Statistical probability would be low for a bookish, clumsy, extremely shy little girl from Long Island to land in Washington State as it birthed a wine industry. Still lower probability is that this girl would meet a cowboy from Utah, raised in the Mormon faith, and fall head-over-heals in love with him; yup, I have loads of photos of him on a horse, with the cowboy hat and boots since he was quite young. Want to guess the potential that this odd couple would discover how much they love wine and decide to pursue making it, understanding it and, of course, drinking it? We are talking about a series of serendipitous experiences that brought us not just together, but encouraged our shared passion of wine.
During my first round of college I was, of course, quite poor, so I had to really enjoy something to spend my few dollars on it. Raised with fresh, excellently prepared food, that was most of my meager budget. Raised with mediocre wine and beer that didn’t do anything for me I was the original ‘designated driver’ during those years – no cash outlay required. Marriage and motherhood and graduating occurred in the same year, so I the above trend carried on for some time. During this time Washington’s Wine Industry was in its high school years if you will, feisty and rebellious, planting red grapes where maybe whites would have been advised. Growing varietals that weren’t expected to grow, never mind produce quality fruit with which to make wine. The early wines from Washington were remarkably good – award-winning even. As the Twentieth Century came to a close a grudging maturity developed, the industry really began to blossom and WWCC pioneered a hands-on vocational program in an attempt to educate enough people who wanted into the industry that there were knowledgable people filling the ranks of Washington Wineries.
I was newly single, happily raising my kids and there were far more wines, especially Washington Wines, in my price range. Wine became a treat I looked forward to and budgeted for. My interest outpaced most of those around me as I tasted and researched but that didn’t matter, I really enjoyed it. It occurred to me to go back to school for a Master’s degree, but I couldn’t pin down a program I wanted to complete. There were too many options and yet, seemingly, not the ‘right’ option.
It took a few years on my own before I met my partner in wine; we actually bonded over motorcycle riding, excellent food and a joy of life. His choices had brought him beyond the world he was raised in so he introduced me to hard alcohols I hadn’t had (and probably shouldn’t) and I introduced him to wine… eventually beer too. We married and moved to ‘his’ house as ‘my’ house sold soon after. He suggested we have lunch in Walla Walla on our way home from our honeymoon and it instantly felt like home to me, so we would be visiting lots in the next few years. You have read about Brix & Stone and the owners, Linda and Dwight, that befriended me and offered me a place in their wine and beer shop opening up the world of wine and beer in a way I hadn’t previously experienced. My hubby was ever so supportive and encouraging – but his palate, having been unsullied to this point was coveted as we went to distributor tastings, industry events and during our monthly dinner group gatherings.
Our enthusiasm probably rushed ahead of our knowledge when we decided to start making wine for ourselves, but we were successful! When I couldn’t fix the problems that did arise I began searching for an answer and then for a hands-on program that wouldn’t require me to focus on research but would give me the ability to make wine and know what I was doing. What do you know, the only hands-on Enology and Viticulture program was in Walla Walla! There were a couple of other programs in the state, WSU has a Master’s degree and CWU had a marketing related degree and a couple of other community colleges had on-line programs.
As you must realize, we made the leap and moved to Walla Walla. We are submersed in wine related events, discussions, and tastings regularly. At the tasting room I am pouring wines and talking to perfect strangers all the time. My partner in wine is truly my partner; he is doing his own share of studying, from a Sommelier perspective, but casually. This approach is working very well for us.
Washington has approximately 800 licensed wineries, award-winning vineyards and wines, and constant demand for more vineyards as outside entities attempt to source fruit from here. No where near as mature as most other wine regions, but expanding in all ways.
I am through Fall Quarter of my second (and last) year of the EV program. Last week I had a few classes to round out this crush season and a take home final; making a red and a white wine from specific vineyards. We had to explain our reasoning for decisions such as harvesting and yeast vs what type of aging for each wine and cite our research. The challenge was happily undertaken with successful results. We seem to have found ourselves in Paradise living out our passions and open to a variety of future choices.
The rules (see original here)
- The Challenge is open to anybody and everybody. It helps if you have a blog, but that is certainly not a requirement (contact me if this is the case).
- Write a post based on this month’s theme: “Serendipity”: MWWC13
- The post should be at least tangentially related to wine (after all, it is the name of the challenge).
- The post should be more or less around 1000 words (I routinely violate this rule, so it is just there as a “guide”).
- Include the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge badge (above) that was designed by the very first winner, The Armchair Sommelier.
- Remember to vote!
- I will try and secure another outside judge for this month’s Challenge. If I succeed, the judge will choose the winner from the top three vote-getters. If I fail, the winner will be the top vote receiver.
- Once you post on your blog, please do at least two of the following and I will be sure to include a link here as well as on all subsequent posts about this month’s challenge:
- Include a link back to this post in your entry.
- Use the hashtag #MWWC13 somewhere in your post.
- Tweet, using the #MWWC13 hashtag and include a link back to your post.
- Send me an email: jeff(at)thedrunkencyclist(dot)com
The all important dates:
Deadline for submission: Monday, December 8th, 2014
Voting Begins: Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
Voting Ends: Monday, December 13th, 2014
Winner Announced: Tuesday, December 14th, 2014