Woodinville‘s New Visitor Center AVA Highlight: Red Mountain

Woodinville Wine Country (WWC) is proud to represent all of Washington’s AVAs.Woodinville Visitor Center

Located in the Puget Sound American Viticultural Area (AVA), which was created in 1995, Woodinville Wine Country is now partnering with Washington’s individual AVAs to spotlight and inform visitors of our wine-forward region – the closest one to the greater Seattle area, as well as to such Eastside cities as Bellevue, Issaquah, Kirkland, Mercer Island, and Redmond.  Stop in our new Visitor Center and learn more.  (photo courtesy of Carol Hook Photography)

The first of Washington’s 14 (and seemingly growing) AVAs to be featured will be the Red Mountain AVA, working in partnership with the Red Mountain AVA Alliance.

Although the smallest appellation in Washington State with 1,647 vineyard acres within an area of 4,040 acres (1,630 ha), the Red Mountain AVA is definitely one of the prominent jewels in the crown that makes up Washington’s AVAs. Created in 2001, it is located on the eastern edge of Yakima Valley. The name “Red Mountain” is a bit of a quaint misnomer, however; Red Mountain itself is more of a steep slope than an actual mountain – a steep slope with a southwest face. And located in close proximity to the Yakima River.red mountain ava

Red Mountain wine fruit is very popular; its grapes are highly sought-after by Woodinville wineries specifically (and Washington wineries generally). What is the reason for this great appeal by winemakers? The terroir – a desert-like appellation which boasts hot summers, sandy-loamy-gravelly soils, and cool nights, with temperature moderation and ongoing airflow thanks to the neighboring Yakima River. These soil, climate, and geographic factors are all prime conditions for growing such grape varieties as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Sangiovese, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Wines that are, overall, lush, intense, and fruit-forward – and often with a very distinctive Red Mountain minerality.

Woodinville wineries and winery tasting rooms source grapes and thus pour and sell wines made with fruit from Red Mountain – some 60% of WWC members alone.

Red Mountain AVA photos courtesy of Richard Duval Images

The post Woodinville‘s New Visitor Center AVA Highlight: Red Mountain appeared first on Woodinville Wine Country.

Woodinville‘s New Visitor Center AVA Highlight: Red Mountain

Woodinville Wine Country (WWC) is proud to represent all of Washington’s AVAs.

Located in the Puget Sound American Viticultural Area (AVA), which was created in 1995, Woodinville Wine Country is now partnering with Washington’s individual AVAs to spotlight and inform visitors of our wine-forward region – the closest one to the greater Seattle area, as well as to such Eastside cities as Bellevue, Issaquah, Kirkland, Mercer Island, and Redmond.  Stop in our new Visitor Center and learn more.

The first of Washington’s 14 (and seemingly growing) AVAs to be featured will be the Red Mountain AVA, working in partnership with the Red Mountain AVA Alliance.

Although the smallest appellation in Washington State with 1,647 vineyard acres within an area of 4,040 acres (1,630 ha), the Red Mountain AVA is definitely one of the prominent jewels in the crown that makes up Washington’s AVAs. Created in 2001, it is located on the eastern edge of Yakima Valley. The name “Red Mountain” is a bit of a quaint misnomer, however; Red Mountain itself is more of a steep slope than an actual mountain – a steep slope with a southwest face. And located in close proximity to the Yakima River.

Red Mountain wine fruit is very popular; its grapes are highly sought-after by Woodinville wineries specifically (and Washington wineries generally). What is the reason for this great appeal by winemakers? The terroir – a desert-like appellation which boasts hot summers, sandy-loamy-gravelly soils, and cool nights, with temperature moderation and ongoing airflow thanks to the neighboring Yakima River. These soil, climate, and geographic factors are all prime conditions for growing such grape varieties as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Sangiovese, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Wines that are, overall, lush, intense, and fruit-forward – and often with a very distinctive Red Mountain minerality.

Woodinville wineries and winery tasting rooms source grapes and thus pour and sell wines made with fruit from Red Mountain – some 60% of WWC members alone.

The post Woodinville‘s New Visitor Center AVA Highlight: Red Mountain appeared first on Woodinville Wine Country.

Wine-tasting classes will help DABC workers give customers vintage service – Salt Lake Tribune


Salt Lake Tribune

Wine-tasting classes will help DABC workers give customers vintage service
Salt Lake Tribune
(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Erik Olson, an employee of the downtown Wine Store in Salt Lake City, smells the aroma of a wine during a recent training class. The DABC just started the class for Utah's liquor store employees. The Utah ...

Weekly Interview: Victor Schoenfeld

Victor Schoenfeld

Each week, as our regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we are featuring Victor Schoenfeld, the winemaker at Golan Heights Winery in Israel.

Golan’s vineyards were planted in 1976. The winery itself was established in 1982 by four kibbutzim and four moshavim. Decades later, Golan now leads the movement of increasingly higher-quality Israeli wines.

Victor is a California native. After graduating from UC Davis with an enology degree, he worked in the California wine industry for some years, and then worked in Champagne for a few years. In 1992, Victor became the head winemaker at Golan Heights Winery.

Check out the interview below the fold! It contains a candidate for best answer to our question about beer and wine.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born and raised in California. I grew up in Palos Verdes, a hilly peninsula jutting out into the Pacific Ocean. We grew up in the water. To this day, I still have a fondness for fog.

When and how did you get into wine?

I have always been drawn to food: its preparation, its consumption, and its cultural context. My first real exposure to wine as a serious part of gastronomy came in high school, through a good friend’s father. Let’s just say I was very easily won over.

What has been your career path to where you are?

I took a year off after high school. For much of that year, I worked in agriculture. Being a food lover, I fell in love with the idea of producing food. But when I looked into studying agriculture, most of the studies were focused on things that didn’t interest me, such as appearance of the crop and especially shelf life. Coming from a food perspective, I was interested in flavor. Finally, I found winegrowing, a discipline interested in flavor over all else. I transferred from UC Santa Cruz to UC Davis and started my studies. After three years of college, I took another break to manage a vineyard. It was during that year that I understood that winegrowing is just part of the winemaking process. So I changed my major to Enology in my fourth year of studies (and had to finish up the holes in my education in my fifth year).

I worked in several wineries and regions in California and spent time working in Champagne, France, before being recruited to Yarden- Golan Heights Winery.

In your view, what makes your vineyards special?

How much time do you have? Simply put, there is no other place on the planet that combines our latitude, high altitude (up to 4,000 feet above sea level), and beautiful volcanic soils. After 25 years, I am honestly more optimistic and excited about the quality potential here than ever before. Because of the range of elevations, and therefore climate, our area is capable of succeeding with an unusually large number of varieties. The Golan Heights seems to have this almost magical ability to focus a variety’s innate character. It never ceases to amaze me.

What is your general winemaking philosophy?

I want to grow fruit that expresses something. I am not the one to decide what that expression is: that comes from nature. But I want to find the method of winegrowing that lets the vineyard express itself. The job of the winemaking is to not screw up the fruit, to give a worthy stage to the expression of the fruit, and to exploit the quality of the fruit.

What’s your biggest challenge as a winemaker?

The biggest challenge in the end is also a big part of the fulfillment of the profession. Any farmer will tell you the biggest challenge is weather. Mother Nature has a way of not caring about you, of basically doing anything she damn well wants to do. You have to roll with the punches. There is no recipe. Every year, you have to make a million decisions based on the exact set of circumstances in which you find yourself. As we like to joke, the only predictable part of each vintage is its unpredictability. But it’s incredibly fun each year to try to eke out the best possible quality under a novel set of conditions. It keeps you on your toes. It keeps you connected to nature. I believe it keeps you young.

Who are your favorite winemakers in history, through personal account, or their wines?

I am always most drawn to humble, talented people. I have had the great luck to work with outstanding people who have not only taught me, but maybe more importantly, have inspired me. People like Tom Farella, Heather Pyle-Lucas, Don Van Staaveren, Margo Van Staaveren, Jean Herve and Laurent Chiquet, Jim Klein, and Zelma Long. Plus, I also work with an outstanding team of winemakers: Tali Sendovski, Michael Avery, Dorit Segev, and Judah Morrison.

I have to say, one of the more interesting experiences in the past few years was visiting Priorat winemaker Sara Perez. I admire someone who gives deep thought to every aspect of what they are doing.

What new winemakers are you most excited about, and why?

I am most excited by the young winemakers we have here in Israel. Being a small industry, we do not (yet) have a university enology degree program. Also, being a small industry, employment opportunities are not assured. So these young people, often at great personal expense, follow their passion to study overseas and gain valuable experience working at wineries around the world, with the intention of coming back to Israel to help to continue to build and push our industry forward. An interesting result is that Israel has a very heterogeneous group of winemakers with quite various backgrounds regarding where they have studied and worked. I think this diversity is very positive for our industry.

What’s your favorite wine region in the world – other than your own?

That’s a very tough question. I think if I were going to take someone new to wine to visit some wine region, I just might take them to the Douro Valley. Stunningly beautiful, great wines, and where else can you order a plate of cod tongues? Oh, and the view from the swimming pool at Quinta do Crasto!

What’s the best wine you’ve ever tasted? The most interesting?

Sorry, but I don’t really think of wine in a way that there would be a “best” one. Wine is so diverse that I don’t think wines can easily be given a grade. Sure, I can blind taste a wine and give my own evaluation of character and quality, but in the end, it is about the experience. And sure, a barrel tasting at DRC is a great and unforgettable experience. But my fondest wine memories are those around the table. There is something magical about being with people you love, eating great food (even better if prepared together) and drinking great wine, especially when the wine and food click. There are those special moments when the food and wine propel each other to greater heights.

What’s the oldest bottle in your cellar? The most expensive?

The oldest bottle? Hold on, I’ll go check. Well, the oldest two that I found are curiosities that I don’t plan on ever opening: a 1972 Mirassou “Champagne” and a magnum of 1975 Rustenberg Cabernet Sauvignon. In terms of drinking, a 1978 Graham’s Malvedos Vintage Port. The most expensive? I have absolutely no idea. I buy wines to eventually drink, not sell, so I have no idea about current monetary value. If I had to guess, maybe a 1986 Vega-Sicilia “Unico”? It’s irrelevant, as I have no plans to sell anything.

What’s open in your kitchen right now?

Nothing open, but we had a too-old-but-still-drinkable Burgundy (a 1995 Domaine Voarick Clos du Roy) with bruschetta last night. At the moment, I am fantasizing about opening up a bottle of 2010 Yarden Rose sparkling wine.

If you had to pick one red and one white to drink for the next month with every dinner, what would you choose?

For white, I would choose bubbles, the 2008 Yarden Blanc de Blancs. The current vintage is 2009, but the bit of additional bottle age on the 2008 adds a little more complexity to the still very fresh wine. I think sparkling is so much more versatile than people give it credit for. If it’s every day, a versatile red that’s not too heavy? I’ll go for Yarden Malbec. I would choose the 2010, the first vintage we produced a varietal Malbec.

Is beer ever better than wine?

Is a paperclip figurine better than a Rodin sculpture? That was to piss off my brewer friends. There are so many differences between the two. But for me, beer is a beverage and wine is a food. I have to say, I am sometimes jealous of brewers (and chefs) for their faster turnaround. We winemakers work in units of a year. You have to have patience.

How do you spend your days off?

Playing ping pong with the kids, cooking, hosting, hiking, travelling, and a lot of time in water.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

Perhaps that my wife saved me from amassing huge(er) collections of kitchen knives and cookbooks? That I am obsessed with making gazpacho? That real grilling I do over coal, but I love the gas grill for the sole purpose of being able to heat up a big plancha to an insanely high temperature? That I use a blow torch regularly when cooking? Wow, I notice those are all food-related. I just asked my 85 year old mother, who happens to be visiting us now, this question and she said, “That you have a dry, excellent sense of humor.” When we are with people who don’t know me too well, my wife will often remark to the puzzled faces following something I’ve said, “He’s joking.” I guess it’s not always obvious.

If you weren’t making wine for a living, what would you be doing?

Well, I do have a fantasy of being the proprietor of a pickle boutique. It would be called “Pickled” and would prepare and sell the endless pickled products from the many culinary traditions around the world. How’s that for a get rich quick scheme?

How do you define success?

Having a loving family that forgives my foibles, having some good friends, having an endlessly fascinating, fun and fulfilling profession, having the opportunity to contribute something positive to the world.