Someone named Robert Karl occasionally stops by Robert Karl Cellars in downtown Spokane. He is not the owner.
SANDPOINT – Stephen Meyer was so eager to break into the wine industry that he took the first job he found: catching gophers. “After I proved myself in the vineyard and they saw I had a good palate, they made me cellar master,” Meyer said.
Mike Conway came to winemaking through the back door. Fresh out of the military, Conway worked as a microbiology technician at Gallo in California. In 1977, he joined Parducci Wine Cellars as an assistant winemaker. “Looking back,” he says, “if I’d stayed there I’d probably have been an assistant winemaker for many, many years.”
The bar at the downtown tasting room shared by Grande Ronde, Mountain Dome and others was three people deep on a recent Saturday. Enthusiastic fans were swirling glasses, sniffing and comparing notes with friends as music played in the background and folks munched on snacks. It felt like a party.
Spring is here – at least officially – and thoughts begin to turn toward wines well suited to warm days and outdoor settings. It’s fun to look ahead to the newest releases of springtime stalwarts such as rieslings and rosés, and I will feature them in upcoming columns. But a good seasonal transition wine is chardonnay, and Washington chardonnays have gone from boring to OK to brilliant in recent years.
With New Year’s Eve bearing down on us, it is a good time to ask yourself, “Do I have any special occasion wines tucked away in my wine cabinet?” If the answer is yes, then your next question must be, “What the heck am I waiting for?”
It’s time for the Spokane Winery Association’s annual Holiday Wine Festival. And there’s another new kid in the vineyard. Actually, they’ve been around the vineyard awhile, but Mark and Valerie Wilkerson of Emvy Cellars are joining the holiday festival for the first time. They’ll be giving tasters a sneak preview of their 2005 cabernet sauvignon and merlot blend called Devotion.
Autumn is an especially exciting time for both wineries and wine drinkers. This year’s harvest has been a nail-biter, as a result of the summer’s unusually cool weather, and a series of uncharacteristic rainy spells in September.
After more than 23 years, Sticky Fingers Bakeries is still walking off with awards. The Spokane-based company, probably known best for its scone mixes, is featured in the October edition of Cooking Light magazine. Editors gave Sticky Fingers’ Orange Curd a nod in its 2010 Taste Awards in the Best in Condiments category.
These are challenging times for wineries, which are facing increased global competition and rapidly falling prices for their wines. California brands that once commanded $100 and more a bottle are now being dumped for $35 or $40. And at the most affordable level – $6 to $8 wines for everyday enjoyment – the corporate California wines have the advantage of cheap and abundant fruit.