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Quilceda Creek, 2


In early February, I wrote about Quilceda Creek Vintners, whose “private member” list we had signed up for some time in the past and then forgotten about. Thus, the email from Quilceda Creek in late January announcing the upcoming release of their 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley took me entirely by surprise.

The winery is up in Snohomish, as is my friend Russ, which suggested to me that he must have put me on to them, as he quickly confirmed. He also explained that by buying some of the (very expensive) Cab, we would be eligible to buy as well their much cheaper and absolutely first-rate red blend, which is released in August. Reviewing the website, I learned that “Quilceda Creek is dedicated exclusively to the production of world-class Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon. Founded in 1979, Quilceda Creek has had an unbroken string of highly-rated vintages that has led Robert Parker Jr. to name it Washington State’s premier Cabernet Sauvignon producer.”

Come February 7, I logged on to Quilceda Creek’s website early and ordered three bottles. Two options were offered: shipping, or onsite pickup during the March 16-17 weekend, when the winery would be open to members for not just pickup but also a tasting of the new wine. I chose pickup, which I soon learned was even a better idea than I imagined. For, Russ would be attending, as would sister Robin, my as-yet-unmet super-cool e-pal, in from Hilo for their brother’s wedding.

The wedding was yesterday. Quilceda Creek pickup today. Alas, Gail was called away at the last minute on urgent business, so I had to go without her.

The winery is set in a mostly semi-rural area about 32 miles north of us, but right at the opening to an unexpected residential development. I parked just off the road, walked in through the gates, and checked in at a table. Then I entered one of the winery buildings, devoted largely to events such as this. I was handed two tokens, one good for a glass of the newly released 2010 Cab and one for a glass of the 2010 blend to be released in the summer. Also a ticket, for dessert. And I was handed a wine glass along with a paper plate that had a slit to accommodate the glass stem.

Along one wall, two men were pouring the cab. Across the way on the opposite wall, a man and a woman were serving the blend, and there was also a tray with tiny paper plates, each holding a slice of duck. A third wall had a cheese spread. The fourth wall, or the location that would be the fourth wall, was a large doorway leading into a darker room with wine barrels turned upright to serve as cocktail tables and with a wine storage area.

I tried the red blend first, along with what turned out to be a fantastic slice of duck. Since the duck didn’t require a ticket or token, I suppose I was free to take more. It was tempting. But I contented myself with the one piece. As I drank the first glass, I wandered around the space, then made it to a quiet corner, where I was looking out the window just as Russ and Robin came into view. I headed out to meet them, then realized I was probably violating protocol. Sure enough, as I re-entered with them, I was offered new tokens for additional wine, which I explained I didn’t deserve.

While Russ and Robin got their pours of the blend, I took a glass of the cab. Then we made our way through to one of the cocktail barrels, where we set our plates and glasses down and commenced to talk.

It’s not every day you get to meet an e-pal of several years standing. What a delight!* She and Leslie have figured out the secret to a happy retirement. They do so many exciting things, and set a great example.

*Yes, in case you’re wondering, it’s true. As part of our e-paldom, Robin is a regular visitor to Ron’s View, which means she’ll be reading this post. But that’s not why I’m calling our time together a delight. Rather, I’m saying so because it was. I only wish Gail could have come. And fellow e-pal Leslie, too, whom I hope to meet when they’re both here in August.

The wine? Yes, pretty good. I lack a suitable vocabulary. And as good as it is, I couldn’t help thinking that it’s still very young. Not that I’m an expert on such things. But I figure it will need to sit three years at least before it begins to mature. On the wall just to the side of the doorway leading to the room with the cocktail barrels, there was a framed menu of a 2011 White House dinner at which the 2005 cab was served. Perhaps that’s confirmation that a three-year wait is about right.

Once we were done with our wine, I turned in my ticket for dessert, which was a small chocolate cake cylinder with a peanut-buttery filling and a tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Excellent. Then we headed out the door and over to the main building to pick up our wine. It’s a vast space, with barrel storage to one side and tanks to the other, leading into a smaller space where people were waiting to take our names and give us our orders, already boxed up. We carried them out to the street, said goodbye, and went to our cars. Forty minutes later, I was home.

More in three years.


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