Guest blogger Jacob Lynd is the wine consultant at our Estero store. He recently traveled to Washington.
After visiting much of Washington’s Wine Country, we finally arrived at the site that I was looking forward to the most: Col Solare! (which means “Shining Hill” in Italian) Driving up the road to the winery, you get to see how differently they have planted the vines to make sure they get optimum growth and ripeness in all of their grapes. Upon pulling up to Col Solare Winery, we were in awe of how beautiful their land (and the winery itself) was upon Red Mountain, one of Columbia Valley’s most celebrated sub-appellations (at only 4,000 acres) which sits high above the Yakima and Columbia Rivers.
Once we caught our breath, we entered into the amazingly designed winery and were greeted by winemaker Marcus Notard with a big smile and a bottle of rosé that he was pouring for our group. Once the introductions were complete, we went out onto the balcony that overlooks the winery. As we sipped on the beautifully crafted rosé, Marcus explained that it was his second year of making it and he only made two cases of it this year!
After chatting a bit on the balcony enjoying the rosé, he
walked us down to his beloved vines that were still young and had a very a wonderful array of clusters coming in. Marcus knelt down next to a vine to explain the process and the way that he plants, grows, and trims his vines to make sure he gets best that he can year after year (and I will say he has done it well). He explained the reason behind the layout of his vines which happen to be quite educating and informative.
They planted the vineyard to emulate the rays of the sun. Each “block” was planted around the way each varietal needed to grow best due to vine density,
slope, wind and, of course, sun direction.
The land that Col Solare is in is one of the best spots to
make the amazing wines that they produce. Red Mountain is one of the warmest and driest appellations in Washington. The heat, plus the layers upon layers of
out wash, and then a great gravel in the soil, gives the fruit a lot of body and power. With the soil being low in nutrients, and only 4-6 inches of rain per year, it makes the vines struggle and produce high density, low
yielding crops. Control of the irrigation is a key point in a Washington vineyard, especially Red Mountain. (All of these combined is what’s needed to produce such outstanding wines.)
After a while, we headed back into the winery to explore and understand the operation. After visiting a few other wineries on the trip, I was taken aback at how small Col Solare really was. I should not have been surprised,
due to the fact that (as he stated out at the vineyard) each vine that they grow only produces on average 3-4 pounds of grapes per year! To put that into perspective, that is 1 bottle of wine per vine… 2,100 vines per acre, on a 40 acre lot, would mean he usually only gets around 7,000 cases of wine!
We then headed into the highlight of the evening, the dining room, where we were all ready to enjoy a fabulous meal prepared by Marcus and his outstanding chef!
As we listened to Marcus talk about the amazing Cabernet Sauvignons he created, we got treated to a delightful dinner. Each Cabernet that we were served was simply phenomenal and paired beautifully with everything they served for our meal.
To start, we had a great gorgonzola and roasted red bell pepper arancini (I had to look this one up since I had no clue what it was; it is, in basic terms, a fried rice ball coated with bread crumbs). I was very excited to try it, and once I did I was thoroughly impressed. Following the teaser, we were introduced to a prosciutto wrapped baby green salad with black garlic (another one I looked up) and pinoli with a huckleberry balsamic. I enjoy my salads when I have them, but this was one I won’t forget. My mouth was watering with each bite and we hadn’t even gotten to the phenomenal entree yet. The entree Marcus’ chef prepared was by far my favorite part of the whole trip—pistachio crushed bison tenderloin in a cabernet reduction on top of sweet potato gnocchi and grilled asparagus! Only word I could think while I enjoyed was “WOW”! To top it off we were treated with a wonderful lavender cake with mascarpone and lemon blueberry compote which hit the spot.
During the end of our meal, they opened up very big doors that overlooked the vineyard and the view was once again breathtaking. After enjoying our meal and conversation, and learning about how Marcus makes and cares so much about the Col Solare wines that he produces, we headed out once more to enjoy the vineyard and the view. I highly recommend you visit this winery if given the opportunity during your travels. Thanks to ABC, along with the sponsor of the trip, Southern Wine & Spirits for allowing me to partake on such a wonderful experience. And thanks to you as well, Marcus Notard.