Not all Wine is made in California

Seattle 2011

I know that some people feel that all good wine comes from California but believe it not there are plenty of good wineries outside of Napa Valley. Don’t get me wrong I love California wines but everyone needs to expand there horizons. I recently made a trip to Seattle where I was pleasantly surprised.  I did some research on the kind of tour I wanted and I found a company that was both reasonable and focused on both well known wineries and smaller wineries.(Side note: If you get a chance to visit Seattle make a reservation with Bon Vivant Wine Tours he’ll arrange everything from pick up/drop off to lunch).

Our day started at 10am and we headed off to some Woodinville Wineries. The drive was about 25 minutes from Seattle. The schedule called for 5 wineries and a stop for lunch. May seem like a lot but if you don’t like the wine remember to dump it in the bucket. No sense sipping a wine that doesn’t satisfy the palate.

1st Stop- Chateau Ste Michelle Winery

Fun fact about Chateau Ste. Michelle its actually a Chateau.

Chateau Ste Michelle Winery makes my favorite white wine-Riesling. The Riesling they create is sweet but not overpowering and taste great on its own or with some spicy food.  Many people have recommended that I try their Cold Creek Riesling. Which I may have to do. Price for this bottle reasonable about $6-$10 dollars. Do yourself a favor if you go to Chateau Ste. Michelle don’t buy that here just wait until you get home.

Since I know how the Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling wine taste I focused on some of there other wines. And I rated them  with a 5 star rating system.

  • 2007 Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot-3 stars. This Merlot was too spicy for my taste.
  • 2007 Ethos Reserve Syrah-3 stars. It has hints of chocolate but the earthy taste made for a pretty bold finish
  • 2009 Pinot Gris-2 stars. The start of this wine is fruity but then the spice takes over the sweetness and there isn’t time to recover with a good finish.
  • 2008 Columbia Valley Muscat Canelli-5 stars. This was a floral with some ginger and pear. It touched on sweetness but nothing artificial.
  • 2008 Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon-4 stars. Hints of Vanilla and a great finish. Nice for even some summer nights.

2nd Stop-Novelty Hill / Januik Winery

Its basically 2 wineries in one. I’d never heard of this place but the wines were refreshing. The kind of wines that you should take with you on a picnic.

  • 2008 Novelty Hill Roussanne-4 stars. This wine was tasting with hints of honeysuckle. Need I say more?
  • 2006 Novelty Hill Cabernet Sauvignon-4 starts.If you want to have steak for dinner this wine is what you want. With a little spice and mocha this wine will make you smile.
  • 2008 Novelty Hill Malbec-3 stars. I normally love Malbec but this ones hard finish left something to be desired
  • 2008 Novelty Hill Viognier-4 stars. This wine was refreshing  with tastes of apricot. Spring is here so you consider this one on your “To Drink Menu”

3rd Stop-Brian Carter Cellars

This is a very small operation but they take pride in their wine. Brian Carter is an actual person and we got to meet him when I was there. The unique factor on this place is that these are blended wines. Mr. Carter spent years studying and learning from other winemakers to create a great blended wine. Some people may not be to kin on this idea but taste it before you judge.

  • 2009 Oriana-5 stars. This is a great white wine. Its been blended with some Riesling which gives it just a hint of sweetness.
  • Solesce–3 stars. The blending of this leaves a bit of a bitterness that I sometimes find in a Chardonnay. If you like Chardonnay this is your wine then.
  • Tuttorosso-2 stars. This is a blended Italian wine. Its heavy and has a pretty long finish to it. I’d have this with some hearty pasta that includes sausage.
  • Corrida-5 stars. This is a Spanish wine that has a great balance of spices while giving you a soft finish.

4th Stop-Northwest Totem Cellars

When we drove up to this winery I thought we were in the wrong place because it was a home. Then I realized they’re a pretty small operation like Brian Carter but clearly much smaller since they don’t have a store front. Regardless the team here was friendly and the wine was reasonable.

  • Low Man Red (Bordeaux Blend)-5 stars. The Petit Verdot really makes this wine stand out. Its a blend and the Petit Verdot is only 4% but it made a differenct. This is a light soft wine with hints of plum.
  • 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon-2 stars. This wine was a little too much for me. Perhaps it was the coffee which over took the smell of the vanilla but the finish wasn’t as soft as I had hoped.
  • 2006 Late Harvest Viognier-5 stars. Hello! This is the way a good Viognier needs to be made. Its naturally sweet and the finish is exceptional. P.S. This is a dessert wine.

5th Stop-Woodinville Wine Cellers

This winery is tucked away in strip mall kind of place. But the staff was friendly and they do something most wineries don’t do and that’s give you some cheese, meats, and sweets to try with your wine. Nice job!

  • Little Bear Creek-3 stars. This while had a great soft finish with hints of fruit, licorice, and black cherry. Lots of flavors but its not a sweet wine but it rich.
  • 2008 O.M.O.-Odd Man Out-5 starts. I loved this wine. It had tastes of red licorice, wildberry, and blackberry. It light for a red and it made me smile.
  • 2009 Sauvignon Blanc-2 stars. This was my least favorite. This white wine left a bitterness in my mouth and it wasn’t smooth going down. Some people love Sauvignon Blancs I’m not one of them.

This was my wine tour of Woodinville, Washington. These notes are my opinion. You may taste these wines and think I love them, she’s crazy. But remember wine is an art form. Its not objective. You need to taste the wine and determine if you love it. Some people love spicy wines others love sweet.

Tip: Know what you love when you go into a wine tasting. Explain to the staff what you want and they’ll determine the kind of wine you might enjoy.


Posted on April 13, 2011, in Reviews, Wine Tours and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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