Four applications of aloe-vera has done little to make my racoon eyes less noticeable. On the other hand, V is beautiful as always. We are raring to go for breakfast at Fidelitas on Red Mountain and our third visit there in three days. During the drive we talk about this year’s warm grape harvest, the sun coming up a little later and going down a little sooner, the upcoming home opener for the Ams, the close of baseball season, and the Red Mountain Block Party at the end of the month. We purchased our tickets for that long ago and squirreled them away until the appropriate time.
It is hard to believe the Autumnal Equinox is two short weeks away as warm as it is, especially in light of the fact I am wearing shorts and sandals (with a pair of proper shoes for walking the vineyards stashed on the back floorboard) on this glorious Sunday morning. It is remarkably quiet out here this time of the day on Red Mountain and it appears we are among the first to arrive. I ask V, “Do you know what sparkler Kasee has planned?”
She replies, “Not sure. I am glad it is going to be a surprise. That adds a certain element of fun. Don’t you think?” She then squeals with delight, “Do you see the tables?”
I nod, pull down my hat and adjust sunglasses in a futile attempt to disguise the effects of yesterday’s excursion. Carly Simon starts singing in my head, I think you know what song.
Now inside, we are greeted like family, hugs all around, and are promptly poured a glass of “Its A Headsnapper” prosecco from Italy. It is light, a bit tart, not overly sweet like we were thinking it was going to be. V loves bubbles and this one, once she hears the price, is going to be showing up at our house, I am quite certain.
It appears that folks are gathering around the Wine Boss and he is explaining where we are going to walk this morning.It seems like we are going to walk the inside of Red Mountain Vineyard (RMV), past where Charlie’s Merlot was picked yesterday, up to Red Heaven and Scootney Flats, then cut over to the left through the back of Hedges Estate, then back down to Fidelitas for a taste of grapes from Charlie’s estate and breakfast from Chef Andrae.
Once across Sunset Road, the gravel crunches underfoot as we make our way up the road leading by the vineyards. Grapes are still hanging heavy but they won’t wait much longer as Charlie has explained that as warm as it has been they have had to keep putting water down, not too much though. There is a fine line between too much water and dehydration, it seems. It has been said “Raisins do not make great, let alone passable, wine.”
As we near the top of Red Heaven we spot a couple of rows of the Touriga grape which have Barnard-Griffin’s name on them. This makes me flashback to my birthday when Damon LaLonde set up a surprise tasting with Rob, Mickey, and Megan during my birthday drive around and Touriga was one of the several varietals sampled. I distinctly remember two things; I smelled flowers in the glass as I swirled and then inhaled deeply, and I remember Rob saying, over the top of Chopin Nocturnes Volume 1, with a hint of a smile, Ah! Touriga!” I’ll not soon forget that moment and to double etch it in what few brain cells I have left I just had to photo-bomb the picture V was attempting to take.
Down into Charlie’s Estate now tasting the Clone 2 berries from the hanging cluster. They are much sweeter in just two days, Charlie’s eyes are lighted up! We both remember hearing him say, “Wow! Amazing what two days will do! They have ramped up the sugars!” V&I are both stunned at the difference ourselves. What an experience these three days have been!
Now all that is left is the breakfast Chef Andrae has prepared of two different frittatas, biscuits and gravy, bacon, fruit salad, and paired with the 2012 Semillon which provided a perfect counter-point to everything on the plate. This is a brunch on a scale we have never experienced prior to September 8th, 2013.
Not only did we have another outstanding viticultural experience and education this weekend, we also got to meet Chef Andrae and experience his take on incorporating fresh ingredients into dinner, lunch, and breakfast. Now we know why he is in such demand. Lastly we learned that if you are in Walla Walla one could stop at the Walla Walla Farmer’s Co-Op and get a cold drink, fuel for the car, and some of Andrae’s gourmet food. Yes at a gas station. Sounds like a bargain by any stretch of the imagination and an entrant for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
During breakfast Charlie comes over and we talk more about the harvest and the goings on at his production facility. I tell him I maybe having an “EYE” problem this week. He replied,” Why don’t you come over and see me at the facility then? I may have the cure.”
Who knows, maybe I just will at that…