5 wines of El Corazon Winery of Walla Walla

From the El Corazon Winery website, part of the downtown tasting room.
From the El Corazon Winery website, part of the downtown tasting room.

Walking passed the garage door and the store front that is El Corazon Winery I could fancy myself back in Todos Santos, Baja on vacation.  The winery name painted on the roll-up door and the sugar skulls and artwork in the shop windows with the white walls inside and out remind me of shops off of the Plaza there and in La Paz many years ago.  ‘The Heart’, which is the English translation of ‘El Corazon’, focuses primarily on single-vineyard, single-varietal, fruit driven wines that exemplify terroir, especially Walla Walla AVA terroir.  Having spent time with Spencer Sievers, co-owner and co-winemaker, socially, and enjoyed El Corazon wines at various events, I wanted to get into the winery for a visit and that came to pass this Spring. (Alas, Spencer was out-of-town.)  Irreverence with a touch of dry, dark wit might seem a bit off of the typical Walla Walla winery but the El Corazon wines are truly worthy.

The wines:

  • 2012 Super Nova – 100% Malbec from the Horse Heaven Hills Vineyard in the AVA of the same name at 14.3% ABV, is a rich, Cassis and blue berry fruit filled wine with a lingering, tannic finish
  • 2013 Swordfight – 50% Syrah, 50% Mourvedre’ at 14.1% ABV is a collaboration with another local winery, Rotie Cellars.  Each winery makes 2 barrels of a single varietal (El Corazon did the Syrah for this blend) and then both bottle and label the blend of their allotted two barrels.  A friendly competition; ‘swordfight’ was more appropriate a name than ‘fencing’ for El Corazon. Dark and brooding it is excellent!
  • Bottle of El Corazon Wine and a glass with red wine.
    2012 El Corazon’s Walla Walla Valley Carmenere, more commonly known as Tigers Blood.

    2012 Run with the Hunted – 50% Syrah, 38% Malbec, 12% Cabernet Franc is black cherries, bright raspberries and spice with a lively complex finish

  • 2012 Pistolero – 28% Malbec, 28% Cabernet Franc, 18% Carmenere, 14% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot from the Walla Walla Valley is a melange of fruit with lot sod spice and vanilla on both the nose and palate.
  • 2012 Tigers Blood – 100% Carmenere, 13.9% ABV, is jalapeno peppers on the nose and palate, my partner in wine had to finish this one for me.


Walla Walla's Mill Creek with ducks.
Mill Creek being fed by the rainstorm runoff with some local ducks relaxing in the chilly water half a block from El Corazon.

Forgeron Cellars

Earlier this Spring, we spent some time in Forgeron Cellars, a well-loved winery since we discovered them four years ago.  Two days before I had a field trip through the winery; I was part of a carpool and didn’t bring my purse with me (what was I thinking).  What an excuse, my partner in wine and I went back in to visit and make the purchases I had in mind.

He went through their tasting flight while I wondered a bit taking pictures.  Sourcing grapes from well-known and established vineyards throughout the Washington AVA’s Forgeron Cellars barrel ferments all of their wines in primarily neutral barrels.

The wines:

  • 2013 Facon Blanc – 33% Roussanne, 30% Grenache Blanc, 22% Viognier, & 15% Marsanne, is a full-bodied, well-balanced white with a lovely nose, ripe apricot and citrus flavors
  • 2013 Chardonnay – 96% Chardonnay, 4% Roussanne with about 1/3 new oak, is citrus and caramelized fruit on the nose with apple, citrus and flint on the palate and a lovely acidic finish
  • 2014 Sangiovese Rose’ – light and bright it is strawberries and red plums with a delightful acidic finish
  • 2012 Barbera – a summer fruit salad (rainier cherries, raspberry with a hint of vanilla) and a mild spice finish
  • 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon – 90% Cab Sauv, 10% Petit Verdot, my perception of the sweet peppers made me wait for my partner in wine’s opinion: dark berries and vanilla with allspice for a berry tart tasting wine finishing smoother than he expected
  • 2012 Facon Rouge (GSM) – 35% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre, herbal, Cassis and blueberry with licorice and clove on the finish
  • 2011 Syrah – about 1/3 new oak, floral (violets and lilac), anise and white pepper aromas lead beautifully in to the silky, rich pomegranate, blueberry and cedar flavors before the lingering, ever so slightly acidic finish

With 6,000 cases, they distribute their wines farther than most Walla Walla wineries including glass pours throughout the country’s finer restaurants.  Look for them and let me know where you find them!

Cheers! (Sante’)

Celebrations, Wine

Celebrating Walla Walla’s Wine and Onions this weekend

I will spend my first weekend working in the Locati Cellars Tasting Room on the ground floor of the Marcus Whitman Hotel; the tallest building in Walla Walla and a beautifully restored 1920’s hotel.  I am pretty excited to be selling the wines I have been helping to make for two years.  Specializing in Italian varietals we won’t be part of the Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wines that is happening this weekend focusing on Merlot.  (Last year was Syrah, so not one of our grapes either.)  Considering the French Canadian fur trappers (most married to Native American wives), Italian, German and Irish immigrants settled the valley, wine grapes have been grown for a long time.  Another long time crop is the Walla Walla Sweet Onion, originally a French sweet onion that was brought over as seed and flourished in the valley’s soils.  This weekend also marks the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival!  So much yumminess doesn’t consider the asparagus that is waning in the heat, the strawberries (Klicker Strawberries are well-known) that are at the peak of their season and the oodles of fresh produce and local honey that I love to shop for at the Farmers Market on Saturday’s.  For a small town in a relatively remote valley in Southeastern Washington State, we can pack a weekend full of deliciousness!  Good think it is a bike friendly town and walking is encouraged or I would have a terrible weight problem.  If you haven’t been to Walla Walla before, consider visiting next year.


Viticulture and Enology

Commencement and Company

Diploma in hand, my most recent educational pursuits are realized.
Diploma in hand, my most recent educational pursuits are realized.

I have pictured graduation day for six months, visualized it pretty vividly for the last three.  Chose a cute outfit, low heels and my jewelry and everything, which is pretty out of character for me actually.  Mike’s death meant I wouldn’t we wearing make-up for graduation as the tears would be too close to the surface as his wife walked in his place to accept his diploma.  Wouldn’t have missed being present for that moment for anything!

Swollen left foot from a thorn injury.
Swollen left foot meant I wasn’t wearing heels for graduation.

What I didn’t visualize was the thorn I would step on while cutting mint leaves for ice blocks I wanted to get in the freezer for the celebrating we would do after Commencement.  In just a few quick seconds my big toe swelled nearly impeding my ability to pull the thorn out.  It was agonizing and I was hobbling around the kitchen groaning in pain when my husband came home from work.  There went the heels in my graduation vision.  In fact, until Saturday morning when I was dressed I wasn’t even sure I would get any foot ware on!  Thankfully, I owned a pair of sandals I could wiggle into.

So many people, near and far, have cheered me on, not least my virtual community; I want to thank you all.  Having pneumonia over December break my first year was a major hurdle, my Fibromyalgia caused some problems at times, and I took too many credits to do anything else during the quarter a few times but I was determined to complete this program in the two years I expected to.  The crowd that showed up to be with me for Commencement made all of that effort worth while.

Sabrina serving cake at our EV party. Look at that cake!
Sabrina serving cake at our EV party. Look at that cake!

In the WWCC Enology and Viticulture program we learned to grow grapes, make and taste wine – but we all seem to know how to party!  A bar of wines we made during our two years in the program, trays of food and a huge cake greeted us at the EV building post Commencement.  Then we took it home to have a good time for the rest of the evening.

Thankfully, Sunday night my swollen foot began to shrink back to normal size.  (It took a lot of foot soaking but it is happening.) I am scheduled to be in Locati’s Cellar on Tuesday and Wednesday and in the tasting room come the weekend and I am looking forward to living the life I studied for.

Next chapter begins, Cheers!

Celebrations, Viticulture and Enology

Graduation is Imminent!

Please forgive the brevity of the post, but wrapping up this final quarter of school is consuming lots of time. Each milestone seems bigger than life and full of emotion.  My finals are complete, preparations for the graduation party are done as they can be for Saturday.  Guests have begun to arrive and celebrating is in order.  Writing will begin again in earnest next week.

cards, gifts and mortar board with 2015 tassel in black and gold.
Two fast and furious years of study and I am poised to graduate with my viticulture and enology certifications!

Gramercy Cellars

Gramercy Cellars, Walla Walla, Washington harkening to Gramercy Park in New York.
Gramercy Cellars, Walla Walla, Washington harkening to Gramercy Park in New York.

We have driven by Gramercy Cellars a few times on our way back into Walla Walla but decided to go there when a friend came to visit us.  The brick building with the wrap around front porch was somewhat western looking but the name reminded me of Manhattan’s Gramercy Park.  Inside, the rough sawn wood entry and the wool rugs with native patterns and antique stools at a very low bar followed the western theme further.  The black and white labels with the top of a decorative wrought iron fence on them again reminds me of Manhattan and the park.  As a kaleidoscope shifts as you turn it I felt the shift east and west as I looked around before Robbi handed us our first tastes of wine.

Apparently, Greg and Pam Harrington are quite familiar with Gramercy Park and part of their romance involved the park, what better means of preserving a special memory than naming your winery for it.  Greg Harrington is a Master Sommelier and is ‘currently Chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas’.  They opened Gramercy Cellars in 2005 and produce about 8,000 cases; a larger boutique winery in Walla Walla.

The wines:

  • 2014 Viognier – 13.2% ABV is fruity and smooth
  • 2014 Rose – 50% Cinsault, 25% Grenache, 25% Syrah 13.8% ABV nice citrus and watermelon
  • 2012 The Third Man – 57% Grenache, 38% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre 14.7% ABV is rasp- and blackberries with lovely vanilla and spice
  • 2012 Syrah – 13.7% ABV is a Rocks-dominated Syrah, with a funky-black pepper and smoke on the nose and violets, berries and mushrooms on the palate
  • 2012 ‘The Deuce’ Syrah – 14.1% ABV a bit less smokey, this is a funky, fruity striking Walla Walla Syrah.  I would enjoy this after it cellared for a bit as it took a bit to open up in the glass.
  • 2012 Lagniappe Syrah – 14.2% ABV is violets, lilac and leather on the nose, velvety with pomegranate and red currant with old leather on the palate
  • 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon – 13.9% ABV was too green pepper for me to taste, but my hubby loved it
  • 2012 Mourvedre – 14.5% ABV is 82% Mourvedre and 18% Syrah is a meaty, fruit filled and spiced meal in a glass

*Countdown to graduation is 5 days!


Viticulture and Enology

In the final ten days of my last quarter!

Amazingly I have (only?) ten days until I graduate!  It is a bit surreal yet as we are wrapping up ‘lose ends’  and prepping for finals.  Funny how busy and crazy things get before they will be culminate permanently with graduation.  As I have a couple of projects that require lots of attention, I will share with you some of our activities during the last two weeks.



Studio Two Zero Two an Art Gallery and tasting room for multiple wineries.

Studio Two Zero Two is a gallery space for a few local artists, Anne Hysell uses oils and pastels to create her landscapes of the Walla Walla Valley. Penny Michel did the bowl.
Studio Two Zero Two is a gallery space for a few local artists, Anne Hysell uses oils and pastels to create her landscapes of the Walla Walla Valley. Penny Michel did the bowl.
Studio Two Zero Two is an Art Gallery for local artists and a tasting room for Alleromb, Ardor and the A. Morell Wines portfolio.
Studio Two Zero Two is an Art Gallery for local artists and a tasting room for Alleromb, Ardor and the A. Morell Wines portfolio.

A few months ago my hubby and I were in Ellensburg at Gard Vintner’s tasting room, I told you they were represented locally but we were remise about getting into that space; we visited!  Studio Two Zero Two is a gallery for a few local artists, 2-D and 3-D work dots the space in color and form as well as a tasting room for a myriad of wineries that are primarily made under the A Morell Wines umbrella.  (Usually I get to see the art from the street as I peer into the closed business and they are always impressive.)

Brandon Kubrock, owner of Adror Cellars, poured at Studio Two Zero Two Art & Wine Gallery.
Brandon Kubrock, owner of Ardor Cellars, poured at Studio Two Zero Two Art & Wine Gallery.

Pouring our wines was Brandon Kubrock, winemaker for Ardor Cellars.  I met Brandon at the community college when he was there in his other capacity as the owner of Oak Traditions, a supplier of oak in the local wine industry.  It was busy when we arrived, but we managed to have a fun conversation with him.  Ardor wines were interspersed with pours of Alleromb, the wine of Aryn Morell, owner and head winemaker for A. Morell Wines where Gard is made.

While we were there a visitor in from Alaska that had been to Walla Walla before came up and asked me if I worked at another winery.  They even knew which area of town they had seen me, but couldn’t be sure of the winery.  She had a terrific memory and I confirmed I was the person she thought I was.  It struck me as interesting that she would remember me so well, but not the winery; I am flattered.

Some highlights of the wines:

  • Alleromb is Bordeaux style while Ardor is Rhone and Bordeaux in primarily neutral oak with no direct competition between the wines open for tasting.
  • My partner in wine is so enamored of a buttery, oaky Chardonnay that the Alleromb 2013 Chardonnay that was in a 100% new oak puncheon for 16 months with lees stirred and full MLF, 14.6% ABV was his favorite before we were very far into the tasting!  I enjoy that with food more than for sipping and it has been great with dinner.
  • Ardor Cellars 2014 Mourvedre’ Rose’ – 13.9% ABV, excellent flavor, mouthfeel and beautiful color.
  • Alleromb 2011 Malbec – 15.3% ABV, black cherry and spiced vanilla chai on the nose and palate with a sandy tannic finish.
  • Alleromb 2012 La Gran Flor – 14.8% ABV, 60% Malbec, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon is a warm, rich, dark fruit and spice concoction that I could enjoy anytime.

As most of these wines won’t distribute past the northwest, if outside of Washington, you can see if either of these wineries ships to your location and order off of the website.