Crush collaboration helps wineries succeed

  • Written by Shannon Michael, Features Writer

John PattersonPhoto by Shannon Michael. John Patterson, of Patterson Cellars, stands in front of a half-ton of cabernet grapes. His hands become so deeply stained purple it takes a month after crush season is over for the stains to disappear. It is palpable at nearly every winery in Woodinville. It is the smell of the grape harvest. It is intoxicating – not in an alcoholic sense, yet – but in a seductive, "I can’t wait to drink the final product" kind of way.

Visit any winery during crush season and you’ll also find it is an incredibly busy time of year for winemakers. If you’re fortunate to actually meet a winemaker in a tasting room, chances are he or she looks a little ragged around the edges.

That’s because most spend at least 15 to 16 hours a day at the winery for about eight weeks preparing the newly delivered grape harvest for their next vintages of wine.

The good news is that the quantity and quality of the grape harvest looks great this year, according to John Patterson of Patterson Cellars. "Our numbers are great. The weather was probably a little too hot this summer, but the grapes are great as far as ripeness and sugar levels," he said.

What you’ll also see, especially in the Warehouse District, where dozens of winery production operations are headquartered along with their tasting room storefronts, is a community of collaboration amongst the winemakers.

"We work closely, kind of like a brain trust," says Chris Gorman of Gorman Winery. He, along with Patterson, and many others, often help each other out — whether it’s sharing equipment or sharing advice.

Rather than being very competitive with the other wineries, Patterson echoes what other winemakers keep saying about the wine industry in Woodinville, "I am very happy when wineries become successful. If everyone’s making money, then everyone’s doing well."

It is that spirit of collaboration that is helping shape Woodinville into the premier destination for wine tourism in Washington state.

One winemaker appreciative of collaboration is Jim Page of Page Cellars. His day job for 35 years has been as a corporate pilot. It was as a pilot flying often to Walla Walla that he had the opportunity to meet Greg Lill, co-founder of DeLille Cellars, and Eric Dunham, of Walla Walla’s Dunham Cellars.

Jim PagePhoto by Shannon Michael. Jim Page, owner of Page Cellars, shows off the collection of fun wine labels he uses. When not at the winery, Page is a pilot by day. The plane on the label of his Mourvedre, far right, is a C46 Curtis Commando, a plane he spent over 409 hours flying. Both men offered to help Page start his own winery. "I wanted something to fall back on," said Page, as a back up to his flying career. "I was fascinated that these two men would help a future competitor start a business," he said.

Like many small-sized winery owners, Page is not in the business to get rich, but to just have fun producing quality wines he can offer to the public. His winery produces 3,000 to 4,000 cases of wine annually.

Several of the smaller winery owners still have day jobs outside of the wine industry during the slower parts of the winemaking calendar. When not at the winery, Page teaches Dash 8 pilots at a ground school.

For Patterson, though, along with Gorman, their labors in the wine industry have grown to the point where it is their full-time career.

Gorman Winery, which opened in 2002, has been Gorman’s full-time job since 2007. The winery produces about 6,000 to 7,000 cases annually, and is considered a medium-sized winery for Woodinville. This year, as last, he’ll use about 100 tons of grapes to produce mainly Cabernet, Syrah and Chardonnay.

Patterson, who produces about 3,500 cases of wine with the Patterson Cellars label annually, has also branched out into the early stages part of the grape processing business after people in the industry started asking him if he would help them with the processing. 

His equipment is now used by over 20 wineries to begin the early stages of processing for an estimated 450 tons of grapes that will be brought in this year to his facilty.

Depending on each of those winery’s needs, Patterson and his crew can provide destemming, crushing, and pressing services and equipment. For smaller wineries, or those just starting out, it is more economical to rent out and use Patterson’s equipment and staff to help prepare the grapes.

Patterson works closely with the wineries, however, to ensure that each winery’s grape harvest is processed to their winemaker’s specifications.

For Gorman, this time of year gives him the opportunity to experiment in the production process. "The Washington wine industry has no set rules for what you can blend together, unlike most of Europe where traditional winemaking has set rules for blends," he said.

"We’re successful because it [Washington] is an awesome place to make wine," he added. California winemakers have taken note Gorman said, as evidenced when wine giant E. & J. Gallo bought Columbia Winery and Covey Run Wines in 2012.

In one of this year’s experiments, Gorman will use some of Patterson’s sorting tables to bring in 10 volunteers for one day to hand pull the grapes off the vines for his Cab Reserve Albatross.

Normally, grapes are mechanically destemmed and crushed before being placed into a large, open-top container where every 12 hours the skins, which rise to the top, are punched down into the juice until fermentation begins. This process takes up to 15 days to happen depending on whether commercial or natural yeasts are used.

But, Gorman will put the handpicked grapes right into oak barrels where they will be rotated every 12 hours instead of using the punching down technique. The grapes will not be crushed before going into the barrels.

"I’ve never done this before, but some of the bigger cult wines of Napa like Bryant do this," he said, adding, "I believe this is the first attempt in Washington state."

Cult wines are often viewed as investments or as a collectible by wine enthusiasts because they are produced in very small quantities, receive very high scores from wine critics, generate a lot of buzz, and are expensive.

However, in a September 2011 Wine Enthusiast column, writer Paul Gregutt argues that the exceptional quality of many Washington wines that are much more reasonably priced should allow more wine enthusiasts with less money in their wallets to participate in the cult wine trend.

This is good news for those who want to enjoy the many great wines receiving high scores that are made in Woodinville.

The crush season began in earnest in September and will continue through most of October.

For a map of the wineries located in Woodinville, including Page Cellars, Patterson Cellars and Gorman Winery in the Warehouse District, visit

’73 BHS class ring, found in 1982, to be reunited with owner

  • Written by Shannon Michael Features Writer

Linda DonaldsonCourtesy Photo . Linda Donaldson found a 1973 BHS class ring in 1982 while a senior at Bothell High. Through Facebook she finally found the ring’s owner and will be mailing it to her this week. It all began one spring day in 1982 when Bothell High senior Linda Helgeland threw her softball glove up in the air in the girls’ locker room. When her glove hit the ceiling tiles, a ring came falling down out of the ceiling.

The class ring, for a girl, had the initials LB and Class of 1973 on it, so Helgeland went to the school’s library to look for any girls with the LB initials in that grade’s yearbook. She then looked through the phone book for local residents with the same last name but after making a few calls with no luck, she gave up and tucked the ring away.

Then, in about 2003 Helgeland, now Linda Donaldson, made another attempt to find the ring’s owner through the Bothell High School alumni group. "I emailed the gal that headed it up at the time. She posted a sign at the all-class-reunion held at Blythe Park, but [we] didn’t have any luck," Donaldson wrote in an email interview.

She continued to hold the ring in safekeeping.

About a year ago, Donaldson joined Facebook because of her upcoming class reunion in the summer of 2012. Recently, a Facebook friend posted a story about a found ring.

"A parent from the school where I teach posted a story about a wedding band that had been found and the ‘finder’ was looking for the owner. It immediately made me think of the class ring and that I could ask folks on Facebook to help me find the owner. The ring itself gave a lot of clues (school, year, initials) which I knew would be of great help," Donaldson wrote.

Donaldson posted a photo of the found ring with a description of it a few weeks ago. The story about the ring was also shared in Facebook groups for the BHS Class of 1973 and "You know you are from Bothell if …"

Her post went viral locally. "It was exciting to check Facebook each night to read about the leads that were developing. Folks jumped on it right away and started networking," she wrote.

Donaldson gives credit to Ana Eickhoff for connecting the dots that led to finding Berkshire. "She contacted Melody Jennings-Garvin who contacted Leslye, who ended up being the owner!" she wrote.

Jennings-Garvin texted her former sister-in-law, Leslye Berkshire, and asked if she’d ever had a class ring that she’d lost.

"I’d lost the ring in about 1979 when our house in Bothell was broken into. The ring had been in my jewelry box," said Berkshire, now living in Central Washington. The thief had rifled through her box, stealing only select jewelry items.

"I figured it was gone forever," Berkshire said. She had contemplated replacing the ring by reordering a new one, but learned that it just wasn’t possible to do.

Jennings-Garvin sent Donaldson a Facebook message with Berkshire’s phone number. "Leslye was thrilled!" wrote Donaldson when she phoned Berkshire.

"She asked if I found anything else with the ring as other pieces of jewelry had been stolen as well. I never thought to look up in the ceiling that day, and now that the old gym is long gone, we will never know what other treasures might have been stashed there," Donaldson wrote.

For Donaldson, who is a third grade teacher at an elementary school in the Snohomish School District, finding the ring’s owner has given her the opportunity to have a teachable moment with her students.

"I am a believer that just because you find something, it doesn’t mean it is yours. As a third grade teacher, I have had this discussion many times with my students as they have found money, toys, or jewelry in the classroom or on the playground," she wrote, adding, "I love the look on their face when they find the owner of something they have found, and they get that feeling of doing what is right and give it back to them."

She took the ring to school once the owner had been found, and she had the students pass it around the class as she told them the story of how she found the ring and how long it had taken to finally find the owner. 

"I told them how happy the owner was to be getting the ring back after all these years and how happy I was to be part of making it all happen.

Overall, knowing that the ring was stolen makes getting it back to the owner even sweeter. It feels so good to make right someone else’s wrong," Donaldson wrote.

Teas, seminars, scones brewing at Northwest Tea Festival

  • Written by Shannon Michael Features Writer

Tea PotThe Seattle area loves its coffee. That we know. But, there are plenty of people who are just as passionate about a great cup of tea.

For those who love all things tea, a visit to the sixth annual Northwest Tea Festival should be planned. The festival, slated for October 5 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and October 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will be held in the Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center located at 305 Harrison Street in Seattle.  Entry is open to the public with an admission fee of $10 per person. Children under 12 are admitted free. Admission is good for both days and includes a porcelain tasting cup, but those attending again on Sunday must bring their paid ticket and tasting cup to gain re-entry with no additional charge. On hand at the festival will be a series of presentations and workshops, including such free topics as "Tea 101 from Soil to Cup," "Modern America Tea History," "How to Make Moist and Delicious Scones," "Tea and Chocolate Pairing," and "British Tea: Then and Now." 

In addition to the free workshops and presentations, there are opportunities to participate in some workshops that require a reservation fee made in advance on the festival’s website.

James Norwood Pratt and Devan Shah will teach one such workshop, "Tea Sommelier." The workshop costs $75, and it is geared toward the serious tea drinker as well as restaurant professionals. Pratt is an author and authority on wine, tea and tea lore. Shah is an internationally renowned tea importer. Another paid workshop, "Traditional Korean Tea Ceremony," at $20 per person, will feature experts from the Pacific Asia Cultural Center performing with a display of traditional full-length Korean gowns (hanbok), teapots and ritual movements.

The festival will also offer tea-tasting sessions using the tasting cup supplied with admission. Attendees can compare teas such as Taiwanese oolongs, Japanese teas, white teas, green teas and rooibos teas. Seating is limited, but attendees can reserve a seat for a specific session by signing up on a first-come basis at the festival information and ticket booth or pre-registering online. A printable PDF of the tea tasting session schedule each day is available online.

Over 15 vendors will be on hand throughout the festival, including An Afternoon to Remember Fine Tea and Gifts, newly based in Bothell’s Country Village.

Owner Amy Lawrence will have a booth, teach the scone making class and offer an oolong tea tasting. "I sell all kinds of teas at the festival, but my pumpkin masala chai is the most popular and always sells out even though I bring more each year," Lawrence said.

She estimated last year’s attendance at the festival was around 2,000 people, having grown in popularity the last four years she’s participated.

Mike and Emeric Harney of Harney & Sons, a festival sponsor, will make their festival debut and have a booth offering several products. The company is a nationally known retailer of high-quality loose teas and tisanes, and their teas are exclusively served at Barnes & Noble cafés. In addition to Harney & Sons, festival sponsors include Choice Organic Teas, Perennial Tea Room, Ito En, Smacha, Bunn, Tea Time Magazine, and Northwest Folklife. The festival is being produced by the Puget Sound Tea Association, a group of tea vendors in the greater Seattle area that was founded in 2006. For more information about the festival and to register online for select workshops and pre-register for limited seating for select presentations, visit

Matthiesen to speak

  • Written by Duvall Historical Society

A presentation by Tom Matthiesen, sponsored by the Duvall Historical Society, is planned for Monday, October 7, at 7:30 the Duvall Visitor and Centennial Center.

It was the mid to late 1960s and early 1970s, and some very interesting people began showing up in and around the town of Duvall. It was during a time of political and social divisiveness all across the United States and all around the world.

There was an increasing distance between the old thinking and the new, the older generations and the younger, the "establishment" and a growing "underground" counter culture. In many other small outlying communities the arrival of these "irregulars" sometimes played out poorly. But somehow it all worked out pretty well in this little town in the Snoqualmie Valley. What really happened then and why?

‘Fall Fireworks in the Garden’

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

The final Savvy Gardener class for 2013 being held at Woodinville Water District is, "Fall Fireworks in the Garden." This class will be taught by Susie Egan, a Master Gardener and the owner of Woodinville’s Cottage Lake Gardens.

Enjoy an inspiring slideshow of plants that add glowing autumnal colors and drama to the end of the gardening season.

Egan will provide her detailed plant list so that you can add new combinations of trees, shrubs and perennials to your own garden.

This is an ideal time to take advantage of fall plant sales while adding waterwise plants to your landscape.

The class will be held from 10 - 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 5, at Woodinville Water District’s public meeting room located in Building A at 17238 NE Woodinville-Duvall Road, Woodinville.

Attendance is free, but preregistration is necessary due to space limitations.You can register at or call Woodinville Water District’s Public Information Office at (425) 487-4102.

This class is one of 13 being offered this fall in King County sponsored by the Saving Water Partnership and Cascade Water Alliance.

You can see a listing of all the classes on the web at Click on the Fall Leaves graphic.

If you do not have access to the Internet and would like more information, please contact Debbie Rannfeldt at Woodinville Water District at (425) 487-4102 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..