Wineaversary 2015: Pre-Trip Prep

On Thursday morning, we are handing off our darling babies and running away.  Picking up some good friends along the way, we are headed east to Walla Walla and Red Mountain for some Washington Wine Country grown-up time.  I have had Red Mountain on my AVA Bucket List for a while now and I am excited to experience it for myself.

For the last two years, we have celebrated our loving bond nestled among the grapevines and chic restaurants of Napa Valley.  This year, we are staying “local” and re-discovering the vineyards and wine makers of Eastern Washington. Given that our first trip to Walla Walla was done without a lot of direction or a plan and I wanted to make the most of our short time on Red Mountain, I needed to do some research.

In addition to my usual fumblings about on social media and referrals from friends and helpful people, I wanted a more in-depth view on the histories of these places and the influencing factors and people who make it what it is today.  A quick Amazon search brought forth a surprisingly short list on Washington Wine Country.  Maybe we are all expected to find our info on the interwebs these days?  I was able to find these two books to help me patch together a bigger picture of the area and the industry.

Washington Wine Country by Judy Peterson-Nedry, Judy Nedry, and Robert M. Reynolds

This book provided a really good overview of the development of the grape growing industry, the key leaders who influenced the shift from table grapes to wines grapes and wine making, and an overview of some of the key winemakers and wineries.  Unfortunately, it was published in 2003 and a lot has happened in the last 12 years.  I needed something newer.

Wines of Walla Walla Valley: A Deep-Rooted History by Caite McIntyre Walker

Published in 2014, I really wanted to read this book cover-to-cover as an in-depth historical narrative and love it deeply.  And while the history is wonderful and detailed – exactly what I was looking for – the narrative jumps around a lot, making it the reader’s job to tie all of the stories together.  This is a great reference piece, but I wouldn’t recommend it as an easy read.  I did learn more about the wineries on our itinerary for Friday’s Walla Walla tour, so that will enrich that day’s activities with some historical perspective.

I am sure I will come home on Sunday afternoon with some discoveries and maybe a new book or two to add to my Wine Nerd Library.  I am curious about The Rocks District of Milton–Freewater AVA and whether or not I need to add it to my AVA Bucket List.

Adventures On the Wine Route: A Wine Buyer’s Tour of France

A few years back, I was travelling for business and our darling children were voted to the island to stay with their grandmother. So my hubby was batching it for a few days. He treated himself to dinner and a movie at one of our local fancy theatres and that is where he discovered Kermit Lynch.  This was a regular date night spot for us, so for quite a while, we simply enjoyed the nice little cuvée from the guy with the funky name.

You must admit, the name is memorable.  So when the Amazon algorithm recommended Adventures on the Wine Route: A Wine Buyer’s Tour of France by Kermit Lynch, I tossed it on my Kindle.  I like wine, I love France, and there was that name again.

I really enjoyed this story. Starting with his first trip in the early 70s, Lynch traveled all throughout the wine regions of France, discovering the terroir, meeting the people, learning the history, and tasting the wine. Like me, his philosophy seems to be more about “I like what I like and I prefer my wine less messed-with” instead of drinking what the wine smarty-pants folks tell us we should like. It is a fun travelogue with colorful detail. I could almost see the smooth round stones that cover the hillside vineyards of Côte Rôtie.

I read the 1988 edition with Richard Olney’s forward where he notes that Lynch’s father was a preacher and Kermit himself likes to evangelize his vinicultural and viticultural beliefs.  I think this is an apt comparison. I appreciate someone with an informed perspective and it was fun to learn about things I didn’t even know I should form an opinion about.

Old World Wines feel a bit more approachable for me now.  They were once a pretty daunting topic that I avoided in favor of the nice knowable wineries down the street.  This is both a fun expansion of my wine palate and an exciting whole new area of dirt to explore. I like how wine and travel pair together so well and am now planning Wineaversary 2018 in France for the big 2-0.

After finishing the book, I checked out Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant on the web and found a few local distributors so I could further my investigations.  On Mother’s Day we went to the glassybaby hot shop in Madrona and strolled down the street to meet Mark at Madrona Wine Merchants.  He has a shop jammed full of interesting wines and stories. I walked out of there with a nice little Tintero Rosato. I like pink bubbles, so that was a fun find.

Closer to home, I visited Bothell’s own Rain City Wines. Santo of the glorious moustache proudly drinks rosé all year round and has a fun “Daily Drinkers” monthly wine club – 3 bottles for $13 apiece.  Old World research at a bargain!  His tasting notes are a bit like Thug Kitchen with less f-bombs.  Straightforward, fun and right on the money.  His strong opinions led to my interest in all things Bandol. I look forward to visiting his shop often in the future for both the wines and the witty banter.

Thank you Kermit Lynch for opening up the wines of France and Italy for me.  I look forward to forming my own opinions about them.