Lake Chelan Wine Valley’s Rocky Pond Winery

At Rocky Pond Winery it is all about family which is evident with the beautiful array of family photos that adorn a wall in their Chelan, WA tasting room. This boutique Washington winery is owned by David and Michelle Dufenhorst, who’s wine making journey began 2015 when they purchased their first established 50-acre vineyard, Clos CheValle. Shortly after their second vineyard, Double D Vineyard was added and this 165-acre site, was planted with mostly red varietals.

Clos CheValle Vineyard

Touring the Clos CheValle Vineyard is a great way to get a better appreciation for the decade old vines that scatter the 1250 to 1600 foot elevation hillside. With magnificent views of Lake Chelan, Clos CheValle the vines of the vineyard mingle with the residential homes that make up Clos CheValle. Walking trails take you past an array of high-quality Pinot Noir and Pinot Menunier grapes, along with outstanding Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay, Viognier and some Syrah.

Strolling through the vineyards, surveying the geography, experiencing the weather and then tasting the wines, you begin to realize how grapes are truly an expression of where they are grown.

Shane Collins, the winemaker for Rocky Pond Winery since 2017, has deep roots in the Lake Chelan area and that is reflected in his winemaking process. Although, I did not get to met Shane in person while visiting Rocky Pond Winery due to his busy harvest schedule, he was kind enough to answer some questions for me by email. Considered one of Washington wine’s rising stars by Seattle Magazine I asked Shane why he choose to stay in the Lake Chelan Valley to produce wine as opposed to the other wine regions in Washington State.

“I grew up in Lake Chelan growing apples. Being able to make wines from the same soils and area that family has farmed for 4 generations is very important to me. The geology and geography of Lake Chelan is so different from most grape growing regions in our state. We grow and create wines that are discernible from our neighbors to the south, mostly in acidity. Something that unfortunately is disappearing in modern wines.”

One cannot visit Lake Chelan without thinking of terroir

The uniqueness of Lake Chelan terroir began with a glacier that formed the lake and guarded the region from the massive geological event of the last ice age known as the Missoula Floods. The glacier set the deposits of the layered metamorphic rock and granite soil in the valley which was then covered by volcanic ash when the Glacier Peak volcano erupted. With the ideal soil composition in place and the addition of high-desert climate along with moderate temperatures due to the lake effect, the land surrounding Lake Chelan has become an ideal location for growing wine grapes.

Clos CheValle Vineyard is producing some awards winning wines, like Rocky Pond’s 2017 100% Estate Gewurztraminer which grabbed silver at the Seattle Wine Awards

Walking through working vineyards, seeing wildlife and experiencing hilltop views gives you a true appreciation for the Lake Chelan Wine Valley.

Rocky Pond’s Tasting Room in Chelan

The Rocky Pond tasting room is a nice modern gem that is warm and welcoming, with a large array of seating options available both indoor and outdoor. Offering both genuine hospitality and some of the areas best wines, the staff at Rocky Pond will walk you through a tastings with enthusiasm and exceptional wine knowledge.

Chelan tasting room manager Jill Babcock, is extremely knowledgeable about wine did a wonderful job introducing me to each of the Rocky Pond wines on the tasting menu.

2017 Pinot Gris

Made from 100% Estate Clos CheValle Pinot Gris the 2017 Vintage from Rocky Pond has a lovely golden color and a multi layered bouquet of fresh Chelan fruit and spring flowers. On the palate the wine is full of soft white summer fruit flavors with a citrus tease.

Winemaker Shane states the most rewarding things about producing Rocky Pond Wines is “Being able to create wine and products people enjoy and want to share with those close to them. I also love that I get to see a lot of sun rises.”

2016 Pinot Noir

An enchanting Ruby color welcomes you in this 100% Pinot Noir from the Clos Chevelle Vineyard. With each sip of this 2017 Pinot Noir you know that you are drinking a uniquely crafted Washington Pinot, its bold red fruit and spice flavors had me dreaming of pairing it with a perfectly grilled salmon.

When asked which Rocky Pond wine or vintage was his favoirte and what elements made this wine or vintage unique, Winemaker Shane replied;
“One is our 2017 Clos CheValle Lake Chelan AVA Syrah. Co-fermented with 6% viognier the wine is also leaner with cooler climate flavors and mouthfeel giving it its own personality far different from reds we grow at our warmer Double D site.”

“The simple act of opening a bottle of wine has brought more happiness to the human race than all the collective governments in the history of earth”
-Jim Harrison

Shane also shared that next year he is planning on doing more work with alternative vessels, like concrete, for upcoming vintages.

2016 LA DOMESTIQUE

This multi award winning Right Bank Bordeaux style wine is a perfectly executed blend of 70% Merlot and 15% of Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Malbec. With an aroma of raspberry flavored hot chocolate and flavors of orchard fresh dark Washington cherries and plum, this is a wine that deserves a taste when you visit Rocky Pond. The best sip of the tasting I couldn’t imagine going home without a bottle of this wine.

I asked Shane if there was a favorite varietal he liked to work with and he replied, “For me it has been Gewürztraminer for many years. A wine that gets little love but when done right is absolutely beautiful and stunning. It is uniquely perfumed but most important it has a higher malic acid that gives it more punch when most are fat and oily as well as sweet.”

Rocky Pond Winery shares some great advice on their website that they received years ago while traveling in France.

“Don’t save your best wine for formal occasions; celebrate your best wine with family and friends”.

Recently, Wine Press Northwest named Rocky Pond its 2019 Washington Winery to Watch and with their large variety of quality, award winning wines it is easy to see why. I highly recommend visiting one of the Rocky Pond tasting rooms or checking out their website to order Rocky Pond wines for the upcoming holiday season.

A trip to Rocky Pond Winery in Chelan can also offer an incredible experience to enjoy the natural beauty of this region, along with a sense of peace and quiet that you may be looking for.

Rocky Pond Winery has two tasting rooms in Washington state, one in Chelan at 212 E Woodin Ave. and the other is located in the Warehouse District in Woodinville at 19501 144th Ave NE #B600.

Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.

Spiced Gin Pear Cake and Washington Gewürztraminer

The arrival of Bartlett pears in the late summer marks the beginning of pear season, a season that then peaks in the fall. The beauty of fresh ripe pears is in the endless ways these sweet juicy fruits can inspire thoughts of Autumn desserts. This year the Northwest Pear crop was one of the largest on record and on my drive home from a recent trip to Lake Chelan, WA, I couldn’t resist stopping at a fruit stand in Leavenworth to pick up a few pounds of this years bountiful crop.

Spiced Gin Pear Cake

I used is Trillium Gin from Oregon Distillery, Trail Distilling, but you can use any gin you fancy. I just love the beautiful notes of citrus, juniper and floral flavors in this gin, it added so much earthiness to the mild Bartlett pears.

You can find out more about Trail Distilling on their website.

“There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

The addition of fresh lemon zest to this cake gives it a brightness that also brings out the richness of the warm spices.
Thyme brings everything in this cake together and elevates it from a simple dessert to something that deserves a spot on the table during your next brunch or dinner party. The addition of fresh herbs is great way to experiment with adding a bit of savory flavor to your baking.
This cake isn’t complete without a dusting of powdered sugar.

This Spiced Gin Pear cake is honestly an ode to the season, and it can be an easy “go to” cake all winter long. I loved this recipe so much that I decided to add it to the dessert table at Thanksgiving. It’s that good.

The trip to Lake Chelan Wine Valley also gave me the opportunity to bring home some Washington wines that I knew would pair perfectly with Autumn desserts. One of those wines was this 2018 Reserve Gewürztraminer from WineGirl Wines. I loved the low 1.5% sugar in this Gewürztraminer and its slightly spicy, white peach flavor. It was a beautiful wine to enjoy with a slice of warm Spiced Gin Pear cake.

I am such a sucker for sweet wines, especially Gewürztraminer with its sweet and seductive floral bouquet.

Spiced Gin Pear Cake

This Spiced Gin Pear cake is the perfect dessert for entertaining and for pairing with a Gewürztraminer, Riesling or dessert wine. Loaded with lush ripe pears, fresh thyme and fragrant gin this cake is sure to be a crowd pleasure.

Ingredients

  • 4 Ripe Pears (I used Bartlett Pears)
  • 6 Sprigs of Thyme
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Ground Cardamon
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Nutmeg
  • ¾ tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp Pink Himalayan Salt
  • 2 Large Eggs at room temperature
  • ¾ cup Raw Sugar
  • 3 tbsp Gin
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • cup Buttermilk at room temperature
  • ½ cup Butter, melted plus more for greasing parchment paper
  • 2 tbsp Demerara Sugar
  • Powdered Sugar for dusting

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Place a piece of parchment paper into an 8-or 9-inch cast iron pan and grease with butter.
    2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, spices, baking powder, and salt. In a separate large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Whisk in the sugar, gin, and vanilla extract. Pour in the buttermilk and whisk to combine.
    3. Peel, halve, and core 3 of the pears, then cut them into 1/2-inch-thick cubes. Reserve the remaining pear (unpeeled, and cut into 1/4-inch slices) for the top.
    4. Add half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined, then gently fold in half of the melted butter. Repeat with the remaining flour and butter. Gently fold in the cubed pears, reserving the slices. Add the leaves from 5 thyme leaves.
    5. Transfer the batter to the pan and arrange the pear slices in a circular pattern on top of the batter. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and the remaining thyme leaves. Bake until the cake turns a deep golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 55 minutes.
    6. Transfer the skillet to a cooling rack and let sit for 5 minutes. The cake may be served warm or at room temperature, directly from the skillet; whichever you choose, be sure to dust with confectioners sugar before serving.

If you make this Spiced Gin Pear cake I would love to hear what wine you paired it with.

Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.

Harvest in the Champagne Region of France

Handpicked Beautiful Pinot Noir Grapes

The Champagne region of France harvest was well underway the second week of September with a flurry of activity in the wineries, villages and vineyards. As each plot reached optimal ripeness the annual parade of pickers descended upon the vineyards to handpick each grape varietal, which is a strict part of the Champagne appellation’s regulations. Handpicked grapes is one of the steps key to producing high-quality and unique Champagnes that come only from this region in France.

Vineyards surrounding Épernay

The Grape Pickers are the True Champions of the Harvest

In France a grape picker is called Vendangeur or Vendangeuse. The regions of Champagne and Beaujolais are the only two wine regions left in France where picking grapes by hand is the law, all of the other AOC’s and regions allow for mechanized picking. Many of the grape pickers in the Champagne region, come from Eastern Europe traveling each year for the 2-3 week harvest. The great majority of these workers hail from Poland. Time is of the essence when it comes to grape picking in this region as there really are only a few days when the grapes are optimal for picking. This fast paced work can be challenging for the grapes pickers as well as hard on their backs as the grapes grow so low to the ground. Each grape picker that I saw during my time in the region seemed to be enjoying the work the best that they could. For this reason, if you enjoy drinking Champagne, than you should consider these individuals the true champions of the harvest.

It will be interesting to see if hand picking continues to be the law in the Champagne region as the labor pool is shrinking. Finding the needed 100,000 plus people to pick grapes in Champagne, for up to three weeks a year is getting more and more difficult.

The major share of grapes produced in Champagne are Pinot Noir, they make up about 38% of all grapes grown in Champagne. Pinot Noir grapes are the earliest to ripen and are best suited to the south or south-west facing aspects. Pinot Noir grapes have thick skins and are high in sugar and many experts describe the Pinot Noir in champagne as giving it vitality, complexity and fullness.

It is true, the beautiful Champagnes are the main reason for visiting this area of France, but another important feature of this amazing region is the breathtaking landscape.

The views in the higher elevation vineyards are amazing, in the distance is the village of Épernay and the Marne River, which is an eastern tributary of the Seine.

Champagne Pioneer Dom Pérignon

Less than 6 km from Épernay is the small and quaint village of Hautvillers, it is there that you will find Abbaye Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers, the church that holds the grave of Champagne pioneer Dom Pérignon. A visit to this peaceful location even after numerous restorations gives a wonderful glimpse into the past.

Abbaye Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers

Dom Pérignon, a name which is now synonymous with the popular Vintage Champagne bottled by Champagne house Moët & Chandon, is named for a monk and cellar master at the whose contribution to wine from the Benedictine abbey in Hautvillers. Famous for his elaboration and contributions of wine, Dom Pérignon was a pioneer in the blending of grapes to improve the quality of the wines and with fixing the imperfections of both bottle and cork. Some people say that Dom Pérignon was blind and that when he tasted a grape, he could tell exactly what vineyard it originated from.

The abbey, active between 665 and the French Revolution of 1789, was founded in 650 by Saint Nivard, Bishop of Reims. Full of history, Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers also housed the relics of Saint Helena, Empress and mother of Constantine, between 841 and 1819. Since 1983 the abbey has been classified as a monument of historical value.

As a sign of honor and respect, Dom Pierre Pérignon was buried in the abbey which was traditionally reserved only for Abbots. For this reason and if you are a lover of bubbly, it only seems appropriate to pay homage to this Champagne pioneer while visiting this historic wine region.

A tour and tasting with Champagne Salmon

In the small village of Chaumuzy in the Marne department in north-eastern France you will find Champagne Salmon.

The Salmon family wine making legacy spans three generations;
Grandfather Michel, grandson Alexandre and son Oliver.

Preparing for the Harvest

My visit to Champagne Salmon was the day before their first grapes were set to be harvested and everything was set, ready for the busy days ahead. Prior to the Champagne tasting at Champagne Salmon a tour was given of the pressing room and production facilities.

Champagne Salmon wines matured to perfection, resting quietly in the cellars awaiting the right time of release.

When you pop open a bottle of champagne, you’re uncorking the complete story of that bottle including the importance of storage in the champagne house’s cave. A naturally cool underground setting where the Champagnes character can develop.

In 1958 Salmon produced the first vintage of Champagne with a total of 500 bottles. Today, Champagne Salmon is one of the 5000 growers in the region that also makes their own wine, and in 2008 the house became one of the elite 28 members of the exclusive “Club Trésors de Champagne” otherwise known as the Special Club.

The Special Club started in 1971 with one purpose: to promote the terroir of Champagne. Unlike the big producers, who combine fruit from many different places to create a uniform style, Special Club members must be designated RM (Recoltant Maker, or a grower-producer) and use only fruit from their estate vineyards to create the most memorable vintage bottling possible. Members then submit the wine to two blind tasting panels, and if judged good enough, the wine goes into a uniquely shaped bottle. Three years later, the carefully prepared bubbly is released to the world.

A lot has changed since the grandfather Michel, who was born and raised in Chaumuzy, sold each bottle produced door to door. Now son Oliver and grandson Alexandre maintain the day to day operations and the total annual production of more than 100,000 bottles.

Still very much a part of the winery, it was truly an honor to have Michel guide the tasting at Champagne Salmon during this visit.

The Champagne Salmon wines show a genuine sense of place, and a exquisitely unique style that’s all their own.

Salmon Prestige Brut Champagne

A beautiful symphony of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, this vigorous sparkling adds words to the symphony with bubbles that you can hear. Soft, pure and fruity, each sip distributes new flavors of citrus, brioche and oak to deliver a delightfully long finish. This sparkling would be a perfect aperitif or a delicious “the weekend is here” celebration wine.

Salmon 100% Meunier Brut

Pinot Meunier contributes fruitiness, richness and body to Champagne and Meunier’s can add a little extra roundness in cuvée. The 100% Meunier Brut is a champagne which, thanks to the Meunier grapes, brings an array of confected fruit aromas and flavors to this sparkling. Silvery gold colors twinkle in the glass as soft and vibrant bubbles rise expressively to the surface bringing with them nuances of apple, tropical, and minty citrus fruit. The accession on the palate is fresh and graceful with a creamy smooth froth that develops unfolding a refreshing fruitiness. A lightly saline dry finish completes the collective flavor harmonies. This is a swank Champagne that speaks strongly and eloquently of this region of France.

Salmon 100% Meunier Brut Rosé

Developing a strong expertise in Pinot Meunier, the Salmon family has chosen to create cuvées of pure Pinot Meunier instead of masking it in blends with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This 100% Pinot Brut Rosé (which includes 20% ​​Pinot Meunier sautéing rosé and 5% Pinot Meunier red wine) is a shining example of Champagne Salmon’s complete collection of Pinot Menunier champagnes. The nose of on this fine lively glass of bubbles evokes smells of honey roasted apples and with sliced almonds and hints of smoky pineapple. The visually appealing raspberry pink appearance divulges a fresh and ripe summer red fruit flavored wine. Combined with lemon, floral and light spicy notes the finish on this sparkling is rich, textured and sincerely refreshing.

Salmon Ratafia De Champagne

A Ratafia de Champagne is a grape based spirit they make in the Champagne region. Typically the grape juice that goes into making Ratafia comes from the third or fourth press and Ratafia de Champagne often tastes more like a light port, sweeter and with a slight syrup texture. Ratafia is best enjoyed chilled as an aperitif or with a dessert at the end of a meal, and it’s often used in cocktails.

Champagne Salmon Ratafia is a blend of fresh Meunier juice and fine de champagne. Copper salmon in color this Ratafia in both aroma and flavor releases sensations of Autumn with orange spice and caramel apples. This was my first experience tasting a Ratafia and I was drawn in by its syrupy and balanced sweetness.

A tour and tasting with the Salmon winemaking family allows one to understand the meaning of putting your heart and soul into your craft. Their generational contributions combine to guarantee a stellar line up, no matter the vintage.

“Flying over Champagne in a hot-air balloon, as we like to do, anchors us down to this terroir. We take it to heart to express tradition and exception through the quality and finesse of our productions. Our family passion for traveling in hot-air balloons is akin to that which makes us gather in the vineyards, around the great grape press and in the cellars where we elaborate the cuvées of the house Salmon.”
Champagne Salmon
“Grapes are the most noble and challenging of all fruits.”
-Malcolm Dunn

Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.

At This Moment…

“In this moment, there is plenty of time. In this moment, you are precisely as you should be. In this moment, there is infinite possibility.”
— Victoria Moran

Welcome to a new series, At This Moment….

Since launching Drink In Life in January I have come to realized how much I love this sharing space that I’ve created. I love writing about my travel, wine, and food experiences, but much of it is past tense. In this new series I want to offer something a little more broad and a lot more personal by sharing things that I am currently enjoying, doing and working on, at this moment.

I want to expand on the day to day things that I see, do, read, eat and drink, and share them with you so that you too may be inspired by some of these things. Then in turn, I hope that you will share with me what is grabbing your attention…at this moment. I think this is a great way to build mindshare, spark conversation, explore new things, and inspire each other.

I’d love to hear your feedback! Let me know what you think about this new endeavor. 

So without further adieu, here’s At This Moment:

Buzzing About…At This Moment:

Since the Kincaid fire in Sonoma County started on October 23rd, I like so many others have been following the devastating news. One article that really caught my attention was Vineyards can help stop fires. They did in the Alexander Valley by Esther Mobley. An interesting article on how “vines’ firefighting capacity may be enhanced as these natural disasters occur.”

After a tough weather year in France I am trying to keep up on the latest news about how the French wine output is set to fall in 2019 due to extreme weather .

Getting ready for the holiday season means stocking up on some extra bottles of Sparkling wine. This article from Wine Press Northwest gives some great information on how Northwest sparkling wines continue to pop out with delicious diversity

Reading…At This Moment:

With my upcoming WSET Level 2 classes and exam approaching in early 2020 it goes without saying that all of my current reading involves Wine. On my reading list is the WSET Level 2 textbook, Wine Folly: Magnum Edition: The Master Guide by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack and the 8th edition of The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnsonand Jancis Robinson

Wine…At This Moment:

November 7th is International Merlot Day. I am getting ready for this Wine Day by drinking some of my cellared Merlot to share with my followers on social media. Two Washington Merlot wines that I will be sharing are the 2016 Merlot from Pepper Bridge and Matthews 2016 Merlot.

Next to be opened are some bottles of Pinot Blanc that I brought home from my last trip to Willamette Valley. I am currently working on reviews to introduce these lovely wines to you, but until then you can read more about Oregon Pinot Blanc from this article written by Leslie Kelly last year for Sip Northwest Magazine .

Travel…At This Moment:

Quickly approaching is my trip to Santa Fe, NM to attend the IFWTWA 2019 CONFERENCE . In addition to the scheduled seminars and presentations I have given myself a few extra days to discover New Mexico wineries around Santa Fe and dive deep into the fantastic food scene. It has been over 20 years since I have been to Santa Fe and I am excited to see how things have changed and to share this destination with you.

I am excited to share my thoughts and interests with you here and I thank you, as always, for reading

Autumn in the Lake Chelan Wine Valley

The beauty of Autumn in Washington State can be found within each turning leaf in the vineyards of Lake Chelan Wine Valley.

Summer isn’t the only season to spend time at the lake.

Lake Chelan is a naturally veiled gem located in the Northern part of Chelan County

Nestled in a valley, Lake Chelan traverses approximately 55 miles along the green and rocky slopes of the Cascades and the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Lake Chelan Valley enjoys almost 300 days of sunshine a year and those rays of sunlight along with the gorgeous water is a magnet for those seeking the Lake Life if even just for a weekend. The Valley is known for its ideal growing conditions for both apples and grapes. The unique glacial soil along with the agreeable climate in the Lake Chelan region have been a catalysis for optimal harvests of these crops. This makes for an abundance of wine and cider makers through the entire valley.

Viognier Grapes-Clos CheValle Vineyards in Chelan

Over the last 20 years the Lake Chelan Valley has steadily been building up a faithful following of wine lovers as a destination that offers a combination of recreational activities as well as exciting and bold wines. Grape growing in the Chelan Valley is not something new however, since before the turn of the 20th century a few Native Americans and a group of Italian immigrants began planting and growing grapes here. Today the two lakeside towns, Chelan and Manson, are home to over 30 wineries, surrounded by 250 plus acres of vines that can be seen peppered along the hillsides among the orchards.

Although the first winery in Chelan, Lake Chelan Winery, was established in 2000 and was followed by a hand full of other wineries, the Lake Chelan AVA was not officially established until 2009. Even at this young age the Lake Chelan AVA is increasingly drawing attention from the rest of the wine world with its bold wine production as well as its dedication to creating a welcoming environment for wine lovers to enjoy all that the Valley has to offer.

Grape varieties in the Lake Chelan Wine Valley are 51% red to 49% white, a nice blend due to the “Lake Effect” temperatures that delivers a longer growing season and a reduced risk of frost. Leading varieties being produced in the Lake Chelan AVA include Merlot, Syrah, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Chardonnay.

Map from http://lakechelanwinevalley.com

Whether you are seeking out a Vintage Reserve Merlot or a new vintage Gewurztraminer, the wineries in the Lake Chelan Valley offer something for everyone. With so many wineries and tasting rooms to visit in both Chelan and Manson it is hard to visit all of them in a weekend. To help you in your destination travel planning, I wanted to share how I spent two days in Chelan discovering this “naturally intoxicating” Washington Wine region.

Rocky Pond Winery

Rocky Pond Tasting Room is located in Downtown Chelan:
212 E Woodin Ave

My first stop in quaint town of Chelan was a visit to the tasting room of Rocky Pond Winery. For this post I wanted to share this location and highlight a favorite wine that was on the tasting list that day. A more in-depth story about my visit and wine tasting at Rocky Pond will follow in the next couple of weeks.

The Rocky Pond tasting room is a nice modern gem that is warm and welcoming, with a large array of seating options available both indoor and outdoor. Offering both genuine hospitality and some of the areas best wines, the staff at Rocky Pond will walked you through a tastings with enthusiasm and exceptional wine knowledge. Having done some research before my trip and reading about their unique white wine blend , I was excited to be able to try Rocky Pond’s 2017 Glacial Treasure for the first time.

2017 Glacial Treasure

The 2017 vintage of Glacial Treasure is a collaboration of grapes from two of Rocky Ponds Vineyard’s, Clos CheValle and Double D Vineyard, this white blend is 32% Pinot Gris, 24% Gewurztraminer, 21% Riesling, 20% Sauvignon Blanc and 3% Viognier. Well priced at $20 a bottle this blend could easily become a “go to” white wine due to its easy drinkability and crisp refreshing flavor. With all of the individual varietals adding a little something special to this creative blend you get a heady floral aroma mingled with whispers of citrus and spicy mineral notes. I was pleasantly surprised at the slight dryness of this not overly sweet wine and the delicious blend of stone fruit, crisp apple and tropical fruit flavors. It is as if all of these grapes had a secret meeting and agreed to bring out their best flavors to orchestrate the ideal blend.

I would highly recommend a visit to Rocky Pond Winery’s Tasting Room in Chelan. Stop in for the ambiance and wonderful hospitality and stay to taste your way through their perfect representation of Lake Chelan wines.

Sigillo Cellars Chelan

Although Sigillo Cellars is a very familiar to me, this new location in Chelan that opened in July of this year was a great way to revisit a favorite winery and enjoy a beautiful sunny October day in the valley. You can read my post about Sigillo Cellars in Snoqualmie here.

There are many reasons to visit Sigillo Cellars in new tasting room, you can enjoy partial views of Lake Chelan, talk with the friendly and knowledgeable staff, comfortable setting, as well as indulge in the available food selection and well crafted wines.

2017 Sparkling Viognier

Produced in the true Champagne Method with 100% Viognier grapes this Brut is a new release from Sigillo Cellar and I was eager to try it as part of my tasting flight. As Viognier is continuing to gain a comfortable niche in vineyards of Washington State many wineries are using it more in white blends and releasing 100% Viognier wines. Delightfully, this was my first experience in tasting a Viognier Sparkling and hopefully it will not be my last.

The opening of the bubbles in this Sparkling Viognier release the aroma of warm baked bread with orange zest and citrus blossoms. A uniquely fragrant sparkling that taunts you to take a sip. On the palate the sparkling is all Viognier with noticeable flavors of citrus and soft peach. For me this tasting flight was all about this Sparkling Viognier and priced at $30 a bottle it is worth picking up some bottles for the holiday season and to give to my wine friends. Lovely!

At Sigillo Cellars one of the tasting flights is 3 glasses of your choosing from their wine list. I love being able to pick and choose three wines that fit my taste and desire to discover something new.

My flight included the 2017 Sparkling Viognier, 2018 Sauvignon Blanc and 2016 Grenache. I selected each of these wines because they were releases that I have not previously tasted from Sigillo Cellars and I felt each of them in their own way would pair nicely with the Charcuterie board that I ordered.

The 2018 Sauvignon Blanc was a nice accompaniment to the tangy food items on the Charcuterie Board like the olives and artichoke hearts. A wonderful example of a Lake Chelan Sauvivgnon Blanc. I really enjoyed the 2016 Grenache with its spicy notes, it was perfect to pair with the fig spread and goat cheese. Enjoying the warm October sun while sampling some of Sigillo Cellars food and wine, was a perfect afternoon treat.

Chelan Resort Vacation Suites #409

Being a Lake community there is a wide array of accommodations available in the Lake Chelan Wine Valley. The Lake Chelan area boasts 60-plus hotels, resorts, lodges and vacation rentals. During this trip I had the pleasure of staying at Chelan Resort Vacation Suites #409, which delivered stunning views of the Lake and a warm and welcoming interior.

Chelan Resort Suites #409 has everything that you would want in a vacation rental. The unit was incredibly spacious, clean and comfortable, with special touches that made it a perfect ‘Home Base’ while visiting Lake Chelan. From the secure building, to the warm and welcoming décor, and the extra special items, like a king size sleep number bed, everything included in this rental makes you feel like you have a home away from home. Also, the Lake views from the condo are incredible. The attention to detail and hospitality from the hosts, Val and Mark, made this an extremely enjoyable and relaxing stay. I cannot recommend this location enough if planning a trip to the Lake Chelan area.

On a vacation, there is nothing more important than the bed. giving you a restful night’s sleep for your mind and body. This rental includes a King Sleep Number bed to help make your stay as comfortable as possible. An added bonus is the lake view from the bedroom window, providing beautiful scenery to wake up to each day.

At Chelan Resort Vacation Suites #409 guest friendly improvements are a priority. In addition to the King Sleep Number bed there is multi-functional furniture, and an array of beach and technology items. In the Suite you will find a guest guidebook, guest information board and partnered with local businesses for discounts for their guests. Val and Mark have done everything they can to put their guests first. If you are planning a trip to Lake Chelan you can find out more about how to book a stay at #409 here on TripAdvisor.

After a day of wine tasting you can enjoy some quiet time in front of the fire.

Lake Chelan Winery

A wine tasting tour of Lake Chelan Wine Valley really would not be complete without a visit to the first winery in the area, Lake Chelan Winery.

Lake Chelan Winery was the first winery permitted in Chelan County in 2000. This family-owned winery has a rich heritage in the Lake Chelan Wine Valley that offers unique handcrafted wines, and a relaxing and inviting atmosphere. At Lake Chelan Winery you can stop in for a tour of the winery, indulge in a complimentary tasting, and enjoy BBQ fare in the vineyard.

In the Lake Chelan Winery tasting room you have the opportunity to hear some history of the winery while expanding your Lake Chelan wine knowledge and test you wine palate. The friendly wine specialists do a wonderful job of guiding you through a personalized tasting and are happy to share deeper insight in regards to the wine that you are tasting.

One of the things that I really liked about the complimentary wine tasting at Lake Chelan Winery is that you can pick and choose the wines that you want to try. This allows you to really personalize the tasting experience. You can also purchase a special tasting that allows you to try their sparkling wine and select Reserve Wines.

2013 Fifty Five Mile Sparkling Wine

Lake Chelan Winery’s Fifty Five Mile 2013 Méthode Champenoise Extra Brut is an ideal way to start off a wine tasting. A blend of 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay, and this sparkling has 3.9% residual sugar. A beautiful bright wrap around your tongue, sip of bubbly goodness. On both the nose and palate a sense of place can be detected with pear and green apple followed by a creamy almond note. Crisp, refreshing with a pleasant mineral tone that adds a brightness to this Washington sparkling wine.

An Exciting Discovery at Lake Chelan Winery

One of the most interesting wines that I tasted at Lake Chelan Winery was their 2018 Stormy Mountain White, which is made from 100% White Syrah. Syrah is mostly associated with red wine, but in this bottle you find a total reversal of what a Syrah is perceived to be. With an inviting bouquet of citrus and white flowers, with a taste of grapefruit, apricot and lemon infused honey, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I was drinking a wine made from Syrah grapes. This is definitely a wine that deserves to be tasted when visiting Lake Chelan Winery, both for its uniqueness and its enticing flavor characteristics.

I was so charmed by this Stormy Mountain White that I brought a bottle home.

2016 Syrah River’s Bend Vineyard, Columbia Valley

After enjoying the Stormy Mountain White I really wasn’t too surprised that my second favorite wine of the tasting was the LCW 2016 Syrah River’s Bend Vineyard. If you are a Syrah lover then the rousing aroma of this Syrah will seal the deal even before you take a sip. Pacific Northwest ripe wild blackberries meld with vanilla and peppery spices to deliver a marvelous bouquet. Each sip of this Syrah brings an array of balanced and complex flavors including blackberry, sweet ripe plum, and the same vanilla peppery spice notes that are present on the nose. During the tasting a club member stopped in to pick up her box and a couple extra bottles of this Syrah for an annual family dinner. The last few years have seen only LCW’s Syrah poured at the family’s annual dinner and I can completely understand why after this tasting. And Yes, a bottle did come home with me as well.

Lake Chelan Winery does a great job of offering a one-of-a-kind wine tasting experience.

WineGirl Wines

Another not to be missed winery in the town of Manson is the incredibly friendly and down to earth WineGirl Wines. WineGirl offers both indoor and outdoor areas to enjoy a glass of wine or a tasting flight. A more in-depth story about my visit and wine tasting at WineGirl Wines will follow in the next couple of weeks.

A Perfect Fall Wine WineGirl’s 2018 Reserve Gewurztraminer

A favorite sip from my tasting in the “Blending Room” at WineGirl Wines was their 2018 Reserve Gewurztraminer. This wine delivers a delicious balance of sweetness with the taste of ripe peaches and just a whisper of spice. WineGirl is correct when they say, “This is what they meant by Nectar of the Gods.” A bottle of this wonderfully aromatic wine also came home with me.

There is a lot to appreciate about the Blending Room at WineGirl Wines – the wine, the people and the location! 

A trip to Lake Chelan offers natural beauty, along with a sense of peace and quiet that you may be looking for.

A few more reasons to visit Lake Chelan:

  • The 55 mile lake is beautifully crystal clear blue all the way to the bottom.
  • The climate in the Chelan Valley is ideal for year round visits, there is approximately 300 days of sunshine.
  • There are many lake activities, such as boat, canoe, kayak and jet ski rentals.
  • Chelan and Manson offer a wide variety of restaurants and dining experiences.
  • No matter the time of year, the area is perfect for wine tasting.

October Sunrise over Lake Chelan

“There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss so many of them.”
–Jo Walton

Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.