Wine festival or vineyard visit? It's guest's choice this weekend.

The weekend is upon us and if you don’t have plans yet, there’s still plenty of time to take in all things adult beverage at the Fifth Annual Craft Beer & Wine Fest.

Held at Esther Short Park Friday, June 9th through Sunday, June 11th, this 21 and over event is chock full of Washington wine, locally-sourced beers and some craft cocktails for good measure.

It’s all in one place, admission is good for all three days and there’s an impressive line-up of live music and some great food-for-purchase

For those who’d still rather have the vineyard experience, things just keep getting better and better in Southwest Washington Wine Country.

Word is out that Windy Hills WInery is open for business. 

Word is out that Windy Hills WInery is open for business. 

Windy Hills Winery officially opened over Memorial Weekend. I was finally able to sample some wines and they did not disappoint. The tasting room experience was personal and celebratory. Courtney poured five selections for me and, between her and winemaker, Bob Mayfield, they answered my questions and kept the atmosphere lively. Take aways:

2015 Viognier - sourced from Walla Walla had plenty of stone fruit characteristics and a rounded mouth feel with medium weight

2015 Pinot Noir – With a few Pinot Noirs to choose from, I was fortunate to taste one sourced wholly from LaCenter’s own White Dog Vineyard. It has a lovely nose of bright red fruit and a palate of light bramble, good acid and a black pepper finish. I’m so excited for how well this locally-sourced Pinot is showing.

2014 Syrah – Coming in hot at 14.5 percent ABV, this was my favorite of the bigger reds. A beautiful nose of bright fruit and slight spice with raspberry mid palate and black cherry on the finish enveloped in velvety smooth tannins.

2014 Malbec – If you’re a red meat fan, this is the one for you. The juicy tannins and acid are craving protein for the perfect marriage although, on its own, I enjoyed the hint of bramble, pronounced tobacco notes and slight herbaceous characteristics.

2014 Trinity – A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot, all sourced from Walla Walla, make this my easy-drinking-on-its-own to BBQ wine pick. It’s just approachable with black fruit, minerality and earthy notes all mingling to create layers that will evolve with age.

Having recently celebrated their one year anniversary, Stavalaura Vineyards is north off the same Ridgefield roundabout as Windy Hills. Judging from my personal experience, proximity will benefit them both since I saw several of the same people at each stop. Vastly different set ups, Stavalaura’s allure is their wine (thanks to winemaker, Joe Leadingham) and Southern hospitality (thanks to co-owner, Bev Leadingham who hails from Georgia). Here you’ll find Pinot Noir but you’ll also find a couple varietals you may be less familiar with; namely 2013 Red Golubok and Zweigelt.

In particular, their Golubok is a dense red hailing from Russia with flavors as intense as its color. Black currant, black cherry and a slight herbaceous quality follow with notes of plum and cocoa. It’s not so much quaffable on its own (although that is how I enjoyed it on their inviting back patio with my pups last weekend) as it really needs to be appreciated with bold food such as roasted meat after being decanted for several hours. It’s all quite worth the extra care as it is difficult to compare Golubok to anything but…Golubok.

The new tasting room at Koi Pond Cellars (with more changes to come)

The new tasting room at Koi Pond Cellars (with more changes to come)


After residing at the historic post office building in Ridgefield for nearly three years, Koi Pond Cellars bid adieu to their downtown location on May 20th and moved all the way to…their front yard. In 2016 the owners, Wes and Michelle, purchased a prime piece of land with a beautiful home and plenty of room to plant vines of their own. Their recent re-opening will be followed by several more changes over the next few weeks as their second business (or first, depending on how you look at things), Children of the Sun Koi, receives see-through tanks that will be placed in the wine tasting room.  At any given time, Children of the Sun can have from 1,000 to 4,000 koi in inventory, making for a truly unique tasting room experience.

For now, Koi Pond’s new location is a great spot for summer sipping with plenty of room for kids and dogs to run around (off leash dogs are on site) and a great family-friendly atmosphere. An added bonus: Koi Pond’s spot on the east side of I-5 creates a convenient four-mile winery loop that includes Bethany Vineyard and Three Brothers Vineyard.