Wow what an interesting tasting by accident! I was researching organic wines and I came across Pleasant Hill Cellars. I gave them a call to retrieve information on organic wine only to find out that they didn’t produce organic wine. I had the privilege of speaking with Larry Lindvig, one of three winemakers that produce out of Pleasant Hill Cellars. He was very invigorating and passionate as he spoke to me about their wines and I was sucked in just by listening to him. Larry invited my husband and I to their industry tasting the following day at Sky River Meadery in Woodinville and we surely went as I was quite intrigued to see how three different labeled wine makers interpreted grapes from the same sources.
Mike and I had the pleasure of meeting Larry as soon as we walked up to the tasting table. He was filling in for Jim Garner, winemaker for Icon Cellars, who was running a bit late. Jim’s wine spoke so much for itself that I really do not think that Jim even needed to be there. What I can say about Icon is that it is a well bottled, well priced, lovely product! He has a knack for anticipating people’s perceptions and building upon them to deliver an exceptional experience. His approach definitely works! I really enjoyed the 2011 Porporina, a “Super Tuscan” style blend and found it to be a nice social wine. I was also surprised by his 2012 Le Rose’, a Mourvedre, Syrah, and Cinsault blend — what a great summer Rose’! I finally had the pleasure of meeting Jim after I had tasted all of his lovely wines and was just as pleasantly surprised by his gentlemanly, regal demeanor.
Speaking of demeanor, I found that to be true of all three of these men who represent their wine with such pride. Larry Lindvig, winemaker for Pleasant Hill Cellars was my next target as I gravitated toward his station and inviting smile. Larry has been making wine since 1993 and received his inspiration from a friend. Again, I was surprised at the pricing of the wine and was totally enamored. Larry produces a very lovely, unique wine out of a 100% Tennat varietal, it was AMAZING! He is able to hold the title to that wine, because he made it very clear that no one uses that varietal as a 100% and went on to share that this wine has won a silver medal. Also, the Tennat grape is the healthiest varietal in the world and is full of antioxidants. Hey, who needs food!
Thirdly, I got to meet John Welch, Cellar Master for Pleasant Hill Cellars. He not only represented Belmonte Cellars, but also wine maker Dan Williams. Belmonte Cellars, formerly known as Pandora (2009-2011), is the third winery to come out of Pleasant Hill to round out the Three Amigos. I have to mention that I experienced a surreal moment when John was explaining the qualities of the Marsanne, an amazing full bodied, lively white, and he stopped to smell the wine with his eyes closed and started spitting out all the wonderful, yummy food choices that you could serve with it! I had to stop and watch with admiration, seeing a kindred spirit in action. I believe that at that small moment our souls joined. It was wonderful! Like the other wineries the prices are affordable and the wine is amazing. I really enjoyed the 2011 Cabernet Franc, because it has a unique style that sets it apart from other Washington Francs.
One beautiful venue, three separate wineries, three very classy gentlemen, and many lovely choices of well made Washington wine. Truly, we sampled 18 different wines and each was distinctive and wonderful in its own way, not a subpar sample in the entire bunch. What makes Pleasant Hill Cellars, Icon Cellars, and Belmonte Cellars so interesting? It is that they make all their wines from the same grapes, grapes in which they mainly source from Elephant Mountain, Columbia Valley, and Rattlesnake Hills. The wine is fabulous, the knowledge is outstanding, and the passion is even greater!