Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Crystal and the Rock

Owning a winery during tourist season (or frankly any season) doesn’t leave much room for personal time.

We make hay while the sun shines, scheduling back-to-back events, pouring our wines at festivals and working the market.

So it wasn’t surprising the last couple of months my husband and I seemed like ships passing in the night. We’ve all been there, priorities get skewed and we feel that “distance” welling up between us along with the people we care for and love.

By now, you probably know me well… Focus, Focus, Focus. Got to get the job done before I relax. Then when I relax I’m too tired to talk or even eat. Just want to crawl into my “space” and be alone.

Knew when Ralph wasn’t hugging like before that I’d crossed the line and needed to get back in touch. So off we went for our favorite walk on the Dungeness Spit where I’m always looking for white rocks. We didn’t walk very far this time. Just found a sheltered space amongst the humongous logs and just let the sun warm us and our spirits.

On the way back I squealed loudly, jumping up and down. I’d found a heart shaped rock! It was a sign and you know I’m a big believer.

As I turned it over it had a dent in it and I remember thinking that I’d lay that side down.

Well, when I got home, I picked up the Baccarat crystal heart that I bought for Ralph years ago for Christmas or an anniversary (don’t remember) which he keeps on his desk.

I laid it beside my beach rock and just stood there thinking.

Wow. I’d always thought the crystal heart was so perfect but now it seemed somehow fake and unreal lying beside my rough and battered heart-shaped beach rock.

My heart rock had survived crashing waves and summer days. It’s pitted all over and has that dent but it’s withstood the hands of time. It’s the real deal. And that’s what had me thinking.

Relationships and marriage can be as fragile as crystal... or as hard and enduring as that rock. You have to work at it and not take them for granted. Another wake up call for me.

So tonight I’m going to cook dinner for Ralph and pour him a glass of his favorite wine (he’s always loved the Dungeness Red Lemberger). I can’t do anything more special to show that I care than try to cook (sometimes pouring a second glass really helps too, especially with my cooking)!

Update: I wrote this Saturday afternoon. It’s now Wednesday afternoon... and life just feels good. Plus, we’re going out to eat tonight, Yea… cooking was real pressure but worth it.


My Personal Invitation To You

Consider this your personal invitation to join us at Olympic Cellars Winery this weekend, August 1 & 2 to celebrate our 30 th anniversary as a pioneer winery in Washington State and to honor our founder Gene Neuharth.

I'm one of those people that get all sappy about these types of occasions and want to share it with all of you that have supported the winery over the years. The weather is pretty much perfect, the mountains totally visible and an Adirondack chair on the patio is just waiting for you to slide into it with a glass of wine, lean back and just enjoy doing nothing!

Weekend Activities:

  • Saturday and Sunday, August 1-2 from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Music on the Patio from 1 - 5 p.m.
  • Tours of the Winery
  • View the memorabilia over the last 30 years
  • Special Nibbles
  • Wine Tastings of Benoit's Best

Saturday Night 8 p.m.

  • Barn Dance with local favorite, Fat Chance
  • Cover Charge, $5 donated to the Gynocare Fund that health care for uninsured and underinsured women and men.
  • All our concerts in August are partnered with a non-profit who will received the cover as a donation from the winery

Sunday, August 2 11 a.m. , 6 p.m.

  • Same as above but music stops at 3 p.m.
  • 3 p.m. Reenactment of Gene Neuharth's weekly Poker Game with some of his old buddies
  • You can buy in to the game for a small donation. All winnings go to Maria Neuharth's church, the Little Brown Church in Blyn, WA
  • Maria used to cook for the "boys" and is bringing one of their favorite snacks
  • Seven Cedars Casino is sending Annie Jagger, their poker manager, along with poker table, etc. to make this came official!
  • Surrounding the Poker Game will be a gallery of chairs for your viewing comfort. This should be a hoot!


The anniversary weekend will feature the release of Neuharth's Legacy , a commemorative 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Cabernet Franc blend made with fruit from Champoux and Boushey Vineyards. In addition "The Heritage 4" will be available. This specially priced package features three original Neuharth wines, Dungeness Red , Dungeness White and the former Dungeness Rosé (now bottled under the Working Girl ® Rosé the Riveter label), as well as the Neuharth's Legacy release . Given the Sunday poker game, the 4-pak will be offered at a lucky $77.77 including tax.

Please join us,
Kathy, Molly, Lisa, Benoit
and Moakie (our barn cat) who was born in the original Neuharth winery barn in Sequim.

Moakie, our Winery Cat

Our small, black cat is as much a part of the heritage of Olympic Cellars as the historic barns which have become our winery homes. Read More of Moakie the Winery Cat's Story

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wine... Doing it Your Way

Cabernet to Sparkling Twilight?

As you walk through the doors of our winery and are greeted by the ‘Working Girls’ of Olympic Cellars, it’s obvious the personality of the women behind the winery and our best known wine brand, Working Girl Wines, drive a non-traditional persona of contrasts not only in the décor and events at the winery but also in our wines.

Beginning with an enormous, century-old barn (the winery’s home), the weathered old cedar is adorned with massive barrel-shaped copper doors you might expect to see in a monastery. Out front, a vineyard angel welcomes you... with her wine barrel-body adorned in a grass skirt and wearing pink rubber boots! The barn smiles at night through stained-glass copulas that tower above the landscape. And one of the most popular winery photo op’s is none other than -- the women’s bathroom (really, words can’t do it justice!).

The tasting room… well, saying it’s definitely got a women’s touch is an understatement. But add in a stunning, 19-foot, century-old bar and men suddenly feel right at home, too. The “Gathering Room” (no VIP room here) is just that… a place to gather. In the center of the room is an 8-foot hand-crafted farmer’s table made with rough-huned cedar planks off our barn. And behind it -- a spectacular silk wall hanging, “The Promising Vendange,” our vision of vineyards on the Peninsula, commissioned from a local artist.

There’s the traditional winery events like wine dinners, of course. But sharing equal billing is our celebration of National Flip-Flop Day and our contest for the best Chocolate Chip Cookie & wine pairing (and don’t forget the Working Girl First Jump Club, all you have to do is tandem skydive!).

Contrasting Wines ? Of course, in style AND variety. 3 brands, 17 different wines.

Gazing around you notice a shelf displaying our wines loaded with medals and awards. Yet pan the wine racks stretching half the length of the room and you’re a bit jolted as you spot all the ‘Twilight’ books sharing space with a stack of Wine Spectator magazines. And what this? A Double-Gold Medal winning Syrah parked right next to a Sparkling Syrah (a.k.a. our new Sparkling Twilight!).

Some in the industry probably question my sanity and might not take us seriously… a small winery producing just 3,500 cases of 17 different wines. Most wineries our size or smaller generally specialize by style or grape varietal, bottling maybe 4-8 different wines.

But after the first couple of years owning the winery and working behind the bar every day, I made the unconventional decision to make a wide variety of wines and styles because that’s what people who stopped wanted. It’s a decision influenced by my own ‘wine journey,’ my learning this business from an outsider’s perspective and from my Mer-LOT guests (these are three separate stories, all with the same ending, but for later blog posts).

Don’t get me wrong. I’m dead serious about my wine in the cellar. But as you pass through the doors into the tasting room, it becomes an atmosphere that’s fun, inclusive and welcoming. As our guest, you get to select wines for tasting based on your own personal tastes, not ours.

This decision doesn’t mean in any way that I will ever sacrifice quality. I want it all. Awards, industry recognition, the best grapes.

Benoit and I have had many discussions about this business model. I know it’s tough for him in the cellar. Even in an abnormally cool summer when local Peninsula grape production was only 100 gallons of wine (realistically, too little to even bother with), I didn’t care. Making wine from Peninsula-grown grapes is part of my vision and unless the quality was compromised then the extra effort for this tiny production is just part of the deal. And Benoit makes it work, producing small, hand-crafted lots of premium wines for you to enjoy.

This year, our 30th anniversary, we will pour what may be the best wine that has ever come out of our cellar, a 2007 Cabernet blend. It’s dedicated to our founder, Gene Neuharth. And yes, it’ll be poured right next to a small batch of locally-grown Muller-Thurgau infused with Peninsula culinary lavender. And then we’ll toast it all, of course... with a cold glass of Sparkling Twilight!

It’s who we are, just three working women from very different backgrounds, running a winery... our way. And hopefully inspiring you to embrace contrast... and do things... your way!


Monday, July 20, 2009

The Working Girl First Jump Club

This video was taken on June 30, 2006 and marked my first skydiving experience in Washington Wine Country… I’m just glad it was a tandem jump! Words can’t express the anticipation, fear, leaving the plane (that was the worst), the rush of air and then free falling 8,000 feet in 60 seconds… believe me, you don’t feel like you’re falling. (I do have a fear of heights and have a tendency to want to… “you know”, so I stopped all fluid intake at midnight)

After the parachute opens and jerks you upward the beauty and the absolute quiet is spell binding. Another 5-7 minutes floating the remaining 5,000 feet to your target and we just tapped down and walked toward cheering friends.

Friday, Aug 14th, 2009 will be the 4th summer we are featuring tandem skydiving at the winery.

Only 20 “Tandem Jumps” Available Jump times will be scheduled throughout the day. Jumpers will meet with the Skydiving Team at the winery before heading to the airport.

Jumpers are invited to bring a picnic, family and friends, and spend the day at the winery.

Cost: $225 paid to Kapowsin with your reservation. For an additional fee Kapowsin will make a video like this one of your personal jump experience.

For an additional $25 at Winery you can include lunch, wine tasting and a “Working Girl First Jump Club” t-shirt

Pictures and info on our last "First Jump Club" event Click Here

To book your reservation:Toll Free: 1-800-SKYDIVE
Local: (360) 432-8000