Résonance Opens in Carlton Oregon

According to a Wine Spectator article, Résonance , Maison Louis Jadot’s first winery outside of Burgundy, was due to open its visitor center this summer. That meant it would be open in time for my most recent road trip to Oregon Wine Country. The Résonance website didn’t yet have information about visiting the property. However, the Oregon winery’s social media feeds made mention of wine and food experiences. Be still my heart!

An email inquiry resulted in a timely reply from Karen Kissane, Hospitality Manager, with a couple of options.

Wine and Food Experiences at Résonance

Vineyard Tour & Seated Tasting

$45/person, $30 with membership

Enjoy a glass of Résonance Rosé as we explore our Certified Organic estate vineyard. We will finish with a curated flight of four wines accompanied with a local cheese plate.

Please allow for 60 minutes for the experience. Tastings are $45 per person and hosted daily at 11am and 3pm, weather permitting and by reservation only. 48-hour advance notice required.

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What Grows Together, Goes Together

Terrior Provisions Tasting – $75/person, $45 with membership

This unique terrior tasting highlights 6 single vineyard wines, both current and past vintages, along with locally sourced seasonal provisions representing a sense of place.

This immersive seated experience is hosted in the communal, yet intimate setting of our Résonance Room.

Please allow 90 minutes for the experience. Tastings are $75 per person and hosted Wednesdays-Sundays at 11am, by reservation only. 48-hour advance notice required.

Based on anticipated arrival time, I scheduled the Vineyard Tour & Seated Tasting for my husband and myself.

Arriving at Résonance

Although we visit Carlton annually, our time is usually spent in the small yet significant core area of the town within the well-respected Yamhill-Carlton American Viticultural Area. Résonance is about five minutes west of that district. The drive offers an idyllic scene that initially provides a sense of calm. Then, heading up the hillside to the property, that peaceful feeling transforms into one of anticipation.

oregon vineyard

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Six Stops for Wine Lovers in Seattle

When wine and food loving friends come to Seattle for a visit, I want to send them to my favorite places. For that reason, I’ve compiled a short list of recommendations for wining, dining, and a bit of exploring around town.

Get Fired Up Before Wine Tasting

Tilikum Place Café

Open Daily

breakfast pancake
Delectable Dutch Baby at Tilikum Place Cafe

This cozy restaurant is known far and wide for its brunch specialty, the Dutch Baby. Made to order in either a savory or sweet version, it is presented in a darling single serve portion cast iron pan. Or come here for a delectable dinner prepared with seasonal ingredients. In either case, make reservations at this popular destination in advance or risk being turned away at the door.

Glass sculpture at Chihuly Garden and Glass

If it’s still too early for an adult beverage after fueling up, head to nearby Chihuly Garden and Glass at the Seattle Center. Awaken your senses walking among towering sculptures crafted by famed glass blower, Dale Chihuly. The vividly colored floral garden is in bloom year round.

Wine Tasting in Seattle

The greater Seattle area offers more than 170 nearby tasting rooms. That includes Woodinville Wine Country,  about 40 minutes from Seattle. In the city itself, there is a burgeoning urban wine scene that is not to be missed!

SODO Urban Works

3901 First Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98134
Hours for businesses in this enclave vary by day and season.
Just a few miles south of downtown Seattle, go to experience top wines from some of Washington State’s acclaimed producers in an industrial setting.

Check hours in advance. As of this writing nine businesses offer wine tasting. There is also a brewery and a pizzeria.

Popular Walla Walla based wineries such as Rôtie Cellars have set up shop in this cluster of tasting rooms. In fact, Kerloo Cellars now calls this location home. Even Woodinville based Patterson Cellars has an outpost here with chocolate and wine pairings on offer.

wine bottles
Nine Hats Tasting Room

Start at Nine Hats for satisfying value wines in a playful setting (seriously, the place is decorated with vintage toys!). This brand is the entry level offshoot of ultra- premium Long Shadows Vintners. Afterwards, head to their neighboring pizza joint, Nine Pies for a bite to eat.

Estates Wine Room

307 Occidental Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104
Open Daily, 12pm – 6pm
Go to experience your choice of tasting menu highlighting three different Pacific Northwest wineries.

Wine lovers seeking a moment of luxury in Seattle must visit The Estates Wine Room in historic Pioneer Square. With three wineries represented in one tasting room, there is something for everyone. Walla Walla based Seven Hills Winery, Horse Heaven Hills based Double Canyon, and Willamette Valley based Archery Summit offer a range from bold and classic Bordeaux varieties, to polished Pinot Noir. Gourmet nibbles are typically available as an add-on. They use appropriate glassware, too!

Wine Tasting Bar

Wine with Dinner

Le Caviste

4pm-midnight M-S
Go to truly feel like you’re on vacation and enjoy wine by the glass or bottle, and have a bite to eat.

Bordeaux Wine
Case boxes create nooks of privacy at Le Caviste

This intimate space with its cane bistro chairs and chalk board menus conveys the ambience of a neighborhood French bistro. With the majority of wines available by the glass, I usually begin with Crémant, and then move onto Chablis or Cru Beaujolais. For dinner order the always perfectly cooked Poisson en Papillote (fish baked in parchment on a bed of thinly sliced potatoes), and a selection of French cheese. Alternatively, indulge in one of their signature charcuterie plates.

Washington Wine Month

March is the perfect month for wine lovers to visit Seattle! After all, it’s Taste Washington Wine Month with a variety of promotions, including winemaker dinners, discounts at local wineries and restaurants, special tasting events and more. It all leads up to Taste Washington, the nation’s largest single-region wine and food festival, March 28-31 in Seattle. The 22nd annual Taste Washington features more than 235 wineries, 65 restaurants, and some of the nation’s most-talented chefs at a series of events throughout the weekend.

Over 235 Wineries Pour at the Taste Washington Grand Tasting

Be sure to check my Hashtag Guide to Washington Wine Month to join the conversation, and share your favorite experiences and wine!

Visit 2Dor Wines at the County Line Tasting Room

Prosser is about a three and a half hour drive from Seattle. With vineyards, a number of tasting rooms, the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center, and nearby Red Mountain it’s well worth the drive for wine lovers. Plus, it’s on the way to Walla Walla. In fact, if Walla Walla is your final destination, you owe it to yourself to stop in Prosser along the way. On Merlot Drive at the entrance to the Prosser Vintner’s Village, is the spacious County Line Tasting Room featuring 2Dor Wines. This summer we accepted an invitation to visit and enjoy a hosted lunch on the patio. Boy, are we glad that we did! If you like a swoon worthy story, food, and wine then pour yourself a glass to sip on while I reveal this gem of a place.

Chalkboard hours and entry County Line Tasting Room

County Line Tasting Room

Sean and Libbey Tudor

Sean Tudor grew up in the Yakima Valley across the county line from Robert Smasne. It only seems fitting that the two jointly purchased a winery (the former Olsen Estates) and now operate it as the County Line Tasting Room. Winemaking is done on site by Smasne for his own label as well as 2Dor Wines. This means that guests can taste wine from both brands while visiting. They may also get to meet Sean’s wife, Libbey, who was busy overseeing guests in the tasting room during our visit.

Robert Smasne and Sean Tudor

Back in the day, Libbey’s grandfather planted some of the vines at Otis Vineyard. Today, the Tudor family owns that historic vineyard which is home to some of the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines in Washington State. Cue the music! Sean even proposed to Libbey in that vineyard. Then the couple got married there. How sentimental is that?

If you’re not choked up enough already, get a tissue because there is a bit of a sad story here. Back in the 1970’s Sean’s grandfather intended to plant 600 acres of wine grapes. Unfortunately, an untimely heart attack led to his passing before that happened.

Regardless, Sean grew up around farming when his parents took over the land. At the age of 18, he attended the Walla Walla Community College viticulture program. Ironically, Sean didn’t even like the taste of wine at the time. The driving force was his vision to take over the farm and get into viticulture. Today that dream is being realized with 2Dor Wines.

Tasting 2Dor Wines

All of the wines crafted under the 2Dor Wines label are estate grown. In other words, the family owns and oversees the vineyards producing the grapes for their wine. Estate wineries aren’t abundant in Washington State, so you know they’re serious about this. As their web site says:

“Owning the vineyard, caring for the vine, nurturing the grape, harvest, pressing, fermenting, aging and bottling is up to us and no one else. It’s our hands and hearts that we put into each and every bottle of wine.”

On the day of our visit we were treated to sips of a number of the estate grown 2Dor Wines. The 2016 Viognier expressed fruity notes of pineapple. The 2Dor MRV Blend (that’s Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier) captivated me with its lush mouth feel. It’s as though the wine was made to pair perfectly with summer and seafood. Refreshing Rosé of Sangiovese came across as dry with notes of summer strawberries. The 2Dor Wines Red Blend composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Syrah was dominated by pleasant floral notes from the Malbec. The elegant Cabernet Franc expressed the classic pyrazine (bell pepper) character of the variety yet let notes of blackberry and tayberry shine through.

I am surprised by what a great value the 2Dor wines are at $15-45 a bottle! In fact, we purchased some taking home the MRV Blend, Rosé, Red Blend, and Cabernet Franc.

Eat it Up

The County Line Tasting Room has a kitchen. With a killer chef. OMG the food is incredibly fresh and tasty! It pairs beautifully with the wines.

County Line Tasting Room Winery Food
Tuna Crudo paired with 2Dor Wines

As we sat down to our hosted lunch, Sean asked if he could order the tuna crudo for us. Whaaaaat, there’s tuna crudo in Prosser? I have to admit, I had my doubts, but Sean assured us the dish is his favorite. The bite size pieces of tuna were fresh and delicate, while rich in flavor.

We also gobbled down every last refreshing drop of gazpacho, a hearty BLT on artisan bread, and a satisfying shrimp risotto. Everything was delectable!

County Line Tasting Room Food
Shrimp Risotto

Had we known that Chef Kyle Hunter previously worked for Seattle restaurateur Tom Douglas, we probably wouldn’t have been so surprised. One might think perhaps this talented chef might grow wary of life in Prosser, outside of a big city. In fact, the opposite is true. Originally from the area, he went to Seattle long enough to get some valued experience. Then he returned home with a new skill set eager to enhance the quality of life east of the mountains.

The experience at County Line Tasting Room and the 2Dor Wines are not to be missed! I can’t wait to visit again this fall when the seasonal menu will likely incorporate Gala and Honeycrisp apples from the Tudors’ farm.

Visit County Line Tasting Room at 500 Merlot Dr, Prosser, WA 99350.

VinoSocial Savvy Tip:  if the patio is open during your visit, take advantage of the opportunity!

Update:  as of October 2018 food service is on hiatus for the season.

Meet Mari Womack of Damsel Cellars

All roads may lead to wine, yet many of us take different paths before reaching that destination. Mari Womack, owner and winemaker of Damsel Cellars, did not take a direct route to crafting wines. How did this damsel – who is clearly not in distress – reach her goal of developing her own brand while traveling a route with various twists and turns? Read on to learn how her experiences along the way influence her adept winemaking.

Mari Womack, Damsel Cellars Owner and Winemaker

Mari worked in restaurants while going to college in her 20’s, and developed an appetite for food and wine pairing. Her studies were rewarded with a degree in landscaping and horticulture. Then things took a turn, steering her toward working in Woodinville tasting rooms and volunteering during harvest. That path eventually led to a position as Assistant Winemaker at Darby Winery.

While at Darby, Mari processed 85 tons of grapes per year for four years affirming, “Repetition makes you an expert.” During that time she also worked on developing her own brand. In 2017 Damsel Cellars moved into its own facility located in Woodinville Wine Country.

Today, that restaurant background informs Mari’s food and wine pairing focus and a desire to craft food friendly wines. That degree in landscaping and horticulture provides a focus on the right plant in the right place. The result is a keen sensibility when sourcing grapes. Even going into her eighth vintage Mari admits, “I’ll never know all there is to learn about wine.” Regardless of the path taken, I think most people in the wine industry say the same thing about themselves. After all, that’s part of wine’s allure.

The Wines of Damsel Cellars

The lineup at Damsel Cellars focuses on fun and youthful wine with great acidity. Fruit is procured from high quality growers such as Dick Boushey of Boushey Vineyards. It’s no wonder these wines are selling out! On the day of my visit the tasting began with a delightfully fruit forward Chardonnay. Then an easy drinking Red Blend, a GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) blend aptly named the Fates, and the Stillwater Creek Syrah were poured.

Crafting varietally specific bottlings was the initial plan for Damsel Cellars. Then, in 2015 some anticipated grapes were damaged resulting in less Grenache and Mourvèdre than anticipated. Co-fermenting the two and adding Syrah to the blend was the solution. “Syrah is my favorite and I think everything can be improved by Syrah,” declares Mari. It was completely randomly fated, hence the blend, The Fates. Matured in all neutral puncheons, the fruit expresses itself beautifully. It wows with an old-world character and conveys the classic savoriness inherent in wine grapes from Boushey Vineyard.

I received a sample bottle of the Malbec to taste at home. The wine comes across as much softer than typical Washington State Malbec. Its brambly fruit flavors make it a terrific match for my Berry Barbecue Sauce atop roasted chicken breasts coated with a smoky spice rub.

Visit Damsel Cellars

In 2017 Damsel Cellars moved into its own facility located in Woodinville Wine Country. If you’ve been to Woodinville you know this Washington State wine tourism area is not the typical wine destination. Rather, what began as a rural and industrial area is now a region densely packed with tasting rooms. About a half hour drive from Seattle, the location is much closer to city life than the state’s vineyards. Find Damsel Cellars tucked away among warehouses in what is referred to as the Artisan Hill District. The cozy tasting room is housed in the front portion of the winery. It’s a clever repurposing of the space, really.

Woodinville Winery
The tasting bar at Damsel Cellars offers a peek into the barrel room

These are serious wines, yet Mari sets a casual, lighthearted tone for the winery.  The experience conveys her belief that it can be fun learning about wine, especially with a group of friends. So if you enjoy wines with old world character and an intimate tasting room experience, it’s time you visit the Damsel.

Become a Winemaker at Wente Winemakers Studio

Wineries all along the west coast are ready to pour a tasting flight when you walk through the door. What sets one apart from another? An experience that is unique and engaging can totally differentiate a winery. One of the most memorable tasting room experiences I’ve had is a wine blending session at the Wente Winemakers Studio in Livermore Valley Wine Country.

Being based in Seattle, when we plan a trip to California the lure of the familiar wine regions Napa and Sonoma is hard to resist. If only we’d known over the years of our visits to the Golden State that we were missing out on intimate and engaging experiences in other wine regions. Enter Livermore Valley. Just about an hour east of San Francisco in the Tri-Valley Region, I was surprised to find that we were driving past beautiful vineyards on roads with little traffic.

The area is home to Wente Vineyards, the pioneer of California’s number one white grape variety, Chardonnay. Somehow it had escaped me that the majority of California Chardonnay is a Wente Chardonnay clone. I might be living a wine centric life, and yet this 5th generation family winery that is celebrating its 135th anniversary this year has unfortunately eluded me. With multiple tasting rooms, dining options, and event venues, Wente Vineyards is quite an enchanting playground for wine lovers. My time there was spent at the Wente Winemakers Studio. Even within the Winemakers Studio there are several interactive experiences from which to choose including blind tasting, wine aroma discovery, and wine and food pairing. During my visit I tried my hand at the winemaking blending experience.

Not only does the hospitable staff offer a friendly greeting, upon entering the studio wine glasses and notebooks are set up on tables hinting at the tasting experience ahead. Upon being seated, the session begins with an introduction to the history of the winery. Next comes the anticipated tasting of the estate wines and copious notetaking. Although tasting in this setting is more a function to help one determine which wines and how much may be desired in a custom blend, it turns out it is still fun!

Livermore Valley Wine Tasting

The setup of the blending room is remarkable. Barrel heads with spigots line one wall. This is where we pour Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties into beakers in order to create our blend. We then bottle the finished blend, cork it, put a capsule on it, label it, and ultimately take home our personal creation.

Wente Blending

This memorable blending experience at the Wente Winemakers Studio is delightful and the hospitality remarkable. I highly recommend it and look forward to revisiting Livermore Valley. Have you been to the region? If so, head on over to my post on Instagram and share your experience! #LetsTalkAboutWine

Plan Your Visit

Wente Vineyards
Wente Winemakers Studio
Livermore Valley Wine Country
Visit Tri Valley
Black Tie Transportation