Three Yakima Wineries To Follow On Instagram

As you probably know, one of the most popular social media networks over the last few years has been Instagram. We at Wine Yakima Valley have jumped on the bandwagon and taken up the medium ourselves (and we quite enjoy it, actually). 

Here are three great Yakima Valley wineries who are active on Instagram too. Give them a follow and use the hashtag #yakimawine the next time you drink a Yakima wine! 

1. Cultura Winery (@culturawine): Cultura has been on Instagram for less than two years and already has 262 followers. They’ve posted 390 photos, they’re also obviously great cooks because the photos of the meals they prepare and pair with their wine will make you want to eat your smartphone. 

Warning: Do not browse while hungry! 

2. Two Mountain (@TMW): The dogs and cats are the stars of the show here, as well as the vines of course. One look at this account and you can tell the Rawn brothers are farmers, salt of the earth, and animal lovers. Their Instagram account is only 22 weeks old, but it already has 34 followers and great photos. 

3. Gilbert Cellars (@gilbertcellars): The folks from Gilbert have been on Instagram for over a year and have 226 followers. Their Instagram feed is a little slice of life: good food, great wine and smiling people. 

A good Instagram feed is a reflection of the culture of a community or a place and you can definitely get the feel for this awesome winery and tasting room via their Instagram feed. 

The next time you’re on Instagram, give these wineries a follow. And follow us as well at @wineyakimavalley. Happy posting! 

P.S. for Wine Yakima Valley members: All members are invited to learn more about Instagram and social media at a special Social Media Workshop April 3, courtesy of Wine Yakima Valley. Come learn more about this easy and fun way to connect with the people who love your wine! 

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Pruning for the 2014 vintage

It may be winter, and the vines might be dormant, but vineyard workers are awake and bustling with winter activities in preparation for the 2014 vintage.

The grape vines in the Yakima Valley are bare and the next grape harvest is eight months away, but in order to produce the best quality grapes, effort is required now.

Unpruned Yakima Valley Cabernet Sauvignon vine

Pruning sets the stage for the upcoming growing season. Proper pruning allows
better sunlight penetration and airflow for each vine. It also allows the grower to directly control grape yields, which in turn impacts the fruit’s balance and intensity.

Less fruit per vine makes the resulting wines more intense and complex. In wine, it’s very much a trade-off between quality and quantity

Pruned Yakima Valley Cabernet Sauvignon vinePruning requires training and commitment.  If you don’t prune hard enough, you will be forcing the vine to do more than it is comfortable doing and causing it to exert too much energy early in the season, greatly affecting the quality of the fruit.

For winemakers to achieve an ultra-premium Cabernet for example, they need to start with fruit that is cropped around three tons per acre.  This requires each vine to be hand managed approximately ten times during the growing season.

The first of ten “touches” by the vineyard crew is pruning.  Growers need to prune as aggressive as possible while at the same time leaving a little “insurance” in the form of a couple extra buds to compensate for what Mother Nature may throw out during the growing season. If too many buds are left, that leaves extra work for the vine to do, making it much more difficult for that vine to achieve its end goal: ripeness.

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Sip, Click and WIN this Weekend!

Sip & Click During this weekend's Red Wine & Chocolate event

Sip & Click During this weekend’s Red Wine & Chocolate event

What’s better than traveling through the heart of Washington wine country Valentine’s Day weekend, tasting all the decadent wine and chocolate the Yakima Valley has to offer? Getting rewarded with a trip to a day spa for doing so, that’s what!

This weekend, Feb. 15 and 16, sip your way through the Yakima AVA, share photos of your experience via Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram with the hashtags #sipandclick and #yakwine and you’ll be entered to win one of two awesome prizes.

The first prize is a $100 gift certificate to Ummelina Spa in Yakima, so you can be pampered by the great folks there. Did someone say “massages”?

The second prize is a $85 gift certificate to Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar, that ultra posh epicurean tour of delights also located in Yakima.

Winners will be drawn completely at random from the pool of people who post a photo/photos with the hashtags #sipandclick and #yakwine on Twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook. One photo is sufficient to enter you to win. Multiple photos do not enter you multiple times, although we encourage you to post away during your wine county journey!

So join us this weekend in Yakima Wine Country for an extra-special Valentine’s Weekend edition of Red Wine & Chocolate. And remember, Premier Pass holders with six tasting stamps from participating Wine Yakima Valley wineries get a complimentary wine glass! (While supplies last, 1,000 wine
glasses available)

Get your passes here:

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Five Yakima Valley Wines For Your Super Bowl Sunday

Who ever said beer is the only acceptable drink at a Super Bowl party? We say spice up your Super Bowl! And the best way to do that is with some distinctive, delectable Yakima Valley wines. These five wines from the oldest wine growing region in Washington state pair well with football-style foods, and they won’t leave you feeling tired and bloated (at least the wine won’t): 

1. 14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend (with Nachos) – This polished red wine with aromas of cherry, red currant and tea pairs well with savory nachos loaded with meat, cheese and southwestern veggies. A sip of Hot to Trot helps cut powerful, sometimes spicy flavors with its bright acidity and balances the explosion of flavors nachos bring to the table.

2. Owen Roe’s 2012 Sinister Hand Magnum (with Pizza) – This dark wine received its named after a dark story, but the wine itself is delightful. This red blend with aromas of black cherry, cranberry, clove orange zest and dusty earth pair well with pizza, and finishes with fine tannins. Plus it’s a great conversation starter!

3. Kiona Winery Estate Red Mountain Dry Riesling (with Buffalo Wings) – Crisp, clean and refreshing, this riesling has notes of pear, apple and citrus that give it a crisp flavor profile. It’s a great match with those finger-licking Buffalo wings. The intense, lingering flavor of wing sauce is pleasantly cut by this light, fruity riesling with just a hint of frizzante.

4. Steppe Cellars’ 2008 Artemesia (with Cold Cuts) – With floral aromas of violet and rose combined with notes of raspberry and garden herbs, it finishes with dark chocolate and coffee. This interesting new world wine grown right here on the steps of the Yakima Valley pairs really well with cured meats and cheese found in those cold cuts we all love.

5. Kana Winery 2008 Tempranillo (with Sliders) – Sourced from Stone Tree and Elephant Mountain, this beautifully intense Tempranillo is aged three years in French and American oak. It finished with a long, compact fruit finish and balanced acids and pairs well with everyone’s favorite finger food – sliders.

We encourage you to think outside of the box (or should we say can?) this Super Bowl Sunday and support our Seahawks with a great glass of Yakima Valley wine. Here’s a toast to the Hawks, the 12th Man and you!

Go Seahawks!

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Soul of the Vine

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Video 4:35

Yakima Valley encompasses significant diversity of climate, topography, and soil; and this diversity yields a broad spectrum of high-quality grapes and wines. Four American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) – Yakima Valley, Red Mountain, Rattlesnake Hills, and
Snipes Mountain – highlight this impressive regional complexity.

This four and a half minute video offers a glimpse of this phenomenal wine growing region.

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Yakima Valley Welcomes Owen Roe Winery in 2014

Yakima Valley boasts some of the best grape growing conditions in the Pacific Northwest. However, this is not the only crop that dominates the abundant agricultural landscape.  Hops, peach, and cherry orchards (among other crops) dot the valley and rolling hills nestled in between the vineyards.  After speaking with locals, there is a strong sense of pride in this majestic valley. With nearly fifteen years of sourcing and making wines from this area, the Owen Roe team is ecstatic to finally call it home.

Owen Roe founder David O'Reilly talks about moving to the Yakima Valley.

Owen Roe founder David O’Reilly talks about moving to the Yakima Valley.

Owen Roe founder and winemaker, David O’Reilly, has been championing winemaking in the Yakima Valley since 1999 from their Oregon winery. However, in 2011 with the purchase of Union Gap Vineyard he and co-owners, Ben and Julie Wolff, began to lay the foundations for Owen Roe in Washington.  On April 11th, 2013 they broke ground on the winery, flanked by the vineyard and cherry orchards on either side. With distant views of Mount Adams everyone feels right at home on the sunny slopes of Union Gap.

Having a clear vision, the O’Reillys’ and Wolffs’, along with the cellar staff, worked with Mountain States Construction Company to build a true winemaker’s winery. Absent of all the frivolity and grandiose one would expect from a “winemaker’s winery”, instead sits a modest red barn-like building made completely out of metal.  However unassuming the winery may seem from Gangl Road it is quite different underneath the lofty Kingspan roof.  With glass garage doors on all four sides of the winery, the cellar is bathed in natural light and 360° views of the vineyard, sprawling valley and Mt. Adams.

Just as important as it is to be in this wonderful place, it was equally important to work with local companies, in order to achieve the vision of a comfortable and energy efficient winery. The winery claims a natural cooling fan, which turns on automatically and pulls cool night air in from outside and exhausts out to keep the winery cool, without the use of air conditioning. Tolman Electric of Mabton, WA has retrofitted the winery with all LED lights on automatic sensors. “This winery will run at half the cost of other wineries. Everything is top notch, but the feel is still rustic and comfortable,” says Jason Tolman of Tolman Electric.

2014 will mark the first complete harvest in the new winery. Associate Winemaker, Theresal Imel, along with cellar staff have been enjoying working in the new space over the last few months.

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A Yakima Valley Icon

The following article was written by Ryan Messer and originally posted on Washington Wine Report on Friday, December 13, 2013. Reposted with permission.

Iconic. It is the first word that comes to mind when I think of DuBrul Vineyard. Some vineyards produce a single high quality variety, but few can succeed with multiple. However, wines made from the six grape varietals grown by DuBrul have received awards or distinction from nearly every outlet possible, from local to regional to national.
Hugh Kathy Kerry in DuBrul

Located in the heart of the Yakima Valley appellation, DuBrul Vineyards is the work and passion of Dr. Hugh Shiels, an orthopedic surgeon by trade, and his wife, Kathy. The Shiels owned a home in rural Sunnyside, Washington, where they grew concord grapes and asparagus they had planted in 1977. They enjoyed drinking wine and eventually developed a passion for it. Taking the farming knowledge they had, they decided to explore the idea of growing their own wine grapes to make wine as good as they were drinking, or perhaps even better.
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In 1991, after researching available land in the area, the family purchased a plot of land five miles from their home. The land was an apple orchard and also had four acres of Riesling planted in 1983. With the assistance of Dr. Wade Wolfe, who was intimately involved in the Shiels’ love and consumption of wine, the Shiels dug and studied the soil, determining what would grow best on each piece of land and how to manage it.

The soil varies from rocky with high calcium carbonate levels to alluvial with layers of volcanic ash, most recently from Mt. St. Helens in 1980. Regardless of location in the vineyard, the soil is very low vigor.

In 1992, after removing the trees and much testing, the Shiels planted their first Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay vines. Wolfe’s expertise – he has a Ph.D. in plant genetics, a Ph.D. thesis on grape genetics, and years of viticulture and enology work with numerous wineries in Washington – proved invaluable in helping select the proper placement for each variety, taking soil, temperature and water into account for each. The direction of the vines were also discussed to be laid out in such a way that cool air washes through the vineyard without being trapped, helping prevent winter freezing.

DuBrul image     DuBrul Vineyard Tour group lowrez

After planting 45 acres of vineyard, the Shiels reserved 21 acres for greenbelt, wildlife management and pest control. It helps protect from wind erosion and reduces the reliance on pesticide spray of most any kind. Among the control is woods rose and yellow currant. They flank the vineyards offering a different food source to birds and insects as opposed to the berries on the vine and also provide a home for some insects to keep other pests away.

With a sloping terrace on three sides of the vineyard, proper water management is vital or the soil of the lowest vines could become saturated. Vineyard manager Larry Dolan, who has been with DuBrul since the beginning, now has each block under intense micromanagement. Drip lines irrigate in segments, even within a given block providing only what each individual vine needs to survive and produce to DuBrul standards.

One aspect of the management that intrigued me most is the vineyard team. Aside from the tractor driver, only women work in the vineyards. From February through November, they prune, thin and harvest the vines because Shiels believes they are “more nurturing and with a more delicate hand than any man can provide.” And like Dolan, some have been with the vineyard for two decades.

Dr. Shiels mused that DuBrul sees its winemakers less and less frequently every year. That’s because after nearly 20 years of selling to various wineries, they are trusted to provide as close to desired numbers (brix, pH and total acidity) for the fruit as possible. The wineries know what to expect, which is a testament to what the vineyard team has accomplished since the first harvest.

Dr. Shiels also believes the family has a great opportunity to truly represent the fruit they grow that now includes Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. They launched Côte Bonneville winery with their signature Bordeaux blend, Côte Bonneville DuBrul Vineyard Red Wine, in 2001. Stan Clarke, who had been an integral part of the vineyard team since 1996, was the first winemaker until his passing in 2007. The Shiels’ daughter, Kerry, has been the winemaker since 2009 after receiving her Masters in Viticulture and Enology from U.C. Davis and working for winery powerhouses Joseph Phelps and Robert Mondavi, among others.

Taking all of the above into account, it is still remarkable that the team has been able to harvest six world-class quality varietals – something that would not only be impossible in many parts of Europe; it might even be illegal. Developing similar subtleties and nuances of premium Bordeaux, Burgundy, Northern Rhone and German wines in one location takes extreme dedication, maybe a miracle.

All the while, the Shiels family remains humble and appreciative for every accolade they, and the winemakers they sell to, receive. While on a vineyard tour in August, Dr. Shiels told a story about a trip Kerry took to Europe. He was almost overcome with emotion as he described her walking into a café in Barbaresco and seeing an empty bottle of Côte Bonneville on a shelf. When asked why it was perched there, the owner replied he had been told it was one of the world’s finest representations of a Bordeaux blend, and he agreed.

Today, you can find DuBrul fruit producing beautiful bottles from Owen Roe, Woodward Canyon, Rasa Vineyards and nearly a dozen others in the state making them a truly iconic vineyard.

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Editor’s Note: The uniqueness of DuBrul Vineyard displays itself distinctly in the resulting wines. Regardless of the producer, DuBrul is marked by the soft feel of its tannins that belie their underlying structure. The result is wines that seduce with sophistication and restraint rather than overwhelming with sheer power. Reviews below, as always, by Sean P. Sullivan.

Côte Bonneville Chardonnay DuBrul Vineyard Yakima Valley 2010 $50 (Exceptional) Lightly aromatic with spice, coconut and other tropical fruit along with whiffs of stone fruit. It’s full bodied, rich and textured with a creamy rich feel and a long, lingering finish. 100% Chardonnay. Aged 17 months in French oak (57% new) with full malolactic fermentation. 14.1% alcohol. 162 cases produced.

Côte Bonneville Estate Bottled Syrah DuBrul Vineyard Yakima Valley 2010 $75 (Exceptional) Draws you into the glass with a complex medley of mineral, cherry, blue fruit, earth, herbs, and dusty chocolate. The palate is textured and restrained in feel with sultry fruit flavors. A delicious bottle that speaks distinctly of this vineyard. 100% Syrah. Aged 20 months in two year old French oak. 14.7% alcohol. 150 cases produced.

Côte Bonneville Carriage House Red Wine DuBrul Vineyard Yakima Valley 2008 $50 (Exceptional) Aromatically it brings high toned floral notes, Chukar Cherries, olive, anise, and moist soil after a warm summer rain. The palate shows impeccable elegance and restraint with silky tannins and lithe fruit flavors. Lingers for a long finish. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, and 12% Cabernet Franc. Aged 20 months in French oak (64% new). 14.7% alcohol. 686 cases produced.

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