Tag Archive | Dolcetto

High School Reunion: To Old Friends, Old Again…

I’m having an early dinner tonight, because in a couple of hours, I’ll be off to that timeless tradition, the high school reunion…  I won’t tell you how many years it has been, except to say that it somewhere between 19 and 21.  And for those of you who have seen photos of me on this blog and are puzzled by the math… I graduated high school when I was 3.  I was a very precocious child.

This week I have been reflecting on the fact that even though I still live in the same town where I grew up and went to high school, I hardly ever run into people that I went to high school with (I used to work with a childhood neighbor, but he has since sought greener pastures and changed jobs).  Even though I work in HR, it had nothing to do with me – I swear!  We live in the kind of small city that is blessed with abundant beauty, tons of recreational opportunities, great restaurants, low crime, and lots of small town charm.  The inevitable tag alongs are screaming high real estate prices, lots of retired Californians, few jobs, and tons of college educated competition for those few jobs.  OK, perhaps the Californians aren’t inevitable, but they are here.

This is the Sunset I am Blessed With, at a Local Park

This is the Sunset I am Blessed With, at a Local Park

I was fortunate to find great jobs and a rare career progression here, when a lot of my peers weren’t so lucky.  Moving away after high school or college to find employment somewhere else is the norm around here.  So this weekend I will be reunited with my childhood peeps and I’m sure we will tell stories of life lived away from here and life lived here, and laugh about the crow’s feet, the gray hairs, the triumphs and the not-so-successful moments.  Except I won’t have any stories about gray hair and crow’s feet, because I’m only 23.

With my early dinner (because I’m certainly on the downhill slide to 5 o’clock dinners followed by BINGO, right?), I decided to do a little pre-celebration with a glass of local wine.  I’m drinking the 2008 Dolcetto by Dakota Creek.

Dakota Creek was founded in 2005 by Ken and Jill Peck, who source most of their grapes from the Yakima Valley – many from the Rattlesnake Hills AVA.  The Dolcetto has light tannins and aromas of ripe blackberries and prunes.  It is smooth and fruit forward, with the same flavors following the nose.  While not a terribly complex wine, it is a light red that won’t overpower anything you decide to pair it with.  The winery is open Thursdays through Saturdays, and it is always a pleasant experience to sit out on their patio and enjoy your tasting while taking in the lush grass fields nearby.  It doesn’t hurt that Ken and Jill are two of the friendliest people you will ever meet, and always the most gracious of hosts.

Here’s to friends, old and older…

Woodinville Warehouses hold neat surprises.

Facelli Winery was another stop on our September day trip to the Woodinville warehouse district.  This was my pick, and I chose them because they specialize in the harder to find Italian varietals.  I’m intrigued by wines that you don’t see often, and Facelli has a Barbera and a Lemberger.   They said a Dolcetto is in the works.

Facelli is family owned and operated, and the family is serving in the tasting room.  They make many different varietals, and are really friendly.  You can see the pride that they have in their wines.  I picked up several, because they have some truly unique wines.

Anton Ville is a small winery with only five wines.  Their white, called Harmony, is a Viognier and Riesling blend, which is light and fruity summer white.  At $15, it is also very affordable.  They do a great job with their reds as well.  They offer a Merlot, a Cab. Sauvignon, a Cab. Franc, and a Merlot based blend.  The wines are much more refined than I would expect from a startup winery.  The reds have been aged for a long time, with the 2005 vintage currently selling.  I’ll be looking forward to seeing what else they put out.

Guardian Cellars was certainly the standout for the day.  The vibe in their tasting room is young and hip, and they have their walls covered in concert posters from bands that Jon likes.  They have good music playing, and they make you feel welcome.  They offer a Sauvignon Blanc, called Angel, and a Cabernet Sauvignon.  They also offer several blends, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cab Franc.  One word about their wines: Excellent!  Strong, oakey, Cabernets are not my style, but Guardian Cellars wines are so balanced that they appeal to a variety of palates.  We are lucky enough that our local wine store carries Guardian Cellars wines, and we have purchased several.  We will certainly visit again.

And on to Sonoma Valley

The next day of our wine tour we decided to go to the Sonoma Valley, which is just southwest of Napa Valley.  Napa focuses on Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, where Sonoma focuses more on Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.  We decided to make our first stop Cline Cellars.  We tried a Cline Syrah from the grocery store on our first night, and we were so impressed that we had to make a visit.  They have very reasonably priced wines, starting at $11 a bottle.  We stopped by at 10:30 on a Tuesday morning, and this place was hopping!  There were already almost a dozen people tasting, including a local character who had the whole tasting room laughing.  Our server, Rene, was excellent – personable, down to earth and he knew a lot of the wines.   I did stump him though, when I asked questions about one of the rare varietals.  I liked that he admitted he didn’t know the answer, instead of trying to pretend.  And then he pulled out an awesome book with every grape varietal known to man!  Their Syrahs were good, their Zinfandels were very good, and Jon and I both enjoyed their Mourvedre and Carignan (a varietal that I have not heard of before).

Cline Cellars

After our tasting, we enjoyed a picnic lunch at their picnic table with wine, cheese and pepperoni that they also sell onsite.  We toured the grounds, which included a fishpond complete with turtles and frogs, and two mini-donkeys that the kids can feed carrots.  And to top it all off, they own replica models of the 21 California missions.  These models were made for the 1939 World’s Fair using the original blueprints for the missions.  It seems that when they were going to be auctioned off piecemeal, Cline’s owner bought them all, and then built a museum on the grounds to display them.  They were very cool – an unexpected treat.  We will certainly be back again!

After Cline, we went across the street to Jacuzzi Winery.  They are owned by the same family, but while Cline focuses on Zins and Syrahs, Jacuzzi focuses on the Italian varietals, some of which I had never even heard of.  They did have some good wines, but unfortunately, the experience we had there didn’t make their wines worth it.  Our server barely looked at us, and when I asked him which he thought were the best wines to taste (you get to choose 5 from the list), he informed me, “I can’t tell you what you’ll like.”  Well, duh, but surely you can tell us which ones are your best wines.  It irked me, because any winery that doesn’t specialize is going to have some that are better than others.  The snooty server also said, “I won’t tell you that our wines are better than Cline wines, but they are.”  Wow, selling out your own partner winery just isn’t cool.  That said, we liked their Pinot Noir, and their Dolcetto, but left without buying anything.  We tried to taste their olive oils, but it was so busy and crowded there, we gave up.  All in all, I thought Jacuzzi was a dud.

After Jacuzzi, we went into Sonoma’s downtown for a bit, and toured the Sonoma Mission.  It was the last mission built in the string of 21 California missions, founded in 1823.  It was only a religious mission for 11 years.  In 1834, the Mexican government secularized the missions and put General Vallejo in charge of Sonoma.  He founded the town on Sonoma around the mission, and they used the mission as a parish church for a time while the mission started to fall into disrepair.  It was mostly crumbled after the 1906 earthquake.  Fortunately, they started restoration in 1909, and the mission became a museum in 1913.  It is one of two missions that are part of the California Park System.  It is a neat mission and well worth the $3 fee, and is easily toured in about 20 minutes, unless you want to watch the 20 minute video.  You can also see the Barracks, and General Vallejo’s home.

It is certainly worth the visit – it is interesting to imagine what life was like during the period.