Wine bloggers in Washington are a fetid, feculent group of delusional lowbrows who think wineries owe them for hyping up their wineries to all ten of their brokeass compadres. Evidence of their immature, outdated, and all-around blasé “vibe” strategies are easily found in their retarded tweets and unsophisticated, repetitive blogs. Same wineries, same wines, and even the same oozy, hollow gushes follow one another. Some even go into one long diatribe about a winemaker, wasting a reader’s precious 20 seconds of life when all that information can be found on the winery’s website. Really, what is the purpose of a wine blogger around here when all they do is regurgitate information that is all encased at a winery’s website? Think… self-glorification. To these emasculated, dingleberry-scratching turds, it’s all about gaining implied recognition as some sort of “celebrity status” in the universe of wine as opposed to making Washington wines the star.
For all you readers of Washington wines out there, ask yourself this– how much of the history of the Washington wine industry does your favorite wine blogger educate you with? After all, in any undertaking, it is important to know where you have been in order to know where you are going. The lessons of the past provide a more focused guide to the future. Intelligent people never make the same mistake twice. If your neighboring winemaker friend, Bob, used a bag of yeast that made the wine taste awful, would you use the same strain of yeast for the same grapes? Hell no.
As a note of caution, for any of you newly christened yahoo readers out there who poo-poo Washington’s three centuries-old wine history… this is not your wine blog, so BEAT IT. This author does not cater to crybaby entitled hipster asshats who demand changes to the content of this blog, all the while celebrating ripasso’d sangiovese made from some dysfunctional sissy whiner whose previous talent was scrubbing plastic fecal containers at the local nursing home.
Surprisingly, for a State that has a documented history of grape growing going all the way back to the 1830s and currently totes around 800 operating wineries, there isn’t much homage paid by these wineries to the past. Granted, wine grapes no longer thrive at Fort Vancouver and neither is fortified wine the rage like it was post-Prohibition, but Washington’s wine history is no less filled with colorful characters and dubious events in often hostile, infecund environments that only a beverage like wine can encompass.
There is only one book worth reading about Washington wine and that is The Wine Project authored by Ronald Irvine, owner of Vashon Winery, with essential contributions by Dr. Walter J. Clore. There are still copies circulating on the internet for $20, or buy a brand new, autographed copy at Vashon Winery. Skip all the other picture books and “paid-to-be-biased-toward-one-AVA” authors as those books have better uses, like balancing a table.
The following is an abbreviated list of places, people, and events linked to Washington wine history (and geology/geography) and the wineries that honor them.
Basalt (Basalt Cellars): a type of volcanic rock formed from an outflow or eruption, found throughout the Columbia Valley.
Bridgman, William B. (Bridgman Cellars): a Canadian, attorney, and twice-elected mayor of Sunnyside who dominated the Washington wine industry, immediately post-Prohibition via his winery, Upland Winery, and his vast vineyard holdings on Snipes Mountain and Harrison Hill.
Canoe Ridge (Canoe Ridge Vineyard, Chateau Ste. Michelle ‘Canoe Ridge Estate’): a five-mile formation mentioned by the Lewis & Clark expedition because it looks like an upside-down canoe when viewed from the Columbia River.
Clore, Dr. Walter (Columbia Crest ‘Walter Clore Private Reserve’): an Oklahoman (and WSU graduate) widely regarded as “the father of Washington wine” for his decades of research in the field of wine grape growing.
Columbia (Columbia Winery, Columbia Crest): name derived from the ship, Columbia Rediviva (Buty Winery ‘Rediviva of the Stones’), captained by an American, Robert Gray, on May 18, 1792 after becoming the first explorer to enter the Columbia River.
Columbia Valley: description of the area on Lewis & Clark’s official map in 1814.
Gingko Forest (Gingko Forest Winery): named after Petrified Gingko Forest in Vantage, WA.
Goat Rocks (Goat Rocks Winery): geographical area near Naches named after the rugged peaks jutting out of the Cascade Range.
Harrison Hill (DeLille Cellars ‘Harrison Hill’): 5.5 acre site of 1914 plantings (next to the town of Outlook in the Snipes Mountain AVA) of Ribier, Flame Tokay, and Black Prince grapes and originally owned by William B. Bridgman. Purchased in 1962 by Associated Vintners. Replanted in 1963 with cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, gewürztraminer, grenache, pinot noir, semillon, and white riesling. In the early 1990’s, David Lake recommended to Chris Upchurch this property that was contracting grapes to Chateau Ste. Michelle’s corporate parent. Currently, Harrison Hill is planted with cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot. Second-oldest commercially planted cabernet sauvignon vines in Washington.
Horse Heaven Hills AVA: in 1857, cowboy James Kinney noticed his horses dining on the native grasses on the hillside so he proclaimed this area must be “horse heaven.” Corny, but true.
Island Belle (Hoodsport Winery ‘Island Belle’): Adam Eckert’s “discovery” of a new grape varietal that is widely known as Campbell Early. Named after Adam’s daughter, Lottie, where she was the “belle of the ball” at a Stretch Island dance hall.
Lake Missoula (Glacial Lake Missoula Winery): prehistoric lake whose ice dam broke, sending a torrent wall of water (and rocks, silt, detritus, etc.) as high as 1100 feet (above sea level) from western Montana to the Pacific, reshaping the Columbia Valley.
Malaga, WA (Malaga Springs Winery): named after the grape that was made into wine and sold to railroad men by Wenatchee’s first Euro-American settler, “Dutch John” Galler.
Maryhill, WA (Maryhill Winery): named after Sam Hill’s wife.
Memaloose (Memaloose Wines): the name of several uninhabited islands in the Columbia River. Derived from the Chinook word, meaning “to die.”
Otis Vineyard (Columbia Winery ‘Otis Vineyard’): named after Otis Harlan who planted the State’s oldest cabernet sauvignon vines back in 1957, near Grandview. Mr. Harlan also ran a winery, Alhambra Winery, up to 1981. His winery purchased the assets of St. Charles Winery (BW-WA-1), the first bonded winery in Washington after the repeal of Prohibition. Source of the first vineyard-designated Washington wine (Columbia Winery 1979 Otis Vineyard cabernet sauvignon).
Palouse (Palouse Winery): farm region in southeastern Washington with rolling green hills right out of a painting.
Red Mountain AVA: named after the color of the flowerheads from the native cheatgrass that used to blanket the area before vineyards were installed.
Roza Canal (Silver Lake ‘Roza Riesling’): a New Deal project from the mid-1930s that brought water to farmland east of Yakima and the northern Yakima Valley.
Snipes Mountain AVA: named for the most famous owner of the mountain, “Cattle King” Ben Snipes, from the late 1850s.
Steppe (Steppe Cellars): low rainfall natural grassland reflective of the land in eastern WA.
Syncline (Syncline Wine Cellars): a geological term; typically, a downward fold of stratified rock. Example—Bingen Syncline.
Tsillan (Tsillan Cellars): also spelled “Chelan,” is a Salish word for “deep water” to describe the deepest natural lake in Washington. Named by Alexander Ross (Fort Okanogan’s first fur trader) in the mid-1800s.
Whitman (Whitman Cellars (defunct)): Dr. Marcus Whitman and his wife, Narcissa, both murdered in 1847 by Native Americans after being mistakenly accused of poisoning them. It was Narcissa’s journal entry in 1836, while residing at Fort Vancouver as missionaries, that first described the presence of cultivated grapes in Washington state, remarking “The grapes are just ripe (and) I am feasting on them finely.”
Titan Cellars makes a wine specifically for a large variety store in western Washington. Think of this as a well-thought-out, supermarket-unlabeled wine. Dull gold lettering on a black background– not the typically cheesy, pastel colored elementary artwork found on other supermarket labels. To its credit, the wine is made with Red Mountain AVA fruit and that prized terroir displays itself in this sub-$20 wine. The wine is produced and bottled at Terra Blanca Estate & Vineyard on Demoss Road using only estate fruit. So, basically, this is a Terra Blanca red wine made under the auspices of Keith Pilgrim.
This is a great strategy for Mr. Pilgrim as he gets another label on precious shelf space at the store and the store gets a credible wine to boost its reputation. Collaborations such as this also greatly benefit the consumer by having an accessible wine from a stellar wine region (Red Mountain AVA) and at an affordable, fair price. Even the bottle glass is heavy, suggesting to the unwitting consumer (and wine reviewers) this is a luxurious bottle of happiness.
Food pairing was a late breakfast of eggs-over-easy, hash browns, and sopressata. Odd, interesting, and really good.
Tasted at 58-67 degrees on the IR temp gun. Nose: raspberry, black cherry creme, black currant. Color: clear dark magenta. Mouthfeel: medium-bodied. Tail trail: 6 seocnds. Flavors: red currant, bright cherry, sour red plum, chalky, young cedar, coriander, baking chocolate, and fine road dust. That’s Demoss on Red Mountain, alright.
Alcohol: 13.5%. Red Mountain Estate Vineyard. Red Mountain AVA. Merlot 53%, cabernet sauvignon 41%, and syrah 6%. Probably no more than 150 cases. pH 3.65. TA 0.655%. Power: 3/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 3/5. Finesse: 2/5. Rated: 90. Value: $20. Paid: $17. Music pairing: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.