Venturing on to the Bramble Bump

If you are local to the Woodinville area, you may have driven the winding road through the tress up the hill from Chateau Ste. Michelle and thought that it was undeveloped land, just waiting for some developer to rip it all out and build a neighborhood of Merlot McMansions.  I know I did.  Until Wednesday.

Earlier this week, I took the leap of faith and made the only left turn on that stretch of road.  I did not drive off into a forested ditch, but up onto a spot known as the Bramble Bump.  And there among the mature trees and fairy lights is a lovely, secluded winery with some seriously cool doors – JM Cellars.

I work for a large technology company that has a fantastic culture of giving. Every October there is online auction with interesting experiences and things.  Last Fall, I won a slot to make wine with our executive leadership team.  While the opportunity to have face time with our executives was very valuable and a lot of fun, my favorite part of the event was to meet John Bigelow and learn about his wine.

With all love and respect, John Bigelow is a wine nerd.

He shared the history of the area (um, did you know about the ghost of the brothel Madame that haunts the upper floors of the Ste. Michelle Manor house?), some details of their beautiful property (they have five of the tallest trees of their kind in the state), and his love for his vineyards.  He described Margaret’s Vineyard (the M of JM) and his 2,716 vines there (I hope I got that number right).  The bold second year cutting to the ground of their vines to drive the roots deep into the broken basalt for minerality in the fruit.  The way he personally trains his team each harvest with exacting demands on what qualities are needed in a cluster to pass muster for his wine and what is dropped to the ground in the vineyard benefitting the soil for the future.  Here is a guy who is in it from dirt to vine to table.  He is my kind of dude.

He gave us a tour and bragged on his wife’s design skills in making it a beautiful place.  She is Peggy, the Margaret of Margaret’s Vineyard.  I too appreciated the design details of the winery.  It was like I had stumbled into a secret garden, just like the book I loved when I was little.

The lovely setting, the stellar Bordeaux-style reds and the perfect summer Cinsault Rose of JM Cellars make it a place I intend to visit more often.

If you want to experience it for yourself, the tasting room is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Here is where you can find the details.  Enjoy!

It is true. My inbox is overrun with messages about wine. I now have two folders for wine. One for clubs I belong to so I can track shipments, offers and events. The other one is for everything else of wine interest likes apps, magazines, and other wine clubs to which I do not belong – yet.

To add further to the nerdery, I also have a OneNote to track our wine club memberships and a spreadsheet that budgets out when the bottles are coming throughout the year and the budget to keep ’em coming.

Wineaversary 2008: My Weekend Wine Nerd Origin Story

While a proud Pacific Northwest native now living quite close to Woodinville Wine Country, my Weekend Wine Nerd origin story begins back in 2008 on my 10th wedding anniversary.

My mom always taught us that life is what you make it, and you should make it pretty awesome. So I looked for a memorable trip to mark our ten years of legally wedded bliss. Armed only with the knowledge our local Fred Meyer’s wine buyer could spare me on a Saturday afternoon, I decided that eastern Washington, where the grapes are grown in the desert climes would be the spot. We could relax in the sun, have some nice meals, go to the spa, escape our children and maybe drink some wine.

We spent five lovely days snug in our little Cliff House at Cave B. It was gorgeous. It was relaxing. It was quiet.

Gorgeous. Beautiful. Wish you were here.
Gorgeous. Beautiful. Wish you were here.

And then we got bored.

On Day 3 we were ready for an adventure so we decided to drive the 2 hours to Walla Walla where we had heard there was some wineries. We had no idea what we were doing.

Our first stop was Three Rivers Winery.  This is wine we knew. The tasting room was big and lovely. We tasted. We liked. We joined the wine club. Hey, this could be fun.

We were familiar with Dunham Cellars, so we went in search of them. Housed in a funky old WWII era airplane hanger with a wine maker who also created custom art for the labels. Tasted. Liked. Joined. And realized that not only is wine yummy, it all has an interesting story.

While we were over in the industrial district by the airport, we looked for Tamarack Cellars. We had enjoyed their Firehouse Red. Unfortunately, they were closed.

At this point in the day, we had exhausted our winery knowledge. So sad.

I don’t know how, but we stumbled across Isenhower Cellars. Glad we did. The Indian Paintbrush was memorable and the Bachelor Button reminded me of gardening with my mom when I was young. More stories about the names of the wines and the family that makes them. I was hooked. Don’t know if it was my curiosity or flat out nosiness. If I like a wine, I want to know why I like it. Backstory adds to the enjoyment.

Then on to the lovely grounds of the Northstar Winery. We drank, we learned, we liked, we joined and we are still members to this day. I know they are known for their Merlot, but I always give a little “squeeee” when there is a Petit Verdot in my shipment

It was a fun day spent together exploring something new that we both enjoy. We came home with a case of wine and felt a bit more comfortable picking wine out at the grocery store.  Like Spiderman, I had been bit by the nuclear spider but I had yet to understand my powers and wield them for good.  The full-blown nerdery was yet to come.