One of the best parts of attending the Wine Bloggers Conference (which I'll be doing again this August) was meeting so many other bloggers who were as passionate about wine as I am. Three of my favourite people were from The Vineyard Trail in Oklahoma, who write about their collective adventures 'wine trailing' across the U.S.
I know many of my readers are as interested in wine travel as I am, so I'm excited to share this guest post about Woodinville, Washington from these 'winers'! If you like it, please visit their website and check out some of their other extensive wine travel pieces.
Shawn and I are off to Europe this week - so there will be no post next Wednesday. Be sure to follow our adventures on Twitter in the meantime!
‘Wining’ Your Way Through Woodinville
by The Traveling Winers
Impromptu trip to Seattle, Washington….what to do, what to do? Well, of course, the first thing that pops into The Traveling Winers' heads is to go wine trailing. We can’t think of a better way to spend the afternoon.
A quick Google Maps search of the area with the local attraction search term ‘wineries’ unveils a number of choices readily available for our choosing. So choose we did and Woodinville became our destination.
In the early 1900's, the property was once a very prosperous dairy farm. The then owner gave seven acres of the land to his daughter and her husband, who were both horticulturists. Their land, called Bramble Bump, was their passion, and they filled it with all variations of amazing and rare plants and trees. To this day, the current owners have barely made any changes as they want to preserve the beauty that was carefully planted so many years ago.
JM Cellars produces a very nice quality selection. From their 2012 Chardonnay, which won 33rd in the WORLD from Wine Enthusiast, to their 2012 blend named Bramble Bump Red (makes you just want to give it a whirl), to their 2012 Klipsun Syrah, which they describe as having "a hint of bacon fat with a lasting finish." All of their wines were quite tasty and worthy of shelling out some bills to take a few bottles home.
Mark Ryan Winery
The tasting room is located in a small strip mall. It has these cool double wide garage doors, pulled open to invite wine-lovers to come on in, sit back, relax and taste some wine. We found the wooden floors, and motorcycles and skulls decorating the garage and bottle labels, to be an interesting combination. Mark Ryan explains the combination with "Well, they're fun, aren't they?" Mark also says that “Traditional is stuffy” and he just wants to make wine fun and approachable. We think he has succeeded.
Mark’s wines are original, both in flavor and nomenclature. With names like Numbskull, The Chief, Lonely Heart, Dead Horse, the Long Haul, Lost Soul, Wild Eyed and Crazy Mary. Kind of makes you want to taste them all. Some of our favorites were the Long Haul, which was quite dry, oaky and full of spice, and the long-finished Lost Soul. While we had our favorites, all of Mark's wines were amazing.
In the same strip mall, we found Sparkman Cellars. This establishment is truly a family affair as is evidenced by the listed owners, Chris and Kelly Sparkman and their two beautiful daughters, Stella Mae and Ruby Leigh. The overall feel is 'family, fun & friendly'. They strive to be fun and unpretentious, and claim that "everyone gets a hug!" Sounds like a place that would be fun to come spend a couple of hours with friends, doesn't it?
We found their wines to be well structured, approachable and easy to drink. A few of our favorites were the 2013 Pearl Sauvignon Blanc (very unique flavor tasting of grapefruit and guava), 2012 Ruby Leigh (black cherry, and a touch of pepper), and the 2012 Hallelujah Port (pure heaven, so had to buy a bottle!). Also of note is their Kingpin Cabernet Sauvignon, which every year is celebrated by Chris dressing up as Elvis.
Chateau Ste. Michelle
This winery, the oldest in the state of Washington, captures well the essence of a French countryside estate. Housed on 105 wooden acres, it is exactly what you would expect from a brand that is so well known.
They have a free tour and tasting experience, where you not only get a glimpse of their white wine production, but can also take a walk down memory lane among their photographic collections. The tour ends with a guided tasting and is very nicely done.
Sometimes it is simply not just about the wine, which by the way, was excellent. It is also about the ambiance. And at Chateau Ste. Michelle there is an abundance. Sprawling grounds offer the visitor the opportunity to stretch their legs, the lovers a quiet secluded spot to have a private picnic, the children a place to, well, just be kids and the person missing European culture, a brief escape.
Learn more about the Traveling Winers' adventures: http://www.thevineyardtrail.com/