May 082015

What methodology do you use to help you decide which wineries to visit when you are presented with a list of 42 wineries and you have two days? That was our dilemma last weekend when we decided to buy the Premier Pass for the Yakima Valley Spring Barrel Tasting. In spite of Gary’s inclination to just go down the list and visit all the wineries, it really would not be feasible and it would not be fun to rush the experience.

So we read and reread the Yakima Valley Spring Barrel Tasting website that described all the activities at all the participating wineries and decided that we were most interested in Owen Roe‘s “Hike the Hill”. First off, the activity was unique among those offered and it sounded fun and interesting, plus it started earlier in the morning than other wineries opened. To really clinch the deal, the weather was perfect – sunny with no wind.

Owen Roe Winery - 2015 Spring Barrel Tasting

Owen Roe Winery – 2015 Spring Barrel Tasting

We got a later start than we’d planned (no surprise) and arrived at the winery after the first group of hikers had already ascended the hill. To pass the time while we waited for them to return, Gary took a few photos, we sampled a couple of wines, and I chatted with co-owner Angelica O’Reilly. It was obvious that some of the children around the tasting room were hers and I found out we have a lot in common. She and David have 8 children, we have (only) 7, and they are homeschooling, which we also did for many years. Their main base of operation is in Oregon but they also spend a significant amount of time here in Washington. They also have the opportunity to travel now and then so homeschooling allows them to take school with them wherever they go.

Owen Roe Winery - 2015 Spring Barrel Tasting

Owen Roe Winery – 2015 Spring Barrel Tasting

At last David O’Reilly finished the first tour and was ready for the second. It was immediately clear that this guy really is passionate about the soil and geology of his vineyards. I think from the bottom to the top of the hill we were shown at least four distinct soil types, each one ideally suited to a certain variety of grape. Even a novice like me was able to see the changes in the ground as we ascended the hill, from mostly dirt at the bottom, to mostly rocky at the top. At two particular spots on the hike, the winery crew poured samples of wine that were produced from the grapes grown on that block of the vineyard. If you see that Owen Roe is giving vineyard tours in the future, I recommend you make the time to participate. It’s fascinating and informative.

Owen Roe Winery - 2015 Spring Barrel Tasting

Owen Roe Winery – 2015 Spring Barrel Tasting

After the hike, Gary and I continued through the tasting offerings in the tasting room. There must have been 8 or 9 wines offered for tasting that day, plus for the early birds they had coffee and pastries. Later they served up some deli meats and cheeses – yes, we hung around that long!

We enjoyed all the wines, but came home with two – 2012 Ex Umbris Syrah, and 2013 Malbec that I’m planning to keep in the cellar for awhile. I have great hopes that a little bit of age will do some nice things to it.

Owen Roe Winery - 2015 Spring Barrel Tasting

Owen Roe Winery – 2015 Spring Barrel Tasting

Visiting Owen Roe was an excellent way to begin our Spring Barrel Tasting Weekend, and I would recommend you drop in when you are in the Yakima, Washington, area.

Apr 252015

Sent out a few tweets while we were out tasting today.

Apr 242015
Topping barrels at Knight Hill Winery

Topping barrels at Knight Hill Winery

We have read through Wine Yakima Valley’s Spring Barrel Tasting program a number of times and have picked out a few “must do” wineries for the weekend. We will leave the rest of our schedule open and see what recommendations we receive and what appeals to us as we drive through Washington Wine Country. Luckily we have two days to explore and we don’t have to do them all — We live here!

Planned Yakima Valley Spring Barrel Tasting Winery Stops

These are the wineries we have highlighted for the weekend as well as what it was that caught our eye.

  • Owen Roe Winery – starting our day with their “Hike the Hill” event. After the hilltop tasting, join the staff in the winery for a pastry, some coffee, and a tour of our barrel hall.
  • Knight Hill – a “side by side” barrel tasting of 2012 Syrah in two different types of oak barrels, French and American
  • Masset Winery – classic cars will be on display but it primarily made our list because it is not on the Wine Yakima Valley maps.
  • Yakima Valley Vintners – Student winemakers will be providing complimentary facility tours with educational stations featuring food and wine pairings, aeration of wines, and a barrel tasting.
  • Kitzke Cellars – sent me a tweet: “stop by we have our 2012 Nebbiolo and 2010 Malbec ready!”

We are looking forward to a wonderful weekend.

Apr 232015
2015 Yakima Valley Spring Barrel Tasting

2015 Yakima Valley Spring Barrel Tasting

On Friday the 2015 Yakima Valley Spring Barrel Tasting begins! Von and I have decided to make the time to visit a number of the wineries between the Tri-Cities and Yakima over the weekend.

We have not (yet) figured out our complete game plan but plans are to visit Airfield Estates Winery Friday evening to pick up our Premier Passes for the weekend’s many tastings and, while we are there, possibly enjoy some Jazz by the Ben Macy Trio or visit a few other wineries that have extened their Friday night hours this weekend.

Saturday morning, we hope to make it out to Owen Roe Winery between 9 and 11 for their “Hike the Hill” event:

Start your winery weekend out right with an energizing hike up to the top of our “Pearl Block” vineyard. Panoramic views of the Yakima Valley are the perfect setting for an estate tasting of our 2012 Syrah and 2012 Bordeaux-styled blend from our estate Union Gap Vineyard.

Once you reach the top of the hill, meet Founder and Co-Owner, David O’Reilly, and learn about the unique style and history of Owen Roe wines.

After the hilltop tasting, join our staff in the winery for a pastry and coffee and a tour of our barrel hall. Wine tasting will be available to those that wish to get a head start on the Spring Barrel festivities.

From there? Who knows. The choices are almost overwhelming. We will be taking our time and taking lots of photos. Our picnic lunch will be enjoyed on the lawn of one of our stops (unless the available food entices us first). If you have any suggestions or “Don’t miss” recommendations, please let us know.

Spring Barrel Tasting Guides:

Two items to make note of from from the ykm509 tips file:

  • Be realistic: It’s not a marathon. Visit no more than five wineries per day. More than that and your taste pallet will grow numb.
  • Be prepared: Bring a cooler filled with bottled water and snacks. Pack a picnic, as many of the wineries have picnic grounds or plan on eating lunch at one of the wineries that serve food. Food helps you to regain your palate and provides a needed break. Also, if it is warm, consider a cooler for your purchased wines. Heat is bad for wine.

Any recommendations? Please feel free to let us know.