Tag Archive | Willow Tree Vineyards

A Home Buying Wine Tour

So, it’s one week until closing. We are just waiting, and getting the last bit of our packing finished. Our financing has been finalized for weeks, so other than packing, we really haven’t had a lot to do. Our buyer, however, is still not ready to go with her financing and it is making me nervous. Her mortgage officer is trying to reassure our agent that everything will be ready to go by closing, but I’m still nervous. I can’t understand why it should be taking so long if things are happening as they should. So, in the meantime, I’m trying not to think about it.  Yes, I’ll admit it – I try to be very organized about these things, and it annoys me to no end when other people are not, if it affects my world. And this certainly affects my world.

I have been a bit absorbed with this whole home process lately, and my wine and travel blog has been suffering. We haven’t had time to do much wine tasting! I’m looking forward to turning that around once we move and get some semblance of a normal life back. That said, we did do a local mini-tour last weekend in honor of harvest weekend with Jon’s mom and sister. We went to two local wineries – Willow Tree and Glacial Lake Missoula.

Willow Tree Vineyards is a new winery in the area, having opened their tasting room in April. As you drive in, it certainly doesn’t look like much. There is a ramshackle single-wide trailer on the driveway to the winery, and the winery itself is housed in a non-descript pole building. Which isn’t that uncommon for wineries in this area. Don’t let that deter you. Once you walk inside, the tasting room is tastefully decorated, with a fireplace, comfy seating, and a stand-up tasting bar. They also have had chocolates and cheese and crackers out each time I’ve been there, which is a huge bonus. I’m usually hungry in the afternoon, and the nibbles are great to hold me over until dinner. The co-owner is usually serving, and she is warm and friendly and knowledgeable about their wines. It is a winery where you feel welcome!

Willow Tree has several whites, including a Sauvignon Blanc, two vintages of Chardonnay and Viognier, and a Pinot Gerwurztraminer. My favorite of these is the Sauvignon Blanc, which has a crisp minerality that I enjoy. Jon likes their more heavily oaked Chardonnay. Willow Tree is currently having a labeling issue with the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency) on their “waiting to be released” Blue Heaven, which is a Blueberry Riesling. Yes, Riesling combined with Blueberry juice. We got to barrel taste it, and it was delicious. Which makes the fact that the ATF has now rejected 7 versions of the label especially frustrating for Jon’s mom and me, as we have to continue to wait to buy it! Willow Tree also has several good reds, including a Carmenere, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc. Unfortunately, all the reds are currently sold out except for the Cab Franc. So, we are eagerly awaiting next year’s releases. What a nice problem for a new winery to have!

After we left Willow Tree, we headed out to Blaine to visit our favorite local winery, Glacial Lake Missoula. Tracey was holding down the fort with a friend, as Tom took a trip down to Oregon to pick up grapes. They are branching out and producing a Chardonnay and a Gamay Noir. I’m very excited about both. The Chardonnay will be another “enrobed” wine, which is Tom’s name for a white wine that is colored (and flavored) with the skins of red grapes. A white wine that looks like a red. And depending on the temperature you serve it at, it can taste completely different. Their current “enrobed” wine is a Marsanne, which is excellent, so I can’t wait to see what they do with the Chardonnay. And Gamay Noir is one of my favorite varietals, so I’m super-excited to try this one. Of course, as they are just crushing now, both wines have awhile until release. It is just so hard to wait!

I’m sensing a theme with this post. Waiting…. One of my least favorite things to do. Hopefully in one more week, the wait for the house will be over. Stay tuned.

P.S.  After posting this, I learned that our buyer’s loan docs are finalized and at the title company!  So everything should be good to go now!

 

Mother’s Day Spring Release

Well, it finally came – Mother’s Day weekend. For Jon and me, that means Spring Release. Some of you might imagine that is some sort of break time for the kids, but since Jon and I don’t have any, we think in terms of a break time for the adults. And all that is just a convoluted way of saying that the local wineries released new wines this weekend. Jon’s mom came up to visit on Saturday with Jon’s second cousin Anne, who I have never met and Jon hasn’t seen in about 10 years, and we went on a mini-tasting tour.

We took Linda to Glacial Lake Missoula Winery last spring on Mother’s Day weekend, and she was an immediate convert (it isn’t hard to do). Last fall, we got to taste GLM’s enrobed Marsanne, which is a Marsanne white wine varietal wine with the skins from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape added in to provide a red color and some robustness in flavor. When we barrel tasted, we could already tell that it would be amazing. So, we have been waiting ever since. And we thought the wait was over!

So we started the day at Mt. Baker Vineyard.  Mt. Baker is the oldest winery in the county, and they do a lot of different wines.  They are all decent, but there are a few standouts.  They have a new Riesling out, with is a semi-sweet and very nice. The red that I like the most is the Malbec.  It is quite smooth, with a jammy, berry flavor.

On our way back in from Mt. Baker, we saw the sign for Willow Tree Vineyard, a new winery that opened in April.  Their debut wines are a Chardonnay, a Viognier, a Carmenere and a Syrah.  Their whites are both good and true to how a Chardonnay and a Viognier should taste.  I’m just not the biggest fan of Chardonnay and Viognier.  The Carmenere is very good.  Carmenere is a grape grown widely in Chile, and it is referred to there as the lost grape, because for years they had it planted all over but thought it was Merlot.  Once the Chileans realized that it was a different varietal, they really capitalized on the distinction.  In the US, Carmenere is still mostly a blending grape, but I think it is excellent as a standalone varietal wine, and it is nice to see when it is offered.

The Syrah at Willow Tree is a big heavy, jammy wine, with a strong fruit taste.  Jon really liked it, but I thought it was a bit much for me.  They will be releasing a rose soon called Blue Heaven, which is a semi-sweet Riesling mixed with Blueberry wine, and we got to taste it before its release.  Wow.  I can’t wait until that one comes out!

After Willow Tree we headed up to Glacial Lake.  They have their 2007 Deluge out now, which is a bit different than prior years because Tom added Malbec to this vintage.  It was delicious.  And the Harbor Light is new too, and as always, it is a standout.  But the bad news is that the label for the Marsanne didn’t get approved, so we still can’t get it!  As soon as the label gets its approval, we’ll be able to pick up our bottles.  And meanwhile, we wait, and dream…