The “amuse bouche” was on Friday with the incredibly generous goodie bag filled with books, wine, jump drives, CDs and magazines. Just like an amuse bouche before a meal, it was a wonderful surprise. I want to thank all the generous sponsors for that gift. I was grateful that I was staying there at the motel, that puppy was heavy and I was able to take it back to my room and not have to carry it around like some did.
Every good meal should be accompanied by good wine. At this feast, great wine was abundant. It was wonderful to see and talk to many great winemakers and representatives from Washington State and beyond.
Like a good appetizer course, the speed tasting on Friday and Saturday provided a fun, exciting way to sample an array of amazing wines. Also, just like an appetizer course you have to be careful not to overindulge in order to have room for the incredible dinner waiting for you.
The bus tours to the vineyards on Saturday morning were what I would call the main course of the conference. Included were all the aspects of a good meal – incredible scenery, abundant information to soak in and digest, and of course great people to share it with! Our bus was fortunate enough to have Dr. Kevin Pogue, geologist and expert in Walla Walla Valley terroir, as our tour guide. The first stop was Forgotten Hills vineyard, just south of town. Here Christa Hilt from Waters Winery met us with tastes of their single vineyard syrah sourced from Forgotten Hills. Kevin was a wealth of knowledge with regards to how climate, elevation, & water tables make a difference in the fruit from each vineyard.
Next, we headed northeast of town to the home of Walla Walla Vintners. We were met by Myles Anderson, winemaker at WW Vintners as well as Jason Magnaghi, viticulturist for Leonetti Cellars. After receiving a glass on Myles’ exceptional Cab Franc (a personal favorite of mine) we followed both him and Jason out to Leonetti’s Millcreek Upland Vineyards. This vineyard is completely dry farmed. It was fascinating learning about the history and farming methods from Jason. Viticulture is truly a labor of love. We all were treated to the fruits of that labor. Jason brought the 2005 Reserve, sourced 100% from the Millcreek Upland Vineyard, for us all the sample. Chillin out under the trees with a lovely breeze, sipping some premium WA wines, I could have stayed here all day. But alas, lunch awaits at our final stop of the day, Cougar Crest.
Cougar Crest rolled out the red carpet for us with a tour and a great lunch of chicken and veggie kabobs, and tabboulah salad that paired wonderfully with their Rose.
Now I know what you are thinking – What about dessert? Every good meal has to have dessert. Of course it does and for me just like a sweet treat, dessert was meeting all of my wonderful fellow bloggers and wine writers. Many of whom I have been conversing with online for a couple years now and have finally met in real life. I enjoyed networking and meeting new people and hearing their stories and passions. That is what it is all about, passion. Most of us don’t make a dime doing this, we do it because of the passion we have for wine.