Wine Openers | All Blogs

Cherries and wine, separately

By Dave Buchanan
Joan's view2.jpg The view from Terror Creek Winery takes in much of the North Fork Valley. Some of the vines you see are more than 35 years old. PAONIA— I spent the holiday weekend camping along a small creek near here and on my way home (the bugs got so bad on the last day I left camp without rolling up my tent, just crammed it in the car and sped away) stopped at a couple wineries in the fruit-rich North Fork Valley. My first stop was Black Bridge Winery. It really wasn’t for wine but for their sweet cherries, which are now in the prime of their season. Owner Lee Bradley was sitting just inside the door and warned me they were all out of cherries in the store. “But we’re picking Rainiers right now and if you want to pick your own, they’re really good,” he said with his familiar smile. So I did and brought home six pounds of Rainier cherries, which cost me about 15 minutes of picking and $2 a pound. In the local grocery, those Rainiers sell for close to $7 a pound, which means I got a pretty good deal on some delightful cherries. I’ll go back next week when the Bing cherries are ready. I stopped at a hardware store and bought a $20 cherry pitter, which worked well enough I froze four pounds of pitted cherries. I also spent 30 minutes or so at Terror Creek Winery, where Joan and John Mathewson make elegant Swiss-style wines. Joan is a Swiss-trained enologist (for years she was the only certifiably trained enologist in the area) and just to hear her French I asked her to read her diploma.
Joan Mathewson.JPG
*Joan Mathewson of Terror Creek Winery She laughed and did so, but insisted we try her newest offering, Chalet, a blend of gamay and pinot noir. It’s a light-bodied red that’s delightfully dry and served chilled makes a great sipper on hot afternoons, of which we’ve had plenty. Gamay, remember, is the grape of Beaujolais, and Joan adds 25 percent pinot noir for a little more body and structure. She also produces a chardonnay, riesling, Gewurtztraminer and pinot noir. The gamay/pinot noir blend is popular in Switzerland and France but is rarely seen in the U.S. because the Swiss and French drink most of it. When the blend is mostly pinot it’s called Dole (with a little tent accent over the ‘o’) and when it’s mostly gamay it’s called Goron. “I’ve wanted to make this wine for years but had to wait for my gamay grapes to produce,” Joan said. “I planted them a few years ago and this was the first vintage I got from them.” As you can see, the view of the North Fork Valley from Joan’s winery, which sits at 6,400 feet, is spectacular. No Web site but information here.


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My vines are still too young to produce any wine, but I’m getting ready to open up a store when the time comes. I’ve seen some really nice shelves on and I can’t wait to have them installed! If everything goes according to plan, I’ll be selling wine starting next autumn.

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