Wine Tasting in Tacoma – Wine Bank and Beer Vault

I love to go wine tasting.  Fortunately for me, the Wine Bank and Beer Vault is less than a mile from me.  They are officially in University Place, but since I live in Tacoma, I’m saying Tacoma.

My landlords told me about this wine shop when I first moved in to my apartment.  I didn’t make it over until about 6 months later.  They do wine tastings every Saturday from 2 – 4:30, and occasionally do beer tastings as well.  I would stop in once in awhile for a tasting and to pick up a bottle. The owners, Bob & Linda were always very welcoming.  They have some great wineries and vendors in to offer information on the wines they are tasting each week.

Recently they expanded their beer section and changed their name to the Wine Bank and Beer Vault.  I’ve started enjoying beers more lately thanks to the influence of my niece and her new husband.  Since I primarily drink red wine, beer can taste really good on a hot, summer day.  (Although, we don’t get a lot of hot, summer days here in the Pacific Northwest.)   I do enjoy a good Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or even some white blends when the weather is warm as well.

Besides the wine tastings, some of the things I like about the Wine Bank is that they have some great specials, including the “under $10” wall.  They are very knowledgeable about their products.  I can go in and tell Bob that I like a specific wine (or beer) and would like something similar, and he will give me good advice.  They also have a “Beer Rewards” program – they say it’s like getting free beer.  Can’t argue with something like that.  Once you spend $100 on beer you get $5 free (I think that’s how it works – I just remember hearing something about “free beer”).

I recently joined their Passport Wine Club. They pick 2 great wines for you for only $29.99 per month, plus you get 10% off all the wine you buy.  My first wines were a Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir from Hunter’s Winery in New Zealand.  The Sauvignon Blanc was FABULOUS!!  The Pinot wasn’t to my taste, but not terrible.   For me, this is another great wine tasting opportunity.

They also offer a Discount Wine Club for a one time, $99 fee.  With this, you get 15% off all of your wine purchases and pay the fee just one time!

There are many reasons to visit this wine shop if you are in the greater Tacoma area.  Stop in to buy a bottle or 2, do a wine tasting, meet Bob & Linda, or buy some beer.  They offer growlers for as little as $7.95!

Great Gig Harbor Day

I was disappointed to wake up this morning to the rain.  I was planning for a nice day, mowing the lawn, maybe giving Sherman a bath, and enjoying some warm spring sunshing out on the deck.  It took me a while to get motivated to do anything, but finally got a couple of indoor chores out of the way. 

Around 12:15 my niece/roommate mentioned that she and her son were going to Kelly’s for lunch.  That sounded good – I’d been feeling a little hungry and thinking about what to have for lunch.  I said I’d meet them there as we had different plans for the rest of the day.  For those of you who don’t know, Kelly’s Cafe and Espresso on Pioneer Way right in the heart of Gig Harbor has been voted best breakfast, best burger and I’m sure they have gotten a bunch of other bests over the years.  Great prices, great location, they now serve breakfast all day (a plus as far as my 11 year old nephew is concerned).  This is a great casual, family dining spot.  I have never had a bad meal here, although sometimes when they are busy (as they were today) the service can be a little slow.  But the food is worth the wait!

Today I had the Albacore Tuna Melt with dill havarti cheese on scrumptious sourdough bread.  I chose a green salad instead of fries.  I could only finish half the sandwich, but just had the leftovers for dinner – just as good leftover as when it was served at the restaurant.  For $8.99 I would highly recommend this sandwich.

When I arrived at Kelly’s, I had noticed a sign across the street at The Keeping Room advertising wine tasting from 1 – 4.  I’ve been here before, it is a great little gift / wine shop with a very welcoming attitude.  They were featuring some northwest wines today and Art was pouring.  I started with a San Juan Riesling – I’m not usually a riesling person because they are so sweet, but this was good.  There was also a Willamette Valley Chardonnay (not my fave), a Pinot Noir and a chocolate port.  I’m not a port person, but this was pretty tasty. 

I left and dropped some books at the library then stopped at the Verizon Store on Pt. Fosdick.  I am not very techy and had not been able to configure my Blackberry with my Bluetooth and was having some other issues as well.  A couple of the young folks there helped me out – Thanks! – you know who you are (sorry I didn’t get your names).  Then we got to talking travel and I could have stayed awhile, but they had other customers to help.  Plus, I had to get that tuna melt home to the fridge.

I came home for awhile, but then while checking status updates on Facebook I saw that  The Wine Studio had some wine left from their tasting yesterday and that 7 Seas Brewery was having their Can Release Party.  I had forgotten all about that.

If you have not been to The Wine Studio, you really should stop in and meet the owner, Diana Becks.  Her shop is warm and inviting, just like she is.  Tastings are listed on her website, and she also will allow you to take over and host a private event.  I had stopped in yesterday and tried the Onyx wines from South Africa and they were all good, although I did have my favorites.  Diana stocks a great variety of wines, all price ranges, domestic and imported.  And she can special order just about anything you would like. 

By the time I left there it was about 5:40 and the 7 Seas Brewery party was scheduled to end at 6PM.  It was still raining, but I had not been to their tasting room so I decided to make the stop.  I wish I had arrived earlier.  There was still quite a crowd, but the event was definitely winding down.  They had music, food and of course, great beer.  The live music and food were done when I arrived, but I did try one of their new cans of British Pale Ale and enjoyed it.  I hung out under one of the canopies and visited with some other folks – it would have been better if the sun was shining, but it was a great event anyway.  I didn’t have a chance to meet the owners, Mike & Travis, but after tasting their beer I’ll be stopping in again when they aren’t so busy. 

So, that’s how I spent a rainy day in Gig Harbor.  I look forward to getting out and about on a sunny day soon.

As long as we’re in Hawaii…

I have found a couple of more places I’d like to see/things I’d like to do before I die. 

Let’s start on the Big Island.  This first one is right up my alley (well at least, the ending is).  I have never been to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and now they have a new tour that starts with a mostly downhill and level bike ride (I think I could handle that) with guides sharing geological and mythological information about the area.  At the bottom you can join an optional 1/2 mile hike to a lava-viewing area.  Now, my favorite part, a van takes you back to the top for a wine tasting at the Volcano Winery!  This summit-to-sea tour lasts 4 – 5 hours.

I’ve also just learned about the Kona Brewers Festival held this year on March 8th.   This will be the 13th annual, more than 60 ales and lagers are served along with island-style cuisine from some of Hawaii’s top restaurants.  Food, music, entertainment on the shores of Kailua Bay, what could be better?  Rain or Shine, they Drink and Dine.  The Kona Brewers Festival is a benefit for local nonprofit ogranizations.  Some local resorts are offering great 5 night packages to coincide with the Festival.

Now that we’re done with the wine and beer tasting on the Big Island, let’s go back to Kauai!

 Safari Helicopters, in partnership with Keith Robinson, is offering a new tour called the Kauai Wildlife Refuge Eco-Tour which enhances the company’s Deluxe Waterfall Safari by adding a 30 minute stop on a small jungle pad in a spectacular wilderness area not accessible by public roads.  The site overlooks Olokele Canyon, home of waterfalls, valleys and the Robinson owned Kauai Wildlife Refuge.  The pilot talks about the Robinson family’s Hawaii history dating back to the mid 19th century.  Profits from this new eco-tour help fund restoration projects.

 Another new company, Kauai Eco-Tours, launched in January 2007, leads clients on hiking adventures to areas of the island that you might not discover on your own. The owners, half-brothers Peter Artley and Kimo Hawk, are both passionate about Kauai and its nature, culture and history.  They cater to all levels of endurance and their options range from gentle forest paths, to trails along the dramatic 3,000 foot high Na Pali Coast, to the lush upland routes of Kokee State Park.   They also organize hikes to restore trails, clean up litter, remove invasive species and help re-introduce native plants.  “Clients who join us can feel good knowing they’re helping to keep Kauai beautiful,” Peter said.  Another thing I like about this company is they try to get to know their clients a bit beforehand either on the phone or by e-mail so they can tailor their tours to the individuals.