When taking on new clients, it is imperative to get to know the people and the places behind the brand. The first meeting allows the client to express the vision for his or her business and provides Trellis Wine Consulting the information we need to serve the client in the best way possible.
On September 14, I toured my first winery (and at that point our newest client) Abacela and learned the importance of a first visit. From the introductions to soaking in new landscapes, and the actual "work", to ending the day with a ride through the vineyards in owner, Earl Jones’ Jeep Cherokee, it was an amazing experience.
We began with a tour of the grounds, first internally and then the vineyards. The tasting room features a large round tasting bar with an incredible open view of the vineyard and a private tasting room highlighting modern yellow chairs -- Abacela's signature color. (They use yellow foil or screw caps on all wine bottles, so these chairs are a very nice touch.
For our next stop, we were given a very descriptive tour of the winemaking process performed at Abacela. Their method of transporting grapes by gravity flow is both time consuming and labor intensive but this method has proven to be more gentler on the grapes and wine.
Earl recalled his garage reconstruction project that would allow space for a gravity flow system – a project that left many skeptical but he managed to pull it off.
After getting down to talking business, we ventured to the vines. The stones leading from the winery to the vineyard map out the varied geologies that make up Abacela’s vineyard. This 76-acre property on the southern tip of the Umpqua Valley,houses many different geological varieties:
Three mountain ranges, the Klamath Mountains; the Coastal Range; and the Cascades, meet beneath Abacela’s vineyard, allowing them the ideal climates for their internationally acclaimed Tempranillo, Rhone and other Spanish varietals.
Another unique aspect of the Abacela vineyard is the trellis for the vines. Earl’s layout of his vines includes an additional post on the end of each trellis, quite uncommon on most vineyards. This additional post prevents tractors from running into the vines and protects the wires on the trellis.
A few grapes were tasted and the tour was complete.
So as I learned, the purpose of a first visit is to show our commitment to and learn as much as possible. For me, the best part of a first visit is seeing our clients in action on their “home turf.”
This Monday I had the pleasure of judging the 2011 Idaho Wine Competition, which is run by Wine Press NW and hosted by the Idaho Wine Commission. I truly enjoyed experiencing these new wine regions and discovering some gems.
Idaho has grown from approximately 11 wineries just a decade ago to over 40. The commission seems to have improved its marketing significantly, and I'll be following them to monitor developments and growth. For those thinking of visiting, the greetings are friendly and Boise is a well-maintained college town that is easy to navigate.
As is typical with me, I offer some of my favorite "gold" wines below -- these are not necessarily competition gold medal winners.
Williamson 2010 Riesling, $9 - This wine ultimately received a silver, but was nearly a gold in my opinion. Tangerine, lemon cream, floral and basil notes filled the nose, which was confirmed on the palate that offered good balance and a clean finish. For $9 it's a great buy!
Cinder 2010 Chardonnay, $18 - Lime, pear, green apple aromas were quite pretty, with noticeably nice oak integration on the palate. This is a polished Chardonnay that showed best in its class. It could stand up against competitors from known Chard regions and with the quality:price ratio, knock them right out of the running.
Williamson 2010 Blossom Rose of Sangiovese, $12 - Another winner from this winery, the rose features pretty pear, floral, lavender and cherry aromas. There is a nice acid balance on the palate which leads to a clean finish. Great "summer sipper" all year long (we shouldn't give up rose just because the sun is hiding).
Snake River 2009 Arena Valley Vineyard Syrah, $17 - I gave this wine a gold, as did my colleague panelists, so it was rated a double gold medal. I loved its smoky cherry, blackberry fruit aromas and notes of bacon fat and pepper. The palate is filled with rich fruit and it brings a long finish. (The website is beautifully done -- can't help the marketing note.)
Wood River 2008 Cabernet Franc, $28 - An impressive showing and gold for this variety, which tends not to be made on its own. The nose has cedar, black fruit, raspberry and bell pepper. The palate features great balance with good acid:tannin: fruit ratio for structure. Delicious. It won best red of show.
Koenig 2009 Riesling Ice Wine, $20 - Wow this was a fun wine to taste -- I may have even swallowed a sip :) Aromas of apple, pear and lemon zest were complimented by slight graham cracker and herbal notes, which added complexity. The palate featured very ripe peach and apricot notes and a very long finish. In short, this is downright delicious.
If you haven't ever tried a wine from Idaho, I encourage you to look for these gems and explore -- afterall, one of the reasons that wine is so engaging is because it offers a way to discover the world.
PS - a special thank you to my colleague, Janel, who participated in research for this post
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