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SIPPING in Spokane - Spring Releases

PHOTO CREDIT: HANOVER

SIPPING in Spokane

GRAPE EXPECTATIONS: In 1986, the Spokane Winery Association (SWA) was formed with  Arbor Crest Wine Cellars, Latah Creek Wine Cellars, Mountain Dome Winery, Caterina Winery and the no longer Worden Winery. Four of the five founding wineries are still blazing the Washington Wine trail and actively contributing to our bustling wine scene. There are currently over 700 wineries in Washington State and at the time of the inception of the SWA in the mid 80’s there were less than 25 Washington wineries.
Spokane has become a destination for WINE and local winemakers are thrilled to invite you to taste why. 2012 marks the 26th annual Spring Release Tasting event. This highly anticipated indulgence takes place on Mother’s Day Weekend (May 11-13) from 12-6pm at 18 local wineries and  2 affiliate tasting rooms.
Spring finds wineries everywhere celebrating the releases of their liquid art, which marks the finale of wine making season and the start of a new wine year. Locally, our area wineries invite locapours (lovers of local wine) in on the festivities of their annual Spring Barrel Tasting. You can expect the welcoming tasting rooms to provide samples of new wines which include current vintages and in some cases wines still in the wine making process with your taste coming directly from the barrel or tank.
Today with all the local wineries and tasting rooms that are participating, you’ll need a plan of stopping by more than a few wineries a day to complete the mission of not missing a single one during this premier wine event.

Here's a 3 –day game plan:
Downtown 1 (12-13 wineries total, 7-*8 stops). 
Barrister Winery, Barili Cellars, Whitestone Winery, Grande Rhone Cellars, Caterina Winery/Lone Canary Winery/Mt Dome. *Arbor Crest Wine at their Riverpark Square, Cougar Crest, Nectar Tasting Room.

Downtown 2/North (6 wineries total, 5 stops)
Robert Karl Cellars, Overbluff Cellars, EMVY Cellars/Bridge Press Cellars and Vintage Hill Cellars with either before or after hitting Townshend in Greenbluff.

Valley/Liberty Lake (4-5 wineries, 4-5 stops)
Knipprath Cellars, Latah Creek Wine Cellars, Nodland Cellars, *Arbor Crest Wine Cellars (Cliff House) with either before or after jetting to Liberty Lake Wine Cellars.

Note: *Arbor Crest Wine Cellars has both a downtown tasting room at Riverpark Square and the historic Cliff House located in the Spokane Valley.

No, you really can't taste it all. So here's some SIP TIPS. 

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars 
Cliff House 4705 N Fruithill Road Spokane, WA 99217 509-927-9463
Downtown 808 West Main Avenue Spokane, WA. 509-747-3903
Sip Tips: Go for the Syrah, Malbec or Sauv Blanc.

 
Barili Cellars
608 West 2nd Avenue Spokane, WA 99201 509-995-4077
Sip Tips: Take a CAB
.  
Barrister Winery
1213 W. Railroad Spokane, WA 99201 509-465-3591
Sip Tips: New release of Rough Justice BABY! and the coveted Barrister Block or you can always rely on the remarkable Cab Franc. 

Cougar Crest Tasting Room
8 N. Post St. #3 Spokane, WA. 99201 509.241-3840
Sip Tips: Cab Franc!!!


Caterina Winery 
905 N Washington Spokane, WA 99201 509-328-5069
Sip Tips:
Caterina Winery will both be pouring a selection of complimentary sips. The viognier is a victory.
EMVY Cellars & Bridge Press Cellars
32 West 2nd Avenue, Suite 100 Spokane, WA 99201 509-979-2749
Sip Tip: EMVY's pride is the Devotion Red Blend wine and the Bridge Press Merlot is marvelous..
 
Grande Ronde Cellars
906 W. Second Spokane, WA 99201 509-455-8161

Grande Rhone Cellar Red!


Knipprath Cellars
5634 East Commerce Avenue Spokane, WA 99212 509-534-5121
Sip Tips: Au Chocolat! and "V" are a treat.

Latah Creek Wine Cellars
E.13030 Indiana Avenue Spokane, WA 99216 509-926-0164
Sip Tips:
Latah Creek always take the best host award. The Monarch series is a standout.  The magnificent winery gift shop provides a serious shopping opportunity.

Liberty Lake Wine Cellars
1018 S. Garry Road Liberty Lake, WA 99019 509-255-9205

Sip Tips: You had me at Merlot. Liberty Lake Merlot is marvelous. LL is debuting their 2009 Tempranillo.
Lone Canary Winery
905 N Washington Spokane, WA 99201 509-328-5069
Sip Tips: Blissful blends.

Mountain Dome Winery
905 N Washington Spokane, WA 99201 509-328-5069
Sip Tips: Mountain Dome is now available at Caterina's tasting room. Gnome Perignon! and Sip's fave Cuvee Forte'


Nectar Tasting Room
120 N Stevens Spokane, WA. 99201
Sip Tips: Tasting Room to 5 Washington State Wineries:    
Anelare Winery, Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards, Northwest Cellars, Skylite Cellars, and Terra Blanca Winery. With so many options, let your flight attendant be your guide.
 
Nodland Cellars
11616 East Montgomery Drive Suite #70 Spokane, WA 99206 509-927-7770
Sip Tip: A Bad Attitude is not only recommended, it's encouraged.
 

Overbluff Cellars
620 S. Washington Street Spokane, Washington 99204 509-991-4781
Sip Tips: A stellar cellar line up. Overbluff
tends to sell out quickly. Encourage them to make more. Overbluff is debuting Defiance Syrah and their coveted Reserve.

Robert Karl Cellars
115 W. Pacific Avenue Spokane, WA 99201 888-4CLARET (509 363-1353)
Sip Tips: Crushing on the Claret which the 2009 is being released and the Sauv Blanc is spectacular.

Townshend Cellar
16112 North Greenbluff Road Colbert, WA 99005 509-238-1400
Sip Tip: Townshend Cellar  Vortex is Sip's fave. Yes, even over T3 which I also adore. And the Table Red is a tasty value. Townshend is introducing a NEW dry Rose'

Vintage Hill Cellars
319 W Second Ave Spokane, WA 509-994-1406
Sip Tip: Vintage Hill provides a SIP then SHOP opportunity as its nestled amongst 2nd Ave boutiques.

Whitestone Winery (New location)
8  N. Post Spokane, WA 99201 509-838-2427
Sip Tip: Pieces of Red (Version 9 is out) is always a winner but St Vincent is Sip's all time WS fave.

 
***Be safe. Remember, it’s HIP TO SPIT. Taste responsibly by pacing yourself, nibbling throughout your winescapade and having a designated driver. CHEERS!
Photo Credit: NY Times Wine

Practice, Practice, Practice.


Wine is very personal. You don't have to be an expert, but you do need to trust your own palate. Each time you try a new wine, your awareness of the character and subtle differences will be expanded. Tasting wine is like a sport: the more you practice, the better you become at it. Only with wine tasting you won't be dragging you feet to do it.

Sip Tip: The best place to perfect your tasting technique is in a winery tasting room.  It is recommended you try and go during off-hours when the tasting room host isn't too busy and the host can take you through the paces and discuss each wine with you. Pay attention, there is much to learn in the Tasting Room from the host, which around Spokane if it’s not the winemaker themselves, they are often close by.

LOOK
The first step is to hold the glass by the stem and look through the wine against a white background to appreciate the true color. The wine should be bright and clear, not hazy or cloudy. White wines range in color from nearly clear to a golden yellow. Red wines range in color from dark, intense red to a light, pale red. Some of the intense colors have you thinking about bringing in a glass of wine to have the paint store match the color for a sensational syrah colored powder room.

SWIRL
To get the full aroma of the wine, fill a large wine glass a third of the way full, and swirl the wine around in the glass. Come ‘on really give it a swirl. This releases the aromatics. Try step #3 SNIFF - before and after you swirl. You'll notice there's a huge difference.

SNIFF
Inhale deeply through your nose and try to identify what you smell. Do you smell fruits or spices? You might find hints of familiar smells including wood, tobacco, citrus, apple, chocolate, plums, pineapple, flowers or berries. When you smell, lean over and put your nose completely in the glass. Come on, no one is looking.

TASTE
After taking a sip, roll the wine around in your mouth to reach all of your taste buds. Then, breathe air through your lips to release the aromas. If the wine makes you pucker, it may be a little tart (high in acids) or tannic (dry like banana skins and tea leaves). If it feels hot and burns a little, it may have high alcohol content. If none of these elements overwhelm you, the wine is likely well-balanced. Notice how it feels in your mouth: this is called the texture. Try and detect what flavors you taste before comparing that to the winemakers notes on what you “should” taste. Sometimes you’ll decide they are the same and other times not even close. Keep in mind food changes the taste dramatically.
  
SPIT
It’s HIP to SPIT. It may make you slightly uncomfortable initially, but if you’re tasting a lot of wine it is essential to spit. Spitting enables you to experience wines without the danger of imbibing too much alcohol. If you are just trying a few, go ahead and drink up. By the way, wine that lingers in your mouth and throat after you have spit is a sign of good length and body.

Sip Tip: Remember, once again, this is personal. Keep on tasting to find what YOU like and why. Ask questions, take notes so you can recall your preferences and pretty soon you'll figure out your wine style. Keep in mind, it all changes the more you taste. So darn-it-anyway, you’ll need to keep at it, as not only wines change but your taste preferences may as well.
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