Friday, August 3, 2012

Edible Seattle – Hard to Stomach

Edible Seattle is a rag that has no real purpose other than to generate advertising revenue. The editor, Jill Lightner is light on the facts and heavy on the opinion. Maybe it's one of those magazines you buy in the airport to read on a long boring flight. (Five minute down, three hours and forty seven minutes to go.)

In the the July/August 2012 issue they published an article by Ron Holden about the Rattlesnake Hills AVA. Mister Holden makes numerous errors and assumptions in this article that was intended to put down the Rattlesnake Hills as an AVA. (He loved the Snipes Mountain AVA in the previous edition.) He neither understands the AVA process nor the facts surrounding the establishment of the Rattlesnake Hills AVA. Paul Gregutt, on the other hand, took a tour with me of the Rattlesnake Hills and the somewhat far away Sagebrush Ridge before he wrote about it. Mr. Holden did not, so he has no idea how far away and how different Sagebrush Ridge is. (Lots of wind machines is a clue.)

The title of the article, 'Snakes on the Plains: Rattlesnake Hills,' is misleading. One of the major differences between Prosser Flats aka Sagebrush Ridge and the Rattlesnake Hills is the Hills – many of them, according to Dr. Alan Busacca, soil scientist, giving us a large choice of terroir.

Crank up Dick Boushey and you will always get a put down of the Rattlesnake Hills. Quote, “I know of no regional style, specific variety or type of wine that is unique to this proposed area.” In reality, the reason that we wanted to distinguish this AVA was specifically the fact that Paul Portteus and I both noticed that Bordeaux varieties grown in Prosser flats had a distinct vegetal character in all but the warmest years. I purchased Cabernet Franc and Merlot from the FaireAcre mother block for years. The FaireAce mother block is adjacent to Boushey's vineyard. One year it was so vegetative I sold it to another winery to be blended into box wine. We wanted people to know that wine labeled Rattlesnake Hills would not be vegetal. (Yes, I know the quote is from Decanter Magazine from 2006. Odd that it showed up here since a search of Decanter Magazine does not reference it. Want to guess who is behind this? I think I know and it's not Dick.)

Mr. Holden refers to the “Snake in the Grass” party. I'm sorry, it is the “Snake in the Glass” party. Where was Ms. Lightner on this fact check?

Mr. Holden must have been a little confused in our telephone interview. The Morrison Vineyard was planted in 1968 for Ch. Ste. Michelle, but when I started using the fruit in 1987 it was already going to Quail Run Winery. I'm not sure when Ste. Michelle stopped using the fruit and Quail Run took over. Bonair Winery started using half the fruit in 1987 and purchased it all by 1989. Bonair Winery purchased the vineyard in 2002 but maintains the original name for historical reasons and to differentiate it from our Ch. Puryear Vineyard.

Last, but not least, is that picture of Pinot Noir. Less than 1% of the AVA is planted to Pinot Noir and I thought I had it all located. That picture also showed up on Wikipedia about six years ago with no credit other than 'the Rattlesnake Hills.' Well, mystery: solved. The one-acre vineyard is in the Rattlesnake Hills (surprise) and belongs to Windy Point Vineyards. Finally, credit can be given where credit it due. Liz says all you have to do is step out of the car to take the picture.

In summary, very poor journalism.