Interviews 

This section is devoted to articles about the origins and history of the wineries, breweries, and people associated with the wine industries in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the world.

Traveling throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia interviewing owners, winemakers, brewmasters and others is a favorite pastime.  Eyeball to eyeball interviews is my idea of getting the best information, and enjoying the wine, beer and people of this great industry and region.

I value readers' inputs, and will endeavor to respond to e-mails and letters. 
Please email me at info@tomassiwinecabinet.com 

 

Following is the Index of Interviews and other sources of information.  Click on the titles and it will take you to the article
Eleven Winery On Bainbridge Island, Washington

Harbor Square Tasting Room and Wine Shop

Olympic Wine Shop, Poulsbo, Washington

Puget Sound Wine Cellar

That's-A-Some-Italian Ristorante and Wine Shop

Trillium Creek Winery At Lakebay, Washington on the Key Peninsula

Wine Societies

Eagle Harbor Wine Company, Bainbridge Island, WA.

Puget Sound Wine Cellar

The people associated with the wine business are very enthusiastic about their product. Whether they are the owner of a winery, the winemaker overseeing the making of the wine, the vineyardist growing the grapes or the owner of a fine wine shop selling the best wines they can find, they have one thing in common – they are very passionate about the subject of wine, and love to share their knowledge about the wines with which they are involved.

Drop in and spend some time with any of them and find out for yourself. It’s one of the best ways to learn about wine! This magazine has a list of wine businesses in Kitsap County. The Washington Wine Commission provides a free brochure listing the wineries licensed in Washington State. Find a copy in just about any store selling wine. Or visit www.washingtonwine.org

The fine wine shops in the Kitsap County area are no exception. Most have at least one day each week when they have tastings of the products they sell. The tastings are a way to discover which wines appeal to your pallet, and are normally modestly priced. Depending on the price of the wines, a tasting of three to five wines can run from five to twenty dollars.

A visit to the Puget Sound Wine Cellar in downtown Port Orchard finds owners John Ready, and wife Ann, available to introduce you to their favorites. Visitors will enjoy the visit because they both have a great sense of humor.

John lived in Walla Walla about a year and started drinking red wine there in the late 90s. Sitting around having dinner with friends and drinking wine in the Fall of 2007, someone mentioned that the Puget Sound Wine Cellar was for sale. They thought owning a wine shop would be kind of fun but didn’t have the resources at the time.

Ann still had a house in England, so they decided to put it on the market, and it sold. They realized they now had the resources and the wine shop seemed like someplace they would like to be. From a dinner conversation of “Oh that’s interesting” they went to “Wow! We can do this if we want to.”

In December, 2007, they contacted Mr. Dennis Lei, the then owner, worked out a deal that made both of them happy, and the place changed hands. The Readys have some retail experience and both enjoy wine. They believed they should be able to put things together and make the shop a thriving business. They know the retail business part. They knew they needed to learn more about wine business part .

There is a rather large learning curve concerning wine. Ready joked that after being open less than two months, the biggest thing he learned was, “I need to eat breakfast. That took about three days because of the vendors coming in early in the day and pouring wine to taste, so I need to eat breakfast.”

The previous owner, David Lei, named the business but they kept the name because it’s appropriate and there was no reason to change it. They like the location because it has more positives than negatives.

Ready said, “Parking is an issue at times, but I don’t know what would be a better location. We think downtown works really well and that the city is going in the right direction, as far as looking at condos, and stuff like that. As that happens, business in the downtown area will get nothing but better.

Between Amy’s Restaurant, the 110 lounge and ourselves we call ourselves the progressive end of Port Orchard. The Marina is right here and the Farmer’s Market there gets a lot of traffic, so we get a lot of walk-in traffic. I would expect to be, if not this location, then someplace downtown for the next few years.”

Looking ahead, Ready wants to work on learning more about Italian and French wines because he doesn’t have enough information on them. They have a good Italian Distribution Company, Bianco Rosso. Mr. Tyson Manzin will work with the Readys to help develop a good Italian section with reds such as Chianti, Super Tuscans, Amarone and Valpolicella, Barolo, Brunello and others at reasonable price points. Also some good Italian whites like Soave, Arneis and Pinot Grigio.

The Readys are working with Pete Lehan from Noble Distributors to get more information on French wines. There’s a lot of information about Left Bank and Right Bank wines that they need to learn about so they can pass it on to their customers.

They believe that wine lovers are going to come to a fine wine store like this to get answers to their questions, so they need to be knowledgeable about them. The objective would be for the Readys to be able to say something about each of the wines they sell.

The store is being set up to display the wines by varietal. The high end, Port and dessert wines are in one area. The center area will have predominantly Northwest wines, featuring them. They have a section from the southern hemisphere, South America (Chile and Argentina), Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Then a European section with  France, Spain, Portugal and Germany in addition to Italy.

There is also a plan to have wine tasting classes. Ready thinks there are enough people in the area who would support it, would come wanting to learn something about wine and have wine experiences and come back to the store and use their knowledge to explore other things on the shelf. He is also planning on joining the Kitsap Wine Society (KWS) and is interested in having a tasting for them.

Their vacations and other fun things they normally do will now be focused on wines they want to learn about and possibly stock. They will visit wineries and bring that experience back to the store. They’re looking at Argentina this winter, and have a couple of friends capable of opening the doors and taking care of customers while they are gone.

When they go to Amie’s Restaurant, next door to the wine shop, it’s fun to take a bottle of wine to enjoy with what they’re having. It kind of fits in with their life style now, matching wines with the food they eat.

The wines they promote in the store are Washington State wines in general, especially Fort Walla Walla Cellars, Abeja, Reninger, Helix and Januik. Some other favorites include J.C. Cellars who makes a very nice single vineyard Iron Hill Zinfandel. Also, Latitude 46, which has a couple of nice red blends.

Mrs. Ready’s favorite is the Italian Amarone. She also loves Port wines and enjoys them with chocolate. She is an excellent cook so they make a special effort to match her meals with the wines they enjoy, for example, crab with the Spanish Albarino white wine.

Favorite wines also include the Mercer Estates wines from Prosser, Washington and Bethel Heights from Salem, Oregon.

Mercer Estates 2007 Sauvignon Blanc: $15: Winemaker Notes: Ripe pear, herb and melon aromas and flavors are complimented by a nice oak spice balanced with bright Sauvignon Blanc characteristics and a mouth filling finish. Pair with chicken dishes, fish, oysters and lighter fare. It also makes a great aperitif wine. (12.5% Alcohol)

Bethel Heights 2007 Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley $17: Winemaker Notes: The aromatic profile first reveals minerality and lemon rind, but gentle swirling unfolds tropical aromas of mango and passion fruit. The flavor profile has Asian and Bartlett pears, green apple and cantaloupe.

This fine wine shop also has an extensive refrigerated area devoted to beer. Ready joked that, “Beer guys are crazy!” He said, “Just like wine people, they taste the malt, the hops, etc., to see how it’s crafted. They enjoy experiencing beer the same way people enjoy experiencing wine.” He currently has a cooler for about 100 different microbrews and plans to eventually have enough space for over 200 different microbrews.

Mr. Ready is originally from Seattle, and part of his family goes back to old Silverdale. His family  travelled a lot because his father, an engineer, moved about every two years building nuclear power stations throughout the U. S. On his own in the late 1980s he began doing Information Technology work for Safeway, doing all the maintenance on their computers. This took him to Walla Walla in the late 1990s where he gained an appreciation for wine.

It was on a trip to Seattle in 1998 that he met his future wife, Ann, through a mutual friend. He moved back to Seattle, they began dating, and were married in April, 2000. They moved to Port Orchard because they were driving through there a few years ago and thought it would be a good place to live, so they bought a house there.

Mrs. Ready is originally from Leicester, England, has been in the U. S. since 1982, and still has a lovely English accent. She has a background in accounting and worked at Macy’s corporate office in Seattle until May, 2000.

Ready has an e-mail system to send out a newsletter to his customers. If you are interested in being on the list, use the contact information below and tell them.

Contact Information:

Owners: John and Ann Ready

Business: Puget Sound Wine Cellars

Address: 120 Harrison Ave., Port Orchard, WA.

Phone (360) 895-9463

Hours of Operation: Winter - Tuesday through Friday 11a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (8 p.m. in the Summer)

Wine Tasting: Saturdays 2 to 5 p.m.

email: pswinecellar@peoplepc.com

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Eleven Winery On Bainbridge Island, Washington

Eleven Winery is one of the new, small, family-owned wineries in Washington State, owned by Matt and Sarah Albee. Meeting Mr. Albee at the winery, I found a tall, slim young man with a look that you would expect of a professional bicycle racer, which in fact he was, racing against the best of them, including Lance Armstrong, on the French and Italian circuits.

He explained that the winery gets its name from a bicycle racing term that relates to his approach to the winery and to winemaking: AOn a typical modern road bike the smallest cog in the rear cluster has eleven teeth, and it's the one that produces the maximum gear ratio. Therefore, when you're at the point in the race when it's all or nothing, when there's no choice but to put every ounce of strength and determination you've got into the pedals no matter how much you're already suffering, when you have to give it absolutely everything you've got, you use The Eleven.@

All riders on the team get salaries from their sponsors plus share in prizes. Top riders get endorsements, from places like clothing companies, etc. Albee said that in Europe one can make a living at bike racing, but he reached the limit of his potential before he could earn a living at it. 1998 was his last year of racing.

Originally from Whidbey Island, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Physics from Harvey Mudd College, in Southern California. He said he just fell into a job working for a software company when he moved to the Bay Area from Boulder Colorado, mainly for bike racing. A lot of top riders leave Boulder during the winter to train in warmer locales. He believes that in the midst of some mind numbing research for the software company, an epiphany struck and a voice said "you should try winemaking."

The Albees met in 1995 at his sister=s wedding. She=s from Victoria, and went to the University of British Columbia the same time as his sister, and maintained their friendship. He met her a few times over the years and they hit it off. In 1996, e-mail addresses facilitated correspondence. Sarah moved to the Bay Area where he was working, A..and that was that.@

Albee and soon-to-be-wife Sarah had become interested in wine and spent some of their leisure time exploring California wine country. He went to a small local winery where they make some great wine and offered to help out. He met the winemaker, Dane Stark, at Page Mill Winery, a small winery near where they lived in Menlo Park, California. Stark was just a couple years older than Albee, running a winery that his father had started in 1976 in a cellar he dug out under their home.

Stark said >sure= and he was hooked instantly from the very first day. AI knew that was what I wanted to do. I told him I was going to be his apprentice and he was going to teach me everything that he knew. That was in 1999, about three weeks after Sarah and I got married. She had no idea what she was getting into! She thought she married an ex-bike racer but it turned out that she had married a winemaker. I feel like winemaking chose me, not I chose it.@

It was September, and small winery owners are eager to accept offers of volunteer help with the harvest. Within a few days he was standing atop the crush barrel dumping 30-pound boxes of grapes into the crusher/destemmer. Then and there he knew that little >voice= was right. He started going to the winery in the morning before work. After a few days, Stark suggested that he make a barrel of his own wine right then, while the grapes were still available. Albee found the grapes to make a barrel of Chardonnay in 1998, and continued helping out at the winery after harvest ended.

He became an apprentice to the winemaker, and over the next three years, spent as much time as possible working at the winery, learning how to make great wine. Using Page Mill facilities and his own label, he produced one barrel in 1999, four barrels the next year in 2000 and twelve barrels in 2001. Having reached the limit of space available, he knew that if he was to continue to grow and be in the wine business, he needed to find a place of his own.

After spending three seasons as an apprentice winemaker, the Albees moved to Bainbridge Island in 2001 to be closer to their families and start a family of their own, in addition to starting their own winery. They now have two sons, a five and a one year old, and a winery making 1,000 barrels a year. Mrs. Albee is also employed as a software designer for a small design company.

The Albees searched all over Puget Sound to find a location with good character, a good place to raise a family, a somewhat rural area in order to have a substantial business out of the home and within commuting distance of Seattle for work. The Bainbridge Island location met all their requirements.

Albee said, AA place like this with a big garage in the Bay Area was too expensive to buy, it would be a multi-million dollar estate down there. I grew up on Whidbey Island and Sarah=s from Victoria, so this is home for us. We came back here and found this place which was a fixer-upper. I spent a year fixing up and we re-financed it and used the additional money to create the winery. Sounds like starting a winery in your garage is the official way to do it in Washington State.@

The winery has a sizeable garage on the north side of the house, with no direct sun exposure. Albee believes that one of the great things about making wine in the Northwest is you don=t have to have active heating or cooling systems for the winery, just really good insulation.

Albee=s background as winemaker includes a couple of courses at UC Davis. He was not especially impressed with the quality of instruction, since he had come from one of the top technical colleges in the nation, with a physics degree. AHaving a really strong science background helps a lot.@

Their wine can be found in their Tasting Room, Town & Country, Walt’s Market in  Lynnwood Center and Winslow Way Café on Bainbridge Island; Olympic Wine Shop, Central Market and Mor Mor Bistro in Poulsbo; Silverdale Market, Silverdale; Wine Seller, Wild Coho Restaurant, Café Nola and Madoka in Port Townsend.

Future Plans: At 1,000 cases now, that=s about all the space available now. After both kids are in elementary school they=ll consider expanding. Albee said, AAt sometime in the future when we=re profitable, we=re thinking about changing business model to Newman=s Own, where all profits go to charity. Sarah and I would like to give something back to our community.@

The Wines

Tasting through Eleven=s eight wines I found them all excellent, and four really stood out. I especially enjoyed the 375 ml, 2006 Pinot Gris Port, ($19). A white Port with a huge, creamy mouthfeel accompanied the Pinot Gris aromas and flavors of ripe honeydew melon with hints of citrus. Should go great with creamy desserts.

I found pear, tropical fruit and melon aromas and flavors, with just a hint of vanilla in the 2005 Pinot Gris, Oregon ($17)

I was also really impressed with the 2005 Malbec, Windy Ridge Vineyard/Horse Heaven Hills ($27). It has a full-bodied, creamy mouthfeel with cherry, blackberry and spice aromas and flavors.

The 375 ml, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Port ($21) was especially smooth, not too sweet on the palate, and should be excellent paired with slightly sweet dark chocolate.

Visit their Web site for information on the 2005 Sauvignon Blanc, Artz Vineyard/Red Mountain ($14), 2005 and 2006 La Primavera, Dry Rosé ($19), 2004 La Ronde, Yakima Valley (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Syrah) ($21) and 2004 Syrah, Alder Creek Vineyard/Horse Heaven Hills ($25).

Eleven Winery is located at 12976 Roe Rd NE., Bainbridge Island, WA 98110, and open by appointment only (call 206.780.0905). Their Tasting Room, 278 Winslow Way East, Bainbridge Island, WA. 98110 (206.842.4669). Hours of operation are12 - 5 Wednesday through Sunday (Saturdays from 11); Closed in January. Visit the Web site: www.elevenwinery.com; e-mail: matt@elevenwinery.com

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The Olympic Wine Shop Poulsbo, Washington

 Mr. Jeff Benson, owner of the Olympic Wine Shop in Poulsbo, Washington, moved to Poulsbo from Santa Barbara, California, where he worked for 20 years in the engineering field, to be closer to family. His folks moved here and he had been visiting them here each year for 20 years.

 Benson opened Benson=s Restaurant in Poulsbo with brother Steve and his wife Shelly, an artist. Steve, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), has been a great chef for 35 years, so he was chef and Jeff took care of the front of the house which included the wine list, probably his favorite part of the job, and where he learned most about wine.

 They sold the restaurant after six years. Benson decided to turn to his great passion - wine. His wine education really came with the restaurant because he was so immersed in the business and learned a great deal about wine.

 He is so passionate about good, affordable wine that he opened the Olympic Wine Shop in Poulsbo to share his passion with the rest of the people on the Kitsap Peninsula. He tells everyone that it took him 53 years to finally find a job that he likes so much he A... can=t hardly wait to get here in the morning.@

 He enjoys both whites and reds but primarily reds and doesn’t have a favorite because his palate changes all the time. Benson will taste something that=s amazing and will focus on that for a while. He believes Washington in now known for its Bordeaux grapes, so those are the wines that he really likes.

 He recommends that people don=t just walk into the shop and grab the same bottle they always buy. Whether in a supermarket or fine wine shop, expand your horizons of wine a little bit. Do a lot of hunting and research, and reading about wines, attend classes, go to tastings and to shops that offer tastings, visit wineries.

 Benson is all for getting people to try new and different wines. His specialty is to focus on Washington State wines. “We=re in Washington and should want a selection of unique Washington wines. The larger wineries like Ste. Michelle and Columbia are great, but there also a lot of little guys you never hear of, never see, up and coming.” Those are the ones he focuses on.

 For example, College Cellars in the Walla Walla Valley are made by the students at Walla Walla Community College in their enology program. Also, Pepper Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon. At $24 it=s amazing, that quality fruit for that price. A lot of people don=t know Pepper Bridge is a small winery in the Walla Walla Appellation.

 Mark Ryan is another he can=t get, even talking to friends of his, begging and pleading. Wines like these are distributed to other states and he believes they should take care of Washington wine lovers first.

 Tasting Notes of other Benson favorites:

 Paolo Saracco, Piedmont, Italy 2005 Moscato d=Asti ($14.99), 100% Moscato Bianco; Style: off‑dry semi‑sparkling white; light golden/straw color with aromas of wild flowers; flavors of peach, pear, wildflowers, honeycomb. Food pairing: Spicy Creole or Asian food, duck pate. Poached pears, a creamy fruit and custard tart, or a white chocolate mascarpone cheesecake.

 Owen Roe, Newburg, Ore. 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sharecroppers ($19.99) A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Style: dry red; dark red color; aromas and flavors of blackberries, cherries and cassis; full bodied with smooth tannins. Food pairing: Gorgonzola burger, T‑bone steak.

 Business Name: Olympic Wine Shop, Inc.

Address: 19740 7th Avenue NE Suite G, Poulsbo, WA. 98370

Hours of Operation: Tuesday thru Friday 10-6, Saturday 12 - 4

Wine Tasting last Friday of each month 6:60 - 9

Phone/FAX: (360)697-9463 Email: olympicwinebrokers@earthlink.net; Web Site:  www.poulsbowine.com

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Harbor Square Tasting Room and Wine Shop

A media invitation to a tasting of Cline, California wines took me to the Harbor Square Tasting Room and Wine Shop. Owner Mr. Ron Tweiten has an elegant wine shop at 756 Winslow Way E. on Bainbridge Island. He purchased the building in the Harbor Square area of Winslow soon after its completion, and named the shop after the area. 

  The Tweiten's have lived in Poulsbo since the early 1950s. He has a number of years marketing experience, has participated in industry tastings, knows the various distributors and understands local area customer s preferences for wines.  He worked at North Sound Bank in Poulsbo for 10 years and retired in 2000 as a senior vice president.

 He enjoyed being involved in wine as a hobby for a number of years. He decided to fulfill his dream and opened the Harbor Square Wine Shop & Tasting Room in February, 2000 shortly after Larry Davidson, Tweiten s mentor, closed up his Winslow Wine Shop.

  Son Jeff originally took the different career path of graphic design, but eventually decided to join his father in the wine business. He designed the interior layout of the shop and when you visit you ll see that he has made it a most wine-lover friendly shop.

  The wines are displayed in horizontal wine racks that keep the wine on the cork, and reaching from the floor to almost chest high for great visibility. They are staged by region instead of varietal which makes for a very interesting display. The Tasting Room is set up for casual wine tasting with tall tables and chairs placed at strategic locations around the room.

  There are two unique wine storage areas that you don t see in most other wine shops. The Wine Keeper Cuvnet is a device for dispensing wine-by-the-glass, and holds twelve high quality wines on nitrogen gas to prevent oxygen spoilage. A separate walk-in room at the back of the shop holds the higher value wines at a constant 55 degrees F.

  Five ounce tastings cost from $5.50 for 2006 Lindeman s Bin 65 Shiraz, South Eastern Australia to $17 for 2004 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir, Oregon. Tweiten also has everyday tastings of unique wines, arranged in flights of three, for $5. The retail value of the wines is between $20 and $50. For example, a recent tasting of Northwest wines included an Isenhower Cellars Vioginer, a Syzygy Winery red blend (both Walla Walla) and a Domaine Drouhin, Oregon, Pinot Noir.

The shop has a wide-ranging breadth and depth in its selection of wines - 660 labels from around the world, and about 5,000 bottles in inventory, including about 140 labels from Washington State. Costs range from $8 to $440 per bottle, with many in the $10 to $20 value range. Tweiten said, These are wines you won t find in the supermarkets.

Some of Tweiten's other favorites: Quinta du Cresto, Douro, Spain ($38); Clarendon Hills, Australia 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon ($46); Alexandria Nicole, Columbia Valley 2006 Viognier ($18); Weingut Robert Weil, Rheingau Riesling, 2005 Kabinet ($31).

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Wine Societies

by Nick Tomassi

From West Sound Home and Garden Magazine, Spring, 2008 Edition

Since the spread of grapes and settlers across Washington State in the early 1800s was a very slow process, a big wine event didn't take place until 1910 when the first annual Columbia Valley Grape Carnival was held in Kennewick, WA. The transition to today's world-wide acclaimed fine Washington State wines, and over 500 wineries, really began with commercial plantings in the 1960s and 70s. But the road getting there was bumpy.

The fledgling wine industry took an almost fatal blow when the 18th amendment to the constitution, National Prohibition, took effect on January 29, 1920, banning A...the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquorsYYfor beverage purposes.@ Then on December 5, 1933, Utah was the 36th state to ratify the 21st amendment and end National Prohibition. This made the 18th amendment the only constitutional amendment to be repealed.

The Pommerelle Wine Company and the National Wine Company were formed the next year,1934. In 1954 they merged to form American Wine Growers. In 1967, American Wine Growers began a new line of premium vinifera wines called >Ste. Michelle Vintners= under the direction of legendary California winemaker and consultant Andre Tchelistcheff.

In 1976 Ste. Michelle Vintners built a French style Chateau in Woodinville, outside of Seattle, and changed its name to Chateau Ste. Michelle to reflect its new facility. The winery was built on the 1912 estate owned by Seattle lumber baron Frederick Stimson.

The original Stimson family residence still stands on the winery grounds today and is on the National Register of Historical Places. Today, Chateau Ste. Michelle is not only recognized for pioneering vinifera grape growing in the Columbia Valley, but is also a leader in modern day viticultural research.

Chateau St. Michelle=s success in the 1960s and 1970s led a diverse group of Seattle enthusiasts to start meeting to learn more about wine and promote its enjoyment with food. By 1975 they created the Enological Society of the Pacific Northwest. In 2004 they changed the name to the Seattle Wine Society.

Webster=s Encyclopedia indicates that enology, or oenology, is taken from the Greek word for wine >oenis=, and means the study of viticulture. Further, viticulture is A...the culture or cultivation of grapevines; grape growing.@

Enological, or Wine Societies are now found in many areas throughout the Pacific Northwest. Each Chapter is individually registered with its own state as a non-profit organization with 501-C7 status.

The Kitsap Wine Society was started in March, 2003, by this wine writer and Ms. Mary Earl, owner of Grape Expectations fine Wine Shop in Silverdale. We each started our Enological/Wine Society membership in the Seattle chapter in previous years, as did a number of other Kitsap county residents, because that was the only chapter in Western Washington.

When the Olympic Peninsula Enological Society (OPES) started in the Sequim area of the Olympic Peninsula in 2002, we transferred our membership there. This to avoid the trip from Silverdale to Seattle, including a ferry ride, being concerned about driving after a wine tasting event. But the trip to the OPES chapter was almost as long, and there was again the concern about the long drive after a wine tasting event.

In January, 2003, we discussed the idea of a more local venue, and I conned good friend Ms. Earl into helping me start the Kitsap Wine Society (KWS). We told our wine-loving friends about our plans. Flyers with membership applications were distributed by placing them in display containers in which I already advertised my wine classes in the many Kitsap County stores. The response was immediate.

By May there were 40 charter members signed up and we soon had ninety members. A few of the most interested members formed a preliminary Board of Trustees. An application for non-profit status with the state, was granted, elections were held and our chapter was on its way.

The Kitsap Wine Society is non‑profit organization run entirely by member/volunteers, whose goals include educating members about the wonderful world of wine, and bringing together wine lovers to share good wine, good food, and conversation about both. They try to meet monthly throughout the year.

Members live on the Kitsap Peninsula of Washington State, that is, between Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the Hood Canal Bridge. The group ranges in experience from  what some might describe as wine snobs, to neophytes, people with little or no wine experience but who wish to learn about wine. Every level of experience is welcome at the KWS events.

There is a small yearly membership fee which entitles one to attend the meetings. Meetings are educational wine-food events for which a small fee is charged. Most chapters recognize membership in the other chapters and will welcome you as one of their own. Guests who are in the area when events are scheduled are also welcome to attend meetings.

To become a member of the Kitsap Wine Society Chapter, visit to the Web site, www.kitsapwines.org  which shows membership information as well as current and future events,  newsletters, event recipes for the food-wine matches, local wine events and wine links to other Pacific Northwest Wine Society sites. Or call the Membership Chair, currently Ms. Mary Earl at 698-0522

Please note you must be 21 years or older to attend KWS events.

See you there!

Nick Tomassi teaches wine- and beer-appreciation classes.

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Trillium Creek Winery At Lakebay, Washington on the Key Peninsula

 By Nick Tomassi

 When Claude and Claudia Gahard decided to make wine commercially, they purchased four acres in the Happy Valley area around Home, in Pierce County, Washington, it was partially to re‑establish the Key Peninsula as a winery destination. Since their property was in Happy Valley, Claude, the winemaker, proposed to call it the Happy Valley Winery. Claudia, winegrape

grower, said that Happy Valley sounded like a rehabilitation center!

 They the property in January. In March they discovered a typical western North America flower species called Western Trillium was growing there by the hundreds. It has white flowers and is a  member of the lily family. The three leaves below the flower are the plant's only food source and a picked trillium may die or take many years to recover. For this reason, in many areas, e.g. British Columbia, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Washington, it is illegal to pick trillium flowers.

 Claudia dug them all up and transplanted them along the bank of a small creek running through the center of the property, where they thrive seven years later. And that=s how Trillium Creek Winery got its name.

 PAST:

 Originally from Paris, France, Claude=s mother brought him to the U. S. when he was about 12 years old, a huge shock for him with a different culture, landscape, etc. His first meal for lunch was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with milk. He thought he would starve. (In France lunch is a big meal, often accompanied by wine.) They settled in New York, and Claude graduated from high school there.

 At 18 he enlisted in the US Air Force in 1962 during the Viet Nam era. In 1964 he became a citizen, so he could get a Federal Communications (FCC) license. After discharge from the Air Force he went to college on the GI Bill. He then went to work in electronics for a government contractor and was sent to Whidbey Island on a Navy contract in 1972.

 He met and married Claudia, a Renton, Washington native, in Oak Harbor where she was working as a checker in Safeway. They moved to Waitsburg in the Walla Walla area, when he went to work for Cascade Airlines.

 Gahard=s path to winemaker started with making homemade wine in the early 1980s.  Then, as now, it was legal for the head of the household to make 200 gallons per year. His first experience with winemaking in the Walla Walla area was a disaster.

After mechanical harvest, Walla Walla grape growers invited the locals to pick the remaining grapes. He did a small harvest and crushed the grapes with a two by four in a plastic bucket. The recipe called for yeast, so they used bread yeast, and it was awful. They studied and figured out the right way. (The Walla Walla area has since become a renowned wine area.)

 On retiring from Continental Airlines, Claude wanted to have something to do, and decided to start a winery. The Gahards are self‑taught winemakers and winery owners. They did a lot of self‑study, getting help from others who made wine, and gathering and absorbing information from books.

 They refined their techniques and started making from 100 to150 gallons for home consumption. They also took their wines to local social gatherings, and noticed that their wine always went before the commercial wine. He was encouraged by friend’s comments because they liked whatever he brought.

 They discussed the idea of building a little family winery on Washington State's Key Peninsula. Starting with four acres, they built a residence, made acquisitions of adjoining land, and now have 15 acres, 4 acres in grapes.

 A permit for a winery is based on agricultural use. As an accessory to agriculture, Washingtonians can have a winery. The Estate vineyard’s two main grapes now are Pinot Noir and Muller‑Thurgau. Pruning came from their mentor, Gerard Bentryn=s Bainbridge Vineyards and Island Winery.

 When Claude applied for his winery license, he was told that it was not possible to grow grapes on the Key Peninsula. But he knew that in the past there were other wineries that had operated on the Key Peninsula such as the Mueller Winery with license number 21. So he knew he could grow grapes, because the Key Peninsula would support cool climate grapes. (His Federal

license number is 83,913. License number 1 was assigned to the St. Charles winery on Stretch Island in 1933.)

 The Gahards decided to grow as much of the wine grapes as they could on their estate vineyard. Since they were particularly fond of cool climate wines, they first planted Pinot Noir, Muller‑Thurgau, Siegerrebe, Gewurztraminer, and Madeline Angevine in 1999. 2003 was the first vintage of all four wines.

 Claude did not want to dig in the dirt but Claudia did, so that’s how jobs were assigned. After some experimenting they found that the estate vineyard would best support the Pinot Noir and Muller‑Thurgau that he enjoyed. They also have a hybrid variety called Leon Millot (Mee‑oh).

 A woman with nearby waterfront property told him she had Pinot Noir vines. A fan of Pinot Noir, especially made in the Rose’ style because it brings out the fruit so much more, he was excited to hear that variety was actually growing nearby.  However, it didn’t behave like a Pinot Noir, and he discovered that it was the French Leon Millot variety, an early‑ripening black grape produced from the same cross as Marachal Foch. The wines are similar, with distinct berry aromas.

 PRESENT

 Currant production in their 1500 square foot winery‑cellar space is about 1500 gallons or about 7500 bottles,  looking forward to 3000 gallons in 2006. These include Pinot Noir and Muller‑Thurgau from their estate vineyard; Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay from Eastern Washington vineyards. A wide variety of fruit wines are made in

their cellars by Ron and Coni Chaney of Fairview Acres Lavender Farm, just a couple of miles down the road.

 Their flagship and most popular wines are Pinot Noir Rose’ and Muller‑Thurgau. Gahard prefers to ferment and store wines in 50 gallon stainless steel tanks, except Syrah is fermented in oak. The wines are intended to be paired with local food, especially salmon, clams, crab and oysters. They are also good with cheeses like goat and sheep.

 The wine is sold mostly at the winery tasting room. Visitors are welcome to bring their own food to the picnic area just outside of the winery tasting room. They can get a free guided tour of the vineyards and winery, and free wine tasting in the European‑looking tasting room.

 The wine labels were created by Chuck Craft, a local artist.. 

FUTURE PLANS:

The Gahards are satisfied with winery and tasting rooms as they are, and plan on holding the property at 15 acres with a vineyard of four acres. They will continue making the Pinot Noir in a dry red Rose-style to bring out the fruit, as they do in Champagne, France. They are thrilled by the response the winery is receiving.

The Pinot Noir and Muller‑Thurgau are crisp, clean, beautiful wines that make great dinner wines, so Trillium will continue to promote them with regional foods. Gahard looks forward to having a deli stocked with all sorts of regional foods to enjoy with his wines.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Trillium Creek Winery is located on the Key Peninsula at 17812 18th Street

KPN, PO Box 783, Lakebay, WA. 98349.

 Owners: Claude and Claudia Gahard

Winemaker:  Claude

Wine grape grower: Claudia

Phone number: (253)884‑5746

Email: trilliumcreekwines@msn.com

 Winery/tasting room is open Friday through Monday, 11 am to 6 pm. Closed: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

 Directions to the winery: Proceed South on Key Peninsula Hwy to the town of Home, about 12 miles west of State Highway 16. In Home, the cross streets are avenues that are in descending order. Turn Right on to 2nd, which is located across from "Lulu's Homeport Restaurant". Note that the 2nd Ave. street sign is on the south, or left, side of the street, e.g., in front of Lulu’s Restaurant. Proceed to the end of 2nd, turn Left on "G" St. The Trillium Creek Winery and Tasting Room is the second driveway on the left. Watch for the winery sign.

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That’s-A-Some-Italian Ristorante and Wine Shop

Text and Photography by Nick Tomassi

That’s-A-Some-Italian Ristorante and Wine Shop is located in Historic Downtown Poulsbo just a short distance from the Poulsbo Waterfront. It is one of those very special places owned and managed by Mr. Tom Pelland, who is very passionate about, and focused on, providing his clientele with excellent Italian food and wine at reasonable prices.

So passionate in fact, that when we first visited a number of years ago, we discovered that if you ordered a bottle of wine from his wine shop to go with dinner, you paid the standard retail price (SRP), not some inflated price normal in most other restaurants. Most restaurants charge three to five times the standard retail price for a bottle of wine. This is my major complaint about ordering wine when dining out.

The food is focused on Italian pasta and sauces made fresh daily. The Ristorante menu includes rich Pesto Linguini with marinated chicken breast and sun dried tomatoes. Pelland’s favorite Italian foods are Spaghetti carbonara and eggplant parmigiana, both on the menu, as is steak.

Seafood selections include Northwest Seafood Fettuccini with salmon, snapper, shrimp and baby clams tossed in a garlic butter cream broth with homemade fettuccine noodles; penne pasta with marinated chicken and mushrooms provides a lighter fare. Spinach Manicotti is also a favorite, and Pizza lovers can try one of the many Gourmet pizzas or calzones.

A look at the wines on the wine shop shelves finds over 250 outstanding selections from all over the world, in Italian and Washington wines. They always carry Leonetti, Washington’s premiere wine, as well as many other popular Washington wines including 14 Hands, Woodward Canyon, Five Star cellars and many more.

Pelland’s favorite Italian wines are Brunello and Amarone. He said, “I really like that Tommasi Amarone! It’s my all-time favorite.” (That is also the author’s favorite red wine – expensive, but excellent.) His favorite Brunello is the Castello di Banfi.

He has been in the restaurant business for twenty five years. Prior to that he did contracting, roofing, framing and painting. But his passion has always been food. He said, “Grandpa, was a restaurateur for thirty five years in Wisconsin. I liked that life, going down to his restaurant, having everything you want and cooking it up. I enjoy feeding our family and friends; having a great place for people to meet. It’s the Italian thing to have everyone in your house to feed ‘em. I like that part.” He’s been cooking for forty two years.

The restaurant has its roots in Kingston, where a couple of men just had fun competing to see who could make the best pizza. After a while they said …”now that’s a pizza”. They decided to open a business and chose to use that phrase for the name. They moved to Bainbridge Island, starting That’s-A-Some-Pizza, in 1986, and that restaurant is still there at 488 Winslow Way E. (206-842-2292).

In April, 1990 Pelland partnered with these two men and opened That’s-A-Some-Italian Ristorante at the current address in Poulsbo. They wanted to have name familiarity so that’s how the Poulsbo restaurant got named. The business is currently owned by Pelland and Ms. Marti Grant. Ms. Grant also owns and manages Penelope’s Italian Restaurant on Madison St. in Bainbridge Island.

Pelland said that the wine shop is just a natural progression from the restaurant. “We made a big wine list so the food and the wine are side by side to make it easier to get a good bottle to pair with the food.“ By ‘side by side’, Pelland means that the door to the business opens to the wine shop, which customers walk through to get to the restaurant. Regular customers can be seen scanning the wine shelves. They select a bottle of wine to pair with their meal and take it into the restaurant.

The Bainbridge Island building was owned by Pellard’s parents. The building in Poulsbo is now owned by the Mentor family, which took over after Mr. Joe Mentor passed away. Mentor had a person there who didn’t make it and left. Mentor told Pelland he wanted an Italian Restaurant in Poulsbo on that corner, made him a good deal to take over the lease on the equipment, and gave them a couple months rent to get them going. Pelland told Mentor it sounded good, “And it has been good for twenty years.”

Pelland got paid to cook in restaurants since he was 15 and then had 15 years experience cooking before he opened the restaurant. Later he opened That’s-A-Some-Wine Shop. “Took a lot of hard knocks, learning, trial and error. Lots of experience but no formal training.” 

He has one entire wall of Italian wines, and carries a lot of other wines because they are a wine shop and not just a restaurant. He believes that Italian wines are so much better with food. His is the only restaurant in the area in which a customer can buy wine at retail to have with the meal.

He said, “Well that’s starting to happen a lot here in Poulsbo, and I’m getting blamed for it! I think it’s a good thing. I don’t like paying a lot for a bottle of wine when I go out to eat. … I think food has to be consumed with wine. That’s probably from my living in Italy.” He spent ages five to fifteen in Naples and Rome, returning to the United States in 1971. They were taught, as most Italian children, in fact most European children, that drinking wine or beer should only be done while consuming food.

His wife is half Italian and they found her family roots in a small town in Tuscany called Montalcino. “We have been there a couple of times and have taken friends there. They treat us like royalty.” The Pelland family origins are in the nearby Abruzzi Region.

Montalcino is well known for its wineries and their excellent wines, and it is where the best Brunello is produced. He said that in addition to making excellent wines, the people of that area make their own food including pasta and raise their own pigs to make prosciutto. They rely on themselves to take care of what they need. He loves the way of life in Italy, back to nature and relying on themselves to take care of what they need.

They also enjoy the Tuscan town of Siena, another one of his favorite towns, about 24 miles from Montalcino. Siena is on the edge of the Chianti Classico area. He said, “From Siena you can go to a thousand wineries, (not in one day). There are a lot of little hard-to-find places but they’re gems.”

Future Plans include new menu items, Wine dinners including winemakers dinners. Terra Blanca will be there in January. He enjoys bringing in customers for winemakers dinners to meet the industry. An idea from a recent trip to Italy was learning how to improve and beautify the outside of the restaurant to make it more attractive to customers. The idea is to make it look more Italian and have a better atmosphere. He also plans to continue to be the première Italian restaurant in Poulsbo, serving great food with good deals on wine.

Hobbies include leisure activities like salmon fishing in New York’s Lake Ontario, Canada or Alaska. He flies into a little village in Alaska on a float plane to fish there. (He commercial fished in Alaska a couple of years.)

A recent accolade was being voted by the North Kitsap Herald as the restaurant with the Best Italian Menu, the Best Wine List, Best Family dinners and Best Waitress in North Kitsap.

Customers should ask Pellard about his specials on wine by the case at 10% over cost.

 Contact Information:

That’s-A-Some-Italian Ristorante and Wine Shop

18881 Front St NE
Poulsbo, WA 98370
(360) 779-2266

Hours of Operation:

Mon-Thurs: 11am to 8pm

Fri & Sat: 11am to 9pm

Sunday: 11:30am to 8pm

Visit the That’s-A-Some-Italian Ristorante and Wine Shop Web site at www.thatsasome.com

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Eagle Harbor Wine Company, Bainbridge Island, WA.

BY NICK TOMASSI

Owner/Winemaker: Mr. Hugh Remash

Tasting Room Address: 278 Winslow Way East #114, Bainbridge Island, Washington 98110

Hours of Operation: 12:30 – 5:30 pm Wed thru Sat

Wine tasting is held year round at the Tasting Room.

Phone No: 206-842-4669

Winery Address: 9445 NE Business Park Lane, Bainbridge Island, Washington 98110

Open by appointment

Phone No: 206-227-4310

Mr. Hugh Remash is a multi-talented gentleman who is the owner/winemaker of The Eagle Harbor Wine Company, a small winery with a separate Tasting Room, both located in Bainbridge Island. He has extensive training and experience and is currently making some very fine and delicious wines, which can be enjoyed at his Tasting Room

 He got interested in wine as a soldier in Europe while stationed in Germany. When he moved to Seattle to go to the University of Washington for his graduate degree in English, he found no wine suitable to drink so, at 22 years old, he started to make some for himself and his friends. He made some ‘bubbly’ and did some distillation as well for about 10 years.

His major career was as a teacher of Shakespeare but he also has experience working as a technical writer, nurseryman, and professional skiing instructor. He stopped making wine when he  started skiing seriously, but continued to enjoy drinking wine.

 In 1996 Remash ran into some folks from Walla Walla who invited him to help them make wine there. He decided to tape record whatever they did, to learn about the processes and have a record of for future use. He soon discovered that making wine commercially was substantially different from home winemaking. He helped several wineries during harvest time, doing all the things required in the wine making process, picking, sorting, de-stemming, racking, etc.

The Remashs were in Siena in 2001 and Florence in 2002-2003, where he went to art school. While there he saw a sign for seminars to become a Sommelier, and took them. He still carries his Italian certification card Federazione Italiana Sommeliers (Albergatori Ristoratori). (He also has a U.S. Sommeliers Certification.)

They returned to the U.S. in 2003 to work for an importer, but travelled back and forth to Italy on several occasions in 2003 and 2004, when he decided to have his own winery. He had product in 2005, and quickly outgrew original winery space, so moved to the current location 2006. “We’re in our 4th year here and 3 years in the Tasting Room.”

 He said the winery business is definitely a collaborative effort, and he had a lot of help from his wife, family and friends in getting the winery started, and they continue to help. “The greatest reward for me in winemaking is seeing people enjoying themselves. Wine making and winery is a happy business. People come to have some pleasure, and I regard winemaking as one of the pleasures in life. A good pleasure, a social pleasure, sit down have some dinner, have some good food, drink a glass of good wine with your friends and it’s a wonderful experience. It’s difficult to beat that.”

The Tasting Room has a sampling of five current releases for $5.00 and they sell wine by the glass, $5 to $8 for 3 ounces and $6.50 to $10 for six ounces. Their bottles sell for $17.50 to $35.

Most popular:

2006 Founders Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley $29

The grapes grew in the Wells vineyard on the South fork of the Walla Walla River and Minnick Hills vineyard just west of the Walla Walla airport. We call it “Founders” because my wife and I picked the grapes from the Wells vineyard. Founders Cabernet is a medium bodied wine that rests easily on the palate.  The aroma exhibits sweet vanilla and berries. The black currant and blackberry flavors finish with a bit of coffee and chocolate, and soft appealing tannins. Tasty and delicious wine.  Aged 27 months; 20% new French oak barrels. 200 cases made. Minimal sulfites. Unfiltered and unfined. We recommend decanting.

2007 Patina Vineyard Syrah $24.95

Remash said, “We bottled the Patina Syrah April 19th so it is wounded a bit from bottling. At this point (and we invite your views on its character), the wine has a rich mid palate and rests smooth and silky on the tongue. The dominant favor appears to be blueberry with just the right amount of tartness.  Toward the back of the palate, black pepper appears and lingers.  We drank it with a pasta dish recently. The flavors of the wine and food exploded! It will be interesting to follow its development. 158 cases made. Aged 24+ months in 40% 2yr old and 60% neutral French oak. Minimal sulfites. Unfiltered and unfined. We recommend decanting.”

Others include:

2008 Goldfinch: 70% Chardonnay, 30% Viognier $17.50

2009 Goldfinch: 50% Chardonnay, 50% Viognier $17.50

2006 Raptor $35: Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon

2006 Condor: 67% Syrah, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon $29.50

2007 Condor 50% Syrah, 50 % Cabernet Sauvignon $29.50

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