Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stayin' the Night

Cast your mind back to July. It's a warm summer night, around 10 pm. I'm down at what will become our new tasting room on Winslow Way (picture Main Street USA) doing some painting in preparation for our opening. All the lights are on and the door to the sidewalk is open, when in walks a nicely-dressed couple. The woman says "I'm really sorry to bother you, but would you mind if my friend sits down here for a few minutes? We just missed the ferry and he just had lung surgery and there doesn't seem to be anywhere else open. I'd be happy to help paint!" These folks seemed just a little too dressy for Bainbridge, so I wonder for a second if they are grifters, but her offer to help seems genuine. I say sure, you can stay. I've got some Ikea chairs still in boxes leaning against the wall, so I ask if she would help with assembling those, while her friend sits down on one of the beautiful stools we have from Laughing Moon Designs. We start chatting, and I ask what they do. "I'm in the music business," he says. "He's a drummer," she elaborates. I ask who he drums for. "The band Chicago. Have you heard of it?" I must look really young for that to be a reasonable question. Turns out he's Tris Imboden, drummer for Chicago since 1990, and the band is in town while on tour. One of the founders of the group, Walt Parazaider, lives on Bainbridge, and they and some other folks were over at his house for dinner. Tris called them in too (a couple of the tour managers) and we all hung out for a while, painting, assembling, and talking about the music business and the wine business, until it was time for them to head off for the ferry again (this time with plenty of time). As they were leaving, one of the tour managers, Bob, bought a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. We had been having such a good time that I didn't think to take any pictures or anything before they left (but here's what Tris and his friend Penny look like) - and then I realized that that was my first sale in the new tasting room! I took the $20 bill that Bob had given me and stuck it in a small frame. So now when you visit the tasting room you can see the bill and sit in the chairs that came from an evening with Chicago.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Other people toot our horn

It's just so nice when I don't have to do it myself:

Wine Press NW Wine of the Week for May 5: Eleven 2005 Alder Creek Vineyard Syrah

Bainbridge Island wineries toast a new alliance in the Bainbridge Review

More Washington enterpreneurs start companies with a social mission in the Puget Sound Business Journal


The Solution for Salmon: Syrah!

How do you like your salmon? I like mine grilled, seasoned only with olive oil, salt and pepper. Two minutes or less on each side of a filet makes it medium-rare, the inside soft and tender while the outside is striped with golden brown deliciousness.

And for the wine? Well, white wine with fish, right? With white fish, perhaps, but the oily, flavorful delight of grilled salmon demands something stronger. A white wine serves only to spread the fishy oils around your mouth, enhancing the fishiness. A fruity red is going to clash, too, but a nice earthy red , not too tannic, is ideal (like, say, our 2005 Syrah from Alder Creek Vineyard). It has enough of its own flavor to keep up with the flavor of the sea, and the surf and turf effect is very pleasing.


Monday, February 23, 2009

The Spaghetti Problem Solved!

It's the age-old question: what wine to have with spaghetti and marinara sauce? Duh, you say, Chianti! ...Really? You sure about that? 'Cause these days, Chianti (and pretty much any red wine you care to name) is made in a mellower, lower-acid style, making it ineffective when put up against the acidity and fruitiness of a marinara sauce. I can't tell you how many different red wines I've tried in this situation with ruinous results. The wines just can't hack it, and end up tasting like dark, twisted versions of their normally harmonious and delightful selves.

So the other day I was revisiting this problem and I thought well, maybe I should just give up on the red wine and go with a nice, crisp...white wine. Silence. A dog barked in the distance. A stranger standing in the shadows eyed me from a distance while he struck a match against the wall, lit a cigarette, and pretended that he wasn't watching me. At the same time his menacing eyes warned me that he couldn't be blamed for what might happen to me if I followed through with this barbarism.

Tonight, the chance to test my theory arose. With the marinara simmering on the stove, I dashed to the cellar and pulled the crispest, fruitiest wine I've got: the 2007 Eleven Sauvignon Blanc. To stand up to the sauce would take a gutsy white, and this wine's got loads of flavor. Served it at cellar temperature (about 55), not chilled, in order to avoid temperature shock in the mouth between the warm sauce and the cool wine (ok, so the real reason was because I wasn't planning ahead - but it worked out!). By now you can probably guess the result: this was a dynamite pairing, the kind that makes you glad to be alive and to have a mouth. I strongly recommend that you order several bottles immediately, just so that you have them on hand next time you're having spaghetti, pizza, lasagna, or any other marinara-based dish.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Oysters, anyone?

Our Sauvignon Blanc got a nice writeup in a recent tasting of wines to go with oysters, conducted by Chuck Hill at Wines Northwest. Put together some of the best and freshest oysters from the Hood Canal and some crisp, fruity Sauvignon Blanc, and you're in heaven. Chuck invited us to submit wine for the tasting, but unfortunately we were not personally invited to attend. I guess that wouldn't be fair. Maybe if I offer to wear a blindfold? That would probably improve the oyster consuming experience anyway (I mean, no matter how much you like them, they're not pretty).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What is January?

Ah, January. I don't reckon January is the most popular month, but it's one of my favorites. There's little to do in the winery and sales slow to a trickle, allowing me to do some mining in the mountain of stuff that's piled up since August, back when Harvest preparations began. The end of Harvest pretty much rolls into the holiday sales season (this year with a little bottling thrown in, for good measure) so by the time the new year rolls around, I'm as cooked as a truck stop burger.

Plus, sometimes I get letters like this:

From: Jennifer in Georgia
Subject: Your Port

I bought a bottle – nice, tall – when I was on the island last year for the first time in May. Just opened it this week and have been sipping every night. I love it! I wish you had a distributor in Atlanta!

Happy Saint Vincent's Day!

January 22 is St. Vincent's day; St. Vincent is the patron saint of winemakers. Curiously, he's also the patron saint of vinegar makers, which is something that most winemakers hope not to become. I guess it's convenient for the winemakers in that if the winemaking doesn't go well, they don't have to buy a new talisman...