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Where has the time gone? Seems like only yesterday we found that little owl tucked beneath the vines on our hill. Since then, the wheat harvest all around us has come and gone, and so has summer, for the most part. Now the bird netting is up as we await the ripening of our very fruitful (!) crop.

We might have almost 2X the yield this year, this even after cluster thinning, and as this glorious weather continues, unless a cloud of locust descends, or Mt. Hood erupts, or a range fire sweeps across the dried out landscape, or an iceberg suddenly scrapes its way to our hill, or a major weather shift freezes the place–I’m not ruling ANYTHING out!–we might have a really great harvest. Notice my hesitation to commit to even the expectation of “should” as in “we should have a really great harvest.” Farming is fraught with the unknown. And for us, that can get real dicey because we don’t doctor our wines in the winery to make the season pretend to be what it may not have been. Nope, the year along with the cooperation of our meticulously picked out hillside HAS to deliver, and so far, so good.

Let’s see, what else. Well, we’re very excited to say…we now have a Seattle wine distributor, Cru Selections! And one in Boston, Genuine Wine Selections! And our very first guy who believed in NYC, Ice Bucket Selections, still believes! Woohoo! You know, since we happened to do everything essentially ass backwards in this industry, meaning, we put all our moolah into our vineyard and then waited for it to grow vs. the low-cost, low-risk approach of phone farming (aka purchasing grapes) and throwing something together in the short term while an acre or two gets or doesn’t get planted here and there; and then with our gently tended grapes made very focused, non coca-cola, divisive wines (read, highly singular), it’s been a long haul trying to find people who understood the wines and our endeavor. We’ve had to go through DOZENS of inquiries and a shocking amount of effort for what turns out to be deflating follow up (why people don’t tell you upfront is beyond me). Thankfully the persistence has paid  off a bit, for now we have three distributors who represent very wine-forward markets on both sides of the country. So THANK YOU Ice Bucket Selections, Cru Selections and Genuine Wine Selections  for believing. It’s a start. We hope SOON to find more. Universe, hear me now!

Finally, we’re getting ready for a trade trip to NYC. I KNOW! So close to harvest, right? What were they thinking? Well, in all honesty, this straight shot of sunshine we’ve been enjoying for some time could not have been predicted, and when duty calls, in the end, we still have to sell the stuff we grow. Looking forward to a weekend BACK to NY (we just returned from upstate visiting my parents only last week), but this time in NYC. Sam looks forward to the doughnuts and yellow taxis.

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Our latest installment on The Daily Meal. We (mainly me, Stephanie) write a bi-monthly piece called “Diary of a Start-Up Winemaker.” What we(well, I)’ve written to date are HERE.


We’ve only been “in business” for just under a year, and are working on finding like-minded wine adventurers who appreciate wine like ours, as well as our endeavor. It’s a crowded, crazy market these days, as you all know, but we’re slowly reaching some of you individuals who dare to step off the well-worn route, or should I say, you’re discovering us, as true adventurers are apt to do.

Carl found us through Scott’s parents, out in Missouri. He was so interested in The Grande Dalles that he purchased six bottles of our inaugural wines: two ’09 Leroy’s Finest, our bone-dry Riesling; two ’08 Gampo, our sangiovese blend; and two ’08 Home Place, our tempranillo blend, just like that. Since his order, we’ve exchanged a few chit-chat messages, so imagine our surprise, when he told us he’d be out in the Pacific Northwest (a rare visit, he said) and wanted to meet! Our first fan from afar wanting to come and learn more! We were thrilled.

So off Sam and I went — Scott had to stay in Portland, holding down his day job that keeps this dream alive — to meet Carl.

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That’s what the local print shop guy, Dave, asked me, when I went in to drop off our James Beard Foundation event brochlets (not really a brochure, not really a pamphlet) we’re hauling with for our Thursday James Beard Foundation “Columbia Terroir” event with local chefs Aaron Solley and Suzanne Bozarth from the James John Cafe. I had to think. How was it? “Busy,” was all I could come up with. Here’s what I had been doing:

1. tweaking links and whatnot to connect our website to new e-comm site, hosted by Nexternal. all the nitty gritty. thank goodness for the Nexternal support. my gal Shauna is a dream. and thank goodness i love learning another language. it’s fun, but not when there’s a little 2.5 year-old tugging at you, or sitting on your lap with “wandering, happy keyboard fingers,” if you know what i mean.

2. tweaking design and layout of Columbia Valley Terroir brochure that I essentially wrote and designed. not being trained as a designer doesn’t help me catch the tiny things that are noticeable when printed (margins and stuff), thank goodness i have the software to fix it. but, oh, my shoulders from hunching over my laptop! but the big one was the cover image — we finally settled on something very pretty. you want a sneak peek, you say? well, ok – here you are:

This is the view from our vineyard, with a little photoshopy-shop going on for the grainy texture.

3. saving hummingbirds. ok, not saving them, but making sure my friend’s frozen feeder got replaced with non-frozen syrup, so her little hummers could eat while she was away.

4. getting fitted for an outfit my crazily talented designer friend Yvonne is making for me, specifically for the James Beard event. she and i had a project together some years ago that didn’t take off, and I asked her if she would be interested in starting it again by getting her designs in front of a NY crowd. not that i’m a runway model, and not that squeezing between tables at the snug James Beard foundation constitutes a runway, and not that, oh — well, anyway — there’s been some back and forth and i can’t wait to wear it.

5. going to our POD storage unit  we rented to declutter our little farm house with when trying to sell it (that’s been way over a year now) that we have not yet moved to our new house (a good 1/2 year already), to dig through and find an outfit just in case #4 (see above) fell through. i found some, but they don’t fit anymore. note to self: do something about that mama belly. enough is enough. it’s time.

6. prayed that #4 didn’t fall through since i didn’t have Plan B to fall back on (see #5 above), and had very little time, money or energy to go find an outfit, because clogs and jeans and wool sweaters, my standard portland togs, wouldn’t fare well at an NYC evening event in the West Village.

7. being a solo mama — scott was away on saturday, a drive to seattle to meet with a Masters of Wine residing there– and wasn’t I on pins and needles about THAT. would he like our wine? he LOVED our wine! and then scott was off again on Sunday to the farm, to meet up with a friendly farmer who has an absolute PERFECT smile (you do, Dave!), who was going to do some work for us. it gets too hard to coordinate farming with weather and scott’s full-time work — thankfully Dave has time and is willing to help. so while i’ve got all that going on in the back of my head, sam and i were out at the park, going to Yvonne’s fitting, helping hummingbirds, and taking a nap. ahh.

8. the standard laundry work. does it ever end?

yes, it was a busy weekend and somehow, very invigorating.

How was yours?

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