We are in the state of Washington until Monday for the 3rd annual Wine Bloggers’ Conference. We have tasted Washington wines before but never to the extent that we will be tasting over the next few days. Over 50 wineries are set to pour and entertain 300 wine bloggers. I’m anxious to find out about Washington wines and the geology and climate of the region. I want to learn all about the Yakima Valley and where that is in relationship to the Columbia Valley. And what about the Walla Walla wine region? What makes the Red Mountain such a highly-prized AVA? What issues do these winemakers have compared to elsewhere? It is dry and hot for sure. On Wednesday, a pre-pre-conference day for us, we visited three wineries in the Tri-Cities area near the Pasco airport. The first two wineries we visited had the Alsace Varietals of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris. I asked our host where these grapes were grown in relation to the red varietals. “Oh,”she said, “in the same area.” I doubt if that is the case but we plan to find out over the next few days. One thing I do know right off is that the days are much longer here than in California and thus affect the growing season. This morning I was awakened shortly after 5 am with a warm sun piercing through my window. Last evening we had a beautiful sunset overlooking the Columbia River at about 8:45. That is a lot more sunshine than we get in California.
On Wednesday we started our Washington wine journey by visiting three wineries in Richland. They are all in the same area, and all three are within walking distance from each other. There are just a few vineyards in this area, and these three wineries get all their grapes from outside the area. Tagaris Winery is our first stop because they also have a restaurant and we are ready for lunch. With our lunch, we enjoy a glass of the Tagaris Gewurztraminer. The wine was very pleasant but lacked that Lychee nut characteristic that we like so much in this varietal. If you are in the area, we highly recommend Tagaris for lunch or dinner. The patio and inside area are very beautiful. At Tagaris we tasted six wines for $7.00. According to our host, almost all wineries in Washington have a tasting fee. Most return the fee with a purchase of wine.
Next door, we visited the Bernard Griffin Winery. Things picked up here. The staff was very warm and friendly, and the majority of wines were very good to excellent. We thought the Grenache, Petite Verdot, and the Malbec were all very good wines. It is amazing to us that being treated well in a tasting room can make the wines and the experience so much more enjoyable.
Our last stop was the Bookwalter Winery. Here they have two levels of tasting, and we chose the $5 tasting for their three top wines, all Bordeaux blends. Yes, these wines were excellent, smooth, velvety and complex. Perhaps a little too robust but very exciting wines. The price for each of these wines is $50. At Bookwalter, as was the case with Tagaris, our host was wine knowledgeable but lacked that inner quality to make us feel welcome and comfortable.
Today is the pre-conference day for the Wine Bloggers’ Conference and about 50 of us will be bussed out to the Yakima Valley for a visit to wineries and a vineyard walk and lunch. We can’t wait to be entertained!