Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tenacity Pays Off For Region’s Newest Winery

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, and try again! That is the lesson taught by the region’s newest winery, Hamilton Cellars. Their Grand Opening, held this week at their new tasting room in Richland, Washington is proof that pushing through obstacles will bring you to a win.

Last fall I met owner Stacy Hamilton while I was teaching a wine tasting class at the Savor the Flavor event in the Tri Cities. When I asked if anyone in the room was in the industry she quietly held up her hand. Later, after class we introduced ourselves and I found out that she and her husband Russ were planning on opening their tasting room soon.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when my wife and I attended a birthday party for one of my wine industry friends. We all brought a bottle or two of our favorite vintages while we feasted on the most amazing Tennessee ribs I’ve ever eaten. One of the other guests that evening works in the tasting room of Hamilton Cellars and brought a few bottles of their wine.

I’ll just say that I was impressed. I knew that the wine was too good to be made by an inexperienced winemaker. That’s when I found out that the guy producing the juice is none other than winemaking superman Charlie Hoppes.

Now that I’ve teased you, I need to tell you the rest of the story. Russ and Stacy began work on their dream of owning a successful winery in 2006. They knew that they liked good wine and that is what they wanted to produce. The Hamiltons knew also that they wanted Hoppes to be the winemaker, and that they wanted their wines to be from good vineyards and made from sound processes.

Now for the tough part. There have been planning and zoning issues with owning a winery in this region. They are being cleared up quickly, but back when the Hamiltons were starting out it wasn’t so easy.

The Hamiltons purchased a piece of land in West Richland with the intent of building a winery. Little did they know that there was a huge dispute over the land with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The title company, the attorneys, and the City of West Richland all failed to realize that the land wasn’t legal to sell because the U.S. Government owned it. The Hamiltons were sent an eviction notice.

Luckily planning and zoning issues have lifted a little, and the Hamiltons were able to convert a cute little office cottage In the Queensgate Village around the corner from Barnard Griffin and Bookwalter in Richland.

As for those promised notes on wines, I thought you might like to hear about a few I tasted. I am certainly looking forward to tasting through the rest of the portfolio soon.

2007 Bona Vita Red Blend - Dark purple in the glass, this wine has a blend of 51% Malbec, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, and 12% Cab Franc. The nose and flavors are rich with layers upon layers. Blueberries, blackberries, smoke, peppercorn, and soft tannins on the finish.

2007 Malbec –This Malbec is beautiful, bold, dark, and scrumptious. Blueberries, black cherry, dark chocolate, black pepper, and a velvety finish. This wine, and the Bona Vita both paired wonderfully with my friend Patrick’s ribs and his homemade sauce. Yummmm!


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