Achtung! Bavarian WineTrail Beckons
Just two-and-a-half hours east of Seattle, the Bavarian-themed town of
|Wine tasting Bavarian style|
Leavenworth offers plenty of options for eating, sleeping, recreating and yes, sampling fine wine. Here you can visit one of a dozen or so tasting rooms within blocks of each other. However, if you crave the smell of oak barrels and need a forklift in your picture, you're in luck. Within a 20-minute drive of Leavenworth are another dozen working wineries that summon visitors to relax and taste.
To experience Leavenworth's satellite tasting rooms, you just need a pair of walking shoes and cash for tasting fees - Lederhosen are optional. Of course, you might have to check out an occasional cheese shop, nutcracker adorned toyshop or ice cream parlor but in between, you'll experience the wines of Ryan Patrick, Eagle Creek Winery, Willow Crest, Swakane and many others.
Outside of Leavenworth, cameras are de rigueur as you're sure to find quaint wineries nestled against a backdrop of snow capped mountains. Aside from wineries noted above, the tiny village of Plain (about 15 curvy miles north of Leavenworth) is the home of Napeequa Vintners where David Morris produces some of the finest wines in Washington IMHO. Just 7 miles south of Leavenworth is the gorgeous abode of Boudreaux Cellars where vintner Rob Newsom's warm smile will greet you. Heading east on Hwy 2, the burg of Peshastin offers several wineries of note including Icicle Ridge Winery, Cascadia Winery and Wedge Mountain Winery.
WineTrail Note: Leavenworth does love its festivals, and two wine events of note are on the horizon: The 10th Annual Leavenworth Wine Tasting Festival, August 20, 2011 (see event information for details); and the Leavenworth Crush Festival, September 17, 2011 (see festival event calendar ).
To plan your "Bavarian WineTrail" adventure check out WineTrailsnw.com and search under "Columbia Cascade Wine Country."
South Willamette Valley Barrel Tour and More
I hadn't a clue what I was getting into when I accepted the invite from the South Willamette Winery Association to join them on their June 25th Annual Barrel Tour. I knew that the wineries of Lane County (Eugene, OR) were a surprise find when I researched WineTrails of Oregon but I could never kick back, relax, and leave the driving to someone else. This time, however, I enjoyed the comforts of a deluxe bus and a guide who happens to be the chief enologist for King Estate Winery. This time I could forego spitting and experience the back-end finish.
This tour succeeds by accidentally educating you while you are having fun. At
|High Pass Winery - Barrel Tour|
each winery stop - Domaine Meriwether, Pfeiffer Winery, LaVelle Vineyards, and High Pass Winery - the winemaker greeted and educated us about their wine style just long enough before we rushed en masse to the awaiting wine and gourmet appetizers. And when I say "gourmet appetizers," I'm not kidding with pulled pork sliders, crostinis with sliced beef and a garlic herb cheese spread, bean soup and more. It's a food and wine pairing bonanza featuring local wines perfect for the pinot noir and pinot gris we tasted.
South Willamette can rightfully boast that it's a wine destination with great product and plenty of amenities. With miles of bike and walking trails, the University of Oregon campus to explore and plenty of dining and sleeping choices, WineTrail Trekkers need to grab their calendars and start planning. For me, I'm making plans to attend next year's 10th Annual Barrel Tour.
To learn more about this special event, check out the South Willamette Wineries Association website.
Pairing Wine with Poetry YouTube Style
Tri-Cities' resident Jordan Chaney is out to prove that poetry doesn't just flow from
|Poet Jordan Chaney and Ode to Grape|
a bottle. In his YouTube video captured and presented by Wine Press Northwest
, Chaney lets forth his love of the vine with his "Ode to Grape" poem. Chaney, who obviously is smitten by the wine bug (aren't we all) has gained some fame recently presenting his poems at a number of wineries in and around the Tri-Cities.
It's a little long at nearly 7 minutes but the clip includes an interview with renowned wine writer Andy Perdue of Wine Press Northwest. Check it out at YouTube.
Plan a Field Trip to Finnriver Farm & Cidery
We recently visited Finnriver Farm & Cidery outside Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula (62 Barn Swallow Road, Chimacum, WA for the GPS) and managed to ruin our plans for the day. You see, we had scheduled a quick 45-minute swirl and sip visit. However, as we took in the view of a large-scale farm operation, we realized that this little touch of paradise deserved special attention.
The fact that Finnriver had just taken home the Double Gold medal from the
|Finnriver's Crystie Kisler|
prestigious 2011 Seattle Wine Awards in the sparkling wine competition got my attention. Being a lover of sparklers, I figured I had better check this place out. Little did I know, however, that Finnriver is a certified organic and Salmon Safe farm complete with berries (raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, etc.), a vegetable garden, and of course heirloom apple orchards. There's even a farm walk where you can visit the egg-laying chickens and friendly honeybees.
The farm is part of the overall charm of the visit and reflects the authenticity of its owners - Crystie and Keith Kisler. Delightful to the core (no pun intended) this hard working couple has carved out a lifestyle that mirrors their love of nature and sustainable agriculture. While Keith is the chief winemaker, Crystie is "everything else" including working the light-filled tasting room with friendly elegance. Of course, I had to sample the award winning Artisan Sparkling Cider. Refreshingly delightful, crisp and apply dry the bubbles danced on my tongue. But that was just the start of our tasting adventure with brandy fruit wines, pear sparkling wine (dubbed "Perry") and a sparkling apple-blueberry wine that had me reaching for my wallet.
Bottom-line: plan a visit to Finnriver and budget plenty of time to experience the farm, savor the wines and enjoy the warmth of two outstanding artisans - Crystie and Keith Kisler.
Did you know...By becoming a WineTrail Trekker you can post wine related events on WineTrailsnw.com. Yes, it's true. And, if you are associated with a winery, you can update your profile and link visitors to your wine club and online wine shop. It doesn't get any better than that. And it only takes seconds to sign up for free membership. Go to www.winetrailsnw.com
and register today. Happy WineTrails!