Cheers To You

An exploration of all things wine with local wine expert Mary Earl.
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What we’re drinking: San Juan Vineyards

July 31st, 2013 by brynn grimley

Brynn writes:

As I mentioned in our maple glazed pork tenderloin and Kiona Vineyards piece, my in-laws were in town earlier this month.

For part of their visit we went up to Orcas Island. While there we hopped over to San Juan Island to check out the sights. Part of our itinerary included a stop at San Juan Vineyards. Jeff and I visited the winery four years ago when we stayed on nearby Brown Island, so we were looking forward to enjoying a glass of wine in the sun on the winery’s patio with his parents.

Unfortunately, the woman manning the tasting bar wasn’t very inviting, so we left after just one sip of wine. I’m going to give the lady the benefit of the doubt — I’m hoping she was having a bad day and isn’t normally that rude, otherwise the winery needs to reconsider who they have greeting the public.

I was disappointed we didn’t get a chance to take in the beauty of the winery while enjoying the wine, but we salvaged our visit by stopping into the winery’s tasting room along the main street in Friday Harbor. The woman manning the tasting bar there was friendly and gave a healthy pour, something I’ll never complain about.

I was strategic in my tasting. I knew I wanted to try one of the wines grown on the island and one sourced from Eastern Washington vineyards. At the winery I tried the Madeleine Angevine, grown on site. This grape is from the Loire Valley of France, and does well in our state — specifically the cool climate of the Puget Sound region. It’s a great wine to have with raw (or grilled) oysters. I liked the wine, but I think it’s one you need to have a few times to fully appreciate. It’s a dry white wine and I prefer to have it with food.

The other wine I had a the winery was the Cab Franc, which comes from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA in Eastern Washington. I prefer cab franc to Cabernet Sauvignon because it’s lighter. In this instance it had currant and tobacco leaf flavors.

When we went to the tasting room in Friday Harbor my father-in-law ended up buying a bottle of Riesling. We drank that once we got back home. We paired it with Chinese food, which the winery recommended. The Riesling was not too sweet, but not bone dry. It was filled with floral and citrus notes and I noticed honeysuckle. It was balanced and did well with the spiciness of the Chinese dishes.

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