Tag Archives: Kiona Vineyards and Winery

What’s your Game Plan for Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving celebrations differ from one home to the next. turkeyStill there are certain flavors, traditions and approaches connected with our most food focused holiday that strikes a chord in all of us.

Whether you go with the traditional turkey with sage and onion stuffing, giblet gravy, candied yams, and cranberry sauce; put a cultural twist on it, with a chipotle rubbed bird, red chili gravy and cornbread chorizo stuffing; or go the vegan route with a mound of riced potatoes shaped like a bird and glazed with browned butter with all those wonderful vegetable side dishes, Thanksgiving is a dinner you can sink your teeth into. But what to drink with it has been debated for many decades.

Every Turkey Day, the family sommelier faces the perplexing question: do I go with something sweet that can stand up to candied yams and tart cranberry sauce and keep Mom happy? Or go with Beaujolais Nouveau because it’s available now, red and fruity? Decisions, decisions.

Thanksgiving wines shouldn’t be intimidating. This is not the time to pull out that bottle you’ve been cellaring for a while. Serve something familiar, homey and delicious enough for those neophytes to be satisfied and thoughtful enough for wine lovers to appreciate.

Pairing wine with roasted, brined or deep fried turkey is a piece of cake but short of a dessert wine, nothing is sweet enough to do battle with yams blanketed with toasted marshmallows.

Dry, high alcohol wines will perish with all that sugar and salt. And white wines need a decent amount of acidity to cleanse your palate. Uncomplicated, fruity wines with a little residual sugar are the best recourse for matching with these courses.

Some of the better partners for Thanksgiving dinner, in my opinion, are Alsatian whites, German Rieslings, Grenache blends from France or Spain and Tempranillo from Spain or the West Coast. Pinot Noir, contrary to some opinions, has never worked for me with all those strong flavors dished up at Thanksgiving- unless, of course, it’s in the bubbly.

Balance is the key for the perfect pairing. For a white, think Riesling or one of those soft, slightly sweet Pinot Gris. For reds, fruity and friendly, low alcohol Zinfandels, Tempranillo or even Carmenere would work well.

sparkling glassEvery holiday dinner should begin with something celebratory and good. At my table, nothing says celebrate better than a bottle of bubbly. The pop of the cork signals the start of the celebration. And it’s off to the races from there.

Given the tradition of the day, here are some American bubblies with good acidity and a core of fruit to consider:  Chateau Ste. Michelle’s extra dry which is actually slightly sweeter in style than a brut despite its description; Oregon’s Argyle brut or Washington’s Treveri Cellars would grace any table. Treveri produces several Columbia Valley sparkling wines you should try. Three that would be perfect for this occasion would be their sparkling Riesling, Gewurztraminer or Syrah. You will be impressed! These sparklers range in price from $10.49 to $23.

white wine glassWhite wines to serve, could be California’s Oak Grove Pinot Grigio which is soft, fruity with crisp citrus flavors. Or Wine by Joe Pinot Gris from Oregon that has wonderful flavors of citrus, pear, and green apple with refreshing acidity. Both are under $10, so stock up for the holidays.

But Riesling is really the best white to serve.  And Washington makes second best – after Germany, of course.

Pacific Rim Riesling from Columbia Valley is a delicious off dry, richly fruity wine packed with peach, apricot flavors with a hint of wet stone. Milbrandt Riesling scored high with its fresh, lively stone fruit flavors and juicy acidity. These guys have been growing from in the Columbia Valley for generations. Latah Creek Columbia Valley Riesling is filled with flavors of green apple, ripe pear and spice with a crisp finish.

Jones of Washington Columbia Valley Riesling is an orange blossom special touched with pineapple and fresh picked apples. He also makes an estate Pinot Gris from the Ancient Lakes AVA that would perk a lot of  interest at the table.

Two Mountain Winery Rattlesnake Hills Riesling is another crisp refreshing wine with a nice balance of pear, citrus, and minerals on the palate.

red wine glassRed wines are trickier than white but if you make sure the alcohol is around 13% or less and there is a modicum of fruit, your chosen one will be a hit.  With that in mind here are a few grape suggestions: Lemberger, Tempranillo and Baco Noir.

Lemberger, a dark-skinned grape from Austria, is typically fruity with ripe plum and black cherry and a hint of pepper. It does well in colder climates where it goes by a more mellifluous name of Blaufränkisch.

Look for Kiona Vineyards and Winery on Red Mountain, the largest grower of Lemberger in the United States. Others include Alexandria Nicole Cellars, FairWinds Winery, Kana Winery Olympic Cellars, and Whidbey Island Winery. Priced between $10 and $22.

I had hoped to recommend another grape of Spanish origin from Washington and California that would be fabulous with dinner, but they all went past the affordable for a big dinner party price. So I’m taking you to Spain for delicious, affordable and the perfect reds for Thanksgiving.

The best made and priced would be the Campo de Borja Borsao Red  from La Mancha, Spain. With its intense, smoky, black cherry and spicy flavors, this wine is a blend of mostly Grenache and a dollop of Tempranillo this wine is a deep ruby/purple color.

From Valencia, the El Prado Red is another blend this time Tempranillo and Cabernet. It’s a medium bodied with raspberry and current flavors. And from Rioja, with 100% Tempranillo is the Cune Rioja Crianza. The toasty, cherry flavors are smooth and satisfying.

Also from Spain but made in Prosser is the Red Diamond Temperamental. Red Diamond sources grapes from the best locations around the world. This Spanish blend offers flavors of berries and plum has a silky smooth finish.

Garnacha de Fuego Old Vines from Calatayud is another intensely flavored wine that emphasizes fruit. Mostly black cherry but there are plum and raspberry with smooth tannins and a long finish.

The best thing about these wines is the price – all under $10 and most around $7. So, stock up on these affordable wines, because there are more holiday dinners in your immediate future.

Have a warm and happy Thanksgiving.

Kiona Vineyards Cabernet and maple glazed tenderloin

Need a quick summer meal that won’t take much effort and utilizes fresh herbs from the garden? We’ve got the answer, and a great Washington wine to accompany it.

Brynn recently prepared this dish for her in-laws while they were in town earlier this month and scored big points with everyone at the table. It is also a great summer meal to prepare before indulging in Ann Vogel’s homemade ice cream.

The recipe, pork tenderloin with maple glaze, comes from the Junior League of Seattle’s Celebrate the Rain cookbook. It incorporates sage — which if you have any growing in your herb garden now’s the time to cut a couple sprigs and chop them up for this recipe. It also calls for shallots, Dijon mustard and of course maple syrup.

When we served this we paired a cabernet sauvignon from Kiona Vineyards and Winery, located on Red Mountain. Kiona is one of Brynn’s favorite wineries. The family-run vineyard is the pioneer of Red Mountain, the smallest American Viticultural Area in the state. Some of the state’s top wines are made from grapes that come from vineyards located within the Red Mountain designation.

Kiona has a few cabernet-based wines that range in price and would work for this dish. We paired the dish with the estate cabernet, which is the most expensive of the three at $42. It’s the winery’s flagship wine, coming from vineyards planted in 1975 — the oldest block in the AVA. The wine exudes an earthy element that paired perfectly with the sage and Dijon.

If you can swing it we’d recommend this wine, but we realize not everyone wants to shell out that much money for something that will be consumed in an evening. Your other options include Kiona’s Washington Cabernet, priced at $25, and the Cabernet-Merlot (another one of Brynn’s favorites), priced at $15 and often on sale at the grocery store for even less — think $10 to $12.

The Kiona Cabernet-Merlot is a blend of a number of grape varieties, including Sangiovese (26 percent), Carménère (21 percent) and Syrah (13 percent). Merlot actually only makes up 3 percent of the blend. The result is a wine that balances dark berry flavors and tannins softened by oak aging.

Like the estate cab the cab-merlot offers earth notes on the palate that will pair nicely with the pork tenderloin.

Pork tenderloin with maple glaze
(From Junior League of Seattle Celebrate the Rain cookbook)


2 pork tenderloins (12 to 14 ounces each), trimmed
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage, divided, or 2 teaspoons dried sage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


  1. Rub the pork tenderloins with 1 tablespoon of the fresh sage (or all the dried sage) and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until sizzling. Add pork and brown all sides (about 4 minutes).
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and book (about 15 minutes) until port registers 150 degrees F, turning tenderloins occasionally. Transfer port to platter and tent with foil to keep warm.
  4. Add shallots to skillet and cook over medium heat until they soften, about 30 seconds. Add broth, maple syrup, vinegar and mustard and scrape browned bits from the bottom of skillet.
  5. Simmer until liquid is reduced by one-quarter and has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon (8 to 10 minutes), stirring often.
  6. Whisk the remaining tablespoon of butter until well blended and salt and pepper to taste. Return the pork and an accumulated juices to skillet and turn pork to coat with glaze.
  7. Remove port from skillet, slice tenderloins into 1/2-inch strips and arrange on serving platter. Drizzle with additional sauce.


Wine pair for grilled pork chops with bourbon glaze

Last weekend we tasted the perfect white wine to accompany Ann Vogel’s rosemary bourbon glazed grilled pork chops with nectarines.

We were along the Bremerton waterfront at the Kitsap Wine Festival. One of Brynn’s favorite wineries — Kiona Vineyards and Winery — was again at the event, this year pouring three wines.

It was Kiona’s 2011 Chenin Blanc that caught our attention. As the founders of Red Mountain, an American Viticultural Area just outside of Yakima, Kiona’s vineyards have been around for more than 30 years. The family-run winery has been making chenin blanc for 31 vintages, according to sales manager JJ Williams. (Williams is the grandson of John Williams, who with Jim Holmes pioneered and planted Red Mountain in 1975).

The wine has a slight frizzante — a tingle on the tip of your tongue — that is followed by a tartness on the finish. As Williams described the wine Sunday “it’s lemonade for adults.”

While there’s a hint of sweetness to the wine, the crisp, tart finish balances out the initial sweet notes, making this a great accompaniment to the fruit-forward glaze on the pork chops.

Some have said chenin blanc, which is believed to have originated in France’s Loire Valley, is France’s answer to Germany’s Riesling. The grape is versatile and can be used to make everything from a stand-alone chenin blanc or a sparkling wine to a dessert wine.

Like most wines, a lot of how the Chenin grape tastes once in the bottle depends on the climate where it was planted, when it was harvested and the winemaking techniques used.

If left on the vine to rot — this is a good thing — it can make a delicious dessert wine where the sugars are balanced by the grape’s high acidity. But if harvested in too large of quantity, the grape’s aromatic and floral characteristics are lost and the wine becomes blasé.

Chenin blanc grows well in Washington, and Kiona has done a great job of capturing its acidity, which translates to tart green apple flavors. Serve it chilled to bring out its tropical fruit flavors, which will pair nicely with the grilled nectarines.

This wine retails for $15.

What we’re drinking: Kiona Estate Zinfandel

Brynn writes:

Since the little one’s been born I’ve been able to venture back into the wonderful world of wine, where I can now sip safely and feel little guilt about indulging in a glass or two each week.

I recently attended a wedding at Urban Enoteca in Seattle’s industrial district. My best friend from elementary school was getting married, so of course I wanted to be there for her special day, but I’m not going to lie, the venue is also a big part of why I wanted to attend the wedding.

So just three weeks after giving birth I packed up the baby and took him to his first wedding – and took myself to my first tasting where I could do more than sip and spit if I wanted to. Having largely stayed away from wine for the last nine months I took it slow — I didn’t even use the four free tastings we got for being wedding guests — and enjoyed every sip.

One of the wines I tried that I really enjoyed was the Estate Zinfandel from Red Mountain’s Kiona Vineyards and Winery. Now there’s probably no surprise here that I’d like this wine since Kiona is one of my favorite Washington wineries, but I’m not a huge Zin fan, so I was pleasantly surprised with what I tasted.

The Zin is estate grown and bottled and has hints of time spent on oak. Here’s what the winemaker has to say about it:

A bold wine with spicy, dark berry fruit flavors. It has ample structure to stand up to heartier dishes and a luscious, rich flavor profile that will surprise fans of California Zinfandel with its balance and integration.

I looked for this wine at Fred Meyer hoping to find it since they have a couple of other Kiona wines in stock, but unfortunately it didn’t appear to be one of the ones they carry. You can purchase the wine from the website, or take a trip to Seattle and visit Urban Enoteca where you can not only taste it and other Washington wines, you can purchase any of the ones you enjoy.

A Washington red for lentils and leek recipe

For this week’s recipe of lentils and leeks we’re recommending one of Brynn’s favorite go-to Washington wines.

It’s from the Red Mountain Appellation and is produced by Kiona Vineyards and Winery.

Before we get to the wine, a little history about the winery and its vineyards.

Kiona founders Jim Holmes and John Williams were the first to plant on Red Mountain in 1975. While Holmes and Williams have since parted ways, the Williams family has carried on the legacy, growing the vineyards from its 12 original acres to the more than 300 acres the winery now manages.

The winery remains a family affair — Williams’ grandson JJ Williams lives in Seattle and is often spotted at wine tasting events pouring his family’s label. For the last two years he’s been at the Kitsap Wine Festival in Bremerton, pouring and chatting about the family business.

So why does Brynn like Kiona so much? Well one reason is the price. Kiona makes quality wines that don’t break the bank and are often easily spotted on the grocery store shelves.

We’ve reviewed their wines in the past, and most recently wrote about their Lemberger — a versatile red wine that pairs with everything from pizza to steak.

About a year ago Brynn wrote about the wine we think will match perfectly with Ann Vogel’s lentil and leek recipe. Hopefully some of you went out and bought a bottle to try, but if you didn’t now’s your chance.

Because this recipe includes thyme and rosemary, and lets be honest since it calls for French lentils, we’re recommending Kiona’s Cabernet/Merlot blend.

Don’t let the label fool you, there’s more to this wine than only Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. This wine is the winery’s traditional Bordeaux blend, with as they say “a new-world twist.”

Along with the traditional grape varietals that go into a Bordeaux, winemakers Scott Williams and brother-in-law Glen Fukuyama add a splash of Syrah and Sangiovese to the mix.

The grapes are sourced from the estate vineyards and also from the Columbia Valley and Horse Heaven Hills appellations.

This wine, which spent more than two years on oak, is a good match for the earthy almost spicy flavors of the lentils and the rosemary and thyme.

While it boasts complexity, balance and is described as a full-bodied wine, it’s not so strong that it will overpower the lighter notes of this recipe — which Vogel recommends serving with chicken or pork.

It’s smooth finish makes it the perfect match for this dish.

Kiona’s Cabernet/Merlot runs around $12, although it can often be found a couple dollars cheaper at the grocery store.

Weekly wine defined: Lemberger

Brynn writes:

This week we’re defining not a wine term, but a wine itself.

So what is Lemberger? If you’re thinking it sounds German, you’re right. Want an even harder German word to try and pronounce? Try this one on for size: Blaufränkisch.

That’s the name of the red grape variety that is also referred to as “Lemberger.” Which, according to Wikipedia: “The German name Lemberger derives from the fact that it was imported to Germany in the 19th century from Lemberg in Lower Styria in present-day Slovenia and then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.”

The grape itself is a late-ripening variety that is typically rich in tannins and can offer a spicy character. It’s fairly prevalent in Eastern Europe, and has been said to be called the “Pinot Noir of the East” because of how widely planted it is.

Interestingly here in North America Washington is one of the few major wine regions that has significant plantings of Lemberger. This is mainly in the Yakima Valley, but also on the Olympic Peninsula. Smaller amounts are also grown in New York, Colorado, Ohio and Virginia.

I first tried Lemberger at last year’s Kitsap Wine Festival. Kiona Vineyards and Winery had it as one of their samples. I had it again this year and was reminded of what a versatile wine it is. It can be paired with everything from steak to pizza.

Kitsap Wine Festival in review

The weather could not have been better for last weekend’s third annual Kitsap Wine Festival.

Luckily we didn’t listen to our own advice of leaving the sunscreen at home and bringing our umbrellas. Instead we slathered on the 30 SPF and hit the Bremerton waterfront for the three and-a-half hour wine tasting event.

The crowd seemed about the same from the year before, and the food offerings were just as delicious.

And of course the wine was good too.

Like last year we arrived at the gate and quickly made our way to the back of the tasting area, avoiding lines and seeking the cool breezes off the water.

But this strategy to get away from the crowds put a bit of a whammy in our plans to hit the wineries on our “Must Taste List.”

Anam Cara Cellars was the first winery on our list, and the first winery when we walked in. As a result there was a long line and we never made our way back to the front until it was time to leave.

So we started at the Summer Sippers Bar where we tasted Kana Winery’s Katie Mae White — a Riesling — Masset Winery Le Petite Blanc 2010, Vortex Cellars Rattlesnake Hills Rose, Maryhill Winery’s Rose of Sangiovese and an Italian sparkling Riondo Pink NV from the Veneto region.

Although these wines were refreshing, it was difficult to really taste them as they were chilled to the bone. But they were well chosen for the hot afternoon.

Our favorites of the bunch were the Riondo Veneto Pink NV for Brynn and the Maryhill Rose of Sangiovese for Mary. Both are refreshing dry pink wines with body and flavor. Both are made from the Italian red grapes, the first Corvina and the other Sangiovese. The Riondo was especially refreshing for the hot day with its bubbles that provided a nice effervescence.

Other wines we tasted and would recommend are Maryhill’s Zinfandel, Robert Ramsay Cellars’ 2008 Mourvedre and 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon and Pondera Winery’s Sericus, a 2008 Bordeaux blend that picked up a double gold from the 2011 Seattle Wine Awards.

Oregon was represented by Lange Estate Winery and Vineyard’s Chardonnay and Reserve Pinot, which paired wonderfully with Anthony’s salmon on a bed of roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

Mary thought Dubindil Winery’s 2008 Syrah was really good. This boutique winery out of Snohomish, doesn’t filter their Syrah but it’s still smooth and silky with layers of flavors. Situated in the heart of the Puget Sound AVA, they focus on small batches of handcrafted wines made from grapes in regions around the state.

Kiona Winery and McCrea Cellars were Brynn’s favorite wineries of the day. That’s because she loved almost everything they poured.

Kiona offered a 2010 Chenin Blanc, 2010 Rose of Sangiovese, 2008 Estate Lemberger and 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Her favorites of these were the Lemberger and Cab, although the chilled Chenin Blanc was nice for the hot day.

McCrea poured its 2009 Sirocco Blanc (a white Rhone blend), a 2009 Rousanne, 2008 Grenache and 2006 Syrah.

Once again these whites were Brynn’s favorite, especially the Sirocco Blanc, a blend of 43 percent Grenache Blanc, 41 percent Marsanne, 10 percent Picpoul and 7 percent Rousanne.

Robert Ramsay Cellars was another one of Brynn’s favorites, largely because of its Cab made from old vines and its Mason’s Red — a blend of Syrah and Mourvedre with a co-fermentation of Viongnier, which gave this wine a lovely nose.

All in all we had a wonderful time and are already looking forward to next year’s event.


Brynn and Mary

Get your tickets: Kitsap Wine Festival

Brynn writes:

This year marks the third year of the Kitsap Wine Festival, held in downtown Bremerton at the Harborside Fountain Park. Like the last two years, this year’s event will feature 30-some wineries stationed around the fountains offering their wines. Local restaurants also will be peppered around the park providing bites to hungry attendees.

The event is Saturday, Aug. 20 from 2 to 5:30 p.m.

Something new to this year’s festival is beer. Local breweries, Silver City, Der Blokken and Hale’s Ales will all be represented at the festival, giving beer lovers something to try. Organizers also added a Summer Sipper Tasting Bar that will allow people to do side-by-side tastings of Rose, Riesling and Sparkling Wine. (My opinion? This is a great idea and the perfect way to compare wines so you know what you like, don’t like and why). The number of restaurants has also grown and the wine shop is back, so if you find a wine you love you can buy a bottle to take home.

A total of 35 wineries will be pouring — including many that were at last year’s event. In our review from last year, we felt Chinook Wines and Kiona Vineyards and Winery were the top two wineries of the 17 we visited. Both are back this year.

Other wineries scheduled to be pouring that made our ranked list from 2010 include Davenport Cellars and McCrea Cellars. (Forgeron Cellars also made our list, but they don’t appear to be attending).

Tickets are still available and cost $50 from now until Aug. 19. The price goes up to $60 if you buy them the day of the event. I know the event has sold out in the past, so you may want to buy your tickets now if you’re interested. You can purchase them at brownpapertickets.com, or by clicking here.

Visit the Kitsap Wine Festival website to see the full list of wineries and restaurants that are scheduled to be at the Saturday event. Proceeds go to support the Harrison Medical Center Foundation.

If you’re looking to refresh your memory with highlights from last year’s event, check out our review here.

A red Bordeaux the perfect pair for England’s pasties

It’s true, a pint is probably the first beverage the English would reach for when searching for the perfect pairing for their well-loved pasties.

That’s because England is known for its pints. But the wine we have in mind for this dish is also a perfect match for these meat-filled pastry pies. And although it’s not homegrown, the area it comes from was once owned by England for almost 300 years.

As Ann Vogel mentioned at the end of her article, Cornish pasties originated in Cornwall, England — as she pointed out, the legend at the time was the Devil refused to cross the River Tamar into Cornwall because he heard the Cornish put anything into their pasties.

Well unlike the Devil, the English clearly had no problems crossing the river, or the English Channel for that matter, and that’s what we suggest you do to find the perfect wine for this dish.

We’re going to hop continents and head to France’s Bordeaux region for our recommended pairing with Vogel’s Cornish Pasties recipe.
As we stated earlier, England once owned Bordeaux thanks to the marriage of Henry II to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Bordeaux was a part of the dowry that accompanied the enticingly rich beauty.

But beyond good looks, Eleanor was also an exceedingly smart businesswoman who came up with the idea to ship Bordeaux’s wine to England. This international trade made Bordeaux one of France’s richest cities during the 13th and 14th centuries. Today wine is still one of the region’s main exports.

The red grape varieties grown in Bordeaux also grow well in Washington. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc are the most common grapes blended to make red Bordeaux wine. Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere grapes are also used to a lesser degree.

While we recommend three Bordeaux wines, a Washington Bordeaux-style blend would also make a nice substitute — like Brynn’s favorite: Kiona Vineyards and Winery’s take on a Bordeaux blend.

Its Cabernet/Merlot is $12. If you prefer to dine like the English with your Cornish pasties and Claret (the English term for red Bordeaux) we suggest Château Brisson’s 2009 Château Baby for $10, a 2009 Château du Pin for $8 or Château Peyraud Premier Cote de Blaye for about $11.