It’s August and the summer temperatures are still rising…
If you’re a wine lover like me, you’ll notice your varietal priorities shift under such intense heat! Instead of a zippy Zin, you’re looking for a crisp, chilled something to cool off.
One of my favorite wines to drink in the summer is Rosé thanks to this wonderful cultural tradition I picked up in France.
Rosés are often wrongly confused with White Zinfandel, a sweet pinkish wine often found in the hands of wine novices.
These Rosés, however, are at the complete opposite end of the spectrum: elegant, crisp and dry.
Here are a few of my summer favorites:
Barnard Griffin: 2009 Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley
Uncomplicatedly dry and delicious. This light, refreshing Barnard Griffin wine has both a discreet nose and taste with hints of strawberry and raspberry.
Enjoy with summer fare such as salads (add craisins!) or sandwiches and a light vinaigrette. Avoid strong cheese, garlic, and spicy hot food when drinking this particular wine.
Drink alone, sip in the sun, relax in a hammock, or pair with a novel.
$12, find at grocery stores in Pacific NorthWest or order from winery website.
DaMa Wines: 2009 Rosé (50% Syrah, 50% Mouvedre)
“Think pink” is the theme for this sexy and fruity rosé.
Drinking DaMa Rosé is like busting open the ripest, coldest watermelon on the hottest day of the year. It’s unbelievably satisfying and refreshing with traces of strawberry.
Just be forewarned: You won’t want to share, so buy extra.
Lay back and relax with a glass or take a few bottles on a girlfriends getaway. Caution: Men love this wine as well. $18, order directly from winery.
L’école 41: 2009 Grenache Rosé – Alder Ridge Vineyard
Read carefully, there will be a quiz at the end of this section. Just kidding…
Educate your palate with a 100% Grenache Rosé from L’école 41.
Rose petals and raspberries are all you need to remember, dear students.
Now for your essay question: Have you tried this wine? What do you think?
$19, check wine shops for stock because 99 cases are already SOLD OUT, it’s that good! Keep your eye on 2010.
Pithy Little Wine Co.: 2009 Sangiovese Rosé, Paso Robles
Why you pithy little… Delicious wine! This is yet another sassy rosé that definitely belongs on the TravelPlusWine Summer Rosé Roundup list.
It’s the blood red orange notes that made this wine particularly refreshing and deserving of such a fine honor!
Express yourself this summer with this fun Pithy California Rosé aged in stainless steel. Only 90 cases were made, so don’t delay and stock up today. $22, order from winery website.
Stoller Winery: 2009 JV Estate Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley (photo above)
As I sat outside the Stoller Winery Tasting Room on the 4th of July, all I wanted was sunshine to pair with such a wonderful Pinot Noir Rosé.
I could smell the cherry blossom and taste the ripe summer strawberries, but I could only imagine how perfect this chilled wine would be with the warm sun touching my skin.
Luckily, I purchased a few bottles just for this occasion! $20, order from winery.
2009 Helix Rosé by Reininger, Columbia Valley
Last but not least, this new dry Rosé comes from Reininger Winery, one of my favorite wineries in all of Walla Walla.
This delicious blend showcases aromas of grapefruit, watermelon, and red berries.
Elegant and tart, this Rosé is a pleasure on the palate, with bright flavors of strawberries and cherries. Enjoy!
Do you have a favorite summer Rosé? Leave a comment and let us know what we’re missing…
About 2,500 years ago, Greek playwright Euripides said: “Where there is wine there is love.”
How wise! Who can contradict him? Ah, Euripides must have been inspired by wine, just like many other Greek poets and thinkers (and drinkers) thousands of years ago.
In fact, Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world with 6,500 years of experience!
Our featured Greek wine today is a 2007 Robola of Cephalonia from Gentilini Wines.
The native grape Robola grows at high altitudes and on limestone and gravel.
Tasting this Greek wine was a total pleasure. The nose is discrete at first, but soon enough the aromas set off with floral, citrus and distinct mineral notes.
On the palate this 100% Robola is fresh and crisp, revealing the Mediterranean summer flavors of Greece all in one bottle.
Not only did I notice vibrant hints of citrus and herbal wood, but I also tasted olives. Opa! (I know, it gave me goosebumps too.)
I recommend you serve Robola slightly chilled and in a regular white wine glass; it makes for a great summer wine. You can drink it alone or pair it with seafood and your favorite Mediterranean Cuisine.
After tasting Robola, you’ll fall so much in love you’ll want your own Big Fat Greek barrel!
A thriving wine region combined with a picturesque downtown, art galleries, a prestigious college, and cosmopolitan restaurants make Walla Walla, Washington a must-visit for wine lovers.
“There’s just something about Walla Walla.”
This is an assertion we would hear again and again from the locals during our 4-night stay in Washington Wine Country. We heard first-hand accounts from several people who came to visit the town years back and never left.
And, as we walked around and got to know the town, we realized: There is something about Walla Walla.
Every preconceived notion we had about the place was forgotten the minute we pulled into town.
It’s beautiful and charming. Why didn’t anyone ever tell us about this place?
The semi-quaint main street is lined with trees and the occasional sculpture. Most importantly, about a dozen or more vineyards have set up their tasting rooms in downtown and the restaurants are delicious, as in cosmopolitan-food-snob-gourmet-good.
Drive around Walla Walla and you’ll soon come across the intellectual heart of Walla Walla, Whitman College. Giant, lush trees and well-preserved Victorian homes surround the campus. This, without a doubt, adds to the charm and the je ne sais quoi that only a town like Walla Walla could possibly possess.
Ah, the marks of a great wine region!
Today, Washington State has over 600 wineries and is the second largest producer of wine after California.
Located in the southeastern corner of the state, Walla Walla has seen tremendous growth in the wine industry these past 10 years, producing some of the finest wines in the United States.
The reason for this is not only adequate soil and climate, but also the efforts of entrepreneurs who have put all their love and passion into winemaking.
Walla Walla is known for some great reds including (but not limited to) Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Syrah. Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay make deliciously frequent appearances as well, among other white varietals.
There’s clearly something for every palate whether you’re red or white, sweet or dry. Don’t even get me started on those crisp, dry, fruity rosés that are pressed to impress.
So many wines, so little time. We promise to write about more great wineries and wines very soon. In the meantime, check out Reininger, Sinclair Estate, DaMa Wines, Foundry Vineyards (great art as well), Basel Cellars, Dusted Valley, Skylite Cellars, and L’école 41. And so many more…
T. Maccarones is somewhat of an established brand in Walla Walla and they own two of the best places to eat in town.
Olive Marketplace & Café is clearly the place to go for lunch. Enjoy a fresh salad on the outdoor patio as you watch the town go by or order a boxed gourmet sandwich to enjoy with a bottle of wine on-site at your favorite vineyard.
T. Maccarones itself serves amazing Italian food with fresh, local ingredients. I wouldn’t be surprised if people drive all the way from Seattle just to eat dinner here. It’s really that scrumptious.
Or, for the “real deal” just off Main Street, visit Salumiere Cesario, Walla Walla’s Gourmet Grocery.
They feature the only walk-in cheese closet in the Pacific Northwest as well as an amazing assortment of true hand cured meats from around the US, made without added nitrites. Did we mention the best Prosciutto di Parma you’ll ever find outside of Italy?
Places to Stay
When visiting Washington Wine Country, you have two lodging choices: a Bed & Breakfast or hotel.
The Marcus Whitman Hotel is the tallest building in Walla Walla and located at the heart of downtown. You can easily walk to any of the shops or tasting rooms.
However, if you’re looking for romance or charm, the Vine & Roses Bed & Breakfast is just a short 5-minute drive from the main drag.
Not only will you enjoy your luxurious suite with a private Jacuzzi tub and a romantic fireplace, but your can rest assured that your wine has a good home in the temperature controlled cellar.
Read all about our stay at this fine B&B.
Honestly, we have mixed feelings writing about Walla Walla. On the one hand, we yearn to tell the world about this gem on the outer reaches of Washington State. But on the other hand, we like the fact that it’s somewhat of an undiscovered secret.
So shhhh… don’t tell everyone!
Do you have a favorite Walla Walla destination or secret to share? Leave a comment!
This is a guest post by Kristi Davis from Grotto Custom Wine Cellars and Cabinets:
After all that traveling, you must have a special collection of wine to remember your trips by. Where are you storing all that wine? You may be on the hunt for the perfect wine rack.
Your wine collection is growing, and while you can opt to use a wine cooler or wine refrigerator, in due time, however, your wine collection could quickly outgrow your wine cooler unit. The next logical step then is to purchase wine racks and create a beautiful wine cellar or wine storage area.
Shopping for and choosing a wine rack can be quite overwhelming with so many wine rack styles and sizes available in the market today. So before you head out to purchase the first rack you fancy, ask yourself these basic questions first:
#1 – Where do you want it stored?
The biggest mistake wine newbies make is placing a wine rack in the kitchen. The kitchen is where sunlight would be streaming in from your window and this is definitely a no-no for wines. Look for the coolest part of the home, preferably the basement, and install your wine racks there. Wine racks are best used in a temperature and humidity-controlled area, away from sunlight and vibration.
# 2 – Just how big is your collection?
How many bottles do you have now and how much more do you think you will be buying in the future? To make it easier for you, list down how many bottles you buy in a month so you can make an estimate. By doing this, you can pick the right size, height and type of wine rack kit for your collection. Also, take into account the number of expected parties or social gatherings you will be opening your house to. It may also depend on the types of wines you prefer. Since you will be collecting bottles of different sizes, make sure you choose a wine rack later on that can fit any type of wine bottle.
# 3 – What kind of look are you going for?
If you’re worried about how the wine rack will complement your home, take a look at your interior décor and furniture. Do you go for wood wine racks or metal? Most wine racks are made of wood, and while your choice of material is a matter of preference, wooden wine racks are known to be stronger and more stable. When you look at wine racks, look at the thickness of the wood pieces as this is also critical. Wood species varieties commonly used in wine racks are Redwoods, Pine, or Mahogany. Avoid aromatic wood species like cedar, as its potent scent has the tendency to taint the flavor of the wine in the long run.
Once you’ve answered these questions, choosing the perfect wine rack shouldn’t be a problem.
So go ahead and enjoy collecting fine wines and store them proudly in your wine racks. Not only do they protect your wines – they make a great accent piece to your home as well, giving you pleasure every time you take a bottle from it and drink to your heart’s content.
Get your wine racks custom made from Grotto Custom Wine Cellars and Cabinets. We create perfect wine racks that can complement your home.
There’s something magical about Greek island hopping in the summer.
The weather is warm, the people are friendly, and the food heavenly. Combine this with the fact that Greece welcomes tourists with open arms, making transportation to and from the major islands, relatively easy.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful islands in Greece, and one you can’t miss, is Santorini. The Santorini caldera, the result of a volcanic explosion that happened 3500 years ago, has resulted in a picturesque harbor and steep, rocky cliffs offering panoramic views of the Mediterranean.
It’s fun to explore among the winding streets of the famous white washed villages. The reality is you can’t actually get lost in Santorini island towns as signs, shopkeepers, and other tourists are more than happy to point you in the right direction. And if you do, so what? You’re on vacation!
If you don’t feel like making the trek up a steep village hill or just want a fun experience, rent a donkey to haul you to the top! Be sure to take a few pictures, your photo album and relatives will thank you later!
At the end of the day, pick a restaurant overlooking the dazzling rooftops and sparkling sea. Unwind with a bottle of the local wine and indulge with stuffed grape leaves, local olives, feta cheese, and juicy sun-ripened tomatoes.
Pack your bags and don’t forget the sunscreen!
Have you been island hopping in Greece? What’s your favorite destination?
(Photos via Greeka.com)