Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Meet The Winemakers: Ashley Trout of Flying Trout Wines

Once again another great production by Jeremy Gonzalez of the Walla Walla Union Bulletin and once again he let me tag along!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tales from the Cryptkeeper - - Errr, I mean Shopkeeper

Did you think I was never coming back to blog?  Did you think that maybe I was suffocated under a pile of bureaucratic paperwork and bound by red tape?  Actually I have been.  It's funny how we need to comply with the government and yet the government agencies makes it difficult for us to comply - - it's a Catch-22 really.  If it weren't for people wanting to open up businesses, then those difficult government workers wouldn't have a job.  And it is the revenue from these businesses and the potential increase of revenue from proposed new businesses that assist in making the payroll for those people who do everything they can to make it difficult to open a business.  One example: I kept getting told I had to change my LLC name on some paperwork to an LLC name that didn't even belong to me.  I kept asking her why did I have to add a LLC name to my forms that I didn't own, never owned and/or was incorrect.  I never did get an answer to her error and she eventually dropped it.  In the mean time, I spent four lost days trying to put out that little fire she started. 

A week ago I became free - - a free business woman.  You see,  I was being held hostage by my painter.  What was suppose to be a  two-week project was going on week five.  When it was time for payroll,  the painter would collect the check and disappear for days.  When he did paint, of course all production on my end was stalled because I couldn't be in the building due to fumes and residual spray.  I couldn't conduct much business such as working with distributors, tasting wines, let alone order wines, supplies and store furnishings and have them delivered while the painter was coming in and out of the building.  

Have you ever seen the television show, Top Chef?  At the end of the show a contender is cut from the game.  One of the judges has to announce to the loser, "Please pack your knives and go."  Well, needless to say I was forced to make that phone call to my painter one day and say, "Please pack your brushes and go." Once he left the building it was a huge relief and we finished up the painting ourselves.    

Oh by the way, did I happen to mention I am opening a retail wine store?  The new digs will be at 19 North Second Avenue, between Rose and Main Streets,  a few doors down from the Marcus Whitman Hotel. The Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman aka "W5" will feature wines of the Walla Walla Valley - - and the World!  And when we say, "World" we like to make a big circle with our arms!  A couple of Wednesdays a month (of course Wednesdays since I am all about alliterations) the W5 will also have wine tasting events and even "Wines of the World" tastings and classes.  So keep an eye on the W5 and watch it grow!

Last weekend I was one of the guest wine bloggers invited by the Cascade Valley Wine Country Association.  For three days we toured the wineries of Wenatchee, Chelan, and Leavenworth.  It was a wonderful weekend of good wine, good food and once again connecting with the finest wine bloggers in the State of Washington.  If you are not familiar with this area of Washington, I can tell you it is some of the prettiest in the state and also a reminder of why we are known as the "Evergreen State."  The hospitality given to us by the CVWC was first class.  I will blog about my experience later and some of the wines that made quite an impression on me (and hopefully will be available at the "W5"), but in the mean time please read more about this weekend written by my favorite Eastern Washington wine blogger, Josh Wade of  Drink Nectar

This thing I do called,  "Wine Blogging" has become an interesting journey.  I started in 2005 and didn't have a clue where it would all lead.  What is really amazing about this journey is that visiting with my blogging buds last weekend, two other wine bloggers are also starting their own full-time wine-related businesses due to their talents and persistence in their wine blogging craft. 

Keep checking in with me as I have lots of blogs to catch up on such as my visits with Jeanie at Nicholas Cole Cellars,  Vickie at Seven Hills Winery and Denise at Long Shadows.  I also revisited an old "friend" by the name of  L'Ecole No 41 Apogee and made a new friend with L'Ecole No 41 Perigee (It made the Swoon-Worthy Wine Award in my mind) and again, my wonderful weekend with my wine blogging buds in the Cascade Valley.  Cheers! 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Amost Your Mother Episode #9: Jesus, Facebook and Wine

Take one Gen-Xer and one Baby Boomer ...

If you live in Walla Walla and familiar with the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, then no doubt you are familiar with Sheila Hagar.   She is a popular U-B columnist and blogger of  "From the Storage Room." If you keep up on the U-B's videos that are focused throughout Walla Walla, then you may have run across  Jeremy Gonzalez.  He is the Online/Social Media Coordinator for the U-B, as well as keeper of his own blog, "The Jeremy Conspiracy." 

These two have joined mighty forces (Well at least Sheila is the mighty one, because after all, she is the Mom) to form a podcast named, Almost Your Mother.  Their podcast began with a few barbed remarks, a couple of snide comments, one blogging competition and a crazy coincidence — before they knew it, a relationship was born between the two.  They discuss everything from parenting, poop, piercings and baseball. 

Last week I was honored to be a guest.  Check it out while we talk about Jesus, Facebook and of course, wine:  http://www.almostyourmother.com/2010/09/13/almost-your-mother-episode-9-jesus-facebook-and-wine/

Friday, September 10, 2010

Old World Style: Stella Fino Winery

The day I had made plans to visit with Marlene and Matt Steiner of Stella Fino Winery, little did I know I would also partake of tasting many imported Italian wines earlier the same week. What I discovered, after my journey across the  Washington/Oregon border to Stella Fino, was the pleasure of tasting more "Old World" Italian-style wines. However, this time these wines were produced with fruit from Columbia Valley and Walla Walla.

Matt Steiner "grew up" drinking Old World wines as his father was a collector of French and Italian wines.  It's no wonder that from the first grape crushed at Stella Fino, their focus would be creating wines from Italian varietals. It is important to Matt and Marlene that their wines not only honor Old World Italian wines, but  their wines also express a "sense of place," while maintaining New World cellar practices. 

Marlene and Matt told me about their journey to Walla Walla. Talk about an old world pioneer spirit, as well. They bought their first car, packed everything in it they owned, left their  home in New York and traveled to Walla Walla, sight unseen.  After Matt put some cellar and crush time in at a couple local wineries, Stella Fino Winery was created in 2005. The name comes from Matt's great-grandmother, Stella Fino, who emigrated from Italy to New York in the early 1900's. Stella Fino now has a 1,000 case production.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


When Food & Wine Magazine named Gramercy Cellars the “Best New Winery of the Year” for 2010, inquiring minds wanted to know: Who were the husband and wife team, internationally known as "Gramela," behind the hot new winery? What made them the Brangelina of the wine world? And how did this pair of ex-Manhattanites wind up in Walla Walla? Now there are answers. The secret to their success has been leaked by sources close to the couple. This exclusive video outlines their plan for global domination, reveals top secret winemaking and marketing tactics and shamelessly inflates the couples already huge egos.

Watch the video THEY don’t want you to see. And you thought Heidi and Spencer were strange...

Founded in 2005, Gramercy Cellars is the realization of owners Greg and Pam Harrington's dream to make the wines that they love in a special place: Walla Walla. The youngest American to pass the Master Sommelier Exam at the age of 26, Greg and his wife Pam, focus on great vineyards and minimalist intervention in the winemaking process to craft balanced, earthy wines, including Gramercy Cellars limited production Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.   Congratulations Gramela!  It's this kind of news that keeps Walla Walla on the wine map!

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Do you remember back in school when the first essay of the new year in English Comp was themed, "How I Spent My Summer Vacation?" For me, this was the first summer I have had off in over 12 years and also one of the first where I didn't go too far from the area.

It was a summer of taking in many local events, as well as working a wine bottling line, attending wine dinners, going out wine tasting and our tri-annual family reunion. It was also a time where I made a huge decision that would impact the rest of my life.  The Summer of 2010 will be marked as one of the most memorable events as 200 of my wine blogging peers arrived in Walla Walla. Finally, they all understand what I have been blogging about now for five years.

They say that "A picture is worth a thousand words." Well, here are my thousands of words.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Whites After Labor Day: Walla Walla Wines

Mother use to say that you should not wear white after Labor day.  A clear sign of bad manners use to be wearing white shoes before Easter or after Labor Day.  This fashion rule seemed to start in the American South, which was always a  little more formal than other regions of the United States.  The rule may have been started due to practicality, as white deflects the heat making for a good color to wear during the hot summer months.  But no matter the rule, when it comes to white wine it is totally appropriate to "wear it" after Labor Day.

It is true to say I am mostly a red wine drinker, but through the summer months I find myself reaching more for the white wines.  These chilled light and crisp wines quench the thirst that a red wine cannot do.  Long after the outdoor grills are stored away, you can still enjoy white wine with a large variety of foods that we typically think of eating during the cooler months, such as roast turkey, cheesy pasta dishes, fried chicken, fish or chicken stews and chowders. The crisp acids in the white wines helps to ease though and cleanse the richness of these comfort foods.

Monday, September 06, 2010

King of Grapes on Twitter: Seven Hills Winery

Social media wine days have been very well received here in Walla Walla.  The wine industry in Walla Walla have come together at various wineries and local eateries to celebrate with other wine lovers around the state (and sometimes the world) the joys of wine. 

Thursday, September 2 was no different as we celebrated the King of Grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon.  Our Cabernet Day Tweet-up was hosted by Vicky McClellan and Julie Titus of Seven Hills Winery. 

Established in 1988, Seven Hills Winery is one of Walla Walla Valley's oldest and most respected wineries. Guided by founder, winemaker and fourth generation farmer, Casey McClellan and his wife, Vicky. 

Also featured for the event at Seven Hills Winery, was the premiere of AK's, Andrae's Kitchen, from our local Food and Wine Guy and "underground" restaurateur Andrae Bopp's new mobile kitchen. 

See for yourself how we came together to celebrate the King of Grapes on Twitter. 

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Walla Walla Fair & Frontier Days Aint Just For Cowboys: Charles Smith Wines

The Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days has been a tradition every Labor Day weekend. There was a time when I wouldn't miss much of it, but then again times have changed.  I now skip the rodeo as those seated next to me didn't appreciate me cheering for the calf and the bull to win.  I now skip the concert as I don't have a clue who these country singers are?  Country you say?  I like country music, but to me country is Willie, Hank, Patsy Cline and the ol' Possum.  So what's left you say?  The Demo Derby!  My best kept secret is that I love the Demolition Derby.

It never fails, when I leave a Demolition Derby my voice disappears from the dirt, smoke and exhaust fumes in the air.  And sure enough, if you are a local there are going to be a few favorites in the arena you are going to scream and cheer for.  The participating vehicles are stripped of interior fixtures, trim, plastic, lights, and glass.  They are usually repainted, often in loud, garish designs to mark names, slogans and identification.  Local spray paint sales in town are solid.  And you just don't have to be a cowboy to participate in the Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days Demolition Derby, either - - winemakers race, too.   Check out the Battle Wagon!

The Battle Wagon is on top of his race this year.  Charles Smith, winemaker and racer of the Battle Wagon was recently given some smash 'em and crash 'em scores.  I am not one to promote a lot of scores, but when you see numbers like these you gotta talk and do some cheering for the racer behind the driver's seat. 

2007 Charles Smith Wines “Heart" Syrah - Royal Slope Columbia Valley:
Earth, underbrush, truffle, brier, game, bacon, and blueberry aromas lead to loaded, super-rich, uncuous, full-bodied Syrah. Mouthfilling, already complex, and multi-dimension, it has exceptional length and impeccable balance. 98 Pts. Robert Parker.

2007 Charles Smith Wines “Old Bones" Syrah - Royal Slope Columbia Valley:Savory, rich, layered, and laready complex, this exceptionally lengthy mouth-filling, hedonistic Syrah. 99 Pts. Robert Parker

2007 Charles Smith Wines “Royal City" Syrah Stoneridge Vineyard - Columbia Valley:  An inky purple/black in color, it deals out aromas of mineral, truffle, espresso, licorice, lavender, incense, and blueberry. Super complex, suave and debonair on the palate, this is a lengthy, concentrated, impeccably balanced, complete Syrah. 99 Pts. Robert Parker

2007 Charles Smith Wines “Skull" Syrah - Royal Slope - Columbia Valley:From the Stone Ridge Vineyard on the Royal Slope, it was aged in 20% new oak with some stems. It is a more brooding effort with aromas of earth, underbrush, truffle, Asian spices, incense, and blueberry.  98 Pts. Robert Parker

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