08 Nov 2012
Looking for the ultimate excuse to go wine tasting in Spokane. Join us for the 27th annual Holiday Wine Festival. This year you can enjoy wine from 24 wineries at 18 different locations. As always the event is the weekend before Thanksgiving so you can stock up on all the wines you will need for dinner and you can get a head start on your holiday gift shopping.
Nectar Tasting Room will feature eight wines (including 5 under $16) and several great deals for your shopping pleasure.
MODIFIED HOURS: Friday Noon-10pm. Saturday and Sunday Noon-6pm
HARD ROW TO HOE: Get a little playful with 25% off of six packs of Afternoon Delight and Lickity Split (1/2 bottles). These are fun conversation starters about fun story of Hard Row to Hoe. We’ll also be pouring the Pinot Noir and Zinfandel (both great Thanksgiving wines).
NORTHWEST CELLARS: Enjoy two great wines at a phenomenal price. Enjoy the newly released 2008 Merlot ($15) and the 2011 Chardonnay ($12). Both are a great value for your holiday imbibing needs.
SKYLITE CELLARS: Hiney returns for the holidays. The popular Walla Walla red blend is back for only $15 a bottle, $80 for a six pack and $120 per case ($10 per bottle). Having a big party, or need a lot of gifts, this is a perfect wine for that. Who doesn’t want a little hiney for the holidays. Also pouring the 2007 Skylite Syrah.
TERRA BLANCA: Every holiday table needs a dry Riesling to cut through all the flavors. Enjoy the 2011 Terra Blanca Riesling for only $11. Go bold or go home with the 2008 Red Mountain Cabernet at only $16 a bottle. The rich fruit forward Cabernet will please your wine loving crowd.
OTHER PLACES TO TASTE
Mike Conway, Owner/Winemaker at Latah Creek Winery, says that the spirit of Holiday Wine Fest really hasn’t changed, as it has always centered around gift-giving and exciting new food-and-wine pairings. Now President of the Spokane Winery Association, Mike Conway incorporated Latah Creek in 1982 (the same year as another mainstay, Arbor Crest Wine Cellars), and was part of the original HWF event in 1986. Each year, his wife, Ellena, creates a special 4-5-course meal, a different course to be featured at each pouring station. Latah Creek also boasts one of Spokane’s best winery gift shops, which Ellena will stock with brand new holiday items.
Nodland Cellars is a micro-boutique winery in the Spokane Valley that consistently makes some of the best wines I’ve tried. Tim Nodland (owner and winemaker) is on hand to guide you through the tasting and educate you on the joys of his old world style Bordeaux blend. Noland is also home to the popular ‘Bad Attitude” blend that can help turn any holiday bad attitude into something quite a bit more enjoyable. Join Tim and his team at 11616 E Montgomery in the Spokane Valley (look for the signs).
Come downtown and discover the 13 tasting rooms housing 18 of Spokane’s wineries. Enjoy the hidden gems at Robert Karl Cellars (Pacific and Brown) or stop by the Broadview Dairy building (905 N Washington) where you can try wines from Caterina, Lone Canary, and bubbly from Mountain Dome. Exploring downtown is a fun way to enjoy Holiday Wine Festival. There are many places to stop to eat and you can take a break from your day with some shopping or a stroll through the park.
Visit these and Spokane’s many other wineries this holiday season. Holiday Wine Fest 2012 runs November 16th-18th, Noon-6pm. Remember, if you are planning to taste with a group of 10 or more, please be courteous and call the winery ahead of time. Tasting fees may apply. For more information about this event and all participating wineries, visit www.SpokaneWineries.net. Visitor information can be obtained at www.VisitSpokane.com. For wine tours, visit www.GroupCoordinators.com orwww.SpokaneWinerytours.com.
Ahhh, family reunions. You have the cool relatives that you haven’t seen in a while that you just love hanging with, then there are the weird stand offish people that you wonder, “Am I really related to these people.” Of course at every family reunion there is drama, the embarrassing moments and you can never escape the crazy drunk uncle that just takes things a little too far. The 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, OR was this year’s family reunion for me.
This is my third year attending the conference. My favorite part is the reunion with old friends. I’ve shared the birth of my businesses, my personal struggles, and all the success with a handful of people I’ve met at the Wine Bloggers Conference. I love cheering for friends like Lisa Mattson, who recently won “Winery Wine Blog” for Jordan Winery or Joe Roberts of 1WineDude (previous Wine Blog of the Year winner) and rejoicing in the success of friends like Ed Thralls and William Allen who have both recently launched their own wine brands. My list of family (including the crazy drunk uncle to remain nameless) could go on and on. This year, there were even some “relatives” that I had never met before that I am now happy I know.
MEMORABLE WBC12 MOMENTS
10. Willakenzie Winery Hospitality
Our bus was fortunate to be shuttled to Willakenzie Winery where 5 wineries educated and spoiled us with their hospitality and Pinot Noir. While the warm conditions might not have been ideal for tasting wine, the wineries in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA – Willakenzie Estate, Penner-Ash, Elk Cove Vineyards, Solena Estate and (shoot I forget the fifth one) provided a top notch experience of Oregon terroir, winemaking and passion.
9. Speed Wine Blogging
As fast and furious as this adventure of tasting and tweeting about 10 wines in a 50 minute period can be, it is one of my favorite experiences of each conference. I love being introduced to something new and, of course, being surprised by wines like the Winderlea Pinot Noir or the Alexana Pinot Gris. Both were the best wines of their session respectively.
8. Night of Many Bottles
Imagine 300 people all bringing 1-3 of their favorite wines to share! UGH, I passed on some crazy good stuff just to keep trying other crazy good stuff. I had wine from Georgia, Idaho, Colorado and more. The night was a frenzy of wine tasting. Luckily I kept drinking a full glass of water between tastings. The wine of the night (because it was unique and memorable) was a Pinot Noir from Virginia (Ankita Ridge)…go figure.
7. Pinot Noir Clone Tasting
This incredibly informative break out session by Erath Vineyards showed the vast difference between various Pinot Noir clones that are most found in Oregon. While I’m not a huge Pinot Noir lover, this session gave me an incredible appreciation for the subtle nuances of the grape and it was the most geeky session I attended.
6. After Parties
One thing to know about the wine bloggers conference. Wine tasting starts with donuts at 9:30am and doesn’t end until the final after party is over. Thanks to Randall Graham for his hospitality (where I tasted one of the best wines of the night – a 100% Syrah full of meaty, gamey, spicy goodness), Washington Wine Commission and the ever so gracious Jordan Winery where the party continued until well after 3am!
5. Portland Food Trucks
When travelling to Portland one must venture out to experience the food truck phenomenon. Saturday afternoon Joe Herrig, Ben Simons, Madeline Puckette and I escaped for lunch and enjoyed fries, pies, burritos and some vegan stuff. You should too.
4. Oregon Hospitality
The whole state seemed to open their arms to embrace 350 thirsty wine mongers eager to learn about the state and their wine. Top notch show, Oregon…and the Pinot was superb too.
3. Randall Graham Keynote
While not every key note was worth listening to Randall Graham delivered a speech that was humorous, educational, full of witty prose, and entertaining. Kudos to an industry icon and epic wine maker.
2. King Estate Wine Dinner
OH. MY. GOSH. The Saturday night dinner was an awesome experience. King Estate Winery listened to all the feedback from last year’s conference and hosted a 5 course 5 star dinner complete with interactive micro-site and perfect wine pairings. Top notch showcase guys!
1. My friends and family!
So good seeing you again. Can’t wait to enjoy next year’s family reunion in Penticton, BC
Expand our food options. CHECK. Promote and expand our event space. CHECK. Promote and be known as a winery. Now…CHECK. We set out at the beginning of 2012 with three major goals. Each of these goals hopefully makes us a better destination and continues to help us better serve our amazing members and customers. We are excited to announce that four of our wineries are joining the Spokane Winery Association.
With a long history of promoting great wine, the SWA now boasts 24 members including 19 from Spokane, 2 from Walla Walla, and 1 each from Lake Chelan, Benton City, and Kirkland. Wine available in Spokane continues to be a delicious cross section of Washington terroir. The Spokane Winery Association promotes three major events annually, Spring Barrel Tasting (Mother’s Day Weekend), Holiday Wine Festival (weekend before Thanksgiving) and ValenWine Weekend (weekend before Valentine’s Day). Joining the association are Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards, Northwest Cellars, Skylite Cellars and Terra Blanc Estate Winery.
What does this mean? As the owner of Nectar, it means that we get to participate at a greater level in the major event weekends and it expands our visibility to attract new customers. For our existing and future customers you can now add us to your list of stops. For me, personally, I’m excited to be a part of an amazing wine scene that was an inspiration for Nectar to begin with. The passion and quality behind each bottle produced in Spokane is equal to the other great wine regions in the state. My goal has been and always will be to stand on the roof tops and shout it out until everyone else knows what I already know…Spokane rocks!
************* MEDIA PRESS RELEASE *************
Nectar Tasting Room is pleased to announce that four of its wineries are joining the Spokane Winery Association. With a long history of promoting great wine, the SWA now boasts 24 members including 19 from Spokane, 2 from Walla Walla, and 1 each from Lake Chelan, Benton City, and Kirkland. Wine available in Spokane continues to be a delicious cross section of Washington terroir. “We are excited to continue the introduction of great wine to the Spokane wine community. Hard Row to Hoe, Northwest Cellars, Skylite Cellars and Terra Blanca are great additions to the Spokane Winery Association,” says Nectar Tasting Room owner Josh Wade. The Spokane Winery Association promotes three major events annually, Spring Barrel Tasting (Mother’s Day Weekend), Holiday Wine Festival (weekend before Thanksgiving) and ValenWine Weekend (weekend before Valentine’s Day). “Culinary experiences are a key component of the destination experience in Spokane, and wineries play a big part in that. Our growing reputation as a prime destination for great food and wine depends on continuing to build opportunities for visitors to taste, buy and explore,” says Jeanna Hofmeister, Vice President at Visit Spokane.
Nectar Tasting Room is on the corner of Main & Stevens in Downtown Spokane. Five wineries, over forty wines, all in one beautiful location. Visit nectartastingroom.com for hours and information.
28 Mar 2012
Wine lists at restaurants are important to me, almost as important as the food menu. Often times I find myself either frustrated at the lack of creativity, the lack of knowledge or the absurd pricing that makes beer or cocktails seem so much more appealing. I’ve heard rumors of a restaurant with stellar service, phenomenal food and a spectacular wine list. Recently, after a long wait and many friend suggestions, I finally got the opportunity to try Masselow’s Restaurant in the Northern Quest Resort & Casino.
As greater Spokane’s only AAA Four Diamond restaurant, my expectations were high. I was warmly greeted by the host and directed to the booth. The restaurant was nicely appointed in warm colors and wood. The fixtures were understated and fit the decor nicely. I wouldn’t say I was wowed with the design of the space but it was certainly well done. Although we were in a large restaurant (seating for 144), the booth was very private with tall sides.
The service throughout the meal was exceptional starting with the offering of two different sparkling wine options to the clearing of each course and the presentation of the wine (many local restaurants could learn from this here). The waiter was very knowledgeable about the menu and was very articulate in explaining the specials and the various courses.
Masselow’s menu consists of traditional cuisine with a northwest flare that includes bison rib-eye, king salmon, and locally grown chicken along with delicacies that include grass fed filet mignon, and north Atlantic lobster. The meal started with traditional Indian fry bread accompanied by a huckleberry marmalade. The assortment of bread was served with three different butter spreads that each left my mouth watering. The attention and care to each element of the meal was impressive.
My guest and I opted for the Masselow’s Winter Grill (a selection of Montana Rib Eye Bison, Draper Valley Free Range Chicken, and Wild King Salmon) and the Washimi Filet Mignon. The presentation of each was nicely appointed and each dish was cooked to perfection. The only exception was the chicken, which was a little dry. The spaghetti squash and potatoes were a great accompaniment to each. The Filet Mignon was on par with some of THE best cuts of meat I have ever had the privilege of enjoying. Luckily my guest couldn’t finish hers and I couldn’t let it go unfinished. See the full WINTER MENU HERE.
While the desert menu looked inviting, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to indulge any further.
Now, for most important part, and maybe even the reason you’re reading this review…THE WINE. The 10 page wine list is easily organized into glass, 1/2 bottle, bottle, and local selections. Continuing the theme of a northwest inspired menu, the wine list consists largely of Washington and Oregon wineries. A few California, Italy, French and Argentine wines round out various sections. Glass pour prices on the ranged from $6-$13. I would like to see the pricing of some of the reds be more in the $10 range. Paying $13 for a glass of wine that retails for $35 is a little high for me. A excellent balance of price points and high end selections are good to see. The Masselow’s section of the web site contains a link to the current (and ever changing) wine list.
I appreciated the bottle pricing. Most of the wine seemed to be priced very well with only a nominal mark up. While I can tolerate higher glass prices, nothing ticks me off more than seeing a $15 bottle of wine on a menu for $35. Below are a few comparisons:
- Domain Ste Michelle – LUXE; Retail $23, Masselow’s $38
- L’Ecole Luminesce; Retail $19, Masselow’s $39 (would like to see this more at $25)
- Leonetti 08 Cabernet Sauvignon; Retail $99, Masselow’s $165 (why not sell it for $119?)
The Masselow’s wine list showcased wine from 10 of the 19 Spokane producers. This is more than any list I’ve seen in town. We opted for one of my favorites, the 2006 Reserve Blend from Nodland Cellars. The retail on this wine is $35 and Masselow’s price was only $40 making it a great restaurant value. See my review of the 06 Private Blend. Overall the list is excellent and deserves the accolades it receives.
If I were reviewing this restaurant I would give it a 4+/5 stars; coming just short of a perfect review with the dry chicken and slightly high bottle prices on the wine. But, I’m not a food critic and all I can offer is that Masselow’s is one of the best, if not THE best, dining experiences in Spokane. The short 20 minute drive from downtown Spokane is well worth the experience.
Get the details on Northern Quest Resort and Casino and Masselow’s Restaurant.
I’ve stayed at a lot of hotels in my nearly 40 years. Some of my favorites included the Grand Hyatt on Kaanapali Beach Mandalay Bay in Vegas and the suite at Desert Wind Winery in Prosser. While Spokane’s gem may always be The Davenport Hotel, my recent stay at Northern Quest Resort and Casino exceeded my expectation and set a new benchmark in my mind.
Bottom line for those who won’t stay to read the rest of the review: Northern Quest is an oasis in Eastern Washington. Whether you are looking for a quick getaway vacation or a modern hotel with all the amenities for your extended stay in Spokane, Northern Quest Resort and Casino should be one of your first choices.
Whether you are staying in the 450 sq ft Classic King room (which I’ve previously stayed in) or the 900 sq ft Superior Suite (the digs on this visit), you can expect modern decor, top notch finishes in every room, and extra attention to detail rarely found in other local hotels (or national chains). Personally I was impressed with the choice of tile and texture in the bathrooms and entry way. Speaking of bathroom, you may never want to get out of the shower. The classic rooms have an extra large shower (big enough for two if you need) with three adjustable body spray jets. The suites boast a digitally controlled shower heaven with an overhead rain shower, three adjustable body spray jets and a hand held.
I’m always happy to see amenities like a Keurig single brew coffeemaker, iPod docking station, and large flat screen TV’s (even in the bathroom). The bathroom (and hall in the suite) have a motion sensor night light so you don’t stub your toe when having to get up in the middle of the night. While the bed was a little on the soft side for my taste, the linens were very high end as well.
While the room begs to just enjoy its comfort, the best part of Northern Quest are all the activities to enjoy outside the room. Everywhere you turn you will be impressed with the details, finishes and thoughtful touches. During this stay and a previous stay, I enjoyed The Fireside Lounge, Impulse (nightclub), The Q sports bar (with dozens of TV’s and a massive 30′ big screen), Liquid, and the amazing Masselow’s restaurant (review coming soon).
400 words into this review and I’ve not even mentioned the casino, luxurious spa or spacious event areas. Other than a quick tour, I didn’t partake in any of the services at La Rive spa, but I was relaxed just from walking through the space. The full service spa is tops on my list for the next visit.
Northern Quest’s casino is impressive. I love Las Vegas and try to get there once a year. I’ve stayed at 7 hotels there and probably visited another 20. While Northern Quest may not boast the size of casino floor of MGM Grande or the over the top decor of The Bellagio, there are rows and rows of slot machines and every table game you could imagine. My game of choice has become Craps and NQ does a fantastic job. The table managers and staff are incredibly informative, quick and make even the most intimidated gambler feel welcome.
The room rates at Northern Quest are very impressive for a resort of this caliper. From their web site listings it looks as if a classic king room is only $139 per night (with occasional deals and packages) and the superior suite was only $299 per night. The pricing at the restaurants, bars and even the room service prices were in line and didn’t leave me feeling gouged.
Lastly, the service at NQRC was impeccable. The valet (although quite busy during check in) was quick, the on staff concierge (a rarity in Spokane) was helpful, and even the glitch with the in room TV was quickly fixed by an onsite technician. My only complaint about Northern Quest would be the casino floor ventilation. Smoking is prohibited in the casino and after a few hours I feel stuffy and effected by the smoke.
Only 10-15 minutes from Downtown Spokane, Northern Quest Resort and Casino is on my list of continual must stays. I can’t wait to get back to Masselow’s for Filet Mignon, a beer at The Q, and another hour in the heavenly shower. What happens in Vegas, happens in Airway Heights.
Get the details on Northern Quest Resort and Casino. Their web site has virtual 360 degree tours of all the rooms and spaces.
*Room and dinner was provided complimentary, review was not guaranteed based on this compensation