Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Construction Progress

It has been a race against the weather as temps in Plain have been progressing towards below freezing levels.  Currently the high temperature barely lingers in the low 40s, and there is a mix of rain and snow predicted in the forecast.

With winter knocking at our front door, it is a relief to know that the roof on the winery is finally complete, and the windows are in place.  This enables us to keep working on the inside of the winery building while the weather outside does what it does best.

My brother Jacob has been helping with the electrical wiring.  (I have to say that it is quite nice to have handy family members like my brother who are skilled in construction trades.)  Jacob has recently helped my husband and I as well when we were remodeling our first home.

The bare bones and construction mess
of the Seattle home remodel
We found this when gutting our Seattle home-
surely a sign of our good fortune!
It was an old 1950s Seattle home with a bird's nest of outdated wiring in the attic.  We pretty much stripped the home down to its bare bones and started over with everything.  It was a daunting task that was made significantly better by the help and expertise of my brother.  He even wired for a hot tub that we cannot yet afford (although someday soon I hope!).

Jacob and his dog Jackson
Jacob has been staying in Plain while wiring the winery.  He sent me an excited text a week or so ago... "Plain Cellars is coming along nicely.  The lighting will be fantastic and the audio system is going to be rad.  The audio has 4 speakers in the tasting room, 4 in the production area, and 4 outside the patio.  The volume and source is controlled via iPad/iPod, plus it's tied to the Internet so it can stream anything.  You can have something different playing in each zone, so cool."  You can tell this man has a passion and enthusiasm for his job!

We intend to keep you posted as more progress happens inside the winery.  It is a real treat to finally see what my parents have been dreaming and planning for years finally become a reality, although it still seems a little surreal to me.  We intend to visit for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend, and I am excited to see the progress.

you can visit us at our website www.plaincellars.com

Saturday, October 27, 2012

On Wine and Food...

The past couple of weekends we found ourselves amongst the changing fall foliage away from the bustle of city dwelling.  It was open hunting season for deer in Washington for a brief window of time spanning about a week and a half.  My brother, father, and I drove seven hours to join my uncle at his hunt camp set up near the northeastern border of the state.  The scenery was quite beautiful and much thicker than I had expected the vegetation in that part of the state to be (not counting the controlled logging areas).  I had never seen conifer trees change color like that before, and my father informed me that they are deciduous Tamarack trees which are actually a species of larch native to Canada (we were only a fifteen minute drive from the border).  It was a great backdrop for our outing this year, but we may not find ourselves hunting in that locale again any time soon.  The does were abundant (we saw one field with about sixty does feeding at dusk), but the bucks were shy and scant.  We were only allowed to hunt for bucks in the area, so we returned home with only a few grouse to show for it.  It was a great time with family regardless. 

I wanted to share a great marinade that I normally use for venison steaks, but it also goes great with beef if your freezer is as lacking in venison supply as our own.

Wine Marinade for Venison Steaks

1 1/2 cups red wine (we used our Eclipse '08)
1 rosemary sprig rough chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of crushed garlic
Couple dashes of worcestershire
Pinch or two of red pepper flakes
Salt & ground pepper to taste

Makes enough marinade for 2 to 3 steaks (beef can be substituted for venison).

Combine all ingredients in a ziploc bag, take out as much air as possible, and leave it the fridge for a few hours to marinate.  (Six hours is ideal, and you can even leave it in overnight if you have the foresight for tomorrow's meal). Also, be sure to pour a glass of wine for the chef!

We paired our grilled steaks with some garden carrots roasted will dill and honey and some pan roasted banana fingerling potatoes that we grew as well.  All in all, in was a good meal that paired nicely with a glass (or two) of some great wine.

You can visit us on our website at www.plaincellars.com

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Put a Cork in it!

This week has been all about bottling!  It is the final stage of the wine making process after 2 years of aging in our oak barrels.  Everyone is a little sore from all the corking, but that is nothing a little wine drinking can't cure.  Each barrel gives us about 24 to 25 cases of wine, but only if you don't have too many taste tests.  (You'll notice the glass of wine close to our bottling station.)  The wine tastes quite promising now, but it should benefit from resting in its bottle for yet another 6 months.

Last Saturday my husband, parents, and I bottled a barrel of the Cabernet (a.k.a. Red Moon) and two barrels of the Malbec Syrah (Just Plain Red) with the help of all four of my grandparents.  It was a rare treat to have them all together in one room enjoying the "fruit" of our labor.  Tuesday was yet another family affair with my brother, cousin, and mother bottling two barrels of our Cab Merlot blend (a.k.a. Eclipse) and two barrels of the Cab Malbec Syrah (Summer Solstice Red).  Our last two barrels of Eclipse will be bottled tomorrow.  This will conclude the 2010 vintage, the last wine we will bottle privately.  If I am doing my math right, that is over 2,600 bottles of wine!   Surely our private reserves will be set for some time.  Our 2011 vintage will be the first wine available to the public at our 2013 summer opening.  It is kind of sad to think that our home wine making days have come to an end, but it is also exciting to enter a new chapter in our passion for making wine.  Cheers!

You can visit us at our website www.plaincellars.com.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Brief History...

As long as I can remember, my grandfather has been making wine.  It started out as a hobby.  He used cherries and other fruits to make his wines at first (and this was all fine), but when the hobby became something more, suddenly the cherry wine just wasn't enough.  If he could make wine with cherries, why not true wine grapes?  He and my grandmother are well into their 80s, and their wine consumption has not slowed (nor has it slowed them down).  My grandfather wanted to make wine that he and his wife could enjoy on a daily basis, and also be able to proudly serve it to their friends and family.   He is nothing if not proud of the wine he makes today.

Today we still help my grandfather bottle wine from his basement so that he and my grandmother are set for their yearly rations.  

Making my father's wine is an entire new endeavor altogether.  Suddenly the wine became something more.  Each element of the winemaking process became important.  We were still making it at home, but the quality of the final product was something we could compare to the wines sitting on the store shelves, (and in many cases, ours was better).  

I knew that my father had taken his wine to the next level when he suggested that he make the wine for my wedding.  Well, I thought, why not? His wine was good- really good.  It was one of those weddings where everyone contributed, and my father had his wine.  We even gave each of our guests a parting gift of a bottle of our Summer Solstice Red.  The wine was a huge hit, and I knew then that he would push it even further.  This led to the idea of the winery-  a place where he could keep sharing his wine, not just with friends and family, but with everyone.

You can also visit us at our website www.plaincellars.com

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Groundbreaking!

The building has begun on the winery!  Even though work has begun, we still have a long way to go, and we plan to keep you updated on our progress along the way.  Our winery, named Plain Cellars (for the town it resides in) will join the other aptly named establishments in the town, Plain Grocery and Plain Hardware.  We hope to open our doors by the summer solstice of next year with a barrel tasting celebration.