Lummi Island Wine Tasting Autumn Equinox ’13

Great Blue


Last week we had an up close encounter with a great blue heron , and it was absolutely breathtaking! We were walking the dogs on Legoe Bay Road, along the little slough across from the old aquaculture school, when we startled into flight the Greatest Blue Heron I have ever seen! It must have been standing in the water very close to the road, hidden from view by the rose bushes, when very suddenly, with Great Whooshing-Flapping it filled  the air right in front of us, huge and angular, massive wings  unfolding and grabbing air, reaching for altitude. Even when it landed fifty feet away on the other bank it seemed the biggest Great Blue I had ever seen! (this is the very one, left, just sitting…ah, so very Zen…!)

I spent some time online looking for a photo that captured what we had experienced, but none of the hundreds of photos I found captured the sense of looming closeness, mighty power, and fluid angularity that came from being only ten or fifteen feet away from this sudden, primeval takeoff. Together, though, they might convey a suggestion of the feeling, especially if you imagine yourself right next to the bird in the photo, so that the air would seem for a moment full of wings! It was Amazing!  (click on the thumbnails for larger images)

gbheron2 GreatBlueHeronTS7 gbheron3



cloudlift_modA few weeks ago we posted the photo at left of once-a-year visitors Tom and Joannie Stangeland, who annually celebrate their anniversary with a few days at the Willows. Tom is a longtime master furniture maker (see photos) and relatively new commercial winemaker (Cloudlift Cellars). This year on their annual visit to the wine shop we finally finagled a bottle of one of Tom’s wines to try out, his current release of “Updraft,” a delicious white Bordeaux blend of semillon and sauvignon blanc. (Tom in pink shirt, Joannie holding wine bottle) 

This past Sunday I drove to Seattle to help with “crush” of the new grapes he had picked up in Eastern Washington on Saturday. My menial jobs involved mostly sorting (not that much to it because the vineyards do a nice job of minimizing leaves, dirt, and bugs) and dumping grapes into the destemming machine. This particular machine leaves a fair number of grapes amidst the stems, so he likes to do a second sort by hand to retrieve the fairly large number of grapes that aren’t separated initially– so I spent a good part of the day shaking down the pile of stems to retrieve a few more grapes. It was meditative if sticky work, all quite enjoyable.

2009 Septenber Harvest 088 Destemming2 Destemming3

Images, above: 1) destemmer hopper; 2) close-up of destemmer worm gear that gently separates grapes from clusters; 3) resulting bin of stems that requires a second pass to get all the grapes (no, the Big Guys don’t bother with this step!). (click on the thumbnails for larger images)

The other thing you all need to know about this is that I brought back a case of the Cloudlift Updraft white blend ( $17, delicious!) and one of his Bordeaux blends (“Panorama,” $23), which we will be pouring this weekend. Don’t miss it: Tom is one of the most focused winemakers I have met in Washington, and you are really going to like this wine!

Autumn Equinox

fall equinoxSeptember Equinox in Bellingham, Washington, U.S.A. is on Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 1:44 PM PDT, shortly after noon. So you can look up at that time and see the sun and know that for that one moment the sun is directly over the Equator on its way south, marking the beginning of the winter half of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Spiralling into six months of colder and darker is probably a great time to stock up on wine, and to help you out with that, there is one more weekend of our fabulous Drydock Case Sale. See last week’s post for details!



This Week’s Tasting

Leonildo Pieropan Soave ’12 Italy  $15
Well-balanced, lively, and tangy, with distinct minerality and appealing flavors of cantaloupe, pear, blood orange and ginger.

Borsao Rosado ’12               Spain           $9
Spicy strawberry and orange zest on the nose, with a light floral quality.  Juicy and clean, offering tangy red berry flavors, a kiss of white pepper,  good focus, and a light touch.

Garmendia Tempranillo ’10      Spain        $12
Organically grown grapes ferment in carbonic maceration, yielding a balanced, round wine with sturdy tannins and notes of strawberry, raspberry, banana, and a note of fennel.

Pugliani Treggiaia 09 Italy $11
A smooth and satisfying blend of sangiovese, canniolo & cabernet, serious but friendly, delightful with anything from pizza to lamb chops.

Cloudlift Panorama ’09 Washington $23
Boysenberry, black currant and cherry accents include hints of graphite, cedar and bittersweet chocolate, with nice balance of fine-grained tannins and bright acidity, backed by hints of violet and tobacco leaf in the finish.”


Wine Tasting

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