Have you ever had an experience that was simply perfect?
An experience where all aspects of your environment are in complete harmony. The weather is faultless; cool and sunny. No bead of sweat or goose bump dares to threaten the surface of your skin. The dry smell of pine completes the mise-en-scène of a rugged mountain side, mottled with Evergreens marred by fires past.
An experience where amazement settles in your bones, leeching out any room for anxiety or worry from the mundane absurdity of 2020. An experience where wine is eagerly waiting to be consumed and the contents inside of the bottle only enhance your enchantment.
An experience where your Patronus arrives in the form of two floppy Black Labradors to accompany you to the grand entrance. Upon which you meet Saint Audré, the keeper of the keys.
Well have you?
If you have ever been to the Icicle Canyon location of Boudreaux Cellars you are likely to have had this experience. I am going to attempt to bring our adventure to life and do the winery justice by sharing our experience with you. In traditional Wine Tails fashion, I will breakdown our experience based on the wine, the service and the atmosphere. But first, it is important to know Boudreaux...
To Know Boudreaux
Rob Newsome invented the Gore-tex Fishing Swimsuit for men, prior to becoming the winemaker and owner of Boudreaux Cellars. Blake keeps telling me that is not right, but I am pretty sure that is what he said.
He decided to get into the wine business after being chided by fellow winemakers to make wine himself, in lieu of complaining about the high prices of their wines. It was from that point he created his empire in a remote area of Leavenworth, releasing his first commercial wine in 2001.
They are located "off-grid," and do not have the luxury of running endless amounts of electricity, leaving many of their wine making processes to be completed manually. They sort, de-stem, press the grapes, cork, wax dip and label all of the bottles by hand. For the love of WINE, that is a lot of work.
Their facility consists of two levels, the main floor and the below ground wine cave. The main level houses the tasting room, fermenting bins, amphorae (two of which are new to the winery), large oval casks, and large oak tanks. The wine cave houses the many barrels of wine preparing themselves for future bottling.
In the cave, the barrels are lightly illuminated by hanging lights that reflect wildly off of glass bungs (the stoppers in wine barrels) . Yes glass! They are essentially the Edison bulbs of bungs. I mean, you've gotta love a good, ambiance producing bung.
Transferring the wines from one level to the other is quite interesting. When the wines have completed the necessary fermentation on the main level and are ready to age, gravity hoses transport the juice into the oak barrels in the wine cave below. It is done so through cellar like doors in the floor, large enough to accommodate a crane to move a barrel if need be. It also serves as a great window for which winery dogs Roux and Miles Davis can keep an eye on their patrons.
Because their electricity is limited to a generator, they do not have the ability to manipulate the temperature of their facility while making wine. Incidentally, unlike many modern wineries they can't increase the temperature of the winery to encourage the yeast in the wine to fire and quicken fermentation. Thus causing a delay in the release of their wines in comparison to other wineries. Many wineries are currently serving 2018 vintage red wines, where as the newest vintage of wine we were sipping at Boudreaux was 2016.
Much like the ingenuity of his wine making, the structure of the winery and his adjacent home were also crafted by Rob. So while I was amazed by the winemaking processes, Blake was in awe of the structure surrounding us. He could barely refrain from turning the discussion away from wine and onto the rock and heavy timber of the building. By slipping in a few questions in about the architecture he got the advice to never under-estimate the power of a road cone.
As all good wine adventures do, it began with a glass of wine. We started with a taste of Aglianico, a grape considered to be one of the three greatest Italian wine varieties. This particular wine was made from grapes produced by Aglianico vines that were imported from Italy, and grafted with Reisling vines located in the Weinbau Vineyard of Wahluke Slope.
As you can imagine, the wine tastes as magical as the enological genius that took place to produce this Washington grown grape. The end result, i.e. the wine was just as captivating as the story behind the juice.
We continued on with the Malbec and down the line of amazing well balanced wines, as Audré gave us a tour of the breathtaking property. We were happy to take home our respective favorites, mine the Aglianico and Blake's the Sagratino.
Their wine alone is worth the adventure to Leavenworth.
The service was five star, ten out of ten, 100 points! I am not sure we could have met more amazing people. Audré was so knowledgeable, inviting and real. She shared her wine knowledge and the details of their winery with zero traces of bullshit. I hung on her every word like I was in middle school following around my much cooler sister with my mouth agape.
I could see the same parallel occurring with Blake and his fascination with the legacy Rob has built. He was thrilled when he got the opportunity to help Rob move the giant, expensive and very heavy amphorae. While I chatted with Audré, I began to sweat as my anxiety reminded me that Blake could drop their new pieces of equipment at any moment and shatter them all over the ground. Fortunately, that did not happen - anxiety you may be excused.
Chance may mention that Miles Davis was a little too forward and as my brother-in-law would say, "he could not control his licker." He was like Pepé Le Pew, and Chance was unfortunately the object of his affection.
An atmosphere is built upon your five senses that coalesce and create your surroundings and ultimately your experience. At Boudreaux, the view is bewitching and the smell of warm pines mixes with freshly macerating grapes. Passion and efforts of hard work is felt in every aspect of the establishment and in the taste of their really f***ing good wine. Now imagine all of these aspects, put to a Jazz soundtrack that any New Orleans native would find respectable.
Boudreaux has perfected it. They have curated the perfect wine experience, leaving us with excitement, appreciation, and envy. Boudreaux imprinted upon us and we will forever brag about our experience. I challenge you to find a more perfect experience while wine tasting.
Next time you visit Leavenworth, WA -my favorite place on earth (seriously cremate me and sprinkle my ashes in the decorative flower pots in town) make it your obligation to sip on Boudreax wines. You can find their tasting room in Downtown Leavenworth or for more information on how to get this amazing wine in your belly click on this link.
Thank you so much Audré, Rob, Roux and Miles Davis for your amazing hospitality and for creating an unforgettable wine adventure for us.
Until the next adventure, cheers!