This last Friday we joined British Motor Coach, Col Solare Bottega, AND Obelisco Estate Winery for another ‘At The Tasting Room’ experience. From start to finish, this experience was incredible! We highly recommend booking transportation with British Motor Coach for your next trip to Woodinville and to add Col Solare and Obelisco Estate Winery to your itinerary. Keep reading below to learn more!
ABOUT BRITISH MOTOR COACH
From the day British Motor Coach was started way back in 1987, they were determined to focus entirely on one very specific segment of the transportation business which they felt could be best served and built upon over the years. That beginning — over three decades ago — included one beautiful white, right-hand-drive 1950 Bentley Mark VI. It immediately drew the attention of many in the wedding industry as a near perfect classic vintage car for a most special, classy, and classic event — the joining of what they like to call “the happy couple.”
Since that time, British Motor Coach has built up a fleet of six classic, ageless, and distinctive English beauties to serve brides and grooms on their special days, supported by newer Lincoln stretch limousines holding 8 of the wedding party/family; 14 passenger vans for out of town guests; and 6 passenger SUV’s and Lincoln Continental & Executive-L Town Cars to cover any number of other needs including airport transfers for the honeymoon trip, etc.
British Motor Coach has been recognized by nearly everyone involved in virtually every aspect of producing weddings in the general Puget Sound area as the best, most knowledgeable and most helpful of anyone providing transportation to brides and grooms and their families. Seattle Bride Magazine, for instance, has awarded them “Best Wedding Day Transportation/Getaway Car” since the inception of the award nearly 20 years ago and voted on by both vendors to the industry and “happy couples.” The Knot’s Best of Weddings Poll of local brides has also awarded British Motor Coach “Best Wedding Getaway Car” since they started the award.
ABOUT COL SOLARE
Col Solare is the partnership between two influential wine producers who are recognized leaders in their respective regions: Tuscany’s Marchesi Antinori and Washington State’s Chateau Ste. Michelle.
Marchese Piero Antinori, known for his lifelong curiosity about how grapes are grown around the world, journeyed to Washington’s Columbia Valley in 1992 at the urging of Andre Tchelistcheff, also a wine industry legend and then a consultant to Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.
During that trip, Antinori discovered an emerging wine region supported by the zealous leadership of Chateau Ste. Michelle, the Northwest’s oldest and most acclaimed winery.
The new partners worked closely to forge their two similar, yet distinct, grape-growing and winemaking cultures into Col Solare’s powerful yet silky style. From its inaugural 1995 vintage, Col Solare’s mission has been to unite these two unique viticultural and winemaking cultures to produce world-class Cabernet Sauvignon from the very best Washington fruit.
With opening of a new winery and planting of the estate vineyard on Red Mountain in 2007, that vision has evolved to focus on showcasing the Cabernet Sauvignon of this unique AVA and the specific fruit of the Col Solare estate vineyard.
Today, Col Solare’s winery and estate vineyard reflect the old and modern world aesthetics and traditions of the two partners. After more than two decades of winemaking, Col Solare stands as the most prominent Cabernet Sauvignon on Red Mountain.
ABOUT OBELISCO ESTATE WINERY
Obelisco Estate is a small 30 acre vineyard located on the southwest slope of Red Mountain. It’s name venerates the tall, narrow four-sided obelisks that were carved out of solid granite by exceptional craftsmen as early as 2000 B.C. In much the same way, their wines have been carved out of Red Mountain terroir.
In 1971 Doug and his two brothers planted their first vineyard high above Napa Valley on a property their father had purchased years earlier without any idea that the property was perfect for grapes. Doug and his brothers figured it out quickly and with encouragement from nearby wine makers, they began their adventure. By 1980, their reputation for fine grapes was growing quickly and in 1981 they started their first winery called David Arthur that we on to to be named “Winery of the Decade” by spectator in the year 2000. The 1997 vintage scored 99 points.
Doug and his wife Betsy attempted to “retire” to Gig Harbor Wa. They soon after discovered Red Mountain and immediately recognized how special it was. With winemaking in his blood, Doug could not resist and soon planted one of the most intensely planted vineyards in the wine world on Red Mountain.
The first vintage was 2007. The vines were young, but after sampling from the barrels and realizing that there was something special, the first bottling took place. The first offering was named “Best Cabernet in the state” by Seattle Magazine and also received the esteemed “Double Gold” from the Seattle Wine Awards. The Obelisco vineyard theory was now a reality.
In 2017, Doug passed away and left the winery management to his godson Ken Abbott. As the GM and current winemaker, Ken carries on the family tradition of producing wine at Obelisco with his Aunt Betsy and as a steward of the family’s style of wines. In honor of Doug, he and his amazing team at Obelisco carry on the love to help people “Celebrate Life.”
BEHIND THE NAME | OBELISCO ESTATE
We often look to history for examples of intriguing notions. How have humans left their mark on places of discovery? How have we announced ourselves, our presence, to the world? As early as 2000 B.C., obelisks were quarried out of solid red granite along the banks of the Nile in Egypt and ferried by boats buoyed by flood waters to their destinations, where they were erected as monuments. To this day, obelisks are icons reminiscent of civilizations past.
As a general rule, obelisks were erected in pairs and served to magically protect the temples. The obelisk is composed of two parts: the body and the pyramidion. The pyramid shaped top was designed to allow the sun to reflect from its faces, thereby symbolizing the rays of the sun. The Egyptians believe the solar rays brought great power, even to the grave and had the power to resurrect the deceased.
~ Written by Amber Schmitt, Marketing Director of Woodinville Wine Country
As mentioned above, this last Friday I joined British Motor Coach, Col Solare Bottega, AND Obelisco Estate Winery. From start to finish, this experience was incredible! We highly recommend booking transportation with British Motor Coach for your next trip to Woodinville and to add Col Solare and Obelisco Estate Winery to your itinerary.
Before I dive into my experience, I want to mention how wonderful the team at British Motor Coach was throughout the booking process. As BMC focuses on wedding day transportation, you can guarantee their timeliness, warmth, patience, knowledge and experience for any occasion. Most limousine companies simply provide drivers. They provide honest-to-goodness experienced chauffeurs. You will immediately be able to tell and love the vast difference.
My day started at 10:45am where I met our driver, Lance, at Willows Lodge. I was not aware that I would be transported in a 1959 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, so you can imagine my astonishment when Lance pulled up in this gorgeous vintage car. I found it hard to find the words to introduce myself as this vintage car was breathtaking! After some introductions, we were off to our first tasting room of the day – Col Solare Bottega.
Col Solare Bottega is located at Chateau Ste. Michelle in the Hollywood District of Woodinville. Chateau Ste. Michelle is Woodinville’s founding winery and is a must-see for all visitors. The grounds are equally as breathtaking as our vintage car for the day. Col Solare Bottega is one of two tasting rooms for Col Solare Winery. The winery and vineyard are located in the heart of Washington State’s Red Mountain AVA, near Richland, WA.
Our BMC driver, Lance, did not just drop us off at the Col Solare Bottega but also walked us through the grounds at Chateau Ste. Michelle and all the way into the tasting room. Lance is very knowledgeable about Woodinville and the tasting rooms located here. So much so, that he could probably steal my job. 😉
Since I have worked within the wine industry for years, it has become very apparent that many people view Col Solare as this “untouchable” tasting room. Col Solare is the partnership between two influential wine producers who are recognized leaders in their respective regions: Tuscany’s Marchesi Antinori and Washington State’s Chateau Ste. Michelle. Despite their well deserved prestige, Col Solare is actually quite approachable. Regardless where your level of wine knowledge falls, a tasting at Col Solare promises spectacular wine AND education throughout your experience.
TASTING AT COL SOLARE
The tasting experience in the Col Solare Bottega is very unique. The best way for me to explain the space is to have you imagine a large glass “box” located inside a state-of-the-art winery. It sounds crazy, I know. Don’t worry I have plenty of pictures below for your viewing pleasure.
The team members at Col Solare are very friendly and knowledgeable. I highly recommend leaning into their knowledge during your tasting room visit. If you are just beginning to explore WA wine, their team is happy to break down the basics for you while pouring exceptional wine. If you have advanced wine knowledge, I guarantee that you will have plenty to learn from their team as well. I was very engaged from start to finish which is something I highly value when visiting a tasting room.
Our tasting consisted of four Col Solare wines (and some bonus pours):
- 2019 Shining Hill Rosé – 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Cabernet Franc, 16% Malbec, 5% Syrah
- 2017 Shining Hill – 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cab Franc, 11% Merlot, 4% Carmenere
- Collector’s Society ’16 Red Wine – 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Cabernet Franc, 7% Carmenere
- 2017 Col Solare (93 pts, James Suckling) – 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc
If you haven’t noticed already, the winemaking team at Col Solare has a strong focus on Cabernet Sauvignon. After more than two decades of winemaking, Col Solare stands as the most prominent Cabernet Sauvignon located on Red Mountain.
I started off my tasting with their Shining Hill Rosé. This rosé has stonefruit aromas and flavors and zero residual sugar. It is the perfect spring/summer wine. Our tasting room host, Kate, recommended this wine to be paired with a watermelon and feta salad tossed in balsamic with a hint of chili and lime. That gives you an indication of how “warm weather friendly” this wine is. Delish!
The 2019 Rosé is characterized by aromas of cherry, raspberry with vibrant acidity and balanced fruit flavors.
For those who do not know, “Col Solare” means shining hill. Their Shining Hill wine(s) are the first to be released each vintage. Their winemaker plays with these grapes first to get and idea for the flavor and fruit of the vintage. From there, he turns the grapes into a blend which leads me to the next wine – 2017 Shining Hill.
The grapes for the 2017 Shining Hill Red Blend are hand picked from their vineyards on Red Mountain. You can classify this wine as their table wine. It has a very smooth finish which makes this wine perfect for any dinner pairing. I can certainly see myself enjoying this wine on its own.
Aromas of cherry and boysenberry are joined by a bit of cedar and clove on the nose of this approachable wine, which burst with red fruit flavors, and ends with a silky, smooth, lingering finish.
The Collector’s Society ’16 Red Wine has aromas of spices and dried fruits. This wine has a very rich mouthfeel and long finish. Something I was definitely expecting from Red Mountain fruit. I picked up slight oak on this wine. Their tasting room team shared that this wine was aged in all new french oak barrels for 18 months. This wine won’t be around for long as only 300 cases were made, so definitely book a tasting experience to try this wine for yourself.
This blend, developed for our Collector’s Society, is sourced exclusively from our Red Mountain estate vineyard. Dark in color, this Cabernet Sauvignon blend has fragrant aromas of spices, dried fruits, and black currants, with a rich mouthfeel and long powerful finish.
The last wine we tried off their tasting menu was the 2017 Col Solare Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was a great representation of Red Mountain wine with rich and refined tannins. The aroma of this wine reminded me of baking spices with hints of cocoa.
Aromas of black currants, dried fruit and cherry blend with subtle notes of anise, spice and cocoa. Tannins are rich and refined on the finish, a characteristic of Red Mountain fruit, with flavors of berries, black fruit and cocoa.
If you have been following along for the “At The Tasting Room” series, you know now that I commonly inquire about wines off the tasting menu. One in particular stood out to me – their Carménère.
*Bonus pour: Amber’s Notes~
Their 2018 Collector’s Society Carménère can best be described as “green pepper heaven.” I am fully aware that not everyone prefers the strong aroma of green peppers from a wine, but I really enjoy it. This wine can stand up to a big, bold cheese. I refrain from using the word “stinky” when describing a cheese, but that pretty much nails it on the head.
A typical tasting at Col Solare Bottega is approximately 45 minutes. Our driver, Lance, came back to check on us right around that time. Of course, I was busy tasting ‘off menu’ wines but he was very accommodating and flexible with time. What I love most about British Motor Coach is that the experience is truly hands off once you step foot in their vehicle(s). They have strong relationships with the tasting rooms and restaurants around Woodinville which allows for their drivers to communicate directly with your next stop so you can focus solely on the wine. Totally stress-free and highly enjoyable!
Col Solare does require reservations for all of their tasting experiences at this time. You can make a reservation here.
*Insider tip: Col Solare will be offering blind tasting experiences for a limited time only throughout May and June. How cool is that? I will be returning to put my palate to the test… to be determined how that goes.
And just like that, we were off to our second tasting room visit of the day – Obelisco Estate Winery. British Motor Coach provides bottled water in their modern fleet and small apple cider in the vintage fleet, as well as their own monogrammed champagne glasses, bucket and ice. It truly is all in the details. The ice cold refreshments on a sunny day were the perfect reset before arriving at our next stop. We had a little bit of time before our next tasting appointment so Lance took us on a short drive around town. I know I have mentioned this before, but his knowledge was impeccable and this is coming from someone who lives, eats, and breathes Woodinville everyday.
TASTING AT OBELISCO ESTATE WINERY
Obelisco Estate Winery is located in Woodinville’s Hollywood District. Specifically, they are located in a development called Apple Farm Village. This historic development houses several tasting rooms including Zerba Cellars, Guardian Cellars, Otis Kenyon Wine, 425 Cellars, Torii Mor Winery, and Lauren Ashton Cellars. With nearly 10 tasting rooms within steps of one another, it’s a wine lover’s paradise!
Once again, Lance was so kind to walk us into the tasting room to make sure we had everything we needed. I was delighted to see Ken Abbott, winemaker and General Manager, greet us at the door. If you have not had the chance to meet Ken, let me just say he is extremely passionate about his craft and is very engaging. Ken had a private tasting set up for us featuring 9 Obelisco Estate wines accompanied by a lovely cheese and charcuterie board.
Our Obelisco Estate tasting consisted of the following wines:
- 2019 Sauvignon Blanc – 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Semillon
- 2019 Rosé – 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2017 Merlot – 81% Merlot, 19% Malbec
- 2016 Malbec – 75% Malbec, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2017 Sangiovese – 76% Sangiovese, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec
- 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – 89% Cabernet SAuvignon, 7% Malbec, 4% Merlot
- 2019 Late Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon – 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
- *Bonus Pour: 2017 III Nefer – 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
- *Bonus Pour: 2017 Electrum – 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot
In efforts to keep my tasting notes short and sweet, I will highlight a few wines that stood out to me.
As a reminder, Obelisco Estate is a small 30 acre vineyard located on the southwest slope of Red Mountain. It worked out perfectly that we visited two Woodinville tasting rooms with vineyards on Red Mountain AVA. Let’s just say Red Mountain and I are close friends now. 😉
The main 30 acre vineyard, designed and planted for the sole purpose of producing intensely complex, elegant and rich red wines, is located on the southwest facing slope bathed in sunlight throughout long daylight hours, with cool nights and the moderating effect of the Yakima River below. Obelisco Estate vineyard is perfectly situated to grow world class grapes noted for their structure, acidity and intense varietal character. The vineyard is one of the most intensely planted vineyards in the Northwest.
*Fun fact: Obelisco Estate vineyard is comprised of 1,996 vines per acre which is more than double the average vine density.
The vineyard is located in the Red Mountain terroir which is known for some of the best growing conditions for Bordeaux varietals in North America. The unusual soil depths and ideal cumulative maturation time are in-matched in Washington.
LET’S TALK WINE
Obelisco Estate Winery is predominantly a red wine producer. However, the first wine I want to highlight is the 2019 Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon.
The production of their rosé is rare as it is direct press versus saignée. 95% of rosé is a by-product of other red wines, but Obelisco Estate Winery grows grapes exclusively for their rosé production. Generally speaking this method produces a lighter color rosé, but their winemaking team allows a few hours of skin contact (maceration) before separating the juice from the skins, which adds a richer color to the finished product.
Ken has nicknamed this rosé as “Brosé” since it has a bigger body and is more red than pink. It has a larger mouthfeel than most rosé and is fruit forward.
Deep pomegranate red color. The nose has captivating aromas of cherry with hints of watermelon and strawberry. This mouthfeel is lush and full bodied with flavors of cherry and subtle flavors of watermelon and strawberry.
I am jumping forward on their tasting menu to the 2017 III Nefer. 5000 years ago the Egyptians were rating their wine through a process they called NFR. Essentially the NFR process was a rating scale that broke wines into three categories: I NFR – everyone could drink, II NFR – exclusive to the upper class, III NFR – exclusive to pharaohs and gods. Obelisco loosely translated this term into the name of this wine.
The aromas and flavors of this wine reminded me of a 70% dark chocolate. I know that sounds oddly specific, but it was the first thing that came to mind.
Deep, dark purple, almost black color. This wine will change the more you allow it to open up, but your patience will be rewarded. Rich, dark blackberry fruit aromas with wet clay, toast, mincemeat spice and graham cracker notes. On the palate, flavors of blackberry, black cherry spice, dried pepper spice, cinnamon, clove, anise, vanilla, and cocoa.
In my typical fashion, I discovered an ‘off menu’ wine that I was extremely fond of. Their 2017 Electrum Cabernet Sauvignon is an “Aunt Betsy” style of wine. Aunt Betsy loved to make wines that are 85-90% free run. Free run refers to the juice that flows from freshly picked grapes during the de-stemming and crushing process, prior to the pressing process. When winemakers put the grapes into the winepress, the grapes are stacked on top of each other and the weight of the fruit causes the release of some juice.
Here comes another oddly specific tasting note for you… The aromas from this wine reminded me of a campfire that has been burning for several hours and is nearly dead but still very much alive. If you are not fond of campfires like I am, that might sound unpleasant but this wine took me to a very nostalgic place.
Dark purple, red color. Dark wild berries on the nose, like boysenberry, with notes of vanilla and spice. The wine hits the palate with an immediate silkiness that reveals a balance between broad soft fruit flavors and the spices of the oak barrels. The mid-palate is a full array of fruit and spice that leaves the back of your palate tingling with a mix of reductive fruit flavor and unforgettable Red Mountain tannin. It is full, rich, with surprisingly lush flavor points full of fruit and spices that make your mouth tingle. The mouth feel is smooth on the entry and in the mid-palate and finishes long with nicely balanced acid and noticeable tannins, which make for a long, long finish.
Last but NOT least, we come to their 2019 Late Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon. The assistant winemaker at Obelisco Estate Winery is nationally ranked wrestler, Hope Nastri. Hope and Ken created this wine as an experiment but they have made this wine for the last two years and will continue to do so. The grapes for this wine are harvested at the end of November. The winemaking protocol for a late harvest Cabernet Sauvignon did not exist before their experiment, so this wine is truly one-of-a-kind. They wanted to do something new and fun that Ken’s uncle would have loved.
WOW. This dessert wine is truly unforgettable. I have a new mission… To introduce all my friends and family to this wine. Seriously, run, don’t walk!
There are notes of dry berry sorbet, almond, currant, tawny port and agave with citrus notes on the mid-palate. The finish is reminiscent of old-fashioned hard candy, pineapple, and buttery caramel. It is truly an unforgettable dessert wine.
Before I wrap this up, I want to make mention that Obelisco Estate in Apple Farm Village is currently expanding their patio just in time for summer. You can make a reservation here.
After our private tasting had ended, Lance escorted us out of the tasting room and back to the car. The few steps into the parking lot were bittersweet. I hopped into our vintage car for the last time as we made our way back to Willows Lodge for Lance’s departure. From start to finish, our day was perfect. I cannot recommend booking a wine tour with British Motor Coach enough.
I will end here with a very special thank you to British Motor Coach, Col Solare and Obelisco Estate for the most amazing Red Mountain experience here in Woodinville.
If you want to learn more about British Motor Coach, Col Solare, or Obelisco Estate Winery click the links below!