WBC 14 – Another year in the books…

So I’ve been home from WBC 14 for 5 days and in that time, there have been some fantastic posts about WBC come across my Facebook feed. Here are some of the posts that I’ve particularly enjoyed:

My response to the Panel of Professional Print Writers from Vindulge. – The most eloquent criticism I’ve read in a long time and it hit on many good points.

Wineries Need to Give Bloggers More Respect from Demystified Vine. – I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve said that I’m a blogger to some wineries and they don’t seem to care, while others take some interest…then there are the ones that are almost overzealous to the fact that I chose their tasting room during my adventures.

Top 10 Things I Learned at WBC 2014 from Another Wine Blog. – FYI, I wholeheartedly admit to being part of #10 on this list. There were times when I couldn’t breathe because I was laughing so hard.

On Respecting Intellectual Property Rights & Tell Me a Story from BungRCooper. – Some fantastic points were made in both posts. As a photographer and a casual fiction author (yes, I’m admitting that I write the faux pas genre known as fan fiction when the muses cooperate…so shoot me, I’ve learned to duck…), I’m hyper aware when it comes to people stealing sh!t. Just don’t do it, no matter how tempting it may be. As for “Tell Me A Story”? Yes, please! Tell the story of the wine or the winery. In time, we all come to know your story…share the winery story instead!

My takeaways from WBC 14 are this:

- Santa Barbara County is beautiful. Seriously. This view from Presqu’ile should prove it.

Santa Maria Valley from Presqu'ile Winery

Santa Maria Valley from Presqu’ile Winery

- The wines in Santa Barbara County are even more beautiful.

- As bloggers, we need to focus more on character rather than credentials.

- Drinking wine + blogging ≠ wine blogging.

- A hotel that doesn’t advise of an option (*ahem* Marriott, yes I’m talking about the breakfast option for an additional $10) that should’ve been clearly asked at check in does not make for a good experience. In fact, when the most friendly staff members are the restaurant staff…you’ve got a problem.

- While I understand the desire to have one “official” after party, when you have a conference of this magnitude, there will always be rogue events. Instead of chastising those rogue events, go with the flow. While the Jordan and J Party was awesome and I thoroughly enjoyed myself (hi, I was there until the very end of the party…), there’s also something to be said about the “backyard BBQ” or “family reunion” atmosphere of the rogue events. Yes, some of them were invite only or exclusive to a certain set of bloggers, but that’s what happens when you end up becoming friends with people *AND EARN THEIR RESPECT* at these conferences.

For the live tasting notes, please go check my twitter feed, @onegirloneglass. If you’d like to see pictures from the weekend, go check my Facebook page, One Girl, One Glass, One World.

It’s almost that time!!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen…the wait is finally over.

On Thursday morning, I will be leaving the World HQ via PDX and heading down to California for the 7th Annual Wine Bloggers Conference.

Here are the social media hashtags and accounts that I’m going to recommend you follow:

Hashtags:

#wbc14
#sbcwine

I’m sure that more will be added as the time goes on. :)

Find me on Social Media:

Twitter: @onegirloneglass
Instagram: @onegirloneglassoneworld
Facebook: One Girl, One Glass, One World

The wait is finally (almost) over!!!

Caymus 40th Anniversary Tasting

Through a stroke of genius, and happening to constantly praise them via Twitter for having the best wine selection when it comes to Washington wine, I was invited to participate in a tasting and webcast at Total Wine & More on June 14th. This tasting happened to be the Caymus 40th Anniversary tasting. Knowing that I couldn’t possibly spare myself an opportunity such as this, I accepted.

20140616-190629-68789801.jpgThe Caymus/Wagner Family Lineup + a couple extra bonus pours thanks to the kind gentlemen at Total Wine & More, Vancouver

We started the tasting with the 2012 Conundrum White. The Conundrum has a nice balance of peach, tropical fruits and floral notes on the nose while being a lovely balance of acidity and creaminess on the palate. This blend food pairing recommendation is seafood or spicy food, but I’d also serve this with either grilled or BBQ chicken. $22 MSRP.

Next, we went into the 2012 Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc. This is a *GREAT* wine, IMHO. With a lovely mineral nose and a flinty palate with hints of melon, there is a refreshingly clean finish on this wine that makes it go down way too easily. An interesting fact with this is that they brush the clusters while they’re in the pre-bloom stage to prevent any green nuances in the wine. This is a fantastic start for a rookie winemaker! $22 MSRP.

After the Sauvignon Blanc came the 2012 Mersoleil Reserve Chardonnay. This is a barrel fermented Chard and when I saw it was included, I honestly cringed internally because I am, admittedly, the biggest opponent of California-style Chardonnay’s. As much as I am a fan of the 7 Culinary Sins (if you watched Food Network Star season 9, you’ll understand…but if you didn’t, the 7 culinary sins, according to contestant Russell Jackson are sugar, fat, salt, liquor, bacon, ice cream & offal), wine should not taste like you’re snacking on a stick of butter and a handful of oak chips. Sorry. Had to say it. Sorry. But the Reserve Chardonnay blew that idea out of the water! The nose was buttery and inviting with notes of tropical fruits, burnt sugar and butterscotch. The palate brings the tropical fruits and oak to the forefront, but it’s not overwhelming. It is nicely balanced and I think the reason why it is so comes from two reasons. One, they let these grapes have a longer hang time to bring the acid levels in check. Two, while it is barrel fermented, the malolactic fermentation is held to a minimum. $32.00 MSRP

Immediately following the Chardonnay was the 2011 Belle Glos Las Alturas Pinot Noir. With bright cherries and cranberries on the nose as it opened up, plus the beautiful ruby color, my notes, palate and nose immediately said, “Is this secretly an Oregon Pinot??????” This was a nicely balanced, stunning Pinot that made me want more. $44 MSRP

Finally…we got to the big daddy. The 2012 40th Anniversary Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet. This was opulent to say the least. Ours had been decanted for roughly three hours at the point where we tasted it. There were notes of anise, spice, tobacco and chocolate on the nose and tons of dark berries and tobacco on the palate with nice tannins that delivered a balanced, tart (but not puckering) Napa Cab that has plenty of years left on it. If you read through the twitter feed for this (#caymus40th), you’ll see that everyone who tried this had a different experience, based on if it had been decanted and how long it had been decanted for. The color was best described by Josh Wade of Nectar Tasting Room as “sinfully dark”, as you can see in the picture below. $60.00 MSRP

20140616-190630-68790158.jpg

Summer’s Here!!!!!! What are you going to do???

Summer is here, and the start of what I’ve heard as the “Wine Tasting Season” is upon us. To which I reply with an emphatic, “HOORAY!” (even though I know there a lot of places that are open year round).

With that said, I thought I’d take a moment to recommend some of my favorite places when you’re out and about this summer, if your travel plans take you to Oregon or Washington.

Willamette Valley, OR

My must-stops in the Willamette Valley are:

Argyle Winery: Argyle is known for their Sparkling Wines, but they also have a still lineup that is just as interesting as their bubbles. They are, unarguably, one of Oregon’s premier producers and an ambassador for Oregon Wine. Their quaint farmhouse tasting room does get busy, so I recommend getting there early or going during the week. Address: 691 Highway 99, Dundee, OR.

Barrel Fence Cellars: This winery was stumbled upon by my cousin and I one day and I’m glad we stumbled upon them! They do two Pinot Noirs, one from 45° Latitude North and one from the 45° Latitude South parallels (if you’re not aware, the 45° Latitude North runs through Oregon and the 45° Latitude South runs through New Zealand), a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and a Dundee Hills Pinot Gris. Address: 8880 Worden Hill Rd., Dundee, OR

Kramer Vineyards: Kramer Vineyards. What can I say about them that’s *bad*? That they’re remodeling the main tasting room so you get thrown off when you enter through the back area? Nah. That’s a temporary inconvenience. That I can’t get enough of their wines (especially their Brut…which is part of my last meal, FYI…and yes, the winemaker knows it! LOL)? Maybe. Or that I could easily spend an entire paycheck here and still not be satisfied? Yeah. The wines are that good. For a fun treat, ask about the Sparkling Rosé of Carmine. Two locations: Vineyard & Winery: 26830 Olson Road, Gaston, OR & Downtown Carlton Tasting Room: 258 Kutch St., Carlton, OR.

The Willamette Valley doesn’t appeal to you? Okay…well, then, try something different. Instead of heading south or west from Portland, head NORTH! Yes, north, as in north of the Columbia River to beautiful, historic Vancouver, WA! Seriously. Disregard the “Vantucky” & “Vamsterdam” references you may read about. Yes, we may like our chain restaurants (YouTube “Vancouvria”, our hilarious interpretation of the hit show “Portlandia”, select the episode “The Dream of the Suburbs Is Alive” and you’ll get my point), be a little bit country-fied and have legalized marijuana, but there’s some seriously awesome stuff coming out of Vancouver & Clark County.

First stop? Burnt Bridge Cellars. Seriously. DO IT! Located off of exit 1D (AKA the second exit in Vancouver, or Mill Plain if you’re familiar with the area) on the corner of 15th and Broadway, Burnt Bridge Cellars brings it with their Syrah, Pont Brûlé and their surprisingly complex Semillon. Address: 1500 Broadway, Vancouver, WA.

After Burnt Bridge Cellars, get back onto I-5 and head north to exit 14. Yes. That far. You will be in the city of Ridgefield. Turn right off the off-ramp, take the right fork at the traffic circle and follow the road to Gouger Cellars. Located in an old firehouse, Gouger gives you a vino experience that’s second to none. Get a glass of the Zinfandel, one or two of Gary’s delicious appetizers and go watch the neighbor’s alpaca’s frolic in the field directly behind the tasting room or go up on the roof and enjoy the mountain views. :) Address: 26506 NE 10th Ave., Ridgefield, WA.

Next, go to Three Brothers Winery. When you get there, after taking in the sheer awesomeness of the property, which has vineyards on one side and a picturesque lawn on the other, try the Dry Riesling and the Pinot Noir (if they have more than one of their Pinots open, try ‘em all). Address: 24018 NE 29th Ave., Ridgefield, WA.

Wine not your thing? Have no fear, Vancouver and Clark County *IS* in the shadow of beer excellence. There’s some excellent breweries in Vancouver. My personal recommendations are Dirty Hands Brewing, Loowit Brewing and the winner of the 2013 “Battle of the Brews” through our local CBS affiliate, Heathen Brewing.

If you can’t make it to my recommendations, then here’s a piece of advice: Find your local wineries. Get out there. Support them. They need your love and support! :)

WBC 14 Primer

So I know that the fabulous Ms. Thea from Luscious Lushes has posted her guide for enjoying WBC 14 (along with some sage advice from a veteran), but I figured I’d add to the advice.

This is my 3rd WBC and I’m feeling like it’s time for me to share some advice.

Damn. Has it been that long since I was a virgin up for sacrifice…errr…a rookie in my own backyard of Portland? Wow. It seems *so* long ago.

Don’t worry, though. If you’re a WBC Virgin, we don’t bite. Hard. ;) Believe me, before you know it, the virgin fog will clear and you will be in your element. Seriously. The minute you hit your element, you’ll know.

Some tips:

- To repeat what Thea said, wear comfy clothes & shoes. Shoes are crucial. You don’t want to wear your cute little kitten heels and be screwed while out on a vineyard walk or having to hike out to the location where the next food station is. Seriously. And clothes…well, while we are professionals per se, we’re going to be in Wine Country! What do you wear wine tasting? For me, it’s usually nice jeans and a presentable top. Seriously. Don’t fret over your wardrobe. This isn’t a fashion show. Look at the weather forecast for the time we’re in Santa Barbara and dress accordingly. I survived Portland’s lovely decision to grace the weekend of WBC12 with 100+ degree weather in maxi dresses, but Penticton’s “normal” summer temps in the 70′s/80′s in jeans & presentable tops. Planning ahead is crucial.

- HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE! No matter what the temps, remember that even when spitting, alcohol f***s with your system. Drink plenty of water in between and during sessions. Seriously. You’ll save yourself the trouble.

- Food. Seriously. If you know you need to eat, do it. No one is going to judge you if you skip out on a session or are late to a session to nourish yourself. Me? I’ll most likely be carrying some standby’s of mine (mainly Nature Valley Granola Bars from the green box and Kellogg’s NutriGrain Cereal Bars…disclaimer, no I’m not being paid to say that. I happen to *like* them and have a supply of them at my house) because I know my body. I know I need to eat small snacks in between meals, especially when I’m drinking.

- Spitting. OMG. This is key during the speed tastings. Yeah, we all slip and swallow some of the amazing wines we’re experiencing, but in all honesty, if you want to survive the Live Wine Blogging sessions and be able to coherently provide your thoughts during them…SPIT, DAMMIT! You are a trusted professional in this after all. Plus, you *HAVE* to remember that you are usually tasting 12 wines in an hour during the Live Sessions.

- Technology. If you’re like me, you’re tied to your phone and/or tablet device. Make sure you carry your charger(s) with you. I’m not kidding. We have a half hour between the Live Sessions & the Wine Country Excursions. You will *NOT* have time to run to your room to charge your device. Take advantage of the time (and the powerstrips…this is my official plea to the WBC organizers to make sure these are available at *EVERY* table again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) during the Live Sessions to charge your technology. You will be grateful.

- On the tech note, load a multi-function Social Media platform to your device beforehand. The ability to tweet/facebook from ONE app is going to save you a ton of time.

- Another piece on the tech note…have your camera of choice at the ready. My Canon T2i and iPhone work themselves into overtime at WBC.

- After parties. Don’t worry about getting invites before WBC. Seriously. Some of the best parties I found in Portland were advertised via word of mouth (*ahem* Columbia Gorge Wine Growers THANK YOU for the pizza party in Portland!!!!! Pizza hit all the right spots that night!). Also, there *will* be tastings in various people’s & wineries suites/rooms, so just keep an ear to the ground and don’t be afraid to ask about anything you might hear about. This goes back to the whole we don’t bite hard bit I mentioned earlier in this post.

- Scholarship. If you’ve donated to or are a recipient of the scholarship, come say hi! There will be a booth at the Expo on Thursday and, speaking as a scholarship committee member and donor, I’d love to meet y’all (and yes, you may get to experience my screwy PNW/New England/Southern/Farm Girl accent…dialect…whatever you want to call it if you come say hi). I will be at the booth on Thursday night and I’ll be around until the Monday after the conference if anyone wants to meet up/chat/etc.

- Take a break. Seriously. If the schedule is too much for you, take time to walk around…nap in your room (if you’re lucky enough to be booked at the conference hotel, that is)…take time to yourself. My best times in Penticton were when I said “SCREW IT” and went back to my room to hang with my Mom & Grandma, who had gone along with me on the our epic road trip. As a rookie in P-town, I wanted to drink in every available minute I had and I honestly regretted it…well, except for the early morning breakfast that was bought for me by a dear friend who chose to utilize the extra bed I ended up with thanks to an unexpected upgrade vs. commuting to his home a half hour south of Portland after a long day at his job. ;)

- Business Cards. I know. It sounds old school, but it’s a good networking tool. You will not remember *EVERY* winery’s social media profile without them. Plus, the wineries won’t know how to contact *you* for sample offers if you’re relatively new to blogging or new to them.

- Excursions. If you haven’t already signed up for one, do it! I’m going to the Bridlewood excursion post-conference, as I have the additional time to dedicate. If you can’t attend an excursion, consider adding extra time into your trip! I know I’m already researching where I can stop between LAX (where I’m flying in & out of) and Santa Barbara. I’m sure that Daniel, my proper British companion…errr…I mean GPS will be working overtime on this trip. :)

- Medications. I can’t stress this enough. I’m sure that everyone is enough of an adult to remember any necessary medications, but just in case…make sure you bring them and make sure you have enough time for them to be effective. I know that my allergy medications take a certain amount of time before they’re effective, so I usually try to make sure I take them well before the time frame where I have to be alert and on my game. That being said, this is *NOT* the time to try new medications. Stick by your old faithfuls. Seriously. No one wants to have the paramedics called (and possibly miss out on the fun) because they have a bad reaction to a new medication.

- Speaking of Paramedics…don’t be that person who gets so drunk that we all wonder if we *NEED* to call 911 because you’re at that point. Remember, we are representing our blogs to some of the biggest names in the wine industry. No wine blogger wants the reputation of being a drunken, hot mess.

- Most of all: ENJOY! WBC is about making connections and having fun.

Fun in the Sun – A Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail Adventure

So the week after Easter wasn’t exactly the best week. A dear friend of mine lost her valiantly fought battle with cancer. A friend got reported to Facebook for the most bs reason…posting pictures of her kids. The stress that realizing “I have a paper due in 18 hours” and stressing out over it until it was emailed to the professor with 2 minutes to spare nearly brought me to my breaking point. Needless to say that I was ready for the week to be over.

As I was preparing for the virtual tasting on Thursday, 4/24 (review here), I went out on a limb and RT’d the following:

Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail tweet to win

Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail tweet to win

I honestly figured I wouldn’t win, because I have the devil’s luck when it comes to winning things like that. Much to my surprise, I actually *did* win.

So on Saturday morning, we piled into my car and headed east to Zillah, WA, where the heart of the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail is. The first winery we stopped at, which was the only “required” stop, since they had my swag, was Severino Cellars. This was a new winery to me and wow. It was a unanimous decision between my mother and I that when we come back to the Rattlesnake Hills area, we’re coming back here. I fell head over heels for their Rosé.

Severino Cellars Raven Rosé

Severino Cellars Raven Rosé

After picking up our delicious lunches, graciously provided by the Squeeze Inn, and tasting through what Severino had to offer (all of which are amazing!!), we headed on up the road to Maison de Padgett.

I wasn’t necessarily impressed with what I had while there, but I also know that I should give them another shot before discounting them completely. It was crazy in the tasting room and I hate to judge my first impression of *any* establishment based on one of the busiest weekends of the year.

The lineup at Maison de Padgett

The lineup at Maison de Padgett

After Maison de Padgett, we went to Two Mountain Winery. More craziness abounded here, but it wasn’t enough to drive me away. At Two Mountain, we had our choice of two barrel tastings, a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Both were magnificent and when they are bottled, they will be beautiful wines. The tasting lineup beyond the barrel samples was their Riesling, Hidden Horse Red Blend (fantastic value at $18, FYI), Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. All of the wines were well crafted.

Part of the lineup at Two Mountain

Part of the lineup at Two Mountain

Two Mountain is a must-stop, even if it’s see the chalkboard artwork that they have up behind the tasting bar!

They make it look EASY!!!

They make it look EASY!!!

This phrase is needed here at the World HQ!

This phrase is needed here at the World HQ!

Our final stop was Hyatt Vineyards. Hyatt holds a special place in my wine tasting repertoire, as their Black Muscat was the first Washington wine that I experienced after I had turned legal drinking age. Hyatt was established in 1983, with their first vintage in 1987. I tasted their Pinot Gris and their Syrah…both of which may have conveniently found their way into my collection…along with a bottle of the aforementioned Black Muscat.

Hyatt not only produces beautiful wines, but also has a beautiful lawn with a stunning view of the Cascade Range.

The yard at Hyatt Vineyards

The yard at Hyatt Vineyards

…now, to fill up my Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail Passport so I can participate in their Passport Party this August!!

Disclaimer: This trip was provided by the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail. No other compensation, beyond the prize awarded, was given for this post.

One Girl, One Glass in the kitchen…Oven Roasted Salmon & Renegade Wine Rosé

The last Thursday (usually) of every month, Sean Sullivan from Washington Wine Report hosts a virtual tasting via Twitter. This month, the wine chosen was Renegade Wine Company’s 2013 Columbia Valley Rosé.

Now, we’ve been having some wild weather here at the world headquarters. A freak snowstorm that left me with a foot of snow in February. Torrential downpours which have been so hard that I killed some flowers I planted from seed in various places throughout my yard. Needless to say, the wild & wacky weather we’ve been having hasn’t exactly been conducive to drinking rosé…but I’ve been drinking it anyway.

The rosé, made by Sleight of Hand Cellars from Walla Walla, is…well…to not sound *too* cliche, nectar of the powers-that-be. Seriously. This is what rosé should be. Light. Crisp. Acidic. Palate cleansing. It is a Rhône blend, consisting of 79% Syrah, 14% Cinsault and 7% Counoise.

Renegade Wine Company 2013 Columbia Valley Rosé

Renegade Wine Company 2013 Columbia Valley Rosé

The day after the tasting, I had some leftover wine (what?????). I happened to have gone grocery shopping and got my hands on some gorgeous Alaskan Copper River Salmon filets. I knew what had to be done. That wine. Salmon. A pairing that had to be made.

I prepare my salmon simply. Butter, lemon, and (sometimes) dill. That’s it. No special rubs or fancy reductions…I just let the goodness that is the salmon shine through. And then, I bake it at 350° for 30 minutes. Sometimes it gets wrapped in foil, sometimes it doesn’t. If it doesn’t get wrapped in foil, I put a touch of olive oil in the baking dish, just to make sure I’m not fighting with the salmon to come out of the dish.

Salmon waiting to go in the oven

Salmon waiting to go in the oven

It came out perfectly, as expected. I did take some shortcuts with the sides in the picture below. I am insanely lazy when it comes to making sides, so I would rather go buy sides at the grocery store and “make” them in my microwave. So yes, the potatoes came from the cold case at my grocery store, the salad is from a bag and the veggies were from the freezer aisle. But at least I did something more than put in an online Pizza Hut order with regards to my dinner. ;)

My plate...salmon, veggies, salad & mashed potatoes

My plate…salmon, veggies, salad & mashed potatoes

The salmon and the wine paired amazingly. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest grocery store and demand (but be nice…) that they carry the Renegade Rosé!