Tag Archive | Chelan

Girls Weekend 2015: Chelan Saturday

The second morning of our Girl’s Weekend, we planned for a relatively lazy day. The girls wanted to revisit a winery we had been to the previous year, and go shopping downtown, and that was pretty much the extent of the plan. I think we all kind of planned to sleep in, but it didn’t really happen that way. I was up at about 7, unable to sleep any more – that’s what happens when you share rooms right?!

We got ready and walked to the main drag of Chelan to check out some of the shops. The kitchen shop is always a big hit, as well as Bear Foods Natural Market. There we got some cheeses, fruits and crackers for an appetizer later in the day (we are good at planning ahead!).

We checked out The Black Dog Frame Shop; it has a mix of vintage items with shabby chic and vintage-look new items – one of those places that make you think you would totally redecorate your whole house if only you had the time and money. True to its name, it also has a framing business, and lots of neat posters and artwork. I found a vintage look tablecloth with a whimsical map of the United States in bold, primary colors for my mom. Best find of the weekend!

We got lunch at Chelan Teriyaki, a tiny place just off the main street. You build your own teriyaki meal here. You can have traditional teriyaki or a plate with yakisoba noodles, and you choose your protein and sauce. It is served with a fresh, house-made Asian slaw that we all enjoyed. They also make their own infused waters which are free with your meal. Delicious!

Chicken Yakisoba at Chelan Teriyaki - Delicious!

Chicken Yakisoba at Chelan Teriyaki – Delicious!

After lunch, we picked up the car and headed out to Hard Row to Hoe Winery. We had visited the previous year and had a great time, so all of us wanted to go back. The place was lively, with a Bachelorette party group right next to us.

I know I’m getting old, because these ladies, in their early 20s, were all dressed in matching super tight short shorts and tie dyed tank tops with lots of cleavage popping out. Even in my younger years, I would not have felt comfortable in that! But, to each their own.

The four of us at Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards. Aren't we cute!

The four of us at Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards. Aren’t we cute!

After the tasting, we each purchased a glass of wine and went outside to enjoy it on the patio. We relaxed in the sunshine and had more girl talk! But we didn’t want to stay too long, because the lake was calling us!

A year ago, when we all went for Girls Weekend, the weather was pretty cold, and the lake level was really low. This year, it was much warmer, so we headed back to the suite and changed into swimsuits, made a snack tray of cheese, crackers, fruit and chocolate and grabbed our girly magazines and headed to the lakeshore. We soaked up the sun and did quizzes on, “What style lover are you?” and “What is your perfect swimsuit?”

There was also some lively discussion, fueled by wine of course, about obligations to society, how much money is enough, and what is the appropriate age to retire (I said 33, but I’m behind!). It was wonderful having the opportunity to just relax, with no agenda, no timeline, and no dishwasher to unload. Pure bliss. We stayed until the sun was sinking lower and the temperature threatened to fall enough to force us to put on shorts.

After sunning ourselves – we got dressed and headed over to Maki Sushi, one of our favorite restaurants in Chelan. As usual, it was phenomenal. We split an order of lumpia, and each got some sushi rolls for dinner. Angela and Renee split some sake, but Allysa and I stuck with wine. Divine. Angela wasn’t ready to go home yet, so we headed over to the Mexican restaurant for margaritas – I switched to tea at that point – I think a margarita would have done me in!

The Dragon Roll at Maki Sushi

The Dragon Roll at Maki Sushi

With all that, we still were back in the suite about 9:30 or 10 pm, and watched a cheesy movie about love in the Napa Wine Country during the Second World War.

Renee got mad at me because I was making fun of the cheese – but seriously – the ending was super-cheesy! Think dancing/fanning the grape vines with butterfly wings in one scene and another obligatory scene with the hot guy with no shirt, smeared with soot, ripping the charred grape vine from the earth with his bare hands… If that doesn’t make a girl swoon, I don’t know what would – HA! I can’t remember the title though – it starred Keanu Reeves.

But despite the cheese, all in all, it was another great day…

Girls’ Weekend 2015: The road to Chelan

What better way is there to spend a weekend than with girlfriends!? One weekend in May, I got an opportunity to do just that. The week before was spent in Yakima, WA at a work meeting, then a conference. Several of my former coworkers were also at the conference, so we made plans to head to Chelan, WA for the weekend. We carpooled up from Yakima, making several stops along the way.

Lunch – The Sub Shop

Unfortunately for all of us, our last conference sessions were terrible. We were all in the throes of boredom, so we did what any reasonable person would do – we texted back and forth about where to get lunch and checked out online menus. I wasn’t sold on getting a smart phone but I find it comes in super handy! Sadly, my boring session went overtime!

We were so hungry that we resorted to eating stale mints I found at the bottom of my purse – and we were so bored we played Hangman. After we were finally free, we high-tailed it to the The Sub Shop – delicious, simple food that arrived quickly and quenched our starvation. And we arrived moments before the insane lunch rush.

Wine Tasting – Treveri Cellars

I blogged about my failed attempt to visit Treveri Cellars over the winter, and I was anxious to actually get there. When I suggested a stop along the way, of course my friends said yes! The four of us visited and did their sparkling wine tasting. The wines are wonderful! There was something for everyone, although I did discover that my taste is for a drier sparkling wine than my friends, who like the sweet Demi-Secs.

Our sparkling wine cocktails at Treveri

Our sparkling wine cocktails at Treveri – L: Sorbet Glace, R: Sugar Plum Fairy

After our tasting, we ordered two sparkling wine cocktails to share. We had the Sorbet Glace – with Treveri Gewürztraminer and a choice of sorbet flavors.  We also tried the Sugar Plum Fairy – Treveri Riesling, Amaretto flavor, and a dash of bitters; completed with a sugared rim.  Both were good, but the Sugar Plum Fairy was hands down my favorite. The table was split on the preference, with some of my friends preferring the Sorbet Glace, which was sweeter.

Check out these awesome bottles!

Check out these awesome bottles!

We strongly considered taking our cocktails out onto the patio to sit in the sunshine, but were glad we didn’t when the lawnmower roared by, kicking up a ton of dust onto the patio seating. Note to wineries – please mow the lawn before you open for the day!

Shopping – The Thorp Fruit and Antique Mall

No visit to Yakima is complete without a stop at this gem – I love this place! Three floors of shopping – the first floor dedicated to wine, fruit and other food items, and the second two floors packed with antiques. I always enjoy a stop there, and I can even get Jon to go without putting up a fuss! I didn’t find anything that spoke to me this time, but not for lack of trying.

Sightseeing – Ohme Gardens

Ohme Gardens was another place that I suggested we stop at. Jon and I visited Ohme Gardens last September when we were in Wenatchee, and it was stunning. I wanted to come back and see the spring flowers. We got there about an hour before closing, so while we couldn’t dawdle, we felt like we were able to see what we wanted to see. The flowers were stunning, and it was wonderful to enjoy this treasure with friends, exploring all the nooks and crannies that were so lovingly created by the Ohme family. Not to mention it was great to stretch our legs hiking up and down the hills and stepping stones. Ohme Gardens is definitely an attraction not to be missed in Wenatchee.

After visiting Ohme Gardens, we saw a Groundhog on the way out of the park, chilling by the side of the road after emerging from a culvert. We stopped and backed the car up so we could get a better view, and this little guy just posed for picture after picture, with no fear of us at all! I wonder if he was waiting for us to feed him. We didn’t though, and after my camera battery died we got on our way to Chelan.

Groundhog!

Groundhog!

And with that, we had arrived – we stayed in the same room suite again that we had the year before – a two bedroom with a kitchen right on the lake. We checked in and had just a moment to set down our things and have a quick glass of wine when we were greeted by our first visitor – our former coworker who we were meeting for dinner.

We went to Andante, a well-known Italian restaurant in Chelan. Surprisingly, it was very quiet; even though the sushi restaurant we tried to go to first was absolutely packed! The food was delicious, and the company was divine. We split the Antipasto plate, a bottle of Italian red wine, a Sangiovese, if I remember correctly.

My Tuscan Seafood Stew at Andante in Chelan

My Tuscan Seafood Stew at Andante in Chelan

I had the Tuscan Seafood Stew for my entrée, with prawns, scallops, cod, clams and mussels in a base of fresh garlic, celery, parsley, onion, and tomatoes with white wine and stock. It was served with a grilled baguette. It wasn’t heavy, and really hit the spot. Dessert was a rich, chocolate cake.  Wow. And the five of us laughed and caught up – it was a fabulous evening, and a great end to a wonderful day.

Our decadent chocolate cake at Andante

Our decadent chocolate cake at Andante

Chelan Saturday – Wine and Smoke

Part two of our September Chelan trip…

On Saturday, we slept in and relaxed in the morning before we headed out to do some wine tasting.  We had planned to do some hiking while we were in Chelan, but the air was still so smoky that it would have been impossible.  I have asthma, and that would not have been a good idea for me to be breathing in all the smoke, which hung visibly in the air, giving it a dirty orange color.  We got moving (at a leisurely pace) and decided that we would head out to Manson, which is about seven miles from Chelan, and where a lot of the area’s wineries are.

Our first stop of the day was at Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards.  This place is fun – taking its name from one of the more colorful parts of the area’s history.  Back in the day, the 1930s to be more precise, construction on the Grand Coulee Dam was shutting down, and hiring was picking up at the Howe Sound Mine.  The mine produced mostly copper, but also gold, zinc and silver.  A group of enterprising “professional” ladies, who had been working down at the dam, decided to move into an abandoned lodge at Point Lovely, a couple of miles up the lake from the Howe Sound Mine.  So, one of the locals opened up a water-taxi business, rowing men from the mine the few miles up to the lodge.  Hard Row to Hoe – get it!?

The tasting room capitalizes on the story, featuring photographs of Victorian prostitutes and with a space decked out in velvet wallpaper, beaded lampshades and a beautiful velvet upholstered settee.  If you haven’t heard the story when you arrive, they are happy to tell you the juicier details.  And even their website gets into the act, featuring a graphic of a man rowing a rowboat across the water, and topped with Mae West quotes on every page.

Hard Row to Hoe Tasting Room

Ah, but enough about the story, you want to know about the wines, right?!

We started off with the Shameless Hussy Rosé.  It is a blend of Pinot Noir and Sangiovese that is off dry and with just a hint of sweetness.  I really liked this wine, but Jon always tells me I have too much Rosé.  What?  I don’t understand what that even means!

Then we tried the Marsanne, which is not often done as a single varietal wine.  The wine had flavors of lemongrass and oak, and the server explained that it was aged in a neutral oak barrel.  The tasting notes say it tastes of honey and grapefruit – I didn’t really get citrus flavors out of this wine, but who knows, my sniffer might have been off because of all the smoke in the air.  Jon liked this wine quite a bit, but I prefer a less oaked white wine.  I should mention it won Gold at the Seattle Wine Awards.

Next up was the Semillon, a crisp wine with a light butter flavor.  It was very nice.  I can’t tell you any more about it, because it is not mentioned on their website.  Then came a Cabernet Sauvignon, with light tannins.  It was a very laid back Cab, with the grapes coming from the Wahluke Slope in the Columbia Valley.  The Wahluke Slope has about 15% of the grape acreage in Washington State.    I liked it, but Jon likes a bigger, bolder Cab – this one was softer, with a more widespread appeal.

Their 2008 Lickety Split is a blend of two different Syrahs and a Primitivo.  All the grapes for this wine are also brought in from the Wahluke Slope.  It is a smooth balanced wine that is perfect to drink now.  A wonderful wine, but priced a bit high for my taste.  The 2007 Primitivo, again with grapes grown on the Wahluke slope, is also very smooth, with light tannins and blackberry flavors.

There wasn’t a bad wine in the bunch here – just some that were more my taste or Jon’s.  It was a real treat to try Primitivo grapes fresh from the cluster, because they were doing crush right outside!  The grapes were very sweet – sweeter than I was expecting them to be.   And the tasting room staff were fun and friendly, and were willing to give lots of information about the wines.  We came home with three wines and they are just waiting for the right night to open them!

Hard Row to Hoe Picnic Area – It would be a great day if not for the smoke in the air!

After Hard Row to Hoe, Jon and I decided to try Atam Winery.  Atam Winery is one of the areas only estate wineries – growing their grapes and producing the wine on site (more on estate wineries in an upcoming post).  It is close by, and a guy I met at the conference said that he had been there with his family the night before and was pleased with it.  So off we went.  It is up a huge hill, with vineyards and a horse pasture in front of the winery.  The winery is the lower floor of a home built into the hill, and the day that we were there, the tasting room door was fully open onto a big patio where you could sit and enjoy a glass of wine.  But unfortunately, the experience went downhill from there.

There were the birdscarers…  I know they want to protect the grapes and all, considering it was really close to harvest, but trying to enjoy wine while a sonic boom goes off outside every 15 seconds is just impossible.  Jon thought they were gunshots, and was having all sorts of thoughts of crazy Eastern Washington folks shooting their guns off everywhere!

And then, the server was a bit stiff.  She poured the red wine, a Barbera, first and said that since the wines were made in the German style, they sampled the red wine first, like the Germans do.  But that was all the information she offered up.  She didn’t tell us why the German style wines should be sampled in that order.  She didn’t explain why or how a Barbera, which is an Italian grape, was being made in the German style.  She didn’t say anything about any of the wines!  So I’m left wondering if what she said is true, that the Germans do their wine tastings with the reds first.  If you know the answer please let me know.  And if you know why – even better!

So, we tried the Barbera – it had a slight foam on top which was strange -the wine was so-so.  The Riesling we tried next was sweet but flat, and had no acidity to balance it out.  The Gewürztraminer was like grape juice; it had no structure.  I didn’t like any of the three, so I won’t delabor the point with any more detail.  At that point, Jon just wandered off, out to the patio and then further away… I knew he wasn’t coming back.  What to do now!?  I hate leaving a winery without making a purchase, because these are generally small businesses, and people’s livelihoods, but I really didn’t like any of these wines…  I said thank you and departed, and then chastised Jon when we got back in the car for bailing on me!

And I certainly won’t be taking anymore wine recommendations from my conference friend!

Chelan Beginnings – Day 1

At the end of September, I had a conference over in Chelan, Washington.  I headed over with my coworkers on Tuesday, and attended the conference session from Wednesday through noon Friday.  Jon then took Saturday off from work and drove over Friday after he finished work to meet me.  Chelan is east of the Cascade mountains in Washington and typically gets hotter drier weather than we do in Western Washington.  This year the temperatures were nice, but not overly warm.  I could walk around in a skirt and t-shirt and be quite comfortable – which typically isn’t the case at the end of September at home.  But sadly, there wasn’t much sun to be found.  Because even though the sun was up there in the sky, it was obscured by the thick smoke in the air from the nearby wildfires.

Friday after Jon arrived, we spent the afternoon wandering around the shops in the downtown business area.  Chelan has about 3500 year round residents, and the population balloons by several thousand during the summer.  But with the season winding down, and the heavy smoke in the air, it was certainly less busy than I think it would usually be.  After wandering around and checking out the shops, we decided to head out to Tsillan Cellars to go do a wine tasting.  I had their Sinistra wine a few years ago, and it is one of my favorites – but I hadn’t tried any of their other wines for a couple of years.

Tsillan is on the main drag just outside of town – up on a slope overlooking the lake (although you couldn’t see down to the lake because of the smoke).  They grow some of their own grapes, and some they truck in from the Yakima Valley.  For a $5 tasting fee, you can sample five wines (they did pour us a sixth though).  Jon and I shared a flight, and we started with the 2009 Estate Chardonnay.  This Chardonnay had a nice light butter flavor, but without being too heavily oaked.  It was one that we could both agree on.

Tsillan Cellars Tasting Room and Restaurant

Their 2009 Estate Riesling was very floral at first taste, but then settled into a rich pear flavor with the taste of vanilla.  It was a drink now wine.  The 2011 Bocciolo di Rosa was a light Syrah based Rosé with flavors of honeydew melon.  It had a light sweetness, and did not have much acidity.

The 2009 Bellissima Rossa is a Syrah Merlot blend, with big structured tannins and flavors of smoke and caramel.  The 2009 Reserve Syrah had even bigger tannins, and tasted of brown sugar, ripe cherry and lots of prune.  I liked the wines more than the reds at Tsillan, with the exception of the Sinistra that I love so much, but sadly it is sold out for the season!

Tsillan Cellars Tasting Room

After the winery, we pondered what to do about dinner.  Tsillan Cellars has a large Italian restaurant at the winery, but neither of us felt like eating heavy Italian food.  We decided to head back to the hotel and walk somewhere downtown.  We asked around for some other suggestions, and everybody kept recommending Local Myth Pizza.  It is apparently the best pizza ever – based on the numbers of rave reviews I have heard!  I’m convinced that these pizza place owners are true geniuses and are paying people off for the recommendations, because to be honest, I had their pizza a few days before and just was not that impressed.  It was one where you had to blot the oil off the top before you could eat it – with the New York style flat crust.  Jon is not a fan of heavy, greasy foods on his best days, so I knew there would be no way he would like it.

We decided to go to a place that served burgers and salads called BC MacDonald’s.  We both had salads that were nice and big, and Jon had a glass of wine.  My iced tea was good too.  The ambience was not great – there were two men in the bar arguing loudly, but the server was fast and attentive and we both left satisfied with our meals.  But the reviews on BC MacDonald’s are mixed, so I could easily see having a much worse experience than we did.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and relaxed with some wine and TV watching.  Vacation is the life!

The Broken Motor

I’m tired tonight…  Last night Jon and I got home from a trip to Chelan, Washington, where our lungs were subjected to a thick cloud of smoke hanging heavy in the air from the wildfires that are burning too close to people’s homes and lives.  There was a fire burning 10 miles outside of town, and although the flames weren’t visible because it is on the other side of a ridge, the stagnant air was heavy with smoke.  You want the wind to pick up and blow the smoke away, but you can’t hope for that, because it would make the fire spread that much more quickly.

I headed over on Tuesday for a work conference, and Jon followed on Friday for what we hoped would be a weekend of hiking, wine tasting and enjoying what is sure to be one of the last beautiful summer weekends in Washington.  Unfortunately, the fires eliminated any chance of getting good hiking in, both because many of the state parks are closed due to the fire danger, and because my lungs and my asthma were feeling the effects of the smoky air.  So we went wine tasting and had a leisurely, non-active weekend.  I’ll be sure to post more about the trip soon.

After arriving home, my oldest cat Martini was so excited to see me she didn’t want to let me out of her sight.  She lay down with me at bedtime, and was purring so loudly that I thought she was going to overheat and explode!  Actually, I joke about it now, but I was really quite worried, because her purring was so raspy and heavy that I was concerned that she had some sort of a respiratory infection.  Her breathing was quite labored, and she would not stop purring.  Normally, when I wake up in the middle of the night I pet her a little, but I didn’t want to pet her for fear that she would NEVER stop purring!  She purred for hours… Right in my ear… this raspy, labored purring.  I thought my first call in the morning would have to be to the vet.

Thankfully, at 4 in the morning (yes, I was awake that whole time, worried about the respiratory infection…) she finally settled down and went to sleep.  And I could finally get some too.  Today her breathing was fine.  So I guess I have to chalk it up to her just being that glad to have her momma home.  Whoever said cats are aloof has never met mine.

Martini – When She’s Not Purring

Tonight I am sipping Blue Heron, by St. Julian Winery in Paw Paw, Michigan.  St. Julian claims to be Michigan’s oldest winery, and I have no reason to doubt that it is.  St. Julian was founded as Border City Wine Cellars in Ontario, Canada in 1921.  In 1934, after Prohibition was repealed, owner Mariano Meconi moved the winery across the river to Detroit.  By this time, the name had been changed to Meconi Wine Company.  Next came a move to the other side of the state in 1936, to Paw Paw, Michigan, which is in the southwest corner, and one of the state’s best wine growing regions.  With the move to Paw Paw, he changed the name to the Italian Wine Company – geez, make up your mind!

He changed the name one more time to St. Julian Winery in 1941, in response to the anti-Italian sentiment that was growing during World War II (ok, I gotta give that one to him).  St. Julian was the patron saint of the town of Faleria, Italy, where Mariano Meconi was born, so he honored his old hometown with the last name change.  So, from 1921 until today – this winery has been producing wine for over 90 years!  That’s pretty good!

Anyway, Blue Heron is a blend of Vidal Blanc, Seyval Blanc and Riesling, and is labeled a semi-sweet wine.  I actually consider it to be a sweet white, with a nose of floral scents and honey.  It tastes of tart, crisp apple and honey.  It reminds me quite a bit of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s everyday Riesling, which is one of my favorite inexpensive, night-at-home wines.  Jon picked this one up in Michigan at the grocery store, without knowing anything about it, and for $6.99 for the bottle, he scored!

Blue Heron White by St. Julian Winery

So, with that, I’m going to finish off my Blue Heron and head to bed.  Hopefully, there will be no purring…