Saturday found us up and Adam to head out to a few new wineries for Spring Barrel Tasting. We headed to Red Mountain in Benton City, about a 15 minute drive from our home. This is one small appellation in the Yakima Valley. We took Chris to show her one of the fancy wineries that tries to look like something out of the south of France...not really believable but lots of money flowing here. We took a peek around and stopped to snap one picture under the wisteria arbor, but did not bother to taste the wine. The place was so crowded with bus tours and hoopla, not my thing at all.
Dan & Chris (Knitting Mania)We then headed up to Hightower Cellars, a small boutique winery where a friend of mine was working. Again the crowds were thick.
I knew it was a touristy weekend and all, but what we were really heading for was a few brand new wineries that were just opening up that weekend. We were out for a bit of an adventure and we certainly found one. Off the main drag we found a little sign on the edge of the road and turned off to follow the gravel road into the desert. As we pulled up to the winery we saw an older woman and a young boy flagging us down to come on in, to what looked like their garage. They were so excited to see us and I think we were some of their very first customers. As I stepped out of the car I was met by the most gracious bubbly woman with her grandson. She was so excited to see us and so proud to welcome us to her winery. They had been growing and selling grapes for many years on this very special piece of Red Mountain terra, and making wine for personal use. This was now their first weekend of going public.
There were definitely no crowds here. As her son stepped in to introduce to us their three lovely wines for sale, we got a very wonderful personal rendition of their families history and journey into wine making. We soon learned that the elderly gentleman was the wine maker himself and indeed a great one. As we took our first taste of their Bordeaux blend, Black Dog we knew we had found a hidden treasure. With big smiles on all our faces we sipped and chatted about wine and life. Pretty soon I knew I had found a kindred spirit when Eve had dragged me over to one of four tanks and insisted that I have a sip of their Riesling right from the spigot. The sniff and the taste of pineapple/pear and a hint of citrus was indeed heavenly. Dry and fruit forward but not sweet. The name of the winery is Portrait Cellars and when you take a look around you find out why. As I began to chat with Eve about her beautiful paintings, with her pointer finger she motioned at me with a big grin on her face to follow her and away up the stairs I went to have a delightful tour of her beautiful home and studio overlooking the vast vineyards of Red Mountain. As I looked around and admired her work I was then invited to come and join her and her friends on Tuesdays for painting get together's. Now that is the kind of generosity and down right open- heartedness of the kind of folks that make up the best of the west :) Iam look forward to more of their wonderful wine and generous friendship.
From there we rambled down the road to one more brand new winery of the beaten path. Again met the grower/wine maker and tasted some delicious young cab. I love to meet the folks that have poured their hearts and souls into their livelihood and the fruit of the land.
On the way home we stopped for lunch at Bella's. We were not disappointed. Between the cold corn soup with a dollop of sour cream in the middle, panini sandwiches, and a rustic bread salad, we had a scrumptious feast.
We will be heading to Walla Walla for Chris's birthday on Friday. Another one of Washington's great wine regions, just 45 minutes from here. I hear there are great and wonderful things going on over there, great restaurants and shops have risen up along with all the new wineries. I will try to remember to take more pictures of our journey.