Tag Archive | Rattlesnake Hills AVA

Harbinger Winery – Home on the Peninsula

After we sat like bumps on a log on Rialto Beach (we were literally sitting on a driftwood log!), we knew we had to begin the long drive back to our hotel in Sequim.

We got back on the road, and drove into the rain that had so kindly not come during our hike in the Hoh Rain Forest and our walk on Rialto Beach.  We were grateful for that, even as we were driving through the rain and approaching darkness.  I was also feeling the effects of our super-early wake up call, so some caffeine was in order – we grabbed a couple of caffeinated drinks at a small country store along the highway.

Soon enough, outside of Port Angeles, I saw a sign announcing a winery (I swear I can spot those suckers from miles away).  We had seen another sign when we were going in the other direction; of course we thought they would be long closed before we headed back that way.  But, as it turns out, it was only 4:30, a bit earlier than we had anticipated.  And Harbinger stays open until 6!

The outside of the winery is a big old warehouse (it used to be a logging truck shop), with these gigantic wooden doors concealing what is going on within.  When you open the doors, you have to turn around and pull them back closed, because this isn’t a door that will swing shut on its own.  Inside, you are greeted with a large tasting room decorated with wine barrels around the edges, a wooden tasting bar with bar stools on the left, and a living room set of a couch and chairs on the right.  In between are several tables and chairs who want a more restaurant feel.

The exterior at Harbinger Winery with those big wooden doors

The exterior at Harbinger Winery with those big wooden doors

The joint was jumping!  There were 4 men dressed in camo and overalls seated at one table, sipping red wine (one guy was having a beer) – they looked like the least likely wine lovers I have ever seen.  The couch and chairs were filled with two couples.  A man at another table was chatting up the server and obviously knew her well.  And another guy was going through their beer lineup at the end of the tasting bar.  While we were there, several people came and went.  Even though this was one of the busier tasting rooms we have visited, the two servers were on top of their game, serving promptly and remembering where each customer was in the lineup.  And they were friendly and chatty, making everybody feel welcome.

The Interior at Harbinger - it had cleared out a bit by this time.

The Interior at Harbinger – it had cleared out a bit by this time.

You could choose to taste through their flight, purchase by the glass or bottle, or have a beer flight of northwest beers.  Even though they didn’t brew the beers themselves, they had a good variety of northwest beers that I hadn’t tried before; if I were local I would certainly do the beer flight sometimes.

The restroom at Harbinger is decorated with all of their labels from years gone by.

The restroom at Harbinger is decorated with all of their labels from years gone by.

We tasted through their flight, starting with the whites – a Viognier and a Rosé of Lemberger – neither wine was really my taste.  To be honest, I was a little worried at that point that I wasn’t going to be a fan of any of their wines.  But then we moved on to the reds, and wow – I was impressed!  Their Barbera was excellent, a great balance of light tannins and acidity.  El Jefe, a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre had bold tannins and earthy flavors mixed with bright berries.  The Rapture was a great Cabernet Franc with big tannins and pepper notes.

Our tasting finished off with the Blackberry Bliss, a blackberry wine aged in oak barrels.  I really enjoyed it, but I was really surprised when Jon wanted a bottle as he normally doesn’t like sweeter wines.

Their grapes are sourced from several vineyards near Yakima, including Crawford Vineyard, Sagemoor, Elephant Mountain, Two Coyote and Piper; several are in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA, which consistently receives high reviews.  The blackberries and raspberries for their Bliss line of fruit wines are sourced locally, from Graymarsh Farm in Sequim.

We purchased the Barbera and the Blackberry Bliss – the Barbera is already long gone, but I can’t wait to open the Blackberry Bliss!  Our visit to Harbinger was a lot of fun – they definitely have a fun vibe and friendly staff.  If you have a chance, go pull open those big wooden doors!  Just remember to close them behind you!

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…