Kiona Vineyards 2003 Reserve syrah

Another WAwineman classic, 1st posted on Aug. 13, 2010:

Job seekers today, pity the fools, appear to be stupefied by their own arrogance, exuberance, or basically a lack of job-interview etiquette. In a recently published study, job applicants, interviewed over a meal, who ordered a merlot (over a Coke) were deemed “less intelligent, scholarly and intellectual,” regardless of what the manager ordered. Heck, ya know what, order the damn merlot… get the most expensive glass of wine on the menu. Ya ain’t getting’ the job so you may as well pull a “Steven Slater” and go out with a bang (on the expense account). France ended restrictions barring anyone under 5-feet 3-inches from joining the police force. The police union cheered the move stating the previous requirements had prevented “morally, physically, and intellectually” capable candidates from working. Sounds to me like they just got tired of Inspector Clouseau burning down the police station. And, the FDA approved ella, a morning-after pill that works for up to 5 days after sex. I hear the cheers coming from senior wine writers that hang out at their local junior high schools. Eww.

Kiona Vineyards is the first winery (established 1979) located in the Red Mountain AVA (approved April 10, 2001). While it is said that a winery that grows out of a vineyard is the result of the winemaker making more wines than he/she can drink, both John A. Williams and James J. Holmes were already seriously into wine when James purchased the 80-acre plot from his father in-law back in 1972. There was no Sunset Road and no utilities or water lines leading up to their property. The Vineyard was planted in 1975, the first commercial harvest was picked in 1978, and the first Kiona wines were sold in 1980.

The Holmes family has since moved on and currently owns one of the most highly regarded vineyards in Washington State, Ciel du Cheval.

The winery family today includes: John and Ann Williams (the founders), son Scott and wife Vicky Williams, son-in-law and assistant winemaker Glen Fukuyama and wife Carrie, and “global marketing strategist” and son of Scott and Vicky—JJ and his culinary superstar chef wife, Molly.

Trivia tidbit: in 1979, two other wineries were also birthed in WA. Name them.

I am fortunate to say that when I got semi-serious about WA wines, one of the first bottles that got me hooked, and also the first multi-bottle purchase, was Kiona’s 2002 lemberger (red). First, it was cheap ($10) and second, it was listed as “recommended” by a Food & Wine mini-book that can be bought at a supermarket. That the wine also was delicious was a bonus, hence the follow-up purchase. So, for those of you haters who don’t like me in the business… go blame Kiona. Buy their wine and see for yourself.

Anyone visiting the Red Mountain AVA on a day trip (and toting tourists) should make these “essential” pit stops (of course, EVERY tasting room on Red Mountain is “essential” in my book): #1—Terra Blanca, #2—the new Kiona tasting room, and #3—Fidelitas. These facilities are large, modern, and have a solid portfolio of great wines along with super-friendly staff.

Kiona’s new L-shaped tasting floor is, perhaps, the best place to taste their wines while overlooking the vinifera-strewn landscape checker-boarded with rough patches of neighboring pristine desert cheatgrass and the Horse Heaven Hills to the south. There’s no tasting fee and the menu board features which of the 21 varietals/blends are pouring that day.

Trivia answer: Paul Thomas Wines (Bellevue) and Neuharth Winery (Sequim). Paul Thomas got absorbed into Columbia Winery while Neuharth morphed into Olympic Cellars.

Food pairing was a nifty plate of spaghetti.

Tasted at 61-67 degrees F on the IR gun. This is typical Kiona wine: well-aged and settled but full of lively, dense fruit true to the grape’s profile. Deep purple to ebony in the glass, scents of blackberry and black plum dominate the air space. Medium- to full-bodied going down, while flavors of black cherry licqeur, licorice, and gentle kisses of oak predominate.

Estate bottled. Alcohol: 13.5%. TA 0.765. pH 3.69. Rated: 90. Value: $23. Paid: $16. Purchased at Costco (Union Gap). Music pairing: “Bad Case of Loving You” by Robert Palmer. Check out JJ’s “The 1 Eye Wine Guy” blog. BW-WA-73. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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