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Featured Wine: Ten Spoon 2010 Moonlight Organic Pinot Noir

Ten Spoon 2010 Moonlight Organic Pinot Noir
This organic Pinot Noir is made from organic grapes grown by the Cattrall Brothers, harvested at their peak in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, and fermented at Ten Spoon winery in Missoula. Handcrafting in small batches has brought out the full fruit with a satisfying depth of flavor provided by a touch of French oak. has a rich velvety appearance with a “copper twinkle”. It has a powerful nose consisting of wet earth and complex floral hints. This organic pinot has a complex taste with bright berry and current followed by rose petals with notes of cedar. This Pinot is full of flavor but still light and not too heavy. It goes well with chicken, pasta, vegetable dishes, and salmon. The wine is vegan friendly. All Ten Spoon wine is certified organic, contains no added sulfites, and does not use any animal products/bi-products.

Featured in our West Coast Wine Club.

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Featured Winery: Ten Spoon Vineyard and Winery – Missoula, Montana

Ten Spoon Vineyard and Winery
Over 20 years ago, Connie Poten and Andy Sponseller worked with friends, family and volunteers to turn a rocky patch of 4 and a half acres into the lovely Missoula, Montana vineyard and winery it is today. Located in the upper Rattlesnake Valley, north of Missoula, many people wonder how a vineyard and winery can operate in such northerly conditions. Despite Montana’s short growing season, the long daylight hours of the north allow them to successfully cultivate primarily French-American varietals: Frontenac, St. Pepin, LaCrosse, Marechal Foch, Leon Millot, St. Croix and Swenson Red.

Ten Spoon is also dedicated to preserving the environment and supporting small farms. The land was originally purchased to save it from development. Since then, the rocky slope has been transformed into a healthy open space for wildlife and the vineyard irrigation system is solar-powered. The fruit and grapes not grown on-site are all purchased from family farms in Montana, Oregon, Washington and California. And right along Ten Spoon’s driveway, there’s a small lavender farm called Rocky Mountain Lavender, which they actively promote on their website. Throughout Ten Spoon’s 20 years of growth, Connie and Andy have continued to spread their core message: Saving habitat and enjoying good wine go together in Missoula, Montana.

Learn More About Ten Spoon Vineyard & Winery.
Ten Spoon Vineyard & Winery

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Featured Wine: 2010 Pull CdR Rhone Blend

2010 Pull CdR Rhone Blend
The CdR is comprised of Syrah (54%), Petite Sirah (27%), Grenache (16%) and Viognier (3%) to form this classic Rhone style red. The varietals are located on varied sites across the vineyard, each of which is optimally suited for the ripening of the given varietal. Syrah as the predominate grape in this blend stands tall here, leading with power, intense fruit and tannin. Petite Sirah follows on from the Syrah with dense color and intensity of fruit and texture. The finesse and delicacy of this wine is derived from Grenache. With acid and fruit being the backbone of Grenache, this wine alone has strawberries dominating both the aroma and flavor of this wine. Common in the Northern Rhone Valley, the inclusion of Viognier in a red is less common in this country. The Viognier was – in this case – co-fermented with the Syrah component of this wine. Such a practice helps to better integrate the two varietals and build a synergy of flavors and structure. Although making up only a small percentage of the blend this highly aromatic varietal lends charm to the finished wine. This wine exhibits aromas of black berries, brambles and spicy notes intermingling with flavors red cherry integrated oak. This brightness of fruit is carried through onto the palate and is supported by smooth tannins on the finish. Such a wine will lend itself to aging yet is just as satisfying when consumed in its youth.

Featured in our Red Trio Wine Club.

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Featured Winery: Broken Earth Winery – Paso Robles, California

Broken Earth Winery
Broken Earth Winery is comprised of a consumer orientated team proudly representing Paso Robles & committed to continuing to bolster the high-quality reputation of California’s Paso Robles AVA. Broken Earth produces unique wines that are estate grown, harvested, and bottled in Paso Robles. Rancho Tierra Rejada, Spanish for “land of worked earth,” is the original name of the 2,500 acre ranch that is now home to the vineyards that produce all of their wines. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, grain and cattle were the primary commodities there. It was a land of pioneer families, vaqueros, banditos, and cattle barons such as the Miller & Lux Cattle Company. Paso Robles defined the real and true west before 1900. That pioneer spirit lives on today at Broken Earth Winery. Their unique wines reflect winemaker Chris Cameron’s committed & passionate approach to all aspects of winemaking. Chris’s career has spanned over 30 vintages and includes both international and domestic wineries. His wine vision is clear: structure & balance are most critical, along with being committed to sustainable ideals, and to continuing to bolster the high-quality reputation of Paso Robles wines. Chris’s interpretation of the vineyards and varieties is heralding a new era for the Broken Earth Winery

Learn More About Broken Earth Winery.
Broken Earth Wines

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Histamines in Wine

Wine has been a favorite drink for many millennia, attracting individuals of different races, ethnicities and cultures to its sweet and earthy tastes. For thousands of years, many societies have used wine as a central theme in cultural traditions and practices, from food pairings to ceremonial use. Today it remains as popular as ever, with hundreds of varieties and thousands of brands. However, despite its long history and much-loved taste, wine does not always work out the same for everyone, a fact wine club members are well aware of.

As there are many different types of wine, there are also many ingredients that vary between wines. Wine club of the month members have experience concerning the similarities in ingredients between wines. Histamines, for example, are common in most wines but are present in higher doses in red wine than white. Essentially, histamines are organic compounds that trigger an inflammatory response when they enter the body. This response is meant to ward off infection, but sometimes the immune system mistakes histamines in wine as pathogens, leading to inflammation. In most people, histamines cause sneezing, itchy eyes and nasal congestion. Unfortunately, for individuals sensitive to histamines, their presence in wine can be very unpleasant.

Some people make that claim that alcohol worsens their allergies. In the case of wine, this can actually be true. Histamines are produced naturally in the yeasts and bacteria used to break down the ingredients in many beers and wines and are similar to sulfites, another common wine ingredient. For individuals fighting allergies or cold symptoms, drinking a glass of wine can often hurt, not help. This is especially true in women, who seem to be more affected by the histamines in wine.

Despite being a popular drink around the world, the time isn’t always right for wine. Regardless of its pleasing taste, the histamines that occur naturally can exacerbate allergy symptoms and cause some unpleasant side effects. During periods in the spring and fall, it might be wise to hold off on wine drinking until the pollen counts drop. If you are interested in learning more about the fascinating details surrounding the production and consumption of one of the world’s best loved drinks, a wine club membership might be a good choice for you.

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Featured Winery: Kyra Wines – Moses Lake, Washington

Kyra Wines
First and foremost, owners and operators Kyra and Bruce Baerlocher are wine grape growers. They started making small private lots of wine to help them grow the highest quality grapes in their vineyards. Although their vineyards are on the Wahluke Slope, their home has been in Moses Lake, Washington for over 25 years and this is where they began their winery operation. Today they produce about 2000 cases per year with wines from their own vineyards as well as those they contract from others. Kyra is the Winemaker and handles all the winery operations while Bruce oversees the vineyard operation in addition to his day job as the Chief Financial Officer of a large farm. Together they team up to form a true boutique winery focusing on food friendly varietals.

Learn More About Kyra Wines.

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Featured Wine: 2011 Garnet Wahluke Slope

2011 Garnet Wahluke Slope
Kyra’s 2011 Garnet marks the launch of a new label, named for Kyra’s great-grandmother, that will focus on blends from her estate vineyards on the Wahluke Slope — Pheasant and Purple Sage. The debut vintage is Merlot (33%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), Petit Verdot (20%), Malbec (14%) and Sangiovese (13%). Her use of French, American and Hungarian oak shows in the nose of espresso, cocoa powder, ground savory and brown sugar with sweet cherry notes. The influence of the Italian grape Sangiovese shows in the acidity that penetrates the juicy drink of plum and blueberry, backed by subtle tannins. Perfect now, the wine shows a tremendous versatility with foods due to its closely balanced showcase of varietals. This wine would pair especially well with pot roast, pork ribs, grilled chicken, and smoked cheeses.

Featured in our West Coast Wine Club.

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Oak Wine Barrels

The wine delivered by wine clubs, fermented in an oak barrel, is arguably the very best way to bring out the most desirable quality and flavor from grapes. There are of course, as with all products, disagreements as to what type of oak helps produce the perfect wine, and often it comes down to a matter of personal taste.

Most oak comes from two different countries – the United States and France. Many oak trees are grown specifically to feed the wine industry. The trees grown in France have a tight grain, which offers a gradual release of flavor to the wine. French oak is often used for light and fruity wines. The oak from the United States produces a more intense wine often with strong vanilla overtones. This type of oak is used for bolder, more powerful flavors. Over time and usage, barrels will lose their ability to depart the right amount of flavor infusion. New oak barrels produce a better concentration of the desired results but can sometimes be too “green”, imparting unpleasant flavors. This is why oak must be seasoned before use barrel construction.

Wine club wines are of course derived from both types of oak. Oak barrels are still the preferred method of fermenting wine but gradually the use of wood chips in stainless vats is gaining popularity because the chips allow for variety and a quicker fermentation process. Typically, wine must age for a year in an oak barrel, whereas that time can be cut to a few weeks with the use of oak chips in a stainless steel vat and still produce a wine of great intensity. Again the argument arises as to the quality of aging for one year versus the quality of a wine aging only a few weeks. While the intensity is there, is the quality compromised? This is a question that wine experts will likely continue to dispute as much as the replacement of plastic versus natural cork.

As a wine club member, customers have the opportunity to taste test new barrel, old barrel, French and American fermented wines and note the difference for themselves. Wine producers are very proud of their barrels and techniques for achieving the right fruitiness, nuttiness and any other number of spice flavors.

A back label of a wine bottle may read – “The blend is then extensively aged in American oak barrels … By aging our wine in the bottle prior to release, we’re able to achieve a …” The label might mention points about the barrels, aging time and what type of oak is offered as a matter of pride in the product quality.

Whether the wine club wine offering is processed using oak chips, oak barrels, oak dust or oak planks, the point remains that an essential part of producing wine is to pair the two together. The innumerable types of grapes and regions along with the flavor the different types of oak extend a wealth of choices and an abundance of tastes.

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How to Store Open Wine

As wine of the month club members know all too well, a half finished bottle of wine can often be one of life’s little curses. No matter how many times you pledge to yourself that you’ll finish the rest of the bottle in a day or two, eventually you wind up with yet another undrinkable bottle of leftover wine. What’s a wine of the month club member to do when faced with yet another ruined bottle of wine?

Despite the sour taste and sting of remorse often associated with an unfinished bottle that sat in the fridge or the cupboard a few days too long, there are steps you can take to save your favorite beverage.

Replace the Oxygen in the Bottle with Gas

There are a number of products on the market that use a nontoxic gas, such as carbon dioxide or nitrogen, inserted into a bottle with an aerosol in an attempt to displace the oxygen in the bottle. However, most of these products can only extend a wine’s life for a short period of time and often with mixed results.

Remove the Oxygen in the Bottle with a Vacuum

In addition to products that attempt to displace the oxygen trapped in a half-empty wine bottle, other products try to suck the air out with a vacuum attachment. Many of these products do an adequate job removing most of the air from a bottle, but they cannot remove all of it. While their use is better than nothing, this method isn’t perfect.

Re-bottle Your Wine

The most effective method for preserving your wine is to pour it from the bottle you opened to a smaller bottle with a screw top. Use a funnel to pour your wine into the smaller bottle, making sure it is filled to the top. This method significantly reduces the amount of oxygen present, preserving your wine for weeks rather than days.

The next time you find yourself with a half-full bottle from your wine of the month club take a few seconds to preserve your wine rather than letting it go to waste. You’ll thank yourself later, when it comes time to sit back, relax, and finish your wine.

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Washington Wines

Washington Wines Map
The state of Washington has never been synonymous with wine country. Its best boast has been the colorful, artistic monarch of King County—Seattle—and the ruggedly beautiful coastline it reclines upon. And yet, the eyes of the world are turning to the airy, shrub-steppe south west where wine production is growing at a break-neck speed.

The Planting

Back in early 1825, when Washington was wildly young and newly settled by Germans, Italians, and the French, plantings were brought by traders of the Hudson’s Bay Company to Fort Vancouver. By the 1860’s and 1870’s, these European immigrants had begun cultivating an imaginative and enthusiastic wine culture that followed the path of their immigration across the state. Hybrid varieties sprang up. The irrigation developed by runoff on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains unveiled a dormant volcanic soil as eager to soak in the sunshine of this arid land as the people were to cultivate it. Vitaculture was on the rise—until the Prohibition struck in 1917, that is—three years earlier than most of the 50 states.

The Prohibition shut down practically all the commercial wine growers, leaving only a few small family owned vineyards to eek out a living by selling their grapes to home winemakers. Ironically, this suppression seemed to encourage these home growers. By the time the Prohibition ended, Stretch Island had developed the first bonded winery in the Northwest, and shortly thereafter up to 42 more wineries were started. Restriction on liquor had not caused wine interest to wane.

The Growth

Commercial scale plantings began in the 1960’s. Now there are over 240 wineries in Washington Wine Country. The most prolific growers are in the Walla Walla Valley, Yakima Valley, and the Tri-Cities regions. Less than 1% of the wine growers in Washington lie in the western portion of the state, by Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia. Nearly all of the production stems from the Columbia Valley area. Here the annual average rainfall is 8 inches, which means that the vineyards rely heavily on irrigation from the Cascade Mountain Range.

This reliance has, rather than staunching wine production, released growers to strictly control the amount of water the vines receive. In so doing, they can create new nuances of flavor and carefully planned development of the vines, which help to cement the growing creative influence on viticulture at large.

A Bright Future

Washington wine is now available in all 50 states, and in over 40 countries world-wide. Its influence is only expected to increase, as consumers both national and international discover its unique quality. A new winery opens nearly every fifteen days. As suits the Washington culture, most of these wineries remain small independently run family operations.

This means that your next west coast wine-tasting tour should include the Washington Columbia Valley, where you will be able to meet the owners of the vineyards, and take personalized tours of this beautiful country. New acreage, increasing varieties, and grape-growing visionaries have secured this corner of the world a virtually limitless horizon.