Tuesday, October 04, 2011


The highlight of my past week was a wine tour.

Friends of ours are members with Stemilt Creek Winery and invited us along to an open house on Saturday. The winery has two tasting rooms locally, one in downtown Wenatchee and one in Leavenworth. I was curious where the open house was going to be since the downtown location is pretty small and its Oktoberfest in Leavenworth so traffic and crowds of people would be a nightmare. Turns out it was at the owners house. What a beautiful property. Located south of town near an itty-bitty village called Malaga (as if Wenatchee is a huge city ....) their house is on a hill (Stemilt Hill) and looks over most of the entire valley. If it weren't for a small hill in the way you could see from Rock Island Dam to Rocky Reach Dam, it was a beautiful view.

The name Stemilt is pretty well known. The open house was at one of the owners' house so I was a little nervous about what to wear and what it would be like. Would it be a bunch of stuffy people or ...? I had a bit of a clothing crisis and after my third costume change I felt sort of ready.

We arrived at their house and were greeted by the owner Kyle. He's a big bear of a man, full of a kindness and a positive energy that is contagious. He greeted us at the door, in overalls (you know, blue denim overalls, like a farmer would wear? So much for my clothing crisis,) he welcomed us to his house, introduced himself, asked our names, shook our hands and then asked if he could give us all a hug. Seriously, this millionaire guy, in denim overalls, shaking my hand, asking if he could hug me. It was great! He told us there was a tour leaving in about 15 minutes, get signed up and he'd see us then.

What the heck, we signed up. And we are so glad we did!!! He and his right-hand man, Javier, took us around in two 15-passenger vans to see the grounds. We visited their cherry and apple orchards on the way to the vineyard. Javier was full of information about the acreage (17,000 - yes, thousand) the types of fruit they grow (several varieties of cherries and apples, pears and blueberries [which I did not know] and grapes) and their newest experiment, composting. That's quite an operation.

Once at the vineyard, we all got out and listened to Kyle talk about his grapes. The man is as passionate about his grapes as he probably is about his grand kids. He told us what they look for in color, the juice of the grape, how the seeds should look and taste like grape nuts, how they water them, why he chose the location he did for the vineyard and how they mark the rows each year so they know which ones need which kind of compost (the stuff they are making). It was amazing. We were able to sample some grapes fresh off the vine to taste, see and feel what he was talking about. Amazing.

We loaded back up, switched drivers and Kyle drove us to where they press and ferment the grapes. We all got out at the plant and listened to him tell us about the process of wine making, how the wines were named, and a little bit of the history of Stemilt. I'm local and I learned SO much from him. Even My Honey enjoyed listening to him. Our friends were into his spiel too. We loaded back up for the final trek back up the hill to his house where we ate a bit, wandered a bit and then headed home. We were on the tour for two hours! So worth it.

The thing that struck me about Kyle was his passion. He loves his farms. He loves farming and he loves to share what he knows with whomever will listen. He wasn't a boring teacher either, his zest for life is so real, his honesty about everything, the company's integrity, the stories about is family, how he came to be, so refreshing. He could be a snobby millionaire, but he's not, he's a guy that wears overalls to a wine tasting event and doesn't worry about what people will think. He is who he is. It's kind of like what I said about my Grandma's friend, he also has an inner strength of character, a confidence that he's alright, just as he is.

Everyone has something to teach us, don't they?
We just have to be open to it for the time we are allowed in their presence.
I'm thankful I had two hours in his presence.


Now, about hockey. I practiced on Friday morning and on Sunday night. Both practices were great. I am learning way more about what to do in a game this year than I did last year. The coaches are working a lot on drills, and then we have a few minutes at the end to scrimmage to practice what we've just been taught.

I'm really glad I don't work early on Monday mornings this year, it makes the Sunday night practices less stressful afterward for me. Getting home around 7:30, showering and trying to wind down so I could get to bed and get up at 2am was really hard. This year I don't have that stress. Unfortunately, I won't be able to make every Friday morning practice. I'm golden through October, but I will miss a most of them in November and December. Oh well, I am very thankful for what I can do!

I know there were some things that were really good about practice, but I was so stoked about that wine tour it pretty much occupied my brain until now. Maybe since I have it out now, the hockey stuff will come back?

Until then, I'm off for a massage and the rest of my last day off.

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