During the summer, there are plenty of opportunties to participate in wine and food events. The Walla Walla Valley is a true wine and food lover's paradise. Here are some of the things we did in July and August.
On July 22nd, Lynn and I went to Kontos Cellar's winemaker's dinner. The dinner was prepared by Rich and Cynthia Koby's Plow and Vine catering business, and was accompanied, of course, by Cameron and Chris Kontos' wines. (See the June issue for the delicious 2015 Gossamer White). The Plow and Vine is great addition to the Kobys' periodic Fat Duck Inn winemakers' dinners.
The next day, Saturday, July 23rd, we visited one of Walla Walla's newest wineries, Aluvé, on Mill Creek Road, just past Walla Walla Vintners and àMaurice, and adjacent to the Figgins vineyard. It is owned by JJ and Kelly Menozzi, former Air Force pilots, who launched a new career as winemakers. Their inaugural releases, a Chardonnay, a BDX lend and a Cabernet Sauvignon comprise a promising début. The wines will be reviewed in the September issue of the Review of Washington Wines which goes on line a week from today.
On Sunday, the 24th, the Walla Walla community bade farewell to Jeff Popick who retired as viticulture instructor at the Walla Walla Community College. His last day was July 31. He and Michelle Hunt are on their way to Tennessee to care for her aging mother. A potluck supper and plenty of wine was served at this event. Jeff came to the Institute for Enology and Viticulture at the Community College in 2010 and has been a valuable asset to the program.
On August 12th I attended the PAWS (Perfectly Aged Wine Sippers) get together, hosted by Al and Jane Roberts. There was a blind tasting of four whites, and guests were to guess which variety each wine was and, if possible, the winery. I got two out of four right. I guessed correctly that the first wine was a Semillon from L'Ecole No. 41 and another as a Riesling (2014 Poet's Leap). But I, and a couple of other tasters, were thrown off by the other two wines. I guessed one was a Chardonnay, for the oak, and the other a Viognier for its tropicality. But I got it backwards. What I thought was Chardonnay was K Vintners Viognier which had been barrel fermented. The other which I thought was Viognier turned out to be Tamarack Cellars Chardonnay, made in a fruity style in stainless steel. This is an indication of how winemaking styles can influence how wines are perceived.
On Saturday, August 13 Jan and Doug Roskelley's Tero Estates held its Annual Wine Club Appreciation Block Party at the Windrow Vineyard. The guests assembled at the crush pad for crostini and Gruet bubbly, and then went on a tour of the various vineyard blocks. At each block, a small dish was served with a wine pairing. The dishes were prepared by Emery and Sandy Kleck and Jeff Davis of The Q Wood-Fired Grill catering operation. At the Cabernet Franc Block, sliced pork tenderloin was paired with the Tero 2012 Cabernet Franc. At the Plateau Block, Elk Bites on tomato salad was served with the 2012 Windrow Field Blend. At three other blocks, wine and food pairings were served as well. Thanks to Doug and Jan and to Q Wood Fired Grill, and to the volunteers who helped for this great event!
On a couple of occasions, we had lunch at the Community College's Wine Country Culinary Institute, run by chefs Robin Leventhal and Dan Thiessen. The Capstone Kitchen offers an enticing menu of dishes prepared and served by the College's culinary students. Red and white wine flights from College Cellars are also available. The Kitchen is open for lunch Tuesdays through Thursdays, and is a culinary experience that is not to be missed.