A few days ago, I shared some highlights of day one of an excursion to Lake Chelan, Washington that I attended prior to the Wine Bloggers Conference in Penticton, British Columbia. There was so much packed into two days and I took so many pictures, so I broke it up into two smaller posts. For those who missed the first post, it can be found here.
After a good night’s sleep at our beautiful hotel, Campbell’s Resort, we were off on an early start to the day with our first stop at Karma Vineyards for brunch and a sparkling wine tasting. Now who doesn’t love brunch and bubbles?
Karma Vineyards is one of a small handful of wineries in Washington producing sparkling wines using the Methode Champenoise tradition, which is the true French method of producing sparkling wines. Karma boasts an abundance of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on their lovely 14 acre property for their sparkling wine production. They take their sparkling wine seriously and they do it very, very well. Other grape varieties harvested at Karma include Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Syrah.
Upon arriving on the property, we were greeting with a glass of their 2010 Methode Champenoise Brut De Brut. This is a delightful sparkler boasting crisp green apple and pear as well as a touch of brioche. This is a blend of 55% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot Noir, and 9% Pinot Meunier. This is a very dry sparkling wine, making it very versatile for many different foods.
After a tasting of the Brut De Brut and an overview with owner, Jill Pittsinger on their sparkling wine production, we were led to their beautiful patio area where a lavish brunch buffet spread was waiting for us as well as a tasting of other sparkling wines from some of the neighboring wineries in Lake Chelan.
After getting our fill of a delicious brunch and sparkling wines, as well as soaking up the magnificent views, we hopped on board the karma Vineyards trolly to take a tour of the vineyards. When we got to the top the hill, we were swept away by beautiful views of Lake Chelan while we listened to Jill talk to us about their growing season and wine production.
We all had an absolutely wonderful time at Karma Vineyards. If we had more time, I would have loved to have tasted some of the other wines that they produce. I will say that their sparkling wine is one of the best domestic sparkling wines I have ever tasted. My next trip back to Lake Chelan will definitely take me back to Karma Vineyards. At this point we were split up in several smaller groups and taken to an afternoon excursion that we had pre-selected a couple weeks prior. My choice was Vin Du Lac.
Vin Du Lac got its inspiration from the owner’s travels to France. The property’s old farmhouse was turned into a charming tasting room, reminiscent of a French country bistro. Vin Du Lac hand harvests all of its grapes and are fermented in small batches. Their first vintage was produced in 2002. Their goal is to make the winery one of the producers of ultra-premium wines on the West Coast.
Vin Du Lac currently produces wines under four distinct labels: LEHM, Barrel Select, Fresh Whites, and Red Café. All wines are hand crafted and you will find fresh, crisp, lively whites, as well as bold, powerful, and complex reds.
Upon entering the property, we were greeted by assistant winemaker, David Traynor. He had a tray of his 2011 LEHM Rosé for us. It was much needed on a hot day such as that one. This Rosé is a blend of 57% Sangiovese and 43% Cabernet Franc. It offered nice aromas of strawberry, watermelon, and fresh flowers and was crisp and refreshing on the palate. Definitely a delightful summertime sipping wine.
With a glass of Rosé in hand, we did a short walking tour of the vineyards with owner/winemaker, Larry Lehmbecker. Larry gave a sense of the growing season for Vin Du Lac and spoke of their winemaking practices as well as varietals in production. You will find anything from Riesling and Gewurztraminer, as some examples of the whites in production, to Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Pinot Noir for the reds with red and white blends as well. After a tour of the vineyards, we were treated to a three course wine pairing menu prepared onsite at their bistro.
All three of the dishes were presented beautifully and had perfect wine pairings to bring out all the flavors and nuances of the wines. It was unanimous within our small group that all the wines were delicious however the Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Cabernet Franc really rocked. Those are wines that I will definitely be purchasing to add to my cellar, so look out for those on my blog in the future.
We spent a fabulous afternoon sipping lovely wines and eating delicious food, all while taking in breath-taking views of Lake Chelan at Vin Du Lac. It was hard to believe that our time in Lake Chelan was coming to an end, but sadly it was. Before we knew it, we were back on the bus with a long drive ahead of us to cross the Canadian Border. We bid farewell to our new friends at Vin Du Lac and made our way back to our bus.
If you think that all the wining and dining stopped once we boarded the bus to Penticton, think again. Joining us on the three hour ride across the border were the lovely ladies from Veranda Beach. Veranda Beach, located on the east shore of Lake Osoyoos in Oroville, Washington is not only a winery that produces award-winning wines, but it’s also a resort, overlooking the beachfront community of Veranda Beach. The resort offers cottages on the water and boasts a variety of activities such as water sports for the adventurous or a beautiful beach for laying out and relaxing. Veranda Beach is a perfect vacation spot for families because it offers a wide range of activities for people of all ages.
The winery at Veranda Beach, Veranda Beach Cellars has three small-lot wines in production currently; Veranda Beach Cellars 2012 Regatta Rosé (made from estate-grown Barbera grapes), Veranda Beach Cellars 2012 Lakehouse (Riesling), and Veranda Beach Cellars 2010 Collage (70% Barbera, 20% Sangiovese, and 10% Cabernet Franc). Veranda Beach provided us with a three course lunch with wine pairings. The food was prepared by their onsite restaurant, The Breadline Diner. Apologies in advance for not taking pictures of the food. The tighter quarters in the moving bus made it kind of difficult to take clear pictures. The Riesling was delicious and provided a touch of sweetness but balanced out nicely by nice acidity. The Regatta Rosé is made in the French Saignee method and boasts flavors of strawberry, watermelon, and white stone fruit. The Collage red blend offers dark fruits, leather, spice, as well as a bold, complex structure.
We had a wonderful time with the ladies from Veranda Beach. They provided a lot of enthusiasm and fun while keeping us entertained on the ride to the Canadian border. They are a must visit on your next trip to Washington and with their close proximity to the Canadian border, it’s easy to plan a getaway to Veranda Beach and continue into British Columbia.
Our time in Lake Chelan was much too brief. There are many hidden gems to explore and a very easy-going and relaxed community. You will find very friendly people and very passionate winemakers that will welcome you with a friendly smile. Lake Chelan is a scenic three hour drive from Seattle or two and a half hours from Spokane. It’s definitely not hard to get to. It you prefer to fly, Horizon Airlines offers connecting flights from Seattle to the Wenatohee Pangborn Memorial Airport. I highly recommend a trip here. There are so many other wineries I want to explore on my next trip up, as well as re-visit some newfound favorites. I want to give a very special thank you to Nicole Campbell and Erin McCardle of the Lake Chelan Wine Alliance for putting this wonderful trip together as well as thank all the people and wineries who welcomed us all with open arms and proudly showed us what Lake Chelan had to offer. It was truly a memorable experience; one which we will never forget. I will definitely be recommending a trip there to everyone I know as well as plan another one for the near future. The friendly people, delicious food, beautiful scenery, and wonderful wines make it a must visit on your next vacation.
Next stop, Penticton, British Columbia and WBC13!