One day when I returned home, my children ran out to greet me. “Guess what we recorded for you” they screamed! “We recorded Tiny Houses. And they are in a vineyard!!!!” I had to laugh, realizing that my passion for learning about wine had impacted my kids.
The episode took place at Alexandria Nicole Vineyards in Destiny Ridge, WA. We watched the crews build these beautiful tiny houses, one rustic and one modern. When they said they were in WA I knew I had to go visit them.
When we decided to visit Seattle, I contacted them immediately. In the summer, only the weekends are able to be booked, but I left a message and Ally, one of the owners, called me back to let me know they could accommodate us during the week. She would be away but they had others who would help us. I booked us to stay in the Jet Black house, as this house a wine vat attached to the house with wine on tap. One of the walls was made of cork barrels and was such a stand out on the show. Since the show aired, they had also added 2 additional tiny houses, but JetBlack was my favorite.
After a quick visit to Prosser, we drove up over the Horse Haven Hills to get to the ANC Winery. The drive was really different. Over one big hill and then flat lands, yellow everywhere, farm lands throughout the area. As we drove I was amazed by the greens and yellows. The hills and much of the land is yellow and then around residences and farms it is green. The stark contrast was unforgettable. As we got closer to the Columbia River everything was green. We drove along the river east and saw a few parks which looked beautiful. We drove past Columbia Crest wineries and as we came up on their ridge, it was green all around. Then down the hill to through green areas of vines and arbor vitae. We arrived at the Columbia River and turned right, the river on the left of us, the wineries and farms on the right hills. It was beautiful. Down the road, I spotted the Chateau St. Michelle’s vineyard in Horse heaven Hill. We took the next right up the hills facing the river and saw signs for Mercer and then saw an amazingly beautiful castle on top of the hill, on the top of Destiny Ridge. On the right side of the road we spotted the tiny houses.
1. looking over towards Mercer Winery and Chateau Ste. Michele Horse Heaven Hills Winery 3. View from our tiny house deck
The houses are adorable and are in the midst of the vineyards, overlooking the Columbia River. We arrived at our tiny house on tiny house road and it was perfect! The house was absolutely adorable!
Earlier in the day, I had received a call from Jennifer who would be covering while the owner was away. She informed me that the wine was no longer on tap in our house. She was so apologetic and offered a complementary bottle of wine instead. Truthfully, I was pretty disappointed, as that was one of the novelties of booking that Tiny House, but there were so many other things I was excited about so I focused on those. I am a wine student and let her know that mostly I really just wanted to learn about wine. When we arrived she greeted us immediately and brought us over to the winery tasting room, poured a jammy, fruity well balanced merlot for us and then brought us over to the wine making area. The tasting room was adorable and Jennifer was a wonderful host. More on the tasting room tomorrow, but she then brought us over to meet winemakers who work with the owner, Jared. The pair went above and beyond to talk with us and to make us feel at home. I would honestly want to go back just to spend some time making wine with them.
Ryan and Mark were in the middle of working, in 100 degree weather, trying to finish up for the day. They were pumping wine to small kegs for restaurant delivery. They were really patient and taught us a great deal. It was obvious they love their jobs. I love how they told us “the wine really does it’s own thing and it is their job to screw it up.”
They poured for us several tastes out of the barrels. We tried their Malbec, (outstanding), still needs barrel aging but was already so balanced and had so many flavor characteristics. I cannot wait to try that when they release it in a few months.
We then tried two cabs, one from an older vine and one from a newer vine, grown in the same field, right near each other, to get an idea of the effect of vine growth. The older was darker and smoother, the younger was lighter and fruity. They explained how they will blend different barrels together, then refill the barrels and continue the process every few weeks during the aging in barrels. This way the full wine lot gets exposure to all of the complexities of all of the barrels and all of the areas of wine. We learned so much! Then they had us taste a 2012 Cab from the same area of the vineyard. It was chalky and smooth and really good as well. We then tasted a Carmenere. They had already bottled most of their 2015’s and were starting to work on their 2016’s. The Carmenere was so spicy and peppery, black pepper, and will be outstanding!!! Only wine club members will get that one. Last we tasted Petit Syrah. Yummy with time to age. VERY tannic. Can’t wait to see how this one ages!
Day 2: We went in to chat with Kendall and she invited us to do an early tasting in the ANC tasting room this morning, after a quick 2.5 mile run up to the castle and around. The views were outstanding! Kendall in the tasting room was informative, warm and fun to talk with. She poured just for me, as Keith was preparing to drive back to Prosser for the afternoon. I joined the ANC club, as I knew that I would be drinking and sharing their boutique wines for a long time.
Steel Horse Sauvignon Blanc: The story is that they grew a lot of Sauv Blanc for Chateau Ste Michelle last season, 2016, but that they kept pruning it and it kept growing. They had so much that St Michelle couldn’t possibly use it all, so ANC bottled it. I am so glad they did. The quality for the price point was outstanding. It is named Steel Horse after the steel signs on the road signifying that you are in Horse Heaven Hills. It was soooo good! The flavor profile is typical Sauvignon Blanc, citrusey, a little steel, but nothing overwhelming. Just fruit, minerality, and yum!
Next we tried the Viognier, Rouseau, Marsanne blend. Very fruit forward and a little heavier. It would be a nice drink by the pool.
Next was the Gravity Merlot. I brought some home with me, yum!
And then the red blend. That red blend was my absolute favorite!!!! It’s a Bordeaux blend, so smooth, chalky, silky. OMG! The winemakers went for it and hit it on this one!!!
We had the Jet Black Syrah next and that was a really well balanced Syrah. For the price point, it was truly exceptional!
We finished with the Tempranillo. If you are a fan of Tempranillo, this is a star. Silky smooth, with slight tannins and great grip. It wasn’t particularly fruity, but more tobacco and leather. I was not fully in the mood for this style, since I hadn’t yet eaten breakfast, but I would say definitely a must try!
Next we headed to the Walter Kluwer Museum of wine…