Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Where wine has taken me

The wine industry opens the doors for travel all over the world.
Taking in the sights of a walled city in France
The first 18 years of my life I had never traveled past Montana to the east, as far as Sun Peaks Resort (my favorite ski destination) to the north and California to the south.  I knew there was more to the world than what I had seen and put travel onto my bucket list.

During my Sophomore year in college at Washington State University I applied for a study abroad program based in Toulouse, France focused on the French wine industry and European agriculture.   Not only was I selected but I was honored a scholarship to boot!  Europe was amazing, more to come on my experiences for those amazing 3 months.
Large Counoise clusters going through verasion.

After college, wine took me to my first crush job in Blenheim, New Zealand.  I was able to travel before grape harvest started and once it did, I worked 12 hour shifts 7 days a week for 6 weeks.  It was exhausting but one of the most amazing experiences I have had. One can learn about making wine from a book or class but it isn't the same as getting your hands dirty and doing punch downs, dig outs, inoculations, and additions.

Digging a tank of Pinot Noir skins in New Zealand
What travel destinations are on your bucket list?  I know I will go back to New Zealand and would recommend for everyone to go!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It takes a lot of good beer to make great wine!

Decorated with photos of the wild horse of the area, an old fashioned bar and a saddle seat for photo taking, the Horse Heaven Hills Brewery is quite a little gem in Prosser.

Horse Heaven Hills Brewery located off main street in down town Prosser, next to AutoZone

Whether it is after work, before an event or on a sunny Saturday afternoon, a beer from Horse Heaven Hills hits the spot.  With many different styles and flavors of beer there is a beer for everyone.  Hefe, the stallion stout, Honey Girl, Long Live Lager, IPA, and Smokin' Anvil, there really is no way to go wrong.  My personal fav has to be the Delta, a lightered style IPA with delta hops.  Nothing is better than driving through the hop fields from Yakima to Prosser and then enjoying the wonderful nector they produce.  

Carol brewing courtesy of Horse Heaven Hills Brewery
The brewery is located in the tasting room and if you are lucky you can catch the owner Gary brewing while his lovely wife Carol pours at the bar.  Need a place to catch the game? HHH Brewery is it.  Need a nice cold one after wine tasting with the wife all day? HHH is the perfect location.  They are even joined with a BBQ joint, Hog Heaven, so you can get a nice rack of ribs while enjoying your frosted beverage. 

Caroline, Yun, Myself and Becca enjoying a beer before the Prosser Bachelor Auction

Monday, June 25, 2012

Is it Raining Outside?

There is one tool that every farmer in Washington BETTER use and one every other person SHOULD...

Ag Weather Net is a WSU real time weather website with weather stations littered throughout the state of Washington that updates from these 130+ stations every 15 minutes.  Wow!  The information is real time and the only prediction is sent out as a weekly email that both recaps the last week and also gives the expected general weather for Washington

The sites give you access to all historical data for the sites, along with their current air temperature, humidity, evapotransporation, rainfall and much, much more.  In my life, I use Ag Weather Net to decide which vineyards to look at, if it is indeed raining where the weather man says it is and also for the disease pressure.

Farmers are facing one of the most difficult time of the year.  Cherries can be ruined by rain and Ag Weather Net allows farmers to know in real time if it is raining close to or even at their site.  If you have the money, WSU will even place a weather station at your desired location.  Warning: it does cost a few thousands, of course. 

I am currently all over the Powdery Mildew model for Southeast Washington.  Many farmers  use Ag Weather Net as a tool to decide their fungicide program but looking at a disease model that says you have 80-100% pressure for a terrible disease that can ruin your year can stress a farmer out, let me tell ya. 

I encourage you to check it out! www,  Even in everyday life it can be great to know if it is really raining at the town next door or if the weather man is wrong.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


A Sister By Blood, A Friend By Choice
Julia and I, Moms weekend 2009
This weekend while home I officially asked my baby sister Julia to be my Maid of Honor!  Wedding planning is in full swing for me and I am so blessed to have such amazing friends and family in my life through this process.  Although my sister and I fought to no end growing up, as we have gotten older we have found a love and joy for the time we spend together.  
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My mother is another story... Bridezilla  Momzilla is really how I would describe her actions... But I hold hope that the 14 emails per day about random wedding ideas and thoughts will subside.  Seriously. 14 emails. Per day.   Sean the (not so) little brother will be a groomsman and my dads only job is to keep my mother in check.  

I have learned to take a step back, take a deep breath and am trying to enjoy the wedding planning process as much as I can. After all it only happens once!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

This put a smile on my face!

My wonderful fiancé Chad brought home some beautiful flowers the other night.  They have brighten not only the living room but my whole week!  And these have survived my strange kitty cat who really likes to demolish and chew all the other flowers I ever have...

Thank you Chad!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

Last week was full of one thing in this part of Washington: RAIN.  

2 inches in 48 hours.

I am loving the beautiful weather that has returned, 85 and bright and sunny!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Work is tough when you have to taste wine all day...


My last two days of work have consisted of presentations and discussion about viticulture and enology (grape growing and wine making) with the company I work for.

Topics included the effects of macaration and alcohol content on tannins in winemaking, Clone expression in the vineyard and winery, and tasting... lots of tasting.

Erath Pinot Noir and Stags Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon clone tasting.
It is amazing to get to see what these fabulous winemakers do with the fruit I look at! After tasting from 9-12 we ate a wonderful lunch at Mojave on the patio of Desert Wind Winery. Then off to tour Dick Boushey's vineyard and taste different wines made from a block of Syrah we were looking at.  Then we were able to tour the Washington State University research winery at WSU-IREC.
The Walter Clore Center

Dinner was amazing back at the beautiful Walter Clore Center in Prosser!  Frank Magana  catered a wonderful meal of bacon wrapped beef filet over a bed of mushroom pilaf with the last asparagus of the season drizzled in hollandiase sauce.  A wonderful evening of great food, an amazing view and conversations with great people.

The 'tour de France'
Oh and how can I not mention the wine??  Started with some sparkling, then onto Grenache Blanc from Dick Boushey's vineyard, then a wonderful 'Tour de France' 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Bloom, beautiful and fragrant.


We have reached my second favorite time of the year in the vineyards!  The intoxicating aroma, the tiny calyptra (Flower petals below, they are five fused petals which detach from the flower, curl a tad and fall off), the long days in the warm sun. 
The very beginning of bloom! The caps are so swollen!

Grapes are self pollinated so Bees are mostly seen in the inter row feeding on Yellow Mustard or Meadow Salsify.  

I enjoy the beauty in every stage of the vineyard, but this is very amazing.  I suggest visiting vineyards in many stages, yes when the grapes are ripe for the tasting, one loves to visit the vineyard.  But there is beauty out there all year round!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Viticulture: The not-so-glamourus side of the indusrty

Everyone in the wine industry spends their time sipping wine, looking fabulous and being rock stars, right? Not always but that is what weekends are for!

Viticulture is the down and dirty of the wine industry.  Days are spent one of two ways it seems, either painted in sunscreen trying to find cool shade in the 100 degree weather of the Washington dessert or bundled up from head to two in the oh-so-stylish Carhart coat and bibs (bibs? think insulated overalls, really quite a dream when it is 25 degrees and snowing sideways.)

There are many issues and hard work that went into the grapes that have become the wonderful glass of vino you sip to celebrate or just to relax after a busy day at the office.  Farming is hard work and one must always be aware of the upcoming new pests from California or Japan that is set to land in Washington, new diseases like leaf roll and how it is transmitted in the vineyard and the ever elusive "Predicting consumer preference."  <Insert rap song about Moscado here>

Wine Spectator published great article "Moscato Mania" describing the boom in Moscado. 

As with most agricultural sectors, Viticulture has been concerned with the recent speculation and scientific studies concerning the effect of pesticides (namely Neonicotinoids) on bee populations.  Although Grapes are self-pollinating, Bees are present on the plants on the vineyard floor and must be taken into consideration when planning pest management.  The Good Fruit Grower Magazine had a great article in the May 15th issue describing the new findings and where new research is needed to protect the bees.

Upper Right: Drift pesticide damage on edges of Grape leaves
Upper Left: Beautiful Gewurztraminer inflorescence, notice the wonderful Pink tint
Lower: Oh the Irony...  YES, they are spraying certified organic pesticides but I believe most consumers would not believe me if I told them much of the organic products they purchase are sprayed. 

Speaking of 7-9% alcohol and fruity, fizzy wines, Have you tried "New Age" yet?  From Elsa Bianchi in Argentina, this wine is a great summer sipper at a great price point.  I for one cannot wait for this trend to spread! Who says wines need to be loaded with alcohol anyway?

We preferred the White to Rose but both are worth a try!
Price: $8.99  (STEAL!)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Birthday Weekend!

There is nothing better than spending your birthday with loving friends and family!

 Weekend highlights:
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Birthday beer on the patio! 86 degrees calls for blue moon!

Photo from:
Lovely BBQs with friends on Thursday and Family for Chad's cousin Scott. Scott's graduation called for a inspired desert! 

And I am loving my new Kindle! Thanks Chad! I also had a mini shopping spree at The Rack.  Love the great finds!