My sister has spent time in Washington State’s San Juan Islands for decades. She and her husband own property on a remote island there whose residents cherish its privacy so much they ask me not to identify it by name. To get there we took a puddle jumper from Seattle to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island where we were met by a charter boat delivering fresh produce to the islands. My niece prepared an ice chest for us with a mason jar filled with a rum cocktail, warm almonds and dried chile mangoes.
We had the most relaxing, wonderful time there, cooking and eating on the beach, taking walks and soaking in the Pacific Northwest. On Saturday, we decided to visit one of two wineries in the San Juans, Lopez Island Vineyards. Keeping in mind we’re on an island with no ferry service, we first made arrangements to hire a boat to take us to Lopez and then called the winery to find out how to get there from the village. Iris Graville told me there were no taxis on the island, but that should would give us a ride after she finished working at the farmers market.
Lopez is a wonderful place to spend time. We had a cup of coffee, visited the fudge factory, stopped in a weaver’s studio and then went to the farmers market. We found a place that was serving incredible crepes and ice tea with ginger and then Iris drove us to the winery.
Co-owner Maggie Nilan was there to greet us. The fact that the road to the winery was torn up with road work didn’t deter visitors from coming. The tasting room was filled when we arrived and a steady stream of visitors kept coming. Maggie had us taste through the menu, starting with the Wave Crest White, a light refreshing blend of Madeleine Angevine and Siegerrebe, both organically grown at the winery. The Chardonnay, sourced from grapes grown in the Yakima Valley, was crisp and lightly oaky. Here’s where things get a little different. They make an apple-pear wine made from King apples and Bosc pears. We both were expecting something very sweet, but were pleasantly surprised by how dry it was and perfect on a day close to 80 degrees. We tasted more wines from Yakima Valley grapes: a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Malbec blend. We were pleasantly surprised by how good they were. To finish there was a raspberry wine. It had a sweetness to it, but it wasn’t cloying and the fruit really came through on the finish.
While we waited for Maggie’s partner Brent Charnley to return, we grabbed a bottle of Wave Crest White and savored it under a canopy of Pinot Noir grapes on the patio. Brent showed up and gave us a tour of the vineyards. He has six acres planted, mostly Madeleine Angevine and Siegerrebe, but he is trying a few others including the afore-mentioned Pinot Noir to see how they’ll do. It turns out Brent and I attended the same summer camp on Lopez Island about four years ago.
Brent took us to the barrel room and we tasted some of his Malbec and Cabernet from the barrels that will be bottled later this year. Both showed promise of being very drinkable wines. Our visit to Lopez Island Vineyards was one we won’t forget and a perfect end to our story tale honeymoon. We have learned there are nearly 600 wineries in eight regions in Washington State. I smell a road trip!