Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Wineries and wine tasting

Washington State has developed into quite a wine production area. I guess our latitude is about the same as some of the best of the French wine producing areas and so we are able to grow similar grapes. Most of the wineries are fairly small operations but a few are quite large. While we were on our recent RV trip around the North Cascades Loop Highway, we visited a few of the wineries in the Wenatchee and Chelan areas. Those cities have in the past been best known for apple production but in the last ten years or so many apple orchards have been changed over to grape vinyards and a lot of wineries have grown up in the area. We visited about half a dozen on the trip and I have photos to post from three of them.

Wineries 01
The first one we visited is the Chateau Faire Le Pont in Wenatchee. We had lunch there, then tried their wines in the wine tasting room, shown here. Of course we bought a bottle of the one we liked best!

Wineries 02
Here is another view of a different part of the building which used to be a warehouse beside the railroad tracks. The tracks are still there but the building is now housing something a lot different from what it did in the past.

The town of Chelan is smaller than Wenatchee but probably even more tourist oriented so wineries and wine tours are a big thing there. Tour buses transport people around. There was even a group of flight attendants that we kept meeting who were doing the tour in a limousine. Friends R & D live in a town near Chelan and D worked for a dentist who when he retired started a winery in Chelan. He bought quite a bit of property in the area and has sold some of it to others to start wineries. Apparently they really do better when there are more of them in the area. The tour buses wouldn't be likely to come for just one or two.

This first winery is Karma Canyon. It was started just three years or so ago by a couple who own a metal production business in Wenatchee. They bought their property from R & D's friend and the two wineries are just a short distance apart. I kind of need to put some limit on how many photos I try to post here so the first one is just showing a part of the building.
Wineries 08
Wine production requires a constant fairly low temperature for the wine to season in the oak barrels. There are different ways to set up those cool areas and this is the most interesting one I have ever seen. They call it the wine cave. As I said above, they own a metal production business so they built a metal shell that extends off the building. Just a few feet away it is covered with dirt and rocks to provide the natural insulation the earth provides. The climate in this area is pretty cold in the winter and hot in the summer, so good insulation is important. This photo shows the "cave" extending off the back side of the building and into the ground, which is landscaped above.

Wineries 03
This scene is inside the "cave" and shows the interior lighting as well as many of the barrels of wine that are spending time getting ready to be bottled. This is one arm of the cave- there are two others as it is shaped like a cross.

Wineries 04
Here in another part of the cave our friends and Pat are having part of the process explained by the wine maker and our tour guide. I believe the temperature inside is maintained at about 56F degrees.

Wineries 05
One arm of the cave is behind glass doors so they can maintain a different (warmer) temperature there and use it as an event room. This view is looking into that room through the glass doors. They haven't started using this yet but do expect in the future to have some events where this room will be used as a tasting room and for meals.

Wineries 06
Here is our little group of wine tasters sitting at one of the outdoor tables waiting for our selections to be brought out. This shows some of the landscaping which is beautiful and will be even better as it matures. Remember this place is new.

Wineries 07
The wine steward has brought out our six selected wines. Pat and I liked best a desert wine that had a price of $35 per bottle and it turned out to be only a small 375ml bottle at that! We only bought one of them. But it sure was good. We all liked this winery and their products.

Our next stop was almost next door at Tsillan Cellars, the winery started and owned by Dr. Bob, D's employer for some 30 years in the Seattle area. The word Tsillan is pronounced Chelan- we were told that is the Indian way of spelling the name. I didn't know that the Indians used our alphabet. Anyway, it is probably the largest winery in the Chelan area and has been there a little longer than most of the others so it's landscaping is a little more mature. I don't know it's exact starting date but think it was about 1999 or 2000.

Wineries 09
This first photo was taken inside the tasting room. Pat, D & R are at the bar near the right side of the photo and our flight attendant friends are farther over to the left alongside the bar. There was also a large motorhome in the lot with a group of friends who were using it to tour the Washington State wine country. We sat inside to enjoy our wine tasting with the sandwiches we had for lunch. And it is a lot of fun to people watch!

Wineries 10
After lunch and tasting, we ventured outside to see the grounds. Here our group (less me as I was taking the picture) are crossing a foot bridge to an outdoor dining area. This winery brings in some pretty big name entertainers to put on shows along with dinners and this is part of the area used for that. Again there probably should be a lot more photos to show the whole area but I can't include that many. The building in the background is the cool room, like the "wine cave" in the Karma Canyon winery, where the wine ages in oak barrels. By the way, those barrels all come from France and cost something like $1200 each. They can be used twice for red wines and three times for white wines, then get sawed in half and end up in your gardens with plants growing from them. Or some other creative use- they are oak wood after all!

Wineries 11
Another view of part of the outside area at Tsillan Cellars winery. The pond has some large and colorful Koi fish in this lower level.

Wineries 12
Here is part of the upper level of the water system with two of its residents. I expect there will be ducklings around some time in the future.

This post has just touched on three of the local wineries. They are all a bit different and all fun to visit. Even if you are not fond of wine, visit some of your local wineries. You will find they are beautifully landscaped and if they offer food, are a good place to eat also. We sure enjoy them.

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I love the landscaping at the last place. All those rocks are cool.

What a clever idea, using the earth for wine cave.
Isn't that a beautiful place, Dick! Thanks for letting me know you posted pictures...when you do it again, let me know again! I have never been to a wine tasting event, can you believe that? After reading your blog, I felt I had but without the wine, dangnabit.
I just love your photos , they are so beautiful and the post that goes with it to fill us all in is always a real treat , Thank you for sharing . That wine testing place is spectacular , hope you had a great time .
Take care of yourselves on your journey's .
later Mr Mocha (WINK)

Great photos Dick, I love the landscaping in the last shots too.
Lovely scenery from your travels, Dick.

You asked in your comment on my blog why I use an asterisk * (Ko*hls, etc) when I type some words and name brands. I do that to keep my blog from coming up on some of the search engines when someone types in a word search on Yahoo, Google, etc.

When I first started blogging I wrote a post about my eccentric Grandma who always wore several slips and petticoats. You wouldn't believe the weirdos that brought to my blog looking for perverted things!

So now anytime I type something that I think will bring unwanted searches to my blog I use an asterisk or some other symbol in the word to throw off the search engines. That's all.

Have a great rest of your week, Dick.

Love and hugs,

Hi Dick, Beautiful photo's and commentary of each wine cellar.clever way to use the earth by making a wine cave. but i have to say i love the landscape of the last one.
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