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!

Advertisements

I’m going to Wine a little….


When you think of wine tasting in Washington state, what comes to mind? Walla Walla, theYakima Valley, Woodinville, or maybe even the Port Angeles/Port Townsend area of the Olympic Peninsula?  I have some other suggestions for you. 

I was fortunate a couple of weeks ago to be invited to do a barrel tasting at Mosquito Fleet Winery in Belfair, Washington.  I’m a member of the wine club at The Wine Studio, a charming little wine shop in Gig Harbor.  The new owners, Kirsten and Rich, had arranged this tasting as a special treat for the wine club members.  If you aren’t familiar with this shop, you should check them out.  On Friday evenings they have wineries or distributors come in for wine tastings from 5 – 7.  They have a ladies night on Wednesdays with special prices for the ladies.  And they have other events from time to time.  Even if there is no event going on, it’s a great place to stop in and pick up a bottle or enjoy a glass or two with friends.

You may not have heard of Mosquito Fleet yet, but you will.  They only released 2 varieties for 2009 – a Meritage and a Cabernet Sauvignon – a total of only 217 cases.  They will be bottling their 2010 wines in September and releasing them I believe in February 2013.  This time there will be more varieties and a larger number of cases so it won’t be quite as hard to come by. The 2 couples that own the winery welcomed us and, besides enjoying their fabulous wines and the nice spread of cheeses, fruits, and more, they educated us about their approach to wine making in an informative and entertaining way. 

If you find yourself heading that way, you may want to plan your day to continue on to Shelton to the Walter Dacon Winery.  This is another winery I learned about by going into The Wine Studio for a tasting.  They were tasting 5 different Syrahs – one of my favorite varietals.  I liked all of these wines, including the dessert wine which are usually too sweet for me.

Last night they had Madsen Family Cellars from Olympia come in for a tasting.  I wasn’t able to go, but decided to include them in this post because after visiting Shelton you could continue your tour on to Olympia.  I checked out Madsen’s website and they mention that there are a couple of other wineries in the area so you could make a real day of wine tasting.  One of them is Stottle Winery in Lacey.  Their tasting room is open 5 days a week and your tasting fee is applied to any purchase – I love that!

Northwest Mountain Wines, also located in Olympia, will be having their tasting at The Wine Studio on May 25th.  I’ll be at that one as I’ve got a 5 day weekend off from my “day job”.  They have some interesting sounding wines, including some fruit wines and for the holidays a spiced mead. 

Another winery I visited a couple of months ago is Trillium Creek Winery in LakeBay.  Claude and Claudia were great hosts, with lots of fun stories (I tend to find that most winemakers are fun to be around, hmmmm, I think I’m on to something here.)   They have a charming little tasting room, and Claude will offer you some cheeses to go with the wines as he tells you his philosophy of wine making.  Their wines are sulfite free, and they also have some fruit wines including an interesting Ginger wine.  Their property is beautiful and you can arrange for a tour.  Although their wines are not as full flavored as I like, a visit here is a very enjoyable way to spend an hour or two.

Another local winery I have not visited, but have put on my list as I’m typing this and realizing that I need to do more wine tastings close to home, is Olalla Valley Vineyard and Winery in Olalla, Washington.  They also have several varietals as well as some fruit wines.

So, if you enjoy wine, are looking for something to do one day, why not visit one or more of these local wineries.  Just make sure you have a designated driver or taste and spit which seems like such a waste of good wine to me.

Unique Wine Tours in the Pacific Northwest


I love to travel to warm sunny destinations, but during the summers here inWashington state (which may have finally arrived) there is nothing better than getting out and about and enjoying all the beauty we have here.  I also love wine, so I was really happy when I came across a couple of very unique wine tasting tours.

The first involves river rafting on the Wenatchee, a BBQ steak lunch and then wine tasting by limo.  The limo (which holds 20 passengers – sounds like a great group trip to me), picks you up in downtown Leavenworth and takes you to the start of the rafting adventure.  Blue Sky Outfitters will supply everything you need for your rafting adventure and soon you will find yourself  launched into Upper Gorilla and Sharkstooth with lots of fun waves, before winding down Drunkard’s Drop with waves of up to 16 feet.  Sounds scary, but this whitewater adventure is only rated as class 3 rapids.  You will end your rafting adventure at beautiful Riverside Park where you will enjoy a fabulous Top Sirloin BBQ lunch with all the trimmings.  You then change into dry clothes and get back into the limo and start the second part of your adventure – Wine Tasting!  You will be tasting many wines along the way so to encourage guests to stay well hydrated, bottled water is provided in the limo. You finish up at the highly acclaimed Icicle Ridge Winery where the beautiful acreage and great wines make it hard to leave.

Pacific NW Float Trips offers a river rafting/wine tasting trip of their own.  It combines their Skagit River Fall Colors trip, which includes a picnic lunch, with wine tasting and tour at the Glacier Peak Winery.  This one can also be done with a group and depending on the size the price does come down a bit.

Another really unique tour that I’d love to try is Hot Air Ballooning and Wine Tasting.  Wine Country Balloon Tour offers a sunrise tour which includes a 200 year old tradition of toasting with sparkling wine while sailing over the lush acres of slowly ripening grapes.  With this tour on Sundays you can enjoy brunch after the flight for an additional $25.  Not so much wine tasting as wine drinking while ballooning.

I’m not much of an early morning person, so Over The Rainbow Balloon Flights has a similar tour which would fit my schedule much better.  They also do an early morning tour, but have another daily tour that departs a couple of hours prior to sunset.  You’ll board your craft for a once in a lifetime experience. Once in the air it’s time to relax and enjoy about an hour aloft while you drift effortlessly over the picturesque SammamishValley.  Some of the flight will take place up high–l,500 to 5,000 feet up where you’ll enjoy panoramic views of theSeattleskyline and the mountain ranges surrounding thePuget Sound area. You’ll spend some of your flight barely above the surface as you brush the treetops. Help yourself to the leaves for a souvenir. Matthew’s Estate, a premier winery, will host your post flight celebration.

If anyone has done one of these tours, I’d love to hear how it went.  Even better, I’d love to see some pictures posted on my Facebook page.

Puerto Vallarta’s International Gourmet Festival


Need an extra reason to head south when the cold weather gets cold here in the Pacific Northwest?  How about the International Gourmet Festival  in Puerto Vallarta in November?  Established in 1995, this year will be the 15th anniversary.  This 10 day, city wide event has more than 24 participating restaurants, educational gourmet programs and 20 renowned chefs from around the world. 

 

Every evening each of the participating restaurants offers a Gourmet a la Carte menu.  You can also enjoy Winemaker’s evenings; Cooking Demonstrations; Wine & Cheeses of the Worlds tasting; and don’t miss the Chef’s Hell Raising night!

 

You could even extend your stay and enjoy an escorted, food-focused package to other areas of Mexico including hands-on cooking classes and excursions to local markets and eateries. 

 

Just one more good reason to head to Puerto Vallarta this fall!