Luigi and Manly Mumford's May, 2001, trip to the West
Saturday, May 12.
Fred Coleman, of Seattle Limousine Service, met us at United
Airline's baggage claim at Seattle-Tacoma Airport and
took us to a parked black Mercury Grand Marquis car with tinted
rear windows. He gave us
the option of a sterile Interstate ride or a scenic drive to
Yakima. We chose the latter and
were driven through Mt. Ranier National Park and the Cascade
Mountains on Routes 410 and
U.S. 12. We saw the
Weyerhaeuser headquarters for which Skidmore, Owings and
Merrill received a major architecture award. And also saw the
bottom of Mt. Ranier, but, as is often the
case, the top was in clouds.
The altitude at the top of the pass was 5432 feet and much snow
was drifted around, though
the road itself was clear then. Later, we were told that it was
again closed because of new
snow. Many Douglas firs, as well as lesser trees, lined the road.
Often we passed along and
crossed the White River (which was gray because it was fed by
glaciers) on the way up;
going down east of the divide we travelled along the American
River. Both rivers were
broad and stony.
After checking in and having lunch at the Double Tree Inn in
Yakima, we visited Sagelands
Winery in Wapato nearby. It used to be called Staton Hills
Winery, being owned by Mr.
And Mrs. Staton, who sold it to a Japanese group. The latter
would not provide adequate
funding for expansion or even for such operating expenses as high
quality yeast. Being
familiar with the sake business they considered proper wine yeast
The staff were happy when the Chalone Wine Group bought
the winery and
provided adequate capital for the expansion they are now
undertaking, as well as for
producing good wine.
My tasting notes were as follows:
97 Sagelands Merlot: a little harsh.
99 Sagelands Merlot: good aroma, long aftertaste, good mouth.
98 Cabernet Sauvignon: much tannin yet smooth.
Staton Hills Phoenix Meritage: good, well balanced.
Barbara Lommers, who gave us a tour of the winery and supervised
the tasting, suggested
steaming asparagus with wine.
To learn more about this and other wineries of the Chalone Wine
Back at the Double Tree Inn, we had dinner at Gasparetti's -
excellent grilled salmon on
spinach and Chalone 1998 Chardonnay.
Sunday, May 13.
We drove to Walla Walla through the eastern Washington farm
country, seeing the top of Mt.
Ranier from east. It is very impressive.
On the road into Walla Walla we encountered the Woodward Canyon
Winery. We were given a tour of winery with
co-winemaker, who came to the U.S. from France in 1996. He was
especially when he showed the new crusher that would press grapes
turning them over or stirring them (which would move unwanted
chemicals from the skins to
the wine). He also poured wine for our tasting pleasure:
Woodward Canyon 1999 Charbonneau White: good aroma and
aftertaste, medium body,
Cabernet Sauvignon rose: OK.
Helms Road Merlot good.
Columbia Valley Merlot: as Merlot should be, good tannin,
aftertaste, proper aroma, medium body.
1998 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: very nice, good
Continuing into Walla Walla, we came across the Canoe Ridge winery
and tasting room. It
is located in an old brick railroad station pretty much in the
center of town.
We met Anne Hull there, with whom I had corresponded about
winery. The wines we tasted
Canoe Ridge 2000 Gewurtztraminer: light, very fruity, good aroma
1998 Merlot: slightly harsh.
but OK, good aftertaste, medium body.
1998 Reserve Merlot: smooth, good aroma and aftertaste, nice
1998 Cabernet Sauvignon: good aroma and aftertaste, medium body,
nice tannin, smooth,
We stopped for the night in a large two-room suite at the
Marcus Whitman Hotel, which was built in 1928 and is now
being restored most
elegantly. Luigi and I went out for an afternoon walk, and
observed that the city is not busy
A sculpture of a fireman holding a fire hose looked less
startling from the front than from
the left side, by which we approached it.
An exception to the lack of activity occurred in the city's
restaurants. This being Mothers'
Day, the hotel restaurant was booked to capacity.
By telephone I made a reservation at the Homestead Restaurant
for 7:30. After we arrived at
that hour, the hostess, when she finally appeared, said they
were running 30 minutes late due to people sitting and talking
longer than normal. My observation of a very
few waitresses constantly running made me doubt that explanation.
We went for walk and
found a satisfactory Chinese restaurant nearby.
Monday, May 14.
At lunch I had a salmon salad sandwich with
Hills, Oregon, Pinot Noir: good, nice tannin, little aroma and
Fred drove us, on the Oregon side, through the Columbia River
Gorge in rain. Many
vistas were nevertheless visible, but with clouds that made them
resemble Chinese paintings.
For lunch we stopped at Multnoma Falls
Lodge; we ate in a glass room with a view of the falls
mostly obscured by fog and
water running down the glass roof.
A better view of the
spectacular falls was found a few
feet from the lodge.
After lunch we proceeded in the rain
to the Benson Hotel in
Portland. We had a
large room with a coffee machine in which Luigi made tea.
Dinner in the hotel's London Grill Room of rabbit in Pinot Noir
sauce was delicious, especially
with Willamette Valley Vineyards 2000 Pinot Noir.
Tuesday, May 15.
We drove southwest on Routes 99 and 18 through the Willamette
Valley to Dundee, where
we turned right onto a narrow road leading uphill to a few
wineries including Erath.
Tastefully built and landscaped, and with picnic facilities, it
occupies a lovely
with splendid views of rolling
countryside of vineyards and fruit or nut trees. In the tasting
room we tried:
Erath 1999 Pinot Gris: fresh, fruity, crisp, light, good aroma
and aftertaste. very good. Bought a bottle.
Erath 1998 Chardonnay Reserve: light, intense, dry, long
Erath 1998 Gewurtztraminer: dry, fruity, medium aftertaste.
Erath 1999 Pinot Noir: med-light,dry, intense, long aftertaste,
Erath 1997 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir: good aroma and
aftertaste, fruit, balance, tannin.
Erath 1998 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir: OK but 1997 is
Erath 1997 Reserve Pinot Noir very good, long aftertaste,
tannin,fairly smooth, complex.
Erath 1998 late harvest Gewurtztraminer: 16%sugar, sweet,
After Erath we proceeded southwest along Route 18 to the Oregon Wine
Tasting Room at Bellevue. A young woman with a silver, or
maybe platinum, stud in her tongue poured; she seemed to know a
fair amount about what she was dispensing:
Amity Vineyards 2000 Pinot Blanc: good aroma, intense,aftertaste
Amity select 1997 Pinot Noir: harsh, light.
Medici 1997 Pinot Noir: dry, olive taste, fair aroma and
Evesham Wood 1999 Pinot Noir: OK.
Amity 1996 Winemakers Reserve Pinot Noir: light dry, OK, good
Van Duzer Pinot Noir: OK, tannin, medium body.
Freya 1999 Pinot Noir: OK, much like the rest.
Broadley Claudias Choice 1999 Pinot Noir: little aroma, medium
body, good tannin, good.
The same building holds a pleasant restaurant called the "Fresh
Palate Cafe" on the second floor and the Lawrence
Gallery of painting and
sculpture on ground floor. Very good lunch (I had crab cakes) in
the restaurant. A tour of the gallery
was rewarding. Many sculptures were of fanciful animals,
including "Obedience Lesson"
depicting a wizard scolding a dragon with a limp, bloody crusader
in its mouth. Larger
sculptures, mostly bronze and Corten steel, were in a garden
We drove through rain to Lincoln City where we took U.S. Route
101 south along the
Pacific Coast. Beautiful
vistas of forests and seacoast were interspersed with grubby
Reaching Newport a
little after 3:00, we eventually found Tyee Lodge; it is a house
remodeled into a Bed and Breakfast with
magnificent views, among great Douglas Firs, of gray beach, sea,
and sky, and long breakers
rolling in from so far that there were often five or six lined up
behind each other. New
dual-glazed windows and gas fireplace-stove kept us warm and dry
against the wind and rain.
We had a very good dinner at Shark's Restaurant, 852 S.W.Bay
Blvd, Newport. Bouillabaisse for me was quite satisfactory,
though not much like the French variety.
Spring chinook salmon for Luigi
and Fred was very good indeed. We shared a bottle of Willamette
Valley Vineyards 1999 Pinto Gris:
fresh, crisp, fruity, with a long aftertaste; it was very good.
After dinner we drove to the local pier where we saw a dozen or
sea lions lying on lower parts of pier.
Wednesday, May 16.
After splendid breakfast of juice,
melon, French toast with yogurt, cream
cheese and blueberry jam, and sausages, we drove down the Oregon
coast viewing spectacular
sea, rock, hill, and beach scapes,
Forests displayed blooming wild
rhodedendron. Also much
blooming yellow gorse.
We had a nice lunch at the
Wheelhouse restaurant at Port Orford before crossing into
Soon after entering the Golden State, we began to see redwood
trees, and in time stopped off at the
Lost Man Creek Trail picnic area. A brief walk through the
redwoods with no other people nearby was a welcome experience.
The only wildlife we saw on our walk was a bright yellow slug,
but on driving out
of the parking lot we saw a herd of
elk grazing on a meadow near the road.
We stopped for the night at the Hotel Carter in
Eureka. Nearby is a monstrous green mansion originally built by a
The hotel is operated with great enthusiasm by people whose
tastes are younger than ours. A Jacuzzi was enthroned opposite
the door to our 3rd floor room, and the shower stall was equipped
for two-person use. We slept in a four-poster with a
superstructure of unfinished lumber.
The hotel dining room provided a good seafood dinner with Ken
Wright Cellars 1997 Oregon Pinot Blanc.
Thursday, May 17.
Breakfast included a biscuit with ham, cheese and broccoli sauce
and steamed shredded cabbage, plus a very good cold buffet with
several fruit pastries. Service did not start until 7:30, so it
was after 8:30 that we got underway toward our 1:00 appointment
at Acacia Winery, about 240 miles away, between Napa and Sonoma.
We drove south on Route 101 as far as Santa Rosa and then through
the Russian River and Sonoma Valleys, where we saw vineyards
stretching from horizon to horizon (except that hills blocked the
horizon) like corn fields in central Illinois. When we stopped
for gasoline and other purposes, I bought three wrapped
sandwiches that we ate on the way to avoid both stopping for
lunch and arriving at Acacia on empty stomachs. Due to Fred's
excellent driving, we got there about 1:30; without the delay of
slow traffic in an around Sonoma, we probably would have been
there on time.
Sue and Ammon Golan, with whom we travelled on the Chalone trip
to Australia in 1997, were there waiting for us to be taken on a
tour of the Acacia
Winery and a nearby portion of a vineyard.
Then came the tasting:
Acacia Brut 1993 Sparkling White: just right. We later bought a
case of this to serve at our 40th wedding anniversary party.
Acacia 1999 Chardonnay Carneros: modest aroma, long aftertaste,
oak, some fruit.
Acacia 2000 Viognier: good aroma and aftertaste, crisp, good.
Acacia 2000 Pinot Nuevo Carneros: rose, no aroma, light, some
tannin, picnic wine.
Acacia 1999 Pinot Noir: a little aroma, good taste, aftertaste,
med-light, nice tannin, very good.
Acacia 1998 Pinot Noir Lee Vineyard: a little aroma, good
aftertaste, tannin, very good.
Acacia 1998 DeSoto Vineyard: some aroma, medium body, good
aftertaste, much tannin and flavor, very good.
Acacia 1999 DeSoto Vineyard: much like the 1998, also very good.
Danielak, the winemaker from Jade Mountain Winery nearby
(also a member of the Chalone Wine Group) turned up to let us
taste some of his winery's products:
Jade Mountain 1999 Provencale: good aroma and aftertaste, medium
body, very good.
Jade Mountain 1998 Syrah: Yum!
Jade Mountain 1999 Viognier: fresh, crisp, good aroma and
aftertaste, refreshing, Splendid.
After this Fred drove us to Napa where Luigi and I checked in at
Oak Knoll Inn and then went to Kenwood, in the Sonoma Valley
north of the City of Sonoma, for tea with my former partner Phil
Holm and his wife Naomi.
They live in a small development in the hills east of the
Kenwood Winery. Before Phil's retirement they were travelling in
California and decided to visit this winery, but before reaching
it they saw a sign along the road advertising lots for sale.
They went into the office and were shown the available property,
decided on the lot they wanted, and never did get to the winery
Having been instructed to punch 19 on the key pad at the gate to
the community, I considered this private information and declined
to tell the number to Fred, but punched it myself, just as I
discovered a sign displaying the numbers to punch to call the
various houses behind the gate (including 19 for the Holms). A
telephone activated by the key pad dialed a number, Phil
answered, and I spoke into a small grate announcing our presence.
Phil caused the gate to slide open and we drove uphill from the
vineyards into the woods and their house. A wild turkey walked
off into the woods as we got out of our car. A jackrabbit
appeared about 25 yards away as we talked with the Holms.
As the Holms were going to get up at 4:00 the next morning to
catch a plane to Denver on a trip to see Naomi's 99-year-old
mother, the four of us took an early dinner at the Kenwood
Restaurant nearby. Seated outdoors, we admired a sculpture
that served as a feeding station and bath/fountain for the local
birds. We also enjoyed an excellent seafood ravioli with very
good Matansas Creek Sauvignon Blanc. Fred turned up at 7:30 when
we were through with dinner, and drove us back to Oak
Knoll Inn via Trinity Road, a very winding road over the
mountains between the Sonoma and Napa valleys that made it
unnecessary to endure Sonoma traffic again.
Friday, May 18.
Breakfast at Oak Knoll Inn started at 9:00 and included dishes
that we seldom have with this meal at home, including chocolate
crepes. Very good indeed.
We had time to visit another winery before lunch, and at the
suggestion of Barbara Pacino, proprietress of Oak Knoll Inn, we
went to Bell Wine Cellars
where Sandra Hewitt both poured for the tasting and told much
about the details of winemaking. We learned about barrel staves,
u-grooves in them to increase exposure of the wine to the oak,
toasting the oak to medium or medium plus, and the use of the
Jackson Clone of Cabernet Sauvignon to produce small grapes and
limited yield of greater intensity. The tasting was also
Bell 2000 Viognier: magnificent aroma, very dry, long aftertaste,
good acid, body, excellent. Drink with curry.
Bell 1998 Chardonnay: dry, crisp, firm, long aftertaste,
Bell 1999 Pinot Noir: full body, good aroma and aftertaste,
harvest,very dry, good tannin, 14% alcohol, excellent.
Bell 1997 Merlot: strong, very tannic, long aftertaste, very
Bell 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon: intense, tannic, good long
aftertaste, remarkably good.
Lunch was at Domaine Chandon, a fancy restaurant owned by the
Moet et Chandon wine company of France, who have an American
operation nearby. We had a bottle of their Blanc de Noir, a
sparkling white wine with a trace of pink, made exclusively from
dark grapes but fermented without the skins. I had some very good
halibut. Luigi and Fred also had good food.
Following instructions provided by Barbara Pacino, Fred drove us
south through Marin County, over the Golden Gate Bridge, and
along the coast to Monterey. More spectacular scenery appeared,
mostly cliffs, beaches and ocean. At Big Creek State Park we saw
people parasurfing: they were parasailing over the beach and
modest surf. The wind bouncing off the cliff to the east of the
road provided the energy to keep them mostly aloft.
About dinnertime we reached the Hotel Pacific in Monterey and
said goodbye to Fred. He had been an excellent driver and very
good company, eating with us at all meals except for the dinner
with the Holms in Kenwood.
Dinner was at Mike's on Fishermen's Wharf. It included excellent
mahi-mahi in fruit sauce with onions, vegetables and mashed
potatoes plus Edna Valley 2000 Chardonnay. Very good.
Saturday, May 19.
Smelling smoke at 2:30 AM I awoke
Luigi and started to dress. She was not alarmed, and soon the
smell went away. It had probably come from someone's fireplace,
as all the rooms at this hotel have them; yet the hour made
fireplace use unlikely in my view.
At 9:15 a bus took us north, then east, then south, then east
again into the semi-arid hills east of Soledad to the Chalone
Wine Group's Shareholders' Celebration. Although windbreaker
jackets were welcome in Monterey, next to the sea, where the
temperature was cool, they were not needed here where it was hot.
This time the event was called "2001: a Wine Odyssey" and space
exploration was a theme of sorts. One booth (I think it was Edna
Valley) gave away seven-inch green plastic dolls resembling
extraterrestrial space aliens.
As usual we were given wine glasses; these were smaller at the
mouth (but not in the body) than in previous years, and bore a
suitable logo for the 2001 party. Then we walked to various
booths where small amounts of wine were poured into these glasses
for our tasting pleasure. One new feature was several tables
where bottles of water were available. This was used for
quenching thirst, cleansing palates, and rinsing glasses between
wines. Even though we had sampled several wines from the Chalone
Group recently, there were still more that we had not tried, and
some that we wanted to refresh our recollections of. This time I
had thought to bring a printout of the inventory of wines we have
on hand so that I could avoid duplication and fill in
In time we were summoned to the big tent where, with about 1,500
others, we were to have lunch. Luigi and I sat at one of the
tables reserved for travellers with the Golans and three other
couples. Two bottles of red, two bottles of white and ten
bottles of water were given to each table.
I worked out my order for wines (including those for our party
June 30) during a charity auction of various items we did not
want, and submitted it to Patti Podolsky in the order-taking
booth before starting on lunch and the wines that accompanied it.
We saw many of the people we had travelled with in the past,
and talked with them at some length, both before and after
helping ourselves to the splendid viands provided by the catering
operation of Highlands Inn of Carmel. These were on tables
around the periphery of the main tent; each serving table was
identified by a color of the tablecloth on one of the dining
tables, so that people could help themselves from the serving
table of the corresponding color and avoid too many at one and
not enough at another.
Busses were assembled to take us celebrants back to our
respective hotels; whenever one was filled, it left. Luigi and I
boarded a bus designated "Hotel Pacific" about 4:00. On
the ride home, rusty water (probably from the air conditioning
system) dripped onto me except when I applied a kleenex to the
place in ceiling whence it came.
Again we had dinner at Mike's on Fishermen's wharf. This time we
had no wine. Luigi had clam chowder and I dismembered a "half
cracked dungeness crab" (they should have said "cracked half
dungeness crab") mostly with my fingers. Luigi, who got
overheated at the celebration, went to bed at 8:30.
Sunday, May 20.
Getting up at 6:00 gave us plenty of time to dress and have
breakfast in the hotel's breakfast room before taking a cab to
the airport for the 9:27 flight to San Francisco and a well-timed
flight from there back to Chicago.