Monday, July 5, 2010

Wine Weekend in Eastern Washington - Richland/Kennewick/Prosser, WA

Back in late May, a few of us headed east toward the Tri-Cities for a bridal shower for my wonderful friend Heather that was put on by some family friends. The shower itself was held at a winery (score!) and we were able to spend other time during the weekend trying out several wineries in the area. There are some amazing wineries on the east side of the mountains, I wish we had more time to visit more during this trip, but we were pretty limited.

The bridal shower was held at Goose Ridge Winery, located in Richland, WA. Goose Ridge also recently opened a tasting room in Woodinville, adjacent to the Hollywood Schoolhouse, in May 2010. We had hoped for a beautiful sunny day so that we could have the shower on the back patio there (which is beautiful!), but we ended up with a windy day that couldn't quite decide if it wanted to be nice or nasty out. Lucky for us, the interior of the tasting room has a great sitting area that was perfect for the shower. All the guests were able to sip on Goose Ridge's 2007 Riesling at the event, which was a great wine. I don't normally find myself too fond of super sweet varietals, but this one was fantastic! Loved the pear and apple flavors in this wine. The Riesling was also on sale that weekend for a great case price. Some friends definitely took advantage of that deal! After the shower ended, a few of us stuck around and tasted through their line-up in the tasting room. My favorite by far was the 2005 Sol Duc Meritage from the Columbia Valley. Talk about a great wine! This was a very tasty blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, and 5% Malbec. Meritage has always been a big favorite of mine at a variety of different wineries. This one was a great structured wine with a nice finish.

On Sunday of our wine weekend, we set out to make one stop in Kennewick at Badger Mountain Vineyard/Powers Winery. I always enjoy visiting Badger Mountain/Powers when I'm in the area, because they have such a tremendous array of wines to choose from. I have always been a huge fan of their Pure White boxed wine. This one is basically a permanent staple in my refrigerator. It makes it so easy to just grab a quick glass without having to open an entire bottle. In addition to the Pure White, they have several other wines in boxed form, and all are fantastic! I used this trip to stock up on a few of the Pure White boxes, they were on sale for $15/box this weekend! One of the greatest things about visiting Badger Mountain/Powers is the extensive tasting list they have. You get to taste through 10+ wines when you're there! I am a big fan of their 2008 Vintners Estate Series Rosé, which is a Cabernet Franc Rosé. There are a few WA Rosés that I consider my favorites, and this is one of them. This is another wine that I always stock up on when I visit.

We headed back west and stopped in Prosser to do some tasting in the Vintners Village, a large site where multiple wineries have set up tasting rooms in close proximity. It makes it very easy to taste at a few during a visit. This was my first visit to Prosser to taste, and I was eager to try some new places! We started at Gamache Vintners (@GamacheVintners, @GamacheVineyard) a winery that I have been a wine club member of for awhile now. I hadn't had a chance to visit their new tasting room in Vintners Village since it opened back in August 2009. They did a great job with the winery here, and have a great big tasting room with sitting areas and a lot of merchandise and gift items for sale. It was a big step up from the small little tasting room they occupied previously! It's always great to see Cellar Manager Mitch Venohr in the tasting room when we visit, and he was a wonderful host at our visit this time. We tasted through their wines, with my favorites being the 2006 Estate Merlot, the 2005 Gamache-Champoux Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2008 Velida Estate Viognier. The Merlot was surprising to me, as I don't usually consider Merlot to be a big favorite. I enjoyed this one a lot, and was happy to hear it was included in our previous wine shipment a few months prior. The Reserve Cab is a collaboration between the Gamache brothers and their cousin Paul Champoux. This was a great full bodied wine and I can see it aging very well (also very tasty now!). The Viognier happened to be on sale that weekend so I grabbed a few bottles of that for an upcoming party. It's a great everyday wine and I was thrilled to see it on sale at such a discount! After tasting, Mitch gave us a tour of the winery! They have a great space for their barrel room and production area. We were lucky enough to get a barrel sample of their upcoming blend. Mitch went around to several barrels and grabbed a little bit, to show us how the blend would likely end up once it was bottled. What a treat! I am very excited to try the wine when it finally hits the bottle and is available for sale.

We scooted across the parking lot to Milbrandt Vineyards (@milbrandtvino) next, a winery I have been able to try at recent wine tasting events in Seattle, but had never visited. I was very excited for our visit here, as I love their Traditions 2008 Rosé, which is as Rosé of Syrah. This is definitely another WA Rosé favorite. It's a light and fruity wine that would be great with food or just to kick back with in the sun on a hot day. Another great wine I discovered while we were at Milbrandt was the Traditions 2008 Chenin Blanc. What a pleasant and fruit filled wine! I grabbed up a bottle of this one quick, and I look forward to enjoying it soon!

We finished up our Prosser visit at Airfield Estates (@Airfield), who has the location in Vintners Village in Prosser, and also a tasting room in Woodinville as well. Several of Airfield's white wines were on sale during the weekend of our visit, including the 2008 Pinot Gris, the 2007 Riesling and the 2008 Gewürztraminer. A favorite of mine here included the 2009 Fly Girl White, which is a Viognier, Gewürztraminer, Roussanne, and Chardonnay blend. What would seem to be a very sweet combination turned out to be a delicate citrus wine that would pair well with a crisp salad or great sandwich. Another favorite here was the 2009 Unoaked Chardonnay, which was 100% stainless steel fermented. I have learned through my tasting experiences that it is the unoaked Chardonnay that I like the best. I really don't care much for that heavy oak flavor in a Chardonnay. This wine was dry and crisp and very enjoyable. It was great to try new wines at a winery I had never visited before. I look forward to checking out their Woodinville location very soon!

It was another great wine weekend where I bought too much wine (wait, can you ever have too much wine?) and enjoyed great company with friends. I love Washingon's wine regions and the Tri-Cities/Prosser area is no exception!

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