Take a drive out to the picturesque McMinnville Foothills in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and explore a winery built on the American dream and Biodynamic soil. Turn into Momtazi Estate, and the road ultimately leads to the impressive Maysara Winery. I had the pleasure of visiting this family owned and operated winery this summer as a guest while attending the 2019 Wine Writers Educational Tours. Our revelatory introduction to the 532 acre estate was led by owner Moe Momtazi.
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
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!
On Saturday, November 16, 2019 doors at the historic Hollywood Schoolhouse open to Maryhill Winery’s new tasting room in Woodinville. Notably, the space will be Maryhill’s fourth and largest tasting room and restaurant in Washington State. The winery has renovated a 10,000-square-foot space and occupies the grand ballroom and upper floor, along with a full commercial kitchen.
What’s going to set this new tasting room apart from other Washington wineries? Their entrance into the Seattle area market coincides with a new name and brand. Maryhill Winery Tasting Room & Bistro is now showcasing regionally inspired food along with award winning wines. Not just in Woodinville, either. This wine and food experience is also available at locations in Goldendale, Spokane, and Vancouver.
According to Craig Leuthold, who co-founded Maryhill Winery in 1999 with his wife, Vicki, “Our new name and brand along with our culinary program marks a new strategic direction for Maryhill.” He adds, “Many people are intimidated to experiment with food and wine pairing, and our restaurants are one way to show customers how well certain foods go with certain wines.”
Maryhill sources more than 30 unique varieties from some of the most highly regarded vineyards in Washington. One of those sources is Tudor Hills Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. A family operation owned and operated by Tom and Sean Tudor, the father and son value working with another family owned business such as Maryhill.
Maryhill Winery Grand Opening Weekend Hollywood Schoolhouse 14810 NE 145th St # A, Woodinville, WA 98072 • Saturday, November 16, 10 a.m. – Ribbon Cutting Ceremony • Saturday, November 16, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. — Public Grand Opening Celebration; live music 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. • Sunday, November 17, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. — Public Grand Opening Celebration; live music 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
It’s a time of exciting growth for Washington State’s wine industry! As of October 2019, more than 1,000 winery licenses were active. That is a major milestone.
According to the Washington Wine Commission, vineyard acreage in Washington also continues to grow at a rapid pace. Twenty years ago, there were four American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) producing 24,000 acres of wine grapes and 70,000 tons of grapes. Today there are more than 59,000 acres of vineyards across 14 AVAs that produced 260,000 tons of grapes last year. That translates to more than $7 billion contributed to the state’s economy and roughly $2.4 billion in revenue.
“We still have so much room to grow, both on the winery and vineyard side,” announced Steve Warner, President of Washington State Wine. “Washington is the New Epicenter of Wine – and truly, still just getting started.”
Celebrate this Washington Wine Milestone
Well, my friends, this milestone calls for a toast! What shall we uncork? With all those wineries, and since Washington State is the second largest wine producing state in the U.S., there are a lot of choices. Reflecting back on the hundreds of wines I had an opportunity to taste this year, here is a recap of some that would certainly be appropriate to celebrate this significant achievement.
L’Ecole Semillon received my highest score in the white Bordeaux category. Year in, year out, this Double Gold winning wine is always tops in my books. Plus, at $15 a bottle, the quality for the price is exceptional.
Of course, Cab is king! Of those I reviewed, the 2016 Ambassador Wines of Washington Estate Plenipotentiary Cabernet Sauvignon was at the top of my list.
Walla Walla Wines
Walla Walla offers up a number of wines to get to know. The highly acclaimed Figgins Estate Red is a surefire head turner. However, for something more moderately priced, Elephant Seven’s Cosmic Reflection would make an out of this world party guest.
Red Mountain Wines
Savvy wine drinkers know, “Red Mountain does an amazing balancing act between power and elegance.” Even Texas based Certified Specialist of Wine, Kat René of The Corkscrew Concierge will tell you that. Therefore, if you’re looking for a wine with a big personality, taste Red Mountain wine.
Whichever wine you choose to celebrate this Washington State wine milestone, be sure to share it on Instagram or Twitter using the #wawine hashtag. I look forward to seeing what Washington wines you’re drinking, so be sure to tag me and #letstalkaboutwine!
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.
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.