Right in my backyard is the Culinary Institute of America. So many people don’t take advantage of events and activities in their own backyard. I think that will be my theme this week. In Your Backyard.

March 26th the Culinary Institute of America hosted a “Wines of Washington” Dinner. We started out the evening in the Danny Kaye Theatre for a lecture and tasting and then moved on to the American Bounty for dinner.

The presenter was Josh Maloney who is the Red Wine Maker at Chateau Ste. Michelle. Ironically enough Josh began his career in winemaking at Heron Hill Winery in the Finger Lakes.

Most of the wineries in Washington State are located east of the Cascades where the climate is dry and they have sandy soils. During the summer months the sun doesn’t begin to set until 10pm.

Chateau Ste. Michelle harvests their whites at night and get the grapes into the press when cold. They will harvest whites from 3am until 2pm at that time they will begin to harvest reds. The wineries of Chateau St. Michelle all have different specialties too. For example, Norhtstar focuses on Merlot while all red wines are made at Canoe Ridge.

The evening started off with us tasting 6 wines. 2006 Columbia Crest Grand Estates, Columbia Valley Chardonnay. This was buttery and smooth. Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Vineyards 2005 Columbia Valley Chardonnay was nest. This wine was heavy, had a bit of chewiness to it. Beautiful golden yellow color with brown sugar on the nose. We now moved to the reds. 2005 Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells District, Columbia Valley Merlot. This was fruity, jammy and had a toasty finish. Chateau Ste. Michelle,2005 Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley was next. This nose had a slight hint of Syrah and that’s because there is 9% Syrah blinded into it. The last two wines of the tasting were a 2006 Canoe Ridge, Horse Havens Hills Cabernet Sauvignon and 2005 Northstar Columbia Valley.

Then we were off to dinner at the American Bounty, which is one of my favorite restaurants at the CIA. We dined on Salad with Jumbo Crab, paired with a 2007 Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc, Horse Heaven Vineyards. Roast King Salmon paired with 2006 Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells District Chardonnay. The main course was a slowly simmered Short Ribs paired with 2005 Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge, Horse Heaven Hills Merlot. This Merlot stood up very well with the short ribs. Then dessert….Vanilla Panna Cotta paired with 2005 Late Harvest Chenin Blanc, Horse Heaven Hills. The Chenin Blanc whet very well with the Panna Cotta. I am not much of a sweet, dessert wine person, but it is growing on me.