There were a couple of years when I missed Feast Walla Walla, and several years when I had a press pass and "worked" the venue by taking notes and videos. This is the first year when I
was on "my own" and it was fun to relax, sip some good wine, visit with friends, and sample many goodies.
|Me with Shane of Downtown Walla2 Farmer's Market|
Feast Walla Walla is always a great venue and the magic happens on First Avenue downtown Walla Walla at Main Street. The gigantic white tent begins to take shape Friday evening and by Saturday morning, it can pack up to 600 people and several food and wine purveyors. The excitement begins at the tent entrance when guests receive an etched wine glass commemorating the event, a souvenir plate to hold the "feast" from local food vendors and 10 tokens to be used towards food and wine.
|The Marc - Asparagus! |
So let's cut to the chase. Some of the highlights for me was it didn't seem as crowded this year, therefore I didn't feel as "squished." I am not sure if it was due to less people or larger space. I will also take the time to talk about some of my favorite food. Of course, one must not leave without dropping a token to get a little bag of chocolate truffles from Bright's Candies.
The Marc Restaurant at the Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center, of course didn't disappoint with their selection of food. They served bites of local Walla Walla pickled asparagus rolled with house-cured prosciutto. Oh my! The Marc also served a bite of dessert with a Parisian-style milk chocolate, hazelnut, and apricot macaroon. Beautifully done.
Sapolil Cellars really thought their presentation through ... (a hint to other wineries who serve food - - pair food and wine) ... Chef Peyton of Sapolil Cellars presented little bites of deliciousness that paired so well with their Sapolil "Dwelley" Reserve - 2009 (red blend). The bites were Sapolil "Dwelley" Syrah-infused salami chips topped with roasted garlic, goat cheese, and pickled red onion. I kept going back for more.
Chef Paul and crew from the Bank & Grill Catering Co are usually one of the most popular booths and nothing has changed. I chose a crostini, spread with a blue cheese compound butter and topped with hand-carved beef steak from their generous platter of grilled meat.
|Bank & Grill Catering Co. |
I wished I could have visited more winery booths than I had, but one must be responsible ... I sipped on Henry Earl Estate Riesling - 2013 and Henry Earl Estate "Homesteader" (red blend), Kontos Merlot - 2010, Plumb Cellars "Damn Straight" (red blend), Plumb Cellars Viognier, SYZYGY Syrah - 2009, Waterbrook Winery Sangiovese Rose, and Dunham Cellars Riesling. None of these wines disappointed. All very lovely, and especially paired with food - - which leads me to this suggestion ...
|Zach of ...|
The phone rang. I looked at the caller-ID and my little heart started racing as if it was a call from a former love. It was the call I had been waiting for. It was from Stoller Family Estate in the Willamette Valley. They were letting me know my Spring Wine Club shipment was getting ready to be packed and while they were at it, was there anything else they could send me - - perhaps more of their Stoller Pinot Noir Rose?
Yes-yes-yes! Fill me up with bottles and bottles of Stoller Rose - 2014! Now I can finally finish up the last two bottles of the 2013 that I have been hiding in the wine cooler. Hiding from who? From me! There's also a few bottles of 2013 Provence rose, as well. I guess I feared there was going to be a 2014 rose shortage. It is also about storing some fond memories.
I think it is very possible to fall in love with the experiences you have had with a wine, as much as it is to fall in love with the wine, itself. If your two loves go together, then as a lover of wine, you are blessed.
One of the world's greatest wine collectors is Park B. Smith, a textile entrepreneur in his late 70's, who lives in an New England town of Northwestern Connecticut. About eight years ago Mr. Smith left a quote with Eric Asimov, wine writer for the New York Times, and it has resonated with me, ever since.
“Something happens to people who love wine. You really discover a camaraderie. It’s not like coin collecting or something cynical. It’s like sharing love in a glass.” Besides my love of a crisp cool dry rose, especially those from Provence, there has always been something about this Oregon Pinot Noir rose from Stoller that has captivated me. On a hot day, I will often crave the palate of this peach colored wine that expresses notes of strawberries, raspberries, watermelon and the crisp fruity acidity of ruby red grapefruit.
It has also been about the experiences I have had at their winery, the camaraderie I had with friends who had joined me at the estate; from the stroll through the Stoller Estate Vineyards talking about the soil, the canopy of the vines, and even my personal future; to another visit at Stoller enjoying a picnic sack lunch out on the beautiful winery grounds with other wine writing peers. In those visits we were sharing camaraderie and most certainly we were sharing "love in a glass."
My last visit to Stoller was three years ago, and the winery gave me one of their signature etched Riedel Oregon Pinot Noir glasses. It was a token that meant a lot, as whenever I look at the glass, whether it is in the cupboard or I am using it, the glass brings back so many wonderful memories of events ...
Time rolls along and before we know it, we look at a landmark and it is ten years later. Indeed. When I think of the time Mannina Cellars was first getting their start, so was this wine blog - ten years ago.
|Don and Jason |
It's with a sad heart that I read last night Don and Nicole Redman have chosen to close Mannina Cellars after ten years of operation. It's bittersweet news, but I am very happy for them. They are free of the liabilities, the rigorous responsibilities, and hard work that goes along with owning a winery and vineyards. As they can tell you first hand, that owning a winery is not at all like the critics will lead themselves to believe, that winery owners sit in their chateau every evening overlooking their land and the sunset while sipping on a vintage wine. Even if an active owner of a winery does have a chateau, he or she is probably working his or her butt off in the cellar or working long hours during out of town events. And quite too often, winemakers usually wear more grapes than they drink. A winery like Mannina Cellars is no different than any mom and pop business. Don and Nicole have a young family and now have more time to watch their daughters and son grow and be a part of those monumental times of their children's lives.
A young friend from Wyoming, Jason Baggett, was looking to extend his education and go the winemaking route. We encouraged him to come to the Institute for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla instead of the U.C. Davis winemaking program. Jason was looking for an internship before he would land in Walla Walla and start school. He called me one day and asked what I knew about Mannina Cellars and the guy that owned it. I told him it was a perfect fit and to take the job. I remember calling Don and telling him that Jason would be the perfect fit - - and they were. To this day, even though Jason has moved back to Wyoming, Jason and the Redman family have a lifelong friendship....