Last minute Thursday afternoon my husband called to ask if I wanted to accompany him to the Skagit Valley for business on Friday; no school and nearly healthy that question was easy to answer. We were up early and out, but the severe ice and fog in the lower southeast corner of Washington made going very slow for the first couple of hours. Ironically, Snoqualmie Pass was sunny and dry with only a minimal bit of snow along the side of the road. (Scary to know how little precipitation we have had this winter.)
We were driving north on I-405 as it neared noon; we were both getting hungry. Being so close, we decided to go to Woodinville where so many wineries have tasting rooms. The first fast-food place we came across was KFC; it had to due as we didn’t have much time to spare after the delay of the fog. It was enough to satisfy the need for food and ensure our wine tasting wouldn’t prove overwhelming.
Our first stop was Matthews Cellars on 140th PL NE, located at the very edge of the Hollywood Hills District. It is a simple building from the outside, but nicely appointed on the inside. Their website has far better photos than I could take while there between the people and the lack of flash on my phone (an older phone). Until recently the wines were made in Woodinville, now they are actually made at a facility in Walla Walla – go figure! Remarkably smooth 2010 and 2011 reds and a 2012 Sauv Blanc made for a pleasant tasting. Eric, pouring our tastes, was terrific and we enjoyed talking with him before several other people entered the tasting room and he had to keep hopping. Very nice Bordeaux style wines, we will return to this winery at another time when we aren’t so pressed for time.
A short drive into the heart of the Hollywood District, which is so named for the 1912 Hollywood Schoolhouse that has metamorphosed into a charming event location at the south end of Woodinville, we stopped at what would be an ordinary strip mall in any other place. Here, there are tasting rooms for many wineries and a Mexican restaurant. Most of the wineries were ones we had already been to in other Washington locations, so we chose the one that we pass with some regularity on the TriCities but don’t seem to get to: Goose Ridge Winery.
We chose our five wines to taste and a large birthday group came in – the birthday girl knew our servers, so there was some delay in getting started. We talked about my being in the WWCC wine program and my interest in tasting anything they were willing to pour – the five choices weren’t necessary – we tasted the whole offering. It was worth the delay and the extra tastes. A Stone Cap 2012 Chardonnay, fermented with oak chips was poured along side the Goose Ridge 2011 Chardonnay that was aged in old and new French Oak barrels for 10 months. As my husband has been reading the Wine Bible for the last few weeks, his interest in white wines has expanded; we came home with a ’11 Chard…
The incredibly red rose’ de Pinot Gris has color from its own skins only and still manages to be deeper in color than many rose’s I have come across; nicely balanced wine, not too anything, we will look for it come summer time.
The last white is a 2011 Riesling exquisitely tart and crisp, another bottle to bring home this summer.
We were quite happy with all of the reds, from the 2010 First Flight blend through the 2009 Vireo, a blend named for a small, insect-eating, song bird, typically with green plumage, commonly found in the Goose Ridge Vineyards. The three varietal specific reds (Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon) were delightfully smooth, with oak aromas and flavors high in the profile, but nice fruit backing it up.
In a couple of months, if you are headed to Leavenworth, Goose Ridge will have a third tasting room open. Tiffany, the tasting room manager, is excited about the prospect. Leavenworth is a destination we manage to make more frequently than Woodinville, so we will likely stop in that new location.
Such a small sampling of Woodinville’s wine offerings, but we had to be on our way. Someday I want to take my husband to Chateau St. Michelle for a tour. I have been through that facility many times as a teenager; it is definitely time for us to go through together.
As an aside, there are two other winery districts in Woodinville: Warehouse District, which is truly an apt description, and the West Valley District, a smaller area where a couple of the older wineries and tasting rooms, like Chateau St. Michelle, are located. For the beer lovers in your life, Redhook Brewery is located very close to St. Michelle too.