Friday, December 25, 2009
With temperatures warmer than expected, as high as 55 during the days and only just below freezing at night, it has been very comfortable at Grape Hill this week. The winter wheat is showing green across the north fields. The vineyard fence was covered with more tumbleweed than I have seen ever before...spent lots of time on Tuesday pushing out maybe 800 cubic feet of these, leaving them to head for Waitsburg with the next strong wind blowing through. Quiet and uneventful, with no jobs or chores on my plate. Sue and I had nice meals at jimgermanbar and at Brasserie Four, with some great pastrami sandwiches from the new Graze restaurant on Colville Street. High recommendation! Stopped at a field with more pheasants than I have ever before seen congregating all in one spot...plenty of roosters along with a couple dozen hens and lots of quail, too. So many people in town! Full restaurants, no parking spots, good business in the tasting rooms that were open. Very nice to see that business is looking healthy. On the way over we stopped at Airfield Winery in Prosser after driving past it for the past couple years. A very impressive run of about 15 or more different wines and not a stinker in the bunch...everything was pleasant at the very least and many were quite good. Turns out that all around Airfield is a fairly new winemaking center with about a dozen new facilities and tasting rooms. We checked out Bunnell Family Winery and will definitely be back there for lunch stops on our way to and from Grape Hill. The foods looked attractive and carefully constructed, the setting was warm and pleasing, and the wines are serious. They are focusing on Rhone blends and seem to be hitting their stride...deep concentrations, powerful flavor profiles with nice consistency across the entire palate and good harmony. Perhaps they could bring the acids up a tad, but the oaking is under control and the grapes are top flight. It is such a joy to see more and more grenache, cinsault, mouvedre...Washington is producing impressive varietals across the board, it seems. As we were leaving Grape Hill I went and cleaned out the recycling. Another hoard of empty bottles from prior Guests. Maybe I will make note of the empties next year. Impressive! We must have had at least eighty bottles this year...nearly every top NW vintner was represented, plus some nice Italian and French wines, too. Lots of fun being had, no doubt!