Tag Archive | Washington wineries

Olympic Cellars Winery

After our disappointing trip up to Hurricane Ridge, and having the skies open up in a deluge, Jon and I decided to head back to the hotel for the evening.  On our drive out to Port Angeles, I had seen a winery along the main road, housed in a large historic barn.  I had been thinking that they would be closed by the time we returned from our hike, but with the weather changing our plans, we now had a chance to stop!

Olympic Cellars Winery was founded in 1979, making it the 15th winery founded in Washington State, and the first on the Olympic Peninsula.  I hadn’t realized that there had been wineries on the peninsula so long, but I wasn’t really paying much attention to wine when I was a kid on a family trip to Port Townsend.  The barn that the winery is housed in is 121 years old, and the ladies who own the winery have a lot of pride in the history of the land and the building.  The tasting bar where you sample the wine is also over 100 years old.

Olympic Cellars Winery makes its home in a 121 year old barn

Olympic Cellars Winery makes its home in a 121 year old barn

When we stopped by, it was about 30 minutes before they closed, and the rain had let up so it was mostly just a light sprinkle.  We headed in and were the only ones there.  I apologize for not taking any photos, but imagine a large old barn with a beautiful, dark wood, antique tasting bar.  The rest of the tasting room is an amazingly well stocked, wine themed gift shop.  They have all sorts of wine items and novelty gifts for the wine lover in your life.  They also sell some gift items in their online store, but that is only a fraction of the items that they have in their tasting room.

Olympic Cellars Winery produces three labels, their popular everyday “Working Girl” series, the Olympic Cellars label, which has 5 varietal wines, and the Dungeness label, their artist label series wines.  For your tasting fee, you get to sample 5 wines of your choice.

I hadn’t really planned on tasting that afternoon, so I didn’t take any notes, but we really enjoyed their Cabernet Franc (the 2009 won Best in Show at the Denver International Wine Competition), and the Dungeness Red, which is made with Lemberger grapes.  Neither of us was a fan of their Chardonnay, but I can’t remember what it was about it that didn’t appeal to me.

Overall, the visit was pleasant; my only criticism would be that our server that day didn’t offer up any information about the winery, its history, the winemakers or the wines we were sampling.  If I haven’t been someplace before, I like to hear about the winery; I want to know what I’m drinking and how it was made!  Where do you source your grapes, why is the winery in this location?  Give me something…  So, this lack of conversation made for some awkward long silences when you are the only people in the tasting room.

The bell they use to ring in the harvest is over 100 years old!

The bell they use to ring in the harvest is over 100 years old!

All in all, worth a trip, but you might make sure to bring a friend who likes to talk…

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!