It was one year ago that I left on a big ole jet airliner and flew out to Seattle for two days of eating, drinking and exploration. From there I piled onto a bus with 49 other wine bloggers to tour the Lake Chelan, WA wine region. It wasn’t long into our journey we realized the bus had no working AC and the windows didn’t open. After a late start waiting for some fellow travelers to arrive from their destinations, we finally set off for the four hour drive to Lake Chelan Valley.
Our first leg of the trip was hosted by Erin and Nicole from Lake Chelan Wine Alliance.
After lunch on the bus and a quick stop to get the leftover food bags off the hot and stuffy bus we finally arrived at our first stop, Rio Vista Winery for a welcome reception and an awesome seaplane tour of Lake Chelan.
I was lucky enough to be placed in the last seaplane group tour, after flying over Lake Chelan we landed and docked the seaplane. Thanks to one blogger in the group before us, who got sick and required a change of clothing, we got a ride to our next spot with one of the winery owners.
Our next stop was Tsillian Cellars and their beautiful Tuscan Villa style winery and restaurant. Keep in mind, I’ve been on a hot bus for hours and my fellow bloggers and I were sweaty, possibly smelly and not dressed in the clothing we thought we would be for our dinner but we sure did enjoy the extra time with the winemakers and the stunning scenery.
We sampled a few of the wines offered by Tsillian Cellars, I’m sure there were many wines we sampled but after a year my notes are a bit scattered.
Tsillian Cellars 2010 Estate Sinista, a blend of Sangiovese, Barbera and Nebbiolo. Bright cherry red in color, this wine as fruity aromas of cherry, raspberry and blackberry with some floral and earthy aromas.
Tsillan Cellars 2009 Bellissima Rossa – aromas of smoke and toast followed by aromas of blackberry and cherry. Fruit forward with an abundance of berries and a cocoa finish.
After a scrumptious dinner at the winery’s restaurant, Sorrento’s and one of the most amazing sunsets I’ve ever seen we finally retired to Campbell’s Resort on Lake Chelan where I had time for a much needed shower and a few hours of sleep before climbing back onto that hot, smelly bus, but much wonderfulness awaited us.
Our day began with a glass of champagne, (shouldn’t everyday begin with champagne???) at Karma Vineyards. Méthode Champenoise Brut 2010 – Flavors of pear with sweet red apple and a hint of yeast. After a cave tour are palates were enticed and very pleased by a wonderful brunch and bubbly pairing. Man, what a way to spend a morning. As tough as it was, I suffered through it for you, the reader and I would gladly, very gladly, do it again.
After we were satiated with food and bubbly it was off to our limos awaiting to wisk us away in smaller groups to our chosen excursion within our excursion. I chose WineGirl Wines. Not knowing anything about any of the wineries in the area it was a difficult decision but the clincher for me was, Angela the winemaker, is a former Roller Derby girl, I couldn’t pass this up. Together with co-owner Ashley, the winery is still in a small operation and at the time of my visit, they were still bottling and doing all operations by hand and on-site. If you happen to visit around harvest don’t be surprised to find the space stacked with barrels or fermentation bins.
The winery offers three different labels with varying price points; Kamari, My Derby Wife and Fiará. Coupled with the laid-back attitude, the unpretentiousness and the well crafted wines ranging from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc to Cabernet Franc convinced me enough that I needed to have these wines on a regular basis. I joined their wine club and just picked up my latest shipment yesterday. After noshing on some appetizers paired with wines, we headed back to the winery for lunch on the patio with more wines paired with wood fired pizza from Orchard Wood Ovens.
One common thread among all the wines I tasted while in the area; the region makes beautiful Cabernet Franc, simply amazing wines.
I’m hoping to get the opportunity to return to this wonderful and beautiful wine region again. California wine regions are well known and well traveled but sometimes it’s better to seek out the hidden gems. For more info on the Lake Chelan Valley region click here.