Fat Bird, Skinny Turtle, and some wine


On Sunday, Jon and I decided to make our own “Shirk Your Responsibilities” Day. Instead of staying home and getting laundry done and working on things around the house, we decided to go down to Woodinville and do a little wine tasting. When I suggested it to Jon first thing in the morning, I was amazed at how quickly he popped up out of his chair to get ready to go – kind of like a Jack in the Box.  That was my first hint that he was into the idea…  So we got ready, and drove down. On the way, we talked about where we wanted to go.

Jon was interested in heading to Mark Ryan, which was supposed to be in the Hollywood Schoolhouse. The Schoolhouse is an old school that was built in 1912 and is no longer being used as a school. I was under the impression that the school had been converted in space that the wineries were leasing, and each classroom would be a tasting room. Not so much. Apparently The Schoolhouse is a special event space, that is rented out for weddings and other events. It looked beautiful through the locked doors, but there aren’t any wineries there. Alexandria Nicole has a space at one end of the building, with an outside entrance. Mark Ryan, Andrew Ross, J Bookwalter, and PepperBridge are in a building behind the Schoolhouse. It just wasn’t the same.

So after figuring out this Schoolhouse business, we made our way behind the building to where Mark Ryan is. It was a very quiet Sunday, and we were the only ones there. I think it was because Taste Washington, the big wine event in Seattle was that day. At any rate, it was our gain. Mark Ryan has received rave reviews for their wine, and they were delicious. We began our tasting with a Viognier that was very floral. Then we moved into the reds. Mark Ryan has a lineup with pop culture and eclectic names (two of his wines are named after Pearl Jam songs), like The Dissident, The Dead Horse, Wild Eyed Syrah and The Long Haul, and all of his wines, with the exception of the Viognier, are blends. Mark Ryan is into the big, bold Cabernet blends, so Jon was in heaven. The wines for me were all very good, but I found the Cabernet blends all running together. It was hard for me to tell them apart. I liked the Wild Eyed Syrah best.

Mark Ryan’s tasting room follows the pop culture theme as well. They used an antique cabinet as the tasting bar, and had two antique Indian motorcycles. For those of you who don’t know the Indian, it was the motorcycle that BJ Hunnicutt fell in love with in a M*A*S*H episode. It was destroyed in that episode, causing much anguish for BJ. The Indians at Mark Ryan are fully restored (one is a 1928!), and absolutely beautiful. The walls at Mark Ryan are decorated with concert posters, matted and framed in pristine condition. The ambience of the place reminded me of a bachelor’s loft – very hip.

We moved next door to Ross Andrew after that. Ross Andrew started the lineup with a Pinot Gris. I really wanted to love it, because a Pinot Gris is just so rare in Woodinville. It was good, but it wasn’t the crisp fruity Pinot Gris that I really wanted it to be. We also tried the Glaze, which is an affordable Cab blend, which I liked quite a bit. It was smooth and easy to drink, and not overpowered with tannins, like so many Cabs can be. The Glaze is named for the winemaker’s wife’s pottery. The spit bucket in the winery was actually a clay pot that she made, with wine grapes decorating it. It is nice to see a winery that is truly a family affair, down to the Bernese Mountain winery dog Galena (she’s shy though…).

After leaving Ross Andrew, we decided to try to find Chatter Creek Winery. I had purchased a bottle of their Grenache a few months back, not knowing anything about the winery, and it was very good. So, with the help of the GPS and our guidebook that said Chatter Creek is open from 12 – 4 pm on Sundays, we headed over… to find it closed. So much for Chatter Creek, at least for now.

We ended our day with an oldie but a goodie – Matthews Estate. We were there before, a year ago during the Party Bus tour. This year when we went, it was really quiet… there was only one other guy there tasting with us. I was excited that they now have a Sauvignon Blanc, and it was wonderful. Crisp apple taste, perfect for a hot summer day with some Teriyaki chicken on the grill. I brought home two bottles. Their Blackboard charity blend this year is a Cab blend, and I have to say, I just didn’t like it at all. It was very oakey, and seemed pretty harsh to me. I liked their Blackboard Syrah a lot better. I know that they likely change the wine each year, depending on what grapes they have leftover, but I hope they will do the Syrah again. They are still doing their single varietal Syrah, and it is one to be experienced.

Jon and I finished up the day with a little shopping at Molbak’s nursery, and Cost Plus World Market. I managed to walk away from all the beautiful and unusual plants that Molbak’s has, which is good since my yard is totally full. But it was tough. I did have to bring home a fat bird and a skinny turtle with absolutely no practical purpose. But they are cute, and that was enough for me.

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