Tag Archive | Lake 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

Lake Chelan Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

This weekend, some of my coworkers and I had a Girls’ Weekend in Chelan, a lakefront resort community.  We were a few hours away at a conference for a good part of the week, so we had decided to spend a bit more time in the sunshine of Eastern Washington before coming home.  On Saturday, we went wine tasting and ended up at Lake Chelan Winery.

Lake Chelan Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Lake Chelan Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Tonight Jon and I are enjoying the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon that I purchased that day.  On the nose, this wine has robust aromas of stewed plums, tobacco and cloves.  You know that it will be a big wine.  On the palate, there is more of a ripe blackberry flavor with the tastes of tobacco and cloves.  The wine is big, but it has nicely balanced tannins to make it an approachable wine.

Jon was as impressed as I was when he tried it, and was happy with my purchase.

Have you tried any of Lake Chelan Winery’s wines?  What did you think of them?

Benson Vineyards Estate Winery 2011 Estate Chardonnay

Tonight I’m enjoying the last of the Benson Vineyards Estate Winery 2011 Estate Chardonnay.  Jon opened it up the other night, and I was instantly reminded of our smoky trip to Chelan last fall.

On the nose, I picked up aromas of light oak and honey, and the wine is a beautiful butter color.  On the palate, the initial flavor is a tart citrus, not at all what I was expecting after the nose!  When the wine hits the back of your mouth, you get a nice light oak flavor; enough oak to balance out the tart citrus, but not enough to overpower the Chardonnay.

I paired it with some fantastic turkey tacos that Jon made – ground turkey, sauteed cabbage and peppers, and black beans.  Plus all the toppings – shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, olives and tomatoes.  Amazing!

Chelan Saturday – Dinner (of sorts) and a Movie!

After our tasting at Chelan Ridge Winery, we were wined out.  Plus, considering how pleased we were with the wines there, I’m not sure that we would have been as successful if we had gone anywhere else, so we headed back into Chelan and relaxed a little bit.  We got some food at the grocery store so we could have dinner at the room (after 5 days away from home I was getting pretty burned out on restaurant food).  Then we went out to a movie for date night!  Jon took me to see ParaNorman, the story of a nerdy boy who sees ghosts, and who has to help a little girl ghost find peace.  It is an animated film, and it was a really fun movie!  But I hate when people give away the details, so you will just have to go see it yourself!

The movie was shown at the historic Ruby Theatre, right on the main street in Chelan.  The Ruby opened in 1914, and is believed to be the oldest continuously running film theater in the state of Washington.  It is beautifully restored building that remains true to its Moorish design style.  The Ruby was state of the art for its time, with sloping floors, individual seats, a built in sound system and a fireproof projection room.  The restoration project installed more comfortable theater seats, but the first three rows still have the original seats, so you can get an idea of what once was.  You can even sit in those seats, if you are so inclined – we chose not to because there were a lot of kids at this movie, and many of them wanted to be front and center.

The Ruby Theatre, Chelan, Washington – Built 1914 – Renaissance Revival Architectural Style

The Ruby also hosts workshops, community plays and other events, to fulfill its goal of being a true community gathering place.  I loved visiting, and it is great to see a community that treasures its history and wants to preserve it.  While the projection system isn’t going to satisfy you if you are interested in seeing special effects in all their glory, history and architecture enthusiasts will delight in this special theater.

Ruby Theatre Interior – Looking Up at the Side Balcony

After the movie, we walked back to the hotel and had another evening of relaxing and enjoying some wine.  We had a great time in Chelan, but after 5 days of the smoky air, my poor lungs couldn’t take much more, and we decided we would head home the next morning.

Chelan Saturday (cont.) – More Wine and More Smoke

To get back on the wagon (or continue falling off, depending on your perspective) after our less than stellar experience at Atam Winery, we headed on over to Benson Vineyards Estate Winery.  Benson is probably the Chelan area’s most well known winery and the one of the only wineries in the area that is a 100% Estate Winery.  To qualify as an Estate Winery, that means the winery and vineyards have to be in the same AVA, all of the vineyards have to be controlled or owned by the winery, and the wine has to be made from start to finish at the winery.  Most of the Chelan area wineries source some of their fruit from the Yakima and Columbia Valley, so Benson is unique in that respect.

The tasting room is another in the grand Tuscan Villa style, with the building cut into the hill so you walk into the tasting room on the same level as the parking lot, but on the back side you can head down a flight of stairs to a gorgeous patio with chairs and tables, and a spectacular view of the lake.  Well, the view… the weekend that we were there… not so much.  You haven’t forgotten about the smoke, have you?  My lungs hadn’t!

Benson Vineyards – Can you see the really faint line across the picture near the center? That’s where the lake ends and the land begins. Normally, you can easily see the lake.

We enjoyed tasting several of their wines, starting with their 2011 Chardonnay.  This wine was aged in French oak for 6 months, but honestly it didn’t taste like an oaked Chardonnay.  It was very crisp, with flavors of tart apple – a very nice Chardonnay.  I tried the Rosé next, a Syrah Rosé that is dry with a light sweetness and flavors of cherries.  It would be an excellent accompaniment to BBQ on a hot day.  But I wasn’t so impressed with their 2009 Pinot Noir – it tasted too earthy for my taste, with lots of bitter coffee flavor.

The 2009 Nebbiolo was a big smooth wine, with flavors of strong tobacco and peppermint.  It was decent, but at a $45 sticker price, it needed to be amazing for me to buy it.  At $28, I liked the 2008 Rhythm much better, with a nice balance of berry and smoke.  The 2009 Cabernet Franc was another big tannic wine, with flavors of coffee and heavy smoke.  Not really my taste.  I liked the Cabernet Sauvignon much better, although it was also a big wine, its flavors of leather and chocolate were very smooth.

Benson Vineyards and Estate Winery Patio Seating

After our tasting, Jon and I sat out on the patio for awhile and enjoyed the warm air, but we couldn’t really linger for long because of the heavy smoke in the air.  So, we headed to our next destination.  At that point, we didn’t really know where we wanted to visit next, so he headed out and turned when we saw a winery sign that piqued our interest.  That sign said Chelan Ridge  Winery.  We had no idea what we were in for…

The tasting room was staffed by Henry, and a tasting room server (I didn’t catch her name).  Henry explained that he and his wife Lynn own the winery, and she is the winemaker.  He spent his career as a commercial airline pilot, and they decided to start a winery as a retirement project (that sounds like an awesome retirement!).  Henry and the server were both really friendly, and Henry enjoyed talking about the wines.  When he saw that I was taking notes during the tasting, he offered to make a copy of the tasting notes for me.  They had 4 reds when we were there, and here’s what I thought.

2008 Merlot – Estate Vineyard

The Winemaker’s Notes – This Merlot opens with rich, bright aromas of ripe dark cherries, blackberry jam, and dark chocolate. It’s bright acidity and supple tannins round out a long firm finish with flavors of black cherries, black currant, mocha, and toasty French oak.

My Notes – Very tannic, Toasty – aged in French oak.  A lot of great structure and balance – needs some age.

2008 Syrah – Estate Vineyard

The Winemaker’s Notes – This Syrah opens with lush aromas of ripe dark fruit, white pepper, and violets, followed by rich jammy flavors of blackberries and plums, along with spicy oak. Bold tannins show on the entry and in the finish. This is a no sissy wine! Pairs wonderfully with grilled ribeye!

My Notes – White pepper.  Very good structure – big tannins.

2008 Rouge de Moraine (Bordeaux-Style Blend) – Estate Vineyard

The Winemaker’s Notes – Our Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (55%), Cab Franc (27%), and Merlot (18%) is a real fruit bomb layered with dark cherries, rich plums, and toasted oak forming the base of the aromas, with cherries, pomegranates and blackberries on the palate. The dense tannin profile is complemented by dark chocolate notes and good acidity making it a great food wine.

My Notes – very smooth – excellent blend.  We bought two of these.

2008 Cabernet Franc – Estate Vineyard

The Winemaker’s Notes – Spicy aromas including red currants, raspberries, vanilla and light oak give way to black cherry flavors, black raspberries, and baker’s chocolate. Bright acidity and moderate tannins provide good structure and balance. Superb with alder plank salmon or grilled meats!

My Notes – Raspberry on nose.  Dark bitter chocolate.  We bought one of these.

Chelan Ridge Winery – And Lake Chelan on the Left Side Down the Hill, Only You Can’t See It!

I may not have written much in my notes, but this is no way means the wines were duds.  In fact, these wines were the stars of the weekend.  If Jon and I weren’t trying to save money, I would have gladly bought multiple bottles of each of these wines.  I contained myself with just the three bottles, but it was really hard.  If you have an opportunity to visit this winery, don’t pass it up.  It is truly a gem with standout wines!

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!