Discover Vital Wines

Washington State not only has more than 1,000 active winery licenses, it is the birthplace of some incredibly giving wineries. A perfect example is Vital Wines.

I first discovered Vital Wines during a visit to Walla Walla, the winery’s home base. During check in at the hotel, we were invited to a wine tasting in the lobby. Vital Wines as well as the Brook and Bull wines were being poured. Of course, I couldn’t pass that up, and am glad I didn’t! The entire array of wine was a tempting treasure trove full of gems. Ashley Trout, one of Wine Enthusiast’s Top 40 Under 40, is the powerhouse behind both brands. Suffice it to say, I am a big fan of her winemaking.

On that same trip while catching up with winemaker Peter Devison of Devison Vintners and Cadaretta, he mentioned that he’d contributed wine to the Vital project. Well then, there is no doubt that quality product is involved here. Plus, he’s not alone. A community of supporters has donated everything from fruit, corks, capsules, labels, graphic design, winemaking, and lab work to sustain Vital Wines.

Wine with a Cause

What’s the big deal, why are all these people involved? As noted on the winery’s website, “Vital Wines is a non-profit winery whose 100% profits go toward better healthcare for vineyard and winery workers in the Walla Walla Valley. All profits go to the SOS Clinic, a free, non-profit health care clinic in the Walla Walla area dedicated to helping people get the healthcare that they both need and deserve with no questions asked. Winemaking and vineyard work is both physical and seasonal, making it a prime industry for this kind of care.” When it comes to wine, we may forget that getting the grapes into our glass is a labor intensive process. Many of those who work in the industry do not have company sponsored health insurance.

During the opening session of the 2018 Wine Bloggers Conference (now the Wine Media Conference) in Walla Walla, Ashley pointed out that in the next decade she’d like for Vital Wines to solve more problems on the worker side and address social responsibility. For example, light was shed on the fact that lots of vineyards in the region are planted in a way that doesn’t allow mechanical harvesting. As such, Ashley feels that wineries need to work with vineyards that prioritize care of people working the vines, and that is has to be done en masse.

Vital Wines Chardonnay

French Creek Vineyard Wine

This holiday season, I had the good fortune to receive a sample bottle of the 2017 vintage of Vital Wines Chardonnay from the Washington State Wine Commission as part of the Sip the Season promotion. I could hardly wait to share this Chardonnay with others. Not just because I anticipated a delectable bottle of wine, but because it would give me a chance to spread the word about the worthy mission behind the winery. The more people who discover Vital Wines, the better!

An invitation to dinner at a friend’s house included a menu of sous vide chicken and lemon risotto. That sounded like the perfect pairing for Chardonnay, so a plan was hatched to open the bottle from Vital Wines that evening.

Like biting into a pastry wrapped baked apple, the Vital Wines Chardonnay delivers a sense of comfort and happiness. Indeed, it was a wonderful complement to the flavors on our plates and we all enjoyed it!

Fruit from the Vital Wines Chardonnay comes from French Creek Vineyards, one of Washington State’s oldest Chardonnay vineyards established in 1981, planted to Wente Clone Chardonnay. The wine retails for $28.

Now it’s time for you to discover Vital Wines! If you’re looking for wine with meaning this holiday season, look no further than the crowd pleasing Vital Wines Chardonnay.  Then, be sure to share it on the Insta or Twitter. To discover others sharing the magic of Washington wine this season, follow the hashtag #siptheseason. Cheers to Vital Wines and doing good!

Resources

Vital Wines Website
Brook and Bull Website
Vital Wines on Instagram
Washington State Wine Commission
Visit Walla Walla

Mettler Family Vineyards GSM

I recently uncorked a sample bottle of Mettler Family Vineyards Estate Grown GSM. When most people hear, “Lodi,” they tend to think, “Zinfandel.” However, there are over 100 varieties grown in Lodi. This wine is just one of many examples of fantastic Lodi wine beyond Zin. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  If variety is the spice of life, Lodi is one spicy place!

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Lodi, California. I have visited twice, most recently receiving the great honor of being invited to Lodi for a “Behind the Bottle” tour last year with the people of Visit Lodi. So, you’re probably thinking, “She must be biased in her opinion!” Perhaps, but the hubby absolutely loves this wine and he wasn’t with me on the tour!

Mettler Family Vineyards

Lodi is all about multi-generational farmed family wineries, and Mettler Family Vineyards is no exception. One of Lodi’s oldest farming families, the Mettlers have been tending to vineyards of premium wine grapes in Lodi since the late 1800s.

Notably, Adam Mettler, Winemaker for Mettler Family Vineyards as well as Michael David Winery, was named 2018 Winemaker of the Year by Wine Enthusiast. This honor for Mettler and the Lodi region as a whole speaks to the innovation of the winemaking and its wow factor.

When I visited Lodi in 2017 the Mettler Family Vineyards Aglianico and Pinotage were on my list of recommended Lodi Wines. To that list I now add their GSM.

Mettler Family Estate Grown GSM

The price points on Mettler Family Vineyard wines are incredible for the quality, starting at just $19.99. Priced at $35, the current vintage of GSM is at the high end of pricing for this brand but still worth every penny.

The 2014 vintage is a blend of 40% Grenache, 36% Syrah, and 24% Mourvedre. Pretty aromas of violet emerge at first sniff, giving way to dried fruit. On the palate, the violet comes through along with baking spices and some candied cherry and raspberry. This red wine is an easy quaffer. I can still hear the hubby proclaim, “This is a great wine!”

wine and food pairing
Photo via Mettler Family Vineyard Facebook Page

Food Pairings for GSM

We enjoyed this wine with a tomato based pasta dish. However, the notes of baking spice coming off the wine had me thinking about rubbing a blend of cinnamon, clove, and allspice under the skin of a chicken before roasting the bird. Accompanied by a berry barbecue sauce, I think the fruitiness of the wine would come out even more.

Berry Barbecue Sauce Recipe

Have you tried this brand yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and any Lodi wine you’ve experienced. Head on over to social media and #LetsTalkAboutWine!

More on Lodi Wine

Mettler Wines
Lodi Wine and Food: Where to Eat, Drink, and Explore
Lodi Wine Country’s Best Kept Secrets
Visit Lodi
Lodi Winegrape Commission

Devison Vintners: New Winery, New Release

Devison Vintners has just released its first wine. However, the Walla Walla based family behind the brand is anything but new to the industry. This year will be Winemaker Peter Devison’s 19th harvest, after all. His wife, Kelsey, began a career in wine sales and distribution 13 years ago. Together, they’ve launched their own brand and just released one of the most beautiful rosés I’ve tasted this year. If the 2018 Devison Vintners Rosé is any indication of what’s to come, expect to hear plenty more about this couple and their wines in the future!

Photo courtesy of Devison Vintners

I first encountered Peter when he spoke at the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla, Washington. Two years later, we worked together at a Woodinville winery after he moved across the state. Peter’s talent and dedication to the cellar were apparent from the start, and I have great respect for this hard working winemaker.

Exceptional Winemaking

It is from Peter that I learned what makes rosé exceptional. Quality rosés made with intent are main stream today. However, he was at the forefront of the movement in Washington State, and is a master of rosé. While some winemakers bottled pink wine made with the cast-off juice from another wine, (saignée method, a process that concentrates the red wine), Peter made a point of bringing in grapes while they still retained acidity and had lower levels of sugars. He kept the wine on the lees (yeast particles) for a period of time in order to build mid-palate intensity and reduce astringency. Then, unlike the sweet rosé most of us know and fear, he fermented the wine to dryness.

Winemaker

Peter embraces a minimalist intervention style of winemaking and has mad skills when it comes to native fermentation. In other words, he relies on the natural yeast on the grapes and in the cellar rather than using commercial yeasts. Commercial yeasts can alter flavor and amp up alcohol. He also minimizes racking, the process of moving wine from one vessel to another. “The more you have to move a wine, it depletes greatness,” he’d tell me. Over the years, the resulting wines have been awarded top scores from critics. It will be exciting to see what happens when his latest wines reach the market.

The official release for Devison Vintners is slated for spring of next year and the anticipated lineup includes: Continue reading “Devison Vintners: New Winery, New Release”

Taste Red Mountain Wine

Do you believe you can taste terroir? Red Mountain AVA is the smallest and warmest wine grape growing region in Washington State. Wines crafted with fruit grown here are known for their structure and concentration. Often, I sense a bit of smokiness in the wines. Whether or not you believe it’s due to the terroir, one thing is for sure – there are phenomenal wines being crafted with Red Mountain AVA grapes.

Last week the Taste Red Mountain event took place at the World Trade Center in Seattle. Read on for a few highlights from that experience.

Now you might be thinking, “There’s Nancy going on about Washington State Wine again!” However, people from all over gush about wines from Red Mountain. In fact, here’s what Texas based Kat René, Certified Specialist of Wine and author of The Corkscrew Concierge, says about her experience with the region:

Tasting wine from Red Mountain was one of those “aha” moments for me. I don’t drink a great deal of Cabernet Sauvignon and I was convinced that I would never love Syrah. Red Mountain changed that for me. I was like, “who knew?!” It does an amazing balancing act between power and elegance.

Duckhorn Wine Bottle

Canvasback

The Canvasback 2016 Grand Passage Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is a show stopper! For those not familiar with this brand, it is part of the Duckhorn portfolio. This bottling of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot is composed of their very best lots. Admittedly, at $84 it’s not cheap but dang, it’s worth it!

White Wine

Fidélitas

2017 Optu White Wine ($30)
Sure, many associate Red Mountain with red wine. However, for a refreshing change of pace try the 2017 Fidélitas Optu White Wine, a Bordeaux-style white blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon sourced from Klipsun Vineyard. It spends time in 50% neutral oak, 25% new oak, and 25% concrete egg, making it a textural delight on the palate. I’m suddenly craving seafood!

Red Mountain Wine

Hightower Cellars

2015 Merlot ($30)
After recently hearing a local wine buyer wax poetic about this under the radar winery, I just had to have a taste. Am I glad I did! At $30 a bottle, the Hightower Cellars Merlot is a steal of a deal for the level of quality. This juicy wine offers bright fruit on the palate wrapped up in velvety tannins. Pair this wine with Friday night and Netflix.

Sangiovese Wine Bottle

Kiona Vineyards

2016 Estate Red Mountain Sangiovese ($30)
The Kiona tasting room was the first one I visited on Red Mountain way back, so the wines – and the family behind the wines – have a special place in my heart. This Sangiovese is a delectable easy drinker with characteristics of sweet tobacco along with chocolate notes. Will somebody please bring me some pasta?

Red Mountain Syrah

Muret-Gaston Winery

2013 Syrah ($50)
I have been partial to the wines of talented owner/winemaker Kyle Johnson ever since I became familiar with them as a wine buyer for a small shop. If there’s a variety that reveals a sense of place more than any other, it has to be Syrah. The Muret-Gaston Syrah showcases the intensity of the region with its rich black fruit profile. Uncork a bottle and put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door!

Do you have a favorite Red Mountain winery? Head on over to Twitter or Instagram and #letstalkaboutwine!

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in exploring more wine from Washington, get to know some Walla Walla wines.

Many thanks to Laura Huston of Belle & Bottle for the invite to Taste Red Mountain. Her Bothell studio is a great place to seek out quality wines of Washington State and enjoy some fun wine events.

Ahtanum Ridge Tempranillo

Sure a lot of people buy wine at the grocery store. I’m not usually one of them, though. Here’s what happened when I recently purchased a bottle of 2015 Ahtanum Ridge Tempranillo at a local PCC store in Seattle.

I wasn’t intending to buy any wine. Typically, we have an ample supply at home from purchases made during visits to wineries. However, my curiosity does tend to compel me to browse the wine aisles at grocery stores. That’s when I saw the unfamiliar label. The shelf talker claimed the wine was perfect with tacos. It just so happened that tacos were on our menu that night. Coupled with a $12.99 price tag, this Ahtanum Ridge Tempranillo kept begging me to pick it up.

A closer look revealed that Phil Cline of Naches Heights Vineyard was behind the bottle. Phil, a viticulturist in Washington State’s Yakima Valley, is known for farming with organic and biodynamic practices whenever possible. Since this Tempranillo is a collaboration between Phil and PCC and isn’t available anywhere else, I consider that maybe it’s worth giving it a try.

Wine Glases

Ahtanum Ridge Tempranillo Revealed

At home as I remove the foil and twist the corkscrew into the closure on the bottle I wonder, “At this price point is the wine going to be a dud?” After all, red wines from Naches Heights Vineyard usually run $20-38 a bottle. I pour and sniff. The bright ruby liquid gives off whiffs of dark chocolate, toffee, butter. I swirl the glass, then detect some mint and eucalyptus. At first sip I am pleasantly surprised. This wine is quite an easy drinker! It’s fruity and fresh, definitely a new world expression of the Spanish variety. The splash of Mourvèdre blends in seamlessly. In the words of the hubby, “That’s the best $12.99 wine I’ve had all week!” Thankfully, this Ahtanum Ridge Tempranillo is a winner of a weeknight wine.

Do you buy wine on impulse at the grocery store? Head on over to social media and share your experience! Let’s talk about wine on Instagram, or tag me on Twitter. Meanwhile, let’s pour another glass.

Learn more about Tempranillo:

Celebrating Tempranillo
Pairing Tempranillo with Vegetarian Food