Savoring the Southwest

Savoring the Southwest

After nearly 200 years in the making, Savor Southwest Washington Wine debuts Saturday, May 11. The Southwest Washington Winery Association (SWWA) hosts the all-inclusive wine and culinary celebration at the Pearson Air Museum. Merely a stone’s throw from Fort Vancouver, the historical trading post stands as the first location of grapevines in Washington…

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Mike Sauer took a chance on planting wine grapes…and the rest is history

Mike Sauer took a chance on planting wine grapes…and the rest is history

Finding good people in the wine industry is not a difficult task. Finding exceptional people that top vintners are “honored to work with” and describe as “inquisitive, hardworking, dedicated and humble” is a more unique discovery. But, Mike Sauer is a unique man. The owner of Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima Valley AVA, Mike has been farming his 150-acre site for 45 years and, with all of his success, priorities have not escaped him.

“I guess to finish up the best part of the journey, personally, is to be a part of it with family. My wife’s been involved since the very beginning and now it’s my two sons and a son-in-law. They have a continuity of family on the same land. I’m 71 and am gradually turning it over to them but still very involved and it keeps me young to be involved and supporting them and…

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Pomeroy Cellars: Winemaker Dan Brink is big on tradition

Pomeroy Cellars: Winemaker Dan Brink is big on tradition

Along the North Clark County Scenic Drive in Southwestern Washington, visitors who choose to explore the area will encounter peek-a-boo and full views of the East Fork of the Lewis River.

During the summer, when heat harkens swimmers, the Lewis River is actually at its lowest level. But in the winter and early spring months, the river swells and its power is both majestic and mesmerizing.

After a day of photo ops and hiking opportunities, nearby Pomeroy Cellars is the logical spot to...

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Wine for the holidays

Wine for the holidays

During the holiday season, there is ample opportunity for pairing wines with some of the most talked about meals of the year. Wine can be an intimidating subject but even if you buy the wrong kind you still have a bottle of wine so you’re already off to a good start...

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Prioritizing Education with Kerry Shiels of Cote Bonneville

Prioritizing Education with Kerry Shiels of Cote Bonneville

“If it takes 10,000 hours of repetition to become an expert, it’s important to start early and to know your place,” says Kerry Shiels, winemaker for Côte Bonneville in Washington’s Yakima Valley.

Taking her own advice to heart, Shiels began making wine in the seventh grade...

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Five wines to buy for New Year's Celebrations

Five wines to buy for New Year's Celebrations

Christmas is behind us but there is still another week of the holiday season ahead. From weekday get-togethers with friends to New Year’s celebrations there’s an ideal wine for every occasion.

With so many choices, it’s nice when someone else offers up a few exceptional ones like the below list of five affordable and approachable bottles available now at Whole Foods Market.

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Unwind at Scatter Creek Winery in Tenino

Unwind at Scatter Creek Winery in Tenino

Christmas shopping may be high on everyone’s to-do list but if you’re looking for a little down time between the hustle and bustle of the holidays, a mini road trip could be just the ticket.

A short jaunt up the I-5 is the perfect winter wonderland spring board for singles, couples and families. The friendly town of Tenino boasts a chocolatier, quaint shops and an experience-based winery. Wolf Haven and the quintessential train ride of the season—The Polar Express—await adventure-seekers a little further east.

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Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon Aging to Perfection

Mention Horse Heaven Hills (HHH) cabernet sauvignon to folks in the know and a look of deep appreciation comes over their faces. Ask them to explain where the AVA is located and that expression turns to confusion.

“Well, it’s not in Walla Walla and it’s not really in Yakima but it’s kind of in that area, generally” they might say, tripping over themselves as they reach for their electronic device to better illustrate its location.

Technically, it’s a sub-AVA within the vast Columbia Valley AVA and the wineries of note have addresses like Paterson and Prosser. Its southern border is along the Columbia River and its northwest border skirts the Yakima Valley AVA. If you remember nothing else, check this; HHH is where the grapes were grown for the four 100-point wines from Washington State according to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2013 “Quarry Butte” Red Blend is a beautiful representation of a terroir-driven blend from their estate vineyard—Destiny Ridge. Viki Eierdam
Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2013 “Quarry Butte” Red Blend is a beautiful representation of a terroir-driven blend from their estate vineyard—Destiny Ridge. Viki Eierdam

By last account, cab sauv constituted the largest grape plantings in the HHH AVA at about 42 percent and over 5,700 acres. Established in 1972, many of the vines are decades old adding to the complexity and terroir-driven profiles. Dusty is a common descriptor with Horse Heaven Hills cab and for good reason.The dry, arid climate with marine influence from winds sweeping through the Columbia River is similar to conditions found on the Left Bank of the Garonne River in Bordeaux.

In cooler climates, less ripe cab sauv will present with undeveloped herbal notes and an overall off-putting bitterness. Common traits of the HHH interpretation then are rich, even ripening, bold, blackberry, black cherry accented by earthy and minerally notes as well as hints of vanilla and cedar from oak aging. Cocoa, coffee, leather, savory aromas and even a hint of licorice will be found as the wines age.

By last account, cabernet sauvignon constituted the largest grape plantings in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA at about 42 percent and over 5,700 acres. Viki Eierdam
By last account, cabernet sauvignon constituted the largest grape plantings in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA at about 42 percent and over 5,700 acres. Viki Eierdam

Some notable wines to try:

  • Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon – Don’t let the uber producer fool you. The depth of flavors in this wine made it the hands down winner in this lineup for me. 88 percent cabernet sauvignon. $36.
  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2013 “Quarry Butte” Red Blend – A beautiful representation of a terroir-driven blend from their estate vineyard—Destiny Ridge. Deep plum, strong floral components, baking spice. Excellent value at $25.
  • McKinley Springs 2012 Unbroken – This blend romances with a full mouth feel of balanced yet bold tannins that keeps it approachable while still being big enough for grilled meats. $28.
  • Coyote Canyon 2010 Big John Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve – At 85 percent cab sauv this wine is aptly named. Black currants dominate with a lasting finish that peals back the cocoa, vanilla and leather mentioned above. A big, food-friendly choice. $42
  • Columbia Crest 2013 H3 Cabernet Sauvignon – This is probably the most commonly distributed bottle in the group and for good reason. Approachable, easy drinking and food-friendly. $15
  • Mercer Estates 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon – Meaty and savory notes hit the nose on this 75 percent cab sauv blend. Strong tobacco and heavier tannins hint to the promise that this wine will evolve with more time in the bottle. $28