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All You Can Eat

Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.

October 12, 2009 at 10:31 AM

Washington grape-growers and winemakers — at home and “a broad”

Is Puget Sound the up-and-coming hot spot for Washington wines? Today, Seattle Times’ Craig Welch offers a front-page report on climate change — and how that plays out for Western Washington wine-grape growers like Sequim’s Tom Miller. Craig writes: “It’s an early autumn morning at the top of the Olympic Peninsula, and Miller is doing something climate scientists believe would have been difficult, if not impossible, 50 years ago: harvesting grapes to make wine that people actually want to buy.” Read the full story here.

At Seattle Weekly, the hard drinking — and even harder working — Maggie Savarino searched and distilled a story about Doug Graves — a Seattleite growing his own in the small village of Sorgues, France. Graves’ 2008 Mas de la Lionne Cotes du Rhone hits area stores this week. Maggie’s story and description of his hard-won wine makes me want to run out and buy a bottle ($14) — or a case: “With old-vine grenache, when done right, you can smell a vibrant scent of perfumed, red-raspberry fruit that’s like taking a whiff of an undeniably pretty girl. The flavor backs it up; red summer berries grab the back of your mouth, ending in a soft, tangy acidity. Unlike many modern syrahs, you can see through this one; the body is lighter, more along the lines of a baby version of the refined wine you get from bigger-named areas like Vacqueyras and Gigondas.” Read her story here.

And then there’s that grape grower you know all too well. Me. A woman who’s living proof that even those of us graced with brown thumbs can grow wine-worthy grapes in Western Washington:

My backyard progeny. Sweet!

Those are seedless Canadice and I took that photo shortly after I had my first cup of coffee this morning. Mac planted them a decade or so ago on sturdy Edmonds soil within full view of Puget Sound. And every single summer we ignore them. They’re ill-pruned, never fertilized, rarely weeded or watered. Obviously it’s true: ignorance is bliss, because these are some of the sweetest grapes I’ve ever tasted. And someday we’ll make wine out of them. Till then, we’ll eat the grapes out-of-hand throughout September and into October and continue to drink the fruit of others’ labor:

Leftover Aussie shiraz poses with freshly picked Edmonds Canadice.

So, do any of you grow grapes for the table or the bottle here in Western Washington? If so, what do you grow? Any tips for rookie winemakers?

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