Fidelitas is a family owned winery focused primarily on making the very best Bordeaux style wines from some of the best fruit grown in Washington's Columbia Valley. Over the years my passion to create this style of wine prompted me to start Fidelitas with the 2000 vintage.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

2009 Harvest - A Quick One

We brought our last bit of fruit in for Fidelitas on October 16th after the hard freeze we had and I thought to myself, wow this was a quick harvest. Quick indeed with our first grapes coming in the door from Champoux and Red Mountain Vineyard on September 10th and our last grapes finishing on October 16th. Thirty seven days in total is about as quick as I can remember in my 22 year career in Washington starting in 1988. I have had years where we have started earlier, even before Labor Day, and I have years where we have ended sooner, but never thirty seven days in length. Warm temperature well into the 90's into the first half of September on several days moved things along quickly with sugars rocketing up quickly. The flavors also developed nicely as well thus the September. On October 11th and 12th temperature at night got into the low 20's almost everywhere with some temperatures reaching the high teen's. This absolutely did the canopy in and prompted a need to get the fruit in the door as soon as possible. It took us a few days to get it done but by Friday, October 16th we had brought everything in. We do not necessarily get a hard freeze this early every year but I once had a grower tell me that all grape growers should plan on having all their grapes ready to go by October 15th every year because a hard freeze can occur. Many wineries were caught off guard on being proactive and getting grapes harvested in a timely manner and because of this are still picking. As the fruit hangs out on the vine after the freeze I worry about the degradation of the fruit and the flavors the wines will take on. Hopefully, this will not affect too many of the wineries in the state.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Ever Changing Marketplace

I spent last week in DC/N. Virginia and in Richmond working with our distributor in the area, International Cellars.  While in the market I learned an interesting fact from them concerning business in Virginia.  Recent data put out by the Virginia ABC (Liquor Control Agency) shows a 20 % decrease in wine sales to restaurant over the past six months, while at the same time showing a 40% increase in retail wine sales.  What an interesting trend.  Essentially this means people have slowed down the amount of eating out they are doing in restaurants and thus the 20% decrease in sales.  At the same time,  a 40% increase in sales at retail is a huge.  I am assuming this is strickly sales dollars.  This is a significant trend in that people are still consuming wine, perhaps more wine, but are drinking the wine at home rather in a restaurant.  So in the midst of a recession, wine consumption in this case has gone up overall but the point of consumption has changed.  It is probably not too surprising that consumption is going up during a recesssion,  but I think it is interesting the dramatic shift from restaurant to retail.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Happy New Year

I have started the new year on the road in the Virginia and Washington D.C. area.  If there is a time to work the DC market it has to be now.  Everyone here is gearing up for the inauguration of President elect Obama on the 20th of January. An estimated four million people will travel to the DC / Northern Virginia area to be part of the inauguration celebration.  That is a tremendous amount of people.  The restaurants are already booking up on days before and after the election.  Hours that restaurants and bars are open are being being extended to 4:30 A.M. on inauguration day. This will be great for the wine business and we should see a huge amount of wine consumed during this time.  The area seems somewhat recession proof, since the federal goverment has not stopped doing business.
I am also spending some time in Richmond, Virginia.  Richmond is the capital of the state of Virginia and about a two hour drive south of Washington D.C.. I am staying at The Jefferson Hotel. This is a must see if you ever come to this area.  I had a tour of the hotel yesterday when I arrived and was very impressed with how they have preserved this building which was built in 1895. We poured wine last night for a group of hospitality executives in the area. I am working the market today and finish my trip off tonight with a dinner tonight here at the hotel using our wines exclusively.  The dinner is full with about thirty people attending. You really do feel like you are in the south being here in Richmond.  The restaurant in the hotel serves peanut soup and deep fried pickles,  amongst other local specialties.  

Thursday, August 7, 2008

2005 Red Vintage

I get asked often about various vintages that I have had the good fortune to work with in Washington. I think the 2005 vintage is one of my top three favorite vintages of my career in Washington. I started making wines in 1988 working under Mike Januik at Snoqualmie, Saddle Mountain & Langguth labels and 2005 stands out. The obvious questions is why ?
The biggest factor contributing to the success of the 2005 vintage in my opinion would be the great weather we had in the fall ripening season. Every day from the middle of September through late October brought clear sunny days with temperatures reaching the low to mid 70's almost every day. I cannot remember a single day of rain the entire fall. The moderate days lead to slow even ripening of all varieties and a chance for great flavor development from the extended time on the vine. The "hang time" enables the flavors to go from green and bitter to ripe cherry and cassis. This is noticeable with increased sugar accumulation in the berries on the vine but more importantly better flavors. Great vintages like the 2005 are most attributed to mother nature. As a winemaker you just try and not make too many mistakes along the way.
At Fidelitas, we have still have many of the outstanding 2005 wines for sale. These wines are very drinkable now, but have great age ablilty in a wine cellar. Both the Columbia Valley Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are great values and will make a nice wine for a cellar. We also still have very limited amounts of our 8 - Syrah, Boushey - Red Wine, Champoux Vineyard - Cabernet Sauvignon and Walla Walla Valley - Cabernet Sauvignon. Do not miss out on the chance to try these wines at the tasting room and purchase some of these wines for your cellar. Cheers !

Monday, June 16, 2008

Montana - My Home

I visited western Montana last week and got a chance to check out a couple of emerging markets in the Flathead Lake area including Whitefish, Kalispell and Bigfork and also the Missoula market. It is always great to visit Montana since it is where our family is from and where I was born along with my parents and all my siblings. Telling the story of my grandmother Mary and her families immigration from France to north central Montana always means more when people actually know where Shelby and Sunburst are in Montana. Montana is still a place where it seems as if everyone knows each other even though parts of the state are showing significant growth.

I spent a day in both markets visiting mostly restaurants but did get a chance to visit a couple of impressive retail stores as well. In Whitefish I had dinner at Tupelo Grille in downtown Whitefish on my first night in town. Our distributor sale representative Peter Grantz and I had dinner with a California Owner/Winemaker Gary Luchtel with Suhr Luchtel in Napa Valley. It is always great to spend some time with other people in the business. The staff and the food were great and I had a great time. We shares a bottle of 1999 Chapellet Vineyard - Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. The wine was very impressive. Wednesday involved calling on several accounts including a stop at McGarry's roadhouse in Whitefish and a visit with Steve Nogal the owner and chef. Steve and his wife Sandy had been with the Inn at Langley in Washington for several years prior to opening this impressive place in Whitefish and were very knowledgeable about Washington wine. That always seems to help a bit. We ended the day in Bigfork at Invite - American Kitchen & Bar with Andrea & Andy Kriss. They have been big supporters of Fidelitas and have visited us on Red Mountain.

I spent a day and a half in Missoula with Jim Chapman. We had dinner at Red Bird Wine Bar the first night in Missoula. Very hip place and a great selection of wines and food. Missoula is a college town and just has the cutting edge feel of a college town. We made a stop at Worden's Deli and met with Chris whom I have met on several other trips through Montana. Worden's has a great deli and I would recommend a stop here anytime. We also visited Scotty's Table in their new location, very impressive new property. We visited Good Food Store also in Missoula and spent some time with Jerod Peitsmeyer the beer & wine buyer. What a great store and wine section. This gorcery store kind of had the feel of a Whole Foods but without the steep prices. I had a very productive visit to Montana. It is always great to go home to Montana.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Taste Washington Interview

My self imposed sabbatical from my blog is officially over. I had the good fortune to be interviewed by Duane Pemberton for his website Winefoot.com . Check it out , you might enjoy it. Here is the link to the interview :


Thursday, December 6, 2007

December Wine Club Wines & Farmer's Kitchen Restaurant

Our next wine club wines that will be shipped next week includes the 2005 Boushey Vineyard - Red Wine from Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley and our first ever wine from the Red Mountain appellation that being 2005 Red Mountain Merlot from Red Mountain Vineyard. Both wines are highly allocated so if you think you would like some of this wine please feel free to call Jessica Gamache and place your order at 509-521-4433.

The 2005, Boushey Vineyard wine is a blend of 53% Merlot, 40 % Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Cabernet Franc. All the grapes grown for this blend came from vines 25 years and older. When Dick Boushey approached me before the 2005 harvest with the idea of making a special wine from his vineyard I was honored take the grapes and to make a wine. Dick was recently honored by Wine & Spirits Magazine as " Grower of the Year" for 2007. What a well deserved honor to bestow on a great Washington wine grape grower. We have poured the wine at a few events to give people a sneek preview. The response has been very positive and we should sell through the wine quickly. Only 300 cases were produced of this wine and it is packed in six bottle custom boxes.

Merlot from Red Mountain Vineyard is the other wine in this shipment. Only six barrels of this highly allocated wine were produced from the 2005 vintage. This is the first of what we hope will be many wines from the Red Mountain appellation that we will make for Fidelitas. Only 190 cases of this wine was produced. If you are interested in these wines they are available via our web site at www.fidelitaswines.com If you are a wine club member please remember that you get a 20% discount on these wines for the first thirty dates following recieving the shipment.

I recently had dinner with our distributor Denise & Martin Pitney along with my wife Terri at the Farmer's Kitchen in Hermiston, Oregon. We had a great dinner and I would recommend checking this fairly new restaurant out the next time you are looking for a great dining experience. The proprietors of this new establishment are Kristen and Aaron Yunker. Aaron is from Hermiston. The location of the restaurant is 920 SE 4th in Hermiston and they can be reached at 541-289-3333. They can also be reached via e-mail at FarmersKitchen@gmail.com . Martin and I had the Lamb, while Denise and Terri ordered the Cajun Ling Cod. Both entree's were fabulous and the atmosphere superb. We also ordered three different dessert's and enjoyed both cheesecakes and a baked apple pie. If you get a chance check this great new addition to our area. The Farmer's Kitchen is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5- 9 P.M.