Here’s another Dubindil-Adams Bench-like story where a wine dude (Ron Coleman) meets aspiring super-doctor (always the female heroine—in this case it’s Dr. Jamie Coleman) and they walk into a rainbow and open a winery (while the heroine still works a full-time job). Are women around here that easily duped?? (Coop, you may be next.)
Tamarack Cellars, located at a former Walla Walla airport fire station, was founded in 1998 by former wine wholesaler, Ron Coleman, after moving back from Milwaukee, WI where his wife completed her residency in ophthalmology. Ron spent his time wisely while amongst the tamaracks (a deciduous conifer) working as a hotel sommelier and wine store manager to hone his palate. The Colemans arrived on the Walla Walla scene in 1993 to fulfill Jamie’s dream of working in a small-town with an address of Penny Lane. Ron learned his craft working stints for Waterbrook Winery and Canoe Ridge Winery before going solo. They have three active daughters; two of them are competitive problem solvers at their high school.
Keeping with the small-town theme, Ron hired Danny Gordon to handle the daily winemaking duties. Danny grew up on a row crop farm in Cornelius, OR off Hwy. 8, west of Portland. I should know that as I have passed through the area on my way to Forest Grove a few times. In a typical small-town job search, Danny showed up unannounced at the winery. Poor Ron thought Danny was a suitor for his oldest daughter and pulled out a Glock 37 and Danny nearly wet his pants until he stated he wanted to work at the winery. Ron then put away his wine-blogger-eliminator and asked Danny four simple questions (with psychological implications). Ron found out Danny: (1) knew the value of hard work with his farmhand experience; (2) has a college degree (he’s a Beaver) in soils and crops; (3) knew little about wine other than drinking it (teachable); and (4) raced forklifts at the local barn derby. Okay, well not raced, but he had many years driving one. Ron put the kid to work that day.
Sandy Kleck is the tasting room manager and works the business end of the winery as well as assisting in blending trials.
Martin ‘El Chapo’ Ibarra is the cellar rat and vineyard practitioner hailing from a place of hot water in Michoacán, Mexico. Growers fear ‘El Chapo’s’ presence in the vineyard as he’s known to sprinkle some charanda on the grapes to prevent mold growth. Viva la Raza!
Tamarack Cellars produces nearly 15,000 cases/year of mostly red wines. The lone white is a chardonnay. While Ron’s first wine was a merlot, the winery is far better known for its ‘Firehouse Red’ 9-varietal blend. Far lesser known is the single-vineyard reserve lineup of reds, with dedicated bottlings using grapes from Ciel du Cheval, Sagemoor, and DuBrul vineyards. I’ve tasted a glass of the CdC and it had a touch of elegance, which is not usually a word to describe an oaked, fresh red coming from that vineyard.
Food pairing was my own recipe for red sauce from scratch (hint: use lots of roma tomatoes and a sturdy potato masher), fresh spaghetti noodles, and Aidell’s meatballs. Key pieces were fresh basil and Cooper Wine Company’s aromatic extra virgin olive oil. Spaghetti (Italian) and sangiovese (Italian), Washington-ized… capire?! And you wonder why Italians have such big families? Tizio pazzo…
Tasted at 53-64 degrees on the IR temp gun. Clean dark cherry in color with varietal aromas of strawberry, cherry, raspberry and red licorice dancing a saltarello, if slightly dilute, on the palate leading to a moderate stay and possessing flavors of spicy cherry, plum, and scarlet flowers.
Alcohol: 14.19%. Columbia Valley AVA. Pure. Vineyards: 90% Candy Mountain, 10% Blue Mountain. (“Well, whudda ya know, there actually is a Candy Mountain.”) 33% new oak (half French, the remainder American and Hungarian). Coopers: Boutes, Vicard, Demptos, and Canton. Gently crushed, gravity dropped, cold soaked for 48 hours. Fermented dry in barrel. pH 3.38. TA 0.67. 202 cases. Bottled March 18, 2010. Power: 2/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 2/5. Finesse: 2/5. Rated: 88. Value: $23. Paid: $27. Anime pairing: “We’re Going To Candy Mountain” by The Land of Sweets And Joy. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.