Thursday, August 24, 2017

WineGirl Wines: An Interview with Angela 

Lake Chelan AVA (pronounced "shell-LAN") is a wine region that's starting to gain popularity in Washington State, as well as the United States and southern BC. One of the younger AVAs in the USA, the first production vineyard was planted in 1998, and the first bottles were released in 2002. Currently there are more than 20 wineries within the AVA, releasing wines of promising popularity with varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and aromatic whites including Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. In 2004, a talented young winemaker stepped onto the scene and has since become a standout producer in the region. Her name is Angela Jacobs.


Angela found her passion of wine while working part-time for an Italian restaurant. After obtaining her degrees at the University of Washington, she set out to learn winemaking skills from across the globe. When she returned, she purchased 2 tons of wine grapes from the Red Mountain area, licensed her first winery in Seattle and began producing Viognier, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. WineGirl Wines was the 16th winery to open its doors in Lake Chelan. I had a chance to sit down with Angela in the WineGirl Wines tasting room to learn more about the AVA, as well as taste some of the wines she creates.

1. What was the wine that kicked off your passion?
Archery Summit Pinot Noir 1996. I think I still have the bottle!


2. Your bottles are beautifully labelled! Who does the artwork, and what is the story behind them?
A Canadian artist named Francine Delgado, based out of Vancouver. Originally the labels were drawn in a style similar to Disney Princesses, but I preferred the pin-up style of girl so we changed it. I also wanted to showcase the natural beauty of Lake Chelan, so the backgrounds consist of our natural attractions such as Chelan Butte and Wapato Point.


3. How would you describe this year's growing season?
It's been a good growing season so far, the dry heat hasn't affected the vines because of irrigation. Harvest will likely begin around mid-September this year.


4. Which of the wines you create are you most proud of?
I prefer to produce wines that appeal to the local demographics. For example, I started to make a sweet Gewurztraminer when visitors from nearby Leavenworth requested more sweet wines.


5. One of the varietals you grow is Tinta Roriz, in which you use to produce a Port-style wine. What was the inspiration and story behind choosing this varietal?

I wanted to do something different in a more mechanical sense, and a Port fills that with fortifying the wine as well as some aging. Originally I wanted to use Touriga National, but in the end I chose Tinta Roriz, which is the Portuguese name for Tempranillo. Port also fills the sweet wine need in the area.


6. The 2011 vintage was known to be cool and rainy throughout the West Coast. Was this the case in Lake Chelan, and how did your vines and wines fare during this difficult growing season?

Rain continued into June and the grapes didn't really ripen. I had to pull our 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon from the tasting room when it was released as I feel it's too young to drink now, but the wine would be good for aging.


We then tasted the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep ruby in colour, a bouquet of red currant, stewed green peppers and a hint of charcoal leads into a palate that shows more red fruit like raspberries, with a hint of tobacco leaf on the finish. The tannins are focused and well-integrated, marrying well with the mouthwatering acidity to create a complex, full body. This wine spoke to my palate now, and will also evolve in the cellar for 5-7 years. Try pairing this wine with a slow roasted cut of AAA beef, and you will see how well this wine can shine with food!

Angela's dedication and passion are well reflected in the wines she produces, and combined with the natural terroir of the AVA, the sky is her limit. She will do great things as Lake Chelan gains popularity within the USA, and potentially worldwide as the wine market grows.

Thank you Angela, for sitting down with me and showing me the wines Lake Chelan has to offer. Cheers!

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