Tag Archives: Local Wines

Bainbridge Wines Bring Big Surprises

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 on display.

And I have to say, what I tasted more than exceeded my expectations.

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 raspberry.

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 rare varietal.

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 white wines.

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 reds.)

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 Rolling 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 to home.