Category Archives: wine

Refillable Wine Growlers: What a Concept!

No, that's not beer on tap at Merry Cellars in Pullman, Washington. It's wine!

No, that’s not beer on tap at Merry Cellars in Pullman, Washington. It’s wine!

I’ve filled my share of growlers with craft beer, straight from the microbrewer’s tap. But a refillable wine growler? Never heard of such a thing, until I wander into Merry Cellars, a winery in Pullman, Washington, of all places.

Their splendid wines are made on the premises from grapes grown mostly in central Washington. You can buy regular bottles of their vintages, just like any winery. But over on the side of the tasting room are a few beer-style taps. What the hell? Continue reading

Finding Marvelous Mavens to Steer Your Road-Trip Eats

At Sleight of Hand Cellars, dynamo Traci is a wealth of dining and drinking suggestions

At Sleight of Hand Cellars, dynamo Traci is a wealth of dining and drinking suggestions

I tend to heavily research my road-trip food stops. I’ll spend hours poring over Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews and Googling for dining nuggets. I end up with a script that guides me for a month of gorging and guzzling over, say, a 5,000-mile swath of the southwest U.S.

But sometimes it’s nice to just follow my nose and, hopefully, discover gems off the beaten path. It helps tremendously, in this regard, to find a local savant or two, with similar sensibilities, who can steer you to some unpublicized standouts.

So when we’ve got three days to spend in Walla Walla, Washington and no agenda to pursue, I’m happy to solicit and accept spontaneous suggestions. These leads come primarily from two winery servers, who are sharp as tacks and more than willing to be impromptu tour guides. Continue reading

Wallowing in Walla Walla, Washington Wines

Amavi Cellars is one of dozens of fine wineries in the Walla Walla Valley of southeast Washington

Amavi Cellars is one of dozens of fine wineries in the Walla Walla Valley of southeast Washington

It all started with a $200 bottle of wine. Actually, we didn’t know it cost that bloody much when we pulled out this dusty gift, from a generous brother-in-law, at dinner one night.

“Wow! That’s good,” is all we said. Subsequent Googling revealed the bottle’s shocking price and a bit about the wine-producing area it came from: the Walla Walla Valley of southeast Washington. A week later, we were booked into a Walla Walla airbnb, with plans to tour the area’s wineries. Continue reading

Don’t Whine If I Buy My Pinot Noir at a Grocery Store

I've discovered this cute little California wine boutique

I’ve discovered this cute little California wine boutique

I was asking San Francisco friends who have a Sonoma property what boutique wineries with somewhat affordable prices they frequent. “Oh, we don’t buy wine in the Sonoma or Napa Valleys,” they replied. “We just go to Safeway. They’ve got great selection, and you can get big Club Card discounts.”

Indeed, anytime I gave my Canadian Safeway Club Card number, or phone number in the U.S., I got said discounts, too. It also works at Von’s, a Safeway affiliate in some California cities.

Now, I do advocate frequenting independent places to eat and drink. And I enjoy visiting wineries (especially in beautiful wine-producing regions), tasting their products, maybe meeting the owner or winemaker and picking up some bottles in situ.

But you can't beat the ambience of a tasting room in a beautiful wine-producing area like Poplar Grove's spiffy new place in B.C.'s Okanagan Valley

But you can’t beat the ambience of a tasting room in a beautiful wine-producing area like Poplar Grove’s spiffy new place in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley

But I also like affordable, and if the product is the same and the winery’s still getting its cut, price does become a factor. Plus, sometimes you don’t have time for that trip to the winery and want a nice pinot noir to drink out of a paper cup at the motel.