I like wine. He likes wine.
Born and raised in upstate New York, we both attended Cornell, he as an engineer minoring in government, me as a French lit major dabbling in fashion. The only class we shared was “Wines of the World,” a legend of a class at Cornell, and the beginning of our wine education.
Fast forward 9 years, and we’re married and living in Seattle. We’ve taken a trip down to Napa/Sonoma, and multiple hauls to Yakima and Walla Walla. Yet we’ve got the Woodinville wineries in our backyard and have only visited a few times. What is it about living in a place that makes you take it for granted? Last week, he proposed “why don’t we visit every Woodinville winery?” And I was like, yes, why don’t we and why haven’t we done this sooner? And then, poor guy, I took over his excellent idea and started planning. Let’s go beyond Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia. Heck, let’s even go beyond our so-called “off the beaten track” oft-returned to favorite, Airfield! Turns out there is not only more to explore in Woodinville, but A LOT more. There are 73 wineries/tasting rooms…seventy-three! Done.
Our goal in this project is to spend time together over a shared hobby, learn more about wine, and extract as much joy as possible right in our own backyard. I’m excited. It’s good to be explorers in local territory. And it’s an opportunity to develop a bit of expertise in an area we’ve only dabbled in. By the end, we can say we really do know a corner of Washington State wine!
So, March 10, we set off, ready to tick a few wineries off our list. Out of 73 wineries, we’ve only been to 6 (Only 6! Isn’t that crazy?). 67 to go. Not that we’re keeping track or trying to rush. Well, we are keeping track, but we want to savor and appreciate each one.
We debated a bit on our approach, and we haven’t landed it yet. Should we go to all the big guns first? Mix it up each week with a well-known and an up-and-coming producer? Alphabetical order? How many to do each week? To share or not to share tastings? We haven’t decided. The important thing is that we’re doing it.
Our first stop in this adventure was Woodhouse Wine Estates. Tucked into a very unassuming warehouse (like many spots in Woodinville), we entered a warm, sleek, well-decorated tasting room. Very welcoming on a cold, rainy March day. We liked Woodhouse for it’s unrushed, relaxing atmosphere. We sat at the bar for quite awhile, enjoying the time together talking and laughing, savoring each new wine we tasted. The staff were very knowledgeable and answered all our questions. The various brands were a bit confusing, but we liked the wines and left with a bottle of 2006 Dussek Cab Sauv. We only wished the winemaker–who was hanging out behind the counter–had come over to say hello. We wanted to find out more about his Alsace-style approach–apparently, his family roots in France extend back centuries in the winemaking realm, so that would have been rad to hear about. But no quibbles here, we had a relaxed afternoon, and are off to our next winery, Silver Lake, which is just down the road and across the street.
The tasting room at Silver Lake is smaller and a bit more pedestrian, but we had just as good a time. Rick, who’s been working there for years, walked us through their wines superbly with a most welcome sense of humor and great conversation. He set up the tasting so that we could try a Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio side-by-side. I always thought they were the same wine…but not quite. They are the same grape, but a different style, and the tasting will forever etch that lesson in my mind–the Pinot Gris was lush, flavorful, tropical, and just sweet enough (read: not too sweet, b/c I don’t like overly sweet wines). The Pinot Grigio was light, clean, crisp, and proper. Like twins with opposite personalities…same genes, different expression.
I will never finish my blog posts each week if I talk about every wine we like or every new thing we learn…so I’ll just note that the Glen Fiona Cuvee Parallel 46 was superb, and we might go back for that. In the mean time, we have to temper ourselves when it comes to redeeming our tasting fees…otherwise we will have to move to a bigger place to store all our wine and have way more parties.
Although not quite proper, we don’t spit out at tastings, so by the 2nd tasting our taste buds were pretty overwhelmed. But in a typical bout of overambition, I pushed us to try one more–Sparkman. I really think their wines were outstanding, but I have no way to be sure, because mid-tasting everything tasted the same. And this is the point at which we decided we will be doing no more than two back to back tastings going forward, because we just didn’t appreciate it enough.
We ended our afternoon next door at Purple Cafe, with some French dip to soak up all the wine in our bellies. ‘Til next time!