A 101 Awesome Winery Experience!

By Lynn Ponder:   I was invited to a quaint dinner at a restaurant in Miami that actually I had never visited and I have to say that the food and service at Michaels Genuine Food was fabulous. But the real reason I was invited was to be introduced to my first experience meeting an oenologist from the distinguished and most significant wineries in the US Columbia Crest in Washington State.

It was a wonderful evening as Juan Muñoz Oca the head winemaker at Columbia Crest was enchanting and his stories where fascinating to me. Juan was raised in Mendoza, Argentina under the tutelage of his grandfather cellar master at Bodegas Toso winery. He was instilled with a love and respect for wine, as well as for his family’s Spanish culture , that was to become the root of a lifelong passion for winemaking.  Juan has been involved with grapes since he was a little boy, It’s all he has known and winemaking has been in his family, in his blood and it’s what he does and it makes him who he is.

Juan Muñoz Oca, brings years of agricultural engineering and winemaking not only graduating with honors from Argentina National University of Cuyo by also studied viticulture in Ribera del Duero, Spain and joined the winemaking team at Terrazas de los Andes, an Argentine premium winery owned by Chandon.

Columbia Crest Estate Vineyard totals 2,500 acres plated to Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling and Syrah.  Colombia Crest also sources grapes from vineyards located on the Horse Heaven Hills, Wahluke Slope, Columbia River Basin and the Yakima Valley.

I learned so much in a couple of hours  about how wines are created and had the privilege to have an amazing dinner coordinated with Columbia Crest Wines Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon and Riesling Wines which where absolutely outstanding.  I even got to take home my favorite one which was H3 Horse Heaven Hills Columbia Crest 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, which I will save for a special occasion.

I also learned that wines take months to be ready and a lot of planning goes into the production of wines.  I learned that depending on the oak or steel wine barrels, it can affect the different flavor the oenologist is trying to achieve.  I learned that there are so many different flavors of grapes that is taken into consideration for the final wine taste.  It was a great experience that made me want to continue my learning journey of wines and perhaps someday soon I can visit Washington State and enjoy another wine tasting on site WEPA!

2010 Wine Spectator ranks the 2007 H3 Merlot #43 on it’s Top 100 list earning the winery its 16th placement on the list and Wine & Spirits names the winery one of the Top 17 “American Value Brands of the Year”. Colombia Crest Wines was considered in The Top 100 most exciting wines of 2009 and Wine of the Year in 2005.

Thank you Golin Harris and Columbia Crest for this wonderful invitation!

Hasta la proxima vez Mi Gente!