusionist,” Columbia Valley
Silver 2006 Long Shadows “Piroutte,” Columbia Valley
Silver 2006 Long Shadows “Saggi,” Columbia Valley

Red Rhône Styles: All Pricing

Double Gold 2007 àMaurice Cellars Syrah / Grenache, Columbia Valley
Gold 2007 Rasa Vineyards “QED” Rhone Blend, Walla Walla
Silver 2008 Rotie Cellars “Southern Red,” Washington State

Syrah: $20.00 – Under


Double Gold 2008 DaMa Wines Winery Syrah, Columbia Valley
Gold 2007 Dusted Valley Boomtown Syrah, Columbia Valley
Silver 2008 Substance Syrah (Sy), Washington State

Syrah: $20.01 – $35.00


Double Gold 2007 L'Ecole No 41 Syrah, Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2007 SYZYGY 100% Syrah, Walla Walla
Gold 2006 Bergevin Lane “Oui Deux Syrah,” Wahluke Slope
Gold 2006 Cougar Crest Estate Winery “Estate Syrah,” Walla Walla
Gold 2008 Dusted Valley Grenache, Columbia Valley
Gold 2006 Walla Walla River Winery Syrah, Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Bunchgrass Syrah, Columbia Valley
Silver 2007 CADARETTA Syrah, Columbia Valley
Silver 2006 Glen Fiona “Basket Press Syrah,” Columbia Valley
Silver 2007 Magnificent Wine Company “Originals Syrah,” Columbia Valley
Silver 2007 Otis Kenyon Wine Syrah, Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Tempus Cellars Syrah, Columbia Valley
Bronze 2007 Amavi Cellars Syrah, Walla Walla
Bronze 2007 Bunchgrass Syrah, Walla Walla
Bronze 2006 Dunham Cellars Syrah, Lewis Vineyard
Bronze 2007 Rotie Cellars “Northern Red,” Horse Heaven Hills
Bronze 2007 Rotie Cellars “Southern Red,” Horse Heaven Hills
Bronze 2008 Rotie Cellars “Northern Red,” Washington State
Bronze 2007 Tertulia Syrah Les Collines, Columbia Valley
Bronze 2006 Tulpen Syrah, Columbia

Syrah: $35.01 — Over

Double Gold 2006 Cougar Crest Estate Winery Reserve Syrah, Walla Walla
Double Gold 2006 Long Shadows “Sequel,” Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2007 Rasa Vineyards “Principia Reserve Syrah,” Walla Walla
Double Gold 2007 Sleight of Hand Cellars “Levitation Syrah,” Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2007 Spring Valley Vineyard Nina Lee Syrah,” Walla Walla
Gold 2006 Cougar Crest Estate Winery “Golden's Legacy Syrah,”
Gold 2006 Dunham Cellars Lewis Vineyard Syrah, Columbia Valley
Gold 2007 Dusted Valley Reserve Syrah, Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Reynvaan Family Vineyards “In the Rocks,” Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Waters Winery Forgotten Hills Syrah, Walla Walla
Bronze 2007 Reynvaan Family Vineyards “The Contender,” Walla Walla

Red Varietal: $20.00 – Under

Gold 2007 Sweet Valley Wines “Righteous Malbec,” Columbia Valley

Red Varietal: $20.01 – $35.00


Double Gold 2008 CAVU Cellars Malbec, Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2007 Skylite Cellars Malbec, Verhey Vineyards
Double Gold 2007 Watermill Winery Estate Malbec, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Gifford Hirlinger Estate Petit Verdot, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Saviah Cellars Malbec, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Tertulia Carmenere, Walla Walla
Gold 2007 Tertulia Malbec, Columbia Valley
Silver 2006 Saviah Cellars Petit Verdot, Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Three Rivers Malbec, Columbia Valley

Red Varietal: $35.01 — Over

Double Gold 2007 Dusted Valley Malbec, Columbia Valley
Double Gold 2007 Otis Kenyon Wine Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills
Gold 2007 Ash Hollow Malbec Reserve, Walla Walla
Silver 2007 Basel Cellars Estate Winery Carmenere, Chelle Den Millie
Silver 2005 Le Chateau Winery Malbec, Columbia Valley
Silver 2008 Rasa Vineyards “Vox Populi » Mourvedre, Minick Vineyard