Thursday, March 22, 2012

Upcoming Regional Wine Events You Will Love

Harvest time is so romantic. All those rich smelling grapes, and warm fall air. I find that most people fall for the romance, and miss what is truly the best time of the year in the wine industry. That time is late winter and early spring.

One of the biggest reasons why February through April is so important in the wine industry is because many of the new vintages are being released. What was great last year might not be so good this year, and what wasn’t so fantastic last year is creating huge fervor now. Really, for the wine industry, spring time is the time that we get a “do over”.

With all of the vintages changing the industry also likes to take the opportunity to showcase their wines. Here are some of the big and small events hitting the Northwest soon:

Taste Washington: If you’ve never been to Taste Washington, you’ve never been to a real wine extravaganza. Held on March 31st and April 1st this year, Taste is host to over 200 wineries, winemakers, and famous chefs doing demonstrations on the Viking Chef’s stage. Tickets start at $75 per person for general admission, and up to $125 per person for the VIP experience. For more information go to

Spring Barrel Tastings: For those who wish to stay a little closer to home and make it a day trip there are several Spring Barrel Tasting events coming in the next few weeks. April 20-22 the Rattlesnake Hills AVA will be celebrating it’s Spring Barrel Event. The crowds are much smaller, and intimate time with the winery staff is almost a guarantee. Go to for more information.

The following week Spring Barrel Tasting happens throughout the Yakima Valley. I’ve written about this big event several times in the past. It is almost a guarantee that I’ll be out for at least one day of this event. You can find out more abut this at

Right on the hills of Yakima is the famous Walla Walla Spring Release. This is truly one of the biggest parties in the Northwest when it comes to wine. I suggest going to and getting yourself set up for a great weekend in the Walla Walla AVA.

One thing that I do want to make sure people don’t miss is truly local opportunities. Graybeal Distributing in Pendleton is once again starting up their wine 101 class for this spring. This spring’s lineup is looking to be spectacular.

On April 12th, Denise Musick with Saviah Winery will be the host as she pours wines and talks about one of the all time favorite wineries from this region. The following Thursday the 19th there will be a rare treat as Samantha Krieg will be visiting and pouring wines from the huge E.J. Gallo Wine family. I know that many people scoff when I mention E.J. Gallo, but when you’ve tasted some of their high end portfolio you will be surprised.

Graybeal ends their Spring Wine 101 with Gordy Venneri from Walla Walla Vintners. Walla Walla Vintners is truly one of the iconic wineries of the Walla Walla region. Their wines have consistently won regional and national awards for many years. The cost of these events is $20 per person, and includes both the wine and food pairings. To find out more and to register call Deborah at 541-276-2264.


Monday, March 12, 2012

SunRiver Vintners Features Fantastic Angelica and More

My friends Sean McGrath and Frazier Brown contacted me a few weeks ago to tell me about a new wine centered development that they were working on here in the Tri Cities area. The development, which will be near Badger Canyon will house boutique wineries, fine eateries, and bed and breakfasts. It will be both a destination, and a jumping off place for winofiles of all types. Set in a Tuscan Village theme, it will be an oasis out here in the desert of Eastern Washington.

One of the first wineries to jump on board with this concept locally is SunRiver Vintners. SunRiver is the first official winery located in Kennewick. Several Wineries have set up tasting rooms in Kennewick over the years, but SunRiver is the town’s first bonded winery located in the city limits.

I was invited to visit and taste through SunRiver’s wines this week. How can a guy turn down a personal invitation to taste good wine and meet new people? We were excited to go and give the a try.

Currently located at the corner of 10th and Clodfelter road, the winery shares a parking lot, and is located directly between Sun River Electric and Quality Signs. As I arrived, they had one of the winery’s big bay doors open. Just past the tasting table there was an extremely unusual sight. Some super HUGE oak barrels!

These huge barrels are called Port Pipes. Unlike the usual 60 gallon barrel that we see in most wineries in this region, the Port Pipe is much larger, containing as much as 171 gallons of juice depending on the maker and exact style.

Port Pipes are generally used for making, you guessed it, Port. Daniel Washam, one of the owners, explained how he and Glenn Washam, the other owner, and Greg Vogtritter, the winemaker were able to pick up an exclusive use of these Port Pipes here in the U.S.. Their concept was to make wines using these pipes.

The larger the barrel, the less that the ether phenols from the oak will infuse into the wine. The concept is that the wine will have the benefits of oak without the headaches associated with oaked wine. Whether that hypothesis holds true or not, it is pretty cool to see wine being stored in these gargantuan barrels.

We tasted through a few of the winery’s wines. I found them all to be quite enjoyable, but here are a few of my favorite outtakes from our adventure:

The winery’s Gewurztraminer is available either in the bottle or on tap. The establishment purchases two cases of the wine and the winery places it in a stainless steel keg. It can be served right on the tap line this way, making it affordable to sell by the glass. The Gewurztraminer has 2.8 residual sugar so it is both spicy, as well as a little sweet. A great wine to serve with hot and spicy foods or on a hot day.

Next we enjoyed the 2008 Long Shadows Vineyard Merlot. This wine has a huge nose of cherries an cassis. On the palate the tannins are long and velvety.

The 2007 Phinny Hill Petit Verdot is a 100% Petit Verdot that offers a nose and flavors of blackberry, smoke, leather, and cassis. This wine would be great with a grilled ribeye or by itself. Fantastic!

After enjoying those wines we went around with Greg, the winemaker, as he theifed various Angelicas (Ports) from the big barrels. The Malbec, Sauzo, and Cabernet Franc Angelicas were all fabulous, with each featuring their own awesome flavor profiles. They will be going to bottle from the barrel in the next few weeks.

I suggest visiting the winery and giving their wines a try. Their website is and they have a great Facebook page as well.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Red White and Wine Gala March 10th

This week is all about shameless promotion and a chance to party with the stars! I want you to come to an event with me next Saturday night, March 10th for the 2nd Annual Red White and Wine Gala. This year’s event will be held at Terra Blanca Winery on Red Mountain, just outside Benton City Washington. Consider this my personal invitation!

So, what is the event all about? It is an event that was created two years ago by my friends Chef Jesse and Susanne Ayala at Tuscany Grill in Prosser. They have been working very hard to help the poor and needy in the region, and have taken on the monumental task of feeding many of the poor during holidays, not to mention many regular days of the year.

The Ayalas have built a wonderful annual event to help fund this program. The Red White and Wine Gala is an all out “Red Carpet” event featuring a six course dinner prepared by Chef Jess, and paired with wines from Terra Blanca, Martinez and Martinez, Mercer, Desert Wind, Airfield Estates, Coyote Canyon, and Gamache Winery. There will also be beer by Horse Heaven Hills Brewery.

The menu for the event includes Dungeness Crab and Artichoke Cockail, Baked Brie with Washington Fruit, Antipasto Skewers. And that’s all before you sit down to dinner!

The seated portion of the meal will offer butter lettuce, squash shooters, Swai with Laguistino, and Tenderloins with mushrooms and Gorgonzola. Desert will feature a Dark Chocolate Creme Brule with cherries.

As a very special course there will be three more wines and pairings for people who wish to purchase VIP tickets to the event. These will offer a chance to meet and visit with Keith Pilgrim, the owner and winemaker of Terra Blanca. Keith is a fantastic guy, and if you haven’t had a chance to spend time with him I recommend it.

The cost of this event is fantastically low! Seats are available for $75 each. VIP tickets are $100. For a table of eight, the cost is $525, with VIP eight tops for $700. I know that we are taking an entourage to the event ourselves. I recommend that you bring your buddies too.

Music by the amazing Eddie Manzanares and Cafe Blanco will keep you dancing into the night, and a silent auction with several bottles of wine, including some pretty nice magnums will occur during the event as well.

Oh, and did I mention red carpet? Part of my contribution to this great event this year is that I will be taking pictures of everyone as they enter the event on the red carpet Oscars style! That’s worth the price of admission alone! Just imagine having your picture taken by the amazing Onerichwineguy. Pictures will be available for no additional cost for download from my business website after the event, or you can purchase prints and the proceeds will go to support the event.

Let me ask you this. When was the last time you got really dressed up, went out for a fantastic dinner and dancing, and just had an absolute blast? If it has been a while I really do want to see you at the Red White and Wine Gala! Call Susanne at 509-205-9466 to get your tickets to this great annual event.

See you there!