Wines of Lake Chelan, Washington – Part 2

A miner’s life can be lonely. But for the hombres who worked at a 1930s Lake Chelan-area mine, companionship was just a boat ride away.  Enterprising ladies of the night had set up shop on the appropriately named Point Lovely, and a local entrepreneur quickly established a water taxi service that spirited randy miners in need of a li’l sump’n-sump’n to the point of ill repute.

Image courtesy of Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards
Image by Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards

This racy bit of Lake Chelan history inspired Hard Row to Hoe Winery’s unforgettable wines: Afternoon Delight muscat, Shameless Hussy rosé, Good in Bed sparkling wine, and my personal fave, Nauti Buoy white wine. Hard Row’s were just a few of the many wines I discovered during Wine Bloggers Conference 2013. But first, El Full Disclosure: Lake Chelan wineries generously poured their finest for wine bloggers attending this optional excursion. I hereby declare that I received free wine tastings. Lots of ’em. Regardless, the opinions and content in this blog post are mine.

Our first stop was Rio Vista Wines, which, if you speak español, you’ll know has a view of the river. This is where Señorita Vino conquered her fear of flying in small craft by boarding an itty-bitty orange seaplane for a 15-minute flight over the lake. I confess I downed about three pours of Rio Vista’s luscious wines–a Chardonnay, a Riesling, and the beguiling “Sunset on the River” Estate blend of Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay–before boarding right in front of the winery. It was all blue skies after that.

The seaplane that carried us over Lake Chelan.
The seaplane that carried us over Lake Chelan.

Skies of another color marked the end of our first day exploring the Lake Chelan wine region. Tsillan Cellars is located on a hill overlooking the lake. We were treated to a four-course dinner at Sorrento’s Restaurant in the winery.  Tsillan’s 2010 Estate Chardonnay was a harmonious pairing with our first course of Oysters Rockefeller. Somewhere between the first two courses, this stunning sunset sent dozens of wine bloggers running outside, cameras at the ready:


The next morning got off to an auspicious start at Karma. No, this is not a yoga studio (although Lake Chelan does have one). Karma Vineyards prides itself on its sparkling wine, which is made in the Methode Champenoise style developed by French monks, a method used by very few Washington State winemakers.


Sparkling wine goes great with brunch, and our brunch at Karma was followed by a tour of the cellar and vineyards. What better way to get around than by trolley…


…and who better to ask about Karma Vineyards’ wines than winemaker Craig Mitrakul.

Winemaker Craig is 41 but I don't believe him. And sorry chicas--Craig is happily married.
Craig says he’s 41 but I don’t believe him. And sorry chicas–he’s happily married.
...but just because he's married doesn't mean he can't answer your questions about vino.
…but just because he’s married doesn’t mean he can’t answer your questions about vino.

As if brunch weren’t filling enough, we were treated to lunch at Vin du Lac Winery, which, if you speak francais, you’ll know means “Wine of the Lake.” On a picnic bench overlooking the lac, we savored–among other delicacies–smoked duck breast in a cherry dressing paired with Vin du Lac’s 2010 Lehm Pinot Noir.

Le dejeuner chez Vin du Lac.
Le dejeuner chez Vin du Lac.

After lunch, we were whisked back to Campbell’s Resort for the  3-hour bus ride to British Columbia for Wine Bloggers Conference 2013. The only thing that kept me from slipping into a food-and-wine coma was the sobering news that our bus was still sans air conditioning.

So I did what any sensible chica wearing too-warm clothes would do–I dashed across the street to the nearest clothing shop and in 15 minutes flat, emerged in a sundress and sandals, my jeans and tennies stowed in a shopping bag. A shout-out to Melanie at Posh Boutique in Lake Chelan for helping this wine blogger reach Canada in comfort and style . ¡Salud!

NEXT WEEK: British Columbia’s Okanagan Wine Region

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