Bottleology – Tasawik Winery: “Dedication From Vine To Wine”
November 30, 2009 by Dave Bender
Yet another transplant to good ‘ole Washington wine country, Norwegian winemaker Erik Dahle and partner SaraBroetje together make up Tasawik winery. I took a little time to sit down with Erik and get a sense of the whats and whys of Tasawik.
Grocery List: Milk, Sugar, Shampoo, Pop Tarts, Bread Yeast, Eggs, Tooth Paste…20 lbs. of partially rotten grapes: Erik at 17, made his first batch of wine, and fortunately his worst–using over-the-counter ingredients from mom’s grocery list. Erik said, “I had no idea what I was doing, but it was so much fun and I just loved the process of it.”
AMERICA, are you serious? A hop, skip and a jump later, in an effort to finish up college, Erik moved from Norway to Seattle—that was in 1992. He began tasting some California and Washington wines and realized he was close to some really good wine country and started toying with the idea of his own vineyard.
Johnny Apple Seed: Erik’s “real job,” as he puts it, is working for one of the biggest apple orchards in the world, located in Eastern Washington. Inspired one day, Erik decided to buy a little land, hoe a bit of earth and sow some seeds there. Instead of apple trees, Erik planted grape vines. Instead of an orchard, Erik has a vineyard. He now brings new meaning to “Red Delicious,” by fermenting Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Merlot.
How It’s Made: Tasawik winery is located within The Winemakers Loft in Prosser, Washington. There he pays rent and utilizes the winemaking equipment shared by all of the resident wineries in the space. “For a new winery, it’s a great way to get started,” Erik said.
Schooled: Erik took two years of Viticulture at WSU and followed that with two years of online Enology studies, also through WSU. “It was a great program,” he added.
Pay Attention Kiddies: One of the most challenging parts of wine making for Erik is the chemistry (he wishes he paid more attention in class when he was little). WSU classes prepped him on such topics of additives and plant biology and he says, “both those things are something that I keep working on and learn more and more about as I go along.” As important as those things are, Erik truly feels that it’s all about the grapes you bring in.
The Fans: Erik said, “The best part for me is when it comes to meeting the customers, when you pour wine for somebody, and you can just tell on their faces [that they like the wine]. They just come right up and tell you that this is some of the best wine they’ve ever tasted—that’s happened several times in the tasting room and at events. That’s the kind of thing that makes me feel happy and warm inside. I know that this is something I’ve created. I’ve grown the grapes. I’ve taken care of the plants through thick and thin—my little babies. I managed to make this from scratch, from nothing. That’s really the best feelings for me, as a winemaker, that I’ve had so far.”
A Mouth Full: Tasawik 2006, Walla Walla County, Hailstorm Red $36 125 cs.
In May of 2006, a hailstorm decimated Tasawik Vineyards, wiping out 90% of the fruit there. The yields dropped to just 0.4 tons/acre at harvest–for that reason all the varietals were combined to form a multi-varietal co-fermentation. Only 125 cases were produced in 2006—compared to the 2,000 in this most recent, 2009 vintage. Hail to the king.
Creamy eggnog on the nose, dolloped with blackberry whipped cream. Several more swirls coax out angered aromas from its grumbly past; some sassafras root and potato skin allude to hints of oak and earth, also some red radish. A sip finds pleasant sparks of green, Italian herbs, dried basil, tarragon and even a little mint. Additionally on the palate fibrous red root character, celery, rhubarb and again, sassafras. The fruit, more so secondary, offers red plum, black cherry and kalamata olive.
This bottle’s not a wine for the cellar, but a wine for the soul and the table—enjoy it with food and friends and share the story.
357 Port Ave., Studio B
Prosser, WA 99350
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