Can You Guess What It Is?

October 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

If you said wine, you are on the right track! But it’s not just any wine………this is the Madsen Family Cellars first Zinfandel! The Zinfandel grapes that we found to produce our newest member of the wine list came in on Monday looking twice as big as what would normally be expected. They are already in a bin in the tasting room preparing to become something beautiful! This is such an exciting time!

The Zin is one of two new additions to our list. We will have more about the second wine in another post. This year we are also announcing the end of production on three of our wines. Although these wines were well received they were not very popular and we were interested in trying something new. They are the Sangiovese, the Sweet Gerti and the Rose. But if they happen to be your favorite, blends from the previous years will still be available for purchase in the tasting room!

Making wine is a fascinating process. It is a perfect blend of unadulterated complexity and utter simplicity. Time is a factor; the right amount being crucial and not something text book. The grapes have to be picked at the peak moment, and they have to sit for the right amount of time before pressing, and ferment for the right amount of time after. Those moments vary from season to season, climate to climate and from grape to grape. A winemaker’s vision is only possible with careful planning coupled with a cleaver intuition that can sense when the grapes have come into their moment. It is far more of a craft than a job.

Right now along with continuing to press wine, the Wahlukes Slope Merlot was done on Wednesday, Dana has been at the winery every morning and night doing something called punch down. It is a preparatory process that involves the high tech piece of equipment called a potato masher! But all kidding aside what he is doing is integral to creating the desired flavors. The liquid in the big bins sinks to the bottom and supports the weight of the grapes which rise to the top in what is called a cap. That cap has to broken up and mixed back in with the liquid, twice a day in many cases, for the duration of its time in the bin. Every day the wine is also tested for its sugar content. The test is performed with a hydrometer and measured in something called brix. The sugar levels lower as the blends sit out in the tasting room. This indicates that the sugars are becoming alcohol. At first a blend will taste a lot like juice, but soon the fermentation begins to work and the flavors of the wine begin to peak through.

Dana truly loves making beautiful wine. A piece of him goes into every wine that he makes. It shows in the deep rich flavors and textures of the different labels. They are imbedded with his passion!

We are still crushing and pressing until the end of the month, and the tasting room is open during this process, from 11-5 Wed thru Sun. Come by and see us soon!

The Madsen Family Cellars
Dana and San Madsen
and Smokey and Baci (the dogs) too!
 
2825 Marvin Road Ne, #1D
 
Lacey, WA 98516360-438-1286www.madsenfamilycellars.comdana@madsenfamilycellars.com
*content provided by Sarah Joy Smith www.pure-joy.org

Private Tastings At The Madsen Family Cellars

October 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

What a season! The grapes are strong this year. If you recall in an earlier pre-crush post we talked about the concern of rain causing molds in the grape clusters. But that has turned out to be a misplaced fear. Nature has given us a very dry streak this season producing a bounty of healthy grapes. It is going to be a great year for wine!

That being said Crush continues in the winery. The smell of fermenting grapes can be sensed the moment you walk through our door. We have two reds setting right now and we will be starting a Zinfandel on Monday. This is a very exciting thing because it is a first for Madsen Family Cellars. Check back with us next week to see pictures and read about the creation of one of our new wines.

Our Crush season will last only a few short weeks more, ending right around Halloween. Can you believe it is October already? And already people are making their holiday plans! We are as well! We have received several calls from groups interested in booking private tastings for their holiday parties and our schedule is starting to fill up! We are very happy to accommodate!

A Private Tasting at our winery is a fun and yet relaxed event. We offer approximately six samples of wine and pair with some light appetizers and a dessert to complement our dessert wine. A sample menu might include:

Crackers

Appetizer Spread

Olivada

Italian Salami

Assorted Cheeses

Cream Puffs

*And we also offer tea, coca, and spiced cider for the designated driver, or persons choosing not to sample wine.

During your party you have the winery to yourselves, and get our undivided attention. You will get to hear a little bit about our wine making process and hear the story of how we got started, as you share and enjoy time with your group. The parties last around 2 hours and cost $15 per person, with a minimum non-refundable charge of $120. Another option is for you to bring all the food and cutlery, at a cost of $5 dollars per person, with a minimum nonrefundable charge of $80. We book these parties outside of the tasting room hours, and make exception for our harvest season Sept 1-Thanksgiving when we are too busy making wine to be good hosts. If you want a fun holiday experience to share with friends or visiting family call soon and book your space, our calendar will fill up quickly!

For those of you who are not having a party we will still be open during our normal tasting hours (11-5 Wed thru Sun), throughout the month of November and through the holiday season. This time of year can become so rushed and busy, and events like shopping can wear you out!  By November we usually have a hot soup and a hot wine available for weary patrons to sample, as well as the usual array of wines. We like to be that quiet place to come and to sit back and sip something special. We are a reprieve from the day, and a great place to pick up a bottle of wine for yourself or as a gift for others. After all as Dana says, “there is nothing better for Christmas than wine!”

Make us a part of your fall and winter celebrations!

The Madsen Family Cellars

Dana and San Madsen

and Smoky and Baci (the dogs) too!

2825 Marvin Road NE, #1D

Olympia, Wa 98516

360-438-1286

www.madsenfamilycellars.com

dana@madsenfamilycellars.com

*content provided by SarahJoy of Pure Joy  www.pure-joy.org

All About Washington Wines

September 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

The wines of Washington State are often characterized by their bright fruit flavors and crisp acidity. In recent years, the state’s red wines have leaned towards riper, more fruit forward flavors, noticeable tannins and oak influence with moderately high alcohol levels. Wine experts such as Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson have described quality examples of Washington wines to exhibit fresh acidity, deep coloring, with bright, intense fruit flavors that can usually age in the bottle for at least 8 years before the fruit structure starts to fade. Karen MacNeil notes that the red wines of Washington, especially the Cabernets and Merlots, often exhibited lush texture with very concentrated berry flavors reminiscent of the wild fruit found in the Pacific Northwest such as blackberries, boysenberries, cherries and raspberries. The state is often described as combing New World fruit with Old World style. Paul Gregutt, wine writer for The Seattle Times and Wine Enthusiast describe Washington wines as maintaining strong purity and typicity of varietal flavors with firm, ripe tannins and bright acidity. Gregutt says Washington wines have the potential to combine the structure and polish of French wines with the ripeness and fruit of California wines.

Washington produces a full spectrum of wines ranging from mass-produced to premium boutique wines. It also produces nearly every style of wine including rosé, sparkling, fruit, fortified, still and late harvest dessert wines afflicted with Botrytis cinerea. Some years can even produce favorable conditions for ice wine production. – From Wikipedia article “Washington wine” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_wine

Getting It Done! A Word About Our Volunteers

September 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

 
Starting up a winery is work! Make no mistake about it, going from nothing to a full size business with 16 different wines has been no small effort on our part. But we can hardly take all the credit for it. We would not be anywhere near where we are today had it not been for the many people who give their time to help us.
Our volunteers do everything from greeting guests to the tasting room on the weekends all the way to helping with Crush as you saw in the last few posts. They have accompanied us on pours at various wine events, and been there to streamline the bottling process. They are our right and sometimes even our left hands. Many of them take it upon themselves to do the extras around the winery to make tastings a special occasion for guests.  This is on top of what we already ask of them to do, and something that many of them just give because they want to!  It’s an incredible response to our work here and a consistent reason to be thankful. We are very lucky to have such a support system from our community.
 
One of the ways we show appreciation for time and effort our volunteers give to us is to host a dinner in their honor. A dinner put on by a local chef and with great food and as you can imagine superior wine!  (Hey we can say that, we are award winning you know!) The dinner is a causal affair, geared at giving those that give an opportunity to put their feet up and enjoy themselves. Last year the dinner was a pairing event, meaning that foods were chosen to match certain wines and served together in courses. Pairings are a new trend and a fun way to explore wines, and we wanted to give that a try. It went very well and we may try it again this year! We usually have the dinner party at the end of the Crush season, when the grape getting and processing is done. As you can imagine it is also a way to celebrate the end of the long work season. This is not the only event we put on for our team, but it is the most prominent.
Recently some of our volunteers were interviewed as to why they choose to give their time and what aspects they enjoyed about the work. They told of the pure fun they had at being part of the winery, and of how well they are treated and appreciated. They also told of how helpful and education orientated Dana is. He gives instruction on what he is doing, taking the time to explain whenever anyone is interested in learning more. This was really great feedback for us to hear!
 
This year’s volunteer dinner is coming very soon, as Crush is well underway and will soon be completed. Thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers! Your time effort and energy are truly a gift to us!
If you are interested in becoming part of our volunteer team, please contact us! And if not, we still would love to have you as a tasting room guest!
 
The Madsen Family Cellars
Dana and San Madsen
and Smokey and Baci (the dogs) too!
 
2825 Marvin Road Ne, #1D
 
Lacey, WA 98516360-438-1286

www.madsenfamilycellars.com

dana@madsenfamilycellars.com

*content provided by Sarah Joy Smith www.pure-joy.org

Gold Medal Winners We Are Proud To Announce

September 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

For us here at Madsen Family Cellars this has been a successful year. It is always a wonderful feeling to be complimented and our guests and new found wine friends have been excellent about making sure we know we are appreciated. However, this year we have gone beyond the norm and achieved Gold Medal status, not once or twice but three times! And on three different wines, no less!  This is our craft and we put a lot of ourselves into the process. So you can imagine how good it is to know we have created something special.

Our first two Gold Medals were won at the Pacific Rim Wine Competition in California, held every April. Since 1985 the people at Pacific Rim have gathered the best of the best of wines and held blind tastings with thirty professional tasters. The site tells me that in each competition they judge around 2000 different wines!  Winning gold here is a monumental achievement for us! Our winners were the 2008 Merlot, in the Merlot 2008 and earlier above $25 category, and the 2008 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon in the Cabernet Sauvignon $20-40 category.  It should be noted here that we also won a Silver Medal for our 2008 Cabernet Franc, in the Cab/Franc $20 and above category. It was a very good competition for us.

Our other Gold Medal came to us at our very own Seattle Wine Awards! A panel of 15 judges is assembled to taste around 1000 wines. In this case all of them are Washington wines! Another milestone for Madsen Family Cellars and a point of deep pride for us is winning a local competition among our peer winemakers. Our wine of choice was our 2008 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, which took the gold in the Cabernet $20.01-35.00 category. The Seattle Wine Awards website has some great information and videos that describe the tasting process. If you are interested in learning more about wine competitions this is a good site to check out. http://www.seattlewineawards.com/index.html

Now we want to share these wines with you! All of these wines are available for tasting at our tasting room, and for purchase from our store. Click on the visit/contact tab for directions, hours, and the best contact information for us.

Would you like to help us in our competitions? Or be a part of the winemaking process? Crush season, the season where we bring in the grapes, is just about upon us and we are gladly accepting help from both our volunteers and from wine club members on blending day. Join our mailing list or send an email directly to Dana at dana@madsenfamilycellars.com to join our crew! We would love to have you!

Thank you all to making 2012 such a great year and counting

The Madsen Family Cellars

Dana and San Madsen

and Smokey and Baci (the dogs) too!

2825 Marvin Road Ne, #1D

Lacey, WA 98516

360-438-1286

www.madsenfamilycellars.com

dana@madsenfamilycellars.com

*content provided by Sarah Joy Smith www.pure-joy.org

Pressing the Grapes

September 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Dusk was beginning to settle in as we prepared for our first pressing of the season.  The Chardonnay had sat for two full days right in the tasting room, adorned with its old bed sheet, and turning into a strange pulpy stew. And now it was ready to press.

Pressing is the second step in the process. Just as the name suggests a press is used to squeeze the juice from the grapes. In this case a hydraulic one. It is a system of simple sophistication, and one that has been used for centuries, minus the electric pump of course. A slatted barrel is used along with a type of straining cloth, a sort of large cheese cloth. The barrel is put in place on the hydraulic pump, which has a trough around the edge, and a very large bucket at the spout to catch the juice. Then tubes are added from the grape bin to the barrel and from the bucket to the human sized stainless steel container, the final destination for the juice.

The pump is then turned on and the grapes begin to fill up the barrel. The actual act of pressing does not start right away. Instead the liquid begins to strain out of the sides of the barrel and into the trough. This is called free run. In some wineries the free run is kept separate from the pressed liquid and bottled as its own wine. But here at Madsen Family Cellars we do a blend of the free run and the pressed. We have found that it creates the taste and flavors we are looking for.

When the free run begins to taper off the hydraulic arm is then put in place and very slowly, so slowly it is difficult to discern the movement, the large round disk begins to sink down into the mound of grapes. Remember that seed we talked about in the Crushing article? The one with the bitter tannins that we don’t want popped? Well when we press it is the same, we still want that seed to stay intact, so the press uses a certain amount of pressure and no more so that the seeds are not broken. In this case it is between 1 and 2 atmospheres.  It’s is not a long process but not a fast one either. From here more grapes are added, and then pressed a few more times until the vat is empty. Then the stainless steel tank is sealed, and the fermenting process begins.

White wine is not meant to be fermented for a long time. In fact it can be stored for as little as a month. This Chardonnay will ferment for a few weeks only, and then it will be put through another set of processes preparing it for bottling next spring. We have bottling parties with our volunteers for events like this. They happen throughout the spring and summer. Then this wine will be released around April at some point. We will announce it here and on facebook and twitter. Make sure to like us and follow us in order to get your updates.

Finally we sample the juice again just before sealing. The tastes have changed in a few short days and hints of the wine it will become are already present. It is amazing how quickly the grapes go from whole and sitting on the vine to being sealed up for fermentation. And then we do it all over again with the next batch. As for the grape skins, the leftover byproduct of all of this, we give it to the cow’s next door of course. And what do you know, they love it!

Join us in the coming weeks and maybe you will catch a part of the wine making process. We still have many crushing and pressings to do, as the season usually lasts through October.

The Madsen Family Cellars

Dana and San Madsen

and Smokey and Baci (the dogs) too!

2825 Marvin Road Ne, #1D

Lacey, WA 98516

360-438-1286

www.madsenfamilycellars.com

dana@madsenfamilycellars.com

*content provided by Sarah Joy Smith www.pure-joy.org

Crush Has Begun!

September 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

The grape harvest is upon us! We got the call last week to “get ready” as the grapes were showing signs of being at the peak of their growing season. Then on Tuesday night we got the word to come tomorrow and pick up our bounty. And at 4am the next morning Dana set out for a four + hour drive to the eastern half of Washington where we get all our grapes.

This first load is the Chardonnay grapes, green in color and light and full in flavor. Around 1900 lbs of Chardonnay grapes actually, and just gorgeous this year! We purchase from a number of different grape growers, located in several different east side regions. They don’t always cooperate as to when they will be ready so it usually takes more than one trip and quite a bit of driving to get all the grapes needed to produce our wide variety of wines. But we feel getting the right style for all of our different blends is important. These grapes came from Lonesome Springs Vineyard in Benton City, which is between Yakima and Walla Walla.

The grapes were picked and processed on the same day. When Dana returned at around 2pm in the afternoon he began prepping the equipment used to handle the grapes. The machine we use is an Italian design that swiftly, yet carefully de-stems the grapes and then crushes the skins just enough to juice the fruit without breaking the seed inside. The seeds have bitter tannins and do not enhance the wines good flavors.

This is a cleaver machine. The photos you see below are of a paddle wheel responsible for de-stemming, a cylinder with holes that catches the grapes, and the crusher which is set at just the right width to pop skins. The result is a pulp filled juice product that is routed through a pipe and into a very large holding tank.

That tank has been sitting since Wednesday night right inside the winery, with no more than an old bed sheet as a cover to keep the fruit flies out. Tonight the grapes will be pressed, and the final product will be stored for fermentation, and not opened again until the product has become Chardonnay.

With the help of two able bodied volunteers, Tom and Bruce, the process of processing went quickly. Here they are together maneuvering the grapes out of one of the massive bins they were picked into just that morning.

With just two extra bodies besides Dana the work takes only a few hours, from set up all the way through clean up. And it all happens right here next to our winery.  We will do around 16 pressings this year and will need a small amount of help with all of them. If you have ever been interested in making wine now is the time to join our volunteer team. This is a fun event! And in the end you get to take a glass, dip it into the bin and get a taste of the juice that will one day be a fine wine to enjoy.  See the foam still on the glass here. The grapes this year taste crisp, clear, and lightly sweet. They are sure to make a beautiful wine!

We are open all throughout our Crush! From 11-5 Wednesday through Sunday you can taste the wine and maybe even see some Crush events.

The Madsen Family Cellars

Dana and San Madsen

and Smokey and Baci (the dogs) too!

2825 Marvin Road Ne, #1D

Lacey, WA 98516

360-438-1286

www.madsenfamilycellars.com

dana@madsenfamilycellars.com

*content provided by Sarah Joy Smith www.pure-joy.org

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