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Top Winemakers Collaborate in Washington

Top Winemakers Collaborate in Washington

Walla Walla's Long Shadow collection of wines hits at every taste and pricepoint

What do Randy Dunn, Michel Rolland, Philippe Melka, and Agustin Huneeus Sr. have in common? You may recognize these names as the producers of $100-plus bottles from around the globe, but what you may not know is that they are all part of the Long Shadows collection of wineries, based in Walla Walla, Wash.

This project came together under the leadership of Allen Shoup after he retired from running the Stimson Lane wine group, owner of Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Crest. His vision was to bring together some of the world’s most prominent winemakers to make top-notch wines from Washington grapes. If Penfold’s Grange is too pricey at $250 a bottle, try its former winemaker John Duvall’s "Sequel" for $50. Maxing out at $55, all the Long Shadows’ labels (branded individually) come at a fraction of the price of these vintners’ flagship brands. Our other favorites include the Chester-Kidder cabernet sauvignon/syrah blend, the Poet’s Leap riesling, and the Feather cabernet sauvignon.

If you get the chance to visit their beautiful tasting room in Walla Walla, in addition to the great wine, you’ll get to see several mind-blowing pieces of Chihuly glass art.

Click here for more from The Daily Sip.


German and Washington Wineries Collaborate on New Value-Priced Riesling

Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington and German vintner Ernst Loosen have teamed up for a second time, to introduce the 2003 Saint M Riesling this month. Loosen produced the Saint M at his J.L. Wolf estate in the Pfalz region of Germany, and Chateau Ste. Michelle, one of Washington's largest producers of Riesling, will market the wine in the United States.

Loosen, who also runs Dr. Loosen in Germany's Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region, said he wanted to create a dry, food-friendly Riesling that would be a good value. The Saint M (86 points, $12) offers a firm structure accented by grapefruit and herb notes that end in a peppery finish. About 15,000 cases were made, of which 10,000 will be available in the United States.

"To me, bringing quality back to lower-cost wines, such as Saint M, is the next logical step in the return of Riesling to international prominence," Loosen said.

Chateau Ste. Michelle and Loosen have already collaborated on Eroica, a Washington Riesling that they first released in 2000. The 1999 Eroica was made by former Ste. Michelle winemaker Erik Olsen in consultation with Loosen. Bob Bertheau made the current release of Eroica, the 2003 (91, $20).

The Saint M partnership was based on the success of Eroica, as well as on the growing demand for Riesling in the United States, said Ted Baseler, president and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Chateau Ste. Michelle alone produces almost 400,000 cases of dry and sweet Rieslings from Washington each year. But Baseler said the winery wanted to offer its customers another choice among its lineup of Rieslings.

Loosen is optimistic about Riesling's future in the United States as well. "I have always said that the Riesling revival would start with a New World winery," he said.

Unlike the Eroica, which was a partnership between the two estate's winemakers, the Saint M is entirely produced by Loosen. About 10 percent to 15 percent of the grapes come from his J.L. Wolf estate, while the rest are from growers in the Pfalz with whom Loosen works. The Pfalz region, in southwestern Germany, enjoys a warmer, drier climate than the Rheingau and Mosel regions to its north.

The entire production of Saint M was bottled with a Stelvin screw-cap closure, which Loosen feels is ideal for preserving the fresh flavors of early-drinking Rieslings and for minimizing problems with cork taint.


Crushing It: The Best Washington Wines of 2019

Prices listed may vary depending on place of purchase. Our team judged everyday bottles as under $35 and splurge bottles as over $35 the only exception is Cabernet Sauvignon, which also has a special-occasion winner over $60. For Sauvignon Blanc, rosé and red blends, these bottles are the best at all prices.

WHITE WINES OF THE YEAR

BEST SPLURGE CHARDONNAY
Woodward Canyon 2017 Chardonnay
Washington State, $44
Walla Walla–based Woodward Canyon’s Chardonnay is an iconic version of the variety in Washington. With their 2017 vintage, production director Rick Small and winemaker Kevin Mott have added to that legacy with a brilliant Chard sourced from their usual two sites: Celilo Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge, and their own Woodward Canyon estate vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley. Their warmer Walla Walla site shines here, contributing rich nectarine fruit and plump, delightful palate weight. PAIRS WITH: Mac and cheese studded with garlicky oyster mushrooms.

Honorable Mentions
Côte Bonneville 2016 Chardonnay, DuBrul Vineyard, Yakima Valley, $50
Dusted Valley 2017 Chardonnay, Olsen Vineyard, Yakima Valley, $36
The Walls 2016 McAndrew Chardonnay, White Salmon Vineyard, Columbia Gorge, $36

BEST EVERYDAY CHARDONNAY
Savage Grace 2017 Chardonnay
Celilo Vineyard, Columbia Gorge, $30
Celilo Vineyard, in the Columbia Gorge, is arguably the finest site in Washington for Chardonnay, and most versions from this vineyard command prices of $40 and higher. Not so for winemaker Michael Savage, whose Celilo Chard is a fine value, offering nervy acidity and a dry flavor profile that combines lemon curd, mineral and subtle spice notes. PAIRS WITH: Smoked steelhead and lemon-spiked cream cheese on toast.

Honorable Mentions
Sixto 2016 Uncovered Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $35
Milbrandt 2018 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $13

BEST SAUVIGNON BLANC
Lobo Hills 2017 Sauvignon Blanc
Yakima Valley, $18
Woodinville-based Tony Dollar does something unusual with his Sauvignon Blanc, which comes from a pair of Yakima Valley vineyards (Lonesome Springs and Airport Ranch): He both ferments his grapes and ages his wine alongside rocks pulled from the vineyards. Whether the wine’s insistent minerality comes from those rocks or is inherent to the grapes seems not to matter once it’s in the glass. Either way, it’s a bone-dry, super-refreshing white, with grapefruit, grass and minerals galore. PAIRS WITH: Flash-steamed asparagus topped with a lemony vinaigrette.

Honorable Mentions
Seven Hills 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, $20
Avennia 2017 Oliane Sauvignon Blanc, Yakima Valley, $28
Efestē 2018 Feral Sauvignon Blanc, Evergreen Vineyard, Ancient Lakes, $20

ROSÉS OF THE YEAR

BEST ROSÉ
Underground Wine Project 2018 And Why Am I Mr. Pink Rosé
Columbia Valley, $13
Mr. Pink debuted with the 2015 vintage, and in four short years has captured the imagination of Seattleites and become one of the buzziest rosés released each spring. Walla Walla–based Trey Busch (Sleight of Hand Cellars) and Mark McNeilly (Mark Ryan Winery) form the brain trust behind the label, which combines clever packaging on the outside, with bone-dry, Sangiovese-based, cherry- and citrus-flavored juice on the inside. PAIRS WITH: Homemade corned beef hash and soft-poached eggs.

Honorable Mentions
Tranche 2018 Pink Pape Rosé, Blackrock Estate Vineyard, Yakima Valley, $22
Long Shadows 2018 Julia’s Dazzle Rosé of Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley, $18
Efestē 2018 Rosé, Oldfield Estate Vineyard, Yakima Valley, $24

BEST EVERYDAY RED RHÔNE BLEND
Kevin White 2016 La Fraternité Red Wine
Yakima Valley, $30
It’s back-to-back honors for Woodinville-based Kevin White, whose 2015 La Fraternité won Best Red Rhône Blend over $25 in last year’s awards. This 2015 is a blend of Grenache (64%), Mourvèdre (27%) and Syrah (9%), with that backbone of Grenache coming entirely from Upland Vineyards on Snipes Mountain, among the finest sites in Washington for Grenache. The fruit purity is exceptional here (strawberries and raspberries abound), and the texture is seamless and polished. PAIRS WITH: A split pea soup studded with savory croutons.

Honorable Mentions
Secret Squirrel 2015 Rhône Blend, Columbia Valley, $25
Kevin White 2017 Rhône Red, Yakima Valley, $20

BEST SPLURGE RED RHÔNE BLEND
W.T. Vintners 2015 Rhône Blend
Boushey Vineyard, Yakima Valley, $40
Winemaker Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen splits his time between W.T. Vintners (Woodinville) and Seattle’s influential restaurant RN74, where he is the wine director. Here he has crafted a blend of about one-third each of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, all from a single hillside of Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. This beautifully balances elements both fruity (blackberry) and savory (smoky bacon, briny olive), all on a supple, easy-drinking frame. PAIRS WITH: A mixed plate of charcuterie.

Honorable Mentions
The Walls 2016 The Ramparts, Red Mountain, $44
DeLille 2016 Doyenne, Red Mountain, $42
Avennia 2016 Justine Southern Rhône Blend, Yakima Valley, $40

RED WINES OF THE YEAR

BEST SPLURGE SYRAH
Two Vintners 2016 Some Days Are Stones Syrah
Walla Walla Valley, $50
Morgan Lee sweeps the Syrah categories this year, also taking home the award for spendier Syrahs with his single-vineyard version from Stoney Vine Vineyard in The Rocks District of the Walla Walla Valley. His 2013 vintage of this wine also took home Red Wine of the Year honors in 2016. Fermented with 50% whole clusters (stems and all) and then aged in a mix of large puncheons and small barrels, this wine revels in the funky, savory side of Syrah, with meaty smoked sausages and brackish seaweed complementing a core of blueberry fruit. PAIRS WITH: Venison tenderloin topped with sautéed wild mushrooms.

Honorable Mentions
Saviah 2016 Stones Speak Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $55
The Walls 2015 Concrete Mama Syrah, Stoney Vine Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley, $75
The Walls 2016 Gaspard Syrah, Red Mountain, $48

BEST EVERYDAY SYRAH
Two Vintners 2016 Syrah
Columbia Valley, $21
Incredibly, this is the fourth year running that Woodinville-based Morgan Lee has taken home the prize for value Syrah, a remarkable achievement in a competitive, blind-tasting, multiple-judge format. It’s a pan-Washington Syrah, featuring seven different vineyards across five of Washington’s AVAs, and it features a core of marionberry fruit lifted by floral top notes and complicated by savory threads of bacon fat and sanguine minerality. PAIRS WITH: An olive-studded lamb tagine.

Honorable Mentions
Saviah 2016 Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $32
W.T. Vintners 2015 Gorgeous Syrah, Destiny Ridge Vineyard, Horse Heaven Hills, $30

BEST SPLURGE BORDEAUX RED BLEND
Upchurch 2016 Counterpart Red
Upchurch Vineyard, Red Mountain, $50
This is the sophomore vintage for winemaker Chris Upchurch’s Counterpart, which comes entirely from his estate Upchurch Vineyard on Red Mountain, and both vintages have taken home awards (the 2015 was last year’s winner in the Best Red Blend over $40 category). The blend of 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon was aged entirely in new French oak, and it offers an appealing nose combining plummy fruit with dusty earth notes, mocha and rosemary. The palate features no shortage of Red Mountain’s signature power and tannic structure. PAIRS WITH: Braised black lentils with roasted root vegetables and yogurt.

Honorable Mentions
Betz Family 2016 Clos de Betz Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley, $60
Avennia 2016 Gravura Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley, $40
Cadence 2015 Bel Canto, Cara Mia Vineyard, Red Mountain, $60

BEST EVERYDAY BORDEAUX RED BLEND
Secret Squirrel 2015 Bordeaux Blend
Columbia Valley, $25
This year’s winner for Coolest Label shows that the juice inside the bottle is pretty darned good, too. Winemaker Andrew Trio, who splits his time between Walla Walla (where he works on Corliss, Tranche and Secret Squirrel wines) and his home country of Australia, has put together a five-variety Bordeaux blend (39% Merlot, 26% Petit Verdot, 18% Malbec, 15% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon) that overdelivers for its $25 price point. The rich black currant fruit is balanced by earthy soil tones, and the whole package conveys balance and complexity to spare. PAIRS WITH: A duck confit leg over a bed of peppery mustard greens.

Honorable Mentions
Soos Creek 2015 Sundance Red, Columbia Valley, $20
Mark Ryan Board Track Racer 2017 The Chief, Columbia Valley, $28
Gorman 2016 The Devil You Know, Columbia Valley, $30

BEST SPLURGE MERLOT
Long Shadows 2015 Pedestal Merlot
Columbia Valley, $65
Walla Walla–based Gilles Nicault partners with Bordeaux-based consulting winemaker Michel Rolland to craft this gorgeous Merlot, which also includes 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Petit Verdot in the mix. In 2015, the backbone of the Merlot comes from a pair of vineyards in the Wahluke Slope AVA—Weinbau and StoneTree—and the wine was aged for 22 months in French oak (85% new). Dark fruits (plums, huckleberries) commingle with high-cacao chocolate in this delightful truffle of a wine. PAIRS WITH: Coffee-rubbed, red-wine-braised pot roast.

Honorable Mentions
Woodward Canyon 2015 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $52
Seven Hills 2016 Merlot, Seven Hills Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley, $45
Mark Ryan 2016 Long Haul Merlot, Columbia Valley, $55

BEST EVERYDAY MERLOT
Baer 2015 Star Merlot
Stillwater Creek Vineyard, Columbia Valley, $35
Our 2017 Winemaker to Watch, Erica Orr comes through with a winner for Woodinville-based Baer Winery. This Merlot includes 13% Cabernet Franc, and all the grapes come from Stillwater Creek Vineyard. Aged in French oak (60% new) for just shy of two years, this wine displays a pair of the characteristics that make Washington Merlot so compelling: complexity (in the form of earth and tomato-paste savory notes overlaying a core of cherry fruit) and structure (in the form of toothsome finishing tannins). PAIRS WITH: Seared duck breast with cherry gastrique.

Honorable Mentions
Novelty Hill 2016 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $23
College Cellars 2016 Merlot, Clarke Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley, $25
Januik 2015 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $25

BEST OTHER RED BLENDS
Underground Wine Project 2015 Idle Hands
Red Mountain, $30
Trey Busch and Mark McNeilly’s Underground Wine Project takes home a second prize this year (their Mr. Pink took home Rosé of the Year) for their Syrah–Cabernet Sauvignon blend, sourced entirely from Red Heaven Vineyard on Red Mountain and then aged in a mix of neutral French oak barrels (80%) and new American barrels (20%). That new American oak adds appealing notes of vanilla bean and cocoa powder to a wine bursting with cherry and raspberry richness. PAIRS WITH: A grass-fed beef cheeseburger, medium-rare.

Honorable Mentions
Saviah 2017 The Jack Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $18
The Walls 2015 Stanley Groovy Portuguese Red, Red Mountain, $38
Long Shadows 2015 Chester-Kidder Red Blend, Columbia Valley, $60

BEST EVERYDAY CABERNET SAUVIGNON
Saviah 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon
Walla Walla Valley, $30
It’s back-to-back wins for Rich Funk of Walla Walla’s Saviah Cellars in the value Cabernet category. Funk’s Cab (it also contains 12% Merlot) comes from a quartet of southern Walla Walla Valley vineyards—Anna Marie, Dugger Creek, McClellan Estate and Seven Hills—and was aged for 17 months in French oak (30% new). Classic Cabernet notes of crème de cassis and cedar coexist with subtleties of beetroot and rhubarb, all on a supple, polished frame. PAIRS WITH: A bowl of hearty borscht.

Honorable Mentions
Kiona Vineyards 2016 Estate Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $25
Saviah 2016 The Jack Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $18
LTL (by Upchurch Vineyard) 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $30

BEST SPLURGE CABERNET SAUVIGNON
Canvasback (by Duckhorn) 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon
Red Mountain, $40
In 2013, Napa Valley stalwart Duckhorn purchased a 20-acre parcel of land on Red Mountain and launched Canvasback, its first foray into Washington state. Industry veteran Brian Rudin is the local winemaker for Canvasback, and this is his first Cab that includes a portion of fruit from the estate vineyard, called Longwinds. In total, this wine includes 13 Red Mountain vineyards, so it is a fine representative of the AVA as a whole, offering chewy, black-tea-flavored tannins aplenty as structural underpinnings for a wine bursting with black currant fruit and rose petal nuance. PAIRS WITH: Memphis-style smoked beef ribs.

Honorable Mentions
Tranche 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Blue Mountain Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley, $50
Andrew Januik 2016 Stone Cairn Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $40
Underground Wine Project 2016 Devil’s Playground Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $32

BEST SPECIAL-OCCASION CABERNET SAUVIGNON
Passing Time 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon
Horse Heaven Hills, $80
Washington native Damon Huard partnered with fellow quarterback Dan Marino to launch Woodinville-based Passing Time four years ago with the 2012 vintage. Their winemaker from the beginning has been Chris Peterson (Avennia), and he works wonders with this Cabernet, primarily from a pair of special Horse Heaven Hills sites: Champoux and Discovery. The wine sees 21 months in French oak (80% new) and offers wonderful pencil-lead minerality to complement a core of black currant fruit and smoky baking spice. The powerful tannins suggest a wine that will age in fascinating directions for decades. PAIRS WITH: A grilled T-bone steak with creamy mashed potatoes and bitter greens.

Honorable Mentions
Woodward Canyon 2016 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon, $99
Betz Family 2016 Père de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $78
Mark Ryan 2016 Lonely Heart Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $95

Methodology
Nominations for this year’s Washington Wine Awards were solicited from a panel of Washington wine and food professionals via a survey. Nominees that received the most votes in the categories of wineries, winemaker, vineyard and sommelier were selected as winners.

The approximately 90 wines receiving the most votes in the varietal categories qualified as finalists for a blind tasting held on March 18. That tasting was conducted by a panel of three industry professionals (Paul Zitarelli of Full Pull Wines, Mark Takagi of Metropolitan Market and Chris Horn of Heavy Restaurant Group) who evaluated the wines on the basis of appeal in regard to sight, smell and taste in order to come to a consensus on the winners within each category. Winners in each varietal category were eligible to win Wine of the Year. Wine of the Year winners in red, white and rosé wine categories were selected by panel consensus during a second tasting of the winners in each category. Information in the tasting notes was taken from the tasters’ descriptions of the wines.

Winners in the categories of Best Restaurant to Experience Washington Wine and Retail Wine Steward of the Year, presented in partnership with Washington State Wine Commission, were selected from nominees put forth by our nominating panel and from our readers’ poll. The final winners were determined by our experts.

The Walter Clore Washington Honorarium is bestowed upon an individual by the Washington State Wine Commission and is chosen by a Washington State Wine Commission committee.

For wines to be eligible as a Washington wine for this competition, the producing winery must be licensed and located in Washington state or located within the boundaries of a federally recognized American Viticultural Area (AVA) that includes acreage in Washington. Also, a minimum of 95% of the grapes used in the production of the wine must be from a vineyard located within Washington state, or from one of the three federally recognized interstate AVAs that include acreage in Washington state (Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley and the Columbia Gorge AVAs).

The Best Vineyard winner must be located in Washington. Winners in categories involving people, places and wine experiences also must be located in Washington.

For a varietal to be considered in its category, it must be made with at least 75% of the grape variety that is grown in Washington state.


Best California Red: Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Today, thanks to co-owner Peter Mondavi Jr.'s leadership, Charles Krug winery is a pillar of Napa Valley. With longtime winemaker Stacy Clark at the helm, the wines are utterly delightful, classically structured and decidedly age-worthy.

Sourced from five estate sites in Yountville, this 2017 has an incredibly modest price and impeccable pedigree. Wonderfully rich blackberry fruits mingle with brown spices, tobacco and vanilla bean. The cabernet sauvignon is full-bodied with black cherry, blackberry compote and black currants—all supported by lovely fine-grained tannins.


Washington Apple Shot

The Washington Apple Shot is a slammable version of the Washington Apple cocktail, nothing more, nothing less. Its equal-parts recipe of Canadian whisky, sour apple schnapps and cranberry juice can be scaled up or down, depending on the occasion. If you’re serving a crowd, multiply each ingredient by however many drinkers are in your midst, and fill a few shaker tins. Then you’ll be ready to pour the contents and toast with your friends—always better than downing a solo shot.

The Washington Apple Shot is surprisingly balanced considering it calls for two tart, sweet mixers. The strong Canadian whisky cuts through the cranberry and the sour-apple schnapps, and the club soda adds a hint of dilution and effervescence, which ties the other ingredients together with a neat bow. When deciding on your whisky, choose your favorite bottle. You just want something with enough punch and structure to stand up against those mixers.

If you’re looking to pull back the tartness of this shot, you can substitute Calvados for the schnapps. This French apple brandy adds apple flavor, minus the artificial sweeteners and mouth-puckering sourness. It also increases the drink’s proof.

If you do go the Calvados route, you’re not technically making a Washington Apple Shot. But cocktail improvisations are all the rage, so just give it a different name—maybe something that’s barely French, like Le Washington Apple Shot. Hey, you’re making a shot, not fulfilling your school language requirement.


“Rustic” Wine Dinner Party

By: Jessica · Posted: Jun 7, 2016 · Updated: Mar 26, 2019 · This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

This post brought to you by Columbia Crest Winery. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Fantabulosity.

Remember the adorable place setting that I created a few days ago for a Rustic Wine Dinner Party that we were hosting? (You can see the Facebook LIVE video on my Facebook page.) The party turned out exactly like we had hoped. Beautiful weather, back deck breezes in the new patio curtains, fab Columbia Crest Cabernet Wine, and good friends. An evening that is still talked about through group text messages.

Our guests, and ESPECIALLY my husband, loved the Crowdsourced Cabernet that we served with apps and dinner. For someone that rarely drinks more than one glass of wine, he was asking for his second third glass, by sunset.

I really wanted to serve this wine at our dinner party, because my husband and I have been incredibly interested in crowdsourcing lately, and in 2014, Columbia Crest wanted to become the first winery to crowdsource a wine from vineyard to table. Everything from bud break, to the harvest, to the final blend and even the label, was put in the hands of the online community.

I thought that was an amazing story, and we love to help and encourage amazing adventures like this. They JUST released this wine on June 3rd 2016, and I couldn’t wait to help support them & celebrate with our friends.

I paired a few food options to go with the wine, mainly because there’s nothing better than snacking while drinking wine with friends, and waiting on dinner to finish. My ultimate snack “go-to,” with wine, is a cheese tray. Pairing different cheeses, meats, fruits, and other small bite-size options, is easy & classy!

Serving all of those options on a cheese board, you can’t forget the accompaniments! Crackers, toasts, and breadsticks are the perfect bite-size crunch you need. Get creative, and display them in something other than the bags that they come in, or a bowl… and you’ve just made a fabulous display!
(I simply used brown paper bags, folded/rolled down) to give the table the “rustic,” feel that I was going for!)

Oh the place setting… I was ecstatic to see the looks on our guest’s faces as they walked on to our deck. They each had their own little personal “treat,” awaiting them. Simple little touches like this can make your guests instantly feel welcome in your home!

If you’re new around here, then you may not know that I have quite the “sweet-tooth,” so anytime that I can incorporate a little chocolate, you can count on it. For an added “touch,” I created a party favor box for each guest, that contained dark chocolate covered blueberries, that paired amazingly well with the 2014 Crowdsourced Cabernet! Red wine + Dark Chocolate = Happy, Happy Guests.

The overall place setting, and a glass of wine with dinner made this party a special one for the books!

One of our guests JUST had a baby, (only 3 sweet weeks ago), so she wouldn’t let me get a full photo of her, but she did agree to a “cheers,” to celebrate all of the amazing recent blessings, and to the release of the new wine. (Any reason to have a “cheers,” right!?)

Once dinner concluded, we moved to the front lawn and ended the evening with small chatter. My husband loves nothing more than relaxing with friends on the front porch, with a glass of wine and a cigar.

Me… well I like to visit on the front porch with a glass of wine too. There’s really no other way to end a busy day.

More on the 2014 Crowdsourced Cabernet Sauvignon Vintage:

The 2014 Crowdsourced Cabernet is the 1 st Washington Winery to receive the honor of wine Spectator’s #1 wine in the World which occurred in 2009 for their 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Columbia Crest has a rich heritage of Washington winemaking through an unwavering commitment to producing outstanding wine. The conditions of Washington State and the Columbia Valley offer perfect grape-growing conditions, from the weather to the soil to the vineyard sites. These conditions paired with viticulture and winemaking practices allow Columbia Crest to create high-quality wines.

The process took 18 months and brought together wine lovers as co-creators and honorary winemakers gaining a deeper understanding and connection to the craft and skill of winemaking.

Approximately 1,000 cases of the 2014 Crowdsourced Cabernet will be available for $30/bottle, exclusively online or in the Columbia Crest tasting room in Paterson Washington.


Perfect Wines for Father’s Day: Winemakers’ Tributes to Their Dads

Top winemakers in California and Italy tell how their dads have influenced their lives and even their work today. Plus, they each suggest a bottle to share with Dad this Father’s Day. Most are affordable and fall under $50, but there is one “splurge” bottle for those looking for an extra special gesture to thank their guy.

Shutterstock: Dima Sobko

Head High Wines

“The lesson I learned as I become more experienced was to stop trying to impose myself on the land and instead let the land impose itself on me.” -Sam Spencer

My quieter, thoughtful Dad, and many others’ fathers, have influenced their children to take a step back and listen to our surroundings, rather than loudly rushing forward. Working alongside a strong force in our environment, rather than against it, one is likely to be more productive in achieving their goals. This is an idea that Winemaker Sam Spencer has also taken to heart when it comes to his creations at Head High Wines.

The winery is located in the costal area of Sonoma in Northern California. Constantly influenced by the winds, water and weather that emerges from the sea, the winery’s name comes from a surfing term that refers to a wave that matches the height of the surfer. A true surfer knows that riding such a wave takes skill and working with the force of the water, and not contrary to it, is the best option. Likewise, Sam, also a surfer, has taken the same approach to winemaking. The winery produces bottles that respect its natural terrior, but also pushes the wine drinker to new and exciting levels or pairings.

Sam Spencer, winemaker of Head High Wines on Father’s Day: “I appreciate the simplicity of the message from LeRoy Pollock to his son Jackson as excerpted from American Letters: Jackson Pollock and Family 1927-1947: “The secret of success is concentrating interest in life, interest in sports and good times, interest in your studies, interest in your fellow students, interest in the small things of nature, insects, birds, flowers, leaves, etc. In other words to be fully awake to everything about you & the more you learn the more you can appreciate & get a full measure of joy & happiness out of life. I do not think a young fellow should be too serious, he should be full of the Dickens some times to create a balance.”

Head High Red Blend 2013

This juicy blend of Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Grenache, is well-balanced, but not boring. With its powerful tannins that are foiled by spice and complemented with a full body, this is a true food wine that would be ideal with meat. Cook Dad a protein-filled dinner on the grill, including an acidic and spicy arugula salad side and serve it all with a glass or two of this wine. $30

Head High Pinot Noir 2013

Musky on the nose, this wine from the Sonoma Coast brings a fun funk to the glass, but with a bit of a lighter body than the previous wine. Black cherry fruits, vanilla, and spices take the dry wine to an easy-sipping level that can be enjoyed alongside a casual flatbread pizza, bold cheese, or grilled poultry. $35

CrossBarn Winery

Owner Paul Hobbs grew up on his family’s fruit farm in upstate New York. At a young age, he helped his father convert the land into a bountiful vineyard. After years of guidance from his Dad, Paul came to understand the relationship between the grapes and the land and entered into a successful career in winemaking. CrossBarn Winery is one of Paul’s projects, with vines along Sonoma’s coast and in the Russian River and Napa Valleys. Named after the CrossBarn that him and his siblings used to play in when they were out helping their father, Paul’s California winery offers moderately priced bottles. Paul describes the label’s philosophy as being a reflection and presentation of the ideals that he learned from his father and farm life, and that is a respect and love for the land that they collaborate with. Alongside Paul Hobbs, Greg Urmini, the winemaker for CrossBarn, carries those ideas and sentiments to create balanced wines with immediate enjoyment.

Greg Urmini, Winemaker at CrossBarn Winery on Father’s Day: “My father is not much of a talker he led more by action and example. His hard work ethic was instilled in me at an early age. I remember working on the weekends as a kid helping him make fresh pastas in his shop early on Saturday mornings. His constant presence, love and support of my interests, studies and goals from my childhood to today made me who I am professionally, and as a husband and father.”

Unibärsum – The Swedish Craft Brewery That’s Obsessed with Freshness

CrossBarn 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Hailing from a great growing season in the Napa Valley, this 2012 vintage is bold on the nose with notes of leather, cedar, and warm spices. The warm baking spices will continue onto the tongue for a long-finishing wine. The wine is a bottle we could see giving to Dad this year to drink now or even suggesting he put it away for a special occasion. It will only continue to improve with time. With a velvety mouth-feel, the wine would be ideal with roasted vegetables, a steak, or meaty sandwich. $50

Masi Agricola

Located in the Venetian region of Italy, Masi has been creating fine wines for seven generations. Current generation owner, Raffaele Boscaini, admits that their unique business style and wines that exemplify the local regions come from his father Sandro’s encouragement. His father has always said, “Son, in your life try to do something that you like and gives you satisfaction. It does not matter if it’s a mistake, as long as you do it your way. Don’t do what everyone else does already!”

And if you are wondering what bottle they will be drinking to celebrate Fatherhood this June, “Nothing special for the occasion, unlike Christmas or Easter when we go down to the winery cellars together to choose some interesting bottles. We don’t think about things more than necessary. My father always says that the best bottle in the collection is the one that we have open at the moment!.”

Masi Agricola’s 2010 Costasera Amarone

This wine is our splurge for Dad, but it is so worth it! The iconic Verona vineyards have produced a bottle with beautiful notes of coffee and balsamic. This is a bold wine that could continue to age for years, as well. Be sure to let this bottle breathe before serving alongside heavy or gamey foods like lamb. $62.99
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Mandatory family outings to the Detroit farmers' market and nightly home-cooked meals cultivated Annelise's respect and curiosity for food. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, she spends her free time in New York City recipe testing, eating breakfast all day, and dreaming up international culinary adventures.


OMG I totally want to make a black spanish w/ chocolate wine. This is a very helpful blog. Thanks a million

I wonder if your chocolate wine came off, how it came out, and what you might do differently next time should there be a next time. Love to hear back from you!

I had a wonderful chocolate Merlot at a vineyard in Napa last summer. There was a Virginia winery with a chocolate wine at the local wine festival here in Chesapeake last week, but the line was insane.

you will also want to take in account the type of cocoa to use of the 2 types of cocoa powder. first their is regular baking cocoa and then their is Dutched cocoa. Dutched cocoa is less bitter, seems to dissolve better and is usually used in drinks, puddings, truffles and softer sweeter chocolate items. You can also find mixed cocoa powder containing both regular and Dutched cocoa powders. So if you want a less bitter taste to the chocolate wine you will probably want to use Dutched cocoa.

I just tried some chocolate infused wine at a tasting the other day and I really loved it (Red Decadence) . I make a lot of different types of red and white wines from grapes. I want to try infusing some myself but not sure when they add the chocolate. I will have to experiment, but if anyone has made some please send along some tips.

> I just tried some chocolate infused wine at a tasting the other day and I really loved it
> I want to try infusing some myself but not sure when they add the chocolate. I will have to experiment

Sounds like some fun experiments, Ron. I hope you’ll come back the let the rest of us know how they went!

Though I generally stick to spiced meads and fruit wines, I have experimented with “Just Chocolate” wine in the past. I used baking cocoa for the chocolate flavoring and a small amount of agave nectar as I like to experiment with different flavors. The rest was just sugar, water and a handful of grapes. I let it ferment and drank with some friends directly after racking. Amazingly, it tasted very similar to a cabernet and was nearly dry. My friends were impressed and I liked it as well. I actually have a small batch fermenting right now. This time I am trying for a more dessert style wine.

Racked last week and the secondary is still going well. I’m thinking I will rack it again in a couple days to get it off the lees and try to have some ready by the new year. Though yeasty, the juice from the bottom of the primary had a wonderful, sweet, chocolatey taste. I can’t wait to try the finished product. If it’s good, I may enter it into a competition. I’m just not sure which category they would let me into with it.

I would love to try this. When do you add the cocoa?

I was actually thinking of replacing my normal oak chips in a merlot with cocoa nibs to see how that turns out. I’m hopeing for more on the subtle side as opposed to the wow chocolate reaction. If anybody has tried let me know, otherwise I’ll let you all know once its done.

I was actually thinking of replacing my normal oak chips in a merlot with cocoa nibs

I haven’t tried that, Chris, but I’d love to know how it turns out!

Just curious, Chris, how’d it turn out with the chocolate nibs? Was there just a subtle chocolate flavor? That’d what I’d like to accomplish.

This post has inspired me. I tasted a chocolate infused wine and liked it so much I bought a bottle from Molliver Vineyards in Nathalie, VA. It is called “Vin Chocolat”. I am planning to make some wine with cocao as soon as I have all my ingredients.

Can someone post how your chocolate wine turned out and post your recipes PLEASE

Just read this. I’m new to wine making but tasted chocolate rouge and thought it was good.
The red chocolate wine, not the one with cream. I’m interested in trying to make some.
I’m taking the hints from above and hope something works out.
Would love if some would post how there’s turned out and the recipe.

can u make large amounts of chocolate wine ..and bottle it..like 5 gallons ?

can u make large amounts of chocolate wine

Sure. I would recommend Lord Rhys Chocolate Mead to start with.

I fell in love w/ orange chocolate wine made in S. Florida , but its a bit pricey @ about $30 for 750 ml bottle. Got some good ideas from your site. Thanks. Wes

Thank you for detailed discussion. I recently sampled some Vin Chocolate Noir made by Coopers Hawk (a national chain winery/restaurant/bar) and decided I need to experiment with a chocolate infused red wine. I make my own reds. Just wondering, is their any chance of getting a chocolate syrup to dissolve and work in this manner? (Wondering if a syrup would yield a better taste than cocoa). I would be infusing this into 3-5 gallons.

I’ll bet it would be easier to dissolve the syrup, but make sure you know what’s in it. Preservatives could inhibit the yeast. Good luck, and let me know how it turns out.


Review – Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Wines 2014

Along with a few other lucky media, I tasted the 62 wines and spirit on offer at the 30th Cape Winemakers Guild Auction yesterday. This group of 45 of the top winemakers in SA collaborate on various projects throughout the year including the very successful Protégé Programme which mentors and supports young, previously-disadvantaged winemakers get a foothold in the industry.

Tasting the 62 wines yesterday was generally an enjoyable privilege &ndash but not 100% so. It feels as if some people are trying too hard to make something so blockbuster and exciting and &ndash crucially &ndash to create sufficient point of difference from what they normally make, that they have lost their sense of balance. I found far too many of the reds to have too much new oak and too much over-ripe, sweet, jammy fruit &ndash and this criticism is levelled at a couple of winemakers for whom I have enormous respect in their daily work.

My advice for buying the reds would be to tread carefully and taste everything beforehand. I see that some of my fellow wine writers have already published their favourites, some of which overlap with mine, some of which I thought were appalling. Caveat emptor and trust your own taste.

On the flip side, I thought that the whites were generally very good and very enjoyable. There were some stunning Chardonnays (one or two a little heavy with the oak) and all the Chenins were lovely. A well-made fizz, some great blends, an elegant Semillon and an unusual and understated Semillon Gris were enjoyable and Simonsig proves once again that Roussanne has a good future in the Cape.

The Auction pre-tastings will be held in Cape Town on 21 August and in Johannesburg on 27th August. Tickets cost R170 and are available from Webtickets. The Auction itself takes place on Saturday 4th October at Spier. For more details go to www.capewinemakersguild.com

My favourites in the order they were tasted
(there were others I enjoyed, but to a lesser degree):

Graham Beck Non Plus Ultra Cap Classique 2008
&ndash having judged some awful MCCs the previous week, drinking this was a pleasure.

Cederberg Ghost Corner Semillon 2013
&ndash grassy and lean but already evolving delicious, classical wax & lemon.

Cape Point Vineyards CWG Reserve White 2013
&ndash classy and balanced with fragrant perfumes, green figs and lime.

Simonsig The Red Ox Roussanne/Chenin Blanc 2013
&ndash lovely new-wave Cape White with peaches and honey. Needs food.

Teddy Hall Hendrik Biebouw Chenin Blanc Reserve 2012
&ndash fresh and elegant, starting to show secondary flavours of honey and spice.

AA Badenhorst Kalmoesfontein Dassiekop Steen 2012
&ndash rounded and balanced with tropical notes and endless finish.

Cape Chamonix CWG Reserve Chardonnay 2013, Paul Cluver Wagon Trail Chardonnay 2013, Jordan Chardonnay Auction Reserve 2013
&ndash when these guys do Chardonnay, they do it really, really well indeed.

AA Badenhorst Kalmoesfontein Ramnasgras Cinsault 2012
&ndash light, juicy, chewy, savoury. Deliciously fresh.

Paul Cluver Auction Selection Pinot Noir 2012
&ndash red cherry fruit and supportive, rather than overwhelming, oak.

Waterford Estate CWG 2BB 2009
&ndash Bordeaux-blend, upfront and in your face with plenty of time to come.

Grangehurst Auction Reserve 2009
&ndash Bordeaux-blend, well-integrated fruit with a great, grippy tannic finish.

Rust en Vrede CWG Estate 2011
&ndash mostly Bordeaux varieties with 30% Shiraz, juicy black-berried fruit with great backbone & length.

Neil Ellis Auction Reserve 2011
&ndash Cab/Shiraz blend, cherry-choc nose with elegant tannins and well-integrated oak.

Vriesenhof Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
&ndash savoury marmite notes but with enough black fruit to last a while longer.

Etienne Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Auction Reserve 2012
&ndash clean, stewed black berries, cherries, currants with creamy vanilla finish.

Kanonkop CWG Pinotage 2008
&ndash savoury nose with soft, ripe but elegant flavours and velvet tannins. Class act.

Boplaas 1880 Ox Wagon Reserve 8 YO Potstill Brandy
&ndash toasty apricots and citrus peel. Smooth alcohol and nutty/almond finish.


Top Winemakers Collaborate in Washington - Recipes


Napa, CA, May 7, 2019 The ROC is a non-profit group that puts the power of unbiased applied research in the hands of vintners and winemakers. From market forces to climate change, ROC provides true scientific method, a diversified communications platform and in-person forums for tasting and idea exchange. This collective allows winery stakeholders to voice real-world technical needs, pool resources for experimentation and move forward together as a community. How does ROC applied research help wineries?

Scenario #1: You are the winemaker for a high-end Bordeaux-style house. Your winery&rsquos DTC director said that they would like to consider another wine label to bring some diversity to their wine club shipments to keep their loyal and growing clientele engaged. &ldquoA light and fruity red to ship during the Summer that will pair with barbeque and will not cannibalize the Estate Cab sales would be ideal&rdquo. You have some excess Cabernet Franc grapes to use for this new program, but before it&rsquos ready to upgrade to stand-alone wine status versus its current role as a blender you decide to run a few experiments. To make the cut, it needs to be a slightly riper style with a little more mid-palate weight. You don&rsquot have the time to design the experiment nor the tank space or resources to replicate the trial, but ROC does. ROC speaks wine business.

Scenario #2: Your vineyard is in a warm growing region. Your popular and edgy brand, Ripe and Rude, Zinfandel needs the added hang-time to achieve the big, jammy aromatic profile that you seek. While green, stemmy notes from picking early are the antithesis of this late-pick style, the risk of sulfides and microbial funk that lurks on the other side of the ripening spectrum are huge due to the super low nitrogen and acidity levels at harvest. You would like to solve this problem but don&rsquot know where to start. ROC does. ROC speaks the language of wine growers and winemakers.

Get involved:

Kick the tires - Attend the I+Q Winemaker&rsquos Salon on May 22nd at Napa&rsquos Silverado Resort at 4:15 am to learn more about how applied research can help your business. (Promo Code: ROC19)

Join the movement &ndash Commit to a trial by attending our meeting on June 6th at the Shone Farm Ag Pavilion at 5:00 pm to put your project in motion with our community of winemakers.