Pacific Northwest Wines
Free tasting | Saturday, February 2, 2019 | 4-6PM
Join us for a journey of wines from the Pacific Northwest!
Washington State wouldn’t be the splendor that it is without its magnificent neighbor of the Pacific Ocean, the Cascade Mountains, and the beautiful city of Seattle. While it rains for most of the year in Seattle, the Cascade Mountains provide a literal barrier to the damp environment, which is inhospitable for grapes. Because of the Cascade’s protection, most of Washington State from the east of the mountain range is hot and dry. The terroir of eastern Washington is perfect for growing grapes: without the forceful rivers (that provide irrigation) the land would be desert-like, plus, vines typically attain 2+ more average hours of sunlight than they do in the southern wine regions of Napa and Sonoma, California.
What links all wine from Washington together is the mouthfeel and notes of stunning lushness. The grapes that thrive in this bountiful area are Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot, which are ones that need a mixture of dryness but do well in cooler climates as well. Washington State vines were first planted by Italian and German immigrants in the 1860’s and 1870’s, but Washington didn’t form its own winegrowing identity until about a century later.
Now let’s travel south to Oregon. It’s tricky to say who has to work harder to grow grapes in Oregon, the winemakers or the vines! Oregon winemakers have to dig for extreme patience after dealing with such finicky weather vintage after vintage, however, the harder the struggle, the better the wine! Sunlight is scarce and the weather is as erratic as in Massachusetts. Interestingly enough, Oregon gets more rain than both California and Washington State.
Pinot Noir (which throughout history has been one of the fussiest grapes to grow worldwide) has become synonymous with Oregon. Pinot Noir and Oregon would be a perfect match on Tinder. While Pinot Noir fills the vineyards of Willamette Valley and other Oregon AVA’s like Eola-Hills and Yamhill-Carlton, there are other grapes that thrive in Oregon like Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Oregon is filled with winemakers who are all ex-somethings (ex-professors, ex-doctors, ex-techie entrepreneur) who turned to winemaking out of a newfound passion, and the hope that Oregon is the next Burgundy. Winemaking all across Oregon blossomed in the early 2000’s and as of 2018 Oregon ranks 3rd in the country for its number of wineries and 4th for the amount of wine produced in the whole United States.
So, enough chit-chat! Let’s drink!
2017 Savage Grace Gewürztraminer (Columbia Gorge, Washington) | This gorgeous, mandarin hued Gewürztraminer is bottled after 16 days of grape skin contact and makes classic Gewürztraminer even nervier and more aromatic than usual. This wine child hails from organic winemaker Michael Savage who achieves the combination of Old World winemaking methods with New World terroir. Smell the luscious floral notes, honeycomb, spice, and clementine notes as soon as you pop the cork.
2014 Gramercy Cellars ‘Lower East’ (Columbia Valley, Washington) | Master Sommelier Greg Harrington spent his career developing some of the best wine lists in the country and was only 26 years old when he became a Master Sommelier. He founded Gramercy Cellars in his home state in 2005, now works with his wife Pam Harrington to make Rhône and Bordeaux based wines in Washington State.Lower East is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Post fermentation, this Cabernet is aged in French oak barrels for 16 months. It’s powerful and sleek like a seal (shout out to all those seals swimming around the West Coast) with notes of cherry, cranberry, and spice.
2017 Anne & Amie Vineyards Pinot Blanc (Willamette Valley, Oregon) | While a lover of wine, Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. knew that when he founded Anne & Amie Vineyards in 1999 that he wasn’t the person to run it, so he employed a crack team of winemakers to create beautiful expression of wine from the Willamette Valley. This Pinot Blanc was handpicked and pressed in whole clusters before going through fermentation in a mixture of stainless steel and neutral barrels. It was then aged on its lees for 4 months before bottling. It is a soft and full-bodied wine with notes of pear and lemon. An absolute delight!
2016 Bow & Arrow Gamay, Walnut Ridge Vineyard (Willamette Valley, Oregon) | Witnessing 9/11 from a neighboring skyscraper in New York caused Scott Frank, the owner of Bow & Arrow, to deeply reflect upon his life and was ultimately the motivation for him to move to Portland, Oregon. After bluffing his way into his first wine job, Scott’s ‘wine bug' turned into an obsession which after some twists and turns led to him founding Bow & Arrow with his sommelier wife, Dana Scott. The Gamay went through semi-carbonic maceration in a concrete vat and has notes of raspberries and strawberries.
2013 Dominio IV Technicolor Bat (Columbia Gorge, Oregon) | This is a biodynamic blend of Tempranillo, Syrah, and Petit Verdot from winemakers Patrick Reuter and Leigh Bartholomew. Leigh studied viticulture while Patrick studied terroir at the University of California Davis, and they both realized that with their forces combined, they were Captain Planet! No but really, they realize that they had the perfect set of skills to start their own winery in 2002.After aging in oak for less than a year the Technicolor Bat is velvety and soars with notes of cassis, raspberries, and plums.