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Book & Wine Pairings: Q&A with Tero Estates

Bringing our Walla Walla book & wine pairing series to a close, we’ll have a chat with Kirsten Telander, a freelance writer in Walla Walla and co-author of “Wine Taster’s Survival Guide.” I first met Kirsten as she was representing Tero Estates and Flying Trout wines in their tasting room in downtown Walla Walla. Little did I know that she was the perfect person to ask about pairing wine with books. With her background in writing and her history in the wine industry, she pointed out some pairings that I never would have thought of! She also shares with us a bit about how she got her start as a writer and how she came to embrace her secret affection for chick lit.

Kirsten Telander. Photo from Kirsten.

What would you consider to be signature wines for Tero and Flying Trout? 

Flying Trout Malbecs have a cult-like following. Her 100% vineyard designate Malbecs are what she’s best known for. Ashley Trout was the firstWashingtonwinemaker to dedicate her brand to Malbec and Malbec blends. She definitely pushed the envelope with the blends. For example, some would say to use only 5% Malbec or go 100%, but she’ll put together blends with 30% for example and she makes it work. But, if you’re asking for 1 wine as signature? Mary’s Block Malbec – 100% off the estate vineyard (Windrow)

The signature wine for Tero is the Windrow. It is named after the estate vineyard (Windrow is the oldest commercially planted vineyard along with the adjacent Seven Hills Vineyard in the Walla WallaValley). Winemaker Doug Roskelley is the only winemaker that I know of in WA (if not the U.S.) doing a true field blend, which is what Windrow is. Field blends are an age-old tradition in Europe. Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec are harvested at the same time in proportion to their planting in the estate vineyard and co-fermented. The result is an expression of the vineyard, not the varietals, for that year. The 2008 was ranked #44, 92 points in the 100 best bottles in Washington by Seattle Metropolitan Magazine. The 2009 will be released at the end of September.


Flying Trout wine. Photo by Daytona Strong.

What are some of your personal favorites?

I’m a Cabernet Sauvignon gal. Give me a good Cab and I’m happy. That being said, I think that the Tero Herb’s Block Merlot is one of the best Merlot’s I’ve had. Washington Merlots in general are bigger with more structure (drinking in the direction of Cabs with killer aromatics) than any other wine region I’ve found. Flying Trout Torrontes is one of the most kick-ass whites I’ve had. It’s different. Clean, light, and hugely aromatic – she actually travels to Mendoza, Argentina every year just to make this wine. If she stopped people would protest, including me.

If you could sit down right now with one of your personal favorites and something to read, what would it be?

Cover photo from

I’d drink the Torrontes with Vanity Fair magazine or one of my favorite chick lit authors, not total fluff, but a bit of a beach read. Holly Peterson’s “The Manny” comes to mind, or Pam Houston’s “Cowboys Are My Weakness”. Anything, and I mean anything, but “Fifty Shades of Gray”. I threw it out, even while heavily drinking.

A good cab by the fire (Tero Estates 2008 Hill Block) would call for a re-read of Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast,” or something quirky and original like “No One Belongs Here More Than You” by Miranda July. Or Michael Byers’ “The Cost of Good Intentions.”


In the realm of reading, what are some of your favorite authors or books?

I’m a sucker for good memoirs. “Just Kids” by Patty Smith, “Eat, Pray, Love” (yes, I loved it despite certain critics), and I just finished a wonderful memoir that is little known – “Chance of Sun: An Oregon Memoir” by Kim Cooper Findling. I got hooked on memoir years ago with Mary Karr’s “The Liar’s Club” – I love the combo of tragic and comic and she pulls this off brilliantly. Raymond Carver is a genius in my mind. I really admire the work of Lorrie Moore (just finished “A Gate at the Stairs”), Amy Hempel, and Ron Carlson (love “Hotel Eden”).

Can you tell us a bit about your writing life?

After graduate school (where I studied creative writing) I was paralyzed. Colleagues were either writing inaccessible (in my mind) poetry or literary fiction, and I struggled to find my voice. I got caught up in journalistic stuff just to write (and make a few bucks and I mean a few) but I’m not a journalist and knew that wasn’t my future. A few years ago, I carved out a little time and started to write a few essays about my experience managing a tasting room – behind the scenes stuff that isn’t so glamorous. But I realized I could never publish them because nobody in the wine biz here would ever talk to me again. That’s when the idea of a novel sounded good. And I had an epiphany: I don’t want to write literary fiction. I admire it, but it’s not what I want. I want to be somewhere in between chick lit and something with some intelligence and heart. I joke that I came out of the closet as a writer of chick lit! It was so liberating! So in addition to freelance writing about wine, food, and lifestyle, I have started a novel based in the wine business. Is it based in Walla Walla? Yes. Does it have a few people that appear that are based on winemakers here? Yes. But there’s enough fiction to free me up and have fun with it. I am re-building my website ( which will include sample chapters 🙂

Any advice for our wine-drinking, book-loving writers?

Wine drinking is such a sensory experience, and I am drawn to books that draw on the sensory. I would think book-loving writers that drink wine would agree. “Joy for Beginners” and “The School of Essential Ingredients” by Erica Bauermeister are good examples of someone who uses her craft of writing and love of sensory and sense of character to create great novels; Frances Mayes has made a career out of her non-fiction. Speaking of characters, wine tasting is the perfect excuse to create characters! People really open up in tasting rooms often revealing their very interesting stories (or not and even those make for good material). Take your writer’s notebook with you and make note of all the sensory details and the people you meet along the way.

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Wine & Book Pairings: Q&A with Cadaretta

Continuing our series on wine & book pairings, we take a look at Cadaretta. I asked Brian Rudin, resident winemaker, about his choice wines and how they compliment some of his favorite reads. While the Foundry is focused on art, the folks at Cadaretta are all about the science of wine. Brian says that what sets them apart from all the other wineries in Walla Walla is their scientific approach, and a new plot of land they are developing for grapes.

Brian Rudin blending wine. Photo by Kyle Madson.

To Brian, beyond the taste, what captivates him about wine is the complexity and history behind every blend and bottle. Not surprisingly, his taste in books is much the same.

What are some “can’t miss” wines you’d like to be sure our readers know about?

Cadaretta 2011 “SBS” Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon blend.  We are well-known for the quality of our whites.  Our white winemaking style is very different from our neighbors and friends inWashington, as we make super-crisp, racy, mineral and citrus-driven juice. We make this white blend with 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Semillon.  The trick is to use absolutely no oak, and to forestall the malolactic fermentation.  The next wine people should seek out is our 2008 Cadaretta Cabernet Sauvignon.  On reds, we have a reserved style that a delayed-gratification: this is a wine that is just starting to blossom, but will age gracefully for 10-15 years in your cellar.  When a wine has the stuffing to age like that, amazing things can happen to the aromas and textures.  But it has to be built sturdy for the long-haul, and this one is.  This is an “archival wine” as we discussed, that will deliver a small piece of history to your senses when you open it 15 years from now.  It reflects the vintage very well.

Cadaretta wine bottles. Photo by Kyle Madson.

Can you recommend a wine for the following book categories – heavy, medium and light reads?

HEAVY: Reach for Cabernet Sauvignon.  Like thick reading, it is not always easy at first, but tends to reward more deeply by the ending.  Some messages just take time and gravitas in order to fully understand.  The wines are gripping and challenging in their youth, but with time come to display their meaning with power and finesse. 

MEDIUM: WashingtonStateSyrah:  We’ll make a comparison to Chuck Palahniuk here for medium reading.  It can be weird and yet enjoyable the entire ride, but will undoubtedly keep you coming back for more.  The notes you detect can be funky, racy, and sometimes downright disturbing; but you will find the individualism and the honesty endlessly refreshing. 

LIGHT: Unoaked whites and roses:  a wine needn’t bowl you over with heavy themes for you to enjoy it.  Unoaked whites and roses can be perfectly pleasing and refreshing, to be enjoyed in the moment while you unwind and reflect on some of the other (non-wine, non-literature) things in life.

Has there been a book you’ve read that has stuck with you? What was it and how would you describe it in wine terms?  

A few titles come to mind.  For non-fiction: “Undaunted Courage,” by Stephen Ambrose, which details Lewis and Clark’s four year expedition to be the first overland trek to the Pacific Coast of the Territiorial US and back.  This one resonated with me on a personal level because Lewis and Clark passed throughWalla Wallaand theColumbiaValleyas part of their expedition.  They painstakingly chronicled the geography, flora, and fauna of the land with the aim of publishing the opportunities for the American people, during the infancy of the republic.  Now, 210 years later, we are still discovering the potential of this land.  I never ceased to be amazed by how much we still have yet to learn about our own young wine region.  We owe thanks to the people who pioneered this region, came out on foot and horse with no more than they could carry.  They risked their families’ lives to have a chance at a new world.  Now we are here, with a duty to do the very best we can with this gift.

Cover photo from

For fiction, I most recently devoured “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen.  The core theme of the book is the idea that the freedom of our choices will be manifest in the lives of those we touch.  Franzen takes it a little further to link the American experience, which has felt the positive and negative impacts of being populated by misfit immigrants, opportunity seekers, profiteers, sturdy industrialists, and any other castoff from Europe or beyond who didn’t have the freedom of choice in their own native land.  These people came to America, populated the west and realized they could do whatever they wanted.  The results could be beautiful or devastating.  We are at the same juncture with wines in the New World: because in Europe, regional laws closely dictate how wines are made, down to the last details of what grapes you can use, which can be blended, when you may legally start picking, etc….  In the new world, we are only governed by the market, by what people will like and choose to buy.  We are pushing the limits of what can be done with wine, and breaking a lot of rules in the process.  Like the characters in Franzen’s work, the results of our choices can be beautiful or terrible.  They can also be flawed, honest, and captivating. 

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Wine & Book Pairings: Q&A with Foundry Vineyards

I’m no stranger to wine, and as far as I know, wine seems to be pretty keen on me as well. As a writer constantly on the look out for sources of inspiration, there is so much one can pull from the sensory experience of enjoying a glass of wine. The world of wine is vast, much like the world of books. And those two often go hand in hand. (Click here for a brief book-lover’s guide to wine). Few things sound as lovely as hunkering down with a good book and a nice glass of wine. But would a glass of oaky California Chardonnay go just as well with “Moby Dick” as an earthy Walla Walla red blend? Just like food pairings, the reading material  on hand and what you have in your glass can influence each other. With this in mind, I decided the book-and-wine-pairing question was too big to take on myself, so I took it to the professionals.

On a trip to Washington’s Walla Walla wine country, I visited a number of wineries and tasting rooms. I asked some of the local winemakers and wine experts to tell me about their favorite wines and the books that compliment them.

Foundry wine bottles. Photo by Kyle Madson.

My first stop in this Walla Walla tour was Foundry Vineyards. Pulling into the parking lot of the Foundry’s Tasting Room, you can’t help but notice the sparse concrete surroundings. The building itself looks very bare and modern. But once you walk in, you see where all their attention was focused, on the art. The tasting room doubles as an art gallery.

Cast Bronze by Deborah Butterfield. Photo by Kyle Madson.

I personally love the Foundry’s mission of making not just their wine, but art, the center of the table. Their purpose is to have their wine and the art on the bottle stir up conversation.  The folks at the Foundry believe that conversation is at the heart of the wine experience.

I met with Squire Broel, artist, founder and visionary of Foundry Vineyards. Like his taste in wine, Squire favors simplicity and power in his reading and art.

Squire Broel, artist and co-founder of Foundry Vineyards. Photo by Kyle Madson.

If you could sit down right now with a glass of your choice and a book, what would they be? 

For a mid-afternoon treat on a lazy summer or autumn day I’d pour a
glass of White on White (current vintage 2011) and sift through some
poetry by William Carlos Williams.  This well-balanced wine boasts
bright citrus notes and supple honey characteristics which compliment
the perceptive and witty nature of Williams’ words; especially in
poems like “The Red Wheelbarrow”, “This Is Just To Say”, and “At the Faucet
of June.”

Any favorite novels? 

Cover photo from

Wendell Berry’s “Jayber Crow” is definitely a favorite of mine.  I’ve read it numerous times and am usually delighted each time I make my way through the book by some perspective that I’d seemingly missed in previous readings.  It’s a heartfelt novel that talks about the fullness of life as experienced through both heartache and redemption.

 I’d definitely read this book with a big glass (or two) of the 2007 Artisan Blend because it’s at once well structured and supple.  It’s a well-rounded wine that will last and give comfort through a longer sitting.

Ah…”Anam Cara” by John O’Donohue (A Book of Celtic Wisdom) would pair perfectly with our 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon. Fortunately for me… I have some in my cellar.  Unfortunately for most everyone else is the fact that they’ll never have the opportunity to experience this perfect pairing.  Earthy, honest, and rich are the crossover qualities of both the book and the wine.  Lovely stuff all the way around!



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A Reader/Writer’s Guide to Wine

The world of wine is as vast as the world of books. For those more familiar with books than wine, here’s a quick run down of the basics.

L’Ecole Wine Library. Photo from

Red wine vs. White wine:

The differences between red wines and white wines are pretty obvious; they look different and taste different, and are often described using a completely separate vocabulary. By why are they so drastically different? They are both made from grapes, right? Well, here’s the culprit: the skins. The skins bring a lot to the mix, primarily tannins.

In short, tannins are a naturally occurring substance in grapes and other fruits that has a flavor often described as a bitter taste, causing a dry and puckery feeling in the mouth. Tannins end up in your wine when the vintner allows the skins to sit in the grape juice as it ferments. This is also how wine gets its color! So that’s the short story: red wines are often fermented with the skins for longer than pink or white, which is why they tend to have higher tannin content.

Red v. white wine. Photo from

Tannin is the basis of red wine. In general, the darker the wine, the higher the tannin content or “bolder” the taste. Red wines are frequently described as “thicker”, “leathery” or “bitter” depending on the amount of tannin present.

Popular red wine varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Barbera, Sangiovese

White wine has tannin, but not as much as red. What sticks out more in white wines is acidity. That’s what brings words like “crisp” or “tart” to the table when you open a bottle.

Popular white wine varietals: Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Moscato (Muscat), Pinot Grigio, Gewürztraminer

Rose, or blush wine, is pink in color. This is because it’s time with the skins is limited compared to red wine. Between red and white wines, rose is closer to white as it is still on the low end of the tannin spectrum.

Popular rosé wine varietals: Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese

Next on the list is Dessert wine and Sparkling wine (or bubbles).

Assorted dessert wines. Photo from

Dessert wine is just as it sounds…frequently enjoyed after a meal for dessert. Yum! It’s often sweeter and higher in alcohol content. The alcohol is usually added to help the drink retain more of the natural sugars that are usually used up during the fermentation process.

Popular dessert wines/fortified wines: Port, Madeira, Vermouth, Sherry, Marsala

Sparkling wine is wine that has carbonation. This comes from either the natural fermentation process or via carbonation injection after the fact. Either way, it’s adds a certain amount of fun to the drink! When looking for a sparkling wine, consider the terms listed on the bottle that indicate how sweet or dry it is.

From driest to sweetest, these terms are: Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry/Extra Sec/Extra Seco, Dry/Sec/Seco, Demi-Sec/Semi-seco and Doux/Sweet/Dulce

Wine edited book. Photo from

So, in readers’ speak, how can I sum this up? Red wine is Bram Stroker’s Dracula and white is Twilight. Dracula is a dark, heavy classic, digging into the depths of vampirism and what it does to a man’s life. Twilight is instantly accessible, focuses more on the young, romantic edge and is a lighter read.

Dessert wine could be considered the Shopaholic series of the wine world. Lighter, fun and, in a way, dangerous in that the sweetness often conceals the alcohol content. Just like a beach read, you’ll start out happy and unassuming and before you know it your head is swirling as you turn the page to chapter 15.

Sparking wine is the Great Gatsby of the party. Effervescent and airy, the classy bubbly. One could imagine Gatsby, with some champagne, looking down on one of his lavish parties watching his guests bubbling like the Brut in his glass.

So that’s a brief summery of wine in all its forms. Drink well, friends, and be inspired. Cheers!