Saturday, March 13, 2010

Terra Blanca Is The Place Where Everybody Knows Your Name

You know the sitcom Cheers, with Norm and all the gang. I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people who have a total appreciation for being welcomed when I walk through the door. There just is something to be said for a place, where you might not be a daily or even monthly regular, but when you walk through the door you are met with a warm greeting and a glass of something good to drink.

I hear people all of the time telling me that they visited this or that winery and were snubbed or treated poorly. The tasting room staff were rude and unknowledgeable, or the glasses were dirty. Inevitably, not a week goes by that I don’t hear some horror story coming from either Washington or Oregon.

But, Terra Blanca is one winery I have never heard that about. Quite the contrary, there is a good chance that during your visit you will be approached by a very nice dark haired man, dressed in jeans and a button-down shirt, who will make sure and go out of his way to welcome you. Don’t be fooled…this is no other than Keith Pilgrim, the owner. His beautiful wife Rene is just as quick to jump to serve you if your glass runs dry for too long.

Keith and Rene have created this experience all of the way through their entire staff. From sales and marketing, to the tasting room, down to the people who work in the cellar. There is an air of “welcoming” about the entire place.

Further, I’ve come to the solid conclusion that this “hearth-like” experience makes the wine just that much better. For the average person, not knowing the Pilgrims or their staff, the average wine consumer would say that the wine is good, but not absolutely mind blowing. On the other hand, when you experience the winery and its staff you fall deeply and completely in love. So much so, that I know people who travel to Red Mountain from all over the world for the winery’s famed annual Onyx release.

All of Terra Blanca’s wines are very food friendly. The balance of acid, sugar, and tannin make the wines almost cry for a meal. Some of my favorite wines from Terra Blanca are the Sauvignon Blanc, the Viognier, and several of Keith’s sweet white varietals. Of the reds, I love his new Arch Terrace label Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, and his Onyx Bordeaux Blend.

My all-time favorite wine produced by Terra Blanca is Keith’s Malbec. The 2005, which I had today, is dark, rich and fruity on the nose, with spices and dark blueberry notes jumping out of the glass. The flavors are rich with blueberry and rich baking spices. A nice velvety mouthfeel leaves you craving more. It is like having a glass of the richest blueberry cobbler you’ve ever had.

I asked Keith what he has up his sleeve for this year and he became almost giddy with excitement. The winery is going to be producing several rare varietals this year in limited production. Some of them sound so good, I actually did get giddy myself as he was talking about them.

Along with the new flavors, the winery is producing a whole new label design. The new look is very elegant, clean, and attractive.

I do hope that the next time you are near Red Mountain that you stop in Terra Blanca for a visit at the friendliest winery on the planet. Tell them that I sent you!


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