Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fort Berens Estate Winery, BC

Fort Berens Estate Winery

Lillooet, British Columbia

When will I learn? Never, ever, ever judge a wine immediately after opening it! These wines came across my desk only a few days ago and, as I was familiar with them, I opened them immediately and started to make notes. Wrong! Almost all wines (there must be an exception) benefit from some measure of decanting and these wines; these young wines that had just been packed up and shipped hundreds of miles certainly deserved the respect of at least minimal decanting. I didn’t write any notes that first day… just put the cork back in, non-plussed, and went on to other work. In a day or two they all started opening and they are beautiful!
Rolf (left) with guests
Rolf (right) with guests
But let me first take a moment to share some thoughts on the founders of this new venture:  Rolf de Bruin and his charming wife Heleen Pannekoek. What kind of bravery does it take for a young family to move from Holland to Canada – to make wine? Does this then infer a level of boldness bordering on foolishness when the same family decides to push the known boundaries of wine production for the most northerly growing region in the world?!
Yes, maybe foolish – even crazy… crazy like a fox :)
Some readers will be familiar with the price of land in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, which has reached ludicrously high levels for a region that in the 1980’s only had 30 wineries in it and none of those what one might consider “competitive on a global level”. But in a flash and a generation that has blossomed to over 240 wineries and several of those garnering the highest accolades for: sparkling wines, Pinot NoirChardonnayrosé and bold Bordeaux-styled blends. Oh yes, and a little gem known as Icewine.
So then this crafty, foxy family moving from Holland sees right past the incredibly competitive Okanagan Valley and hears of a little town to the north-east of the “great Valley” named Lillooet. It seems that a forward-thinking mayor had the notion in the early 2000’s to have the soil and climate of the Lillooet region (Fraser Canyon) tested for suitability for viticulture… she was another smart-cookie and the researchers told her as much: the Fraser Canyon could produce beautiful grapes. But who was going to take a chance on the northern-most region of the northern-most region?
Savvy business people – that’s who! There are only a few ways to make money: be the first, be the cheapest or be the best. Being cheapest is an impossibility in a region like this (and who wants to fight that battle anyways?). Being the best is a noble endeavor but, with tens of thousands of wineries with pedigrees of winemaking – perhaps not the easiest business plan. So why not be the first?
And so Rolf; a management consultant with almost two decades of track record bringing others success and Heleen; an equally accomplished banker having worked with medium and small businesses – helping them find the path to their financial goals. These two can see the diamond-in-the-rough. A fitting analogy as who comes into the picture as investors? A venture-capitalist, an investment banker (former mining executive), the Co-Head of BMO Capital Markets’ Metals and Mining practice, the President and CEO of Victoria Gold Corp and the head of National Bank’s Metals and Mining practice (whose family is from Lillooet).
As I said if this is a diamond-in-the-rough then these are the people who are going to see that, and make it work. And work it has: these wines have earned awards at some of the most competitive competitions in the world: the International Wine and Spirit Competition (London, UK), the Los Angeles International and the National Wine Awards of Canada just to name a few.
Yet, to me, the greatest joy in tasting these wines isn’t in the pride of choosing something that won awards. I’m not excited when I see them at a wine tasting because somebody (even me) gave them a high recommendation or 90+ points. What gives me a thrill is that these wines, these absolutely juvenile wines (please don’t consider that derogatory) are already starting to express a sense of place that exists nowhere else on earth.
These are the first, and only, winemakers on this land as of 2014. And what they are creating is worthy of note: consummately professional, eloquent, even poetic in their own way… I invite you to try for yourselves and, please, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

FortBerens 2012-Chardonnay2013 Estate Chardonnay

602 cases, $19.99 CAD

90 points, Very Good/Excellent Value

… unique! I tried my best to compare this to other regions… tried to put this wine into the same box as someone/somewhere else, and fell short. This Chardonnay simply doesn’t taste like Chardie (as they say in Australia) from anywhere else: the reserved aromas of young pineapple/Amalfi-coast lemons could make me think of a cool California region (Central Coast AVA maybe) or Chile, but the palate is led by a fierce chalky minerality… Chablis right? Or at least Petit Chablis for this price. But then there are more flavors that come in; hints of honeydew and ripe canteloupe, grilled pineapple with it’s sugary-goodness burning to the barbeque and apricots soaking in juice. Impressive levels of balance, structure and balance for such a young winery/vines. FOOD PAIRING: Oysters. Oysters and more oysters. Don’t like oysters? Anything from the sea is going to love the strength of this salty-mineral palate. Coquilles-St-Jacques a natural, this recipe comes from a mentor and guru to me (though he’s unaware of the fact): Anthony Bourdain.

2012 Estate Pinot Noir

475 cases, $25.99 CAD

90 points, Very Good/Excellent Value

… Rich layers of aromas blend ripe raspberry tea with wet sage leaves, tight minerals, dark cocoa and old leather. The palate is precise: utterly focused on bright/lean/full cranberry-raspberry-red currant acid and a medium/fine-yet-grippy tannin structure. The flavors are much the same as the nose, though slightly simpler; most of the focus being on the brightness of fresh young red berries and that keen mineral backbone holding it together. Very good structure, balance and the concentration is excellent. If I had to compare this, I would say it’s much like the great examples of Gamay Noir from places like Morgon or Fleurie in northern Beaujolais when they gather some age and become so like Pinot Noir that many sommeliers can’t tell them apart. FOOD PAIRING: the pizza-purists in the audience will shudder when I say duck pizza with sauteed watercress, garlic jam and Sbrinz cheeseThe watercress will emphasize the herbal tones, the garlic brings out earthiness, the duck is just beautiful – seriously though a bit of fat in the food will make this wine happy. And Sbrinz?? I prefer this over most of the Parmegiano family and when you try it you’ll understand why :)

Cab Franc close up Fort Berens2012 Estate Cabernet Franc

482 cases, $26.99 CAD

90+ points, Very Good Value

… I was charmed by the “friendliness” of the perky red berry aromas; melding with that Fort Beren’s seasalt-mineral-undertone much like one of my favorite treats: Lindt dark chocolate with seasalt. The palate carries brisk red currant acid and the same fine yet chewy tannin structure. Very good balance, structure and concentration of flavors which carry those same currant/young raspberry/raspberry tea flavors with a deliciously savoury backdrop. FOOD PAIRING: call me crazy but as soon as I tasted this I thought: Jerk Turkey!! If you’re not familiar with “Jerk” then please follow the link and prepare your taste-buds for a whirlwind adventure in spice and flavor! A very good representative for Lillooet winemaking AND Cabernet Franc, this young wine will not develop appreciably and is best enjoyed 2014-2017

2012 Meritage

844 cases, $28.99 CAD
72% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc

89+ points, Very Good Value

…this Bordeaux styled blend finds a unique home in Lillooet; Merlot certainly drives the bulk of the aromas: plush red raspberry jam still warm on the stove with a touch of that Cab-Franc savoury sage/wild thyme. It could almost be St-Emilion except for the fact that very very few wineries there grow any Cab-Sauv, much less blending 18%! And that’s where the subtly creeps in; aromas more (as stated above) of seasalt dark chocolate rather than what many of us are used to from the varietal as a more graphite/pencil-lead smell. The palate is cool climate class: crisp, almost-but-not-quite brittle medium+red currant acid drives a medium+chalky/chewy tannin structure. Concentration is quite good and carries much of the nose with it, balance and structure also being good. FOOD PAIRING: call it Beef Stew or Pot-au-Feuit’s still the same: the best quality beef you can afford, braised for long hours in wine and stock with ample amounts of sweet onion and roast garlic… some garden fresh thyme and rosemary thrown in. Steam some brilliantly fresh winter veg: Savoy cabbage, parsnip, turnip, squash, celeriac and serve with crusty bread or scones fresh from the oven with too much butter. #Heaven #ComfortFood
Fort Berens Horse train
Fort Berens Horse train
Many thanks to Heleen and Rolf for the generous sample bottles: your bravery took root, literally, and has shown us a completely new face to varietals we’ve tasted a thousand times before. As always you can find more recipes, free wine reviews and my notes on premium distillates and cigars on:

Monday, November 24, 2014

the artistry behind NakedWines


Naked Wines website
When the good people at Naked Wines asked me to endorse their efforts, I responded as honestly as I could:
Folks: I’ve never heard of most of your winemakers and I’ve never tasted any of these wines. I can’t endorse what I don’t know. “
So they sent me a half-case of wine. Nice!
I tried to keep my mind free and rid myself of any preconceptions but the marketplace is flooded with wines that are at best created by “style-gurus” and at worst sugary-chemical-broths masquerading as wine. I dreaded that this would be another “Apothic” story but did my due diligence: I let the wines rest after their long journey, I opened them one at a time and gave them my fullest attention. It turns out – the culture of wine clubs is changing dramatically.
Meet NAKED WINES: the wine-lovers newest bestest friend. Forever??
This is the place where you as a consumer get to move past the hype, the slick-sales-talk, the bullshit. This is the place where artisanal winemakers come to be judged by you – the consumer. If Naked Wines likes their work they will invest your money and bankroll the winemaker’s efforts to create something worthy of notice. You as the financier (you and 49,999 like-minded individuals) reap the whirlwind when you buy these wines at a fraction of their marketplace value and get to feel like a king. The wines do well and the winemaker keeps working his/her craft with feedback from hundreds, thousands of consumers like you on a regular basis.
Want added perks? How about being able to talk with these winemakers on a regular basis on the Naked Wines website? How about being given a free bottle of premium wine every month? Catch? Catch you ask? Yes, there is a catch – – – – you have to trust. You have to trust Naked Wines to keep investing your $40 per month into winemakers you’ve never met, who don’t have these wines in the local stores. Your local restaurant will not have these wines listed and no – no – NO you can’t ask your favorite wine-geek friend to tell you all about them and recommend the best.
Because your wine-geek friend probably doesn’t know anything about David Akiyoshi or Camille Benitah. That is, unless your friend is also a Naked Wines “Angel”.
Rowan Ghormley, founder and CEO of Naked Wines, courtesy The Telegraph
Rowan Ghormley, founder and CEO of Naked Wines, courtesy The Telegraph
And I’m not the one who’s going to tell you to join these fine folks. The truth is, they don’t have room for new members anyways; there’s a waiting list of over 13,000 people who want to join the US club alone. And it’s not for everyone! This is not a wine-Mecca for the masses; the friends who come over and when you ask if they’ld like some Merlot they respond with “No thanks, I only drinkred wine.”
This is not to make it sound elitist, because it isn’t, but some consumers/some people are always out there looking for “something cheaper” whilst others are looking for a “better deal”. I don’t care about price I care about value. Show me a great value for $10 or show me a great value for $30 and I’m a happy guy and that’s something I can stand behind: if I had bought the 5 wines listed below, as a Naked Wine “Angel” I would have paid less than $70 USD.
Shut the front door! AMAZING VALUE! I live in British Columbia, Canada: second highest liquor tax in the world (after Sweden) and I couldn’t buy two of these bottles for $70. If you really enjoy 2-buck-chuck and Apothic then power to you. If you don’t; if you love searching farmers markets for the freshest produce, if you drive down to the fisherman’s wharf for the freshest catch, if you care about quality then you have to try these wines!
Five wines: four #WorldClass stars and one that, for whatever reason, just didn’t live up to the standard. But I consider that a stunning win. In an industry where I will sometimes taste a hundred wines in a row before giving 92 points… well, you can read for yourselves….

 2013 “Mont Blanc” Sauvignon Blancmont blanc sav blanc by C Benitah

Lake County, California

by Camille Benitah

91+ points, EXCELLENT Value

… to me this wine is deserving of the moniker “Mont Blanc”: clean, purist mineral tones drive a palate so fresh, so powerful, that it seems to have blown down the side of that impressive Swiss mountainside. Here is a superbly crafted articulation of Lake County and of the varietal. Truly, one of the best California Sauv-Blancs I’ve ever had; the bouquet has layers of small white flowers and summer gardens in bloom to balance the austerely elegant granite and slate mineral backbone. Enamel-peeling full lemon zest acid somehow seem perfectly balanced yet crave a New York bagel “wit a schmear” or fresh Atlantic lobster drown in clarified butter. These zealous Meyer lemon, white grapefruit and ripe lime flavors collide into something that makes me instinctually remember the best ceviche and crave just one – more – bite as I savor what’s left in my glass. Enjoy this now and enjoy this often for, though it could hold for many years, the Stelvin enclosure prevents development in bottle and – brilliant as this is – why wait??

2013 Akiyoshi Sauvignon Blanc

Musque Clone

Lodi, California

by David Akiyoshi

92 points, STUNNING

… even after a few years of sommelier education and penning hundreds of articles, I was stumped when I read “Musque Clone” scrawled with such dominance on David Akiyoshi’s label. What was “Musque” and why was it so damned important? It turns out that “Musque” is perhaps more important (and controversial) then I could have expected: in general it refers to a “musky” quality that can result from genetic variation/development in a grape varietal. What does this mean in real terms? Well gewürztraminer is actually a “Musque clone” of Traminer which is, for all intents and purposes, a dying varietal. So is gewürztraminer it’s own varietal or is it a “Musque clone”? Who should decide and how should it be labelled? Well in this instance, second generation winemaker David decided that what was in the bottle was Sauv-Blanc first and foremost, Musque-clone second. I concur! Whilst the perfumed bouquet offers a bounty of heady floral tones, warm exotic fruit compote and hints of Arabic spice straight from the Sook, the palate of this wine is pure Sauv-Blanc;  unadorned full citrus acid almost Pinot Grigio-like in intensity but with a balance and concentration of peripheral tones (white tea, young mango, kumquat, green apple) that turns this into a chef’s dream… the 80’s classic dish: “Neptune” comes to mind immediately: picture a filet of fresh white fish (pike for those on the Prairies, Red Snapper for the WestCoast and cod on the East. Pan-sear the fish and top it with crab-meat mixed with scallops and perhaps rough chopped prawns, then a few pieces of young asparagus, then Hollandaise sauce. Now – wait for it – scorch or brulée that sauce with a chef’s torch for just a moment… Neptune: over-the-top richness to play off the exuberance of this consummate wine!

2013 Akiyoshi Sangiovese Rosé

quite possibly my top rose for 2014
quite possibly my top rose for 2014

Lodi, California

by David Akiyoshi

92+ points, STUNNING

…if ever a wine was crafted for the express purpose of beating the summer heat, rosé must surely be it: so light, so refreshing, so perfectly suited for the middle of the afternoon with a half loaf of fresh bread, a hunk of good cheese and some artisanal cold cuts. David Akiyoshi’s interpretation certainly satisfies any craving one may have for both greatness in rosé and in Sangiovese. This wine carries the blush of youth and the bloom of young flowers; aromas of roses, cherries, red plums, red currants and early raspberries. The full acids convey a palate that mimics the bouquet brilliantly; impeccable balance, concentration and structure show the excellence in viticulture as much as the skills of Mr Akiyoshi. Should I wish to use this wine with a meal instead of the laziness of a July afternoon, seafood would be my first choice *(natural) but a close second would be turkey! I usually go with a northern Beaujolais (MorgonFleurieMoulin-a-Vent) for Thanksgiving but a rosé with such structure and elegant power will certainly pair superbly… just don’t forget to baste that turkey with a little butter! #NofatNofun

2013, Lay of the Lay Pinot Noir

Marlborough, New Zealand

Mike Patterson, winemaker

92 points, EXCELLENT Value

… at the risk of sounding melodramatic: THIS. IS. MARLBOROUGH… superbly crafted, this is a Pinot that truly speaks about where it comes from just as much, if not more, then it does about who made it. The textured bouquet is awash in Carneros-like seasalt and briney green olives, yet carries tones of lush green grass, soft savory herbs like parsley and thyme and a background of granitic minerality. Elegance would best describe the balance and structure; a palate conveying mirror-like qualities from the bouquet, medium+ young raspberry acids bursting with the exuberance of youth, medium fine tannin craving just a hint more bottle age before they truly start to come into their own. I would call this textbook if textbooks could have examples of such quality. A joy to consume now, this is best enjoyed 2015-2020+ but will not develop appreciably due to Stelvin enclosure *(pity). FOOD PAIRING is most natural when the wine is used at the start of the meal to take advantage of the dynamic acid… pâtérillete and the like will find harmony. Feeling casual? Pair this with a classic Roman panini with a thick lathering of pesto and layer of Italian coldcuts and cheeses… once again the acid will bring balance and as Pinot Noir is a light wine, will work perfectly with hints of sunshine and a picnic blanket~!

2012 Columba Syrah

El Dorado, California

by the Jarvis Tomei family

88 points, Decent

… putting to one side that everyone has their own preferences in style and interpretation of any varietal, much less one that has as much diversity as the mighty Syrah/Shiraz; this wine is, at best, table wine. Not poorly made table wine, but table wine still. Though the color is a robustly bruised purple the aromas are simple; bright red berries carrying candied notes much like Beaujolais Nouveau. The palate mimics the nose to its own demise; bright/cheery medium+ raspberry acids carry freshness though no structure and the tannin is a slightly clunky medium+ as well… very basic flavors of the young red berries with an unfortunate tendency towards overoaking. Please understand that the “harshness” of this critique is only due to it being presented in the same line-up as the previous wines which were, unequivocally, World-Class. Should someone offer this to me at Sainsbury for 3 Euros or Safeway for $7.50 I would consider it a fair transaction.
Naked Wines staff USA
Naked Wines staff USA
So how does this work? As an “Angel” you put $40 a month into your Naked Wines “piggy bank” which you can use whenever you want. You can even withdraw it if you so choose. Cool. That’s the same as a few bottles of table wine so no big deal to most folks. You and I know that we’re going to spend that money on wine anyways – it’s just a matter of how we want to spend it.
I’m thinking of a local winemaker I know; he’s fantastically gifted but just hasn’t been able to crack into the market yet. It’s a struggle for him and, as a father, I understand his woes. He’s a Dad to two great kids – there are bills to pay and those don’t stop just because you’re having a bad day. But he’s an artist as well and won’t compromise on the quality, the finesse, the uniqueness of his wines just to make the wines “easier to understand sell”.
This man, this winemaker, has my unquestioned admiration. If he could work with a company like Naked Wines it would mean the world to him. An automatic audience that connects with what he’s doing and what he wants to do. A chance to quit taking time out of his days for tastings rooms and sales calls and get back to what really matters: being in the vineyard, being in the cellar. Working with the wine.
That is what the Naked Wine “Angels” get to do. They get the opportunity to do something truly valuable with their consumer dollars. And they get wickedly exciting wine as well. Well heck, if that isn’t just what I asked Santa Claus for this Christmas!
Many thanks to Naked Wines for the generous sample bottles: it revealed not only a new business module to me but a hidden layer of winemaking in the world. As always you can find more recipes, free wine reviews and my notes on premium distillates and cigars on:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bridlewood Estate Winery, Paso Robles, CA


Paso Robles, California

the town of Monterey in northern Central Coast AVA
the town of Monterey in northern Central Coast AVA

Santa Barbara in November is a place of magic; where long beaches kiss the ocean under blankets of undulating sheep's-wool-fog and dew hangs heavy on every early morning branch. This was where I took my wife, pre-kids, for a little getaway that included just the right balance of mimosas for breakfast, Chardonnay for lunch and Syrah for dinner. In that stillness before Californians start their hustle and bustle I would sit on the balcony and be lulled by the murmur of pulsing surf only a few hundred feet away.

That siren's-call has been luring people to the shores of Central Coast AVA (which stretches from Santa Cruz just north of Monterey all the way to Santa Barbara in the south) for centuries. The Spanish missionaries in the 1700's, the Gold Rush in the 1800's and these days it must be called the "Grape Rush" with so many new faces in the wine industry here!

In few parts of California is this more apparent than Paso Robles AVA; having grown from about 5 wineries in 1980 to 20 in the early 1990's to over 200 in 2014. And 2014 was a big year for these wineries: having gone through the (slightly) controversial subdividing into 11 sub-AVAs. This was a move that at once gave credence to the thought that Paso Robles carries an incredibly diverse array of soil compositions, slope/aspects, rainfall and flora. Hard to believe that this could be realized in only three decades when Burgundy took centuries to come to the same conclusions about their region. Burgundy: that archetype of classification for wine-regions, is only 3 times larger then Paso Robles AVA and yet has 9 times as many sub-regions (known as AOC in France). Yet remember; we know that wine has been produced in Burgundy for about 2000 years and in Paso Robles for maybe 200. 

Well done Paso Robles! Though many of the successful winemakers here have found more victories with Rhone varietals than Burgundy, in this instance Cabernet Sauvignon has found a home. While the Napa fans will (most likely) say that this is too light for their tastes it reminds me of cool, or classic as the Bordelais would say, vintage Bordeaux. And indeed, swirling this in my glass as I write, the term "Cru Bourgeois" springs to mind the moment I smell and sip. 
People are what make the story...
People are what make the story...this is San Francisco in November

I wish that this could have been an article to enlighten about the team hard at work at Bridlewood but, alas, I cannot. For all of my research I couldn't find any real information about who the winemaker is, who the vineyard manager is or what was the inspiration behind creating this visually stunning winery. A shame Gallo Family Vineyards; we consumers are looking for more than just a good bottle of wine for a decent price! This is the "Golden Age" of wine and there are more choices for us than ever before.
We're looking to be inspired!

Inspiration comes, in most instances, from people. Tell us the who! Share with us about the hard-working people who are crafting your products. They deserve to have their stories told and we yearn to hear them. For surely the people who crafted this wine, with it's dimensions, it's finesse and generous palate - surely those people have a story to share.

Bridlewood CabSauv 2012 PASO ROBLES2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

88+ points, Very Good Value

$19 CAD in BC

$10-$14 USD in USA

... this wine shows impressive skill for it's modest price; generously layered aromas carry rich tones of red and dark berries, warm scrub-brush and impressive dark floral notes such as irises and peonies with a hint of tomato leaf... the palate is ultra-crisp and clean! Certainly not what one would expect from such an incredibly hot growing zone, this wine is full of life and fresh fresh fresh! Perky full- acid carry flavors of young raspberry and cherry and fine/chewy tannin. The only thing missing for the Bordeaux-lovers in the audience would be that graphite-minerality but I imagine these are still young vines and are more then capable of giving more to the wine in successive vintages. FOOD PAIRING would be simple for me: play the wine off local cuisine! I love Mexican food in places like San Luis Obispo or Pismo Beach or Santa Ynez... and I'm told by friends that even Mexicans consider it some of the most authentic Mexican food around. I'm partial to a great Carne Asada myself; the heavy char flavors, the smokiness, the grilled jalapeno sets everything perfectly and the bright berry tones in the wine will give this terrific balance. If this isn't close-by, try venison! Wild game always works well with wine that conveys flavors like blueberry and dark cherry which this wine has.
the coastline by Paso Robles AVA
the coastline by Paso Robles AVA

Many thanks to Gallo for the generous sample bottles: I hope that I get to share your story of Who as well as What. As always you can find more recipes, free wine reviews and my notes on premium distillates and cigars on:

Monday, November 10, 2014


sunset on Lake Chelan
sunset on Lake Chelan

Regular readers of mine will know of my admiration for the winemakers in LAKE CHELAN AVA, Washington... here's the scoop on a terrific event happening there at the end of November. There's no denying the quality coming from this, one of the most northerly wine producing regions on Earth. Make some time to visit these budding viticulturists (pun intended) - you'll be glad you did! Read more about my experiences at Lake Chelan at :

Wineries Open Cellar Doors for Behind-the-Scenes Look at Winemaking

Lake Chelan Wine Valley will kick off the holiday season with a weekend of tasting future wine releases straight from the barrel from November 28 through 30. Fall Barrel Tasting takes place each year on the weekend after Thanksgiving and offers visitors the rare chance to experience young, unfinished wines before they’re released to the public. Guests will explore the use of different oak treatments and their impact on the taste, color, tannin and texture of the wine. Guests can visit winery cellar rooms for exclusive tastings with local winemakers and purchase upcoming vintages of some of their favorite wines.

Wines that will be offered to taste throughout the weekend include the following. For a full list and more details, visit
  • Atam Winery - Syrah & Barbera
  • Benson Vineyards - Two new 2013 vintage wines
  • Cairdeas Winery – 2014 Port-style Petite Sirah
  • Chelan Estate Winery - 2012 C E Vineyards Reserve Red
  • Hard Row to Hoe - 2013 Barbera
  • Lake Chelan Winery - 2013 Malbec, a Chelan AVA wine
  • Rio Vista wines - Tempranillo
  • Tildio Winery - 2013 Malbec and Grenache
  • Tsillan Cellars - 2013 Estate Syrah/Malbec
  • Tunnel Hill Winery - 2013 Estate Pinot
  • Wapato Point Cellars - 2012 Merlot

“Fall Barrel Tasting is such a fun way to taste wines that are so young with our customers and see them light up when something hits them as amazing only a year into the barrel,” said Tsillan Cellars winemaker Shane Collins. “It’s also great to see and chat with people who come every year and reminisce on previous wines and how they now taste in the bottle.”

Guests that extend their wine tasting visit can enjoy some of the wonderful fall recreation Lake Chelan has to offer, including golf, mountain biking and hiking. Small-town charm abounds in Downtown Chelan and Manson, with shopping and dining options for every taste.

About Lake Chelan Wine Valley: Lake Chelan Wine Valley is a thriving community of 21 wineries that are attracting attention from winemakers, grape growers and wine enthusiasts. The Valley was recognized as an AVA in the Federal Register in April 2009. Located in the heart of Washington’s Cascade Mountains, Lake Chelan is a scenic destination three hours east of Seattle, situated on a pristine 50.5-mile lake. Throughout the year, Lake Chelan visitors tour vineyards, meet the winemakers, taste award-winning wines and dine at many winery restaurants – the perfect wine-lovers destination. Some of the varieties that flourish in the Valley include Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Viognier. Learn more at
Lake Chelan: stunning vistas
Lake Chelan: stunning vistas
As always you can find more recipes, free wine reviews and my notes on premium distillates and cigars on: