Grill Hours:

October 16th through March 31st
Saturday | Noon - 5PM


April 1st through October 15th
Friday - Sunday | Noon - 5pm | NEW MENU! (click to view)

Terra Blanca Winery and Estate Vineyard, in partnership with Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar, explores chateau-inspired cuisine with the Terra Blanca Vineyard Grill. Located at the beautiful winery and estate vineyard on Red Mountain. Our Vineyard Grill offers guests a wine country getaway with panoramic views of vineyards and the lower Yakima Valley.

The menu features enticing brick oven pizzas, salads, tapas, and handhelds, all superbly created to pair perfectly with Terra Blanca wines. The menu highlights food prepared in the wood-fire brick oven and produce from the Terra Blanca garden, when in season.

Featuring beer on tap from White Bluffs Brewery!

Call 509-588-6082 ext. 102 to make reservations today!

Photogallery rendered here.

Katy Rutland
 
May 8, 2014 | Katy Rutland

Wine Lingo: Palate

Not everyone has a water buffalo, pallet, or palette. A pallet is a wooden frame and a bed on the ground. A palette is a painter’s tool. Water buffalo just don’t live in Washington. To add to the homophone confusion, “palate” is yet another spelling. And unlike the above three, everyone has a palate.

 

In a tasting room, you often hear the term “palate,” sometimes in interesting ways.

 

“Soft palate.”

 

“Smooth palate.”

 

“Light and airy palate.”

 

These are just a few descriptive terms Wine Educators use when describing wine. What on earth does that mean? No, we are not referring to your tongue being light and smooth because that’s exactly what the physical palate is: your tongue.

 

You can’t taste wine without it. It is the ultimate judge of whether or not you like a wine. Does the wine taste good? Bad? Iffy? Your palate determines what you like.

 

Wine also has a palate. No, it’s not tasting itself. Instead, a wine’s palate refers to how the wine tastes on yours.

 

Fruity, delicate, spicy, and bright are all words our Wine Educators have used to describe the palates of our wines. Each wine we pour in the Tasting Room has its distinctions that can be discerned between scent (the “nose”) and the taste (the “palate”).

 

A talented taster can easily pick out individual flavors and scents and use them to determine what varietal is in his or her glass. A Washington Syrah is generally peppery with black fruits. Merlot is known for its cherry and cedar profile. Blends have layer after layer of flavor. Knowing these factors and being able to determine what is on the wine’s palate clues in the taster and narrows the potential grapes.

 

Not everyone can do this. Yet.

 

Our Wine Educators are familiar with the palates and profiles of our wines. The next time you’re out in our Tasting Room, ask what can be tasted on the palates of wines. If you really want to test yourself, ask after you’ve already tasted it and see if your senses are getting sharper.

 

Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged.

 

The great thing about wine tasting is that it takes practice!

 

 

Veni, Vidi, Vinum!

 

Terra Blanca

Time Posted: May 8, 2014 at 12:17 PM
Katy Rutland
 
May 1, 2014 | Katy Rutland

Terra Blanca’s Spring Cleaning

With summer right around the corner, the winery is in full bloom. Every grape vine is in full bud, and leaves are reaching for the sun. What’s up with the arbor? Wisteria blooms turned it purple just in time for Spring Barrel Tasting last weekend, and now it is covered in leaves. From the Tasting Room windows, it looks like a huge, untamed bush has grown on top of the arches and is shaggy from the many tendrils searching for a hold. 

With the flowers and vines in bloom, spring has definitely sprung at Terra Blanca, and we’re plowing into the season. Literally! 


Next time you’re driving down Highway 224 from West Richland, take a look to the right as you get close to DeMoss Road. See all that cleared land? The patches with sprinklers that turn the white dirt brown? That is where the future of Terra Blanca will be planted in the next few weeks. Just under 20 acres will be planted, most of it with Cabernet Sauvignon. We have the plants all ready to take to the trellises, so it’s only a matter of time before they’ll start reaching for the sun too. 


And if you’re coming from I-82, look to the left (after you’ve visited the Tasting Room, of course) as you head up the hill toward Sunset Road. That’s the area for new vines. 


If you’ve been to the winery recently, you may have noticed that our pond is looking a little low. Well, Lake Pilgrim is getting a boost this week as Keith and his crew plug a leak that has plagued the pond for years. Once the leak is plugged, water will fill up the pond, and Keith plans to put fish in it. We may need to invest in some “No Fishing” signs, unless that’s how Keith intends to spend his off time. Or maybe he’ll charter out remote-controlled sailboats, but that’s a story for another week. 


 Needless to say, we are busily preparing Terra Blanca for the warm weather. The lawn is mowed, the weeds have been pulled, and everything is greening up and gearing up for summer. 


To take advantage of the balmy afternoons, Café Orsa will now be open Friday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. for lunch in addition to its normal dinner service from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. If you haven’t been by yet this year to try the new menu, come join us on one of these sunny days! Sit down to enjoy the view, Terra Blanca wine, and great food, as prepared by our guest chefs from Twigs Martini Bar & Bistro. 


We’ve also cleared out the bar a bit by bringing in a couple fresh labels. The 2008 Arch Terrace Cabernet Franc and 2008 Signature Series Red Blend have both been sent to the Library to make way for the young guns now gracing our tasting menu: the 2009 Arch Terrace Cabernet Franc and the 2009 Signature Series Batholith (a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah). 


If you haven’t had a chance to sample these new wines or the new Café Orsa menu, drop on by and say hi to our Wine Educators. They’ll treat you right and answer any questions you may have. One that comes to mind right away is, “What is a batholith?” Cross your mind too? Then what are you waiting for? Consider this your invitation, and we’ll see you in the Tasting Room!

Veni, Vidi, Vinum!
Terra Blanca

Time Posted: May 1, 2014 at 11:32 AM
Katy Rutland
 
April 10, 2014 | Katy Rutland

You Know You’re at Terra Blanca When…

Here at Terra Blanca, our Wine Educators often get questions about what makes our winery and tasting room unique. Is it our Tuscan-inspired architecture, or maybe our octagonal wine library? These two are definitely true, but this week we’re featuring a few other traits that characterize Terra Blanca. 


So, in the spirit of comedian Jeff Foxworthy, you know you’re at Terra Blanca when…

 

…You’re tired and need a drink before you get to the bar.
…The temptation to roll down the hill is almost too great to ignore. 
…The door requires two hands to open. 
…It’s 5 o’clock somewhere and we’re still open.
…The phrase “huh, I never knew that,” crosses your mind mid-tasting flight.
…A trip to “the caves” doesn’t mean spelunking. 
…You’d work here just for the view from the bar. 
…A brick pizza oven catches your attention.
…The parking lot is neighbors with Cabernet Sauvignon vines.

 

Veni, Vidi, Vinum!

Terra Blanca

Time Posted: Apr 10, 2014 at 10:57 AM
Katy Rutland
 
April 3, 2014 | Katy Rutland

What's Up in the Winery: Trimming Back

 

All throughout the winter, grape vines have been taking their cue from bears and hibernating. After their busy seasons of growing and producing fruit, they have a well-deserved rest for a couple months. Once the weather warms, they start waking up, and, like any teenager with an unruly head of hair, they need a trim.

 

In the wine industry, this “haircut” is called pruning. Green-thumbs and gardening enthusiasts will understand this concept, but for those of us who aren’t as plant savvy, here’s a run-down on why pruning is so important.

 

Take a look at the picture to the left. That’s an un-pruned grape vine. The light tan things sticking out of the top of the vine are vestiges of last year’s growth, left after the flurry of harvest. Well, that’s simply too much vine for the coming spring (with the recent cold snap, you’d think it was January, not April).

 

When to prune is often determined by the weather and when the vines will come out of dormancy, or wake up. When the air and ground get warmer, the vines wake up.

 

So why prune? Why not let them grow their own ways?

 

Science.

 

According to Assistant Winemaker Randy Swanson, pruning is a necessary process that will greatly determine the vine’s yield at harvest. By trimming the excess vine from last season, a winemaker can determine how many buds will break, which is a major factor in controlling how many grapes grow. Uncontrollables like climate and sun exposure are other factors.

 

Cutting back the vines as they come out of hibernation also kicks in the plant’s instinct to grow. The vine has no leaves, so it starts sprouting them, needing them to collect the abundant Red Mountain sun so they can grow more leaves and vines and, later, flowers and grapes.

 

With this in mind, that old wive’s tale about how cutting a branch will grow seven in its place (or, to continue the haircut analogy, getting hair trimmed to grow it out) is starting to make a bit of sense.

 

Thanks to the late cold front, pruning our Estate Vineyards was interrupted and postponed for a couple of weeks. By now, most of the blocks of vineyard have been pruned with only a couple left waiting. Given our 100+ acres of mature vines, pruning takes a whole team almost a month to complete, each vine carefully tended and trimmed to ensure optimal growth. Take a look to the right for what a pruned vine looks like.

 

Soon enough, new growth will sprout along those brown, barky cordons (the technical name for the thick horizontal vines), and the growing season will start in earnest. Before long we’ll be harvesting and wondering where the summer went!

 

What’s up next for the winery and vineyard? Stay tuned to Terra Blanca By The Glass for all your vineyard news and happenings.

 

Veni, Vidi, Vinum!

Terra Blanca

Time Posted: Apr 3, 2014 at 3:00 PM
Katy Rutland
 
March 26, 2014 | Katy Rutland

Wine Lingo: What's Up Lot?

“So, what’s the year on this Triple Threat?”

 

This is a common question received by our Wine Educators, so Terra Blanca By the Glass investigates the mysteries surrounding the Arch Terrace Triple Threat. You may remember in our first Wine Lingo segment, “The 3 Vs of Wine,” one of those Vs was vintage and that vintage is what year in which the grapes were grown and harvested. This plays a huge role in the flavor profiles found in wines thanks to that year’s climate. Today, we’re throwing a kink into the whole vintage idea.

 

Welcome to the mysterious world of the “lot.”

 

Imagine a car. The first thing most people use as a descriptor is that it’s a “2003 something or other.” This is especially true with classic cars. Wine is similar.

 

A wine can be labeled several ways when it comes to vintage and non-vintage. Some bottles will always have the year. Not only will this differentiate it from previous vintages of the same wine but it will also give a clue to the educated wine drinker about what to expect. Other bottles might not have anything other than “White Wine.” These are typically blends, often non-vintaged, but without labeling, they are a complete mystery on a grocery store shelf.

 

Then there are the lots. These are labeled normally labeled “Lot #” or in a similar fashion. Also a designation to separate them from previous wines, Lot # wines are non-vintaged.

 

So what does non-vintage mean?

 

Imagine another car, except this one is a pet project, a custom vehicle using parts from several cars, classic and contemporary, to get just the right look and ride. 

 

That’s a non-vintaged wine for you: a wine made from a couple different vintages to get just the right blend, palate, and profile.

 

Take our Arch Terrace Triple Threat, Lot 2. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot from different vintages. It is a different wine than its predecessor, the Arch Terrace Red Blend, Lot 1. The blend is different, the vintages used are different, even the name was changed for Lot 2.

 

So let’s clear up a common misconception. Lot # wines are not always designed to be the same lot after lot. This is especially true of the Triple Threat (and all Terra Blanca wines, vintaged or not) since our Winemaker Keith Pilgrim aims to design the best wines, period, not keep the same profiles year after year.

 

That would get very boring very quickly.

 

Which brings me to the fun thing about Lot wines: you never quite know what’s in the bottle until you try it.

 

Have a bottle of the Arch Terrace Triple Threat, Lot 2? Give it a try and see what the fun’s all about. It won’t be on the tasting bar for much longer. Join us in the Tasting Room soon to try out the 2009. It might not be the total mystery of the Lot 2, but with a name like Triple Threat, it’s bound to be a wild ride.

 

Veni, Vidi, Vinum!

Terra Blanca

Time Posted: Mar 26, 2014 at 1:30 PM
Katy Rutland
 
March 20, 2014 | Katy Rutland

Wine Lingo: Clone Wars

Sorry to disappoint, “Star Wars” fans, no discussion of whether or not the original three movies are better than the latest three. But we are talking about another common question in wine and why there is a never-ending supply of Storm Troopers.

 

Cloning.

Straight out of the realm of science fiction, cloning is a common occurrence in vineyards all over the world. It is one of the many ways a vineyard can be populated. Believe it or not, few vines are grown straight from seeds because the genetic differences make the fruit a tad unpredictable when the vine matures.

 

For this reason, winemakers will often hand select a vine that has certain traits they are looking for to make a particular style of wine. Essentially, they take a cutting and encourage it to take root, often growing it in a nursery and sometimes continuing to clone the same cutting in order to populate a vineyard block. In fact, according to Webster’s Dictionary, the word “clone” comes from a Greek word meaning “twig” and has its roots in horticulture.

 

 What does this have to do with Terra Blanca?

 

In the Tasting Room for March, we have three different Syrahs available for tasting: the 2009 Signature Series Block 8 Syrah, the 2009 Arch Terrace Syrah, and the 2004 Reserve Winemaker’s Barrel Select Syrah.

 

At this point, you might be thinking that “Syrah is Syrah is Syrah.” In truth, yes. They are all Syrah. But the differences begin at the vine and the three clones of Syrah grown in our estate vineyards.

 

The Terra Blanca Signature Series Block 8 Syrah is made from a clone called the Côte-Rôtie, a clone from the northern Rhone region in France. This Syrah is called a “northern Rhone” or “old world” style Syrah because of the wine’s rich and smoky characteristics.

 

The Arch Terrace Syrah (previously known as the Estate Syrah prior to 2006) is a blend of all three Syrah clones, the Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage (also from the Rhone region), and the Phelps clone (developed in California). This is the peppery Syrah most commonly associated with Washington and the West Coast. It ages very well, as our current online Washington Wine Month special will prove. A full case of libraried Estate Syrah is $199 and includes 4 bottles each of the 2001, 2002, and 2003 vintages.

 

The final Syrah available for tasting as March’s magnum special is something entirely different. The Winemaker’s Barrel Select Syrah is not made every year. The 2004 vintage made for a few barrels of Syrah that did not fit the profiles used for the Block 8 or the Estate Syrahs. It was more aromatic with a lighter palate that most Syrahs, and cofermentation with Viogner, Marsanne, and Rousanne created more of a southern Rhone styling. For $75 for a 1.5 liter bottle, it’s a unique wine that shows just how versatile clones can be.

 

Three different Syrahs, three clones, three very different profiles. Drop by the Tasting Room to try all three and compare for yourself!

 

 

Veni, Vidi, Vinum!

 

Terra Blanca

 

 

P.S. Don’t forget that this weekend is another Washington Wine Month special: a case of 2009 Arch Terrace Syrah for $150. That’s half off!

 

 

Time Posted: Mar 20, 2014 at 1:50 AM
Katy Rutland
 
March 11, 2014 | Katy Rutland

Katy’s Kitchen: M is for Merlot

Merlot: a wine that went down in “Sideways” infamy. Unfortunately, Merlot has gained a reputation for being tannic, thin, and harsh, and those who drink it are unsophisticated and haven’t yet had their “Pinot moment.”

 

We’re here to put that to rest.

 

When grown in the hot desert climate of our Red Mountain vineyards, Merlot truly shines. This grape is not only a staple of our red blends (ONYX, Signature Series Red Blend, and Arch Terrace Triple Threat), it is also makes for a beautiful single-varietal bottle.

 

What better way to see that than to pair Merlot with a meal? When making this recipe, give yourself plenty of time. Making risotto is a labor of love! It can rapidly become a favorite request and is very versatile. This is just one of the many diverse flavor combinations you can try.

 

 

Flank Steak with Red Wine Risotto

 

Suggested Pairing: 2007 Signature Series Merlot

 

 

What you’ll need:

  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups dry red wine (recommended Signature Series 2007 Merlot)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups Arborio (or other short grain) rice
  • 4 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 ½ lb. flank streak, sliced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dried Cranberries

 

Directions:

 

1) Trim any excess fat from the flank steak. Set aside trimmings. Salt and pepper both sides of steak and let rest.

 

2) Combine beef broth, dry red wine, and 1 tablespoon garlic in a large pot. Heat to steaming; add salt and pepper to taste. Do not allow broth to boil. For addition flavor, add trimmings from the flank steak to the broth mixture.

 

3) While broth is heating, heat oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet over medium-high heat and sauté 2 tablespoons garlic and onion. The onion should be translucent, about 3 minutes. Pour in rice and stir until rice is evenly coated with oil.

 

4) Using a ladle, pour a generous splash of hot broth into the rice. Stir constantly until the liquid has been absorbed. Add a ladle of broth and stir. When the liquid is almost absorbed, add another ladle of broth and continue until rice is al dente, about 30 minutes. Turn heat to low or warm, stirring occasionally and adding broth as necessary. The rice will turn purple due to the wine.

 

5) In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of butter. Add 1 tablespoon garlic when butter is melted. Stir and add flank steak strips. Cook until medium well, about 3 minutes per side, or desired temperature. When done, remove steak from pan, cover, and let rest.

 

6) To the rice, add heavy cream, 2 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper to taste. Stir until rice is creamy and smooth.

 

To serve: slice flank steak into long strips. Spoon a healthy portion of risotto onto a plate. Fan flank steak strips on top of the risotto and finish with a small handful of dried cranberries. Serves four generously.

 

For the pièce de résistance, pair with the 2007 Signature Series Merlot. The dried cranberries will make the dark fruits in the wine to pop, and creaminess of the risotto will complement the velvety tannins. Of course, you can’t go wrong with steak and red wine, and the heartiness of the Merlot does more than hold its own next to the rich flank steak.

 

Currently, the 2007 Signature Series Merlot is on sale for Taste Washington Wine Month. A case is only $240! These cases are extremely limited, so head over to our online store to take advantage of this library special. Save a few bottles to age yourself and give this recipe a try!

 

Veni, Vidi, Vinum!

Terra Blanca

 

P.S.: “M” is also for Malbec, which will be featured in the Tasting Room Friday through Sunday. For $99, you can take home two magnums (1.5 L bottles): one 2004 and one 2005 Terra Blanca Estate Malbec. These bottles are very limited, so get them before they’re gone!

Time Posted: Mar 11, 2014 at 10:01 AM
Katy Rutland
 
March 6, 2014 | Katy Rutland

Warm up with Taste Washington Wine Month

After an unusual roller coaster of a winter, there’s no better way to celebrate the coming spring than with Washington wine. March takes that idea and runs with it, so without further ado, welcome to Washington Wine Month!

 

For many years, the Washington Wine Commission has celebrated the wine industry by hosting Taste Washington Wine Month. Why? Because Washington wine is something special, though we may be a bit biased.

 

This year marks the 17th anniversary of Taste Washington Wine Month! Began as a way to bring together and highlight the many aspects of Washington’s booming wine industry, the month-long celebration culminates in the largest single-region food and wine festival in the country, Taste Washington.

 

Since its humble beginnings in 1997, Taste Washington Wine Month has grown substantially. In the early years, the Taste Washington predominantly featured restaurants and retailers, those who were participating in the event. This year, more than 200 wineries and vineyards will be represented, along with more than 70 restaurants.

 

Spreading the word is where Wine Month comes in. According to Michaela Baltasar, Communications Director for the Washington Wine Commission, the month-long celebration of the Washington wine industry started as a way to get people interested in Taste Washington, an event showcasing the increasing number of diverse restaurants, retailers, hotels, and wineries.

 

In a way, Wine Month invites wineries and tasting rooms to show off what they can do and create. Many of them across the state will feature sales

 specials and events, including yours truly, Terra Blanca.

 

We’re starting things off with a bang. From our online shop, a case of libraried Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is only $199! Included are 3 bottles of2002, 4 bottles of 2003, and 5 bottles of 2004. This special ends March 9th, so snag it while you can and keep an eye out for the next special. It’s a secret, though, so you’ll have to wait and see. Click here to shop!

 

Washington’s booming wine industry is cause for celebration, so come on out and visit! And if you happen to make it over to Seattle for Taste Washington, don’t be a stranger! We’ll be there, and Winemaker Keith Pilgrim will be pouring in person. In the meantime, join us and the whole Terra Blanca family as we put a white earth twist on Taste Washington Wine Month.

 

 

Veni, Vidi, Vinum!

Terra Blanca

Time Posted: Mar 6, 2014 at 9:31 AM
Katy Rutland
 
February 27, 2014 | Katy Rutland

Wine Lingo: The Three Vs of Wine

Similar to that Tolkien riddle from The Hobbit, “Toothless bites, voiceless cries,” wine has several aspects that make you tilt your head and go, “Huh? It has a nose and no face?” Like any specialized trade, winemaking and wine tasting have their own unique jargons. We’ve all heard them from our Wine Educators: nose, brix, tannin, terroir, earthy, block, rich, bright, and a whole slew of other words used to describe wines that sometimes sound funny.

 

Never fear! Wine Lingo is here to erase the confusion and explain those odd phrases and words known throughout the wine world.

 

We’ll start out with something pretty basic but very important in understanding what is in your glass. A triple dose this week! They are the 3 Vs of Wine: vineyard, varietal, and vintage.

 

Vineyard

 

The foundation for all wine, the vineyard is the location where grapes are grown. Breaking it down, the word is vine and yard. A yard for vines, thus vineyard. Pretty easy, right? So when a winery has an “estate vineyard,” it means that they have grape vines growing on their land, usually pretty close to the tasting room.

 

But then there are individual bottles that have “Champoux Vineyard” or “Wild Pheasant Vineyard” on them, and this is where the vineyard concept gets complicated. There are many vineyards that aren’t owned by a winery. Instead, their owners focus solely on the vines to get the best fruit possible and sell the grapes to wineries.

 

What’s the big deal with that? Each vineyard will have certain characteristics that other vineyards don’t, even if they are right next to each other. These are called microclimates, and there can be several within one vineyard, let alone the number in one AVA (American Viticultural Area).

 

And we’ll leave that one alone for a while. In a later edition, I’ll talk all about terroir and AVAs.

 

Varietal

 

One of the most familiar aspects of grapes, “varietal” is the type of grape in a wine. Most labels will include what is in the bottle, be it Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, or one of the less-common varietals like Marsanne or Barbera.

 

For those out there who think, “wine is wine,” challenge them with a few distinct varietals. Each different grape will have its own unique personality, seen in the flavor and smell of the wine. For example, Syrah is not going to taste like a Cab Sauv, even if they both come from the same vineyard.

 

Vintage

 

Possibly the most variable element in wines, “vintage” is the winemaking jargon for year, specifically the year in which the grapes were picked. Where a merlot grown in the same vineyard by the same winemaker will have a certain profile in 2005, that same grape from the same location and with the same winemaker may have a totally different profile in 2006.

 

Why?

 

In a word, climate. Growing conditions change year to year, putting different stresses on vines and creating different flavor concentrations in grapes. One year may be much warmer than average, another about par, and a third significantly colder. The result will be three different profiles in the same varietal. Precipitation also plays a huge role, especially in desert climates like Red Mountain and most of Eastern Washington.

 

So the next time you pick up a bottle, take a look at the 3 Vs. It’ll take a while to get to know the differences among vintages, varietals, and vineyards, but that’s the great thing about wine tasting: it takes practice!

 

Be on the lookout in the future for more Wine Lingo!

 

Have a wine word or phrase you’re curious about? Post it in the comments!

 

Veni, Vidi, Vinum!

Terra Blanca

Time Posted: Feb 27, 2014 at 9:34 AM
Katy Rutland
 
February 20, 2014 | Katy Rutland

Good Bread, Good Meat, Good Wine, Let's Eat!

Ever heard the phrase, “there’s a first time for everything”? Saturday night was a first for many. During a weekend themed with the color of romance, the Winemaker’s Dinner welcomed many new faces and sported plenty of red.

In addition to the red sashes decorating chairs, every dish contained at least one red element and was paired with (what else?) a red wine. Rhones, Bordeauxs, and Italians of many vintages were well represented and complemented course of salmon, pork, lamb and, of course, chocolate.

 

So which of the seven courses was best?

 

According to Mason Rutland, a first-time Winemaker’s Dinner attendee, the sixth course was his favorite. The “real meal,” as Twigs Bistro & Martini Bar Executive Chef David Lee called it, the sixth course consisted of a braised lamb shank resting on a potato pave (think scalloped potatoes but better by ten) with a port and cranberry reduction, cipollini, and parsnip chips.

 

“It was a huge piece of meat, and I really liked the cranberries,” Mason said. “I didn’t think I would because it sounded weird to have cranberries and potatoes, but they tasted really good together.”

 

The lamb shank was paired with the newly-released 2010 ONYX, which was also one of Mason’s favorite wines of the night. Admittedly not a wine drinker, Mason said he liked the ONYX and 2008 Signature Series Block 8 Syrah because of their smooth finishes. The Block 8’s pairing with crispy pork belly and fig mustarda probably didn’t hurt, either.

 

Travis Stephens, also a Winemaker’s Dinner first timer, agreed that the food pairings could not have been better.

 

“I kept coming back to the [2008 Signature Series] Galet,” he said. “I tried the wine before I tried it with the food, and the differences before and afterwith a bite of food were just amazing.”

 

The Galet was paired with a lamb pancetta sitting on an orange and caraway cracker with ricotta cheese, dates, and turmeric oil, a combination that Travis revisited several times.

 

“I thoroughly enjoyed the salmon and clams,” Travis admitted, the first course being his favorite dish.

 

The social aspect of the evening was very well received. Mason and Travis both enjoyed the guests at their tables, even though both only had one new couple each sitting with them.

 

“It was fun to get to know them,” Mason said. “I’d almost like bigger tables so more people could be there.”

 

“[ONYX Club members] Scott and Teresa Curry invited us,” Travis said. “And I’m very grateful to experience it with them and enjoyed meeting the new couple.”

 

One reason Mason enjoyed the night so much was that co-owner ReNae Pilgrim gave him a challenge to find one wine he liked. Since he wasn’t a wine drinker, he doubted he would find anything. Mason rose to the occasion and, as mentioned earlier, found not one but two.

“[Keith and ReNae Pilgrim] take a personal approach to those they meet,” he said. “It’s a good show of who they are as business owners.”

 

While wandering among the tables, Keith and ReNae also stopped by Travis’ table to chat.

 

“I enjoyed getting to meet and speak with them,” Travis said. “It’s good that they keep the event small and are able to do that with their guests…. To actually have Keith up there and talking about the pairings and to have the opportunity to learn from an owner like that is rare and amazing.”

 

The food, wine, and atmosphere weren’t the only things celebrated during the Winemaker’s Dinner, either. At least two anniversaries, one cancer remission, and several birthdays were shared. Even the dessert courses had candles for birthdays, and the banquet hall supported a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

 

The real test of the night, though, is was it worth repeating? For Mason, it was a definite yes, even though he’s still not entirely won-over by wine. As for Travis…

 

“I already have my calendar marked for next year!”

 

Veni, Vedi, Vinum!

Terra Blanca

Time Posted: Feb 20, 2014 at 12:01 PM