Diving Headfirst into Woodinville

I have a good friend who grew up in Snohomish, Washington.  When we were in college back in the day, we took a spring break journey to the Westside one year and a highlight of that trip was a tour of the Redhook Brewery in Woodinville.  Two freshly minted 21 year old dudes, $1 tour, an amusing guide with an Australian accent, and all the samples we could drink?  Um, OK!  Well, for years after that I associated Woodinville with beer and it wasn't until I became a wino many years later that I realized there was more to Woodinville than met the eye back then.  Much more. It actually went down more like this:

Clive: The shit is real up here in Woodinville, yo.
Josh: OK.

Fortuitously, as many of you know, I just moved to Seattle and my condo is a short short 17 miles from this wonderland of wine and this weekend I had the opportunity to make my first appearance. Nestled in the Sammamish River Valley, wine has been in Woodinville since 1976 when Chateau Ste. Michelle set up shop there. In the years since, the small community has become home to over 70 wineries and tasting rooms. The majority of fruit you'll find in Woodinville comes from Eastern Washington, with a good mix of winemakers that produce in Woodinville balanced with Columbia Valley wineries who have opened a second tasting room. It's going to take a long time to hit all 70, woe is me.

Micheal was in town visiting after a non-wine conference and we made plans to meet some of his former students in the wine mecca. After texting Clive for some suggestions resulting in, "There are too many good wineries to pick one.", the party we were meeting suggested starting out at Columbia Winery. I think I twitched a little when Micheal announced that was where we were headed, but not one to rock the boat, off we went. Now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with Columbia, it's just so big and probably crowded and I was hoping to hit some boutique wineries that weren't out on every grocery store shelf. Luckily, the second winery would provide that opportunity. Columbia was as anticipated; a large impressive tasting facility with a bunch of people coming in by the busload and high production wines on the tasting menu. Regardless, we had a nice tasting, good conversation, and settled on old favorite for our next venture: Airfield Estates.

Rick profiled Airfield about a year ago after our visit to Prosser; if you recall we had a simply amazing experience at their main facility. I was excited to check out the digs a little closer to my new home, would this be my new backyard tasting room? Perhaps. We arrived at the tasting room and to my chagrin, it too was packed to the gills. I noticed immediately that they had done a great job of sticking with the aviation motive present in the Prosser winery. Don't worry, I quickly elbowed my way up to the bar and was greeted with a tasting list with many of my old favorites. I'm a sucker for their blends and jumped right into the reds (I was driving after all), and the Spitfire, Mustang, and Aviator were just how I remembered them -- awesome. In fact, I want to crack open a bottle right now. I'm a sucker for unique red blends and to refresh your memory, here's the rundown on two of them:

2008 Mustang: 53% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 8% Cinsault, 2% Counoise, 2% Mourvèdre

2008 Spitfire: 60% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 5% Petite Verdot

Delicious.  A nice unanticipated surprise was the bonus pour of 2009 Tempranillo, a recent gold medal winner at the San Francisco wine competition. I'd actually had this wine at a local wine bar a few times recently, but was taken by it in the tasting room. We closed down the place, and as we walked to the car our stomachs were growling. Where should all good trips to wine country end? A hot dog cart. Luckily there was one right across the street at DeLille and we bought everything they had left.

So, there's a start. I have a feeling that I'll be making my way to Woodinville quite a bit in the future and look forward to sharing it's wonders with my Oregon friends.