In Spring of 2010 I was invited to go wine tasting in Eastern Washington. There is an abundance of wineries in that region that partake in Spring Barrel. This was the year one of my favorite traditions was born! I have attended Spring Barrel (or pre-barrel if that weekend worked better) since 2010. I only missed 2013 due to living in San Diego. My Husband’s family lives in Richland, which is about a 45 minute drive to where the heart of the wineries are, so our group has grown and it’s become a family affair!
I, of course, have my staple wineries I make a fuss to go to. I like their deals and LOVE their wine. We do try to check out a few new wineries as well or a few that we haven’t gone to in a year or two. We always pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at Silverlake Winery, pile in a 15 passenger van and begin spring barrel!
We stopped at the following wineries:
Bonair (They do a case mix and match sale – $100!)
Maison De Padgett (great ports and dessert wines!)
Owen Roe (first time visit and it was delicious! Their Pinot Noir is worth noting.)
Silverlake (Live bands, food trucks and good wine)
Airfield (always a favorite. Love their bombshell red)
Bartholomew (Located in Kennewick, so not near most of the wineries, but worth the drive!)
My total haul this year was 25 bottles of wine. That’s a new record for me. Now I just have to organize it all! Out of all the wineries and wines tasted I would have to give a BIG shout out to Bartholomew! Their wines were SO good. Their Malbec and Petite Verdot were unbelievable. They do have a tasting room in Seattle as well for those on the West side of the state!
When I was in my early 20’s a few girlfriends and I piled in my car and we drove from Seattle, Washington to San Francisco, California on a whim. We had a laundry list of sights to see and things to do in the course of a weekend and Napa was on the top of the list. We were young, careers starting out and lived pretty much paycheck to paycheck. Despite, at the time, our financial woes we made it work and had a fabulous time in San Francisco. We toured several wineries, sipped wine that (looking back) we didn’t really appreciate and took several bottles home. I had such fond memories of Napa with my girlfriends.
Photos taken in 2010 at Castello Di Amorosa
When my 2nd wedding anniversary was coming up my husband and I weren’t going to do anything aside from a dinner. We got an email with flight deals and the cost to go to San Francisco was ridiculously cheap so we decided to go on a spur of the moment trip. My husband had never been to Napa and I couldn’t help but gush how much fun I had the last (and only) time I had been.
I live in Washington State and I truly believe that we are spoiled when it comes to wine. We have a plethora of wineries to choose from all over the state. The wine is great, the prices are ideal, the tasting fee is minimal and the experience is fun. One of my favorite things to do is go on a spontaneous day trip to a winery. Who doesn’t like a spur of the moment wine trip? If you do – don’t go to Napa then!
Our first stop was promising. My husband and I stumbled upon Heitz Wine Cellars. The tasting was free and the wine was great! How wonderful! We picked another winery at random and drove 30 minutes up a mountain to get there. The scenery was beautiful, but the winery was by appointment only. Bummer! We tried another winery but it was by appointment only. So we then began calling wineries to ask if they accept walk-ins. Most did not and if they did – their tasting fee was $35 or more! You would think if you bought a bottle it would be waived, but most replied only a small portion. It boggled my mind how different Napa was now compared to when I was in my early 20’s.
Napa is pretentious. I said it and will say it again: Napa is pretentious! Washington wine can easily go head-to-head with Napa Valley and win. When you pay those ridiculous tasting fees you are only paying to feed the egos of the wineries and for the “pleasure” to say “I drank wine in Napa!” It’s so trivial to me that you have this location that sticks its nose up in the air for those who want to have a fun, spontaneous trip and turn them away. Wine should be shared.
I was discourage and in disbelief. We decided to park in town and walk around the storefronts so the drive from San Francisco to Napa wasn’t a complete loss. That’s when we found Orin Swift Cellars. They were welcoming, reasonable and laid back. All things most of the others in that area weren’t. To top that – their wines were amazing! We stood and talked awhile with the host and told him our gripes with Napa so far and how disappointed we were. He then took the time to write out several other wineries to try that wouldn’t disappoint and would be what we were searching for when we came to Napa.
Tank Garage Winery was our next stop and is one of my favorite wineries to date. In fact I shipped several bottles home to Washington. They specialize in blends and never make the same blend twice which I feel adds and enriches the experience. After Tank we felt we had our fill of the Napa Wine experience and headed back to San Francisco. Those two wineries salvaged our day and the only two reasons I left with good memories of Napa.
When I was younger wine was something I had zero interest in. I had a lot of older friends who, anytime there was a gathering, always had a wine glass in hand. Unfortunately for me – my drink of choice was vodka. This was mainly because it was easily mixed into anything. I was (and am) considered a “light weight” among my peers so I was very inebriated after one or two drinks while everyone else was sipping, tasting, enjoying vino. After Christmas of 2008 I made a New Years resolution that I was going to start liking wine. January 1st – if I were to have any alcohol it had to be wine. The rest is history.
I enjoy the social aspect of wine. I love going to various wineries and shops and looking at how they’re set up, how they welcome customers and how they brand their wine. I’ve been to my fair share of wineries (mostly all along the West Coast). However, I’ve never felt the need to join a wine club. Sure I have my favorite wines from specific wineries, but I never saw the point of joining until I was introduced to Eleven Winery one year ago.
Eleven winery is located on Bainbridge Island; which is a short ferry ride West of Seattle. The tasting room is walking distance from the ferry dock while the actual main location is 4 miles down the road. Typically when I go to a tasting I like maybe 50-75% of the wines on the tasting menu. When it comes to Eleven winery there has not been one single wine that I have not liked and it has quickly climbed to the number one spot of wineries I love. I am now officially a wine club member! Last night I went to my first “wine club pick up party”. They served tacos and sangria made from their Tempranillo and had local musicians playing in the background. It was a perfect evening with perfect company. I joined the standard club so every 2 months I get one red wine and one white. Featured this month was the Tempranillo and their unique white mourvedre. As of now you cannot find the White Mourvedre anywhere else, but I am so thankful I got a bottle in my wine release because it is amazing!