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Over the Hump | Perspective on my Wine History

"This is a milestone year."

 It sure feels like a milestone to achieve 62 revolutions around our sun. Perhaps, it is my age and all the cumulative experiences and memories in my head. This year, I’ve been in a reflective mood. It feels like I finally have some perspective on life, on all my interactions with other human beings. 

Fall colors at Col Solare Winery
Col Solare Fall Colors 2023

I’ve also come to the realization that I adore Col Solare Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Over the years I have cultivated a perspective on wine. Especially, Washington wine. I’ve been living in Washington wine country since 1986. My wine epiphany happened in 1991 with a bottle of L’Ecole No. 41 Merlot. Working for my first winery, Barnard Griffin 2005 – 2007, opened my mind to really learning about wine. 

There is more to wine than just drinking. There’s sales, hospitality, service, storage, production, the people in the vineyards, the cellar crew, bottling line, label design, the many different varieties of Vitis Vinifera, blends, styles, aging, not to mention the sensory aspects to wine appreciation and primarily, for me, the stories. 

Wautoma Springs Winery Team
Wautoma Springs 2021 Team

Working for my second winery, Wautoma Springs, during the pandemic, taught me about friendship. Our team were no strangers to working and knowing each other. We all knew each other from the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center. We were already invested in Washington wine. The pandemic pulled us closer together. They were my only social contact during the pandemic. They kept me sane. Plus, Rachel Mercer taught me even more about pairing delicious flavors together to pair with wine. She is my food and wine mentor. 

In 2006 I started this blog. 

This is the reason I started this blog. To share with you my wine experiences. And today, some of my life experiences and thoughts. You see, I have to get them out of my head. I began writing about wine so I could sleep. Today I am writing because sleep has eluded me this year. My head is full and I need to share. I have a bit to unpack.

Dr Charles Nagel induction ceremony
Dr. Charles Nagel Legend of Washington Wine 2016

I mentioned the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser, Washington (“the birthplace of Washington wine”). As the Clore Center Wine Educator, 2015 -2020, I was responsible for hosting wine tastings and wine and food pairing experiences. We hosted so many wonderful wine events. And met so many fascinating individuals. The photo above is from the 2016 Legends of Washington wine induction ceremony. Dr. Charles (Chaz) Nagel was recognized as a significant contributor to Washington wine. Barnard Griffin winery is seated at the table in front of me. 

2016 seems far removed from today.

Surprisingly, I learned that I loved public speaking. My knowledge and perspective increased those five years I worked at the Walter Clore Center. I also made many friends working in Prosser. Many.

At this point, I should mention that I noticed a change in my palate while working at the Walter Clore Center. My preference for red wine, the style I enjoyed, changed. The red wines I was gravitating towards, I realized, were elegant, complex, balanced, vibrant and showed a powerful restraint I adored. What I realized was, they were wines being made by women. 

Jessica Munnell is the owner and winemaker of Wautoma Springs, in Prosser, Washington, where I worked during the pandemic. I began enjoying and reviewing her wines before I worked for her winery.  I try to stop by Wautoma Springs once a month. To chat with friends, to eat, shop and for the lovely wines. 

November 2023 Col Solare Vineyard
Col Solare Vineyard November 2023

Today, I work for Col Solare winery on the Red Mountain AVA. My third winery. My second year there. Our winemaker Stephanie Cohen, is making wines in a style new to me. The words, “elevated” and “magical” come to mind. But, I don’t know that those are the correct words. I’m working on it. 

Col Solare and Stephanie have given me additional perspective on wine. Cabernet Sauvignon as a variety expressed in a very luxurious style. Washington wine. Red Mountain wine. An elevated, magical style. Delicious. And I work with people I consider friends. 

Author William Pollard Jr
William Pollard

Writing about wine has focused my senses, enhanced my memory and provided me with a wealth of photographs, wine experiences and stories. Many I share with visitors to Washington wine country. 

I continue to add more stories to my repertoire. Col Solare stories.

My guests and I begin as strangers and sometimes end as friends. Washington wine can do that. The next post will be on Col Solare and Stephanie Cohen. The style has changed.

Be safe. Be kind. Drink good wine. Cheers!

- William 

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