Sunday, October 12, 2008

lovely weekend

We're just home from the Fall Color Festival.  Too bad there wasn't any color yet!! In about 2-3 weeks, the color will be glorious. Today, the day was glorious, but the color was just starting to turn. Oh well, we had a fun time anyway.

The plan was to take our cameras, pick up a buddy from work and go enjoy this festival. Since the color wasn't cooperative, we never got our cameras out of the trunk. Big disappointment on that, because I really wanted some picture taking time today.

I'm embarrassed to admit that we've never visited the local wineries, with the exception of the one that is across the street from my friend's house - and that one only when they have had events raising money for breast cancer research.

The first winery, Eagle Haven, is the closest on the drive upriver. It's a young winery, only open since 2004. The tasting room is cozy and inviting and pretty. The staff is just plain fun. Obviously they enjoy people and are knowledgeable about wine - in spite of the fact that the employee today in the tasting room really is a whiskey drinker! We laughed with her, learned a little about this winery and enjoyed a relaxed and fun tasting. This is the first year they are selling a Pinot Noir. It's young, so it's a little on the light side rather than full bodied, but it does show they have potential. The Sangiovese was lovely and I brought a bottle of that home. I will go back there again.

The second winery, Challenger Ridge, is in a pretty setting overlooking the river. The tasting room is very pretty, however it's quite dark and has the feel of a smoky jazz bar with a slightly odd twist of being back-woodsy. We were told they are planning for the future in that they want to become a destination winery with a bed and breakfast, restaurant, etc. Great plan! We need a destination winery.

It's too bad that we felt they are a bit stingy! The person running the tasting room had a great personality, but gave very small tastes - small enough that I didn't feel anyone could really get a sense of what their wines actually taste like. I've never seen a winery that only poured enough to show a little bit of color in the bottom of the glass... really just wetting the glass and a sip more. I told my sweet husband that the two sips worth of wine were not real sips, just "wet your lips" sips. Not enough to taste the wine and determine if I liked it.

The other thing she did that turned us off was that she raved and raved about how their Cabernet Sauvignon is wonderful, the best seller, etc. - but oh, sorry, "we're not tasting that one today." Huh?? She had a full tasting room, about 10 people, half of whom wanted to taste it (most of whom would have probably purchased it) and refused based on the fact they would not be open in the tasting room for the next several days. To save the cost of the leftovers of a single bottle of wine, she threw away the profit on at least 5 bottles. Actually more since there were more folks in there at the time. Everyone in the tasting room at the time thanked her for the tasting and walked away without buying a thing. Not the way to get that plan of a destination winery going!

The last winery was Glacier Peak Winery. Probably the loveliest setting of the 3 wineries, surrounded by mountain peaks and boasting a glorious view of Glacier Peak. The tasting room is a bit of a letdown visually and is nothing special in the way of decor, but is light and open. The person running the tasting room didn't have the personality of the other 2, but she was pleasant and knowledgeable. While we would not make that long a drive to this winery again, we did enjoy their Glacier Red wine made from Hungarian Agria grapes. It's a bit on the sweet side, but has a surprising hint of pepper to counteract the sweet. They sell it as a dessert wine and it will be good with sharp cheeses or rich dark chocolate sometime this winter. Definitely in front of the fireplace!

As we headed back down river, we realized that we had not visited the Apple Shed at Perkins Apple Orchard... on the same property as Eagle Haven Winery! Silly us! Yep, we stopped back there on the way down. Sue, one of the owners and the Grandma/matriarch of the family was manning the Apple Shed. She was adorable! She cut apple tastes for us from about 10 different varieties of apples. Yum! Some of the varietals of apples I'd never heard of, but enjoyed immensely. They also sell honey from hives on the property and apple cider. Walked out of there with 4 pounds of Jonagolds, 4 pounds of Arlets and a gallon of fresh cider - so fresh that it was pressed this morning.

After dropping my buddy off at her house, we headed for home and some quiet time. It's been a busy, but very fun weekend for us. A little time tonight of "man, movie and wine" will complete the weekend nicely, allowing me to return to work refreshed.

...may there be mercy and many weekends like this one.


Karen :) said...

Glad you had a good day! :)

SuziQoregon said...

Sounds like a wonderful day. Sounds like the experience at Challenger Ridge is worth a letter or email to the owners. Nothing like telling people we don't really need your money or patronage. Sheesh!