I’m really excited to take WineMatch on the road after six years in the making. The reasons are many, but unless you have already been to Washington, the fresh fish markets and fish throwing at Pike’s Place in Seattle, the coffee houses, and driven across the state and along the Columbia, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s not just about the apples, ya know?
A few years ago, as I contemplated this new venture to make selecting wines easier for the wine consumer, I trekked across California, Oregon and Washington. I knew California well, from having lived here most of my life. Second to California, I had spent the most time in Paris, France in the 7th district, where my grandmother and great-grandmother lived at the time. As as a child I would play on the cannons of the Invalides and not too many of you know, but French was my first language as my mother was French. By the way, don’t try sitting on the cannons today as the gendarmes (police) will be quick to have you dismount!
But the French culture taught me a lot about wine and its spot as “a family member”, always there to join the family and the day’s feast. It is there, at the dinner table, I saw the daily ritual of being able to close the day, reflect on the good and challenging, and the recalibration efforts to prepare not only for a well-deserved night’s rest, but for the next day’s labor as well. It was a moment to savor.
In Washington state, I found a similar culture of people and good times. And not just great wines, but great coffees as well – and yes, I remember when Starbucks was only in Washington. Also not forgotten are the great barbeque places near Kirkland. But the most memorable times were when I visited the wineries that went hand-in-hand with the drive of a lifetime along the Columbia River. Never did I have such an awe-inspiring feeling as I traveled from Walla Walla in the east approaching the ever-widening mouth of the river to the west.
In this initial fact-confirming trip in November from 2007, I had the privilege to meet with some great folks. This trip was to ensure I was doing for wineries what they would be able to support and be benfactors in addition to the consumers. I met with Mike Dunham, whose hospitality was awesome. While we conversed, the three-legged red dog, Port, whose son and winemaker/artist Eric Dunham had saved, was laying near. Read the story of Port’s rescue here. I also met with Mike Birdlebough and other folks from Kestrel, Cougar Crest, Katie when she was with Airfield Estates, and Patrick at Two Mountain. I also stopped in at L’Ecole 41 but Marty was not in that day – my loss! Anyways, I am both pleased and amazed at just how far all these wineries have grown, and how well they all represent what Washington has to offer.
Since making that trip, I have gotten to know a number of other folks and some incredible wines as well. As a result of all this positive energy, we are making another set of trips to Washington to show what we can do now with WineMatch and honestly, this is just the tip of the iceberg! Here’s our schedule:
Monday, Feb 21st – 9:30AM & 2PM – DeLILLE CELLARS – Woodinville/Redmond flier
Tuesday, Feb 22nd – 9:30AM & 2PM – Airfield Estates – Prosser flier
Wednesday Feb 23rd – 9:30AM only – Walla Walla Airport Conference Center flier
Next stop is Oregon, were we’ll be at Del Rio in Gold Hill, another in Umpqua and yet another in south and north Willamette. And only a fool would not stop off in Central Point to worship the award-winning Rogue River Blue at the Rogue Creamery.
Then onto more California and by then, we hope New York has thawed a bit as their German-style varietals are up there on my list as well, but remember this – Washington makes a darn good Riesling also, both sweet and dry.
We plan on enjoying the folks, the scenery, the fine cuisine and the wine. Dinner with Jim Holmes of Red Mountain fame is definitely a personal highlight for me. I am in awe of those that pair the soil and microclimate with the proper rootstock and varietal.
And of course the Columbia River and the touching Maryhill Stonehenge War Memorial – a good place to stop and take in Washington’s grandeur and pay respects to its fallen….