Sunday, November 27, 2011


We’d been anticipating the opening of Milagro’s tasting room without really knowing what to expect. Well, the place is a gem – and even better, it’s just down the road from Edwards, another favorite Ramona winery. At present, twenty of the property's 110 acres are planted with vines. The first planting was in 2001 with additions in 2003 and again in late 2007 to compensate for fire damage.

The wines currently available at Milagro are well developed despite their youth, thanks to the taste and expertise of winemaker Jim Hart. All of them are estate grown with the exception of the 2009 Merlot. We liked everything, a lot! But the standouts are 2010 Karen’s Reserve Chardonnay – oaked but not too much, with depth and spice; and 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. Manager Ben Wier treated us to a taste of the 2007 Cab, which exudes cherries without being sweet.

Milagro (“miracle”) is owned by Kit and Karen Sickels of LaJolla. Their careful management of the property has left most of it untouched, with vines planted along the land's natural contours. The estate is lush with native oaks and stately boulders; it's even home to a flock of wild turkeys. The classy, high-ceilinged tasting room affords views of the grounds and the working winery. Next time we'll ask permission to picnic; there are no tables yet, but plenty of nice spots to put down a blanket. Guests are encouraged to walk around and take in the scenery.

Milagro’s wine club offers three bottles quarterly at 20% off retail, free tasting for members and two friends per visit, a 20% discount on additional wine, invitations to events, private winery tours by appointment, and discounted rates to use the facility for private events. 

The tasting room is open Friday-Sunday 11:00-5:00. 760.787.0738.


There’s always something new to try at Menghini’s tasting room, which – along with the adjoining picnic area – was bustling with activity on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. All the wines here (except apple wine) are 100% varietals. We liked the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc – off-dry but with a tart finish (Temecula grapes), and the 2010 Syrah – nicely spicy (Pamo Valley and Ramona grapes).

The Menghini tasting room is open Monday-Friday 10:00-4:00 and weekends 10:00 – 5:00. 760.765.2072


Map: Ramona Valley Winery Association

Here's a handy map of winery tasting rooms that are current members of the Ramona Valley Winery Association.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Located on tranquil Post Alley within the always bustling historic Pike Place Market, The Tasting Room is a gem. Stop in to seriously taste, drink and snack with friends, or just for a break. If you're a tourist interested in bringing some Washington wine home with you, this is your one-stop shop. 

Currently The Tasting Room features eight Washington wineries. Guests can enjoy pre-selected flights or concoct their own; all wines are available by the ounce, half glass, glass, carafe, or bottle. We zeroed in on Wilridge Cellars, a Seattle winery that works with biodynamically produced grapes from a vineyard near Yakima. And as usual, we liked the offerings from Wineglass Cellars in Zillah - especially the 2007 Syrah-Marcoux.

The Tasting Room is open Sunday - Thursday 12:00-8:00 and Friday-Saturday "noon-late." 206.770.9463


We visit Seattle on a fairly regular basis, but until recently the explosion of wineries, tasting rooms, and distilleries in Woodinville - about a half-hour's drive northeast - escaped our notice. With over eighty wineries in close proximity the idea of going tasting was a bit daunting, but on a rainy Friday afternoon we decided to at least get a sense of the place. A friend recommended DeLille Cellars so we planned to start there, but had a hard time finding it. Our first stop, Goose Ridge, was a somewhat random choice among a strip mall full of tasting rooms. The vineyard and winery are on 1600 acres in Richland (south-central Washington). Given our focus on boutique wineries, it was quite out of the ordinary to be in the tasting room of one big enough to be its own AVA! And... we loved the wine. The 2010 Chardonnay is lemony and spicy, aged six months in French oak but definitely not over-oaked. Our absolute favorite was the 2007 Reserve Malbec for its double layers of flavors and hints of tobacco and raisins.

DeLille is right across the street. The tasting room is inviting in an unpretentious way; guests can stand at the bar or congregate around tables, either way getting plenty of attention from a very knowledgeable staff person. The estate's grapes are in the Red Mountain AVA, a bit north of Walla Walla. Currently they have twenty acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, planted in 2000 and cut down after three years to jump-start the vines' maturation. The winery sources other fruit from the Red Mountain and Yakima Valley AVAs. These wines are definitely French style: dry, smooth...even silky, with lots of nuances. We loved the 2010 Roussanne, 2008 Syrah, and 2006 Grand Cru Estate Cab.

Here are some more Woodinville recommendations we collected there and back in Seattle:

Alexandria Nicole
Dusted Valley
J. Bookwalter
Mark Ryan
Sparkman Cellars
The Library at Apex

And here's a link to help you out:

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Tammy in her Tasting Room
It's always fun to stop by the Hacienda de las Rosas tasting room in Old Town. On a busy Saturday owner Tammy Rimes's warm, welcoming style seemed to make everyone feel at home - from hesitant first-time wine tasters to a group of serious conisseurs. Our favorite wines here use grapes from the Rimes's own vineyard in Ramona. 2008 "Sombra" Petit Syrah is smooth with a dry finish -  easy drinking but not boring; 2008 "Vistoso" Tempranillo is pleasantly peppery.

Most of the wines are named after the Rimes's horses.
The Hacienda de las Rosas tasting room is open daily 11:30-9:00. 619.840.5579

Link to newest Hacienda de las Rosas post...
Link to first Hacienda de las Rosas post...