BY JEFF “WICK” WICKLUND
Over all these years of chasing the venerated fermented grape, the cathartic joy of discovery is the prop that propels my vino boat.
Whether it’s stumbling onto a newly imported, delicious natural rose wine from a little-known sub-region of Northern Italy or a local winemaker friend’s new vintage of an old classic, it’s that mini revelation that is soul soothing. Then, with the opportunity to pay that discovery forward at our Wick-Ed Wine Bar/ Social Club House and witness the community connections made and cultivated over the popping of corks, it’s quite simply a good thing!
When you can make such discoveries right here in our own backyard… well, that just adds efficiency to the mini-revelation equation.
I’ve had the pleasure recently of making inroads and reestablishing old roads recently with wineries just east across the Ebey Slough trestle from downtown Everett.
Andy Ferguson is the Owner, Winemaker and Architect of Piolet Vintners (“Piolet” is French for “Ice Axe” as Andy is an avid mountaineer) and he has been building some remarkable wines over the past several years. After years of honing his craft at Chateau Ste. Michelle, including having a hand in producing one of the greatest and highest rated wines of CSM (Erocia Single Berry Select Riesling), Andy embarked on his own cathartic quest for discovery. Today Andy is presenting luxurious, silky-smooth Sauvignon Blanc, a couple of different Cabernet Sauvignons and a Syrah. For more info or schedule a tasting visit: pioletvintners.com.
My latest fortuitous discovery was a recent visit to a winery I had on my radar for quite some time – Lantz Cellars.
Kevin Lantz is, by all accounts, the epitome of generous hospitality and irreverent professionalism.
One visit and that assessment will be abundantly clear. I rang Kevin late one morning on a Sunday and, a couple hours later, was visiting and sipping an incredible foray of wines that punched way above their weight. Visit Kevin’s website, lantzcellars.com, to see his schedule of open tastings or, just give him a ring! It’ll be a remarkable discovery and memorable experience.
I first met Marv Crum over two decades ago when he was an integral spoke in the wheel of a wine1y that has become as iconic and regionally important as any other on the planet (more on that forthcoming). Marv and I reconnected recently, and I was made aware of his own new adventure and pursuit of passion for vinified discovery. Marv and his beautiful bride, Susan, invited Edalyn (Ed) and I out to his newly formed winery in Snohomish for a barrel sampling of his first commercial vintage (2020) of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc all sourced from fruit off Quintessence Vineyard on Red Mountain. After sampling Marv’s “Babbies in Barrel” I subsequently asked the first question that came to mind,
“When do I get to buy this?!”
Marv’s 350 cases of Cab Sauv and 50 cases of Cab Franc from the 2020 vintage will be released in the spring of 2023. Marv & Susan have yet to settle on their brand for the winery but if having your own personal discovery of a “Hot off the Press” winery experience piques your interest, reach out to Marv via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Writing about wineries in Snohomish and not mentioning the afore-mentioned iconic, globally important, trail-blazing phenom know by the inside crowd as simply “Quil” would be blasphemous and could result in a Bacchus woodshed whooping! When I was a wee lad of 37, with a smoldering passion for that mysterious elixir commonly known as wine, I instinctively knew that I needed to meet and know a Pillar and Patriarch of Washington Wine who happened to be just across the trestle.
Alex and Jeannette Golitzen (Founders of Quilceda Creek Winery) graciously invited Ed and I to their home in August of 1997 for a tasting of their phenomenal wines on their deck. Obviously, it was a memorable experience. I asked Alex if there was one piece of advice he could offer up to an aspiring wine entrepreneur and his response has followed me ever since.
“Drink as much 95+ point rated wine that you can afford from any region you’re interested in to give you a benchmark on which to make your own judgments.”
Simply brilliant advice that I’ve taken to heart over the past quarter of a century, which has guided me on a superlative viniferous journey of discovery both globally and locally.