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.
This past weekend was a busy one for me. Friday my husband and I celebrated my dad’s birthday with him at Elliot’s Oyster House. If you like Oysters and are in Seattle; it is hard to beat Elliot’s happy hour prices for the half shell. The downside is the happy hour is only eligible for those seated at the bar, which is very limited.
I love seafood, but my love for shellfish is a lot deeper. I like to pair my oysters with a nice Sauvignon Blanc and fortunately Elliot’s hosts Chateau Ste Michelle’s on their happy hour menu (win-win!)
Saturday we found ourselves hosting a few friends for dinner. We served home-made sweet potato Gnocci and a Blueberry Dutch Baby for dessert. Dinner was paired with a nice Rose from Maison De Padgett Winery located in eastern Washington. This Rose is called “Lipservice” and is only available at the winery in 1.75 liters. So I tend to only open a bottle when hosting a gathering.
I found the Blueberry Dutch recipe in a new cookbook I bought myself for my birthday. When I laid my eyes on it I knew I had to make this dish right away. It is super easy to make, very savory and can be a perfect dish for brunch as well as a heavy dessert after dinner.
Sunday is typically my day at home where I meal prep and get things ready for the upcoming work week. However, this Sunday is special. I am headed to Woodinville to celebrate the 60th birthday of someone very dear to me. Woodinville boasts a wide range of wineries and satellite locations for wineries located elsewhere. It is the go-to hotspot for wine tasting in western Washington. This will definitely be a future post!