Taste Washington Wine Month Begins!

by Peter Holmstrom

Taste Washington Wine Month caps off with the four-day Taste Washington extravaganza, featuring more than 225 wineries, acclaimed local restaurants,…

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Vintage is one of those wine concepts that’s simultaneously over- and under-discussed. On the one hand, vintages are on the vast majority of bottles produced globally, they’re one of the primary ways we differentiate wines, and discussions about whether a given vintage is great, good, bad, or unspeakable occupy lots of high-level wine conversation and writing.

When John and Jody Wrigley first met, they hadn’t a vineyard nor children. Seven years later, they have 200 acres in Oregon’s McMinnville AVA (15 acres under vine and growing), two kids, a dog and a winery titled J Wrigley Vineyards. (All family members—including the dog—keep the j-letter alliteration alive.

The wines of Carlton, Oregon’s Lemelson Vineyards speak for themselves—and have the accolades for their delicate, nuanced wines to back those speeches up. The winery design, however, couldn’t receive enough praise for its modern design that was light-years ahead of the green building movements of late. After finalizing plans in 1997, founder and managing owner Eric Lemelson put them into motion and completed his sustainable and forward-thinking winery in time for the 1999 harvest.

Here, take a glass. I’m Zach Geballe, and I love wine. Some of the time, I’m serving it to people at the Dahlia Lounge in downtown Seattle, other times I’m teaching classes about it, and others I’m doing just this: writing about it. The goal of Tasting Notes is to explore the wine of the Pacific Northwest both as a sommelier and as a writer.

The Willamette Valley has become synonymous with world class wines. Ask experts and fans throughout the world, and Willamette Valley Pinot Noir will be on the top of their list. 2015 is set to be the year where Pinot Noir fans, and fans of Oregon wine, raise a glass to commemorate 50 years of Willamette Valley wines. Wineries throughout the region will be celebrating with special tastings, contests and events throughout the year.

We were running an hour late and needed to get from Newberg to McMinnville, Oregon. On this recent greater Willamette Valley excursion, I had booked appointments according to Google Maps, which, on paper, said that Newberg to McMinnville was 25 minutes. However, considering we were headed to the western outskirts of McMinnville and were currently standing at the top of a winding mountain road of the Chehalem Mountains my odds weren’t looking good.

The steam lifted from my morning coffee to join the dense resting fog that sat amongst the mossed trees surrounding The Allison Inn & Spa. Standing swaddled in a fleece throw blanket on my suite’s balcony—one that trumped most city apartment’s terraces—I had a panoramic view out to the inn’s estate vineyard and tree-lined property that, even in the middle of winter, retained a plush appearance.

Winemaker Rich Cushman has been making wine in the Willamette Valley and Columbia River Gorge long enough to have his own tagline: “Born in the Gorge.” After attending acclaimed viticultural college UC Davis in the 1970s, Cushman left to apprentice in Germany, acquiring a palate for the Rieslings of Deutschland and bringing it to his Viento winery in Hood River.

The 13th Annual Washington State Wine Awards celebrated restaurants, retailers, tourism professionals and distributors “whose work raises the profile of Washington State wine throughout the state and beyond.” Winners of the awards were selected from more than 130 nominations and were chosen for their “impressive menus, innovative educational programs and marketing efforts, and commitment to excellent service.

 
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