The Wine Cyclist

Archive for August, 2009

Trading Bicycle for Backpack

by on Aug.28, 2009, under Miscellany

Thank you all for the wonderful congratulatory comments on my last post. As much as I want to leave that picture up on the top page for a while, I figured I’d drop you all another post to tell you what I’ve been up to since and what I’m up to next.

I’ve been crashing with some friends of mine in Portland for about a week. For those of you who have never been, Portland is a very nice city, and I’ve only just scratched the surface with my brief time here. And yet, being back in civilization is strange. Fortunately, it’s not going to last. Tomorrow, I’m back out on the grand adventure bit. Only I’m not taking the bicycle…

The lovely red Trek FX that has served me well for 3,000 miles is taking a well-deserved break. Instead, I’ve picked myself up a backpack — a Gregory Baltoro 70 to be precise. I’ve loaded it up, and tomorrow I’m off into the woods! I’m headed over to Cascade Locks, OR for PCT Day. From there I’m walking north on the Pacific Crest Trail for a while, probably up to US 2. I know I’m encroaching on Russ Beebe‘s territory now, but I’ll try not to steal his thunder. In fact, I probably won’t be online much over the next few weeks to post updates and such, but I’ll tell you all about it… uh… you know… whenever I get back to civilization.

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Victory!

by on Aug.20, 2009, under Cycling

Two months, seven states, and three thousand miles later…

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Pictures of the Columbia River

by on Aug.17, 2009, under Miscellany

Hey sports fans, this is getting exciting, no? I’m almost to the coast…

Hat Rock State Park

Hat Rock State Park

Maryhill's Stonehenge

Maryhill's Stonehenge

Mt Hood

Mt Hood

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Windy Wine Country

by on Aug.14, 2009, under Wine

Downtown Walla Walla

Downtown Walla Walla

It’s been many miles of riding. I’m sure you’re all sick of reading about cycling and ready for me to talk about some wine. Well, you’re in luck, as I spent the last two days in the town of Walla Walla and its surrounding wine country.

Wednesday was spent in downtown Walla Walla. It’s a cool little downtown, pleasant if a bit touristy, but that’s ok. The downtown area is filled mostly with restaurants and, of course, wine tasting rooms for many of the 130 wineries in the Walla Walla area. I hit many places, but I’m just going to tell you about a few of my favorites, to keep things somewhat brief.

My first stop ended up being one of my favorites — Sapolil Cellars. Only a few of the wines were still in stock: a couple of syrahs and a chardonnay. But while the selection was limited, at least it was quite tasty. The chard was my kind of chard. It was crisp, minerally, with a nice hint of peach. Most importantly, there was no oak and no buttery flavors to it. The two syrahs were a 2006 and a 2007 from the same vineyard (Patina Vineyard). The ’06 was big, bold and rich, while the ’07 was a little softer. Both were quite tasty and had a nice balance of earth and fruit.

Hanging out in the Sapolil tasting room, I had a chance to chat for a while with Bill, the owner and winemaker. First off, he was really awesome in helping me to find a place to crash in Walla Walla that evening. But the conversation covered many different subjects including his philosophy on winemaking, and the joys he’s had bringing live music into his tasting room (a jazz trio goes really well with wine). He’s got a good laidback philosophy on winemaking — definitely of the “just let the grapes do their own thing” bent. We also spent some time discussing the massive amount of change a wine can go through while bottle-aging, even moreso than in barrel-aging in his view.

Another excellent stop in downtown Walla Walla was Sleight of Hand Cellars, just around the corner from Sapolil (the intersection of 2nd and Main is a wonderful area of winetasting, so much is located right there). Trey, the winemaker is a big music fan, so we spent as much time talking about music as we did about wine, but he certainly is making some tasty wines. The Magician, his gewurztraminer is nicely dry with a good crisp acidity and excellent fruit and floral notes. I was really impressed by the dry cab franc rose (The Magician’s Assistant). Bone dry. Very nice. Hard to find that in a rose. A hint of spiciness and some nice fruit really round out this wine.

My last stop in the downtown area was Walla Walla Village Winery. It was another very laid back tasting room with a selection of four wines. Both the riesling and the merlot were nice examples of their varietals, but my favorites were definitely the last two. The cabernet franc had an excellent balance of spicy pepper and rich fruit. The Bordello Red Bordeaux-style blend (guess what the building they’re in used to be) was very hearty and full and also nicely balanced. Definitely a great food wine.

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Misty Mountain Tops

by on Aug.11, 2009, under Cycling, Wine

IMG_0746Wow. OK. So I know I have a lot of catching up to do. My last two posts were far from complete. I’ll see how much ground I can cover tonight before it gets too late. (This picture here is one of many I took on the side trip up to Glacier National Park, but more on that later).

As you may have gathered from the last post, I successfully survived my trip over the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass, despite some rather insane gravel roads. The gravel actually spoiled what would have otherwise been a really nice downhill, but alas, I had to ride the brakes hard not to lose it on the dirt road there. Silly skinny road tires. This would be an awesome pass for mountain biking I think. No worries, though. I came across many other wonderful downhills.

The Bitterroots
IMG_0656The next day even, when I went over Lost Trail Pass and came down a marvelous mountain into the Bitterroot Valley, making my way up US 93. Just in case you thought Montana might be running out of beauty with all that I’ve seen on this trip, the Bitterroots do not disappoint in supplying more. Fantastic, no?

I ended up crashing for several nights with a friend of mine near Lolo, MT. In that time, I was able to go on a couple of very nice hikes in the Bitterroot Mountains (among other things, but again, more on that later), including this hike up to Bass Lake on a very treacherous and stormy Friday.

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The Beer Cyclist?

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Over The Divide

by on Aug.03, 2009, under Cycling

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