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.

Ultimate Wine Nerd: Father’s Day Edition

As I have mentioned before, our family strives to focus on experiences and not stuff when it comes to gift giving.  My husband made it clear that he really wanted to relax at home on his Father’s Day.  So, I planned a lazy breakfast and Sunday dinner he didn’t have to grill.

For the rest of the day, this happened.

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You may have figured out that I am a bit of a nerd.  What you may not know is that I am a happily married to a nerd and we are raising two delightfully nerdy sons.  Part of our nerdy-ness is our love of board games, particularly the complicated European ones with eight different types of cards and 27-page rule books that take seven hours to play.

On a recent family adventure, we discovered Mox Boardinghouse in Bellevue.  We spent an afternoon looking at all the games and checking one out for a test run over lunch in the restaurant.  There was even a Magic The Gathering event going on in the Tournament room.  The boys can’t wait to go back.

What surprised me is that we found multiple strategy games based on wine.  I picked up Viticulture because I figured it would be a fun way to share the wine experience with our kiddos.  It is a worker placement game where you go through the seasons and the key elements of wine making.  You need to build the right structures (a trellis is needed to plant most grape types), plant the right type of grapes in your fields, harvest them to your crush pads, decide what kind of wine to make (red, white, blush or sparkling), and sell the right wine out of your cellars at the right time to earn victory points. If you like Settlers of Catan, I think you might enjoy this one. (YouTube has some great game play run through videos.  This one helped jump-start our knowledge so we didn’t have to fight over our own interpretations of the rule book.)

It was fun to play and the kids liked it too.  In fact, they liked it so much so that Tuscany: Expand the World of Viticulture magically showed up on our doorstep a few days later.

So yesterday we played at wine making, tried out the first of the Tuscany expansions and enjoyed being together as a family.  It was just the experience we wanted.  I hope you too were able to toast the men in your life in your own special way.