2015 Couplet, by J. Bookwalter Winery

I picked up this bottle a few weeks ago on a visit with one of one of my oldest, dearest friends in Eastern Washington.  We have been friends since we were 9 years old. I was there on a business trip, but had some time afterwards to socialize.

After my meeting wrapped up for the day, we took a bit of time to visit J. Bookwalter Winery, one of her favorites, and one I have long been curious about but never tried.  Many of their wines have literary names; this one is no exception.  For a book nerd like me, that is a huge draw!

Our tasting consisted of a number of fantastic wines; she was more drawn to the heavy tannic reds, while I enjoyed the whites a bit more.  Our server was friendly and personable, and we ended up having a great conversation on the wines, love and life.

The 2015 Couplet is sourced entirely from Columbia Valley grapes, from the Conner Lee, and the blend is 76% Chardonnay and 24% Viognier.  Both were fermented in stainless steel, rather than oak, giving the wine a crisp flavor.  Flavors of peach and lemon combine with a light minerality for a delicious hot weather patio wine.  (Even though it wasn’t that hot today, and I didn’t sit on the patio while enjoying my glass…) If you are near Prosser, Washington though, J. Bookwalter has an awesome patio, and they are open later than most wineries because they also have a restaurant!

2015 Couplet, by J. Bookwalter

It was certainly a worthwhile visit and a great wine!





2013 Liberated Pinot Noir

I don’t typically pick a wine by the label, but sometimes I pick one by the screw cap!  I was traveling, and needed a bottle that could be opened without a corkscrew, because I didn’t happen to have one in my suitcase, and who wants to buy another cheap corkscrew to add to the collection at home?

So, anywhoo, the 2013 Liberated Pinot Noir from Monterey, California comes with three different choices of cool labels.  The store I purchased it at had two of the options, but I liked the Urban Dweller girl label better.  It’s so cool!

The wine itself is decent, with a medium body and flavors of ripe cherry, blackberry and a hint of tobacco.  The Liberated Wine Company clearly puts more stock in the curb appeal of the bottle, rather than the wine itself though, as their website merely has a whimsical description rather than information about the wine.

URBAN DWELLER – I’ve rarely met the company of a nook whose cranny wasn’t just as welcome! It’s the beauty of being a tourist in your own town, where there are hundreds of sights you’ve crossed a thousand times, and yet somehow, never seen before. Take nothing away from travel, but no one needs to leave the city limits to broaden their horizons. All it takes is a curious mind and a set of eyes—so open yours to the wonders of everyday life. Isn’t it about time we liberated our idea of what “local” means?”

2013 Liberated Pinot Noir - Monterey, CA

2013 Liberated Pinot Noir – Monterey, CA

At $13.50 for the bottle, when Pinot can often be much more expensive, it is certainly a bottle worth trying out!

July 2016: Hood River

After our amazing rafting trip, my aunt, uncle, cousin and I camped on a sustainable practices organic farm.  There were chickens, turkeys, horses and pigs.  The farm had views of both Mount Adams and Mount Hood, and other than the sound of the irrigation ditch, it was really quiet out there.

The next morning, we packed up the tent and my aunt and uncle’s trailer and went to Hood River, Oregon to check out the town.  We watched people parasailing on the Columbia River.  We wandered the main streets and checked out the shops.  We went into two wineries too.


Paddle Wheel River Boats on the Columbia River

Paddle Wheel River Boats on the Columbia River


What's up with the weirdo on the cell phone?

What’s up with the weirdo on the cell phone?

The first was Cascade Cliffs Winery.   Our server was very friendly, and she served us some fantastic wines.  She explained that the logo for the winery is a petroglyph that was discovered on the vineyard property.  I bought the 2014 Dolcetto and the 2015 Symphony white blend there.  I haven’t had them yet, but I might have to open one soon!

After Cascade Cliffs, we headed over to Naked Winery. Naked Winery was a fun and lively place; there was certainly a young hip vibe going on there. The focus seemed less on the quality of the wines and more on the “curb appeal.” The wines all have fun, sexy names, and the logo of the winery is a naked woman. I purchased a great sparkling wine there, and a bottle of their Wanderlust White. It comes in a plastic, lightweight bottle that is perfect for taking on a hiking trip!  I also got a bottle of their Frisky Sparkling Wine, which was pretty good!

The tasting menu at Naked Winery

The tasting menu at Naked Winery

My aunt and I had fun at both wineries, and my uncle was a trooper, even though it isn’t really his thing. After wine tasting, we headed over to the Three River’s Grill. I had the fish tacos, and they were absolutely delicious. The view was amazing too – we got to watch more para-sailors (is this the right word for people who are parasailing?) out on the water from our table on the deck.  I would absolutely love to go back there on another gorgeous summer day and watch the view on the water.  It was really relaxing.

We made one last stop before we got back on the road to head our separate ways. We made a stop at the Bonneville Dam and Fish Hatchery. The Hatchery has some adult White Sturgeon that visitors can see. They are big fish! White Sturgeon can grow to be 20 feet long are the third largest sturgeon species.  Unfortunately, populations of sturgeon on the Columbia River are not abundant, because the dams have inhibited their ability to migrate freely.

I also saw some lamprey, which have sucker mouths to attach to things; they really like to stick on the glass in the underwater viewing area. They were interesting to see, but apparently they are nuisance fish.  And of course, I also saw lots of different kinds of salmon and trout.  They have a pond at the hatchery where you can buy fish food for 50 cents and feed the salmon – they all come up to the surface like they haven’t eaten in days!  Even though you just fed them 10 seconds ago.  But hey, my cats are like that too…

And then, too soon, it was time for my long drive home…

Kramer Vineyard Celebrate – Again!

On Friday night, Twitter told me that it was National Champagne Day.  Which I thought was a bit odd, as I always assumed that December 31 was National Champagne Day, but who am I to argue?  Do we really need an excuse to drink wine?

A friend of mine had come over to meet up for dinner, so I uncorked this lovely bottle of Kramer Vineyards Celebrate!  I have blogged about it before, and it was equally good this time around.  It is dry with light berry flavors, made from Pinot Noir grapes.  I first tried it at the Bubbles Fest Oregon Sparkling Wine Festival, and continue to enjoy it today.

Kramer Vineyards Celebrate! Rosé of Pinot Noir

Kramer Vineyards Celebrate! Rosé of Pinot Noir

If you have a chance, make sure you get some of this wine!  I hope you all enjoyed the weekend.


Amavi 2014 Sémillon

Tonight I’m drinking the Amavi 2014 Sémillon.  According to the winemaker notes on Amavi’s website, it:

smells like: honeysuckle, orange blossom, lemon zest, wet stones
tastes like: granny smith apple, grapefruit, honeydew melon
mouthfeel: refreshing acidity, rich & balanced structure
drink with: rich fish & shellfish; spicy dishes

Varietal(s): 85% Sémillon, 15% Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyard(s): 46% Les Collines, 29% Seven Hills, 25% Goff
Appellation: Walla Walla Valley
Oak Program: 100% neutral French Oak


I paired mine with some leftover Étouffée from our fabulous local Cajun restaurant.  It goes nicely with the spice of the dish.  It is perfect for this hot summer Pacific Northwest evening!

I could have sworn that I had some photos of my visit there last summer, but I can’t seem to find them, so you’ll just have to check out their website to see how amazing their setup is.  If you go, sit on the deck.  Trust me, just do it…

Happy Sunday, I hope your week gets off to a good start…


Anne Amie: 2011 Prismé Pinot Noir Blanc

I love this wine. No, that doesn’t sound enthusiastic enough… I love THIS WINE! Jon and I tried it for the first time when we visited Anne Amie in 2009, and bought a bottle, even though it was a bit pricey for our budget at the time. Jon opened it one evening by mistake, when he thought he was opening one of their less expensive Pinot Blancs. Instant special occasion! It was fantastic, even if we weren’t planning to drink it that night.

Fast forward to February, when we were at Anne Amie for their Bubbles Fest, a small wine festival with just sparkling wines from eleven Willamette Valley producers. Now that was a fabulous Valentine’s Day!

When we were making our purchases from the festival, I asked the folks if they had any of the current release of Prismé, and they did! Untasted, I had them put one in the box. A few days ago Jon and I celebrated the 7th anniversary of the night we met, and to celebrate, I opened this bottle. Again, it knocked my socks off!

Anne Amie Prismé

Anne Amie Prismé

The Prismé is made with some of their best blocks of Pinot Noir, and the juice is pressed and aged without the skins in French Oak Barrels on the lees for 18 months. It has aromas and flavors of apples and vanilla, and a long creamy finish with a light, yeasty, oak flavor. They are certainly doing something right with this wine. Fabulous!

Have you had Anne Amie’s Prismé Pinot Noir Blanc? What did you think?

Oregon Coast 2015: Cape Meares and Wine

After we filled our tummies at Pelican Brewery, we were ready for an afternoon of sightseeing!

Cape Meares State Park

Next we headed to the Cape Meares Lighthouse. It was built in 1890, and has a first order Fresnel lens – it is 38 feet tall.  It is the shortest lighthouse in Oregon, and is constructed of bricks made on site, with iron plates covering them.  It originally had two keeper’s houses, which were connected to the light by a 1,000 foot boardwalk. The mechanism had to be wound every 2.5 hours!  The oil houses were removed in 1934 when the light was electrified – it was deactivated in 1963.

The Cape Meares Light - built in 1890 - 38' tall

The Cape Meares Light – built in 1890 – 38′ tall

There was talk at the time of demolishing the light, but public outcry caused the light to be turned over to the county. Sadly, during the period when the light and its keeper’s houses were vacant, there was a significant amount of vandalism to both, and in the end, the houses had to be torn down. All four bull’s eyes in the Fresnel lens were stolen too – but three have since been recovered. The tower was opened to the public in 1980.

Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the vandals. In January 2010, two drunk young men visited the lighthouse and took several potshots with a gun, breaking 15 of the lighthouse’s windows and significantly damaging the historic lens – damage to the lens is estimated to be more than $500,000 to repair.

The good news is that the men were dumb enough to also fire at and damage the nearby Coast Guard Station, which made their offenses a federal crime. They were caught and convicted, and the judge gave them an interesting sentence. In addition to $100,000 in restitution, the men were sentenced to 48 days in jail, which were served 16 days per year for three years – coinciding each year with the date of the vandalism.

We were able to tour the lighthouse, and see the damage to the lens. It breaks my heart when people don’t have respect for the historic treasures of this world. On a positive note, the tower of the light offers phenomenal views of the ocean and the nesting seabirds.

The view at Cape Meares - perfect for watching seabirds or the annual whale migration

The view at Cape Meares – perfect for watching seabirds or the annual whale migration

A closer look at a Cormorant colony

A closer look at a Cormorant colony

After the lighthouse, we also checked out the Octopus Tree at the park. It has no central trunk, instead having multiple branches that extend outward for as many as 16 feet before heading skyward. No one really knows why it grows this way, but assume that the strange phenomenon was caused by people. Native Americans consider it a sacred tree, but it is different than other Native American marker trees found throughout the United States, which are thought to be directional path markers.

The Octopus Tree

The Octopus Tree

The tribes in the area say that it was shaped in order to hold a canoe with the body of a tribal member, as a part of their funeral service.  However it was shaped in this unusual way, it sure is neat to look at!

Nehalem Bay Winery

There’s a funny story about this place. I have long made it known that one of my favorite wineries is Chehalem Winery in the Willamette Valley – I have blogged about their wines numerous times. My girlfriend Allysa took a vacation down the Oregon Coast a few years ago and texted me one day saying that she was at Nehalem Bay Winery. I responded, “Have fun! Take pictures!” which she apparently thought was odd, since why would I want to see pictures of a place that I had visited often?

Well, once she got back she mentioned having visited “Camille’s favorite winery,” and in the conversation that followed it became clear that there was a mix-up between Nehalem and Chehalem – I can’t imagine why! I had to tell her that I had never been to Nehalem Bay Winery! Since then it has become a running joke, and I can now tell her I have visited Nehalem Bay.

Nehalem Bay Winery

Nehalem Bay Winery

Nehalem Bay has a Bavarian style tasting room, and a line up of about a dozen grape wines and half a dozen fruit wines. They have been in business since the 70s. I really liked Nehalem Bay’s fruit wines, but I thought their grape wines were just ok.

I got to try a new grape too – Niagara – I didn’t like the wine at all! It was really sweet, which is a characteristic of the grape (after all it is predominantly used to make grape juice), but it had a very high alcohol smell too (some compare the smell to diesel fuel – but I didn’t get that from this wine). Jon enjoyed some of their reds though, so they really do have something for everyone. The owners served us, and they were warm and friendly.

Back to the Beach

After our visit to Nehalem Bay, we headed back to camp for a spaghetti dinner, and of course, smores… Paired with a lovely Nehalem Bay Cranperé wine, a light, sweet blend of Cranberry wine and Riesling. The evening activity was a couple mile bike ride with my brother, sister in law and all the kids. We had a lot of fun riding down the 2 mile bike loop around the campground.

We were also greeted with the most fabulous pink sunset – we missed seeing the sun go down but when I saw the pink in the sky I ran out to the beach with my camera in hand to catch the lingering light in the most gorgeous pink hues. It was one of the prettiest sunsets I have ever seen!

A stunning sunset at the Nehalem Bay Campground.

A stunning sunset at the Nehalem Bay Campground.

Have you ever camped on the northern Oregon Coast?  What did you see and do?