In 2015 the United Nations gave the Champagne region of France World Heritage Status, verifying what fans have known all along-Champagne is indeed unique. However, it is not just the delicate bubbles in each bottle that make Champagne so unique and authentic, there is also a deep history that runs through the land and sets the precedent to each village, champagne house and bottle produced. With over 350 years of history the Champagne Region in France is brimming with places to explore and stories to hear.
I hope that the following photos and story help tell part of the story of Champagne Guy Méa and give you a glimpse of some of their family history and unique Champagnes.
The Guy Méa Champagne vineyard stretches from the hillsides of Bouzy and Louvois (Grand Cru villages) to the village of Montbré and Ludes (Premier Cru villages) also located in the Montagne de Reims.
Long before the expanse of vineyards, which spread as far as the eye can see from the French Champagne region village Louvois, there were rich dense forests and the countryside was filled with woodcutters and hungry wolves. The original spelling of Louvois is Loupvoie, which roughly translates to ‘The Way of the Wolves’. Appropriately named as it designated the route that the wolves would take, moving in packs coming down the forest of Saint-Basle and through the village. So, what is the connection to the Way of the Wolves and the Champagne House of Guy Méa?
Written on the walls of the Winery are the Lyrics from the song “People Of the North”
Les gens du Nord Ont dans le cœur le soleil Qu’ils n’ont pas dehors
Northerners have the sun in their hearts they don’t have outside
Back in the early 1900’s a family of woodcutters, the Milesi family of Champagne Guy Méa, moved from Bergamo in the Brembana Valley to Louvois searching for good fortune. After the inflect of modern fuels replaced wood, making money as a woodcutter was no longer a way to support a family. Embracing the change that was sweeping the landscape, the Milesi family soon changed directions and converted into small Vignerons, also known as a cooperative winery. This new path began as contributors of the great Maison, then as their own Champagne producers in the mid 1990’s.
During my visit last year I had the opportunity to visit Champagne Guy Méa on a busy harvest day and a 4th Birthday celebration of the winemaker, Sophie Milesi’s oldest son Léonard.
There is always an air of excitement in the air during Harvest and driving through the hilly region of Champagne to visit Champagne Guy Méa the roads were bustling with tractors and truck and various fields were speckled with grape pickers. For this reason, being able to visit a Champagne house on a busy harvest day was truly a memorable experience.
Pinots Noir and Chardonnays, are the base of Champagne Guy Méa vintages, and the grapes come exclusively from their 9.5 ha of vines, in Grand Cru and Premier Cru.
Everyone at Champagne Guy Méa was incredibly busy but very happy to share with us the process of pressing the grapes.
At Champagne Guy Méa new and old generation go hand in hand working together to produce beautiful champagnes.
It was from the 1950s, with Grandfather Guy at the helm that the estate took off along with the Maison de Champagne commercial boom and the purchase of many surrounding plots. At 88, Guy is never far away and is there to share his knowledge with his Granddaughter or suggesting that they open a good bottle for a tasting.
Father, Jean-Louis continues taking care of the work in the vineyards and estates.
“Wine fills the heart with courage.” -Plato
To be a winemaker in the traditional Champagne Valley is exclusive to begin with. Then if you add being a woman who runs a champagne house to it, well it becomes much more of a rarity.
Sophie Milesi took over the management of the family vineyard and the future of the house of Guy Méa about 9 years ago after completing her education and wine studies. During these years she has developed a new identity to the family business, putting her mark on the wines as the generations before her did. Sophie has an enthusiastic smile which matches the enthusiasm for the task she has undertaking. But, wine of course isn’t everything, Sophie is also building her family with her husband, Franck Moussié, who came from the Bordeaux wine world, and their two young sons, Léonard and Valentin.
Sophie Milesi is also an ambassador for champagnes, with other female winemakers, within Les Fa’Bulleuses de Champagne, an association of “women of the heart”, created in 2014. Sharing their passion for winemaking, for their families and helping each other is a common bond that formed this group and daring and determination keeps them going.
Although not certified organic, Sophie strives to work without any treatment. Maintaining that Viticulture is about common sense and that she will not treat the vines if it is not necessary. Sophie is also a strong voice in the immediate ban on glyphosate and the implementation of aid so that winegrowers can weed mechanically.
Sophie strives for Champagne that is easy, with elegant balance and beautiful bubbles using their raw tradition with the essential base of all their cuvèe, Pinot Noir.
As a child Sophie, “kept repeating with a smile to the ears and the mischievous look “when I grow up, I’ll be” Champagneuse “!! Do not look for this word in the dictionary, it just leaves the head of a child raised to the rhythm of the seasons and harvest, which could recognize a thousand places, the smell of wines that begin to work in the cellar.” from the Champagne Guy Méa website.
The tasting bar at Champagne Guy Méa was a perfect intimate setting to enjoy the Champagnes by house Guy Méa while viewing all of the business of harvest that takes place. The walls are covered with family photos and records of harvests past.
One of the walls has a record of all harvests and other information dating back to 1994.
The Pinot Noir character and strength of the Montagne de Reims can be found in this Tradition cuvée.
The Brut Tradition Premier Cru is a combination of Pinot Noir (60%) and Chardonnay (40%) of the Guy Méa clay-limestone soil vineyards between Louvois and Tauxiéres-Mutry in Montagne de Reims. Incorporating about 40% of Reserve Wines, this Champagne is aged on latte in bottle for a minimum of 18 months.
A lovely example of the Champagne Guy Méa style, made without added sugars to bring out the crystalline class of the old family vineyards. This was such a unique sip of Champagne with its bold freshness, classic elegance and earthy mineral notes. An exceptional Vintage.
Rosé blended mainly with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir based on the Cuvée Prestige. Bouzy Rouge comes from “Chaudette et la Perthe”, plots over 65 years old located in the heart of the Bouzy vineyard. For this Le Bouzy Rouge the grapes are sorted manually and destemmed. The berries collected fall directly into the tank or slowly and naturally the stage of alcoholic fermentation will begin. Taken from the Champagne Guy Méa website.
Champagne Guy Méa Cuvée Rosa Délice is a lively and fruity champagne that has wonderful balance and is brimming with lovely youthful Rosé characteristics.
This was my first experience sipping freshly pressed Pinot Noir grape juice and it really was delicious.
I could have spent all day at Champagne Guy Méa, with its fantastic views, welcoming hospitality and delicious Champagnes it was such a memorable wine tasting experience.
There is a big difference between enjoying a glass of Champagne at home and drinking it after touring the house in which it was produced, bottled and stored. Luckily, tasting memories like this can be remember each time you pop the cork on a bottle of Champagne no matter where you are.
Photos and all rights reserved ©Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.
At This Moment….My Drink in Life blog series in which I share with you things which are inspiring or intriguing. I expand on things I see, do, read, or taste, and share them so you may discover something new or inspiring. In turn, I hope that you will share with me what is grabbing your attention…at this moment.
2020 is almost upon us and like many, I am feeling the positive vibes and possibilities when it comes to the New Year. This includes wishes & dreams, goals & plans and Yes, there are some actual solid Intentions (not Resolutions) floating around in my head as well. After all, it’s 2020 and a new year means a plethora of possibilities.
“A person with increasing knowledge and sensory education may derive infinite enjoyment from wine.” Ernest Hemingway
Taking a wild guess… from my blog content you have probably deduced that wine related plans play a major part in my goals for 2020. Admittedly, I am more focused on Wine during the next twelve months and this includes different ways to expand my horizons when it comes to wine education, wine travel, and an overall enjoyment of wine.
So, I would like to share with you some of my plans for 2020 At this Moment…
There are many things in life that involve continual education and wine, with its ever changing landscape, definitely falls within this realm. Wine knowledge will continue to be a goal of mine in 2020. In January, after months preparation, I finally begin my weekend class for the WSET Level 2. The test will follow during the first week in February, and I am already anticipating passing by signing up for the WSET Level 3 with classes beginning at the end of February. I am also planning on attending more wine events, both educational and social, with the intent to learn more about local, regional, and national wines.
2020 will undoubtedly be my busiest year when it comes to wine travel and wine writing. A few of the things that are on my calendar for the new year are:
January-It is off to Bellingham, Washington on a Media Trip to learn more about the area, in anticipation of the 2020 Pacific Northwest Wine Festival there in August. The Festival includes both a public wine tasting, and the announcement of all medal-winning wines entered in an earlier judged competition. Up to 55 wineries from the Pacific Northwest along with restaurants from the Whatcom County area take part in this Wine Festival set in the stunning city of Bellingham. A perfect way to experience another Washington Wine region. I will be sharing more information about the 2020 Pacific Northwest Wine Festival when the details have been released.
February-I am excited to once again be taking part in the Seattle Wine and Food Experience, this years 12th annual event takes place the weekend of February 20-22, 2020. There are three distinct events which showcase the best that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. These events include a Thursday night kick off with a smorgasbord of the ultimate feel-good foods + crafty brews with ‘Comfort’ and then Friday we are getting dressed up for the signature event ‘Pop! Bubbles + Seafood’ where bubbles and wines will be poured and the Pacific Northwest’s bounty of seafood will be featured. Saturday rounds out the weekend with the spectacular ‘Grand Tasting’ which is a deluxe showcase of Pacific Northwest wine, beverage, food and lifestyle. This is an exciting sensory exploration and wandering education platform to really emerge yourself in all things PNW.
March-For the first time I will be traveling to the annual Washington Winegrowers Convention & Trade Show in Kenniwick, Washington. Here I will join others in the winegrape industry from around the region, and nation to learn more about what is happening with Washington wines. This industry event in 2020 features keynote speaker, Lulie Halstead, CEO of Wine Intelligence. So, mark your calendars for March 2 – 5, 2020 and check out Washington Winegrowers’ website for additional details.
Taste Washington is a fantastic sampling of more than 235 wineries, 65 restaurants, 60 exhibitors and some of the nation’s most-talented chefs.
March-Not to be missed March 19-22 is ‘Taste Washington‘. I was blown away with the 2019 event and this year promises to be even more of a wine and food lovers’ wonderland. Taste Washington highlights the best of Washington States wine and food in a single location.
April-Last year I traveled to the Willamette Valley in Oregon with Fred Swan’s Wine Writers Educational Tour and in 2020 we will be converging on Paso Robles, California for yet another wine education experience. This will be the first time that I have traveled to the Paso Robles Wine Region and I am very excited about this wine education opportunity. More information about WWET can be found here.
“Personal development is a major time-saver. The better you become, the less time it takes you to achieve your goals.” ―Brian Tracy
August-There are many firsts for me in 2020 and this continues with a trip to Eugene, Oregon for the Wine Media Conference. Although I would have loved to have made it to Australia, where the conference was held this year, I am thrilled to be traveling to southern of the Willamette Valley to take part in this conference.
“The conference attracts wine bloggers, traditional wine media, social media influencers, and wine industry members who communicate with them. These attendees are key members of the wine industry. They are not only passionate about wine – they are energized by communicating to their audiences about wine, wineries, and the people that make up the wine industry.” –Taken from the Wine Media Conference website
This list of destinations and events by no means is a complete account of all my travels, but is a glimpse into some of the activities that I will be taking part in 2020 and things that I hope to share with you.
My main wine Intentions for 2020 are probably not that dissimilar to many other wine lovers when it comes to what we hope to achieve when pulling the cork on bottles of wine in the New Year.
Diversity is my main focus when it comes to my wine drinking intentions in 2020. I definitely want to work on trying new wines and seek out unfamiliar varietals and blends. Also covered under this category is drinking great wine when I feel like it, and not thinking that it needs to be saved for a special occasion or celebration.
I want to continue to do just a little bit more for local wine communities. This means that no matter where I am I will strive to drink local when possible. The small act of drinking, eating, and shopping local, is the support boutique wineries, small businesses, and farms in an area depend on. While also discovering products that I might not have noticed otherwise. This goes for wine, but also beer, cider, spirits, coffee, and much more.
What many people may not know about me is that I have a true desire to grow as much of our own food as I can during the Spring to Fall months and to cook almost all of our meals from scratch. With an extremely busy schedule these last couple of years I have not been able to enjoy and focus much attention on our backyard garden and with the new year I am striving to change that. It really is all about balance and rediscovering that ability to leave work behind while focusing more on home life and doing what brings me joy.
For this reason on Drink In Life, I will strive to incorporate more of my love of Vegetable Gardening and Cooking by creating more meals around the garden and sharing wines that pair perfectly with those recipes. When the garden is not producing as much I will share some of my favorite recipes with wine pairings. I also want to get back to introducing more recipes that incorporate wine and spirits into the food and showcase how these beverages can enhance the flavors of other foods.
I hope that you join me on this journey to broaden my wine knowledge and experiences, and I would love to hear what you are striving to achieve in 2020 as well. Cheers Everyone and Happy New Year.
Images are ©Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.
For many, the Holiday Season is inevitably filled with their favorite wines purchased throughout the year, or brought out of the cellar to mark the occasion. There are also those who find themselves searching to find new wines to enjoy over the holiday season. This quest may seek previously unknown wine gems that can be stocked up on for quiet celebrations, or larger parties with friends and family. We all strive to have that perfect wine on our holiday table, you know, the one that gets conversations started with the aromas from the first pour, or a wine with a flavor so intense, it brings back a special memory that becomes the retelling of a contagiously funny story told while the dessert is being served. So, if you are looking to treat yourself to a truly great wine, something to linger over as the year comes to an end, can I suggest a winery here in Washington that is producing some beautiful, complex and unique wines, Muret-Gaston Winery.
Bringing a sense of family history and a love of wine together Muret-Gaston Winery in Benton City, WA is ready to help you toast the holiday season. But, before we talk about the wines let me give you a little background history of Muret-Gaston.
If you are not familiar with the name Muret-Gaston, you may have heard of Purple Star Winery, or perhaps Native Sun Wines. All three of these wine labels have one thing in common, they are wines made by husband and wife team Kyle and Amy Johnson.
With almost 20 years of experience in the wine industry, Kyle began his career after graduating Washington State University, with a position in Viticulture for Chateau Ste. Michelle. In 2006 Kyle left Chateau Ste. Michelle to become the winemaker for Olsen Estates, a position he held until wine production ended in 2009, following the recession and distribution issues. With the closure of Olsen Estates Kyle, with the help of the Olsen Estate facility worked on the debut vintage of Purple Star wine and soon after vintages of Native Sun wines.
Today Kyle and Amy, who continue to build their wine labels Purple Star Wines and Native Sun, will also working on the label that holds a much more personal connection and family history, Muret-Gaston.
When Kyle and Amy got married, they were not aware that fifteen generations ago their two families, the Murets and Gastons, lived in villages next to each other in southern France. The name Muret-Gaston was chosen for their mothers, and the label on the bottles holds the signatures of their grandfathers, Muret and Gaston. These signatures were copied from war time letters sent home to their families.
About a week before Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to speak with Amy in a phone interview. This is an incredibly busy time of year for winery owners and I was happy that Amy could share a few moments with me and talk about wine.
Before our conversation I already knew from visiting their website and reading other articles written about the Johnson’s that Amy held an integral part in the day to day operations for all of their wines labels, and wore many hats when it came to helping out and running their wineries. When I asked what her typical day looked like, she laughed and said,
“My day is full of pretty much everything…some days I am loading or unloading trucks, I have a hand in the wine making process as well, and then there is the administrative side, the outside sales, social media, the wine tourism board, the list goes on and on.”
The wine making at Muret-Gaston is definitely a family affair, Kyle and Amy’s three children do a lot of work around the winery but Amy will admit that they don’t always like it, and she is not sure yet if any of them will be interested in working in the wine industry. One surprising fact Amy shared was their youngest, who is 14, has an amazing pallet and they often ask his advice when it comes to testing the barrels.
Photo provided by Muret-Gaston Winery
Under the label Muret-Gaston, Kyle and Amy are producing an impressive selection of wines including, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot, GSM, a Red Blend, and a Chardonnay. With so many different varietals grown in Washington State, I asked Amy if there was a particular grape they had not worked with, which they would like to use in the future.
“There’s a Picopili that Syncline is making that blows our socks off! We are members there, actually we are members of many other wineries because there is so many good wineries in Washington State. It would be fun to work with Picopili, to make one more white, but we haven’t expanded that far.”
Because it has been on many people’s minds when it comes to growing grapes I brought up the topic of Climate Change with Amy to see if she felt that it was having an impact here in Washington State.
“Climate Change is absolutely having an impact and the whole thing with agriculture is that it is always changing and you have to make adaptations. Mother Nature spares no one, and just like other farmers Viticulturists are making adjustments during all of the seasons. Climate Change is continuing to push the challenges for winemakers, viticulturists, and growers. I think this year that all those people who wanted to grow grapes and make wine, this is the year that they are like–I don’t think that’s a great idea! Maybe I’ll just drink wine.”
Amy went on to share some insight of what she sees regarding change here in Washington State due to Climate Change, and if she thought new grape varietals would be seen in the state more, here’s what she told me:
“We are pretty good friends with a nursery stock person and it is interesting to see what they are doing because they have to think 5, 10, 15 years ahead of us. And, they are looking at root stock, grafting and things like that that can handle extremes, not just super cold but that can also handle super hot weather and massive droughts or heavy rainfalls. So, they are trying to build these really sturdy vines. It will be interesting, there’s some smart people out there who are using all the moving pieces to make sure that they are successful.
I always like to ask how others enjoy the holiday season, about traditions new and old.
“Our holidays are pretty standard, we get together with family and friends but our holidays are not very extravagant. For us the most important thing is to just focus on family.”
When it comes to what wines that they like to drink during the Holidays, Amy enthusiastically said, “100% Champagne, we are big fans of bubbles.” Also enjoyed in the Johnson home this time of year is GSM wines, “We are big fans of GSM as well, they are lighter and more floral which goes good with food without competing.”
I want to thank Amy for sharing her thoughts with me on these topics and for sending me some samples of their Muret-Gaston Gift Boxes that are available during the holiday season.
With Christmas and other holidays just around the corner and now is the perfect time to fill your wine fridge with Washington wines to enhance a home celebration while gathering with family and friends. Why Washington wines for the holidays? Washington is the second-largest wine-producing state in the country, and with over 1,000 wineries and 14 unique wine-growing AVAs, there is a Washington wine for every winelover’s palate.
Muret-Gaston has some lovely wines that you should try for the festive season.
When it comes to Washington Cabernet Sauvignons this vintage from Muret-Gaston is high on my list for the holiday season. With semi sweet notes of Cassis, dark fruits, and subtle spices, this wine carries with it a long finish of delicate tannins. This wine is very approachable now but will certainly age well for future holiday celebrations.
A perfect gift for any wine lover assembled with Muret-Gaston wines and Chukar Cherries Candies. These boxes are ready to be sent to your family and friends who appreciate trying new wines.
If there is one wine that is being produced in Washington that you don’t often see standing on its own, it is the resolute and stout Petit Verdot. Muret-Gaston’s 100% Petit Verdot exhibits notes of blackberry and currants with light flashes of violet and cocoa making it the perfect wine to pair with those hearty holiday meals.
Who won’t love this gift box of one bottle each of 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2018 Chardonnay.
One box each of Washington Chukar Cherries Ultra Dark Vanilla Almonds and Dark Chocolate Cabernet Cherries.
I recently opened this bottle of 2018 Muret-Gaston French Creek Vineyard Chardonnay at our first holiday party and it was a favorite of the white wines tasted. We enjoyed many homemade Mexican dishes, including Enchiladas, Mexican Pizza and Pinto & Polso, all of which paired perfectly with the crisp clean citrus flavors of this beautiful Chardonnay.
I hope that this these recommendations give you some ideas for the winelover on your holiday gift list.
From Now until December 14th, Muret-Gaston is offering penny shipping on our gift boxes to make your holiday gift giving a little easier.
Remember the saying, “It is better to give than to receive” well when it comes to wine ‘It is better to give as well as to receive’. Cheers everyone and Happy Holidays.
“At the heel end of the day, I need my glass of wine. Christmas lights for the brain.” — Bill Callahan
Unless otherwise noted all Images are ©Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.
At This Moment….is a series that I 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. In turn, I hope that you will share with me what is grabbing your attention…at this moment.
The Holiday Season almost always has a way of making memories. Family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers play a key role in producing some of our best holiday memories. At this moment…as we kick off December and the Holiday Season I want to share some things that I am enjoying, reading and drinking.
My Holiday wish to you: Whatever makes beautiful memories. Whatever is meaningful. Whatever brings you happiness. May it be yours this holiday season and throughout the coming year.
I am keeping an eye on the news about how “Walla Walla wine industry prepares to battle phylloxera, a pest that kills grapevines” a story from the Oregonian.
The Seattle times shared a story about how WA State Sparkling Wines Surge in Popularity Beyond Special Occasions .
Loved this article by Paul Gregutt in Wine Enthusiast regarding Five Winemakers Creating Cult, Collectible Oregon Wines You Can Actually Find.
Bon Appetit Magazine is sharing something that most of us winelovers may have already known, You’re Not Going to Believe I’m Saying This, But Merlot Is Back.
If you have always thought about visiting the Willamette Valley Wine Region you might want to read this story, Steven Spurrier: A letter from Oregon, from Decanter.
Can Cannabis and Wine Coexist? is a big topic in states that have legalized marijuana and this story in Wine Spectator is reporting how “As California’s cannabis industry matures, development in winegrowing areas sparks conflict and concerns.”
Like many others, my Holiday season is full of get-togethers and celebrations. Our first big Holiday party is coming up this week at our home with some friends and co-workers. The theme is a little out of the ordinary for the holidays, but I will be preparing a Mexican Dinner, to include Wood Fired Mexican Pizzas, Enchiladas, Pintos & Polso, Pulled Pork Sheet Nachos and much more. If you are interested in some of the recipes that I will be making you can visit my Pinterest Page and check out my ‘Let’s Eat – Mexican Dinner Party‘ Board.
All during the month of December I am continuing to Study for the WSET Level 2 Exam early next year, here is a book I am reading and some flashcards that I am using to help in my studies.
I am also trying to learn as much about food and wine pairing as I can and this book has some valuable information.
Available again this year from Heritage Distilling in Washington State, is a fun way to celebrate the Advent Calendar days in December. We have already began enjoying each days Spirit surprise and this Spirits Advent Calendar would also make a great gift for the Spirits lover on your holiday shopping list.
“Christmas means fellowship, feasting, giving, receiving, a time of good cheer, home.” ~W.J. Tucker
I love making seasonal cocktails during the holidays. This Bourbon and Cranberry Cocktail made with Nightside Distillery’s 90 Proof Bourbon Whiskey is a great way to enjoy the taste of spicy grain and corn with hints of sweet fruit in this Bourbon.
CRANBERRY BOURBON COCKTAIL
This recipe makes 1 cocktail
2 ounces bourbon
2 ounces cranberry juice (100% juice, unsweetened)
1/2 ounce rosemary sage simple syrup*
Splash of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Fresh rosemary and sage for garnish
In a glass filled with ice, add the bourbon, cranberry juice, rosemary sage simple syrup, and a splash of lemon juice. Stir to combine.
*Rosemary Sage Simple Syrup: In a medium saucepan, combine one cup of sugar and one cup of water. Toss in a couple sprigs each of fresh rosemary and sage. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. This will take 5-8 minutes. Strain the herbs from the simple syrup and allow it to cool completely before using.
All ‘Winecember’ long I will be enjoying and posting about some of my favorite Washington Wines for the holiday season.
Many wineries offer special Holiday Gift boxes during the season and I would like to share a couple of those with you that I will be enjoying in case you a looking for your holiday party or a gift idea for the winelover on your shopping list.
This three bottle gift box from Washington winery, Dunham Cellars in Walla Walla, includes a wonderful selection of their 2015 vintage wines including, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and a Riesling.
The full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon would make a fantastic cellar storing wine to be enjoyed now through 2030. Dunham Cellars 100% Syrah has layers of clove, allspice and vanilla flavors and a long fruity finish. Made to age, you can drink this beautiful Riesling now with your favorite holiday dish or tuck it away for a future special occasion.
Dunham Cellars has started their 12 Days of Shipping which means if you order your favorite Dunham wines today through December 12 you will receive 12 cent ground shipping on all wine orders. They can also add a custom note to personalize your gift, then sit back and enjoy the holiday season.
I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.
– Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Another Washington winery that I would like to share is Muret-Gaston Winery from Benton City, WA. Muret-Gaston has 5 two bottle gift boxes available on their website and from now until December 14th they are offering penny shipping on these gift boxes for easy holiday gift giving.
At Muret-Gaston each bottle of wine is produced from some of the finest vineyards in Washington State’s infamous Red Mountain and Wahluke Slope AVAs and handcrafted using a fusion of Old World and New World winemaking techniques. This attention to detail results in a fine bottle of wine, and each bottle of wine displays the hard work, tradition, and family values that Kyle and Amy Johnson, Owners of Muret-Gaston, hold dear.
One bottle each of Muret-Gaston 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2018 Chardonnay and One box each of Chukar Cherries Ultra Dark Vanilla Almonds and Dark Chocolate Cabernet Cherries.
In an upcoming Blog post I will be sharing more about Muret-Gaston Winery, as well as my conversation with Co-owner Amy Johnson and their fantastic Washington wines.
I am excited to share my thoughts and interests with you here and I thank you, as always, for reading.
This post may contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase by clicking on them, I will receive a commission, at no additional cost to you.
Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.
When I travel to a winery for the first time it is always an incredible honor to be able to speak with the winemaker about their history, wine making styles, successes, and challenges. In this new series, A Word with the Winemaker, I will be sharing some of these one on one wine conversations.
“A winemaker never, never changes the character of a wine. The character comes from the grapes.” – Michel Rolland
There can be many reasons to visit a new winery, you get the first hand experience of tasting wines that are not likely to show up in a local wine store, and if you are lucky you will get the chance to meet the owner and winemaker which allows for some great insight into their story and winemaking process.
Firmly at the helm of one of Lake Chelan Wine Valley’s great producers, Angela Jacobs is crafting some outstanding Washington wines and telling a story with each of her eye catching wine labels.
Angela has been a wine maker for over 18 years, a career path that is both diverse, and has commonality with her Science background and degrees in Biochemistry and Cell & Molecular Biology. Following graduation in 2003 her keen interest in wine, which began in college and gave her the nickname WineGirl, prompted Angela to follow the world’s grape harvests and learn winemaking skills from renowned winemakers.
After some time spent in Oregon as an Enologist in the Willamette Valley, Angela answered the deep desire to develop her own wines under her own label by returning to Seattle and purchasing two tons of ultra-premium grapes from Red Mountain, WA. Hence, WineGirl wines was founded in 2007, when Angela licensed her first winery in Seattle and produced her debut vintages of WineGirl Wines which included Viognier, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. In 2010 Angela made Lake Chelan Wine Valley her home due to the areas potential this area of Washington state has to become a ‘world-class wine destination’. WineGirl Wines now calls the Village of Mason, along the north shore of Lake Chelan, its home with the wine operations and tasting room situated in the heart of this charming lake side town.
With this amount of winemaking experience I was curious what Angela felt one of the most important variables of Lake Chelan was, and what set it apart from other Washington Wine regions and AVAs.
“I think Lake Chelan, when compared to every other AVA on the coast, has screaming potential as a unique wine region producing equally unique and stunning wines. I feel the lake effect produces intense flavors like none other especially for spicy varietals such as Syrah, Gewurztraminer, and Malbec. The spicy characteristics of these wines stands out stunningly and the wines are never aggressively over ripened. Oftentimes, winemakers in warmer regions go for the ripest they can get and end up with wines that are too high in alcohol with flabby acids and too much overripe oxidized, raisin characteristics that get in the way of the natural characteristics of the fruit. In Lake Chelan you get a well balanced wine with alcohols that are moderate, and acids that are perfectly balanced needing little adjustment, and flavors that profile the actual varietal characteristics of the grape. I also grew up visiting this area with strong family ties to the region, combined with my passion for winemaking, the pairing was perfect.“
When asked what the most rewarding things about her job was Angela shared;
“The most rewarding thing about my job is seeing the look on a guest’s face when they have found their favorite wine and it has made their day.”
The day that I visited Angela at the WineGirl Wines in Lake Chelan they were busy with the Fall Harvest and in between driving the fork lift and watching over the process of juicing the Syrah, Angela and I talked about her favorite varietals to work with.
“I love working with all the different types of rosés. Each one is SO unique. So the complexity and comparisons are so much fun. I love working with barrel fermented Viogniers and Chardonnays. The body and flavors are so alluring and the bouquet during fermentation is what I want heaven to smell like. I feel like red wines make themselves, so I love working with many different vineyards so that I can achieve the perfect blended balance for Syrahs or Malbecs. We often have more than one version in a year of Malbec or Syrah, so that our guests can find their favorite. Malbec is always one of my favorites and for which we are well known.”
Angela has a passion for letting the grapes express themselves and she believes that her story as the winemaker will be told in how she guides the grapes into the wine they will become with as soft of a hand as possible.
I often wonder if winemakers are seeing a change in the grape harvest due to climate change and if so how does that affect their winemaking process. Angela shared with me a little about what her thoughts were regarding climate change.
“I’m not sure I could attribute changes in growing seasons to climate change per se, since I suppose I would likely want data from more than 20 years to look at, however, yes the last ten years have been quite different for the Lake Chelan area. In 2011 and 2012 they were very cold and we saw very high acid profiles in a lot of the red wines, and flat out unripened tannins in 2012, that every winemaker in the state was grateful to finally sell out of. No other year since, had that problem, but many of those nice and warm “ideal growing” years, had fires in all different regions of the state including 2012 and 2015 and 2017 for Lake Chelan area. I would say the 2017s, however were not affected like the 2012s and 2015s were affected by smoke taint. It’s all so crazy how many and how different the variables are each year and for each individual vineyard even. I think because of all this variability, my winemaking style has developed to “cast a wide net” and include many small lots of wines. Thus, any one lot in particular that may not turn out “naturally superior” may be able to be a part of a blend that is looking for exactly that acid hit or smoky flavor. And, my favorite thing about all the selection is that then my guests can find multiple favorites from our large portfolio of annual releases.”
At the WineGirl Wines tasting room I sampled a variety of their current releases and came home with a few bottles to enjoy. A stand out favorite of mine was the 2017 Syrah which had such a unique flavor profile with incredible notes of vanilla. (Just a note this wine may be sold out now).
A perfect wine for the holiday season you can see my post on how I paired this lovely Gewürztraminer with a seasonal Spiced Gin Pear Cake here.
After talking about some of her current releases I asked Angela if she had a favorite wine or vintage and what elements played a part in making that wine or vintage unique, here’s what she told me:
“Every year in the last ten has been so different. From freezing cold overall temps in 2011 and 2012 to aggressive heat profiles in 2013, to this currently wet and cold end of 2019. I think we enjoyed a series of more consistent “more like normal” years in 2016 and 2017 and 2018, although in 2017 in particular we saw little ripening in September because, although a beautiful fall, it never got over 70, thus the grapes just kinda hung out and the brix levels never really rose before harvest. I was on pins and needles to see what the flavors would be like for the reds, but they have turned out to be some of the best ever, perfectly balanced.”
Always looking to try something new and expand on her wine making talents, Angela told me that her newest ventures include releasing their first “Pet-Nat Sparkling Wine this winter and next year they already have new plans for summertime fun in Lake Chelan.
A trip to Lake Chelan are would not be complete without a visit to the incredibly friendly and down to earth WineGirl Wines. If you are lucky you will be able to chat with Angela while tasting her exceptional wines and find out what new and exciting things this incredibly busy winemaker has on deck.
I want to thank Angela and the rest of the staff at WineGirl Wines for allowing me to be part of their Syrah pressing day and for the memorable wine tasting experience.
Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.