Wine & Travel

Snooth User: Lucha Vino

Lake Chelan Wineries

Posted by Lucha Vino, Jul 31, 2010.

I'm heading to Lake Chelan for some bike riding and wine drinking next weekend.  Does anybody out there in Snooth Land have recommendations for wineries to visit?

Cheers!

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Replies

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Reply by HardRow, Aug 1, 2010.

Hi Vellovino...come visit us at Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards. We are open daily from 11 - 6 pm and located on the North Shore about 1/2 mile behind Mill Bay Casino. Let me know when you expect to be in and I will meet you, I am the owner and vintner and will give you a tour. Check us out at HardRow.com.

 

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Reply by Lucha Vino, Aug 1, 2010.

Thanks HardRow!  I should be in on Saturday afternoon.  My friends at Corky Cellars recommended your winery as a place to visit. 

Cheers, Looking forward to meetins you and seeing your winery this weekend!

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Reply by dmcker, Aug 1, 2010.

How are you getting there? driving from Seattle or Spokane then 90-28-97, or just 90-97? Or somehow flying in closer? My question being, that if you want more serious wine exploration, a detour to Yakima going or coming might be an option. Although as for just hanging out and drinking wine, the scenery on the lake is a lot better than that in, say, Wenatchee or Ellensburg... ;-) Also live music on Saturday nights here.

I assume you've also check out such resources as this map of Chelan wine country, or this general guide.

Keep your eyes peeled for Fielding Hills wines. Kinda the star of the region at the moment. They're not really Chelan, and it'll take you time to get to them from there, but they are generally in the same 'Columbia Cascades' region of North-Central Washington. Even if you can't make it to them, try to chase down a bottle or two of theirs, for local consumption and takehome. Very interesting, lush cabernet franc, also good cabernet sauvignon and merlot. The syrah's just past the threshold of over-the-top for me (too sweet), but certainly better than most. Their larger-market red-blend bottling is called Tribute Red, and works very well for me as a BBQ wine.

I haven't had any myself, but a friend recommends Tsillan Cellars' wines, particularly their cab and malbec (Tsillan Cellars Vineyards and Winery (Daily 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.; Tours: 1pm & 3pm) 3875 Hwy. 97A P.O. Box 1759 Chelan, WA  98816 509-682-9463 877-682-8463). If you do visit the place, or otherwise run across any, would be happy to hear about them.

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Reply by Lucha Vino, Aug 2, 2010.

Thanks D,

I will be driving from Seattle over 90 and 97 over Blewett Pass then through Wenatchee to Chelan.  I was thinking about trying to visit a couple wineries in Wenatchee along the way.  It looks like Fielding Hills is in East Wenatchee so I might try to stop there if time permits.

Cheers!

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Reply by Lucha Vino, Aug 5, 2010.

I have myself setup for a personal wine tasting at Fielding Hills on Monday.  I will be sure to report on that as well as other wineries around Chelan that I am able to visit over the weekend.

I think it is going to be a fun trip!

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Reply by dmcker, Aug 5, 2010.

Sounds good, and looking forward to hearing your report. Send pix, too!  Imagining a few drinks by the lake is a good counterpoint to the summer heat over here... ;-)

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Reply by Lucha Vino, Aug 6, 2010.

Here you go...

My attempt at including a picture in the post does not look like it is working, but I will give it a shot.

Vin du Lac Winery  $5 Happy Hour wine and appetizers

 

Nice outdoor seating, tasty wine and appetizers but the service was a bit slow.  Perhaps due to happy hour traffic or I just need to adjust my expectations dial down rom Seattle to Lake Chelan.

Tasted the Pinor Noir - faint red berry, strawberry, apricot, ruhbarb and a light smokey nose.  The palate is more of the same with some nice hints of white pepper added in.

And the Cuvee Rouge - deeper purple in color with a much heartier nose of smoked meat and deep red fruit that leads to a palate of tart black cherry, cedar and cranberry.  Paired up with the chili chicken skewer brings out lots of pepper on the palate.

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Reply by dmcker, Aug 7, 2010.

How was their live music on Saturday night?

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Reply by Lucha Vino, Aug 7, 2010.

Let's try that again

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Reply by Lucha Vino, Aug 7, 2010.

Dang, not what I expected.  This looks better...

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Reply by Lucha Vino, Aug 7, 2010.

D - It is still Friday over here. :-)

Vin du Lac is celebrating their 7th anniversary tomorrow night.  I think we are going to go.  They are going to have Cajun style food, a Zydeco band and (of course) wine!

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Reply by dmcker, Aug 7, 2010.

What is it with winecountry and Zydeco, anyway? Been to weddings in both Sonoma and Mendocino where guess who was playing? Good dancing music, anyway.

And sorry about that time slip. Somehow I was thinking a week ahead, or half one, anyway. Still only Saturday afternoon here... ;-)

The picture was worth the wait. I haven't been to Chelan for more than two decades, but I always liked the forests up there.

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Reply by zufrieden, Aug 12, 2010.

Many followers of this site may not be particularly familiar with the renowned beauty of the Lake Chelan region.  Its isolation and proximity to North Cascades National Park make it a very exotic wine touring experience. Given the continued importance to Washington State of the forest industry it is no small miracle that the magnificent region northwest of the lake was spared much of the wholesale destruction visited on the most accessible parts of the Pacific Northwest.   

Doubling the enjoyment of this region includes crossing over the border into the Skagit and Chilliwack River headwaters where thousands of additional hectares of equally pristine and majestic cedar groves abound surrounded by such impressive massifs as Mounts Redoubt (in the US) and Hozomeen (in Canada).

Tripling the enjoyment is the presence of new wineries in the Lake Chelan region.  These enterprises were not present in the days when I would have trudged the hills and sheer cliffs of this inland fjord, but given the life-style attractions of wine making in such a pretty place it is not surprising that every little bit of arable land would be annexed to genteel farming purposes. I certainly understand why some people brave the relatively long winters in such a godly setting.

Finally, old-fashioned and somewhat environment-unfriendly touring by car is an attractive alternative to biking and boating.  A newly minted American muscle-car is just the ticket; a European (or perish the thought - a Japanese) sports car would simply spoil the effect.  Should I manage to get down this way next week, I may just provide a report of my findings.  The weather is so pleasant this summer that I am staying put in the region for a change and this thread has provided me with an most excellent alternative to the security fetishes of British and American airports.

Cheers.

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Reply by Lucha Vino, Aug 13, 2010.

Z,

I will add some notes tomorrow from the wineries we visited last week. 

The weather was fabulous.  So was the bike riding and the wine. 

Another interesting item to consider.  Many of the farmers that used to raise apples are switching to grapes.  The price for apples has been driven down so low that many have either sold their orchards or switched to vineyards. 

The owners of Fielding Hills began replacing apple trees with grape vines about 10 years ago.  Thanks to Dmcker's recommendation I was able to meet the Fielding Hills folks on Monday.  The trip to east Wenatchee was well worth the time investment.

More tomorrow...

Cheers!

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Reply by dmcker, Aug 13, 2010.

Glad to hear it, and looking forward to your report, Vello.

Zuf, nothing wrong with 'foreign' sports cars. I hit all the roads up around the lake (and other locations towards SE Washington, where I was going to school at the time, in one direction, and Seattle in the other) in British Triumph, Subeam and Austin-Healey sports cars back in the early '70s. Late autumn and early spring were great fun racing down those winding mountain roads since the sunlit parts were dry asphalt, while those in the shade were often icecovered. Kept the adrenalin going if the scenery and the freshair didn't.  Probably more common on the roads back then, however, were Chevvy pickup trucks like I'd ride in on other occasions with my uncle going elk hunting north of the lake. And nary a vineyard was to be seen in those days, though plenty of apples. Great cider and juice, I remember.

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Reply by Lucha Vino, Aug 14, 2010.

Day One

Wenatchee Chateau Faire le Pointe was our first stop on the way to Lake Chelan.  This winery is hidden in an industrial district that you may not find unless you specifically look for it.  Their wines are good and we chose a Merlot and their Provence blend after tasting 5 of their wines.

Next, after dropping our stuff off, we headed to Vin du Lac on the North Shore of Lake Chelan.  They had a happy hour deal and we enjoyed the Pinot Noir

We had tasted wine from both of these wineries prior to our trip and were not dissapointed.  Both delivered the goods.  Vin du Lac comes out on top for their superior view.

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Reply by Lucha Vino, Aug 14, 2010.

Day Two

First stop was Hard Row to Hoe.  Don and Judy are working hard to make a name for their winery.  The Hard row to Hoe story is interesting and compelling.  I think it is even legit if you consider the rugged life of the 1930s.  Here is the pattern on their wall paper...

We enjoyed their red blends the most and purchased a bottle of the Iron Bed Red and Miss de Miner to take home with us.

Nest up was Tildio.  The people working their tasting room were knowledgable and friendly.  Nothing super special was going on here.  The tasting room seemed to be tacked on to the side of their primary winery structure.  Their wines were good and we purchased a bottle of Syrah. 

We stopped at Benson Vineyards on the way to vin du Lac for their 7th anniversary party.  After driving up a long winding gravel road you arrive at Benson Vineyards.  The building is a spectacular Italian style villa with amazing views across the Northern slopes of Lake Chelan.  The place was packed (perhaps due to free tastings) and the Benson family was hard at work serving up hospitality and wine.  The wine was ok and we chose not to purchase anything to take with us.


Final stop for the day was the vin du lac 7th anniversary party for Cajun Food, Cabernet Suavignon, Cabernet Franc and Zydeco music!  Dmcker pointed out that all wineries have Zydeco music at their parties.  I would also suggest that all Accordian players are required to play in a Zydeco band.

After two days, our favoriate is vin du lac.  Great views, wines that stand up to the view and a great party attitude!

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Reply by Lucha Vino, Aug 14, 2010.

Day Three

After about 42 miles of our bike ride we stopped at Karma.  From the direction we were heading it was hard to see that they were open.  Fortunatly, we stopped as their wine was great and so was their service and attitude.  Karma began as a wine bar and eventually morphed into a vineyard and winery.  They did not have a view of the lake, but there was a nice Koi Pond and we also got to check out their wine cave.  Great wines, food and hospitality.  Their Pinot Noir was very good as well as their blends.

We rode back to our condo (slowly!) and then headed back out to...

Nefarious.  The wines were good and we selected a Syrah to purchase for future enjoyment.  We also shared a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and the view of the lake.

Next up was,

Tunnel Hill where we ran in to one of the people from Tildio.  What a surprise.  We were told he likes to hang out at Tunnel Hilll to enjoy their wine.  The tasting was good, the hospitality was genuine.  We liked their wine a purchased a white wine to take home for Grandma and Grandpa as a thank you for watching our son for the weekend.

Last stop for the day was T'sillan, arguably the fanciest winery in the area.  I expected a stuffy "high society" feeling.  As we entered the main building the sights seemed to support my expectation.  However, the people behind the bar provided a great low key experience.  We had a great time, enjoyed the grounds and purchased a half case of wine at a special rate that was truly a good deal.  The Merlot, Syrah and Sinistra blend were all tasty.  The half case deal included the Merlot and Syrah.  We hung out and enjoyed a glass of Sinistra before going to dinner.  We ended up running into our "friend" from Tildio again!  It turns out his family owned the land that T'sillan sits on.  When he was growing up it was an apple orchard.  Now it is a vineyard.  With good wines and spectacular views.  I liked what he said - At least they planted a vineyard instead of condos!

I would highly recommend a trip to Lake Chelan.  There is an abundance of wineries, the attitudes are great and plenty of activities beyond the wine tasting experience.  A final note, it seems that the wineries on the South side of the lake have better views and better places for hanging out and enjoying your glass of wine.

vin du lac, karma, nefarious and t'sillan were the top tier wineries tha we visited.

Cheers!

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Reply by dmcker, Aug 14, 2010.

Thanks, Vello, for the great overview, with pictures, too! I was almost smelling the air, and wishing I was tasting the wine....

Any more info about your visit to Fielding Hills?

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Reply by Lucha Vino, Aug 15, 2010.

Sorry for the dealy in posting Day 4.  I was away from wireless Internet access and was not able to post a reply via my iPhone.  Access to the forum through the Snooth iPhone App would be a nice feature, but that is a topic for another thread.

On to Fielding Hills.  We arranged a time to meet with Karen before our trip.  She also checked in with us to see which wines we would like to taste since she would be opening fresh bottles for the tasting.  Excellent!  We requested the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

We met Karen at their case goods storage facility.  To get there you drove right through one of their orchards.  Pretty cool to pop out of a row of apple trees for a private wine tasting.

All three wines were tasty and we bought a bottle of the Merlot, Cab Sauv and also their blend called "Tribute."

I would recommend any of their wines if you have access to them.  I'm not sure what their distribution is like.  You can also order directly via their website.

Karen was an excellent hostess and shared the story of their family moving to the Wenatchee area and starting the Apple Orchard business.  If I remember correctly her husband Mike is the third generation to run the family business.  He was bold enough to recognize the slimming profit margins in Apples and plant grape vines.  Later starting his own winery after providing grapes to many of the local wineries (which they still do).  Tildio, Hard Row and Nefarious are all wineries that use Fielding Hills grapes.

Fielding Hills does not have a formal tasting room yet.  They are happy to arrange for private tastings if schedules permit.  If you are ever in the Wenatchee area I would definitely recommend the Fielding Hills wines!

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