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Book your Cathedral Ridge Winery Vertical Varietal Immersion experience April 18th 2015 and stay at the Columbia Gorge Hotel.

Book your Cathedral Ridge Winery Vertical Varietal Immersion experience April 18th 2015 and stay at the Columbia Gorge Hotel.

On August 15, 1979 the nomination form was completed to include The Columbia Gorge Hotel in the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel, built nearly 100 years ago, is symbolic of the region. Residents, orchardists, windsurfers, kiteboarders, foodies, wine makers, brew masters and other visionaries have similarly gathered to the area for many pursuits and purposes. From the evolution of the hotel (from sightseeing location to hotel to home for the aged to wedding venue) to the evolution of the town (from fruit farms to windsurfing destination to drinking and dining excellence) what binds all those experiences is rooted in the unmatched natural beauty of the Gorge.

As we prepare to host our Vertical Version Immersion Experience this weekend Saturday April 18th, we welcome visitors to book their trip today to stay with our friends at the Columbia Gorge Hotel and stay, not just for the wine tasting, but for the weekend. Call 1-800-516-8710 to book your wine experience (subject to availability). To get you prepared for your weekend, here are 10 Things You May Not Know about the Columbia Gorge Hotel.

1) The Columbia Gorge Hotel, designed by Portland architect Morris H. Whitehouse, and completed in May of 1921 and was built one mile west of Hood River to accommodate travelers on the newly completed Columbia River Highway.

2) From 1921 to 1952 it experienced several changes in ownership and management, it was then converted into a home for the aged.

3) In 1978 plans were made to reopen as a resort hotel.

4) The hotel was fashioned after Italian Villa and Mission Style.

5) Simon Benson was pivotal, not just in the building of the hotel but of the construction of a road through the Columbia River Gorge. There were many problems with engineering and expenses, but with Benson helping to defray the cost, the highway of 180 miles from Astoria to Hood River was built.

6) Benson’s love and admiration of the area inspired him to give access to others to enjoy the Gorge. He was quoted as saying, “We have built good roads, and have invited the world to come and view our beauty spots, but until now we have done nothing toward taking care of them after they arrived. With our new hotel we will, in a measure, take care of this.”

7) Presidents Roosevelt and Coolidge visited the hotel.

8) The restaurant hosts a 7-Course Sunday Farmer’s Brunch every Sunday.

9) There is an on-site spa with services ranging from make-up to massages.

10) The hotel is located in the Columbia Gorge AVA which boasts more than 40 wineries.

Book your Cathedral Ridge Winery Vertical Varietal Immersion Tour and stay at the Columbia Gorge Hotel this weekend, Saturday April 18th. Call 1-800-516-8710 to book your package for $179 (subject to availability).

Cathedral Ridge Winery SpringSpring is a time of renewal, a time for Spring Cleaning, a time for change. I find myself less interested in change and more interested in really diving into the things I KNOW I like. Things like TEDTalks, so I created a list of 100 I want to listen to, like Bloody Mary’s, so I created a Pinterest board with 10 recipes I love, like reading, so I made a list of 25 classics I want to read this year, like bacon & chocolate, so I set out to find recipes and wine pairings to explore that lovely quintessential sweet & savory experience. The research turned up some unlikely candidates, such as Mole Chili, but here are my favorite bacon & chocolate wine pairings:

Blue-Cheese Wedge Salad with Bacon & Chocolate & Syrah


4 slices peppered bacon

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup sour cream

1 clove garlic, pressed

1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne or red pepper flakes

1 head iceberg lettuce

1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles

Sprinkle of cocoa nibs


Bake or fry bacon slices until crispy. Drain off fat and allow to cool

In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, buttermilk, sour cream and garlic. Add the vinegar, Worcestershire, salt, pepper and cayenne and whisk until the mixture is totally smooth.

Chop up the bacon into pieces. Cut the iceberg in half right through the middle, then cut the halves into wedges.

Add dressing then sprinkle on the blue cheese, bacon & cocoa nibs

Pair with 2012 Syrah with its alluring bouquet of ripe raspberries, sweet brown spice and allspice lead into a palate rich with black currant, soft licorice and brandy-soaked berries. Slate and cocoa on the finish.

Rachel Ray’s Mole Chili with Bacon & Chocolate & Merlot


3 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded

1 quart beef stock

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 slices lean, smoky bacon, chopped

2 pounds ground sirloin

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (15 ounces)

2 tablespoons smoked sweet paprika for mild mole, or chili powder for spicy mole (a couple of palmfuls)

1 tablespoon coriander (a palmful)

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Salt, if necessary

2 cups shredded or crumbled extra-sharp white cheddar

1 small red onion, finely chopped

Hot pickled vegetables (giardiniara), drained and chopped, for serving


Put the chiles in a pot with the stock and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat to a simmer until softened, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil, one turn of the pan, over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. When the oil smokes, add the bacon and cook until crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the meat, raise the heat to high and brown for 8 minutes. Lower the heat a bit, add the onion and garlic and cook for 5-6 minutes to soften. Season the meat and onion with black pepper, to taste (hold off on the salt until the chili is completed due to the addition of the bacon and the stock).

Add the anchos with the stock to a food processor and puree until smooth. Set aside.

Add the tomato paste to the meat mixture. Stir for 1 minute, then pour in the ancho stock. Stir in the tomatoes, spices, cocoa and cinnamon. Simmer for a few minutes, adjust the seasoning and add a touch of salt, if needed.

Serve the chili in shallow bowls topped with the cheese, raw red onion and spicy chopped vegetables with the 2012 Merlot.

Cocoa-Rubbed Steak with Bacon Whiskey Gravy & Cabernet Sauvignon


For the steak:

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Kosher salt

3 1 -pound New York strip steaks (about 1 1/2 inches thick)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

For the gravy:

4 strips bacon, diced

1 leek (white and light green parts only), finely chopped

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whiskey

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


Make the steak: Mix the cocoa powder, both paprikas, brown sugar, cayenne and 2 teaspoons salt; rub on the steak and bring to room temperature, 30 minutes.

Make the gravy: Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon; set aside. Add the leek to the drippings and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the whiskey, then return to medium heat; if the alcohol ignites, let the flames die out. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the mixture is reduced by one-quarter, about 8 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the gravy coats a spoon, about 7 minutes. Stir in the butter, reserved bacon and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat, about 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon butter; when it melts, add the steak and sear until a dark crust forms, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Season with salt. Slice and serve with the gravy.

Pair with 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon a smooth and complex Cab with a nose of rosemary, vanilla and blueberry with a palate full of black currant, caramel and a long cedar finish.

Chocolate Bacon Truffles & Necessity Red


2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts

8 thick bacon slices, cooked and divided

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter


6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped


Process first 3 ingredients and 6 bacon slices in a food processor 20 to 30 seconds or until finely ground. Stir together bacon mixture and peanut butter in a small bowl until smooth. Cover and chill 2 hours.

Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of bacon mixture into 3/4-inch balls. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet; chill 1 hour.

Chop remaining 2 bacon slices. Microwave chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals. Dip chilled bacon balls into chocolate. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle tops with bacon. Chill 30 minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Pair with 2012 Necessity Red, a combination of 66% Pinot Noir, 17% Merlot and 17% Zinfandel with fruity notes of huckleberry, bing cherry with earthy aromas of cardamom and a caramel finish.

Chocolate-Covered Bacon & Bordheauxd Red


16 slices applewood smoked bacon, thick cut, cooked crisp and cooled, cut in half

3 (4-ounce) bars semisweet chocolate, chopped (recommended: Ghirardelli)

1 (4-ounce) bar white chocolate, chopped


Melt both the semisweet chocolate and white chocolate in separate double boilers. Whisk until completely smooth. Remove them from the heat.

Dunk the bacon into the semisweet chocolate and make sure it is completely coated. Let excess drip off and lay on a parchment or waxed paper lined quarter sheet tray. Repeat with all the bacon slices. Drizzle the white chocolate over the chocolate covered bacon. Put the sheet tray in the refrigerator to set, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the sheet tray to a serving dish and serve.

Pair with 2012 Bordheauxd Red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Named after the “Board Heads” (windsurfers and kiteboarders) that scatter the beautiful Columbia River Gorge in the summer. Cathedral Ridge’s twist on a classic Bordeaux.

Bourbon Bacon & Chocolate Chip Cookies & Pinot Noir

3 tablespoons Maker’s Mark® Bourbon

3/4 pound bacon, 1/4-inch dice*

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup reserved bacon fat, chilled

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces**


In a large sauté pan, cook out the diced bacon until the bacon pieces are golden and crisp.

Remove the bacon pieces from the fat and drain on a paper towel.

Strain the fat through a fine sieve and measure out a 1/2 cup of bacon fat and chill the bacon fat until it congeals and is set.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in small bowl.

Beat the butter, chilled bacon fat, granulated sugar, light and dark brown sugars, vanilla and Maker’s Mark® Bourbon in large mixer bowl until it is well combined.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat in the flour mixture.

Stir in the cooked bacon pieces and chopped chocolate bits.

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto parchment-lined baking sheets at least 3 inches apart.

Bake in the oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.

Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Keep in a dry, airtight container for up to 5 days.

* A fattier sliced bacon is preferred, as lean bacon and turkey bacon will not work for this recipe.

** Use a dark chocolate with 65% cocoa or higher. Anything from a 65%-85% chocolate will work well.

Pair with 2012 Tempranillo, the fresh fruit flavors of plum and blackberry and notes of tobacco and leather is a perfect heady compliment to this dessert.

Want to learn more about food & wine pairing and learn about the Bordeaux varietal? Join us for Varietal Vertical Immersion April 18th. 

Doppio C

I love my first cup of coffee in the morning. As I draw my bubble bath, ruminate on the prior day’s successes and failures and prepare for today’s challenges coffee is the marker of a new beginning that each day offers. It’s the champion in your corner engaging your senses of smell and taste and even your bravery to believe that anything is possible. Conversely, wine is the thing that signals the move from the hectic, rewarding work day into those activities that bring us home and near our loved ones. Pouring a glass of wine while preparing dinner or pulling out the backgammon or chess boards for what will surely be another hard-fought but losing battle (Scrabble is my game, but that’s another post) eases us into the sometimes quieter and often less-structured part of our day. There’s something powerful about the signals coffee and wine provide us in a day that we’re lucky enough to partake in their liquid perfection.
When I spend time in a wine tasting room I marvel at the differences of the experience each visitor has, as well as their similarities. What makes Cathedral Ridge Winery’s tasting room special is the collection of women who bring their own passion and expertise to the experience.


For Jocelyn, wine is the thing that inspired her to move to the area and buy a small vineyard and explore her passion and love of all things wine, including the predecessor of that great first sip of wine to the fruit that grows and evolves to be the foundation of that delectable nectar.

For Lorri Connelly her love of meeting people from all over the country and having something in common to talk about (wine) is amazing. “Everyone is in a good mood when tasting and talking about wine”, she shared. Connelly, an accomplished musician who plays fiddle in a band shares her love of music with visitors as well as her passion for the 2011 Zinfandel Reserve.

Long-time employee Sue Farro has a knack for engaging visitors with her unconventional and unassuming style. Her approachability is complimented by  her depth of wine knowledge. Her favorite Cathedral Ridge Winery wine is the Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blend, she adds “It’s a complex red blend, complex like me!”

Julie Skov, the wineries manager, loves the ever changing state of the wine business. “You can never get bored”, she shares. There’s always something new to learn, another wine to try, another pairing to perfect. Her descriptions of wine inspires people to talk about food. When speaking of the flavor palette, she favors descriptors closest to food, “I love the bold, smoky, meaty flavors in the Syrah.” Skov has a flare for pairing, her favorite pairing was definitely the 2012 Barbera Reserve and the recipe she’s posted here for Italian Lamb Pizza.

Wine drinking and coffee drinking have many similarities, the most important being the passion we bring to our drinking experience. Michael Barthmus, proprietor of Hood River Coffee Shop Doppio, a past product manager in Germany for Mercedez-Benz, similarly educates and serves the area. When I returned from Italy a few years ago, I told Barthmus how impressed I was that the Italian drink their espresso and cappucinno with gusto, at the bar and never in a paper cup. He proceeded to share his Italian-inspired creation, the Miguelito. A perfect blend of espresso, cream and half a packet of raw sugar. Doppio is still my favorite cafe here, not just because they have amazing coffee, but because that level of passion and engagement still exists nearly a decade after their opening.

Whether you live in Hood River or are just lucky enough to visit, your love of all things coffee and wine should include a trip to both Doppio and the Cathedral Ridge Winery tasting rooms. The winery is hosting a Vertical Varietal Immersion Tasting  For the fun, the passion and to elevate coffee and wine drinking to an artistic experience.

Join Us - Vertical Version Immersion
If you’re looking for a more thoughtful, in-depth wine tasting experience, here are 5 reasons to join us for our Varietal Vertical Immersions on March 21st and/or April 18th. Join us to discover wines from multiple vineyards that are still in the barrel, wines that are currently on the floor and rare 7-10 year old library wines. 

5) Spend Time in the Columbia Gorge

The Columbia Gorge AVA was only established in 2004 but area wineries are winning awards, famous vintners are homesteading here and the many varietals that can grow in the regions 40-mile microclimate are similar to those grown in the Bordeaux region of France.

And that’s just the wine scene. Last year, Hood River, Oregon was named by Livability in the top 10 for America’s Best Small towns.

As a past 18-year resident, I can attest to the beauty of the area and the unparalleled passion for all things wine and food. Restaurants such as Celilo have been included in New York Times as an “upscale-healthy hip” favorite, Pfriem Brewery is a Northwest and Belgian inspired brewery winning awards left and right including the Gold at the recent Oregon Beer Awards (not an easy feat for a state known for its breweries). Boda’s Kitchen, a gourmet delicatessen, has been named one of the areas best restaurants. Their delicious and imaginative menu is locally sourced and their recent purchase of a high-end smoker bodes well for the meat-lover.

Downtown Hood River
4) It’s Like Sonoma in the Late 70’s

In 2008, “Bottle Shock” was featured at the Sundance Film Festival and made headlines for sharing the oft-referenced “Bottle Shock” story. French wine experts participated in blind wine tasting that illuminated the Napa and Sonoma Valley excellence and sometimes superior wines. In 1976, a small American winery bested the exalted French wines of the time and sent the wine industry into a tailspin – putting California wines on the map for good. Based on a true story, Bottle Shock chronicles the events leading up to the famous ‘Judgment of Paris’ tastings, told through the lives of father and son, Jim and Bo Barrett.

The Columbia Gorge AVA is poised for such excellence. Some of the grape varietals grown in Columbia Gorge and Columbia Valley AVAs include: Albariño, Aglianico, Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Dolcetto, Gamay, Gewürztraminer, Grenache, Gruner Vertliner, Lemberger, Malbec, Marsanne, Merlot, Mourvedre, Muscat, Nebbiolo, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Primitivo, Riesling, Roussanne, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier, White Riesling and Zinfandel.

The Varietal Vertical Immersion ™ experience focuses on a handful of varietals as they share a library of different years of the same varietal to explore the interest and complexity of single varietal wines.

3) Visit Top Wineries in a 5-mile Radius

Cathedral Ridge Winery Varietal Vertical Immersion™ experience lasts for about 2 hours, which leaves plenty of time to visit our friends down the road at Marchesi Vineyard, The Pines, Viento and Phelps Creek Vineyards. To give a feel for the quality, in the 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Marchesi Vineyard won Best of Show for their 2012 Sangiovese and Cathedral Ridge Winery won Double Gold for 2012 Bolton Vineyard Barbera Reserve.

Geographically, the Columbia Gorge has it all. Moving from West to East along the Columbia River, the climate goes from a temperate rain forest at Cascade Locks (~80 inches of annual precipitation) to an extremely arid high desert in The Dalles (~14 inches of annual precipitation.)

The interceding 40 miles covers a broad range of climates and places, The Columbia Gorge is within only a few degrees of latitude as the famous French wine regions like The Rhone Valley, The Rhine Valley, Burgundy, and Bordeaux.

Also in the Columbia Gorge’s favor is the extreme proximity of the different microclimates. Few wineries purchase grapes from farther than 30 miles away. This proximity means that from the time of picking to crushing and wine making is only a few hours as opposed to days. The result is cleaner, more aromatically intriguing wines.

But even the best grapes in the world can be mistreated in the hands of novice wine makers. Luckily for the Columbia Gorge, the versatile growing region has attracted masterful wine makers from the beginning. The region has drawn winemakers from some of the best winemaking schools in the world like UC Davis and winemakers who have found success in the Willamette Valley and Sonoma, as well as winemakers from Europe.

Dampier VineyardMoody Vineyard






2) Immerse Yourself in the Discovery Process

John Medina’s book “Brain Rules” outlines the biology of experience and remembering and there’s strong correlation when multiple senses are engaged. Not only will you smell and taste the wine, but you’ll experience standing in the barrel room where proprietor Robb Bell and fourth-generation Sonoma winemaker Michael Sebastiani create the award-winning wine. You’ll hear about groundskeeper Francisco Chairez who has been with the winery even before Bell purchased it in 2003. Making wine discovery that much more fun and memorable.


1) Taste Great Wine

Join Cathedral Ridge Winery March 21st and/or April 18th to taste wines from multiple vineyards that are still in the barrel, wines that are currently on the floor and rare 7-10 year old library wines. Hosted by the Cellar Master, Robb Bell. Experience the wine developing from grape to barrel to bottle to cellar, and purchase your favorites to bring home. Each session is limited to 25 people so check out the tasting menu and register now.









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It’s beginning to look a lot like Spring out here!
Taking the bird nets off is one of the first steps. Doing this allows us to start the pruning process and get the vines ready to grow those delicious grapes. The easiest way to take them off is by using a tractor and rolling them up on a pipe while pulling them off. We use the same nets year to year to save money and not waste. Stay tuned for some vine pics and updates on the pruning







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Spreading CompostSpring time brings vineyard work to us here at Cathedral Ridge Winery. We’d love for you to experience our weekly updates and see what it takes to run a full-working winery.
Here’s a little video of John and Francisco sledding and spreading compost in our new vineyard while Robb runs the tractor.


In:Barrel Room Buzz

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Wine libraries are not at least. Wine library may conjure images of one’s dream collection of the world’s best wines or perhaps a collection of tasting notes from a self-proclaimed sommelier or it may just be a medieval term with wines as outdated as the name.

Commonly referred to as the wine cellar, the Cathedral Ridge Wine Library is our opportunity to showcase our best wines with a collection of tasting notes from our own sommeliers. With original Flerchinger Vineyard vintages, Halbtrocken lovers would be beside themselves, to Merlot and Zinfandel verticals and even our famed Rusty Red from the beginning, our Wine Library is a dream for those who love our wine.

With Passport Weekend upon us, we invite you to join us to venture into the library for a complimentary Reserve Cellar Tasting and if you love what you find, we’re offering 10% all reserve cellar purchases. But don’t fret; if you can’t make it this weekend, we welcome you to come in for a visit and perhaps an opportunity to venture into our library and our history. Enjoy the beauty of a different kind of library.


In:Perfect Pairing

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Nothing scores higher on the intensity meter than syrah. A great syrah will entice with its notes of fruit, spice, and textures. As such, syrahs pair terrifically with meats from beef and lamb to pork, game, and tuna. It pays to play up syrah’s spice with use of aromatics like garlic and alliums, peppercorns and peppers (bells as well as chiles), cinnamon and clove, all mushrooms, mustards, ginger, bay, basil, mints, parsley, sage, rosemary, oregano, and thyme. Grilling and roasting are always good ideas, but bringing out the sweetly scented berry or plum qualities of syrah by first marinating any number of ways is also good. Herewith, three noteworthy syrah pairings: Cumin-spiced burgers with Harissa MayoShanghai Stir-Fried Pork with Cabbage and lamb Ragout with Olives and Peppers.


In:Barrel Room Buzz

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It’s likely you’ve seen him roaming the winery grounds and there’s a good chance he’s attempted to solicit a pet or two from anyone that glances his way. Always bounding about, our hardworking and faithful winery dog Rusty, is a beloved CRW family member.

It seems like just yesterday that I missed a day of school to travel up north into Central Washington to pick-up the newest member of our family. Driving home, he was immediately dissatisfied with traveling in his crate and ended up making the journey home asleep in my lap and it hasn’t changed much since, even though he’s quadrupled in size. Growing up, Rusty was another brother. Always protective, an endless playmate and I even had to share the backseat on family road trips with him, wrestling for who got the most room and always losing.

Aside from being a brother, Rusty is also a top-notch bird dog, but you’ll have to read that story on the bottle of wine dedicated to Rusty himself, our Rusty Red. A complex wine with rich, jammy blackberry, hints of chocolate, a bit of smoke and a touch of earthiness. A little bit of everything, just like Rusty is to our family.

We invite you out to say hello to Rusty and of course have a glass of wine. And keep an eye out for our newest family member, Rhett, a bundle of exuberant puppy racing around the grounds. Something tells me that his tribute wine will be a bit more spicy.