Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Vino Collabos...Northwest Wine Collaborations

From the Urban Dictionary: collabo : slang for collaboration
image from www.themusicninja.com
Winemaking is a collaborative work. In the Northwest I've met so many winemakers who rely other winemakers for their help, advice, barrels, yeast, etc. Winemakers and wineries in general are very supportive of one another and it's pretty uncommon to hear one winemaker badmouth another. That's not to say it doesn't happen or that winemaking is Shangri La, but the industry is largely a cooperative one with a lot of collaboration.

The sharing of barrels, borrowing of extra bottles and consultations on wine making is par for the course. I want to take a step beyond that and talk specifically about intentional or unusual Northwest wine collaborations. And over the next however long it takes me, I'll be featuring some collaborations that are highly effective, original or interesting. These collaborations may have been planned every step of the way, or look more like a happy accident.

Collaborative efforts in winemaking are often done out of necessity, or serendipity. Gifford Hirlinger's collaboration with Napa California's Lewelling Vineyards is a product of necessity. The Grand Reve project and Long Shadows are examples of collaboration done to produce a particular kind of wine, or to marry an esteemed winemaker or skilled craftsmen to the perfect fruit or terroir, or both. Some collaborations, like Long Shadows and Col Solare, pair old world tradition with the world class fruit and terroir of Washington.

Recently Washington has become home to some celebrity collabos, with actors and athletes partnering with winemakers to come up with something that speaks to their passion about wines. Doubleback and Pursued by Bear wines are made by Washington natives Drew Bledsoe and Kyle McLaughlin with the help of some Washington winemaking heavy hitters. Having pursued careers in sports and Dune, they have returned to their roots, and have planted vines.

"Collabos," as the kids like to call them, allow talented artists, craftspeople, rappers, etc to come together and put their gifts together in a way that benefit an audience. We'll explore how those collaborations benefit wine, and ultimately the wine drinker. Stay tuned.


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