Red Wine and Chocolate, Olympic Peninsula Winery Tour

February 9, 10 and 16, 17, and 18, 2013

147034263The Olympic Peninsula Wineries invite you to the annual Red Wine & Chocolate Tour, Feb. 9-10 and Feb. 16-18 (Presidents’ Day Weekend) from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Tickets may be purchased at participating wineries during the event. The $30 ticket and glass package entitles you to a special commemorative wine glass, complimentary wine tasting and delectable samples of chocolate at each winery during the Red Wine & Chocolate Weekends. This event does not take place at one location. You travel from winery to winery, visiting the ones you are interested in exploring. Tickets are not required to attend this event. A $5.00 wine tasting fee will be charged at each winery for non-ticketed visitors. You must be 21 or over to purchase tickets and/or participate in wine tasting. All ticket sales are non-refundable.

The Olympic Peninsula Wineries encourage responsible wine touring and recommend that you have a designated driver in your group. Designated Drivers are invited to enjoy the food at each winery.

At Camaraderie we will showcase the savory side of chocolate! A perennial favorite, the cocoa-spiced pulled pork cooked in the winery’s wood-fired oven will pair with newly released 2009 Syrah. Chocolate drizzled popcorn, a combination of sweet and salty, will complement a sassy Tempranillo. Molly Baby bittersweet chocolate cookies are good with any red wine, but especially Camaraderie’s luscious Merlot. Lots of other red wines, discounts and chocolates will tempt our guests when visiting our lovely garden setting.

The Winemaker

Don Corson has been making wine since 1981 when he started with 100 pounds of Eastern Washington grapes and made his first Cabernet Sauvignon. Over the next decade he joined a small but growing number of winemakers in the state with a passion for making wine with the hope of “going commercial”.

In 1992 Don and his wife Vicki formed Camaraderie Cellars with a combination of hope, a small new building, great vineyard connections and a family philosophy that the best things in life are meant to be shared. Only 200 cases of that 1992 vintage was made but it earned a Gold medal at the Enological Society of the Pacific Northwest’s annual judging. Since that time Don has increased production to about 3,500 cases of wines, the buildings have grown in number and size, and in critical acclaim locally and nationally.

Don’s passion for winemaking stems from a multigenerational passion for good food. Family enjoyment of fruit and the tradition of canning the harvest’s bounty evolved with Don to preserve the essence of the vineyard’s crop in a different form – the bottle! Don believes that nothing is better than a good meal with good wine and good friends to share it with.

Sharing life’s best is captured in the name of the winery he and Vicki chose, “Camaraderie” and the name of their flagship wine “Grâce.” Camaraderie focuses on friends and sharing that goes deeper than just a good time together. “Grâce,” in the French means thanks and blessing, elegance and charm, concepts that go beyond a label and represent a generous spirit, a way of doing things, and values that should be at the table and in life.

Don retired in 2009 from a challenging “day job” as Vice President of Planning and Development at Merrill & Ring, a timber and land company. He also holds a Ph.D. in Geography and loves working on the winery garden grounds building and planting new things for visitors to the winery to enjoy. He currently serves as a member of the Washington Wine Institute where he brings his enthusiasm for winemaking to help support the industry as a whole.

Don and Vicki have two children: Annie, a Washington State University graduate who is an oncology pharmacist supervisor in Tacoma. She is married to Matt and they are parents to wonderful grandchild, Jacob. Steven, a graduate of Michigan State in Hospitality Business and of the Culinary Institute of America , is employed by Northwest Naturals, a Bothell company which does food product development.

Twenty Twenty Vision

coupleIt was in 1981 that an intergenerational group got together over 100 pounds of grapes in our garage to make wine. We were having serious fun as we learned over eleven years about the mysteries of yeast, fermentations, and what we would do again and what for sure we wouldn’t. Volumes of grapes got bigger, the multi-family “crew” got bigger too, food was abundant and so was the laughter. It was family friend and English professor Bill Rearick that suggested we name our selves Camaraderie Cellars for the combination of comradeship, and festive sense about us. The name has stuck and the last twenty years of commercial winemaking have really been about living into that name.

Last Fall’s vintage was our 20th and we will be celebrating our 20th business anniversary in August of 2012. Where does the time go? It goes into the memory banks, I guess, and becomes, at best, the enriching stuff of futures to come.

Over the past twenty years Camaraderie Cellars has grown from its first vintage of about 200 cases to a current production of 3,800. We have earned more than 300 major awards for our wines, and have built a very solid winery and welcoming grounds adjacent to our home.

Over 20 years I have driven 140,000+ miles to retrieve well over 1,000 tons of grapes. I could tell you tales of flat tires, storms, blazing heat, and taco stands to remember (and some to forget), but the details and numbers are just footnotes to the real story of Camaraderie Cellars … its first 20 years.

What I remember most, and keeps me enthusiastic about the future are things like this:

  • Seeing the smiles of new customers surprised by the quality of wine they are sampling in this spot so seemingly remote from the grapes we harvest.
  • Increasing numbers of repeat customers and a very loyal wine club of friends.
  • Getting a fire going in the big fire pit on a coolish afternoon and watching the migration of visitors to its warmth… a metaphor for the warmth of the place as a whole, I hope.
  • partners like Gene and Mary Ann and Joy to share the loads that complement each other’s strengths.
  • The augment of our otherwise skimpy work force at harvest and bottling times with dozens of recruits to joyfully help.
  • The thank you parties and events for the wine club.
  • Taking our wines on “cold calls” to a Ruth’ Chris Steak House in Texas and have it adopted as a wine by the glass pour for $17.50/glass!
  • Barrel tasting wines that have six months to go before bottling and know they are the best wines (again) that I have ever made.
  • Working with vineyard partners like Paul Champoux and Fred Artz who share our desire for excellence.

The next years at Camaraderie will be sparked by the enthusiasm we began with in 1992, if not in 1981, but tempered with the realities of running a passionate business. The last couple of years have been a challenge for the whole industry but we are seeing steady renewed growth that is promising. We have chosen to stay the course unlike some other smaller wineries everywhere and have hit the reset button on who we are and what we are doing. We are still living into our name, “Camaraderie”.

I’ve learned that to “live into” our name of “camaraderie” wine must be understood as our product but not our vision. Our over-riding purpose is to demonstrate a life style that “the best things in life are meant to be shared”.

Here are some of our goals for the next few years, and they should make you smile as much as I am as I write this.

  • Take wine-making quality to even higher levels.
  • Decrease total production while maintaining variety as an asset for our customers and wine club members.
  • Build on our reputation as a wine (and winery) that over-delivers excellence for the price. This is different from just being a “good value”.
  • Have fun!

December News

We’re open during the winter by appointment only, but we would love to see you, so call us to schedule a tasting. You can enjoy our wines year round as well by purchasing them from our online store. Our wines are also sold locally on the Olympic Peninsula at QFC.

Autumn Roasted Beet, Carrot, and Red Onion Salad

6-8 Medium Beets-peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 Medium Carrots-peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal 2 Red Onions – peeled and cut into eighths
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper

Toss Vegetables in Oil and season with Salt and Pepper
Roast at 400 degrees until tender and caramelized, 30-45 minutes

After Vegetables cool, toss with:
Juice of 1 Orange
Zest of 1 Orange
Lemon Thyme 1 TB (or Regular Thyme)
Top with creamy goat cheese if desired.

Camaraderie Cellars ~~ Steve Corson , Chef ~~ September 2007

Sun-dried Tomato Tampanade

3/4 c. sundried tomatoes
2-3 T. capers, to taste
1 c. parsley, either regular or italian flat leaf
2-3 cloves garlic (use three if you really like garlic)
drizzle of olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Place tomatoes, capers, parsley and garlic in food processer. Process until almost smooth. Drizzle olive oil–about 1 to 2 tablespoons as processor is running. Add salt & pepper to taste. Makes about 1 cup

Steve Corson Mole Sauce

Featured at Red Wine & Chocolate

The thing about Moles is that there are 100′s of different kinds from black, brown, red, yellow and even green. The most common type that people think of is a dark brown sauce with chocolate included. This type is a Southern style mostly associated with the region of Oaxaca.

It takes a bit of time to prepare, but your effort and patience will be rewarded in a deep, complex sauce. Enjoy!

1 Bag of dried Guajillo Chiles, seeded and destemmed
1 Bag of dried New Mexico Chiles, seeded and destemmed
4 Roma Tomatoes, chunked
1 Yellow Onion, chunked
8 Garlic Cloves, chopped
2 Cups Raisins
2 Cups Pumpkin Seeds
1 Cup Whole Almonds
1 Cup Sesame Seeds
2 Slices Crusty White Bread
2 Cinnamon Sticks
2 TB Cumin
2 TB Oregano
2 TB Coriander
4 Cups Chicken Stock
2 Mexican Beers
2 Limes, juiced
4-8 oz Chocolate
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. Cut chilies into big chunks. Toast chilies in a dry pan over medium heat until slightly discolored and aromatic.
2. Roast Tomatoes, Onion, Garlic in oven until tender
3. Fry Raisins, Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Sesame Seeds and Bread each separately in canola oil until golden brown.
4. Combine all ingredients in large stock pot and simmer for 1-2 hrs.
5. Remove cinnamon sticks and puree in blender in three batches, 3 to 4 minutes per batch until smooth. (Or use stick blender in stockpot)
6. Return to pot and simmer on low for 4-8 Hrs. The more the better.

Toss with sautéed chicken or turkey chunks and roll in a tortilla, or use as an enchilada or burrito sauce, or over baked chicken.

Bleu Cheese Cookies

1/2 cup cream cheese, room temp
1 cup butter, at room temperature
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 ½ cups crumbled blue cheese
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups crisp rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a mixer on medium speed, cream together cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add cayenne, blue cheese, flour, rice cereal, and bacon (if using) and beat on medium-low speed until well blended. The dough will be stiff.

2. Roll 1 tablespoon portions into balls and place slightly apart on baking sheets. Flatten each ball with a fork.

3. Bake until cookies are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Yield: Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Camaraderie Cellars ~~ from Sunset Magazine 2/06 ~~ March 2008

Cocoa Spice Rub

2 TB Smoked Paprika
2 TB Cocoa Powder
1 TB Ancho Chile Powder
1 TB Kosher Salt
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Granulated Garlic
1/2 tsp Onion Powder

Combine ingredients and rub on meat. For pulled pork, cook meat in covered pan along with about a cup of chicken stock until done and meat pulls apart evenly. Reserve some of the cooking liquid. Add additional spice rub and some of the cooking liquid for more flavor and moisture after shredding the meat.

Camaraderie Cellars ~~ Red Wine & Chocolate 2011 ~~ Chef Steve Corson

Summer 2009 Winemaker Notes

“Summer” in the Northwest is when you can get it. We have had incredible warm weather, and as I write this in early July, we are now back into a wet pattern. I, along with the garden, am enjoying the damp for awhile. But … we are in full summer swing, wet or not.

This very day (July 8th), we have installed another sculpture! If you look on the back of our labels you will see a line drawing of “hands lifted up”. That has now been carved in stone by our good friend and master sculptor, Maureen Wall. It has been positioned by a new water feature right by the central patio where the fire pit is.

“Camaraderie” is a sense of celebration and sharing and the hands lifted up image is just right for what it is we do and what we share here. Wine, as good and wonderful as it is, is only the vehicle and companion not the end of the journey. Folks that want to focus on just the wine are missing the meaning of the journey with friends.

That all being said, I make wine that, as a vehicle will be as fine as a Rolls, and as approachable as a Chevy. Enjoy the ride.

We bottled 3,700 cases of the 2007’s in May and will begin release of these fine wines in Autumn but mostly next Spring. If you are a part of the wine club you can look forward to some surprises coming up in packaging.

Barrels are ordered, I am now getting together my thoughts on yeasts and fermentation additions so I will be ready for harvest 2009 which is just around the corner – AAAAArrrrggghhh!

Have a great Summer. Come by. You will love the new sculpture and just maybe the new wood-fired pizza oven will be up and running!

Don Corson

Summer 2008 Winemaker Notes

Summer (?) 2008
Winemaker Notes

As I write this on the 10th of June, I see fresh snow on the Olympic peaks behind the winery that fell last night. What a relief to know that Eastern Washington is a world apart in its weather and grapes are growing reasonably well so far despite our wet and cool west side of the state craziness.

I had the privilege of moderating a seminar for the Taste of Washington earlier this year that focused on the “Next Great Washington Red”. We tasted Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Malbec, and Tempranillo. The “take home” messages were that Cabernet Franc will continue to emerge as a mainline Washington State red wine of importance, and watch out for Tempranillo. Tempranillo is the great grape of Spain ’s Rioja region. While no wine will take away the status of Cabernet Sauvignon, another message was that Washington State is producing much more than head-turning Cabernet and Merlot. These “new” varieties are rising stars in the Washington wine constellation.

I am pleased to report that we will be releasing our own Tempranillo this Fall and it is a lovely wine that combines some of the best attributes of Syrah, Malbec and Merlot. Rich, mouthfilling and with good acid and tannins, this wine is going to be a winner.

On the Solstice, our daughter Annie will be getting married to Matt. The reception will be at the winery and we are looking to have a great day regardless of the weather. (We are bringing in tents and heaters just in case!) The gardens are in fine form. Except for that day you are welcome to visit. We look forward to seeing you.

Don Corson

Winemaker

Harvest 2010 Winemaker Notes

Almost every grape grower and winemaker I have talked with this Fall has commented on the strangeness of this year’s growing season and harvest. Not only has harvest been late by weeks but all the “usualness” that I could count on was clobbered. The usually early vineyards came in later, grape varieties that usually come in a nice manageable sequence got collapsed into days instead of weeks, acid and sugar ratios had to be scrutinized carefully, and the list could go boringly long. This was our nineteenth commercial vintage and I have never experienced anything quite like it.

But what does all this oddness mean for wine quality this year? Early in September some folks were expressing grave concerns. What I am actually finding is that most wines have deep and rich balanced flavors. All in all, I’m more than pleased with the wines we have made.

I made at least 15 trips (I’ve lost count) to Eastern Washington to get grapes. Some vineyards were too small or too remote for a commercial truck to get into and sometimes the grapes were picked on a weekend and it was up to me to get them. I usually dropped bins off at the next vineyard to be picked on my way over. We got grapes from eight different vineyards this year so you can imagine the logistics. Me and “Big Red”, the one ton diesel truck, became fast, no, make that slow, friends.

At one time we had eight separate fermentations going on, each with its own daily management requirements. We had 20 separate lots. Each had to be stemmed and crushed, fermented and pressed, then barreled. Volunteer work parties were many and we are especially grateful for the enthusiasm everyone brought to the work. We could not have gotten through harvest without their help.

We have updated our website to include a harvest photo gallery so you can get a sense of what we have been doing around here.

At this time of the year we are open by appointment and we look forward to your calls to make a time to visit.

Right now, I’m going to go and take a nap.

Don Corson
Winemaker

Mid-Year At Camaraderie

Mid-Year At Camaraderie

The year is flying by! The first half has included marketing trips to Texas cities, winery work, construction of another 1,000 square feet of covered and insulated space, and the list could go on and on. In another two weeks we bottle the 2008 vintage wines and I am in the final stages of blending trials. The wines have never tasted so good at this stage and I am really looking forward to their release early next year.

I have worked especially hard on the marketing side of the business over the last few months. And I’m glad to report we are making solid inroads into new markets and re-invigorating some others. The Texas trip was especially exciting as our wines were very well received for their quality, the ability to complement a wide range of fare, and the fact they over deliver for the price. This seems to be a wining combination in Manhattan and Vancouver BC too.

Another highlight for the first part of the year was doing a tasting for Seattle’s prestigious Rainier Club. Organized by their wine director, Christopher Chan, the previous winemakers included such luminaries as Bob Betz, Leonetti, and Andrew Will. To be in the same breath as these legends is very complimentary to the winery and I am grateful to Christopher for the opportunity.

Still another recent event was participating in the first annual “Merlot Gone Mad” event organized by the Jamie Peha. This came out of an idea I shared with her about the fact that Washington State Merlot is the best in the world and we should have an event that showcases this versatile noble grape. Over fifty wineries participated and 300+ were in attendance.

At nearly mid-year, the garden is just coming out of its Winter-cold Spring blahs. Rose buds are forming, leaves on the Japanese maples are unfurling, and rhododendrons are coloring the landscape. And, of course the vineyards are past bud break and growing for the sky.

All of this bodes well for the rest of the year. Cold weather root growth, like the hard work in the winery that few see, is what’s needed for success during the rest of the year.

We are now into our summer hours for visits (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 11-5, or by appointment). Come see us!

Don Corson
Winemaker

Spring 2010 Winemaker Thoughts

Spring 2010
Winemaker Thoughts

It is actually still “winter”, but here on the north Olympic Peninsula, I can see brave bulbs poking their heads up and the crazy Autumnalis Cherry tree is blushing with pink buds and brave blooms.

Soon it will be time to begin spring racking of all the fresh 2009 wines that are done with malolactic fermentation. This is always a time to be dreaded but sort of exciting too. I dread it because it is just flat out work in pumping out wine barrels stacked four and five high then washing the barrels of who knows what at the bottom – bee wings and dead yeast lie in clay-like sediments that do not wash easily. Once the barrels are freshened the wine goes back in and I will start checking out the 2008 vintage wines as I prepare for bottling in May.

Spring cleaning, though, is also an opportunity to check out the winery’s “library” of past vintages and see how they are coming along. I did this recently and found some prizes. Not so much “surprises” because we all know Washington State fruit is packed with great tannin and acid and these attributes allow the wines to age beautifully. I expected our wines to be fine, but there is always the “I wonder…” factor.

I am pleased to report that after tasting through a range of past vintages that were at least five years old and many eight and nine years old, I didn’t find any that were clearly going over the hill. Colors were bright, fruit aromas were fresh, tannins were smoothing out, and major “yum” factors abounded. Wines like the 2002 Cabernet Franc were crazy good and the 2003 Merlot was rich lovely.

Let the excuse of “Spring house cleaning” be an invitation for you to take a peek in your cellar. Don’t wait for just the “perfect” time for “that” bottle. If you don’t have a special stash, then start one. There is nothing like a well aged red wine – there really isn’t. And, of course, Camaraderie can help you with this resolution.

I also invite you to slow down a bit this year. The national statistic is that 85% of wine is bought and consumed within 90 minutes! In this age of wine “appreciation” tools that promise “instant breathing” and gratification, I say get some nice big wine glasses that don’t cost all that much and let the wine breathe in there while you also take some big deep breaths and savor. Why be in a rush? You will both benefit.

Don Corson, winemaker

Press Release December 2008

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release

December 1, 2008

Camaraderie Cellars has just been awarded a prestigious Jefferson Cup for the winery’s 2005 Elegance wine at the 2008 Jefferson Cup Invitational Competition. The competition, unlike many others, is by invitation only. Doug Frost, one of only three individuals in the world to hold both Master Sommelier and Master of Wine degrees, has organized a competition in the spirit of President Thomas Jefferson’s passion for wine and to bring deserving recognition to America’s wide range of wine regions and styles.

Approximately seven hundred wines were preselected for evaluation, all “… extremely deserving of the nation’s attention”, according to Frost. Of these, only seventeen were awarded the rare Jefferson Cup. Camaraderie’s Elegance, a Bordeaux-style blend of all five traditional Bordeaux varieties from the Meek Family Vineyard in Yakima Valley, was the only wine from Washington State to be so honored.

The competition does not award golds, silvers and the like. Rather, the invited wines that have all proven excellence in other venues are ranked as “wines of American Merit,” wines that are “American Examples of Greatness,” and wines that are Jefferson cup nominees. The top category is the prestigious Jefferson Cup.

Camaraderie Cellars’ other wine submissions also were recognized to be among the best in the United States. Both the 2005 Syrah and 2006 Tempranillo were awarded “Jefferson Cup Nominees,” the Cabernet Franc was designated a “Great Wine,” and the Merlot, Grace and Cabernet Sauvignon also showed well with recognition as among the best of their region and variety with “Certificates of American Merit.”

Don Corson, Camaraderie’s winemaker and partner commented upon news of these awards, “We work very hard to craft wines that are excellent by any standard and to have our wines recognized across the board for their high quality is a wonderful validation of both our hard work and vineyard partners who are as quality minded as we are.”

Camaraderie Cellars, located in Port Angeles, has consistently received recognition for award-winning wines since the winery was established in 1992. Don Corson has served on the Washington Wine Commission and currently serves on the board of the Washington Wine Institute. Visitors to the winery find a beautiful garden setting and warm hospitality.

For info on the Jefferson Cup: www.jeffersoncupinvitational.com

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