Local importers make it easy to explore exciting, affordable wines from one of Spain’s most dynamic regions

AMONG THE LARGEST and most dynamic wine regions, Spain produces twice as much wine as the United States. Within Spain, arguably the most interesting region is called Rioja, where the red grape Tempranillo dominates vineyards.

The history of Rioja goes back a millennium; it rose in fame in the 19th century, when phylloxera devastated the vineyards of France. Many French winemakers turned to Rioja to get them through the most difficult times. This not only brought recognition to the region, but the Bordeaux winemakers also brought expertise and upgrades.>>>Read the entire article featuring Chateau Ste Michelle on The Seattle Times




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12 (plus 1!) Days of Holiday Deals for Everyone on Your List

Woodinville Wine Country has your gift list covered this year; we promise not to tell if you save some for yourself!

Give the gift of Woodinville Wine Country this year with exclusive holiday deals on wine, tasting experiences, lodging and transportation for everyone on your list. Here is our list of can’t miss offers to snag today:

  1. Adventura

For the adventurous and outdoorsy on your list give the gift of play this season with Adventura. Try the Holiday Family Pack – $200 for 5 passes to a PlayDay, a
PlayDate for Two – $95 for two adults at one of the adults-only PlayDate sessions or a Stocking Stuffer – $45 for one pass to a PlayDay sessions, also great for last minute gifts. https://adventuraplay.com/

  1. Airfield Estates

Through December 16th, in-store and online, purchase 4-11 bottles and save 50% off the regular shipping rate. Buy 12 bottles or more and each bottle ships for just $1! Restrictions apply. http://shop.airfieldwines.com/wines

  1. Armstrong Family Winery

Try a holiday gift pack featuring the three newest Armstrong releases: 2016 Wild Angels (dry Charonnay-Viognier blend), 2015 Four Birds (Merlot-based Bordeaux-style blend), and 2015 The Scotsman Syrah. This 3-bottle selection is presented in an elegant black gift pack and is available for $88 ea, or $160 for two. www.shop.armstrongwinery.com

4. Cave B Estate Winery
Enjoy special pricing on the 2017 Viognier, 2015 Malbec and 2015 Late Harvest Semillon, starting at $24 and available through the end of the year. For your out-of-state family and friends, receive free shipping on 6 or more bottles to all available states. https://cave-b-estate-winery.myshopify.com/collections/sales

5. Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery
Stock up for your holiday gatherings between 12/14-12/20 and save 15% on orders over $100 online or at the Woodinville Chateau, plus treat someone on your list to a Private Winery Experience ranging from educational to food and wine pairings or even a unique wine blending session and save 15% on all experiences at the Chateau (excludes Single Vineyard) throughout the month of December.


  1. DeLille Cellars

From December 7th through the 23rd check out new “Holidaily” offers running daily. Offers will include gift sets, large formats, and other special selections at fabulous prices. Follow DeLille Cellars on social media (@delillecellars) or sign up for their newsletter at www.delillecellars.com to be the first to know. Stop by their Carriage House Tasting Room in Woodinville or shop online. https://www.delillecellars.com/holiday

  1. DiStefano Winery

12 (plus 1!) Days of Holiday Deals for Everyone on Your ListDuring the month of December, enjoy 15% off current releases plus a limited selection of library wines for that extra special gift. http://distefanowinery.orderport.net/wines/

  1. J. Bookwalter Winery

You’ll receive complementary shipping on all orders of $100 or more in the month of December, in-store or online at www.bookwalterwines.com

  1. Matthews Winery

Grab the perfect 3-pack for all of your Holiday pairings from Matthews Winery, Including the 2015 Matthews Claret, 2016 Matthews Cuvée (back for a limited time) and 2017 Matthews Sauvignon Blanc. Just $79 and available in-store or online at http://matthewswinery.orderport.net/wines/Matthews-Wines

  1. Novelty Hill Januik Winery

Try one of four different holiday gift packs offered by Novelty Hill Januik, from the Collector’s Edition 3-pack of their best limited edition wines to the Champoux Vineyard Collection 3-pack, all elegantly presented in a handsome wooden box. From $89-$145, available at the Woodinville winery. https://store.noveltyhilljanuik.com/featured-wines-c18.aspx

  1. Panther Creek Cellars

Free shipping on full cases for the holidays – send your friends + family your favorite Pinots and the shipping’s on us! http://www.panthercreekcellars.com/wines

  1. Willows Lodge

12 (plus 1!) Days of Holiday Deals for Everyone on Your ListTreat yourself to the “Spice up your Holidays” package. Start your stay off at check-in with a welcoming glass of wine before settling into your luxurious guest room or suite. A bottle of Willows Lodge Cabernet wine with mulling spices awaits along with a recipe card to make this holiday treat at home. Cozy up in the Fireside Lounge with two glasses of the seasonal Wassail draft cocktail. Then wake up the following morning to breakfast in the Barking Frog or enjoy breakfast in bed.

Prices start at $329 for guest room and $409 for a suite, available through January 15, 2019. Subject to room and rate availability. Not applicable towards contracted rates, with any other offers or for groups. Other restrictions may apply. https://www.willowslodge.com/washington_vacation_packages/Special-Promotions

Plus special bonus offer #13. Wine Tasting Shuttle

Enjoy 15% off all shared-ride wine tasting shuttle packages including lunch and up to 4 wine tastings around Woodinville Wine Country. Enter code “15% off” at checkout at https://www.winetastingshuttle.com/book-online

[photo cred: Duval Images]



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Book Your St. Nick’s Sip & Stay Weekend Now

For anyone who loves the sights, sounds, and especially tastes of the holidays, this Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the most Woodinville time of the year. Our “O Chocolate Night” and annual St. Nick’s Holiday Open House Celebration will kick off the season’s merrymaking with three days of tasting, touring and treats. And to make it all convenient, affordable, and perfectly delectable, Bothell is getting in the spirit with a special St. Nick’s Sip & Stay Package that offers up big savings on accommodations and FREE tickets to the St. Nick’s Holiday Open House. Available at participating Bothell hotels, the St. Nick’s Sip & Stay includes:

 Discounted hotel rates for a one or two-night stay in Bothell (just 3 miles from Woodinville)

 Two FREE tickets to Woodinville’s St. Nick’s Holiday Open House on Dec 1st and 2nd (a $130 value)

• $10 off on Woodinville’s “O Chocolate Night” Wine & Chocolate Tasting on Nov 30th

Three days of chocolate, cheer, Chardonnays, and Cabernets—is there a better way to get in the spirit? Click here for St. Nick’s Sip & Stay details, then start your holidays by treating yourself to the perfect winter weekend!


[photo cred: Carol Hook Photography]

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Woodinville Wine Country Gives Back to the Community

Our community is dedicated to supporting a variety of charitable causes year-round

While Woodinville Wine Country is known for our award-winning wines, beer and other craft beverages, another well-known fact among locals and frequent visitors is the community’s commitment to giving back. Through our member organizations there are ways to contribute to a variety of causes year-round but especially as we approach the holiday season, we wanted to highlight just a few of the ways that you can get involved and give back to the community, all while enjoying the best that Woodinville Wine Country has to offer – we think that’s a win-win!

TruthTeller Winery supporting YouthCare Seattle 

During this holiday season, TruthTeller winery will be raising funds and collecting needed items for YouthCare Seattle, an organization which helps homeless youth get off the streets, provides housing, covers basic needs, educates them, and prepares them to be successful in life. Stop by their tasting room in Woodinville’s Warehouse District 1-5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays to donate wish list items in their donation box or provide cash and check donations. For those who prefer their donation goes towards a specific wish list item, they will provide forms for individuals to choose what they want their donation to provide (socks, shoes, scarves, etc.) and TruthTeller winery will purchase and donate those items.

While you’re there try The Madman, a unique blend of 60% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Cabernet Franc. The TruthTeller winery family believes wine is an experience distinctively unique to the truth within each and every one of us. We all experience the flavors, the aromas and the memories in our own personal ways. From Woodinville to Walla Walla they invite you to laugh, share stories and discover your own wine truths.

Woodinville Wine Country Gives Back to the CommunityForgeron Cellars supporting the Adopt-A-Stream Foundation

A cause near and dear to Forgeron Cellars is the Adopt A Stream Foundation (AASF), established to ensure that Pacific Northwest streams continue to provide healthy spawning and rearing habitat for salmon, trout, steelhead, and other wildlife while at the same time, serve our growing population by providing clean drinking water, and beautiful places for rest and relaxation. Earlier this year they sponsored the Adopt-A-Stream Salmon, Steelhead and Trout Celebration, a fundraising event offering premium wine and food pairings and an afternoon walk in the surrounding forested wetland. Proceeds support The Streamkeeper Academy Endowment Fund and The Stream Restoration Fund.

You can visit their inviting Hollywood District tasting room Thursdays-Mondays 12-6pm (7pm on Fridays) to learn more about this cause. A special treat to try this fall is their newly released 2015 100% Mourvèdre from Red Mountain. In France and many regions of the world, Mourvèdre is often used as a blending grape because of its high tannins and alcohol, and tendency to ripen late. Due to its desert-like conditions, Heart of the Hill Vineyard located in the Red Mountain appellation of Washington state, produces Mourvèdre that is showing itself to be a delicious stand-alone variety. This is a perfect wine for pairing with those hearty autumn recipe favorites like bacon wrapped pork tenderloin or a rustic plum tart. Yum!

Sol Stone Winery supporting the WAVE Foundation and Guide Dogs for the BlindWoodinville Wine Country Gives Back to the Community

Sol Stone Winery and its owners, Buzz and Karen Buckingham, are passionate about giving back to charity. They actually have a nickname for their award-winning Viognier, “Sol Sister!” A portion of proceeds from this wine benefit the WAVE Foundation; Women Against Violence Everywhere. As one of the original founders of WAVE, Karen has been involved in this important work for over a decade. Their slogan Discover Your Power speaks to their mission statement, they are dedicated to ending relationship abuse and sexual violence through community awareness, education and empowerment. They are making a difference and Sol Stone is grateful to be a part of it.

Speaking of grateful, the other wine that gives back to charity is their Grateful Red which supports Guide Dogs for the Blind. The Buckingham family has been active with this cause for years. They have raised puppies and adopted dogs after retirement from their very important careers. Come by the tasting room and you might get to meet resident winery dog, Digby. He was on track to be a Guide Dog, but decided being a greeter in a wine tasting room would be a fun job! He was right!

While visiting their tasting room at The Junction in Woodinville (open Friday through Sunday) try the Grenache Blanc. Only a handful of wineries are lucky to make this wine from one of the best vineyards in Washington, Boushey Vineyards. The 2017 vintage was their very first and it was a big hit this summer, selling over 100 cases in just a couple of months. A unique variety, the white grape cousin of a regular Grenache, Grenache Blanc is clean and crisp with flavors of Asian pear, mango, white peach with a refreshing Meyer lemon finish. This wine is perfect in the summer, but also a refreshing start to fall/winter meals. You will want to start your Thanksgiving celebration with this beautiful white wine!

DeLille Cellars supporting Cancer CareWoodinville Wine Country Gives Back to the Community

Earlier this year, DeLille Cellars partnered with glassbaby to launch an exclusive D2 glassybaby showcasing their passion for Washington wine and dedication to charitable giving. This exclusive color, which was custom designed to mirror the color of their iconic D2 Bordeaux-style red blend, is only available through the winery. Due to the sell-out response from our first launch (which supported the Auction of Washington Wines), they are bringing back a limited amount for the holidays in support of glassybaby’s greater mission to support uncompensated cancer care. The D2 glassybaby will be available November 30th, leading into the release of DeLille’s 25th vintage of D2 on Drink D2 Day, December 2nd.

If you haven’t tried their iconic and award-winning D2 Bordeaux-blend, put this on your list! Soft and welcoming Merlot drives the entry with red currant before giving way to the power and structure of Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit is well balanced with savory notes of toasted fennel seeds and dried rosemary, with enjoyable oak influence and firm tannins on the sustained finish. Their 2015 vintage is completely sold out but mark your calendar for 12/2 when the 2016 vintage will be released.

[photo cred: Duval Images, DeLille CellarsForgeron CellarsSol Stone Winery, TruthTeller Winery]



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Merlot: A Worthy Red Varietal Deserving of Our Attention

It’s Time to Celebrate Washington State Merlot

When you look at a wine list, do you check out the Merlot options? If this varietal hasn’t been on you radar before, it’s time you give it a try. A grape truly worth getting excited about? Absolutely!

Merlot grows in many places of the wine world, but growing merlot grapes that stand on their own requires a very specific climate, one that Eastern Washington provides. The cold nights, wind and arid climate all play a key role in gently stressing the grapes, keeping their skin thick and their flavor concentrated. The result is a grape with great wine making potential.

You can find extraordinary bottles of merlots to choose from. This is an approachable grape varietal that is known for being soft, ripe and elegant. Let’s indulge in some delicious examples of note-worthy Washington State Merlots. We’ll have a full glass please.

DeLille Cellars Merlot 
DeLille Cellars 2015 Merlot: A blend of four great vineyards from the Yakima and Red Mountain AVAs. These plots span the four compass points of the viticultural region showcasing Red Willow, DuBrul, Klipsun and Upchurch. Blending fruit from these celebrated vineyards adds complexity; yet the charm and purity of the region’s Merlot remains the central focus of this wine. This wine has received 90 points from Jeb Dunnuck. “A beautiful Merlot, it offers classic notes of black cherries, dark chocolate and roasted herbs in a supple, full-bodied, sexy, rounded style.” – Jeb Dunnuck.

Merlot: A Worthy Red Varietal Deserving of Our AttentionBrian Carter Cellars ONE Merlot
Brian Carter Cellars 2013 ONE Merlot: A single varietal single vineyard release. Brian Carter has made a lot of nice merlot over the years but either they did not reach the quality to stand on their own or Brian needed them for one of his bends (always the priority). In 2013 Brian had a lot of good Merlot for his blends, so he was able to keep this lot, clearly the best from the vintage, for bottling on its own in the ONE program. This wine from Olsen Vineyard is an outstanding example of what this variety can do in Washington State. Having tasted Merlots from all over the world, Brian has maintained that Washington has the best expression of Merlot fruit from anywhere. This wine is dark garnet in color. The intense and complex aromas include black cherry, blackberry, raspberry and pomegranate with hints of earth and toasted oak. The palate is round with just the right hints of tannin for aging and a balanced lengthy finish.

J Bookwalter MerlotMerlot: A Worthy Red Varietal Deserving of Our Attention
J Bookwalter 2015 Readers Merlot: An outstanding Merlot from Washington’s revered old vineyards Conner Lee and Dionysus. Their Readers blend tips its hat to all exploratory readers of books and wine. Blending Conner Lee Vineyard’s 1992 old block Merlot and Dionysus Vineyards’ block 15 Merlot combines two super character vineyards. Elephant Mountain Vineyard’s Cabernet bring spice and complexity to the blend. This powerful wine offers fragrant cherries and chocolate with rich marrionberry flavors in this delicious easy drinking style. The 2015 Readers Merlot just received the following scores: 90-Wine Enthusiast 88-Jeb Dunnuck 95-James Suckling. The 2015 Vintage of Readers Merlot shows slightly more acid and structure than your “quintessential” Washington Merlot making it perfect for pizza, pasta, grilled or braised meats.

Merlot: A Worthy Red Varietal Deserving of Our AttentionMathew’s Merlot
Mathew’s Winery Merlot: In celebration of Merlot season and the exciting release of their 2015 Merlot, they are offering a 3-year Merlot vertical (2013, 2014, 2015).

“The 2015 Merlot is a blend of 78% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon that was brought up in 69% new French oak. Crème de cassis, violets, a touch of vanilla bean, and incense all give way to a rich, voluptuous, beautifully textured, ripe Merlot that has sweet tannin and a silky, elegant texture. It’s ready to go, yet should keep for at least a decade.”



“Plum and cherry aromas are lifted by a note of wild herbs. Compellingly plush and generous in the mouth, offering a distinctly layered texture to its flavors of black raspberry, cigar box, milk chocolate and herbs. Already extremely appealing but I wouldn’t describe it as soft. The long, palate-staining finish builds inexorably. A knockout chocolatey Merlot with outstanding breadth and finesse.”

“Like with the Cabernet, the 2013 Merlot was reviewed last year under the Tenor 2:2 label. Incorporating 24% Cabernet Franc, it has a complex bouquet of plum pit, blood orange, leafy herbs and mint to go with a charming, ripe, supple style on the palate. I love its silky, elegant texture, and while good now, it should benefit from a few years in bottle.”

[photo cred: Duval Images, DeLille Cellars, Brian Carter Cellars, J Bookwalter, Matthews Winery]



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Merlot is Back

By Guest Writer: Chris Upchurch

I walked into the cellar the other day and a friend of mine was sporting a baseball hat that said, “Make Merlot Great Again.” How cool is that? I remember a time when we believed Merlot was going to be the king varietal here in Washington. All the journalists were raving about it. It seemed to have more structure than many California Merlots, and Chateau Ste. Michelle was planting it like crazy. Napa was going to make Cabernets, Oregon would make Pinot Noir, and we would make that deliciously layered varietal called Merlot. All was right in the world.

Despite this rosy forecast, Cabernet Sauvignon continued to dominate the red wine market. The movie Sideways didn’t help Merlot either. I told people that the character who refused to drink Merlot also drank from a spittoon later in the movie, and his favorite French wines, Petrus and Cheval Blanc, were Merlot dominant. Still, Merlot sales cooled while Syrah gained popularity and more and more outstanding Cabernets were being made here in the Northwest.

Regardless of the trends, I’ve always loved making Merlot. It’s a varietal that always delivers a key trait in my winemaking criteria: deliciousness. Soft and accessible, Merlot is always a crowd pleaser. It delivers the whole gamut of fruits and spices, yet still rewards aging in the cellar. And it grows so well here in Washington. From the Wahluke Valley to Walla Walla and everywhere in between, Merlot is the second most planted grape here after Cabernet Sauvignon. According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, there were over 9,000 acres of Merlot planted in Washington as of 2017, a 54% increase from 2006.

You can imagine how pleased I am to see that Merlot is back. At DeLille Cellars, we’re making more than ever. Our Merlot-dominant D2 is our most popular wine and is recognized around the country and in several international markets. There are well over 100 varietal Merlots produced in the state, not to mention all of Washington’s Bordeaux-style blends where Merlot is key. While much of the world still struggles with Merlot (name a famous Australian Merlot), ours only gets better. With increasing vine age, better clonal selection and a whole host of other improvements, we’re making subtle, mouthwatering Merlots that I dare anyone to try and not love. At Walla Walla’s annual celebration this year, Merlot was the featured grape, and producers from around the world were invited to participate and compare. Most agreed that Washington Merlots were second to none, further demonstrating how fantastic this varietal is for our state and industry.

Finally, I noticed that the new generation of wine drinkers really loves Merlot. They’re not necessarily hanging around the local wine shop on a Saturday afternoon reading wine critics’ reviews and scores; they’re just looking for wines that deliver delicious pleasure to be shared with friends. While all varietals can be hedonistic, Merlot seems best suited to this aspect of wine drinking—it’s simply a delight to drink. And that’s probably the biggest reason to believe that Merlot has a big future. While I won’t try to predict just how big, one thing’s for sure: I’ve got to get one of those hats.

[photo cred: Duval Images and DeLille Cellars]


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Get a Taste of Woodinville Wine Country’s VIP Experiences

In Woodinville Wine Country, we have a whole menu of VIP wine experiences.

Whether you are seeking to enhance your wine knowledge, get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of winemaking, or simply looking to enjoy some new and unique wine pairings, there truly is something for everyone.

So now that we’ve got your attention, shall we explore some of the options?

Novelty Hill-Januik

You are cordially invited to step into an experience that introduces you to what makes Washington wines unique and what differentiates veteran acclaimed Washington State winemaker Mike Januik’s wine.

Private Reserve Tour & Tasting: On this tour a knowledgeable guide will lead you and your guests through an unforgettable tour and tasting experience. Be prepared to take a walking tour of the winery’s fermentation and barrel rooms providing an insider’s look at winemaking.  Along the way, you will enjoy a guided seated tasting of four specially selected limited-release wines, each thoughtfully paired with a small bite courtesy of winery Chef Seth Fernald. A true connoisseurs’ tasting you won’t want to miss.

Patterson Cellars

Wine and Chocolate Pairing Experience: Celebrate your decadent side with a flight featuring five winemaker-selected Patterson Cellars wines paired with distinctive, culinary-inspired chocolates from Seattle chocolate company, jcoco. Walk through each pairing for an educational and unique wine tasting experience.

Get a Taste of Woodinville Wine Country’s VIP Experiences


Wine and Cheese Pairing Experience: Indulge your fondness for the finer things in life with a tasting experience focused on artisan cheese and wine pairing. While sampling five current release and reserve wines, you will be served local and European cheese accompanied by fresh fruit.

Charcuterie & Roasted Vegetable Pairing Experiences: Savor the culinary tasting experience featuring both important and locally sourced gourmet offerings thoughtfully paired with five select Patterson Cellar wines. The flavor and textures of each pairing combine to create a perfect experience for the senses. And if you are so inclined, enhance your tasting experience by adding a selection of Heritage mini sammies and roasted garlic & basil potato chips.

Panther Creek Cellars

Friday Night Vertical Tasting Experience: What are you doing Friday night? Why not join Panther Creek Cellars for a flight? Come to their Woodinville tasting room and experience the evolution of the Panther Creek Cellars wine. Taste side by side different vintages for an in depth tasting of their highly esteemed Pinots. Each month on selected Fridays they will be featuring a vertical tasting of their different vineyards with small bites provided to pair with the wines.

Get a Taste of Woodinville Wine Country’s VIP Experiences

Madelaine, the tasting Room & Assistant General Manager will be there to walk you through the experience. Madelaine also happens to have over 13 years in the wine industry and is a Certified Sommelier. At Panther Creek, their goal for making wine is simple. “We hope that each wine will express the personality of its vintage and character of its vineyard.”

[photo cred: Wyss Photography]


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Treat yourself to the Chateau Experience

The wine experience. It’s the biggest reason people come to Woodinville. Let’s face it, anyone can buy a bottle of wine at the nearest market, but to enjoy premium wines in a beautiful setting with expert winemakers, paired foods, and fun, educational activities—that’s why you come to Woodinville. So when you come, you’ll want to experience Chateau Ste. Michelle.

One of the most rewarding advantages of being the oldest, largest winery in Woodinville and Washington is that you have over 50 years of experiences to draw on and share with visitors. And just as all that knowledge, experimentation and tradition inform the wines, they’ve also helped Chateau Ste. Michelle cultivate an indulgent menu of experiences and activities to surround them.

The first thing everyone experiences as they arrive at Ste. Michelle is the scenic, beautifully manicured grounds. Public and private tours and tastings are available daily, or visitors can simply stroll and picnic at their leisure. Once inside the spacious tasting room and wine shop, you can sample the daily Feature Flight, purchase a bottle, or simple relax with a glass or two.

But a tour and tasting are merely an introduction to everything else that’s going on here. There’s a daily food menu from their renowned culinary team to enjoy, event spaces and private salons for group functions and tastings, and summer brings a popular garden tour and world-class outdoor concert series.

Then there are all the delicious activities for enhancing your appreciation and knowledge of wine: “Artfully Paired” guides you through the ultimate food and wine experience; “Blend” allows you to become the winemaker, mixing and creating your own blend; “Sensory Sojourn” teaches you to recognize and appreciate the distinguishing characteristics in each glass. Specific tasting experiences are available to do a “deep dive” into aged wines, single vineyard and limited releases, Champagne and sparking wines, and more.Treat yourself to the Chateau Experience

With over 120 fine winemakers throughout Woodinville Wine Country, the options for relaxing with a great bottle are nearly endless. But for sheer wine appreciation and enjoyment, it’s hard to beat the full cellar of experiences to be had at Chateau Ste. Michelle.


[photo cred: Duval Images]



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The Nose Knows: Shelly’s Tips for Smelling Like a Pro

Written By: Shelly Fitzgerald, CS, CSW, WSET III

It takes quite a bit of practice in order to train our noses to differentiate even 100 of the thousands of aromas perceptible in wine. Add difficulty to the task by being able to put the smells we detect into words. The official term “olfaction” is a complex sense. It enables us to perceive scents through our nose directly (direct olfaction) or indirectly through our nose and mouth together (retronasal olfaction).

The sharpest of our five senses is smell, but over time, we’ve come to rely on it less and less. Familiar aromas are stored in our brain as memories. Where we grew up plays an enormous role in the multitude of smells that we’ve been exposed to. It’s that exposure to an environment of smells that has laid the foundation for our own rolodex of distinguishable smells. Eighty percent of our wine enjoyment comes from smell, and with practice it only gets better.

Here are some tips to get your nose back in shape and have you sniffing and smelling like a pro!

Smell – and smell often! Head to your local farmer’s market and take the opportunity to smell the seasonal fruit, vegetables, and flowers. Do the same at your local grocery store. Eventually, add in dried fruit, vegetables, and flowers. Not only is this fun but you’ll begin to appreciate the difference in aromatics between ultra-fresh, fresh, and dried.

When smelling your wine keep your mouth slightly open. This gives you a greater chance of picking up the most from what you’re smelling. Take a sip of your wine and hold it in your mouth. There are 5 distinguishable tastes (Salt, Sour, Sweet, Bitter, and Umami) that compliment your sense of smell. These tastes work in conjunction to enhance the overall experience.

One experiment is to plug your nose and taste your wine. Since 80% of what you detect comes from smell and just 20% from taste, you’ll notice that you’re unable to smell or taste very much. It’s just the same when we are stuffed up with a cold or allergies. Think of how hard it is to smell anything. Do you ever say “nothing tastes good” when you’re stuffy?

Taking on the task of “thoughtfully smelling” can be a bit overwhelming. When your nose is fresh you’ll grab on to smells quickly, but it will seem that your nose begins to dull and you’ll feel like you can no longer pick up any distinct smells. Sniff the back of your own hand and it should reset your nose and send you back on your way to smelling enjoyment.

Set yourself a time limit and like anything new break it into smaller components. Focus first on primary aromas. These are the aromas that you get from the grape varietal itself along with the influence of where the grapes were grown including the land, climate, sunshine, soil, and viticulture. Examples of fruit notes: lemon, grapefruit, apple, pear, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, cherry and example of floral notes are: rose, violet, acacia, honeysuckle.

Next, venture onto the secondary aromas. These come from winemaking and are the aromas from the pre-fermentation, fermentation, malolactic conversion, and oak influence. Examples are vanilla, cedar, mocha, butter, spice.The Nose Knows: Shelly’s Tips for Smelling Like a Pro

Lastly, set your sight on the tertiary aromas these take place when the wine has aged and the fruit has taken a back seat. Examples are mushroom, earth, spices, barnyard.

Keep in mind that wine writers have been doing this a long time. Their vocabulary has strengthened to match their noses. If your wine descriptors don’t line up with theirs, don’t fret. Wine is a subjective and incredibly complex beverage that takes time to master. Enjoy the journey!

[photo cred: Duval Images]










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Barrel Wine Tours: Creating Next Level Wine Experiences

Have you ever wanted to plan a special day of wine tasting for a corporate or private event, but you didn’t know where to start? It can be overwhelming when you think about all the time and logistical planning that goes into creating these group experiences. From the most basic details: How are we going to get from point A to point B? To the details that matter most: How do I know what kind of wine experience my group is going to have? All these details matter. So, this begs the question…. What if there was a company made up of wine industry experts that could create a personalized all-inclusive experience for you and your cohorts? Well, prepare yourself to be awarded friend or boss of the year.

Barrel Wine Tours has been offering full service wine excursions since 2008. When you spend a day with Barrel Wine Tours, the only job you have is to sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight…. No pun intended. They are there to take care of every portion of the day. This includes all touring and tasting fees, luxury transportation, barrel samples, meet and greets with winemakers, a knowledgeable industry guide and depending on your tour, a multi-course wine paired meal.

So what sets Barrel Wine Tours apart? They aren’t a transportation company offering wine tours, rather Barrel Wine Tours is the wine industry offering wine excursions. We think that’s pretty genius. Everyone involved with Barrel Wine Tours is part of the Woodinville wine industry in other ways, for example, they may be a winemaker or a winery owner or work in a tasting room in town. This shared passion requirement is what really sets their experiences apart.

Let’s give you a small taste… maybe a 1.5oz pour? On the day of your experience, luxury coaches pick you and your guests up at the location of your choosing throughout the greater Puget Sound Area. You will be greeted by your highly knowledgeable tour guide that will take you through your entire day of experiences that have been completely pre-arranged by Barrel Wine Tours. Don’t forget, they take care of the details. Another note…. Barrel Wine Tour guides vet each winery partner for wine quality and experience before they are ever featured on a tour. As a result, you will taste only some of the highest quality Washington wines.

Most tours are arranged as corporate or private events specialized for 4-200 people. While Barrel Wine Tours offer both full day and half day tours, every tour is 100% customizable and not limited to a specific experience. Most popular is the half day Boutique Winery Tour. It includes luxury transportation with a professional driver, a wine guide to introduce you to the winemakers at three Woodinville Wineries, and all tasting fees. Each winery will pour 4-6 wines and you’ll be dropped off back to your home or office by dinner. On a full day tour, you can experience 4 winery stops and a three-course meal which is typically held at a local winery.

So, while your swirling the idea around, think about what a great alternative this will be to the stuffy conference center or dinner at a restaurant.

Leave the details to the industry experts and plan your next private or corporate outing. You and your guests are sure to discover rare wine treasures and take home with you many unique wine experiences. Tours can be booked any day of the week. For general information, pricing and availability for your private group just visit them at barrelwinetours.com or email Barrel Wine Tours at info@barrelwinetours.com. You can also check them out on Woodinville Wine Country’s transportation page at: woodinvillewinecountry.com/transportation.


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