Santa Barbara Back Country Camping With Hogue Washington Wine

It’s probably illegal if not simply immoral to transport Washington wine to Santa Barbara’s wine region. But that’s what we did last weekend.

Here we were, camping less than 20 miles away from Los Olivos out on Paradise Road, and we weren’t even bringing local wine. But so far no one from Santa Barbara has put up a wine blogging contest offering tours and tastings, wining and dining and accommodations like Washington has with WBC-or-Bust which is keeping me and my blog (and my taste buds!) focused on Washington wine.

So when we went camping with a large group of friends with young children, instead of doing a locapour wine with our mostly locavore fare, I brought a bottle of Reserve Hogue 2006 Cabernet Sauvigon recommended by my friend Tim Cabrera to have on Friday night with our New York steaks ($20 from the Ventura Wine Co). And I brought a bottle of a 2008 Hogue Columbia Valley Chardonnay for Saturday’s nights deep fried turkey and artichokes (under $10 at Trader Joe’s).

A little background on HOGUE CELLARS: Because I’ve never seen it at the grocery store and only found their chard at Trrader Joe’s, I was surprised to discover from their website that Hogues is  one of the top producers of Washington wine, producing more than a half a million cases of wine back in 2002. Maybe Hogue, for all its production, is like Portugal. As I learned from my trip there with Jo Diaz sponsored by Enoforum Wines, the Portuguese make lots of wine but they drink almost all of it before the next vintage, leaving them with little to export.  I wonder If the Washingtonians are the same, drinking up all their wine and not sending it to California!

Because the Hogue Reserve Cab is a great Bordeux style red wine with a nice balance of fruit and acid, of flavors of cherry, earth, and oak. Very dark in the glass, almost like the inside of a cherry–and tasted like it too! The earth element had a cocoa-ness too it, also contributing to the dark color. Some plucky tannins indicates it could cellar for awhile. A classy bottle to look at and drink.

On Friday night, I have to admit we selfishly kept the Hogue to ourselves and didn’t share it with our campmates, because between the two of us, as we set up camp and then enjoyed our dinner, we had only one generous glass left when we joined the others at the campfire.

Possibly one of the reasons we were impressed with the Hogue reserve cab wine is because it is made from grapes grown at elevation: 1200. That’s high for Washington and to grow–the weather at that elevation is very challenging, especially in the winter. That elevation in California is nothing, especially in southern and central California. For this California girl, who knows Washington from hiking the length of the Pacific Crest Trail, I look forward to seeing how the climate and the elevation makes a difference in the wines when I go there in June for the Wine Bloggers Conference on a Wine Bloggers Scholarship. (Learn how you can help send a needy Wine Blogger to camp–$100 would go a long way!)

Saturday, we were a little more generous with the Hogue chardonnay from Columbia Valley–but we were amongst red wine drinkers so we were able to enjoy most of it ourselves! It’s a great little chardonnay for under $10 and I would definitely return to this wine as a grab and go choice to bring to a party or to pair with fowl or fish. It certainly went well with the fried turkey!

So now we all know a little more about Hogue and I’m anxious to visit! I hope Hogue is on our itinerary for the WBC-or-Bust bus! (Find out if I’ll be going there here.)

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