April 14, 2012 was the 4th Annual Anacortes Spring Wine Festival. I heard about it for the first time last year and wanted to go, but ended up not being able to. This year, Jon ended up having to work late, so I was almost thwarted again. But our friends Kiera and Joe wanted to go! So I left Jon at home and we embarked on my adventure…
Joe was nice enough to drive us, so we all piled in the car and headed down to the Port of Anacortes. I had been down to the Port’s offices before, so I knew that the Wine Festival takes place at the Port’s main office, which is an old warehouse right on the dock, with offices around the side of a main, open warehouse. They had the big bay door rolled up because it was sunny and beautiful, which let a bit more light and fresh air into the warehouse.
They did a very good job at this festival. The servers were friendly and outgoing, and the winery stations were well equipped with easily accessible dump buckets, and water pitchers to rinse your glass so you could move easily from reds back to whites. There was also an ample supply of breadsticks to cleanse your palate between tastes. After so many wines, these are vital as you get that dry, tart, tannic taste in your mouth, and you wonder if the next wine really tastes exactly like the last wine, or if that is just the residual taste in your mouth.
I do have two suggestions for the festival organizers, if they ever happen upon this blog and want to make it an even better experience than it already was. 1. Please have some wet wipes (either bleach wipes or baby wipes would do just fine) for those of us who want to wipe off the stem and outside of our wine glass. The servers try hard, but inevitably when tasting for a long time, you get drips down the side of your glass, and your hands get sticky. YUCK. A mid-day wipe for the glass would be awesome – Thanks! 2. You could make better use of the center space. Put some of the winery tables back to back there in the middle. There was way too much underutilized space in the middle and the wineries were all crowded around the edges. That made it a bit tough to get to them, and you don’t feel like you can spend much time chit-chatting because others are trying to elbow their way in. That would be great!
The festival also had several restaurants who were serving amazing small bites. We had the opportunity to sample all sorts of goodies, from meatballs, tarts, salmon wraps and salads. The food was all excellent – there wasn’t anything I didn’t like.
So, without further ado, I’ll give you the rundown on the wineries that I visited at the festival. Of course, I didn’t have time for all of them, but I listed all of them in case you want to see who was there. I’ve indicated where I tasted and where I didn’t.
Bunnell Family Cellars – I had read about them when we were heading to Yakima last year, and was curious about them, but we ran out of time and didn’t make it there. I was excited that they had a presence at the festival. Since they were the first winery alphabetically, they had a spot right by the door, so we headed over there right away. I first sampled their Malbec, which was delicious. It tasted a bit young, with a tannic tartness that will smooth out over time. I also tried their Syrah, which was extremely dark and smoky, with heavy oak and tannins. I could imagine Jon really liking the Syrah, but it wasn’t the wine for me.
Challenger Ridge – Challenger Ridge is located in Concrete, Washington, off the beaten path. Their location is the reason I haven’t been there, because we just haven’t been all that excited about driving all that way for one winery. So, I was excited about trying it – I tasted the Kiss Me Kate Rosé, and the Savant, which is a Pinot Noir, Merlot, Tempranillo, Grenache blend. They explained that the Kiss Me Kate was a Rosé that didn’t have a lot of sweetness, but I actually thought it was one of the sweeter Rosés that I’ve had. Not that the sweetness was a bad thing, actually it was quite a good semi-sweet summer Rosé. The Savant was good too, a nice Pinot blend.
Chandler Reach Vineyard – Chandler Reach is a Yakima Valley winery in Benton City, Washington, and they had available for tasting a Viognier, a Sangiovese blend, and a Cab/Merlot blend. I tried the 2008 Corella, which is 75% Sangiovese, 20% Cab Sauvignon, and 5% Merlot. It was smooth and delicious and ready to drink now. Joe sampled the Cab/Merlot blend and thought it was great – and at a $12 price point, it is hard to go wrong with it!
Chateau Faire Le Pont Winery – These wines did not do it for me. At all. I tried their Syrah and their Tre Amore and didn’t like either.
Coyote Canyon Winery – I can’t tell you how pleased I was to see that they had the Albariño! Jon and I sampled this wine while it was in barrel during Red Wine and Chocolate weekend in Yakima in February 2011, and I have been hoping since then to get some of this wine! It is everything I like in the varietal, crisp and citrusy with a light minerality. Excellent! I bought two bottles. Can’t wait to break one of these babies open on a hot summer day!
Dusty Cellars – Dusty Cellars is located in Camano Island and is run by a husband/wife team, Ryan and Dusty Kramer. The tasting room is only open one weekend a month, and Camano Island isn’t exactly right in the heat of the Seattle scene, so it was nice that they were at the festival. I tried their Syrah, which was a nice balance of a fruit forward taste with lots of spice. I also sampled their Queen (yes, that’s actually the name), which is a 90% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot and 5% Syrah. I enjoyed both of these wines quite a bit.
Gecko Cellars – Gecko is the 2nd label of Michael Florentino, offering wines at more reasonable prices. They had a Malbec that was very good, a nice balance between fruit and tannins. The Sangiovese was also a solid, but not outstanding wine.
Glacial Lake Missoula Wine Company – I was sad that their Gamay Noir Rosé was not available yet, as Tom thought it would be. However, I am always glad that Tom does not put a wine on the market before it is ready. Can’t wait until it’s here! But in the meanwhile, the Mars (a white Marsanne aged with the skins of Cabernet Sauvignon to impart a blood red color and a robust structure) is always a winner. If you haven’t tried it, I recommend you do. Or don’t… and that leaves more for me!
Jacob Williams Winery – These guys were recommended by the owner/winemaker at Waving Tree in Goldendale, WA when we were there in February, and Jacob Williams is right down the road from Waving Tree in the Columbia River Gorge, in Wishram, Washington. But at the time, well, we just didn’t have time. But now that I have tasted their wines, I realize that driving by was a mistake! The Sadie’s Red is a blend of 6 Gorge area varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. It was a great everyday drinking wine. The Zinfandel was bold yet smooth, with good spice. At this point, they don’t have a large distribution outside of the Gorge and Portland, Oregon, but I’ll be watching out for these wines.
Lantz Cellars – At this point, Lantz Cellars is still pretty small, but Kevin Lantz seems destined for great success with his wines. I tried the Syrah, and it was great – on the fruiter side, which I like!
Michael Florentino Cellars – They had four wines to sample, including one white, a Sauvignon Blanc/Semillion blend. It was very nice, crisp and light with excellent structure. I also loved their Miscolato, a Grenache blend.
Saint Laurent Estate Winery – Saint Laurent is not a winery I had heard of before the festival, and I found out they are located in the Wenatchee Valley just outside of Chelan. It is a family owned winery that started out growing cherries, apples and other fruit, and then diversified into wine grapes. I tried their Chardonnay, which was a lovely, lightly oaked style.
San Juan Vineyards – San Juan Vineyards is in Friday Harbor, Washington, and they grow their own grapes for about 30% of their total production. Grapes that are estate grown, and grow well in the cool climate of Northwest Washington are Madeleine Angevine and Siegerrebe. I tried Madeleine Angevine and was quite pleased with the crisp taste of citrus and stone fruits. A must have for any hot summer day.
Whidbey Island Winery – We have visited Whidbey Island Winery before while down visiting Jon’s parents, but haven’t been there in a while. Their Pinot Grigio was a light semi-sweet wine with pineapple and apples and a hint of oak. Well done.
Willow Tree Vineyard – Willow Tree is brand new in the wine world, opening their tasting room in Everson, Washington only a year ago. But their new Malbec is very good, with excellent structure and a nice plum flavor.
So, any wine festival is going to have more wines than you can try, and Anacortes was no exception. Here’s the list of other participating wineries, that we didn’t have a chance to make it to. This is no way indicates that I didn’t think they were worth trying! Sometimes, I’ve tried their wines on other tasting tours, sometimes I didn’t know enough to have developed a curiosity, and at some point, you know how it goes – we just got plain, WINED-Out!
So, in alphabetical order, the other participating wineries are: Carpenter Creek Winery, Chinook Wines, Dubindil Winery, Eaglemount Wine and Cider, Finn River Cidery, Foxy Roxy, Kana, Maryhill Winery, Masquerade Wine Company, Milbrandt, Okanogan Estate and Vineyard, Pasek Cellars, and Vartanyan Estate Winery.
And worthy of special mention:
Lost River Winery – I’m not sure what the deal was here, but there was one lonely bottle chilling at their station and never a server to be seen. I would have tried their wines, if only there had been any. Perhaps this means they were unprepared for the interest in their wines, and sold their entire stock early on. I can only speculate.
Terra Blanca Winery – After I came home, Jon asked if I had tried their wines. I told him that I hadn’t had time. Then he told me I really should have because he had tried one of their wines before at his uncle’s house and thought it was excellent – thanks babe, you might want to mention that BEFORE I go!