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Inslee signs ban on powdered alcohol

OLYMPIA –With several strokes of the governor’s pen, Washington’s liquor laws were loosened up Thursday, allowing bars to offer small samples of beer and wine, grocery stores to sell large bottles of beer and cider, distilleries to serve mixers with their samples and wineries to have private wine-tasting events at other locations.

At the same time, it turned thumbs down on the newest kid on the booze block, powdered alcohol.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill banning that product, which can turn to vodka or rum by just adding water, saying he feared it had the potential to be misused by youth.

“This is about protecting our children,” said Inslee, adding he didn’t believe there are questions about the product’s purity or that it had any more harmful effects than traditional types of alcohol.

A federal agency approved sales of the product, Palcohol, in March. The Legislature initially considered regulating and taxing powdered alcohol, but changed course midway through the session and went for an outright ban as a way to keep it away from kids. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and the House on a vote of 91-6.

Inslee signed several other bills that rewrite state law to make traditional alcohol easier to obtain.

* Bars will be able to serve 2 ounce samples of wine or beer on tap, with a limit of 4 ounces per customer.

* Grocery stores will be get licenses to sell growlers – large refillable bottles – of beer or hard cider if they meet certain requirements. Buyers won’t be able to use electronic bank transfer cards for purchases.

* Distilleries, which can already offer or sell samples of their liquor, will now be able to add soda or mixers to their products for the tastings. They will also be able to sell their products at farmer’s markets, get permits for special events to tastings and sales, and offer gift cards that can be redeemed for their products.

* Wineries can get special permits that will allow them to hold as many as 12 wine-tasting events off premises.

* Small liquor stores will have an easier time negotiating volume discounts from distributors.

Inslee said those bills give the state a more consistent approach in dealing with different circumstances and venues for selling alcohol, and involve businesses that are already licensed by the state.

Travel: Lavender, luxury, and fine wine in Woodinville

  This time of year there are a lot of people wandering around Tuscany, tasting wine in the hot Italian sun. And just as many snapping photos of the beautiful lavender fields in Provence, France. While I can’t be at either of those places at the moment, I do have a favorite destination just a few hours away that will give me both experiences.


   Woodinville, Washington, is just 25 minutes from Seattle but the small town stands large in the burgeoning Washington wine community. With more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms it’s possible to taste the best of the state without traveling more than a few miles. And right now, through the month of August, during the height of the lavender season, you can book a stay at Willows Lodge that lets you add a bit of aroma therapy and agritourism to your wine-tasting experience.   


   In the seasonal Lavender Harvest package, Willows Lodge will take you to the nearby Woodinville Lavender’s beautiful field where you can help cut and bundle the fragrant blooms. While there you can pick up tips on growing your own lavender, watch a demonstration of the oil-distilling process and sample the farm’s unique scented and edible products. When you’re done the lodge will bring you home to soak in a lavender-scented bath. 


   While the summer concerts at Chateau Ste. Michelle always draw a crowd, more and more people from this side of the Cascade Range are starting to add the small town to the schedule as they drive to and from Seattle. It’s worth a stop any time of year, but the Willows Lodge Lavender Harvest package is an incentive to spend a night or two right now, enjoy the spa and a meal at The Barking Frog, and bring home the fragrance of Provence.



Read more about Woodinville and the Willows Lodge in my travel column in the latest issue of Spokane Cd’A Woman magazine 


Cheryl-Anne Millsap can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com


Travel: Winter is Wine Time in Healdsburg



Winter seems to have faltered in the Inland Northwest this year, bringing weeks of freezing fog but little snow to the region. So, when a trip to Sonoma County, California was suggested, I didn’t think twice. I’ve been hearing about Healdsburg, the small city in the heart of wine country, and was happy to do some research. 


Go: With Alaska Airlines offering direct flights from Seattle and Portland to Santa Rosa’s Sonoma County Airport, it’s easy to escape, soak up a little sun and spend a few days in wine country. The Charles M. Schulz Airport—look for some familiar faces—has car rental facilities and is only 25 minutes from downtown Healdsburg. (No need to fly into San Francisco and face Golden Gate traffic.)



Eat: The small city  of Healdsburg is charming, historic and home to some of the most creative chefs in wine country. Don’t miss dinner at Spoonbar! Chef Louis Maldonado is on the current season of Top Chef New Orleans and his food is as good on the table as it looks on TV. Another standout was Dry Creek Kitchen at the Healdsburg Hotel. The setting is upscale and sophisticated and the food is outstanding.  How good was it? When the chef Charlie Palmer stepped out of the kitchen, he was treated to a round of spontaneous applause. 



Stay: After three nights tucked into a big bed in a pretty room on the top floor of the Grape Leaf Inn, I could feel the difference. I was rested and refreshed. The rambling historic house is within walking distance of shops, tasting rooms and restaurants in downtown Healdsburg and the inn’s gourmet breakfast and frozen fruit “shooter” was a great way to start each morning. Coffee, tea and cookies are always available for late night snacking or an afternoon pick-me-up.



Taste: I tasted some wonderful wines but Lambert Bridge Winery was a standout. Winemakers JillI Davis and Jennifer Higgins create small-batch wines in a beautiful setting of manicured gardens and valley views. Lambert Bridge is recognized as a food destination. Be sure to book one of chef Bruce Riezenman’s wine-pairing tasting events in the barrel room. Riezenman is also the creator PairIt! of a successful wine-pairing app for iPhone and Android users.


Dip: I didn’t expect to bring home a suitcase full of olive oil, but I did. After tasting Dry Creek Olive Oil Company's oils, I was a believer. I also learned a lot as I sampled, including the fact that to be considered true extra Virgin olive oil, olives have to be picked and pressed within 24 hours, something many of the highest priced European oils might not be able to guarantee. Northern California is gaining stature as an excellent olive growing region and Dry Creek oils took gold at both the New York and Los Angeles international olive oil competitions.



Shop: If you like vintage finds you’ll enjoy Healdsburg Vintage. The rambling antiques mall is filled with everything from vintage clothing to one-of-a-kind architectural salvage. I spent an hour poking into every corner and my find-of-the-day was a $10 sterling silver photo frame.


Tip: The annual Winter WINEland festival each January is a great time to visit.




Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the U.S. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” (available at Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane) and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com


Idaho Wines Coming Of Age

Idaho’s wine industry is finally coming of age — and overcoming a haunting slight by none other than The Muppets. June marks the fourth annual Idaho Wine Month. This year, it is making progress thanks to wineries, restaurants, retailers and wholesalers. That support comes all the way from the Capitol, as Gov. Butch Otter is even making appearances at stores to sign bottles of Idaho wine. “We’ve come a long way,” said Moya Shatz Dolsby, executive director of the Idaho Wine Commission. “In 2002, there were 11 wineries.” Today, the number of producers from Sandpoint to Twin Falls is 50/Andy Perdue & Eric Degerman, Yakima Herald. More here. (AP file photo: Ron Bitner, a grape and wine producer enjoys a glass of Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon at his vineyard near Marsing)

Question: What is your favorite brand/type of wine?

A memorable feast under the Tuscan sun

(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)  

   I have friends who actually plan each meal. Not just at holidays, but all year long. Even in the summer. Even on vacation. They look through magazines and cookbooks and pick a recipe because it excites them, not because it uses only four ingredients and the prep time is guaranteed to be less than fifteen minutes. Pushing a cart through the aisles of the grocery store doesn’t cause them to wilt like yesterday’s salad. They actually enjoy it.

    I am not like these people.

   And yet, by default, and I’m still trying to remember exactly how this happened, I am the person who has the responsibility of putting something (occasionally food) on the table each day. This is not easy.  I like to eat. I love food. I just like it better when someone else figures out what it will be and then makes it happen.

   As a young mother, with toddlers at my feet and a husband who was away three nights each week, we ate a lot of informal meals of fruit and cheese, hard-boiled eggs. Sometimes we added bread and butter to the feast. As a not-so-young mother working from home, writing around the schedules of four active children, I learned to love my crock pot. 

   It should be easier now but it isn’t. Now I lack any real motivation.  And I still lack imagination.

   I finally realized the real problem is that I’m just not a sophisticated foodie. I love to eat but, for me, the simpler the better.  I can sit down to fruit and a little cheese (tossed with a good book) and call it good. I like a nice piece of salmon. A piece of crusty bread and good butter. A bowl of strawberry ice cream. In the winter, simple and basic vegetable soup ( the one thing I like to prepare) can make me happy every night of the week.

   I was with friends not too long ago and the subject of memorable meals came up. I listened to the others rhapsodize about famous restaurants, Foie gras, thick steaks and various ragouts, reductions and complicated recipes. After thinking about it, I realized that, predictably, one of my favorite meals was one of the simplest I’ve ever eaten.

   My husband and youngest daughter and I were in Italy several years ago, in mid-October, strolling through a beautiful village in Tuscany. By noon we were ravenous. As it happened, it was market day and the town square was filled with vendors. I purchased a roast chicken from a mobile rotisserie and three clementines from a fruit stand. Actually, when the man realized all I wanted was three pieces of fruit, not the three kilo he’d thought, he gave them to me with a smile, waving away the Euro I offered.

    We took the warm, moist, roast chicken and the fragrant fruit to a small courtyard at the top of the city wall and sat looking out over the beautiful countryside as we ate with our fingers. My husband and I shared a bottle of local white wine as the sun warmed us. Bees droned in the flower garden and a local cat showed up to eat the scraps my daughter tossed to him. When we were done, the remains of the feast were rolled into the paper bag that had held the hen and thrown away. And that is my memorable meal.

   I watched people smile and nod, imagining the day and the moment as I described it. I’m no gourmand but even I know the secret ingredient of any feast is the simple pleasure of consuming it. Especially when you share it in the company of friends and family and, occasionally, a very good book.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Spokesman-Review Home Planet and Treasure Hunting columns and blogs and her CAMera: Travel and Photo blog, her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Wine and food pairings at Taste of Life


I almost forgot about my promise to share the food and wine pairings planned for Hospice of Spokane's benefit "Taste of Life."

The event will be held on March 30. There is more information and tickets for sale here.

This is the menu chef Urs Moser from The Spokane Club has planned:

Caterina Winery Chardonnay

Dungeness Crab Cakes with Mango Salsa

Lone Canary Syrah

Confit Duck spring roll, plum sauce

Liberty Lake Wine Cellars Syrah

Braised lamb cassoulet

Barili Cellars

Chicken terrine

Latah Creek Winer Cellars NV Monarch Red Blend

Pulled pork slider, balsamic straw berry jam

Townshend Cellars T3

Salmon cake, tomato jam

Emvy Cellars Devotion

Polenta wild mushroom ragout

Robert Karl Claret

House cured gravlax, mustard sauce

Bridge Press Cellars Merlot

Eggplant Goat cheese invotini

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars Malbec

Smoked brisket, horseradish sauce

Grand Ronde Cellars Cabernet

Pear and blue cheese flat bread, onion jam

Barrister Winery Cabernet Franc

Red wine braised short ribs

Knipprath Cellars Spanish Nudge Coffee Bean Cinnamon Port

Petit Fours




Burglar requests just a bottle of wine

Police say a bottle of wine was the only thing missing from a burglarized home Friday night - and the burglar asked permission to take it.

Suspect Gary A. Patterson, 34, told police he entered the home at 828 E. Joseph Ave., because the front door was open, but he told Spokane police didn't take anything because he believed the resident was in the military, according to court documents.

A 26-year-old resident arrived home about 10:50 p.m. to find Patterson in his home with a knife in hand that was closed and not used in a threatening manner, police said.

The resident told police that Patterson asked if he could leave with a small bottle of wine he was holding, and he stated that he could.

Officers contacted Patterson near the home, and the victim identified him as the man who was in his home.

Police recovered the knife and bottle of wine. Patterson was booked into jail on a first-degree burglary charge. He remains there on $5,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court Monday.

Consumer Reports likes Washington wines

The newest issue of Consumer Reports magazine rates wine just in time for the holidays. Of the 15 wines recommended, a third are from Washington.

Among the "very good" Cabernets are two Columbia Crest offerings, the 2008 Grand Estates and H3,  and Chateau Ste. Michelle's 2009 Indian Wells.

Among Chardonnays, Snoqualmie's 2009 and Columbia Crest's 2009 Grand Estates are likewise rated "very good."

Only one wine was deemed "excellent," the 2009 Chalk Hill Chardonnay. At $37 a bottle, it ought to be.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there's something called Cherrywood Cellars cab, which costs $9 and comes from 7-Eleven.

Speaking of the praying mantis

Jim Magnuson, who counts on the big insects to eat mites and aphids in his greenhouse, told me something I didn't know. Watermill Winery, south of Walla Walla, has produced a varietal called "Praying Mantis Syrah."  

No box with pouch wine geared to outdoors

CAMPING — The people who make Clif Bars, the on-the-go energy food, have introduced a product for consumption after the climbing, backpacking and other active sports are done for the day.

The Clif Family Winery's new Climber Pouch features a Chardonnay or a Cabernet Sauvignon packaged in strong-sided and backpack-friendly containers. There is a hole on top made for clipping the pouch in with a carabiner.

The practical thing:  the pouch stands upright without a box.

Check out the review from The Gear Junkie.

7 ways to puncture a wine windbag

Elizabeth Richardson pours wine for a tour group at the Chateau Ste. Michelle winery in Woodinville, Wash.


Uncle Patrick gargles his wine. “I taste blackberries and cherry and oak,” he says, “and a lot of tannins.”

The only thing you know about wine is that it comes in different colors. But, with holiday meals approaching, here’s how to puncture wine windbags, thanks to Washington State University Professor Kathleen Williams:

Precipitate saliva. When Patrick says he tastes tannins, you say: “Tannins don’t have a taste. They create a sensation as they precipitate the proteins out of your saliva.” Tip: Stroke your chin sagely as you pronounce “precipitate.”

Throw in a German word. Patrick swirls the glass. “Good legs,” he observes. You say, “The French call them tears. The Germans call them Kirchenfenster or church windows, because they form an arch.” Read more.

Are you knowlegable about wine? Do you have a favorite you'll be serving with your holiday meals?

Banderas Merlot, Anyone?

Oooooo, Antonio Banderas AND Hotel AND wine! Can you beat this wonderful combo – oh, and add Madrid to the mix! Antonio, a hunky 49, has a vineyard in northern Spain and wants to build a hotel there. The 620-acre property, called Anta Banderas, is making red and rose wines. They are only being sold in the Spanish and European markets – but eventually, they will be sold in America! I can hardly wait.


A Day Down The Boulevard

We love Spokane’s funky little neighborhoods, especially The Audubon District. One of Spokane’s best kept secrets, on June 20th head down to Northwest Boulevard for “A Day Down The Boulevard” highlighting local food and wine.

Check the press release below for more details and visit the event at Facebook and grab coupons at The Purple Turtle’s blog HERE.

From The Purple Turtle: On June 20 from 9a.m.-5p.m. six businesses on Northwest Boulevard will be hosting “A Day Down the Boulevard.” It will be a day of promotions, classes, live music, free gifts, a cooking demo and more. The participating businesses, Downriver Grill, Little Garden Café, Polka Dot Pottery, Judy’s Enchanted Garden, Hartwell’s and Uniquely Chic, are inviting the community to come out and enjoy the festivities on the boulevard. The event will take place at each of the six businesses on Northwest Boulevard or in the newly coined, “Audubon District”, across from Audubon Park. Guests can make their way from Uniquely Chic to Downriver Grill with the help of the event map found at any of the participating businesses. The reverse side of the map is a punch card with which guests can be entered to win a $500 grand prize basket on display at Hartwell’s.

The day will be filled with numerous promotions and activities. Paint your own garden stake for free Saturday only at Polka Dot Pottery. Go to Little Garden Café at 9a.m. or 1p.m. for Coffee 101 classes. Visit Downriver Grill at 10a.m. for a cooking demo with Sonnenberg’s sausage Puttanesca, paired with the restaurant’s “Relentless Red” blend.

“A Day Down The Boulevard” will be a great opportunity for the six businesses to introduce themselves to the community as “The Audubon District” while at the same time offering perks to benefit all guests.

For more information please call Pam Stewart at 509.216.0457 or go HERE.

EOB: Panel OKs Beer, Wine Tax Hike

It was a close 10-8 vote, but the House Revenue & Taxation Committee has agreed to introduce legislation that would hike Idaho’s beer and wine taxes - which haven’t been increased in more than 40 years - more than threefold to provide a stable funding source for substance abuse treatment. Keith Allred, head of The Common Interest, a good-government group, estimated that the higher tax would cost the purchaser of a weekly six-pack about 91 cents more a month. Idaho currently spends about $19 million annually on substance abuse treatment, Allred told the panel. “We’re just suggesting that some of that ought to be offset by those who drink alcohol”/Betsy Russell, SR Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Is this a good time for Idaho to hike beer and wine taxes?

Online Poll: Wine Labels

What do you tend to look for in a win label?/Idaho Statesman

  • The grape
  • The age
  • The design
  • The region
  • All of them
  • None of them