Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Secrets of Vashon Island

The sun just set about an hour ago on another beautiful sunny day in Puget Sound. More specifically it set close to Mt. Jupiter where a bright metallic disk flashes like some alien UFO when the angle of the sun is just right. My friend Al tells me that this is, in fact, a ham radio antenna, and today we bounced a signal off it from his ham radio to my computer. Ham radio now transmits e-mail and we should all feel a little safer knowing that these guys can communicate even when everything is down as in Katrina or 9/11. Visiting Al on Vashon, I learned some of the secrets of the island. Since their are no real tourist facilities, the island, itself , remains a well kept secret, less than an hour away from downtown Seattle.

We visited the Vashon Island Coffee Roastery where owner Eva took us on a tour. Coffee is, in many respects, similar to wine, although the time frame for making coffee is much shorter and I've never tasted "well -aged" coffee. Growing coffee beans is probably very similar to growing grapes and terroir, or place, is at least as important. Like wine, there are artesanal and commercial coffees. Just as grapes are fermented and bottled, the beans are roasted and packaged. When the beans are made into coffee, the coffee evolves in the cup. At the Roastery, the making of the coffee is different each time and the coffee is affected in mysterious ways by weather and the time of day. Coffee connoisseurs can get quite hung up on the the origin of the beans, the roast, and the making of the coffee. And, of course, the sensory evaluation of wine and coffee is similar. The smell of brewing coffee for many of us signals the beginning of the day and the aroma of roasting coffee can be as sensuous as the bouquet of the finest wines. The Roastery, where coffee started in Puget Sound, is the former home of Stewart Bros. Coffee which later changed it's name to Seattle's Best Coffee. It is now being turned into a coffee museum as well as a cafe.

After a cup of Java we proceeded to the Vashon Hardware Company, in lieu of Sound Foods which was closed. The wine list at Vashon Hardware showed clear evidence of a wine lover lurking somewhere in the background. I had a glass of Chardonnay from Sawtooth Winery in Idaho which was ordinary, but Al had Pinot Noir from Alloro Vineyard in Oregon which was extroaordinary. Big, rich, complex - somewhat similar to the Bednarick from Panther Creek, the Alorro grapes are grown in the Chehalem Mountains. To go with our wine, we had the special of the day - huge and delicious seafood burritos.

We attempted a visit to Reliable Wines which was closed, but managed to visit Vashon Wine Shop where we had an interesting discussion about wine with David. Vashon Wine Shop stocks wine from several Vashon wineries - Andrew Will, Vashon Winery and O-S which recently left the Island for new digs in an industrial area of Seattle.

Perhaps the secret of Vashon is how it manages to combine the old-fashioned peace and quiet of rural America with the delights of good healthy food and wine. No Walmart here! The west road reminded me of the west Russian River road in Sonoma. In fact, the whole place reminds me somewhat of Sonoma. Tune in soon to learn the secret of the High Palouse on Vashon Island.


  • At 6:15 AM, Blogger Ryan said…

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  • At 9:44 PM, Blogger SeattleWineBlog said…

    Thanks for your comment, Gene


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