For those of you who missed it, last weekend was the Bainbridge
Island Wine Weekend, where local Bainbridge Island, North Kitsap,
Whidbey Island and San Juan Island winemakers and their wines were
And I have to say, what I tasted more than exceeded my
I went there knowing virtually nothing about the types of wine
being made on the island. I’m not going to lie, I had some fears
about what I would be tasting — think rhubarb, strawberry and
Silly Brynn, little did I know the winemakers are getting some
pretty fantastic grapes from Eastern Washington, and honestly
growing some delicious varietals on the island — including the rare
Melon de Bourgogne, and a tasty Semillon.
Before we go any further, a little background on the Melon de
Bourgogne. Winemaker Mike Lempriere, who owns Perennial Vitners, has the
His vines have quite the history. As he explained, the grape was
originally growing, mislabeled, in California. The growers got rid
of the vines, pulling them in the early 1960s, and giving some of
the vines to UC Davis. The school cleaned up the vines, and sold
them to a vineyard in Oregon, still mislabeled as Pinot Blanc.
Eventually the vines were brought to Washington to the
Washington State University Irrigated Agricultural Research
Extension Center. Lempriere got the vines from where they were
planted in Prosser, Wash., and brought them to Bainbridge Island
where he was the first to plant Melon west of the Cascades.
If you want to read more about the grape, or its history,
Lempriere has set up a website, found here.
Back to the evening…
Part of Friday’s event was dedicated to food that paired well
with the wine. One of the stops for the evening was all about
shellfish and the Bainbridge (and San Juan and Whidbey) Island
Not only were the wines local, the shellfish were from close to
home as well. The oysters hailed from as far away as Canada, but
some of the best tasting slurps of the night came from oysters
harvested off Dyes Inlet on the Chico shores and the Bloedel
Reserve off Bainbridge Island.
Diners were able to pair a 2008 Madeline Angevine from San Juan Vineyards (estate
grown), a 2007 Madeline Angevine from Bainbridge Island Vineyards and
Winery (we didn’t get to taste this because it wasn’t
there when we arrived), a 2008 Sauvignon Blanc from Eleven Winery (Bainbridge), the 2008
Melon de Bourgogne from above, a 2009 Semillon from Victor Alexander Winery (Bainbridge),
and a 2009 Siegerebee from Whidbey Island Winery.
After making a sufficient mess, while all the while trying to
politely slurp the raw oysters from the half-shell, we decided it
was time to head off to Docs for the Syrah and Sliders part of the
evening. (While the name is catchy, there were actually only two
full Syrahs available for tasting. Fresh off a tour of the Rhone
Valley in France, Brynn was perfectly happy to sample the non-Syrah
The varying sliders from Docs were to be paired with the
following reds (starting with the two Syrahs):
A 2007 Patine Vineyards Syrah from Eagle Harbor Wine Company, a
2008 Syrah from Eleven, a 2007 Merlot from Victor Alexander, a 2008
Cabernet Sauvignon from Fletcher Bay Winery, a 2006
Stillwater Creek Cabernet Sauvignon from Liberty Bay Cellars (located
across Agate Pass from Bainbridge), and a 2007 Manitou Red from
Bay Winery, which was a blend of 50 percent Cabernet,
50 percent Merlot and a dollop of Syrah.
Going off topic for a minute, we would be remiss if we didn’t
mention the one odd ball of the bunch for the evening. Well, he
wasn’t an oddball per se, but his beverage was the oddball because
it didn’t come from grapes. Instead it came from grain — organic
grain at that.
Bainbridge Organic Distillers
showcased their vodka for the evening at the press event and the
oyster and shellfish pairing. They are the first distillery in the
state to be USDA certified organic vodka, gin and whiskey.
Brynn’s not one for hard alcohol, especially hard alcohol
without anything to blend, and thus dull the taste. However, a
small sip of the vodka produced the same reaction as a sip of vodka
from any well-known large-scale producer. Which should be seen as a
good sign. Mary on the other hand, enjoyed her slightly larger sip.
The vodka was well made, according to Mary’s palate.
Through the course of the evening we had a chance to chat with
some of the winemakers. They shared they’re getting ready for crush
any day now. We hope to be able to attend at least a couple of the
crushes and share the experience with you. We also hope to continue
making connections with the Bainbridge Island winemakers, so you
can learn more about what the local wine community is doing close
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