àMaurice Cellars Anna Schafer

Write that name down and remember it - Anna Schafer.

How many of you know that earlier this year the 500th winery was bonded in Washington State? Some 200 wineries opened their doors in the last three years alone. As passionate as I am about wine, Washington wine, I am a creature of habit. Yes, I do tend to drink the wines I know. Well, guess what? This weekend I was bumped off my comfortable log in Yakima, Washington.

Saturday I poured at the 2007 Washington Wine Country Grand Gala in Yakima, Washington. A truly deluxe fundraiser for Washington Wine Country. I was unexpectedly paired with Anna Schafer. Anna Schafer is the co-winemaker for her family owned àMaurice Cellars in Walla Walla, Washington. She my friends is the future of Washington wine.

Did you write down her name? You should.
Pouring with Anna Schafer

I was fortunate to enjoy an hour in the company of an intelligent, serious and passionate Washington winemaker. She's engaging, knowledgeable and managed not to spill any food on herself, as I did on my white shirt... With a background in Art History, Ms. Schafer also designed the winery label using her grandfather’s signature.

There is a quotation by Anna on the label which reads, "In the palm of your hand rest grapes from Washington’s finest vineyards. Handpicked with care, crushed in small batches, and barrel-aged to produce a wine with a unique personality. àMaurice Cellars creates every bottle like every moment, “drenched in Greatness” "

So what was she pouring? Ms. Schafer poured àMaurice Cellars Syrah 2005 and Chardonnay 2005. I certainly took time to taste both wines Saturday and then tasted again at home. After sampling àMaurice Syrah and Chardonnay, I would say the winemaker has created an "aesthetic" all her own - reflective of the grapes she chose to use, her personal style, passion and perspective. These are not lazy, rural wines - but big, expressive urban wines, deserving of sunsets reflected off skyscrapers, fine meals in intimate settings and perfect for entertaining your cherished friends.

àMaurice Syrah 2005
Syrah is sometimes described as a "manly" wine, powerful, full-bodied, and intense. You could describe this 2005 Syrah similarly - 15% alcohol, intense fruit, good tannins a big wine which deserves decanting and in this case, also seems to reflect the personality of the winemaker - intense. Lewis Vineyard, 100% Syrah aged in Allier barrels. $34 at the winery.

àMaurice Chardonnay 2005
 Elegance in a glass, delicious, inviting, pleasant acidity and utterly enjoyable. Hmm, another winemaker characteristic? Columbia Valley, Lewis, Willard and Conner Lee vineyards. $28 at the winery.

The winemakers "aesthetic" encompass a union of skill, knowledge, experience and passion for winemaking - which is reflected by what is in the bottle, the glass and ultimately its final destination. After meeting this winemaker, I better understand her wine.

An industrious winemaker, Anna Schafer makes her wine in Walla Walla, lives part-time in Seattle and manages to work for winemaker Paul Hobbs of Viña Cobos in Argentina! She speaks Italian and is learning Spanish.

By now you may suspect I found Anna’s passion for wine infectious. In her company I felt a bit "overwhelmed" - in a good way that is. I highly recommend àMaurice Cellars and strongly urge you to take some time to visit the winery.

àMaurice Cellars is located in Walla Walla, Washington. Annual case production is approximately 2,300 cases. Their online store has current vintages and a Wine Club application is also available. Tasting room hours are Saturdays 10:30 am - 4:30 pm or by appointment.
àMaurice Cellars, http://www.amaurice.com/ across from Walla Walla Vintners.

Authors note: No, I’m not a winemaker; my interpretation of "aesthetic" is related to my background in pottery. Over the last 20 years I've developed a personal "aesthetic", which encompasses how I choose to shape clay - creating the forms I find aesthetically pleasing. I also enjoy adding texture and motion to my pottery with slip, which compliments the form. But, I've learned to be judicious with color which unites the form and texture of the vessel. Color (glazing/staining/slipping) can be the most critical aspect of pottery after form - a poorly glazed vessel will ruin the most beautifully created piece of pottery.

Washington Wine Country Grand Gala in Yakima, Washington.

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