NW Wine Road Trip 2011

Instead of going to my fifth Wine Bloggers Conference this July in Virginia (I went to Sonoma 2008, Sonoma/Napa 2009, Walla Walla 2010 and Lisbon 2009), since I wasn’t teaching summer school I decided to take advantage of the time off and have proceed on a wine tasting road trip that focuses on two big stories in wine: “family” and “sustainability.

It seems to me that just about every winery claims to be “family” run and operated, so much so that the term has lost its meaning.

Same with sustainability. As a lifelong environmental activist, and a UC Santa Cruz environmental studies major, so much of what’s passing as sustainability seems to be greenwashing. And just because a wine is “organic” doesn’t mean the winery is “sustainable.”

So to learn more about these two topics which I find to be intertwined, I have set out on a road trip to find and write about both sustainability and family–and I am taking my family along with me and we will be traveling as sustainably as possible in our 1990 VW Westfalia VW camper van.

Pictured up top: We’re camped in our 90 westy with our custom tie dye (I did it with lots of help from my husband and son!) along Granite Creek near Granite Creek Hot Springs in Wyoming south of Jackson; the Granite joins the Hoback which joins the Snake…more on that later! The wine, Hard Core by Core Winery, is a favorite of ours; my husband loves rhone blends with some cab in them–this is  60% Mourvedre and 25% Grenache from Alta Mesa Vineyard and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon from Santa Barbara Highlands vineyard. Aged 21 months in 70% new French and 30% American barrels and aged 7 months in the bottle. These folks are one of my favorite families in wine; yes I will be including them in this project!).

I will be blogging about as many wineries as I can along the way as I search out and meet “winery kids” to explore what it’s like growing up among the vines in the Wild West…and discussing sustainable practices too.

The plan is to use the blog posts as a backbone for a book about “Winery Kids” (a topic I personally find more interesting than winery dogs!) The book will ultimately include information about the winery, the family engaged in the winery, and the winery’s sustainable practices. Family life includes wine and food so the book will have family friendly and favorite menus matched with a wine or two from the winery and with at least one family recipe to go with the wine. While it won’t be a guide book to family friendly wineries, it will include wineries that are family friendly.

I’m starting out near the headwaters of the Snake River in Wyoming. Pictured above are two Idaho wines in our Grand Teton campsite that we had with elk burgers, and the same wines which we enjoyed the next night along Grassy Lake Road near Yellowstone with buffalo burgers!  (In case you’re wondering, I prefer elk. And both syrahs were different but awesome. More on that later.)

Then I’ll travel south then west and north west along the Snake River AVA in Idaho. Then I’ll drive north east to Walla Walla and along the Columbia to write about a Washington AVA or two, then head south into Oregon’s Willamette Valley, down to Sonoma and Napa and Santa Cruz. I intend to include Calaveras County in the Sierras and, later Temecula wine country in the south. Since I live in the central coast, I will attend to the region in my backyard during day and weekend trips.

Come along! It’s easy–just subscribe to this blog and you can read about our adventures from the comfort of your own computer!

And check out my twitter feed–that’s where I will be posting pictures and notes as often as possible.

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