Category Archives: Local Wines

What we’re drinking: Bainbridge’s Victor Alexander

Brynn writes:

Victor Alexander’s Semillon 2009 is one of Brynn’s favorite wines from winemaker Charlie Merrill. Unfortunately it’s apparently everyone else’s favorite too because Merrill doesn’t have any bottles left to sell.

While selling out is a good problem to have, it’s too bad because his Semillon is the perfect wine to sip while on the back deck of the Island Vintners tasting room where Merrill sells his wines alongside Jim Wilford’s Fletcher Bay Winery and Paul Bianchi’s Amelia Wynn Winery.

This light- to medium-bodied wine has floral notes on the nose, but time spent on oak is evident on the finish, which has a slight vanilla finish. Hints of apple and custard carry through this wine, which is reminiscent of crème brulee.

While we wish there were more supply for people to try while visiting the tasting room, we recommend letting Merrill or the tasting room employee know you hope to try the Semillon so Merrill makes sure to make it again.

*This is part of a series of reviews of Bainbridge Island wines recently tried at the Bainbridge Uncorked event, which featured the island’s winemakers.

What we’re drinking: Bainbridge’s Rolling Bay Winery

Brynn writes:

Rolling Bay Winery 2011 Pinot Grigio: When summer arrives and temperatures rise above 70 degrees this is a great wine to sip while enjoying the sunset on a warm evening.

The higher acidity of this wine makes it a refreshing choice to counteract the lingering heat. Winemaker Alphonse de Klerk has created a nice marriage in this wine of rich apple notes with weighty herbal flavors. The color is a beautiful pale, straw yellow.

All of de Klerk’s grapes are sourced from Snipes Mountain, near Yakima. He’s been making wine for close to 20 years and has sourced his grapes from Snipes for 18 years.

*This is part of a series of reviews of Bainbridge Island wines recently tried at the Bainbridge Uncorked event, which featured the island’s winemakers.

What we’re drinking: Bainbridge’s Perennial Vintners

Brynn writes:

Perennial Vintners’ 2011 Lemberger: This is winemaker Mike Lempriere’s first red wine under his Perennial Vintners label, and what a great way to bring his winery over to the “dark side”.

Lempriere has traditionally made white wines from grapes grown on Bainbridge Island, but the last couple of years of bad weather forced him to branch east of the mountains to get grapes from vineyards that weathered the poor conditions better than his estate vines.

While he’s still making his island-grown whites and raspberry dessert wine, Lempriere has expanded his selection, adding a lemberger.

Sourced from Kiona Vineyards on Red Mountain, Lempriere’s lemberger is made in the old world style. Instead of letting this wine spend time on oak, Lempriere turned it around quickly, producing a fruit-forward young wine that packs a lot of flavor for its light body.

With only 12 percent alcohol the fruitiness of the wine is able to shine, making it a great choice for summer barbecue season.

*This is part of a series of reviews of Bainbridge Island wines recently tried at the Bainbridge Uncorked event, which featured the island’s winemakers.

What we’re drinking: Bainbridge’s Fletcher Bay Winery

Brynn writes:

This week we’re reviewing two wines, a red and a white, from the island’s Fletcher Bay Winery. We’ll start with the white, then go into the red.

2011 Pinot Grigio:  This wine recently won a silver medal at the New York International Competition and we can see why.

Winemaker Jim Wilford has produced a signature white wine to compliment his wine library that is dominated by strong Italian red wines.

The grapes for this wine come from Crawford Vinyards in Yakima. The wine itself has citrus, apple and pear on the nose that are followed by the same light, crisp and refreshing flavors. This is a clean wine that would go great with seafood or some light hors d’oeuvres on a warm summer afternoon or evening.

Give it a try at Island Vintners, the Winslow tasting room featuring wines from Fletcher Bay, Amelia Wynn Winery and Victor Alexander Winery.

Wilford also said he’s working on a late harvest pinot grigio, which is ready to go he’s just waiting on the label.

2010 Battle Point Red: This is Wilford’s signature red wine, his go-to if you will of the reds he makes — a medium-bodied wine goes well with dinner and is one you don’t have to save for a special occasion if you don’t want to.

The blend is 22 percent tempranillo, 21 percent merlot, 19 percent cabernet sauvignon, 17 percent lemberger, 13 percent cabernet franc, 8 percent sangiovese. It’s been aged for 10 months in French and American Oak.

The wine has dark cherry on the nose, which mix with a bit of herb in the middle. It’s a smooth wine that is pleasing to any palate. It also was lauded at the New York competition, winning a bronze medal.

*This is part of a series of reviews of Bainbridge Island wines recently tried at the Bainbridge Uncorked event, which featured the island’s winemakers.

What we’re drinking: Bainbridge’s Eleven Winery

Brynn writes:

Eleven Winery’s 2011 Roussanne is a somewhat new wine for winemaker Matt Albee. The 2011 is his third vintage of the Rhone varietal and we have to say he’s mastered it quite well.

This full-bodied white wine is very aromatic with floral hints on the nose and lemon, pear and fruit flavors.  Albee received recognition for his Roussanne at the recent Seattle Wine Awards, earning a bronze medal for his 2010 Roussanne.

Albee gets the grapes from 10-year-old vines on Elephant Mountain. He said the farmer planted the Roussanne as a test block so there are only a couple rows of the vines available. Albee takes all of these grapes, but with such a limited quantity it only makes 90 cases.

*This is part of a series of reviews of Bainbridge Island wines recently tried at the Bainbridge Uncorked event, which featured the island’s winemakers.

What we’re drinking: Bainbridge’s Eagle Harbor Wine Co.

Brynn writes:

Eagle Harbor Wine Company’s 2011 Goldfinch is one of Brynn’s favorite white wines by Bainbirdge winemaker Hugh Remash. He changes the blend depending on harvest (in 2010 it was 60 percent Viognier, 40 percent Chardonnay).

This wine offers a nice balance of weight and acidity. It’s medium-bodied, which allows it to pair nicely with a full meal; but it’s also one that would go well with a simple cheese platter.

The Viognier is evident on the nose, offering floral notes with a touch of pear. These hints of honeysuckle carry through the wine, which is a blend of  Viognier (37 percent), Chardonnay (33 percent) and Roussanne (30 percent).  The Roussanne and Chardonnay bring the acidity and weight to the glass.

Remash gets his grapes from Walla Walla and has a French-influenced winemaking style. The wine retails for $18.50.

*This is part of a series of reviews of Bainbridge Island wines recently tried at the Bainbridge Uncorked event, which featured the island’s winemakers.

What we’re drinking: Bainbridge’s Amelia Wynn

Brynn writes:

As we’ve wrote about last week, we recently attended the Bainbridge Uncorked event, which was geared at highlighting seven of the wineries on the island. Mary and I attended a VIP tasting the first night of the event, which not only gave us a chance to speak with each of the winemakers, it also provided us the opportunity to taste their various wines.

We’ve selected a few of the wines we tasted and plan to highlight them in our regular “What We’re Drinking” spot over the next seven weeks. Most of the wines are available for tasting at the various tasting rooms in Winslow, and of course at the wineries when they’re open for their regular “Meet the Winemaker” weekends.

Amelia Wynn Winery, founded by Paul Bianchi and named after his twin grandchildren, will kick off our series. Bianchi is the newest winemaker to join the group. Without further ado, here’s the review:

2011 Sauvignon Blanc: This is the first year winemaker Paul Bianchi has made a Sauvignon Blanc and he did it largely because of the Winslow tasting room, Island Vintners, where his wines are poured.

Fellow Bainbridge winemakers Jim Wilford, of Fletcher Bay Winery, and Charlie Merrill, of Victor Alexander Winery, also are featured at the tasting room. Each have whites that are popular — especially during the summer — so Bianchi wanted to come up with a white to compete.

He gets his grapes for this wine from the Yakima Valley and ferments the wine in stainless steel. The end result is a wine that is not over the top on its herbal or citrus flavors. It’s a great sipper for summer with a good balance of crisp acidity and earthy notes.

Bianchi is also working on a Riesling that he hopes to release soon and a Rose of Sangiovese to be released in 2013. They each should be available at the tasting room, 450 Winslow Way East.

Bainbridge wineries recognized at Seattle Wine Awards

Brynn writes:

I was recently contacted by Jim Wilford, winemaker of Fletcher Bay Winery on Bainbridge Island, who let me know that a number of the island winemakers did quite well in the recent Seattle Wine Awards, announced May 21. As the winemakers’ put it: “the small wineries of Bainbridge Island took home a disproportionately large share of the medals.”

Here’s the information from the Winery Alliance of Bainbridge Island’s website:

Amelia Wynn Winery

DOUBLE GOLD 2009 Amelia Wynn Winery Cuvée, Columbia Valley

DOUBLE GOLD 2009 Amelia Wynn Winery Sangiovese, Red Mountain

Eagle Harbor Wine Company

SILVER 2008 Eagle Harbor Wine Co. Eagle Harbor Wine Co. “Raptor” Cabernet, Walla Walla

Eleven Winery

DOUBLE GOLD 2009 Eleven Winery La Ronde, Washington State

DOUBLE GOLD 2009 Eleven Winery Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills

DOUBLE GOLD 2009 Eleven Winery Sweet Sarah, Washington State

BRONZE 2010 Eleven Winery Roussanne, Yakima Valley

Rolling Bay Winery

SILVER 2009 Rolling Bay Winery Cuvée Aldaro, Snipes Mountain

BRONZE 2009 Rolling Bay Winery Syrah, Snipes Mountain

While he wasn’t listed in the Seattle Wine Awards, Wilford’s winemaking skills were recently honored at the New York International Wine Competition, where his wines were judged against others from around the world.

Here’s how he did:

Fletcher Bay Winery

SILVER 2011 Pinot Grigio

BRONZE 2010 Battle Point Red

Try this low alcohol sparkler for Mother’s Day brunch

Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate and what better way to toast the mother in your life than with a glass of bubbly?

If you’re planning to do a brunch this year for your celebration we’ve got a great recommendation that isn’t your run of the mill bubbly, and it’s made locally.

Ann Vogel’s Mother’s Day recipes for yogurt parfaits and apple Dutch babies calls for a partner in wine with lots of fruit flavor to echo the fruit in the dish; the bubbles will contrast the creamy yogurt.

This is where the Olympic Peninsula’s Finnriver Farm and Cidery enters the picture.

An artisan cidery and organic farm located in the Chimacum Valley, Finnriver produces its ciders from heirloom apples and berries grown at the farm. They also glean apples from old homesteads in the valley and from a family farm in Eastern Washington.

Cider has a long history — it was the drink of choice for the colonists. Cheap and easy to make, it was consumed for any event imaginable — weddings, funerals, Mother’s Day, baptisms, barn and church raisings and even breakfast.

Ciders can and do vary in style from a drier, more traditional style from Normandy and England, to the sweeter sparkling blends made with berries in Washington.

Finnriver’s award-winning ciders are handcrafted from the orchards to the bottle. They like to experiment with small-batches fruit blends to see what Mother Nature has offered them at harvest.

The sumptuous sparkling hard ciders are made with apples, pears and berries. Perfect for this Mother’s Day menu.

A few suggestions include:

The Artisan Sparkling Cider. Fermented using the traditional, labor-intensive méthode champenoise this wine is perfectly balanced, crisp with distinct apple aromas and flavors. The bubbles are small and make a bright, champagne-style cider.

The Sparkling Pear Cider is made from heirloom apples, blended with sweet pear. A soft sprightly sparkle accompanies the definite pear aromas and semi-sweet pear flavors of this cider.

The Sparkling Black Currant Cider is lighter is body and has a pretty blush color. It’s a blend of sweet heirloom apples and tart black currant. This one is also semi-sweet.

Finnriver is located at 62 Barn Swallow Road in Chimacum. A trip to their tasting room gives you a chance to sample their wines — and decide which you might want to serve mom this Mother’s Day.

Spring barrel tasting in Belfair

Brynn writes:

I shared this earlier this week (or maybe it was last week) on Facebook, but wanted to also post it here so people were aware of a wine tasting event this Saturday in Belfair.

Mosquito Fleet Winery is opening its barrels for the public to taste at its first spring barrel tasting event. If you forgot, we wrote about Mosquito Fleet and its inaugural tasting in February. Mary and I were impressed with the wines coming from first-time winemaker Brian Petersen. Here’s our post from the tasting.

And here’s the press release from Mosquito Fleet about Saturday’s barrel tasting:

This May 12th event, hosted by the owners of Mosquito Fleet Winery, is an experience not to be missed. You will be led through tastes of the upcoming vintages. From our recently blended 2010 Meritage to our velvety Syrah and our classic Cabernet Sauvignon, you will have the opportunity to taste these young wines and imagine how much more decadent they will become as their character continues to develop.

The impact that our artisan choices and hand-crafted efforts have on our wines is tremendous. Our winemaker will talk through his barrel selections, utilization of specific yeasts, and the cellar practices that help make Mosquito Fleet wines so special.

The flavors and overall experience will nod a tribute to the Puget Sound’s famed Mosquito Fleet and the impact they had on our area.

Just as the Mosquito Fleet brought communities and people together, this tasting opportunity may be the gateway to re-connect with old friendships, forge some new ones, and partake in the most recently discovered gem of the South Sound….Mosquito Fleet Winery!

We look forward to sharing a vintner’s voyage with you!

Please register by purchasing a Barrel Tasting Coupon from our online store.


  • What: Spring barrel tasting
  • When: Saturday, May 12; 12 to 4 p.m.
  • Where: Mosquito Fleet Winery, 21 NE Old Belfair Highway, Belfair
  • Info: Jacy 360-340-1862
  • Tickets: $25, available at