Tag Archives: Victor Alexander Winery

Wine Touring on Bainbridge Island

The seven wineries of the Bainbridge Alliance were open for a special Art among the Barrels last weekend.

So the Blind Wine Gang took advantage of the opportunity to taste Island wines at a few of the wineries. It had been a while and the weather was very nice – cool and almost raining. Perfect wine tasting weather, not too hot, not too cold.

Our first winery was Victor Alexander on Island Center Way. DSC00809Owner winemaker Charlie Merrill literally has a garagiste winery. Charlie poured the Blind Wine Gang his 2011 Sémillon and 3 rosés from three different barrels. The barrel tasting was immensely popular. To taste the same grape, from the same vineyard, but resting in different barrels was real education. The final blend, just before bottling, will be of all three barrels. It’s really very interesting to taste the different nuances the barrels played in this wine.

Next, we visited Amelia Wynn Winery and we’re grateful for the escort to the winery. It is not easy if you don’t know Bainbridge like a native. We were greeted by owner winemaker, Paul Bianchi who had taken a break from his other duties to grill up pizza. The garden party featured a full line up of whites, a rosés and three reds to pair with the  pizza hot off the grill.    pizza

Not only can Paul grill up a savory pizza but he can also ferment some wicked good wines. A wonderful 2012 Chard, a 2012 Roussane and a beautiful 2013 Viognier with a fragrance that would make one swoon.

The 2011 Sangiovese oozed cherries in the nose, across the palate and in the long finish. Very smooth and perfect with the grilled pizza that I slathered with a bit of blue cheese. Yum! Next was a 2011 Walla Walla Merlot, a Double Gold & Best of Class Merlot. It was near perfect.

The final wine on the list was the 2011 Syrah, which many in our group loved. I did too but couldn’t get the Merlot off my mind….

Our next stop was Rolling Bay Winery with an abbreviated group – some had to run off to an engagement at Bloedel and some had a date with a crab pot.

Rolling Bay’s signature wine is Manitou Red. It’s a blend of 4 red grape varieties and eminently drinkable with all types of hearty fare. Their Fusion is a blend of mostly Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Grigio. A good summer quaffer. The 2011 Cab from a difficult year was ready to drink but I thought the 2013 Cab out of barrel was ready to drink also. I could have tasted a case of that one and still asked for more.

Tasting with friends is an education. Seeing the different palates, likes and dislikes and whose palate is alighned with mine. Fortunately, the one friend I taste with the most has a plate that is very similar to mine.

The next Washington wine tasting. the Kitsap Wine Festival happens on Saturday, August 9th at Harborside Fountain Park. This celebration of food and wine on Bremerton’s scenic waterfront, benefits Harrison Medical Center Foundation.

Here’s a link to the wineries that will be pouring at the Festival.

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.

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.

Bainbridge Island winemakers weekend in review

Sunday we took advantage of the sunny weather and made the trek to Bainbridge Island. We were lucky enough to have the company of Food Life blogger and now freelance journalist Angela Dice as we made our way to three of the six Bainbridge wineries that were open for tastings.

Not to worry, no winemaker will be overlooked. We hope to attend the next winemakers weekend, slated for May 28, 29 and 30, to visit the wineries we missed this time around.

Our first stop Sunday was at Rolling Bay Winery, which is along Murden Cove and surrounded by beautiful gardens. Winemaker Alphonse de Klerk was on hand, as was David Verwolf, also an owner of the winery. We had a great chat with them about their wines, as well as what they are planning for upcoming releases.

All of their wines come from Snipes Mountain in the Yakima Valley, one of the state’s oldest vineyards and newest AVAs. It’s also the second smallest AVA behind Red Mountain.

We started the tasting with their 2009 Chardonnay ($20), which was aged for nine months in neutral oak barrels. Interestingly de Klerk uses two different yeast strands for the Chardonnay. One barrel gets D-47, while the other gets Montrachet. The D-47 leaves the wine with hints of mineral, stone and earth flavors, while the Montrachet hits the citrus notes of apple and pear — similar to flavors found in Burgundian Chards.

Next we tasted the 2008 Syrah ($25), which is the winery’s third release. De Klerk added 10 percent Merlot to this wine, which gives it a brightness not found in most Syrahs.

The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($25) was next, which aged for 22 months in new and 2-year-old French oak barrels. Brynn noticed the tannins on the finish. Mary found the black cherry and berry flavors delightful.

The last wine on the tasting list was the winery’s signature blend: 2008 Manitou Red ($26). The mix includes 55 percent Cab, 40 percent Syrah and 5 percent Merlot. The wine is aged 22 months in 2-year-old French oak barrels and then bottled unfiltered. The color is light purple, and the nose slightly sweet, hinting at the slight oak finish.

It’s no wonder this wine has won many awards for the winery. While we were there, the Manitou Red and the Chardonnay were the two wines that seemed to be selling like hot cakes. Interestingly, de Klerk said they’re not sure they’ll have a 2009 Manitou Red because they’re trying some new things.

Finally we ended our time at Rolling Bay with a taste straight from a barrel. De Klerk let us sample a Cabernet Sauvignon co-fermenting with 12 percent Cabernet Franc. They plan to bottle this around July or August and then release it in October.

De Klerk said 2009 was a hot year; every time they turned around during harvest they had grapes coming in. Eventually they ran out of space, so when the Cab Franc came in they didn’t know where to store it, so they threw it in with the Cab to co-ferment. We found this to be very approachable straight out of the barrel with a nice ruby/purple color and crispness. We’re excited to try it once ready for its release later this year.

Our next stop was Eagle Harbor Wine Co., just off Sportsman Road at the Coppertops business park. Winemaker Hugh Remash was on hand, along with a film crew that was working a 30 minute feature on the Bainbridge winemakers. (We’ll let you know when it’s supposed to air in case you’re interested in watching it).

We started the tasting with his 2009 Goldfinch ($17.50), a 50/50 Chardonnay/Viognier blend. The citrus of the Chardonnay is a perfect match for the floral Viognier, giving the wine complexity and balance. The finish is especially enjoyable, leaving you to wonder whether you’re tasting the described orange zest, or orange blossoms.

We moved into the reds with a 2008 Sangiovese ($27), which wasn’t on the tasting list, but was a great surprise. The color was ruby red and the wine’s dry tannins left a mineral impression. The grapes come from Kiona Vineyards, which were planted in 1975 and are located in the Red Mountain AVA. One technique Remash uses in all his reds is to not fine or filter his wines. This generally adds body and complexity to a wine.

The 2007 Founders Cabernet Sauvignon ($32.50), a 100 percent Cab was next. This was aged for more than 30 months before the best wine was selected and transferred to four, 300 liter barrels made up of 33 percent new Virginia oak.

Remash’s 2007 Patina Vineyard Syrah ($24.95), which is described to be similar in style to the Syrah’s coming from the Northern Rhone Valley of France. The nose on this wine could only be described as gorgeous.

Remash prefers to age his reds, which takes away the initial jammy impression most Syrahs can leave. Instead the fruit has time to mellow, allowing the complexity of the wine to come through. That’s definitely the case with the Syrah, which he recommends decanting before drinking. This was demonstrated when two of us were poured the bottom of a bottle and one of us got a taste from a newly opened bottle. The gorgeous nose was missing on the just opened bottle, indicating it needed time to open up.

Lastly we tasted the 2007 Condor ($29.50), a 50/50 Syrah/Cab blend. Brynn liked this wine just about as much as the Syrah, until Remash brought out a bottle of his 2008 Condor. Although just bottled two weeks earlier, the 2008 had hints of oak on the finish that smoothed the overall impression of the wine.

The blend is also different, instead of 50/50, it’s a 60 percent Syrah, 40 percent Cab. We’d like to try it again, after it gets over its bottleshock — which Remash described as the wine sulking after being pumped from a barrel through a tank and into the bottle.

Our next destination was to see Charlie Merrill at Victor Alexander Winery off Island Center Road. We ran into the television producers again, so didn’t want to stay too long because they needed Merrill’s time. But we did get a chance to try a handful of what he was pouring.

His 2009 Washington White Wine blend is an interesting mix of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Semilion with a mineral hint balancing the pear flavors. This wine is crisp and unique. This is his theater edition wine, which means a portion of the wine sales goes to support the Bainbridge Performing Arts.

Next up was Merrill’s Semillon, which is one of Brynn’s favorite wines coming out of Victor Alexander. The 100 percent blend is aged in oak, giving in a round, full mouthfeel at the finish. While sipping the wine among the oak barrels in Merrill’s winery, we tried to conjure up visions of sitting on a back deck in the afternoon sun, Merrill’s Semillon in hand and fresh asparagus, zucchini and mushrooms grilling after a quick dip in a balsamic, olive oil marinade.

Merrill’s Merlot was next. He blends it with a little Cab and Syrah. Brynn didn’t try, but Mary and Angela enjoyed this smooth, very approachable blend.

Realizing the clock was quickly ticking toward 5 p.m. we hopped in the car and jetted over to our last stop of the day: Fletcher Bay Winery. Brynn heard winemaker Jim Wilford would have his “Super Tuscan” style red blend ready for the weekend, and was excited to give it a try.

Before getting to try the Tuscan we started with the winery’s 2010 Pinot Grigio ($14.50). The grapes are sourced from the Crawford Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. The wine had a hint of pink to its pale yellow color. We were told after fermentation, it was the color of pink grapefruit juice. It’s acidity was well balanced, making it another wine that would be great to enjoy while outside on a deck in the sun with a bit of grilled salmon.

Next up was the 2009 Battle Point Red ($16.50), which blends 39 percent Tempranillo, 35 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 9 percent Petite Syrah, 8 percent Merlot, 6 percent Cabernet Franc and 3 percent Sangiovese. The wine is aged 10 months in French and American oak. It’s approachable and offers a nice complexity that would saddle up nicely to steak or pasta with red sauce.

Our third sample was the 2009 Valvano ($19.83) otherwise known as the “Super Tuscan”. Super Tuscan is a traditional blend of the indigenous Tuscan grape Sangiovese with the French Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a blend of 54 percent Sangiovese and 46 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. The Sangio is from the vineyard of Zerba Cellars in the section of the Walla Wall Valley that dips into Oregon. The Cab is from three vineyards in Washington. The wine was aged for 16 months in French oak.

It was tasty, but a bit “dumb” because it had only been bottled two days earlier. We want to return in another month or two and compare notes. As we were told, some of the components were still getting to know each other after being all shook up during the bottling process.

We ended our time at Fletcher Bay, and our tour of the island, with some sips of the Blackberry Bliss dessert wine ($16.50), sourced from Kitsap County blackberries. The balance of acidity to sweetness is just right, making the wine a perfect compliment to a sliver of dark chocolate.

If you’re considering a visit to Fletcher Bay at an upcoming wine tasting, they’ll be releasing their 2009 Tara Rouge in June. This wine is a traditional Bordeaux blend of 54 percent Merlot, 33 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 13 percent Cabernet Franc.

For more on the next Bainbridge Island winemakers weekend, visit the group’s website, which lists the upcoming dates and a map of all the locations. Like we said earlier, we’ll hit up the wineries we missed this time around and write about them next time!


Brynn and Mary

Time to meet the Bainbridge winemakers, again

Brynn writes:

I feel like I’m experiencing a little deja vu, it wasn’t that long ago I was telling you all about the upcoming Bainbridge Island winemakers weekend.

Well guess what? If you couldn’t make it last time, you’re getting another chance this weekend. The winemakers will open their doors again Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. (Don’t worry if you can’t make this one either, there’s more events planned for May, June, July, August and September).

Here’s the list of wineries participating, and here’s the website to get the map so you can find your way around the island.

Mary and I will be making our stops on Sunday with Food Life blogger Angela Dice, so say hello if you see us.