Overview


Washington Wine Report is an independent publication focused on bringing Northwest wine to you and bringing you to Northwest wine. Our goal is:
  • To help you select Pacific Northwest wines at a variety of price levels
  • To keep you up-to-date about the Northwest’s wineries, vineyards, and individuals
  • To help you plan trips to wine country
  • To connect you to the larger wine community

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In tough times, we continue the search for good, inexpensive wines.

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Recent Radio Interviews

Saturday, October 29, 2011 0 comments

Below are links to two recent radio interviews.

The first is a brief spot on KUOW 94.9's Weekday show discussing Initiative 1183. My spot on the show is about 40 minutes in.

The second is from Table Talk Radio with Jamie Peha and Thierry Rautureau. We discuss Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2011 growing season and harvest, and Initiative 1183 starting about 15 minutes in.

Enjoy!

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The new edition of Wine & Jazz magazine, Vintage 3 Track 2, has an article I wrote about Prosser's Vintners Village. Check it out on newstands now. Read other recent print articles here.

Also, email subscribers should note that there was an issue this last week with emails getting sent out. See yesterday's email for these articles or click on the links below.

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The 2011 harvest is underway in Washington State. Over the coming weeks, I will provide periodic updates on what is picked, where, and when as well as thoughts on the growing season from the state’s growers and winemakers. Read previous updates here.

10/27 Update: First the good news. The season’s first frost occurred in eastern Washington early Tuesday morning, but most vineyards were not affected. Now the bad news. Wednesday morning temperatures were considerably colder, bringing the growing season to an end for some while sparing others. Current forecasts look to give vineyards that made it through unaffected potentially another week or more of hang time. For those that didn’t, time’s up.

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This month's Virtual Tasting is the 2008 Rulo Syrca tonight 7-8pm Pacific. Read how to participate here.

I have decided to vote against Initiative 1183 because I believe that it poses a threat to numerous small wineries, distributors, and wine stores. I believe that the effect on these businesses would be bad for the Washington wine industry and bad for me as a consumer. Here’s why.

Let me start by saying that I am for liquor privatization. If Initiative 1183 were just about privatization, supporting it would be, for me, a no brainer - despite my distaste for the initiative process. However, Initiative 1183 is about much more.

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Before turning to my own position on Initiative 1183, it’s worth talking about how this initiative relates to public safety. There has been a lot of discussion and advertising dollars spent on this.

Opponents say that Initiative 1183 will lead to increased incidence of alcohol related public health issues – driving incidents, domestic violence, alcoholism, etc. Proponents of Initiative 1183 say that there is no evidence – specifically from U.S. studies relating to privatization of spirits – linking privatization of alcohol to increased alcohol issues. Here’s my take.

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This month's Virtual Tasting is Wednesday from 7-8pm Pacific. Read how to participate here. Also, listen to KUOW’s Weekday today at 9am Pacific at 94.9FM or streaming on-line for a discussion of Initiative 1183. I will be discussing the wine related changes at about half past the hour. I will also be on TableTalk 1150AM Wednesday 8am-9am Pacific discussing the 2011 harvest. Without further ado...

A round-up of stories on Washington wine from October 15th to 21st. See previous round-ups here.

From around the world…

The BC Globe and Mail writes about the late harvest with a (very) brief mention of Washington.

BC Local News writes about economic development in Walla Walla.

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Note: Listen to KUOW’s Weekday Tuesday at 9am Pacific for a discussion of Initiative 1183. I will be discussing the wine related changes at about half past the hour.

This is part three of a series of posts on Initiative 1183. See Part I on Volume Discounting here, Part II on Central Warehousing here, and an overview of the changes proposed in the initiative here.

While Initiative 1183 is primarily about privatizing liquor sales and distribution along with changing laws to allow volume discounting and central warehousing, there are several other aspects of the initiative that bear mentioning. Some of these are not readily apparent without a close read of the initiative. Here I have listed several that stand out.

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This is the second in a series of posts on Initiative 1183, the latest liquor privatization initiative in Washington State. This post focuses on one of the wine-specific changes in the initiative, central warehousing.

See a previous post on Initiative 1183, with additional details about the initiative’s contents, here. See a post on another one of the initiative’s key components, volume discounting, here.

Central Warehousing


What It Means:
At present, retailers and restaurants can either buy wine directly from a winery or they can buy from a distributor who provides the wine. If they do the former, they buy as much as they can put on their shelves. Retailers and restaurants are not allowed by law to store wine off-site, and most have limited on-site storage. In most cases, their storage is the retail shelf. If the retailer buys through a distributor, the distributor warehouses the wine and then brings it to the retail outlet as needed.

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The 2011 harvest is underway in Washington State. Over the coming weeks, I will provide periodic updates on what is picked, where, and when as well as thoughts on the growing season from the state’s growers and winemakers. Read previous updates here.

10/20 Update: This week has been the one many growers and winemakers have been waiting for. The end of last week, again, brought some wet weather to eastern Washington. Nighttime temperatures near Red Mountain dipped into the upper thirties over the weekend, cold but not cold enough to present any frost issues. In recent days the sun has come back out, and the forecast currently shows no rain expected over the next week.

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This is the first in a series of posts on Initiative 1183, the latest liquor privatization initiative. This post focuses on one of the wine-specific changes in the initiative, volume discounting. Here I detail what volume discounting means, why Costco cares, why some are for/against it, and what it means to consumers.

See a previous post on Initiative 1183 with additional details about the initiative’s contents here.

Volume Discounting


What it means:
Currently the wholesale cost of wine is fixed regardless of how much one buys. This means that retailers that buy a single bottle and those that buy ten cases pay the same amount.

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Almost exactly a year ago I wrote about the makings of a keg wine movement in Washington. One year later, Proletariat Wine Company is bringing keg wine to the masses.

The idea for Proletariat started when winemaker Sean Boyd of Rotie Cellars was talking to a bartender at the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla. The bartender said to Boyd, “We need to come up with a better way of pouring wine.”

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from October 8th to 14th. Read previous round-ups here.

From around the world…

Decanter Magazine writes about Robin Pollard resigning from the Washington Wine Commission.

Middle East North Africa Financial Network writes about passage of trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama.

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Fresh Sheet October 14th 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011 0 comments

Today’s Fresh Sheet – new and recent Washington wine releases – includes wines from Robert Ramsay Cellars, Wind Rose Cellars, and Columbia Crest.

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The 2011 harvest is underway in Washington State. Over the coming weeks, I will provide periodic updates on what is picked, where, and when as well as thoughts on the growing season from the state’s growers and winemakers. Read previous updates here.

10/13 Update: Our harvest update this week is best summed up with a tweet from Josh Maloney (@maloneywine) of Milbrandt Vineyards. “So far this vintage can be easily summed up - WTF? (Where's the fruit? - trying to keep clean).”

Indeed things have remained slow over the last week as the rain threw another curveball at the 2011 growing season in Washington. While Saturday and Sunday saw sunshine and warmer temperatures, these days were the exception to what was otherwise a cool, wet week. On average, 0.4 to 0.7 inches of rain fell across eastern Washington, in some locations significantly more.

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One of the most frequent questions wine newbies ask me is how to sound like they know something about wine even though they don’t. Below are a few wine words guaranteed to stupefy and intimidate your wine novice friends.

Please note, if you stumble into someone who actually does know something about wine, the key is to intimidate him or her by making them feel like they don’t. Then you’re in the clear. Without further ado.

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October's Virtual Tasting wine will be the 2008 Rulo Winery Syrca. This wine retails for $15 and is fairly widely available (Note: Trader Joe's shoppers will likely find it there. A list of other locations that carry the Rulo wines - but not necessarily this wine - can be found here). The tasting will take place Wednesday October 26th from 7-8pm Pacific.

What you need to do to participate is:

1. Buy this month’s wine from a local retailer or from the winery.

2. Post your comments/tweets on the wine between 7 and 8pm using the hashtag #syrca. For those on Twitter, follow me @wawinereport.

Hope you will join us!

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from October 1st to 7th.

The big story this week was the departure of Robin Pollard as director of the Washington Wine Commission. The Seattle Times reports here, Wine Press NW here.

From around the country…


Wine & Vines writes about Initiative 1183.

Wine Spectator writes about QR codes with mention of Charles Smith Wines.

The Miami Herald writes about Riesling with a callout to Chateau Ste. Michelle.

KNDO writes about the effects of climate change on the wine industry.

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The 2011 harvest is underway in Washington State! Over the coming weeks, I will provide periodic updates on what is picked, where, and when as well as thoughts on the growing season from the state’s growers and winemakers.

10/6 Update: The major story this week has been the cool, wet weather that - as forecast - moved into eastern Washington. One winemaker summed up the thoughts of many saying, “The last words you want to hear during a vintage like this one – ‘All loads canceled due to rain.’”

Indeed rain spread across many areas of the state Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday’s rain was less than a tenth of an inch in most areas, not enough to cause significant concern but enough to affect picking decisions. Some vineyards picked fruit on Monday in advance of the rain. Many canceled picks on Tuesday and Wednesday with rain forecast.

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It is uncommon for a winery to skip vintages. It is also uncommon, at least in the U.S., for a winery to adjust its price based on the quality of the wine. This is the story of one Washington winery that is doing both.

I vividly recall the first wine I had from Dumas Station. It was a 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon - the winery’s first vintage. Two things struck me. The first was the high quality of the wine. The second was the compelling price point, $25 for a superb Walla Walla Valley Cabernet. Though the prices have increased slightly over the years, Dumas Station continues to make its mark with extremely high quality wines that punch above their weight class. And the winery simply refuses to sacrifice quality.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from September 22nd to 30th 2011. Read previous round-ups here.

The big story this week was the passing of Blackwood Canyon winemaker Mike Moore. The Tri-City Herald reports here. The Grumpy Winemaker writes about him here.

From around the country…


Wine Business.com writes about Allen Shoup receiving a lifetime achievement award.

Consumer Reports writes about Riesling with a callout to Eroica and Chateau Ste. Michelle.

MarketWatch writes about Initiative 1183.

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