Tag Archives: Fletcher Bay Winery

Washington Wine is Fun

Wine is Fun. That’s what Eleven Winery’s winemaker/owner Matt Albee believes. And it certainly was fun one sunny Saturday during Wine on the Rock. There were even some bicyclists pedaling from winery to winery.

All of the Bainbridge Island wineries were open and pairing their wines with chocolate. But not just any chocolate. These were local chocolatiers making some incredibly good candies. Bon Bon, Pink Peony, L’Atelier, Powell and Jones, some wineries had chocolates made with their wines and one winery served up a homemade chocolate éclair.

The Eleven Winery folks were pouring their gold medal winning Syrah from Elephant Mountain Vineyard with a Bon Bon dark chocolate fudge made with the wine.  That was the best fudge I’ve ever tasted. Another sweet match was the Sweet Sarah port-style wine also made with Syrah. It was served in a festive chocolate cup.

Fletcher Bay’s new digs in the Coppertop Loop business park had Powell and Jones Chocolates, a relative newcomer to Bainbridge. Their truffles were beautifully crafted and delicious.

They paired well with the heavenly scented 2015 Walla Wallla Cab from Oidos Vineyard. An interesting trend for a few BI wineries is the use of French, Hungarian and Virginian oak before blending the final product. It seems to be the right thing to do for this wine. A very, very good wine.

Fletcher Bay also poured their Yakima cherry wine that was not too sweet and not too dry. And yes, the wine naturally went well with the dark chocolate.

Eagle Harbor’s owner Emily Parsons’ passion is Bordeaux. The 2014 Founders Merlot from a vineyard in Walla Walla had a beautiful nose and great balance. While the 2014 Cab also had a gorgeous nose, it leaned toward the mineral and cedar side of the aromas wheel.

Consultant Hugh Remash was on hand to pour the 2013 Raptor, a blend of equal parts Cab Franc, Cab and Merlot with a drop of Petite Verdot. It received top honors in Seattle for best Bordeaux style blend in 2017. It’s well polished with a long finish.

It was great fun comparing it to the 2014 Raptor, a blend of Merlot, Cab and Cab Franc. I preferred the 2013 but I’m pretty sure next year I’ll be saying that I preferred the 2014 to the 2015. These big wines age gracefully.

The wines were matched with chocolatier L’Atelier whose shop is set up across the parking lot from Eagle Harbor. You need to go there. This is the ultimate in eye and eatin’ candy, everything was so beautiful. They also make pastries, so having had plenty of chocolate, we decided to share a buckwheat pastry. Next time, it’ll be a Belgian cheese waffle.

Amelia Wynn’s Crawford Vineyard Yakima Valley Orange Muscat sports a bright citrusy label. It was awarded 2017 Seattle Wine Awards Best of Class and #2 of the Top 50 White Wines! The wine is dry yet fruity and the perfect match with the chocolate éclair.

Their 2014 Duovin Merlot was from the Dwelley Vineyard in Walla Walla. It had a wonderful nose and rich flavors with a long finish. It seems the folks in San Francisco agree, they awarded a gold medal to this wine.

The 2016 Den Hoed Vineyard Tempranillo was another three star wine for me with its cherry nose and flavors with light herbs. Nicely balanced with a long finish. This one took a double gold in 2018 San Francisco.

The 2014 Sangiovese from Red Mountain’s Kiona Vineyard also took home gold at the 2018 San Francisco competition. I had another éclair, that gets a gold in my book.

Rolling Bay has new location out in the country near Bay Hay and Feed. Their 2015 Malbec earned a star in my book and the 2015 Uplands Vineyard Cab Franc won a silver in San Francisco. My favorite was the Cuvee Aldaro a blend of 78% Cab, 12% Cab Franc and 10% Merlot.

Pink Peony on Bainbridge Island made the dark chocolate bites. Caramel salted, cherry and one spicy one. Loved these chocolates. They can be purchased at Bon  Bon Chocolates.

Bainbridge Vineyards served up a lovely handcrafted chocolate made with and accompanied by their Raspberry wine.

We were the last ones in the door at Perennial Vintners. We were delightfully surprised by the Siegerrebe, a highly aromatic grape that is a cross between Madeleine Angevine and Gewurztraminer. This dry white table wine would pair perfectly with fish or a light chicken dish. But not bad with the cheesecake either.

Next month is Washington wine month culminating in the largest single region grand tasting otherwise known as Taste Washington. I highly recommend this extensive tasting to build your knowledge of some of the over 850 Washington wineries.

For more info on the 225 wineries pouring and the 65+ restaurants dishing up delectable bites, go to TasteWashington.org

Cheers!

 

2013 Harvest: Reports from the field

 

Cab Franc

Brynn writes:

Every year around this time I see posts on Facebook and email updates from our local winemakers. Many of them are making regular trips to Eastern Washington to harvest grapes and check the conditions of their vineyard blocks to determine the best time to pull the clusters from the vines.

I’ve always wanted to get a report from them about how harvest is going and to hear their initial projections about the vintage, but never want to bother them since I know they’re busy and running on minimal sleep. This year I took a chance and sent an email to the winemakers of Bainbridge Island (Amelia Wynn Winery, Eagle Harbor Wine Company, Eleven Winery, Fletcher Bay Winery, Rolling Bay Winery) and Mosquito Fleet Winery in Belfair to see if they’d be interested in sending me email updates of how things are going in the field.

I haven’t heard back from everyone, but a number of the winemakers wrote back almost immediately — some with reports from the field, others saying they would be sending me updates as harvest went along. My plan is to compose periodic blog posts that includes their reports from the field — either as a direct copy and paste from what they sent me, or my summary of what they have to say.

I was surprised to hear that a number of white grapes have been harvested and are already back on the peninsula fermenting. Matt Albee, winemaker for Eleven Winery, said his Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio grapes were about two weeks ahead of schedule this year.

Below is a list of the wineries I’ve heard back from and quick summaries of how things are going. As you’ll see, Amelia Wynn winemaker Paul Bianchi has supplied a great report from the field. I’ve copied and pasted his emails so you can see the life of the local winemaker around this time of year.

Amelia Wynn (Email from winemaker Paul Bianchi sent Sept. 17):

Timing is everything at harvest and plans take shape over weeks. When it’s time to pull the trigger the vintner puts the vineyard on notice for an agreed upon harvest date.

The players are: vineyard owner, vineyard manager (if not the owner), picking crew being paid by the pound, the custom crush facility (if used) and most importantly the truck rental agency because you need a big truck if you’re hauling more than 5,000 lbs.

This Sunday (Sept. 15) in Walla Walla it was 95 degrees with 20 mph drying winds. Not a good day for grapes. So the green light was given to pick on Tuesday (Sept. 16). Predicted light showers turned out to be heavier than anticipated, complicating the day.

All grape bins were covered and because the crush schedule got screwed up, our Merlot was to be destemmed around 11 p.m., making for a very long day for the crush crew. We have to be at Artifex at 8 a.m. Wednesday (Sept. 18) to pick up the destemmed grapes and then drive west to Prosser to press the Cab Franc and Viognier. The latter I need to pick up at the Elerding vineyard.

The pick date for the Viognier was established last week and all players were put in motion. The Cab Franc was given a green light Sept. 16 to be picked on the same day as the Viognier.  The intent is to make a 500 mile truck rental, two nights on the road, and use of commercial equipment as efficient as possible.

What has gone down toward the end of the 2013 harvest is: A record-setting hot summer has skidded to a slow walk with a cooling trend that is in fact a relief because the  grape varieties were rippening too close together as a result of the high temperatures. With a cooling period the wineries can pace the harvest dates so work in the winery is not chaotic.

When I return to the island tomorrow night (Sept. 18), I will have the following grapes fermenting or preparing to ferment:  Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cab Franc Rose, Viognier and two clones of Merlot from Walla Walla.

Here’s a summary of what winemaker Paul Bianchi’s days looked like Monday/Tuesday:

  • Monday: catching the 8:10 p.m. ferry and arriving in Prosser at midnight, staying at the Best Western.
  • In the morning dropping off bins for Cab Franc, which will be picked and pressed on Wednesday (Sept. 18) for a Rosé. Also dropped off two 275 gal juice totes where the cab franc will be pressed as well as 4,000 lbs of Viognier.
  • Drove on to Walla Walla where we will pick up 3 tons of Merlot and have destemmed at Artifex, a custom crush facility.
  • Sept. 18 back on the road to Prosser where we will pick up 2 tons of Viognier at Elerding vineyard and then to Kestral winery where the Cab Franc and Viognier will be slowly pressed in a membrane press.

Eleven Winery (Email summary from winemaker Matt Albee, sent Sept. 16):

I have Sauv Blanc and Pinot Grigio fermenting, and am leaving tonight (Sept. 16) to pick Viognier tomorrow (Sept. 17); Roussanne/Marsanne and Syrah on Thursday (Sept. 19).

The very hot summer perhaps favors later-ripening varieties like Cabs and Mourvedre, but so far everything is good quality!

We picked Sauvignon Blanc on Aug. 29, Pinot Grigio on Sept. 9 (originally scheduled for Sept. 4, but pushed back due to forecast of rain, which ended up not hitting our vineyard). This week we will see if last week’s extreme heat had much impact. There seems to have been a lot of rain for September in Eastern WA, but my sources have largely been spared (whew!).

Fletcher Bay Winery (Email from winemaker Jim Wilford, sent Sept. 16):

My plans for harvest this year include: Tara Rouge ( Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon), a Walla Walla Cab Sauv, a Red Moutain Zinfandel, a dry Rose, Semillion and a Pinot Grigio.

Pinot Grigio is being picked, everything else is still on the vine.

Perennial Vintners (From winemaker Mike Lempriere’s newsletter):

The 2013 harvest is looking fantastic! It will be our largest local harvest to date. The Frambelle is done fermenting, it’s tasting superb already.  We will be getting an excellent harvest of Melon de Bourgogne, so mid-2014 we’ll have our signature wine available again!
The vineyard is mostly done with for the year, at this point we’re mostly just waiting for Mother Nature to finish the job of ripening. We do still have to spray for Botrytis mold, but other than that it’s just trying to catch up on weeding.  It’s a beautiful time to visit the vineyard as the grapes have gone through veraison, meaning they ‘re ripening and turning color.
From Facebook: Mike said they harvested the Siegerrebe Sept. 8.

Mosquito Fleet Winery (Email from winemaker Brian Petersen, sent Sept. 16):

Crush has just begun for us here at MFW and we are excited! We brought in a couple tons of our first white: A Viognier from Elephant Mountain. The fruit is very nice, tremendous flavors and great acids.

We will only be producing around 100 cases of Viognier this year. Partially fermented in stainless steel tank and partial barrel fermentation, which we will ferment and age sur lie and go through malolactic fermentation.

This Thursday (Sept. 19) we are bringing in Merlot from Double Canyon Vineyard and on Saturday (Sept. 21) we will bring in our first Malbec off Elephant Mountain as well. We are looking forward to this too.

We have increased our Pepper Bridge Vineyard fruit and we are now sourcing Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from there as well. The PB Merlot will be ready in about a week.

Then it’s Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Touriga Nacional for our Port.

It will get very, very busy here shortly.

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.

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

Chocolate and wine, a great combination

Brynn writes:

Who doesn’t love chocolate? And if you’re reading this blog, I’m guessing it’s safe to assume you also love wine…so you’ll probably want to know about an event planned for this weekend that showcases both.

Bainbridge Island’s wineries are participating in a Wine and Chocolate Weekend Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Unlike other winemakers weekends were people can visit the tasting rooms and the wineries, this weekend’s event will be held at the wineries only — so if you head to any of the three tasting rooms on Winslow Way, while you’ll find wine, you won’t find chocolate.

Artisan chocolates will be paired with the handcrafted wines at the following wineries:

If you visit Rolling Bay Winery they are also using this Valentine’s Day weekend to showcase the release of their 2011 Rosé — with each bottle purchased you’ll receive a free rose.

Need a last minute gift? Why not local wine?

Brynn writes:

Yesterday I received an email from Mike Lempriere, winemaker of Bainbridge Island wineryPerennial Vintners. He wanted to share that while not an official “Meet the Winemakers” weekend, this weekend most of the island’s wineries will be open to holiday shoppers looking for that perfect stocking stuffer. (Perennial Vintners, Rolling Bay and Eagle Harbor Wine Co. will be open at their wineries, while the others — Fletcher Bay, Amelia Wynn, Victor Alexander and Eleven — will be open at their tasting room locations in Winslow.)

Lempriere is offering his Frambelle Port-style raspberry dessert wine at a special price, $2 off each bottle if you buy more than one, now until the holidays. He also has bottles of his Melon de Bourgogne and Muller Thurgau available, along with his Verjus from this year’s harvest (Verjus is non-alcoholic and is used in cooking, often as a substitute for lemon juice). All of Lemprierer’s wines come from grapes grown onsite at the winery off Lovgreen Road.

Alphonse de Klerk, winemaker of Rolling Bay, sent out an email today announcing the winery will waive its usual tasting fee this weekend for people to give his wines a try. The barrels will be open for tasting and anyone interested in getting in on the 2010 releases of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah can purchase their futures at the event.

Eleven Winery open house this weekend, Bainbridge wineries also open

Brynn writes:

Bainbridge Island’s Eleven Winery recently moved into a larger space and winemaker Matt Albee wants the public to check out their new digs. An open house is planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. at the new location, 7671 NE Day Road.

For those who have visited the old Eleven Winery location in Albee’s garage, the new location is about a half-mile away in an industrial spot. Albee’s winery has grown from 500 square feet to 4,000 square feet. He held a private opening on 11/11/11 for his wine club members, but has continued to work on the space since then.

The open house is the public’s chance to see the new place and enjoy a free tasting. Rare wines and special discounts will be offered this weekend for the celebration. The event also falls on the winery’s semi-annual case sale, meaning if you choose to purchase a case you’ll see extra discounts.

Albee’s open house celebration coincides with the already scheduled meet the winemakers weekend on the island. Seven of the wineries will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m. It sounds like this weekend is also Christmas in the Country and Studio Tour on the island, so you could easily make a day, or two out of all that’s going on.

Like Eleven, Rolling Bay Winery is also planning a special celebration for the weekend. The winery’s third annual release party is planned for Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 5:30 p.m. The party will include a holiday giveaway where you can enter a drawing at the winery to receive one of three Rolling Bay wines: a Double Gold Medal winner 2007 Manitou Red, a 2009 Cuvée Aldaro or a 2010 Chardonnay.

Light appetizers from local artisan foods will be served with the winery’s newly bottled wines including:

  • 2009 Cuvée Aldaro (78 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 12 percent Cab Franc and 10 percent Merlot)
  • 2009 Syrah
  • 2010 Chardonnay (barrel fermented and aged in neutral french barrels)
  • 2010 Pinot Gris
  • 2008 Manitou Red (55 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 40 percent Syrah, and 5 percent Merlot)

Barrels will also be open for tasting and futures of the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah will be for sale at the event. Price is $5 which is refunded with purchase.

For more about the winemakers weekend click here.

Labor Day wine tasting planned

Brynn writes:

Looking to stay around Kitsap this three-day weekend and want to have fun? There’s another wine tasting planned on Bainbridge Island — all three days.

The seven Bainbridge wineries will be open from 12 to 5:30 p.m., Sept. 3-5, for people to swing by and taste their hand-crafted wines.

Some of them even have additional festivities planned for the weekend, like Rolling Bay Winery which is planning a live performance on Saturday by “Ranger and the ‘Re-arrangers'”. The performance will be from 2 to 5 p.m. They’ll also have artisan cheeses available to sample with the wines.

To see a complete list of the wineries, a map of where they’re located and what they have to offer, visit the Winery Alliance of Bainbridge Island website.

Get ready for another Bainbridge wine weekend

Brynn writes:

Well you’re probably getting sick of me writing about upcoming meet the winemakers weekends on Bainbridge Island, but guess what? I’ve got another one to tell you about.

Over Memorial Day Weekend the winemakers will sacrifice their three-day free time by opening their doors to let you in to taste their most cherished creations. In some cases the wineries have released wines since the last time they held this event, or they’re planning to release by June. (So, if you’ve already gone this year, you may want to call ahead to see if there’s something new to try).

Assuming the weather will be nice — and frankly that’s an assumption I wouldn’t bet the farm on knowing our spring so far — it could make for a nice day trip if you’re looking to stay close to home this year. Note the winemakers will be open all three days of the three-day weekend, not just Saturday and Sunday like all the other weekends.

So, once again, here’s the details for the weekend:

Wineries will be open Saturday, May 28 to Monday, May 30 from 12 to 5 p.m. Fees range from free to a few dollars.

Note for groups and tours: our wineries are all very intimate and cannot accommodate large groups or buses (all the better for the rest of you!). If you are a group of more than 6 people, you must call ahead to make arrangements in advance. Thank you!

Here’s a map showing all the locations (includes both satellite tasting rooms and winery locations – navigate carefully!). Note: this map may not get you all the way to the winery in all cases. When the wineries are open, there will be signs directing you to the exact locations.

The Wineries of Bainbridge Island are:

New tasting room opening in Winslow

In case you missed my story in yesterday’s Sun, three of the Bainbridge Island winemakers are opening up shop along Winslow Way.

Charlie Merrill, Jim Wilford and Paul Bianchi are joining forces to open Island Vintners, a tasting room next door to That’s Some Italian. Merrill is the owner and winemaker of Victor Alexander, Wilford is the winemaker for Fletcher Bay Winery and Bianchi recently joined the winemaker mix with his winery Amelia Wynn (named after his twin grandchildren born in 2008).

Merrill and Wilford will be the primary winemakers staffing the tasting room, but all three of their wines will be available for tasting. While the spot will be a tasting room, they hope people will choose to stay and enjoy their wines for a bit. They also hope to gain the attention of visitors coming off the Seattle ferry.

Their location is perfect to collect the foot traffic, and once the city finishes its street widening work along Winslow, they hope the wide sidewalks will help draw attention to their new location as people stroll by. (Cars won’t be allowed to park in front of the business like they can now, which the winemakers also think will help increase visibility).

The trio are hoping to ride the wave of recent publicity surrounding Bainbridge as a wine destination. After folks swing by their stop, they can continue the short distance down Winslow Way to Hugh Remash’s Eagle Harbor Wine Co., and then over to Matt Albee’s Eleven Winery tasting room, also located along Winslow Way.

Click here to read the full story about Island Vintners.