28 May 2010
Why whine about the weather when there is so much great wine in Spokane? Now that you’ve recovered from Spring Barrel tasting in Walla Walla, Yakima, Spokane and Lake Chelan, it is time to get out and enjoy the local wine scene. Did you know that Spokane is welcoming a brand new winery this weekend? Check out the details below. If you’re a wine lover, and I know you are, check out the “On the Radar” section for the amazing wino week for June 1-6!
Having an event and don’t see it on the list? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Take a tour of the local wineries. Most are open. Visit this link for hours, reviews, wine recommendations and more.
Spokane Tasting Room Tour: http://drinknectar.com/2010/01/24/spokane-wine-tour/
Final Weekend of Lone Canary at their Scott Street location: Lone Canary is moving in with Caterina Winery. Get 25% off all wine and gift shop merchandise (30% off for club members) Open Friday through Sunday, Noon to 5:00 p.m.
Arbor Crest Memorial Day Weekend Sale: Get 30% off of six bottles or more of red wine through Monday!
Friday, May 28
Music at Whitestone Winery: Enjoy the wonderful music of Colleen Rice and the wine of Whitestone from 6-9pm at 111 S. Cedar. No cover
Vino Wine Shop: Airfield Estates of Walla Walla 3:00-5:30pm
Davenport Hotel: Live music from 8pm – midnight
Left Bank Wine Bar: Live music every Friday starting at 8pm, no cover
Rocket Market: 7pm Tour of Italy (Barbera, Brunello, Borolo) Reservations requested, $15 343-2253
Saturday, May 29
Overbluff Cellars: Spokane welcomes its newest winery with Overbluff Cellars grand opening. Join them with live music from Sammy Eubanks from 1-7pm at their tasting room at 620 S. Washington. For a preview, check out the DrinkNectar interview with co-owner John Caudill.
Vino Wine Shop: Sale Wines Part 2 – 2:00-4:30pm
Rocket Market: Saturday drop in tasting with Airfield Estates winery 3-6pm; Stay for live music at 7pm from Blue Ribbon Tea Company
Sunday, May 30
Get out to a winery! – Always a handful of Spokane wineries open. Enjoy!
Arbor Crest (River Park Square Tasting Room) – Enjoy the art of Carrie Vielle “Language of a Body; Instinct over Intellect”
On the Radar
Big wine week the first week in June. Stay tuned for how you can win tickets to Taste Washington on June 6.
- June 2 – Support the fight against Cystic Fibrosis with every sip at The Melting Pot. Two packages to choose from include wine tasting and two or four courses; 5-9 p.m., Call 509.999.2195; cost is $25 or $50
- June 3 – #WAWine Taste and Tweet event. Join in your PJ’s at home or from one of the 100 locations hosting an event. All you need it Washington Wine and a computer! Follow the link for details! This is the world’s largest simultaneous tasting of Washington wine. Celebrate with us!
- June 4 – First Friday in Downtown Spokane
- June 4 – Stem and Stein event benefiting the programs of the Spokane Aids Network; Northern Quest Casino; $45 at the door. http://www.san-nw.org/events/stem_and_stein.asp
- June 5 – The Pour (benfiting Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital) at Arbor Crest. This is a great wine tasting and auction. Tickets $150 http://www.thepour.info/
- June 6 – Taste Washington at the Davenport. The year’s signature wine event with 100 wineries and local food. Tickets are $75; visit ww.tastewashington.org for details. On sale starting May 1 at Vino, Arbor Crest (RP Square), Williams Seafood, and Latah Creek Winery
- June 6 – 2010 Summer Concert Series begins at Arbor Crest
- June 18-20: Spokane Symphony Best Fest – A fantastic three night event featuring the best of Spokane Symphony, wine, beer and ice cream. Tickets are available for each night and for the full three day event. www.spokanesymphony.org
27 May 2010
Here we grow again! Spokane continues to move ahead on its journey to becoming a wine destination for the state of Washington. Introducing the newest kid on the block, Overbluff Cellars. Some may think it crazy to start a new business (especially a winery) in today’s economic conditions, but the American entrepreneur is the hero of economic recovery. It’s also important to note that a winery with a 2010 launch date started the journey at least 3 years ago with crushing, fermenting and barreling grapes.
Overbluff Cellars is the passionate pursuit of John and Lynelle Caudill and Jerry and Penny Gibson. Each grew up around wine, John in Lodi next to Mondavi Vineyards and Jerry in Marin County, CA. John and Jerry pursued their passions independently as amateur wine makers until a chance meeting brought them together. It was a wine tasting trip to Napa that inspired the proverbial “leap” into the Overbluff adventure.
“It’s more about passion than anything. When the fun is gone, I’m through,” says Jerry. The first Overbluff Cellars release consists of 290 cases including three 2007 Cabernet from various vineyards and one 2009 Viognier. You can see a review of the Viognier and Duality Cab here. John and Jerry’s philosophy to wine making brings a Napa influence to Walla Walla fruit. They’re striving for big wines that showcase the character and quality that Washington fruit has to offer. The fruit they currently have in barrels and tanks will bring their 2009 vintage to about 1500 cases.
John and Jerry are particular about quality and consistency. Not wanting to leave a bad taste in people’s mouths with the potential for cork taint, each bottle is enclosed with glass enclosures. John emphasizes, “This still gives people the romance of popping the cork, with less potential for ruined wine.” The duo is also working with new oxygen permeable flex tanks and oak staves to gain more control of the flavor without making wines that end up over oaked.
John has left his full time job as the body shop manager for a local auto company to see his dreams come to reality. Overbluff has renovated the old Cobblestone Bakery at 620 N Washington. The tasting room is tucked behind the Victorian building and provides a nice rustic place to enjoy the wine. When the weather cooperates, be sure to enjoy a glass in the garden next to the tasting room.
Ensuring they give themselves every opportunity to succeed, Overbluff has already been very active on Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to support them and stop by during their tasting room. Chances are the wine will go fast!
620 S Washington Spokane, Washington
Tasting Room Hours: 4-7pm Thursday – Saturday
27 May 2010
Today’s post is from guest writer Jennifer Thomson of Thomson Vineyards:
The other day a winemaker said that I had the impressive ability to attract “characters”. This was as we were driving through the underbelly of the city, along side the ship yards, searching for a warehouse supposedly full of new French oak wine barrels being sold for As Seen On TV prices by a salesman named Mike *(name has been changed to protect the source of these ridiculously low priced barrels…err I mean for the sake of confidentiality). I responded to the winemaker, “Yes it seems I do…I also seem to be quite a magnet for unavailable men.” He laughed.
Author Malcom Gladwell, notes three agents of change in his book The Tipping Point, one of those agents being types of people. I know it’s not Gary V’s latest Crush It or Quick Bites by Rick Bakas; but The Tipping Point contains some pretty insightful information that when applied to the wine industry, connects the dots seamlessly with little to no effort and underlines the fact that if you don’t have a Maven, Connector, or Salesman hidden out in the newly reorganized 2010 org chart of your business or winery you better get one – fast!
I’m all three. Not because I’ve honed my skills or been trained to be this way, it’s just who I am. As a freshly minted industry insider I can point out just where the tipping point is between “for the sake of the business – for the sake of the wine” and just plain greed. And I’m sad to say it but, “The Wine World’s Juicy Little Secrets” is evidence of at least one of the seven deadly sins.
Recently I’ve come into contact with various levels of juicy little secrets. Some are appalling; some are as old as the seven deadly sins. More telling is that what is outlined below all occurred within the past week, a telling sign that “The Wine World’s Juicy Little Secrets” happens more often than not. Here’s a brief snapshot of the life of a Maven/Connector/Salesman.
- One of two Big Gun Brokerages says at a custom crush seminar that bulk wine on the market past its prime i.e. 2007 and older is being sold to vinegar and ethanol producers for 35 to 50 cents a gallon. If the ethanol producers get it first, it’s the next stop is biofuel. If a négociant swings in just in the nick of time and buys out the whole lot, he’s likely to pay $3-$7/gal, package it and put it in the hands of consumers. It may also change hands again, sit in storage for too long and go back to vinegar. In the real wine world, the pendulum swings ever so slightly between premium wine, wine, bulk wine, vinegar and then…ethanol! It also swings back and forth far more often than wine marketeers care to let on.
- New French oak barrels no longer sale-able because a cooper claimed an insurance loss due to external barrel water damage. Barrels showing no signs of external damage are on the same pallet as the ones with insignificant water marks. The cooper was either forced to claim the loss because they were in the same vicinity, on the same pallet or otherwise. Mike says, “I can’t tell you who, but the biggest wineries in California buy these barrels.” I negotiate one for free. We decide to buy 10 more. Point of reference, the barrels were trucked 60+ miles south only for us to pick them up and truck them back the 60+ miles to the exact same town they came from. I’ll get to the biofuel issue, green certifications and the wine industry’s addiction to the word “sustainable” later.
- Location of the barrels is very important. They are sitting immediately across the warehouse from stacks of wine from a winery currently reviewed on Cork’d, selling for almost $40 a bottle. The winery simply needs the cash flow and doesn’t want to damage the brand’s established $40 price point, so they sell bulk to Mike and he sells it through his channels for lesser price, has the option to repackage it and other wines like it, or enter snapshot 4.
- Mike calls me this morning and says he has some very good French wine and he needs a poly hard shell container, wire enclosure, to hold wine. He goes on to explain to me that he will pay someone to open the wine, pour it into the container, scrap out the bottles at 5 cents a piece and sell the wine to make none other than, vinegar or ethanol!
I could go on, but I’ll stop there. That’s quite enough of a snapshot into my life, unavailable winemakers and all, that I care to disclose.
But I leave you with this. Wine is a business. Furthermore winegrapes and wine is a commodity. Put aside the romantic notion of scantily clad women, the Tuscan sun beating down on the winemakers furrowed brow, ripe berries dusted with 24 karat gold and pull out your high school economics textbook. Look at the laws of supply/demand. Then flip to the index and read up on the definition of elastic and inelastic. Finally, look at the model where a commodity slowly increases in demand and production grows to meet it – the rate is climbing. It must, at some point (they all do) plateau. At that juncture wineries must either source new undiscovered markets or define some other competitive advantage in the marketplace. The wineries referred to in “The Wine World’s Juicy Little Secrets” are defining another source of competitive advantage because as I referenced in my last guest blog entry, it’s standing room only in the marketplace and new undiscovered markets are dwindling! That being said, it’s dishonest and can be related to more than just one of the seven deadly sins if consumers care to really open their eyes to “The Wine World’s Juicy Little Secrets“.
And the tipping point? Wineries simply trying to carve out their own well planned, financed and balanced niche in the market that cut costs by buying As Seen On TV priced barrels, keep drinking wine from those wineries consumers. They are the ones just trying to stay in business for the sake of the wine and that’s the truth.
About the Author
Jennifer R Thomson is the fourth generation of Thomson Vineyards and kicked and screamed her way into the wine industry fighting off the family business as long as she could. Her family has farmed the same 80+ acres of pears, apples, prunes, and cattle in Los Carneros, Napa California since 1938. The family was responsible for the development of the first irrigation system in Napa Carneros in the 1950s made possible by a series of federal soil conservation land grants. Growers of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Merlot since its first wine grape planting in the late 1960s, Thomson Vineyards has supplied both the David and Goliath wineries with premium fruit in the Napa, Bay Area and Central Coast regions of California.
26 May 2010
Acres of rolling vineyards, stunning snowcapped mountains, beautiful pristine lakes, and charming shops and villages are just some of the reasons Lake Chelan, WA is a popular destination. Nestled in the heart of the North Cascades, Lake Chelan has long been an outdoor lover’s paradise. The 50 mile lake is one of the world’s deepest at 1500 ft deep. The small town hosts visitors for boating, camping, hiking, biking and more recently, WINE. The first bonded winery opened in 2000 and now, 10 years later there are nearly 20 wineries in the area experimenting and producing everything from Riesling to Tempranillo to Pinot Noir.
A quick three hour journey from Spokane or Seattle will get you to the most beautiful place in the state to sip and enjoy wine. This is an annual trip for my wife and I. This year, we were excited to share the experience with our friends who recently honeymooned in Chelan. We packed up the car, headed to the rental house overlooking the lake for a way too short, relaxing two day wine trip. Watch the video for some amazing views from our 10 winery stop that included tasting through 46 wines! We even got the chance to do some bottling at Fielding Hills winery on our way home through Wenatchee (Thanks, Karen)!
Hard Row To Hoe
I was excited to make Hard Row our first stop. I’ve grown to really love Don and Judy from our online conversations and events. Their location is stunning with views of the rolling hills, their estate vineyards, and of course the lake. When entering their tasting room, you’re greeted with the most sensual wallpaper and decor.
Highlight Wine: Very impressed with the Dry Gewürztraminer ($18). It’s slightly oaked, smooth and zesty. Fell in love with the Zinfandel (which they get from Milbrandt Vineyards). I should have bought more. This wine is huge in fruit, spice, flavor and aroma!
Must See: Oddly enough, you have to use the restroom and see the wallpaper in there.
Four Lakes Winery
Just a short drive from Hard Row, Four Lakes sits at the top of a hill where you can see all four lakes in the area. They opened in July of 2009 and grow their fruit just outside the doors of the tasting room.
Highlight Wine: While their 2008 Estate Chardonnay was very nice, we were all very impressed with their Bordeaux blend. The wine didn’t have an approved label but the naked bottle now sits in our cellar awaiting consumption.
Must See: The view. Once the vineyards mature, this will be a special place to sit on the deck and sip some award winning wine.
The cute little bird (reminds me of Twitter) greets you when you enter the tasting room. These folks were busy, so there was not so much chit-chat among the staff and everyone was getting hungry for lunch so we tasted through the wines and made our way back to the house.
Highlight Wine: The 2008 Viognier ($19) was a beautiful tropical fruit basket that had a very crisp finish. We were also very surprised by their Pinot Noir. It was big, smoky and candied cherry. Much more robust and firm than expected.
Wine Girl Wines
Probably the newest winery in the city (considering our visit was their first full day of being open). The Blending Room, as they’re calling it, is in the heart of quaint Manson (the town North West of Chelan). The owners were still piecing together their facility recently moved their facility from Seattle to Chelan to focus on their 200 case winery full time! Best wishes, Angela!
Highlight Wine: While the label for the My Derby Wife was certainly fun, we walked out with their Kamari, a 2007 Black Label Reserve from Walla Walla. Beautifully elegant Cab/Merlot/Malbec/Franc blend that oozes chocolate covered raspberries. Only 48 cases produced
Lake Chelan Winery
Pressing ahead we moved further away from Manson and headed toward Chelan for a stop at Lake Chelan Winery. Situated right off the main road, you can enjoy a lake level view and their BBQ, served nightly. The tasting room includes a huge selection of wine trinkets, local creations, and gifts.
Highlight Wine: While our travelling companions raved about the Rose and Hard Cider, we were impressed with their NV Stormy Mountain Red. A odd pairing of Pinot Noir, Cab and Zinfandel, this was a smoky bacon infused cherry with tons of campfire components. ($22)
Situated high on a hillside, Benson is a Tuscan themed winery with breathtaking views. The estate vineyards roll down the hillside below with Lake Chelan and the Cascade Mountains just beyond that. The wines tasted at Benson were the most consistent across the entire line up. The only one I wouldn’t score a 4 or higher was the Viognier.
Highlight Wine: This is a difficult choice. We bought more wine here than at any other location. The Sangiovese was a huge flavor wine with bright red fruit and baking spices ($27). Another stand out was the 07 Cabernet Sauvignon ($38)
Must See: I highly recommend going through the tasting line up, then purchasing a glass (or bottle) and enjoy it on their patio overlooking the amazing views. It will be the highlight of your trip.
Vin du Lac
The final stop of the day was at Lake Chelan’s first bonded winery and the 2010 Wine Press Northwest Winery of the Year. It seemed like every wine on their shelf was adorned with one or more gold medals. Vin du Lac is a quaint space with peek-a-boo views of the lake, just beyond the apple orchards. If you plan your day right, you can stop here for lunch and enjoy their great food too. After a long day of wine tasting, we didn’t taste through the lineup, rather we purchased a bottle of 06 Barrel Select Cabernet and relaxed before heading to dinner
Must See: Stop here for lunch! You’ll love the outdoor seating. It’s like eating among the apple trees.
More amazing views await you at Tsillan Cellars (pronounced Chelan). Tsillan is the areas second oldest winery and is on the South shore. With an Italian villa theme, the grounds are impeccable complete with stone paths, waterfalls and Koi pond. This is most definitely a premier event location suitable for outdoor concerts, weddings, banquets and more. The Italian theme continues in their wine lineup that includes Sangiovese, Barbera, and Nebbiolo. If it weren’t for the weather and the impending drive home, we would have stayed for quite a while. Tsillan is open 365 days a year and has dinner service with their Sorrento’s Ristorante.
Highlight Wine: The 06 Bellissimi Rosso was a stunning blend of Cab, Merlot and Cab Franc. It presented a creamy maple syrup, blackberry and cherry and was aged well to provide a nice long smooth finish.
Must See: Ring the old fashion bell when you leave. Also, this is one of the best places to just stop, rest and enjoy the view.
Our final Lake Chelan stop was also on the South shore at Nefarious Cellars. Heather and Dean Neff are making some fantastic wine from their estate vineyards and sourced grapes. Beyond the wine, they are just amazingly nice and genuine people who are passionate about what they do. When they release their red wines each year, you have to be quick because they sell out fast. We tasted through their standard line up of Viognier, Consequence (a Sauv Blanc / Aligote blend), The Spinner (Merlot, Syrah, Cab, and Malbec) and their Cabernet Sauvignon. Heather was gracious to also let us try their newly released Syrah, Riesling, Zinfandel, and special 08 Rx4. This was the most unique wine of the trip as a blend of Mourvedre, Syrah, Counoise, and Cinsault.
Highlight Wine: While the Rx4 was special (and come to think of it, I’m not sure why we didn’t buy it), we left with the 09 Consequence ($18) and 07 Cabernet Sauvignon ($30)
While on our trip, I was of course tweeting and Facebooking along the way. Karen Wade (no relation) from Fielding Hills Winery invited us to stop by on our way home for their annual bottling party! I love Fielding Hills wine. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see them again and to participate in part of the process. Fielding Hills is in Wenatchee, just 30 minutes south of Chelan. We sat down in their quaint wine making barn overlooking their hundreds of acres of fruit trees (they manage over 5000 acres in total) and bottled their 2008 Syrah. So, if you’re drinking one of the 25 cases of that special Syrah, chances are I put the cork in the bottle!
Lake Chelan is a special place and in my opinion, one of the most beautiful places in Washington State to taste wine. I hope that this trip has inspired you to visit there soon. Visit the Lake Chelan Wine Valley web site for details on all the area wineries and events.
26 May 2010
The goal of this series is to connect with wineries and wine business that use Social Media (Twitter and Facebook) effectively. Meet Everett winery, Sojen Cellars and see how they’re using Social Media to connect with new and old friends. These interviews can serve as a catalyst to help other wineries and wine businesses to see the benefits (and pitfalls) of joining the social revolution.
How long have you been using Twitter?
Sojen Cellars has been on Twitter through Max or I for about six months.
What prompted you to dive in?
Max started tweeting and was creating new contacts and meeting people in the industry. I began tweeting and we were connected with Russell Lowell, a very old friend from our DiStefano days. Twitter showed us that this media opens a door to create relationships with people in our industry and possible business opportunities.
What type of strategy or approach do you use when posting content?
We post information to give tweeters the chance to see what is going on in our business life; from events at the winery or winemaker dinners at a restaurant as well as club information or how people can participate in the winery.
What have been the benefits of using Twitter/Facebook? (Increased traffic, increased brand awareness, customer connection, etc)
We have met new people and created new relationships that have brought new faces to SoJen Cellars as well as connected Max and I with people who want to help promote our business.
Is there a single success story that you can point to with using Twitter/Facebook?
Max starting tweeting with @SeattleWineGal and @DivaTink and those ladies opened up the door to meet them at Russell’s Dining in Bothell. Max and I knew who the owner was and that we hadn’t seen him in a long time but when we walked in the door, the General Manager recognized Max and hadn’t seen him in almost 10 years. That connection reconnected Max and I with some old Woodinville friends (Max was former winemaker at DiStefano Winery for many years). It also allowed us to reconnect with Russell and have the amazing opportunity to have a winemaker dinner there and invite new and old friends to attend. Social media allowed us to access people that we didn’t have access to by phone or email.
What do you think is the single biggest barrier to why we don’t see more wineries actively using Social Media tools?
TIME! It takes time to read tweets and think about what you really want people to know about you and your business. Many of us have other jobs or started out having other jobs. Managing two to three jobs and then finding time to peruse Facebook or tweet is a lot to swallow.
What advice would you give to wineries joining the stream or getting back into the stream?
Meet as many people as you can in your field, have meaningful conversations; be intentional about what you post and then revel in the results!
Briefly tell us about your winery, a new release, or something unique about you?
Max and I own SoJen Cellars in Everett after 5 years of making wine in the garage in Lake Stevens and a decade of experience in the field. We are a true husband and wife team with both of us winemaking and managing the tasting room. We focus on blends that are versatile to be paired with food and can stand alone to be enjoyed. We also have the capacity to do custom blends for restaurants and private events. Our story is unique since both of us have a passion for wine in different capacities. Max and I met 12 years ago on AOL (before there was a charge for internet dating) I was working in Sonoma County at a wonderful restaurant that provided me many opportunities to work with wine and food pairing and catering. Max was a cellar rat at Silver Lake and then was introduced to Mark Newton and joined his staff at DiStefano. Through the love of food and wine, Max and I were somehow brought together. It was one email from me to him that started it all. His AOL screen name was Winos3. I loved it! I wrote to him “I like your screen name” That was the email that changed me life forever.
What is your favorite rock band and why?
The Beatles because no matter how old you are, you love them!