We were both sick last weekend, V in one end, B in the other. Not fun, by any stretch of the imagination and we will leave the almost death throes to your imagination. Our opinion is that it was brought in by a flock of pink flamingos. V&I have named what we experienced “The Pink Flamingo Flu.”
Despite the flu, we had to clean the house from top to bottom, outside to inside to get ready for a home appraisal in anticipation of a refinance to remodel the “beautiful green house.” We were not going to let something like a near death experience keep us from making sure our home is spic-n-span. We have been trying to get this remodel accomplished for four years now and at each attempt something made us stop short of actually “taking a start” in the project management vernacular. It seems this time though, the planets and stars have aligned, the appraisal was a favorable one, and it is now or never. Interest rates have bounced a tad higher from their all-time lows, sadly we most likely will not see those low rates ever again, but the house has appreciated enough to allow us a margin for the upgrade.
Our reward for the remodel in the long term will be more space to entertain guests, indoors and outdoors, as well as increased storage for the stuff which seems to get on B’s very last nerve. However, the end result of the remodel is – unless somehow or other B&V experience a monetary windfall – there is no prospect of a Corvette in the near future. A dream deferred but not lost; B vows. Meanwhile, in the short term we can enjoy our Fidelitas weekend with D&V guilt-free for not having to perform the requisite weekly home maintenance.
Well not exactly guilt-free. There is a little twinge of guilt for us as we realize that friends in the Washington Wine industry are busier now than ever and we are going to be out having fun. More and more wineries are creating a presence in Woodinville, Fidelitas included. All the wineries are reporting on social media they are getting deliveries of this varietal or that from this vineyard or that as harvest is in full swing. With 2013’s August the third hottest August on record, gapes of all varieties are ready NOW! They have to be harvested. Some vineyards will be harvested by machine, others by hand. Either way it takes logistical talents to ensure the right people and equipment are in the right place at the right time. To top it all off, there is the weather to contend with. Questions like; “Should we water still?” “Is that weather system just off the coast going to have enough steam to climb the Cascades?” “Just how fast is that air mass moving anyways?” “Is the warm and cold air colliding with enough force to create thunder and lightning thereby creating additional hazards for the work crews?” “How is that going to affect our pulling grapes from…” are at the forefront of the growers and winemakers minds.
Added to all that busyness, The Wine Boss and his crew have put together vineyard walks and talks on Red Mountain for Friday evening and Sunday morning and B&V, along with D&V, chose to attend both. It is a rare event indeed to have a Sunday morning brunch out on Red Mountain and we jumped at the chance. Especially with the acclaimed Andrae’s Kitchen from Walla Walla providing the food for the entire weekend.
Thankfully, the bad weather is behind us for the remainder of the weekend, although throughout today we had our doubts. Pulling into the parking lot we see there are a few cars, we are neither early nor late, and we all notice a certain lovely white VW with a load of tumbleweeds filling up the back seat and spilling out into the front. “That is odd” we note and we stroll into the beautifully set up tasting room nevertheless. While we wait for the remaining Friday evening’s attendees to assemble, the first glass of the 2012 Semillon from Stillwater Creek Vineyard serves to erase whatever vestiges of guilt we had, and we are ready to learn what Charlie and his assistant Mitch have to share. As we walk through the Red Mountain Vineyard’s rows of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, we experience pulling “berries” off hanging clusters and having a burst of juice in our mouth. I reminded V, “Don’t bite too hard, the seeds aren’t pleasant! I learned that last year when I got to attend this event, remember?” Last year V was elsewhere, visiting grandbabies. After listening to what was experienced during last year’s event, she is here and fully in the moment; taking pictures, excitedly talking, and listening with rapt attention to the explanations to various questions and posing a couple of her own. Right off it is easy to see the Cabernet clusters and the berries themselves are smallishbut we learn that is the way the wine maker wants them. Small means concentrated flavors. Who are we to argue? These are not quite ready to be harvested yet – a bit tart or “acidic” – maybe 7 to 10 days more are needed depending on the amount of sunshine and water. The group files up the incline to another part of the vineyard where Charlie has contracted some of the Merlot fruit and we notice the Merlot clusters and berries are slightly larger, juicer. They are ready and are going to be harvested by hand tomorrow morning. An attendee asks the question, “Can anyone come and help?”
Charlie and Mitch both smile and say, “We are starting at 6 am and you are welcome to show up but we don’t think you can keep up with the harvesters, they are very fast. Most likely they will be done by noon.” As we recall no one stepped up and said “We’ll be out anyway.”
We make our way back to the Fidelitas estate vineyard acreage where Charlie has planted three separate “clones’ of Cabernet Sauvignon. First set of vines are Clone 2, the middle set are Clone 8, and the final set of vines are Clone 6. As we taste the grapes, we experience a distinct difference in sweet, tart, and a combination of both. V&I reminisced about the vineyard walk we experienced earlier this year in which we actually tasted through the first wines from each of the planting of the clones. We remember carefully watching Mitch as he talked about each of the wines and the qualities each wine currently exhibited and would provide, “if blended.” He loves making wine; we noticed that right off when we first met. We distinctly remember him talking us through wine, cheese, and food pairings – like Chicken Tarragon – while he was working for another winemaker here on Red Mountain 10 years ago. It certainly is fun for us observing his career from the periphery. As we walked back to the tasting room to experience the wines included in our wine club shipment, the Red Mountain sunset, and the sumptuous meal chef Andrae had created, V&I talked about trying to find a way to put in a bid for the upcoming auction of over 650 acres here at Red Mountain. We are not as well-heeled as all that and there is no conceivable way we could in reality pull off a bid for one parcel let alone all 31 as some rumors are saying someone will, and jokingly we say, “Hey! Maybe we could talk Charlie into letting us have a stake in Row 15, Fidelitas – Sunset Road.” Then again we will have to table that offer as we most likely would be in way over our heads, even at that. Oh Wait! We kind of already have that from a cast-off cane which was found during the spring walk through and we picked-up, took home, cut the end off, put it in a dirt filled pot, and amazingly enough it sprouted leaves!Before we get too excited though, we will just have to see if it winters over before we start contacting Dick Boushey or Damon LaLonde to manage our vineyard.
The hors de’oeuvres prepared by Chef Andrae were:
Small fish taco on 1 inch yellow corn tortilla rounds with a Padron and Serrano chili pepper aioli – these had just the right amount of heat according to B
Pulled pork on small pita squares – yummy
The meal, served family style was:
Roasted fresh sweet corn from Walla Walla salad, with a simple aioli, a dash of cayenne, and Parmesan cheese
Hanger steak from a small farm in the Skagit Valley grilled to rare perfection with roasted fresh Walla Walla tomatoes
Elberta peach crumble with a dollop of freshly whipped cream
Our friends – paired with the 2012 Optu White and the 2009 Red Mountain Merlot, “The Clink”, the assorted guests, a beautiful Red Mountain evening and sunset in an intimate setting, this was nothing short of spectacular.
All throughout the meal we observe Kasee and crew diligently attend to the wine needs of the guests as Chef Andrae serves. We then witness the ensuing clean-up activities. Wanting to assuage my rightly felt guilt, I gather dishes after those at our table are finished with their meal and conversing while waiting on the desert. Plates and eating utensils in hand I walk into the kitchen area and am summarily “fired.” I didn’t know that somehow I was transported to “The Donald’s Apprentice.” I am not supposed to be doing clean-up duty, it seems. Excellent manners from a good upbringing, notwithstanding, I have unwittingly broached some protocol of being a guest. Uh-Oh. Good thing I didn’t attempt to take tumbleweeds out of a certain lovely white VW, no telling what would have happened.
Until Saturday Then…