Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bringing NW Wine to the California Airwaves; Grape Encounters Radio


Not long ago, I noticed that Seattle Wine Gal had been on a radio show talking about screw cap wines, boxed wines and the youth wine demographic. I gave a listen to the show and agree with some of what she had to say, particularly about screw cap wines. Unfortunately, her argument for boxed wine did not sway me. Sorry, Barbara.

The gentleman on the other side of the radio sounded like a nice guy, for someone from California. He was, however a bit dismissive about the idea that there were wines in screw capped bottles worthy of serious consideration. Worthy of a fancy meal, a special occasion, a night of romance, etc. This California wine wizard said it just wouldn't do, and that bothered me a little bit. Nay, a lot bit.

So I fired off an email to this guy and said, "Hey Fella, let me say, you're wrong." It was actually a much longer email than that. All the same, my point was that there are great screw cap wines, and that I felt he, as an AM Radio wine king of the west coast, as well as folks like Barbara and even myself need to be careful about being dismissive of wines. That includes wines from odd places, varietals, or wines in a bottle topped with a screw cap. For some reason, people might actually listen to what we say, and so as wine lovers, we need to be a bit more open minded.

So this guy, David Wilson, writes me back. Considering I was a bit rough with him, he's very nice and he says, "Come on my show, man." That's not a direct quote, mind you, but more or less. So, I started thinking, well, I know for a fact that there is some wine being made right here in the Northwest in screw capped bottles that is to die for. I send out the word on the street, aka the internet, to the Dusted Valley crew, and Argyle Winery that I would like to have some of their wine sent to this California character to set the record straight. After all, they say that your word is your bond. More or less.

What followed was a great experience, and I have to give David Wilson and Grape Encounters a lot of credit. They do a fun radio show for wine fans and have a very similar philosophy to The Oregon Wine Blog. That is to say, wine is about the experience, and wine is about having fun. There was nothing too serious and nothing pretentious about him. At one point, he even did a show with topless women who were painted up like mermaids. So, while I decided to leave my clothing on for the show, David and I and his friend Tom talked about wine. (To hear the actual show, click here.)

David set the scene for how we ended up with these two wines on the radio. He mentioned the email I had sent him and serious reactions to his comments on screw capped wines. This led me to explain a little bit about the philosophy behind The Oregon Wine Blog, and how we're about making wine approachable for the younger crowd. Being snooty about the different closures may not only turn some folks off, it may relegate some really brilliant wines to the proverbial scrap heap.

We opened and tasted the two wines on the show. We started with the 2006 Argyle Nuthouse Pinot Noir. This wine is a real treat; a big rich and ripe Pinot Noir owing to that warm growing season of 2006. David said that while this wine was much bigger than the Pinots he was used to drinking out of the Santa Rita Hills area, he was thoroughly impressed. I said, yeah, I know. From there we moved on to the Dusted Valley Cabernet from the same vintage, 2006. This wine is a game changer for Californians who enjoy those big over the top Cabernets. The complexity, layers and nuance that Washington Cabernets offer was a welcome change for David and his colleague. Again, David's reaction was, "This is a great wine." My reaction was, yeah, I know.

In one fell swoop, I settled the score that not only are the Northwest Winemakers keeping it real, as the kids would say, but some of them are keeping it real with a screw cap. David had to concede. I had come up with two screwcap wines that David admitted were worthy of a romantic evening, they were that good in his estimation.

I couldn't leave it well enough alone though, and may have gotten myself in a jam. I told David that I loved Oregon Pinot Noir so, and it was such a unique expression of terroir that I could pick it out of a crowd any day. He said, "You're on." David is in the process of arranging a blind tasting of 10 wines, 5 from the Northwest and if I guess right, I get a case of California Pinot. I better get practicing.

Check out David's show each week on Grape Encounters Radio, he has a very similar philosophy to our blog, and a great radio voice. Plus he called me handsome.


  1. This is GREAT Clive! I wish I could have been included on that episode and tasted wines with you two! Very cool stuff. So what's your aversion to the concept of boxed wine... beside the fact that the current one's suck.

  2. Keep fighting the good fight for screw caps!

  3. Awesome write-up Clive! Way to go!