I had another great time at the Wine Bloggers Conference this year which was held in Walla Walla, Washington on October 4 -7, 2018.
One of the great things about Walla, Walla is that many of the wineries have tasting rooms downtown so if you stay at a downtown hotel like I did you can go winetasting on foot and nobody has to drive.
Walla Walla would be a great city to visit with your parents so they can taste leisurely and go back to the hotel whenever they want and you can stay out and taste as long as you’d like.
And of course, there are scores of downtown restaurants within walking distance to keep everyone happy.
Walla Walla wines are still under the radar and are worth exploring.
Cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot and Rhone varietals are the wines that thrive well in this region.
Below are some of the highlights from my Walla Walla visit and the conference.
Cadaretta Winery and The Glass House
Cadaretta Winery is a Walla Walla winery that has a convenient tasting room located in downtown Walla Walla.
I got to experience their wines perched atop their vineyard hilltop glass house which they only open for special events.
The winery produces 3,000 cases a year and is owned by the Middletown family which also grows timber and two different kinds of table grapes smartly diversifying their vintage and agricultural risk.
If you visit their downtown tasting room try their SBS white wine which is a blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon.
It seriously tastes like it was made by French winemaker from the Loire and is filled with all those subtle and beautiful sauvignon blanc notes that often characterizes French sauvignon blanc.
I could drink this all year round.
Oh yeah, and while you’re there try the Windthrow which is a syrah-dominated, GSM blend.
Cheeses of Europe Wine & Cheese Tasting
Wine and cheese are bosom buddies, so I was especially impressed with an education session hosted by Cheeses of Europe.
The session was guided by the entertaining, twin-brother-duo, Michael and Charlie Kalish (aka The Cheese Twins).
In addition to sampling several delicious cheeses presented on beautifully arranged cheese boards, I learned about European cheesemaking and what makes European cheeses distinctive.
They have a handy phone app that I downloaded that provides a convenient cheat sheet on European cheeses and comes in handy when you’re at a cheese shop and are trying to figure out what the cheese you’ve staring at actually tastes like.
Instead of bringing wine to a dinner party, I’m going to bring a cheese and mix things up a bit.
Cheese is served after dinner because it’s the first dessert.
Rapid Fire “Name that Wine” Wine Bloggers Conference Challenge
During the conference my friends and fellow wine bloggers, Rob Frisch and Liz Barrett, filmed a series of quick interviews with wine bloggers tasting wines blind and trying to guess what was in their glass.
I gave it a try too.
See what happens when wine bloggers try to, “Name That Wine.”
This was fun!
Gloria Ferrer Sparkling Wine and Food Pairing
Gloria Ferrer hosted an education session focused on the versatility of sparkling wine paired with various foods.
Sparkling wine is known to be a versatile food-pairing partner and this session hammered that home.
During the education session Gloria Ferrer paired sparkling wine with bruschetta, a turkey wrap, sushi and a bacon wrap.
We sampled their Sonoma Brut, Blanc De Noirs, Brut Rosé and Anniversary Cuvée.
All the wines were wonderful, and my two favorites were the Brut Rosé and Anniversary Cuvée.
Live Blogging (aka Wine Speed Dating)
Each year the Wine Bloggers Conference hosts the equivalent of speed dating for winemakers and wine bloggers.
Over the course of an hour ten or so wineries visit a table of bloggers, pour and describe their wine, and then move on to the next table after five minutes.
Wine bloggers tweet and Instagram about what we’re drinking with our followers.
It’s actually quite an efficient way to sample a lot of wines in a short period of time, and it forces wineries to distill their key message down to a one-minute pitch.
Below are the wines I sampled and the tweet reviews from my brief five minutes with each wine and winery.
Tipsy Canyon Winery, Syrah 2015, Lake Chelan, Washington
Tipsy Canyon 2015 Syrah has silky fruit and body.
Boudreaux Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Washington
I’m not a cabernet fan but this one from Boudreaux Cellars pleases your palate in so many places with smooth silky tannins. 94 points. $75.
Troon Vineyard, Whole Grape Ferment Riesling 2017, Applegate Valley, Oregon
Troon Vineyard orange wine riesling is the kind of wine that could take on sushi and a steak. Yeah, a riesling, I know. It works.
Fullerton, Pinot Noir 2016, Bella Vida Vineyard, Dundee Hills, Oregon
Fullerton Bella Vida Vineyard 2016 Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Oregon. $65. Pure expression of fruit and elegance coupled with red concentrated midpalate fruit. 94 points.
Dama Wines, Collage 2014, Walla Walla, Washington
Dama Wines Collage 2014 presents refined. Subtle flavors with lots of supple purple fruit. 91 points.
Mansion Creek Cellars, Red Dog 2015, Red Mountain, Washington
Mansion Creek Cellars Red Dog 2015 Red Blend. Only 50 cases made 70% Tinta Cao and 30% cabernet red blend. Floral dominated blend from Red Mountain. 93 points. $48.
Troon Vineyard, Cuvée Pyrénées 2016, Applegate Valley, Oregon
Troon vineyards 2016 cuvee pyrenees 62% tannat 38% malbec blend. Indigenous yeast blend of natural wines. Body and oomph.
Bouza, Albariño 2017, Montevideo, Uruguay
Albarino is the new rising white wine from Uruguay. 91 points.
Baroness Cellars Riesling 2016 Red Mountain, Washington
Baroness Cellars riesling from Red Mountain. Off dry and made by woman winemaker.
Rodney Strong Vineyards, Chardonnay 2016, Sonoma County, California
Chalk Hill Chardonnay from Rodney Strong has wonderful subtle oak notes. 92 points.
Cadaretta, SBS 2016, Columbia Valley, Washington
Cadaretta SBS sauvignon blanc and semillon blend tastes as if it was made by a French winemaker from the Loire.
Frank Family Vineyards, Chardonnay 2016, Carneros, California
Frank Family Vineyards chardonnay has a complex midpalate with lightest touch of oak.
J. Brookwalter, Double Plot Chardonnay 2016, Conner-Lee Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington
J. Brookwalter Winery chardonnay 2016 is filled with fruit with medium-plus flavor intensity. 94 points.
Dr. Loosen, Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling 2016, Mosel, Germany
Dr Loosen dry riesling 2016 from the Mosel. Dry and yummy. As you can see they are all in.
Brokenwood, Semillon 2015, Hunter Valley, Australia
Semillon from Hunter Valley. This one from Brokenwood 2015. It has a midpalate with a little bit of yeast on the finish.
Brooks, Ara Riesling 2016, Willamette Valley, Orgeon
This winery makes over 20 rieslings so you know they take this seriously. This one from Brooks Ara 2016 is Mosel inspired and rocks.