A man named Ron came into The Blending Room last week. I thought I recognized him from somewhere. An older gentleman, bald on top, but a very well manicured white beard on the bottom. He looked as if perhaps he had forgotten his top hat home. He was very kind, but direct almost a little gruff. I knew I was in good hands when he began delving into his wine background. Turns out he retired only to find himself Chief Taster at Columbia Winery for over eight years.
Columbia Winery was the first winery I ever visited. I was 16, maybe I just turned 16. My boyfriend and I were celebrating my birthday on the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train. It was the mystery edition tour, a real Who Done It? where everyone’s a suspect and we all have to untangle the planted actors from the guests to solve the murder. Turns out the stuffed Husky dog I received as a surprise birthday gift was the culprit. Go figure.
Anyway, we arrived at Columbia Winery in Woodinville after what seemed like hours traveling time from Renton. Guess the commute’s still the same, even in a car. I’m not sure if I actually tasted wine that night, seeing as I was a paranoid goody two shoes and didn’t want to get caught drinking under-age. Maybe I sipped off my boyfriend’s glass, as he was after all of age. We purchased two bottles of wine. One was drunk at some point, and the other I have carried with me throughout nearly half my life. It’s a 1994 Columbia Valley Merlot. Not sure if the late Master of Wine David Lake made it or not. When I find the bottle I’ll add it to this post.
Well, throughout the next decade and a half I have found several reasons to visit Columbia Winery. One, I purchased a wine barrel from them in 2003 for my Sonoma County ΦΗΡΑ Cabernet Merlot. And, I went tasting with some friends where I purchased a 2000 Pinot Gris, that I still have too. It’s the label of the month for June along with the 1997 Yakima Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from the Otis Vineyard. If you look closely you can see the scratch marks from years of storage on my fancy Ikea wine rack. I’ll probably never open either. They’re part of my story. Probably better that way, seeing as white wines do not age well, and well reds, well… I believe on either of those occasions I may have run into Ron behind the Columbia Winery bar. It felt great to be on the other side of the bar from Ron. It allowed me to see how far I’ve come in the WineGirl Wines endeavor.