Thursday, April 30, 2009

Spring Release is here!

I hope this finds everyone on their way to Walla Walla. Spring Release Weekend is no longer right around the corner, it is here! I’m writing this blog quickly in between trips over to our Reserve House as we are busily trying to clean and get it ready for use this weekend. Can you believe that it’s finally ready!?! I know that we are all still shocked that we are going to be able to get into it. If you had seen it earlier this week you would be as well. It’s amazing what the Ketelsen Construction guys have been able to accomplish in this short amount of time since we decided to go live with it. And it’s gorgeous. Darcey and I hung our Red-Tailed Hawk painting by Todd Tealander, which was the 2004 “Artist Series” Cabernet label, earlier today and it looks great. I can’t wait to show everyone.

And don’t forget about the Winemaker’s Dinner at the Marcus Whitman tonight. Join Rick and Darcey from Woodward Canyon and Marty Clubb from L’Ecole #41 in their joint dinner. Chef Bear has been working closely with Darcey trying to get the menu just right. And the wine list looks pretty amazing as well. Hope you have already made your reservations because I'm not sure if there is any room left.

I hope to see each one of you in the tasting room this weekend! Come join us for the release of the 2006 Estate Red! It’s a great blend of 42% cabernet franc, 35% merlot, 14% cabernet sauvignon and 9% petit verdot all from the Woodward Canyon Estate Vineyard. And don’t forget to swing by the Reserve House for an additional tasting of the 2006 “Old Vines” Cabernet and the 2002 “Old Vines” Cabernet from the magnum (additional tasting fees apply). See you guys soon!


Shari / Woodward Canyon

Monday, April 20, 2009

Spring has finally sprung!

OMG! Spring has finally descended on the valley. It is gorgeous and sunny out and I don’t know about you all but it’s a sight that couldn’t have come soon enough! I was starting to think that Mother Nature had taken a permanent vacation and wasn’t going to be around this year. But she’s back and so is my sunshine! And it couldn’t be soon enough for the valley and the grapes. I spoke with Rick the other day and he was thinking that we’re a couple of weeks behind schedule in the vineyards. It will be interesting to see how it plays out for the vintage. Of course, a week or so of hot weather and we could be all caught up. It’s funny how weather will play such a huge part in the wines we produce.

Darcey is excited because we finally have flowers in the garden again. She’s been busy outside, pulling up weeds and trimming bushes. As I sit here and write this I see bees pollinating the bushes outside the window. Ahh … I love spring. Now I’m not the gardening-type person. Anyone who knows me at all, can vouch for the fact that I can kill anything green and alive in a matter of 5 days. And the thought of going outside and working my hands in the dirt to grow something that will essentially just die in weeks makes me turn a bit green myself. But that doesn’t mean that I do not love spring time and all the flowers that it brings. Nothing makes me happier than looking at freshly bloomed flowers, well except for the fact that I did not plant them myself.

Everyone at the winery is getting ready for Spring Release weekend. It always seems to get here quicker than we expected. But we love it because it usually signifies the start of the busy season. This year we will be releasing our 2006 Estate Red. It has already received great reviews from both Wine Spectator (91 pts) and Wine Enthusiast (95 pts). This is another great showing from our Estate Vineyard, which is Certified Sustainable, Salmon Safe, LIVE and Vinea. The vineyard has been certified sustainable by the International Organisation for Biological Control (IOBC). The IOBC was established in 1955 to promote environmentally safe methods of pest and disease control in plant protection. The vineyard is also designated as Salmon Safe. This wine is 100% from the Estate Vineyard making it a designated Salmon Safe wine. The ’06 vintage is already showing great! Here’s an excerpt from Rick on the tech sheet.
“The vintage of 2006 gave perfect physiological ripeness. As might be expected with such low yields, the resulting wine is concentrated with generous black fruit and cassis. A breadth of spices and vanilla from new oak integrate beautifully with firm merlot dominated fruit. A nose of roasted game, ripe fruit and shaved chocolate develops in the glass; the color is reddish purple. A soft, generous texture transitions to a supple, balanced mouth feel; the finish is rich, layered and long. In this wine I am again able to perceive an “expression” or “sense of place” from our Estate Vineyard and I love that! With proper cellaring, this wine should age for ten years.”

We are also excited with the possibility that our new Reserve Building will be finished in time for Spring Release. We will still be doing the majority of our tasting in our production building, but we will be offering a special tasting of our 2006 “Old Vines” Cabernet, for an additional tasting fee, in the Reserve Building. We don’t usually taste our “Old Vines” since the production had dropped so low, but we thought this might be a fun time to break it out. Swing by and taste this limited wine and get yours before it’s all gone.

If you’re in town early for Spring Release and don’t have plans yet for Thursday, April 30th, swing by The Marcus Whitman and join Rick and Marty Clubb from L’Ecole #41 at their winemaker’s dinner. It should be a great dinner with two of the pioneer wineries in the valley. The dinner looks to be fantastic and of course they’ll be pouring some great wines! Reservations are required, (509) 525-2200.

If you haven’t heard, we are running a ‘Celebrate Spring’ sale online and in the tasting room. It’s our way of saying thank you to our customers. We are offering a 15% case discount on whole and mixed cases on everything except for our “Old Vines”, large formats, etched bottles and older vintages. This is a limited time offer so don’t miss out!

Well I’m off to go and play in the sunshine a bit before it returns to hiding behind the clouds. Gosh, could this weather be any more perfect?!? The only thing that would make it better would be pizza from our wood-fire oven. I’m gonna have to see if I can’t talk Rick into firing it up and putting on one of our Woodward Canyon pizza lunches. Enjoy your day! Come say hi to me in the tasting room next time you’re in the area!

Shari / Woodward Canyon

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Taste Washington

Hello again! I’m back in the office, rested and rejuvenated after a quick trip over to Seattle for Taste Washington. Mine was much shorter than everyone else from Woodward Canyon but I enjoyed myself immensely. It was really nice to get away from Walla Walla for however short it was. Rick and Darcey left Thursday so they could attend the Washington Wine Restaurant Awards & Tasting Friday night and Rick could attend and lead some of the seminars on Saturday. Thomas flew in Saturday morning after making stops in San Francisco and Chicago. And then first thing Monday morning he was off again, this time to New York. WOW! What a rough life he must lead. I’ve always wondered what life would be like, always on the road. I ended up catching a plane at the Walla Walla Airport at 6:50 in the morning. Let me tell you something, a 4:30 wake up call so you can make a 6:50 flight is not something I enjoy doing. Maybe I don’t envy Thomas’s job as much as I thought, after all.

Seattle was gorgeous! It was bright and sunny and unlike most of the rainy days I've spent there. It was almost difficult being indoors all afternoon. Almost, but not quite, I enjoyed myself at Taste way to much to think about it. There were more people than I could count but it was fun meeting everyone and talking about the wines. And with over 200 wineries and 60 restaurants, there was no way to get around to all of them. I made a point to taste a couple different cabs which were composed entirely of Champoux Vineyard fruit. I thought it would be interesting to see how they compared and were different from our “Old Vines” Cabernet. I love how each wine was similar in some ways but also very different in others. I guess that is what makes wine so fascinating.

Both of our labels, Nelms Road and Woodward Canyon, were included at Taste. We poured the ’07 Nelms Cabernet and ’07 Nelms Merlot and then the ’07 Washington State Chardonnay and the ’06 “Artist Series” Cabernet for Woodward Canyon. The wines were showing really well and people seemed to enjoy them. We, of course, poured out of the “Artist Series” and came close to pouring out of everything else. It was a great event with great response from the consumers.

The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance hosted a special “Get a Taste” of Vintage Walla Walla during a 4 hour block once the Grand Tasting started. It was an appointment-only session on some of the older wines in the valley. Rick joined six other winemakers from Walla Walla, and poured our 1998 “Artist Series” Cabernet, to help showcase what Vintage Weekend is all about. I didn’t get to taste any of the wines there but we had opened a bottle of the ’98 a couple of weeks ago and the winery and it was still pouring beautifully. Lots of tobacco and earthy nuances with some black fruit on the palate, this wine still had some cellar life on it.

We poured through just about everything and headed off to Seastar in Seattle for dinner that night. If you haven’t been to this restaurant before you should definitely visit on your next trip. We had an amazing dinner. We started off the night with a couple bottles of champagne paired with fresh oysters shooters right out of the sea. Then we moved on to our white for the evening with fresh seared ahi, calamari poppers and crab cakes. Then it was a pinot noir from Burgundy which I paired with my halibut provencal and spring style asparagus. We finished off the evening with crème brulee, white chocolate coconut cream pie and passion fruit panna cotta with tropical fruit. All the desserts were amazing, though I’m gonna have to admit that the crème brulee was my favorite. Once again, I’m so glad that everyone at Woodward Canyon is as much of a foodie as I am. I am so lucky to be working at a place where us employee are treated so well and we are constantly surrounded by great food and amazing wines!

If you're in Walla Walla today come see Marlene at the Woodward Canyon table at Feast Walla Walla between one and four. We'll be pouring our '05 White Riesling, our '07 Estate Barbera and our '07 Walla Walla Valley Cabernet. If you can’t make it to Feast, swing by the tasting room and we’ll share some wines with you out here!

For those of you who will be in town the first weekend of May come visit us for Spring Release Weekend, May 1st through the 3rd. We will be pouring some of our favorites. And we might even have a trick or two up our sleeves. Hope to see you all through the tasting room at some point during the spring / summer!


Shari / Woodward Canyon Winery