• Molly Jean

Perfect Picnic Picks: WA Summer Wines

Picnics are the perfect activity to plan as we transition through the various phases of quarantine. They allow for the proper social distancing, while getting out of the house you have likely come to know, all too well.


A change in scenery can get you out of those Spring blues and into those Summer highs. The perk of a picnic is, it does not matter where you decide to place your blanket. You can roll it out in the backyard or drive to a scenic view. Before you settle into the perfect spot, make sure you have great wine and some tasty cheeses!

To bring you the best picnic wines, I reached out to some wineries in my extended "backyard." I asked them which of their wines they would choose for the perfect picnic pick me up. Boy did they deliver. But, a picnic would not be complete without a healthy amount of fromage! The lovely pairing experts from Laura Chenel have paired these selected wines with some of their amazing cheeses and I cannot wait to share them you!


To accompany the cheese pairings, I provided you with some recipe suggestions. Whether you decide to enjoy the cheeses in a recipe or alone, they will certainly take your picnic to the next level. So pull out your picnic supplies and start packing that basket!

 

Mastrogiannis Distillery


I learned of the Mastrogiannis Distillery from one of my favorite Instagram gal pals, Katie @theblushingwino. While watching one of her stories, I noticed she was sharing a wine from Lakewood WA. My hometown! This is where I went to High School, where I met my amazing husband and where I downed my first box of Franzia. Wow mom, look at how far I have come in my adult drinking habits!


Needless to say, I needed to get a taste of this wine. I reached out to the Mastrogiannis Distillery and they graciously sent me a bottle of their 2019 Mourvèdre Rosé. This Distillery / Winery Combo was created by owner, Ilias Mastrogiannis a 3rd generation winemaker. Using techniques and tenacity passed down by his father and grandfather, he makes sure to put Meraki into every bottle. Meraki motivates his craft, it represents - "the soul, creativity, and love you put into something." A lovely sentiment that is felt in the wine he has created.


While, I have not had the pleasure of visiting the Matrogiannis facilities, I hope that will come in the future. The perk of their location is accessibility. Whether you want to go South to Olympia or North to Seattle, odds are you will pass their location. So why not pick up a bottle or two?


Mourvèdre Rosé (2019)


You may be thinking Lakewood seems like an odd place to have a winery. Where are all of the grapes?


Many wineries on the West side of the mountains import their grapes from the East side where the most popular AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) are found. These include Walla Walla, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain, and many more.


This is the case for their inaugural Rosé. It is made with 100% Mourvèdre grapes from Konnowac vineyard, located within the Rattlesnake Hills AVA. This region boasts the highest peaks in the Columbia Valley growing region. Like the area in which the grapes were grown, this wine is elevated.


It was fermented in stainless steel tanks for 30 days, and yields an alcohol level of 12.2%. You may find some wine diamonds (tartrate crystals) as you near the bottom of your glass, this is because a "no-chill filtration" was used to create the wine. Like sediment sometimes found in red wines, this is nothing to be concerned about. Keep on sipping!


Retails for $13.00 a bottle.


Tasting Notes:

The color of the wine is serving Watermelon Sugar High realness! It is bright, beautiful and is begging you to take your next sip. On the nose you will find notes of fig, strawberry jam, and cinnamon. This dry wine has a tart finish that will keep you guessing. As the wine sits and opens up, more citrus and nectarine notes begin to surface. Suggesting that this wine may benefit from decanting, to allow some of the tartness to mellow out.


Kalamata Olive Cheese Pairing:

Kalamata Olive goat cheese makes an excellent pairing with Mourvèdre. While packing for your picnic, think of visiting the Mediterranean. Be sure copious amounts of fresh fruits and veggies are falling out of your basket. As we know, picnicking is all about accessibility and easy to go food. So why not make sandwiches? Grab a pita and stuff it full of Kalamata Olive Goat cheese, sliced Roma tomatoes, chopped cucumber, red onion, and arugula, then top it with some olive oil. For those meat lovers out there, you can always add in some meatballs or cooked lamb.

 

Mosquito Fleet Winery


From my old backyard in Lakewood to my new backyard in Allyn/Belfair, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Mosquito Fleet Winery. No Alanis, it was not named after the black fly in your Chardonnay. It was named after the multiple transportation services operating on the Puget Sound Waterways, resembling a fleet of mosquitoes crossing the waters over a century ago. Now that isn't ironic... don't you think?


My husband and I discovered this petite powerhouse when we first moved out to the area about 4 years ago. In our many visits to the tasting room, we have had the pleasure of getting to know the winemaker Brian Petersen and his wife Jacquie. The best part of this family owned business is their passion for learning and excitement for sharing knowledge with fellow winos.


With a recently remodeled space they have ample room in their tasting room to host events and for you to hangout out and drink some great wine. While Belfair may not be on everyone's route home, it is an amazing destination. Mosquito Fleet is minutes away from Belfair State Park and Tahuya State Forest. So if your spouse drags you out here to go dirt biking, have them drop you off at the tasting room. Trust me, drinking wine will always be the better alternative.

Sauvignon Blanc (2019)


This will be the second year Mosquito Fleet Winery has released a Sauvignon Blanc. However, a slight adjustment was made to the 2019 vintage.


In lieu of making a 100% Sauv Blanc, this year the wine was made with 20% Sémillon grapes. The difference in the wine is astounding. Adding in the Sémillon grapes, give the wine much more depth and nuance.


This wine was fermented in a steel tank, so no distinct flavors are being imparted on the wine. Allowing the grapes to be the Lead Ship on this flavor voyage. With 12.8% alcohol, this wine will easily be enjoyed by you and all of your shipmates.


It is a new release wine and will be available for purchase in the coming weeks.

Tasting Notes:

Be ready to go down with the ship, while you sip on this wine. The citrus aromas of grapefruit and lime are complimented by notes of soft Plumeria flowers. The bold mouth feel from the Sémillon grapes will leave your taste buds happily shipwrecked on a tropical Sauv Blanc island. The wine is bright and crisp, making it the perfect option to cool you down on evening picnic with a waterview.


Orange Blossom Honey Cheese Pairing:

This wine is strong, so pairing it with the Orange Blossom Honey Goat cheese is an outstanding choice. Pack along some thin crackers to top with the delicious cheese, blackberries and a honey drizzle. Or similarly, you can grab a Cronstini, smear on the cheese, top it with slices of fresh fig and nectarines, and finish with a reduced balsamic vinaigrette.

 

Olalla Vineyard & Winery


Olalla Vineyard and Winery may be one of the best kept secrets on the West side of the Narrows Bridge. Unfortunately for their regulars, I am spilling the beans. They have been in operation since 2008, and owned for 4 years by the lovely Mary Ellen from Pittsburgh and her husband Stuart from Scottland. The pair have turned their Winery and Vineyard into a must visit location.


I have been fortunate enough to meet Mary Ellen and tour the amazing property with her. The passion and care for her estate and the wines they produce, simply exudes from her. Which makes sense because home is where the heart is...and her home happens to be full of wine. Yas Queen!

The locations is so amazing, no need to tote around a heavy wine bottle. You can bring your picnic straight to the source. Their patio and deck look out over lush grape vines and Olalla Bay. Take in the scenic views while enjoying live music on the weekends. I plan to spend multiple nights this summer enjoying their amazing property.

Rosé (2018)


Olalla Vineyard and Winery make their remarkable wines with the enlisted help of Matthew Loso. He is the original owner of Matthew's Cellar located in Woodinville and is currently a Winemaker / Consultant. He brings his talents and nearly 30 years experience into crafting delicious wine for the Olalla Winery.


Their Rosé is incredibly unique and beckons back to ancient Greek and Roman wine making. I think it is safe to say, the majority of Rosé wines are fermented in steel tanks or neutral oak barrels. These are fermenting options that will not impose a major flavor influences on the wine. Alternatively, this wine is aged in amphorae, which are earthenware ceramic style vases. These vessels allow for accelerated levels of oxygen to reach the wine. Which will ultimately enhance the flavor of the wine while softening the tannin. It adds such a unique factor to the wine, that it can definitely be detected on the palate.


The grapes used in this wine were harvested from Columbia Valley, but I am not sure what varietals were used. This region is so vast it could be any grape from Sangiovese to Cabernet Franc, all I know is the grapes they used made some phenomenal juice.


Retails for $20.00 a bottle.

Tasting Notes:

The magic of this light pink wine is felt through the slight effervescence that dances pleasantly across your tongue. It is crisp with a balanced acidity and smells of delicate roses and juicy peaches. The tertiary notes of wet stone trace to the juice fermenting in amphora. With 13.2% alcohol, this wine just may leave you pleasantly napping on your picnic blanket.


Black Truffle Cheese Pairing:

Shake up your traditional pasta salad and recreate it with this drool worthy Black Truffle Goat Cheese. The only thing you may keep the same in this recipe will be the noodles. Mix up your pasta with pesto sauce, sliced cherry tomatoes, chives, basil, grated Parmesan, and of course chunks of the Black Truffle Goat Cheese. This dish is easily transported, just remember the eating utensils.

 

Port Townsend Vineyard

Port Townsend Vineyard opened in the summer of 2017, and has been a location I have been dying to explore. Unfortunately, lady Covid took that privilege away from me this year. My experience was confined to a drive through pick up line, leaving me salivating at the notion of what could and will be! The property is amazing and I am anxious try more of what Winemaker Ben Thomas has created.


If you are looking to make a scenic drive and have a picnic with some of the best views, this winery is a great option. You can pick up a bottle or two and head to Fort Worden for camping or just a day trip. That is if you decide you do not want to kill time at this beautiful winery. Realistically, you could do both!

Discovery Rosé (Non-vintage)


This Rosé was made with Grenache, Dolcetto and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. I was unable to find the specific AVA for the grapes, but you can rarely go wrong with a Washington wine.

This Rosé is produced in a rather interesting way. It is made from the juice that is removed during the Saignée Method - meaning to bleed off. In lieu of dumping the juice removed prior to the fermenting process of a red wine intended for a bolder taste, it was kept and used to make this wine.


This is a non-vintage wine, which means less than 85% of the juice used is from a single year. This is similar to how many Champagnes are produced and has no implication on the quality of the wine.


We purchased two bottles of this Rosé and I am glad we did. The first bottle we started sipping unfortunately was corked. It smelled musty which can indicate that TCA has infiltrated the wine, leaving behind the unwanted aroma. This is to no fault of the winemaker, it is something that can occur if a fungus in the cork comes into contact with a sanitizing product used in the winery.


Fortunately the second bottle was as intended - tasty. I cork it up to a learning experience. If you have not had corked wine before, it can actually be kind of exciting. If you have two bottles of the same wine, one corked and the other perfect to smell side by side prepare for some aroused olfactory senses.


Retails for $18.00 a bottle.

Tasting Notes:

This beautiful salmon colored Rosé is a delightful sipper. Giving off aromas of peony and raspberries, the slightly effervescent wine is perfect for the summer. The minerality and pomegranate flavors bring a crispness to the wine, leaving it light and dry on the palate. It is just what the doctor ordered... aside from an antibody test.


Creamy Brie Cheese Pairing:

This wine tastes amazing with the Creamy Brie. If you are having a picnic in close proximity to an oven, I recommend pairing this wine with a Honey Almond or Pesto Baked Brie. Understandably if you do not have this access, all you need to do is pack the necessary items for a charcuterie board: Creamy Brie, Prosciutto, Pretzel Crisps and a dollop of Strawberry Preserves. You will be good to go!

 

So whether you have a basket, bag or backpack, pick up any or all of these wines and cheeses so you can be ready to picnic. Picnics can be perfectly planned or spontaneous, no matter how they come about - you should be prepared.


If you are not local, do not worry these wines can easily be shipped. Either call, or order online through their websites. Simply click on the name of the wineries listed above in bold to find out more. They say you can explore the world through wine, why not explore the world with wine?


I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog post and that it persuades you to go on a picnic. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to write a note below or contact me on The Wine Tails Facebook page or through the @the.wine.tails Instagram account. Until next time, Cheers!

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