Monday, June 29, 2009

The Dirt on Dolcetto!

It’s finally summertime in the Valley and to celebrate this we’re getting ready to release three wines that are great for summer sipping: our 2008 Estate Sauvignon Blanc ($26), the 2008 Estate Dolcetto ($21) and the 2008 Washington State Chardonnay ($44).

For those of you not familiar with dolcetto, it is an Italian varietal traditionally grown in Northwestern Italy, in the Piedmont region. The area is also known for barbera and nebbiolo. Rick, after a trip to the Piedmont in the ‘90s, fell in love with both barbera and dolcetto and decided to plant some in our Estate Vineyard on his return home. The first vintage for these two wines was 2000, and the only vintage we have missed since then was 2004 due to the freeze that swept the Valley.

Dolcetto, which means “little sweet one” in Italian, is simply that. A red wine that is full of fruit and naturally low in tannins, which makes it perfect for summertime drinking. It is pretty much the every day table red in Italy where they are known to chill it just slightly, although it can also be enjoyed at room temperature. I love the Woodward Canyon Estate Dolcetto, with aromas of blackberries and currants which mingle with just a slight hint of sweetness from the puncheons we use. This wine is also perfect for summer fare and anything grilled – including pizza, burgers, chicken and vegetables! Yum. I can’t wait to get a bottle home.

The release of the 2008 Estate Dolcetto couldn’t have come at a better time. We have a large group of our Oregon distributor coming in today for a tour of the Woodward Canyon Estate Vineyard, tasting of the wines and a wood-fire pizza lunch. It is the perfect compliment to the pizzas Rick bakes outside. And I love pizza lunches because I get to be creative when throwing the pizzas together. Of course, I can’t complain about getting to enjoy the pizzas after they are done either.

My favorite pizza is filled with lots of fresh veggies and some meat and cheese. Here's a recipe for the pizza dough and don't forget to use plenty of cornmeal before the pizza goes on the stone or you'll have a huge mess! I usually start with red sauce and then throw on the meat and cheese. I tend to stick to just spicy Italian sausage and chunks of fresh mozzarella. It doesn't need much more than that. Then it's all the veggies I can fit on it. My favorites are roasted red peppers, caramelized Walla Walla Sweet onions, fresh mushrooms and fresh basil. Once everything is piled up on the dough I usually throw some goat cheese on for flavor and then top it off with a few shavings of fresh parmesan cheese. It's perfect! Gosh, it’s good to work out here!

And a special treat for all our readers/subscribers of this blog. Leave a comment with a way to contact you for a special one time use of a 10% discount on any wine that normally receives a case discount (“Old Vines”, etched bottles and older vintages not included in discount.) No minimum purchase applies.

Also, check out the website for information on how to sign up for one of the private tastings we'll be hosting this month in our new "Reserve House."

Now it's time to get ready for the holiday weekend! I hope everyone has a fun a safe Fouth of July! The tasting room will be closed on Saturday July 4th, but we will be open our regular hours on Friday the 3rd and Sunday the 5th. Come see me one of those days if you're in town!

Thanks for reading! Hope to see you all in the tasting room sometime soon!!


Shari / Marlene

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Study Time?

As a college student I spent a lot of time in the library. I would pack up all my books and notes and meet up with my friends to “study”. Oregon State University was awesome and had private study rooms at the library, where you didn’t have to worry about the rules of keeping quiet. So we would put our name on the list and hope to score one of those. When we did get one of the rooms we would go in, spread our books out over the table and then proceed to talk and gossip for the 3 hours we were allowed. Then, we’d pack everything up and head out into the night. I remember those nights fondly. Nights with my friends and not using the library room as it was intended. Sometimes we’d munch on pitas from Pita Pit if someone was willing to run across campus to pick them up. Sometimes we’d listen to music when one of us would bring in a cd player and speakers. All too often, though, I wouldn’t study one word while in the library rooms. So these memories are what I think of when I hear the word ‘library’. Fortunately for us in the wine world, it also means a collection of really nice older wines! Which brings me to our newest building at Woodward Canyon – our Reserve House.

We first broke ground for the Reserve House back in August of 2007 and the project wasn’t complete until this May – well, we are actually still doing the finishing touches on it but we can use it. One of the reasons it took so long was the full sized cellar we built below ground for our wine library. A good 8 feet below the ground, it is the first cellar Rick has had since he bonded the winery in 1981. Thomas, Rafa, Kiko and Manuel worked for almost two weeks to move all the library wines into it and it looks great. The only scary part is most of the cellar is already filled up. I’m not sure where we are going to put any future releases. Guess we’ll have to start drinking some of the older vintages now. What a rough job that would be!

The finishing of the Reserve House and the cellar came just in time for Vintage Walla Walla weekend. We were able to use the building to host a wine dinner after the Vintage Pour. It is a fun two-day weekend filled with educational classes, library wines, a silent auction and of course more wines! Friday night kicked off the weekend with the Library Pour at the Reid Center at Whitman College, where 20-plus wineries came in and poured wines from their libraries from 2002 and older. Kevin Mott, our winemaker, poured the 1996 “Artist Series” Cabernet at the event.

Attendees had the option of doing a wine dinner and as mentioned, we were one of the participating wineries. Rick and Darcey were out of town for the evening, so Thomas (National Sales), Marlene (Marketing and Web), Jordan and myself (Shari, Guest Services) took care of the dinner and the guests. The dinner went smoothly and the guests seemed to enjoy themselves, especially when we pulled out a magnum of 1999 “Special Selection”!

We had a great group of people for our Vintage Dinner. The evening started with appetizers on the back patio - Vietnamese spring rolls and grilled pita with baba ganoush, paired with the 2007 Estate Sauvignon Blanc (which we are now sold out of here at the winery, check back for details on the 2008 release).

From there it was time to walk down into the cellar and grab a glass of the 1999 “Special Selection” Red Wine out of a magnum. WOW, if you haven’t had a chance to taste some of Rick and Kevin’s “Special Selection” then you are missing out. It is absolutely delicious! The “Special Selection” is one of those wines that we only make when we’ve had an exceptional vintage. In the entire time that Woodward Canyon has been producing wines, there have only been four vintages of the “Special Selection” - the 1988, 1993, 1999 and the 2005. Don’t worry – you haven’t missed the 2005 yet! It is due out later this year. We only produced about 157 cases of the 750ml and 30 cases of the magnums so if you want some please contact us at so we can make sure you receive the release email. It is made up of 69.5% cabernet sauvignon, 25.7% merlot and 4.8% cabernet franc.

After trading white wine glasses for red wine glasses and grabbing their taste of the “Special Selection", the guests headed upstairs where the meal started off with a light salad made from local greens and fresh herbs from the Woodward Canyon herb garden. This was paired with the 2007 Washington State Chardonnay (also recently sold out). Moving onto the main course, guests enjoyed a top sirloin roast grilled outside on the wood-fired grill with roasted red potatoes. The dinner was paired with both the 2005 Charbonneau Red and the 2006 “Old Vines” Cabernet. Dessert was light and fresh - we simply topped lemon curd with hand picked strawberries (picked by myself earlier that morning) and freshly whipped cream and a sprig of mint. Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves, the dinner and the wines. It is great to know everyone who works at Woodward is a self-proclaimed foodie – which makes it so much fun to cook together!
Thanks for reading!

Shari, Guest Services