Friday, November 27, 2009

Get Ready ... it's Holiday Barrel Weekend!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving yesterday filled with family, friends, food and great wine! I know that as I sit here and write this I’m still stuffed from yesterday’s feast. The food was wonderful so of course I ate more than I should have. But Thanksgiving would not be Thanksgiving if you did not over eat. So I'm just keeping with the tradition.

Now that one holiday is behind me it’s time to turn my attention to next weekend’s Holiday Barrel Tasting. This week will be spent decorating around the winery and making things look festive. We will once again be pouring all the wines in our production building and just hold the sales in our regular tasting room. We will be showcasing our new releases the 2007 “Artist Series” Cabernet, the 2008 Estate Barbera and the 2007 Columbia Valley Merlot along with a barrel sample of next year’s release, the 2008 “Artist Series” Cabernet.
Chef Paul will once again be on hand to prepare small bites for munching during your tasting. Paul and his wife Abby came through over Fall Release Weekend and were already throwing around ideas of how to prepare this year’s pasture-fed lamb from Upper Dry Creek Ranch. Chef Paul’s lamb is always a special treat and we can’t wait to find out what he has planned for us! And don’t forget about Paul’s fabulous toppings and spreads. I’m always a big fan of either the baked artichoke or the baked brie. Both are excellent with Rick’s bread which he’ll be baking all three days.

Don’t forget to take advantage of our 2007 “Artist Series” Cabernet and our Nelms Road holiday pricing we have going on right now. The ’07 “Artist Series” is being offered at a holiday/introductory price of $44 a bottle and both of the Nelms’ (the ’07 Cab and ’07 Merlot) are being offered at a holiday price of $20 a bottle. And since neither is a quote/unquote “special” both offers still receive the 10% discount when purchased as a case or part of a case. Any of the three wines would make a great addition to your holiday table.

Now my stomach is starting to growl at me. Guess it’s time to grab some leftovers. Hope to see everyone this coming up weekend!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Food and wine pairings

We’re going into the holiday season where one of the most asked questions is which wines pair best with which food? For holiday dinners, Thanksgiving in particular, it’s always a hard question to answer. These dinners are usually served in more of a buffet style and there hundreds of different flavors to try to pair with. This is not the easiest task for anyone. What I have always done was put out a couple of different wines and let people pair with what they have. This seems to have worked well for me in the past and it’s an easy way for everyone to find something that they enjoy.

This year we decided the best way to inform our customers would be to take a food and wine pairing class that was being offered at the Tri-Cities extension of Washington State University. Andy Perdue from Wine Press Northwest and Christopher with Yoke’s Fresh Market led the class where we learned a little bit about different varietals and what they paired the best with. If you are looking to pair something with turkey a pinot noir is always a good match but here at Woody we like a good chardonnay or even a merlot or sauvignon blanc. A holiday ham goes well with similar wines also. There are times, with the right ham, that I’ll go out on a limb and pair it with a nice syrah. For those who serve roast beef as their main course you can never go wrong with a big hearty red, usually big cabs or merlots.

A few key things to remember when trying to come up with a pairing with red wine …

  • Versatile wines are always going to show better with acidity playing an important part. A wine that is high in acid will stand up better against food than a wine that is lacking.
  • Fruity wines tend to have versatility and they don’t compete with flavors.
  • Wines can be enjoyed with spicier food, they just need to be a bit higher in acidity and usually with a little residual sugar.
  • To tame a big red, pair it with a food that is high in protein. Proteins help to bind and smooth out tannins.
  • Wines can be an ingredient in foods – and when done well a good ingredient too. If you add wine to the food plan on serving it with dinner also.
And a few key points to remember when pairing with a white …

  • Sweetness does matter. Some desserts are better off enjoyed by themselves some can be paired very well with a wine.
  • Acidity is one of the most important things.
  • Bubbly is very versatile and (in my opinion) a very essential part to any holiday meal.
And when in doubt, pork and poultry are great matches with whites! If I have questions the website that I frequently check is It’s a great one that suggests different wines to pair with most main dishes.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday season! Happy Thanksgiving and hope to see everyone through for Holiday Barrel weekend!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Woody team!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fall Release Weekend!

It’s a cold overcast day that lets me know that fall has officially arrived. I’m sitting at my desk in a fleece vest trying to stay warm and still trying to recuperate from Fall Release Weekend last weekend. Fall Release is a big weekend in the Walla Walla Valley that started as Cayuse Release and Abeja Release Weekend and has grown in numbers over the past few years. I remember working Fall Release Weekend last year in the tasting room with only two other people and it was crazy. This year we wanted to try to eliminate the over-crowded feel and open it up a bit. We decided to do all of our tasting in the “Reserve House” instead of the regular Tasting Room. We poured through a mixture of both current release wines and some reserve wines, including our new release the 2007 Charbonneau Red. Chefs Charles Calder and Jay Entrikin prepared a wonderful Asian-themed spread that complimented the wines that we were pouring. Rick and Darcey were on hand to pour wine, serve food and mingle with guest. It was a really fun weekend and a good chance to catch up with many of our longtime customers and to meet some new ones as well!

And now that Fall Release Weekend has come and gone is time to start planning for Holiday Barrel Weekend. Holiday Barrel is always the first full weekend in December, which does not give us much time to turn around and get ready for it. This year we will be doing barrel samples of the 2008 “Artist Series” and have the 2007 “Artist Series” Cabernet, the 2007 Columbia Valley Merlot and the 2008 Estate Barbera as our featured releases. This is perfect since we are close to being sold out of both the 2006 Columbia Valley Merlot and the 2007 Estate Barbera. We still have some of the 2006 “Artist Series" Cabernet available which means we will have nice sample packs available.

Holiday Barrel will, once again, be held in the production building with sales in the Tasting Room. Chef Paul Williams will be on hand to prepare all the food and Cheryl Cosner-Williams of Upper Dry Creek Ranch will also be around to sell lamb sampler packs. Chef Paul’s lamb creations are always customer favorites. Our newest “Artist Series” label artist, Irene Yesley, will be available to sign bottles and posters.

The 2007 “Artist Series” Cabernet is a new release and will be offered at an introductory price of $44 a bottle. The 10% case discount will still apply to this wine. Also, we are offering both the 2007 Nelms Road Merlot and the 2007 Nelms Road Cabernet for $20 a bottle, with a 10% case discount. All three are excellent wines and will make a fine addition to any holiday meal.

And don’t forget to join Thomas at 20something - the new vintage at the Fremont Studios in Seattle on November 21st from 6 to 10 pm. He’ll be pouring our 2008 Estate Sauvignon Blanc that evening. Come early and grab a taste before it’s all gone!

If we didn’t see you during Fall Release Weekend I hope to see everyone sometime during Holiday Barrel Weekend!