VANCOUVER, WA - The Vancouver Waterfront added a new attraction on June 24th, when Brian Carter Cellars Tasting Room & Wine Bar opened its doors to the public. Currently in its soft opening phase, due largely to COVID-19 related restrictions, the Tasting Room has already garnered a following, including current and new wine club members.
With up-close views of the Columbia River, Brian Carter Cellars’ new venue joins fellow Washington wineries Airfield Estates, Maryhill, and others in their mission to reach folks where they live, work, and play.
Asked why Brian chose to expand, he said, “We are always looking for new ways to make our great wines more accessible to the public; opening a second tasting room is a great way to make that happen.” But why Vancouver specifically? “I looked at several possible locations in both Oregon and Washington. When I heard about the Waterfront project in Vancouver, I drove down there and immediately fell in love with the whole place. Beautiful river park, a nice collection of restaurants and wine tasting locations”
Originally slated to open in November 2019, the Brian Carter Cellars team, including a cadre of designers, architects, marketers, and Brian himself, ran into the typical challenges and delays that come with the territory of opening a new space, especially around the holidays. Then, enter a global pandemic and all of the confusion and shutdowns that came along with it. For nearly four months, the team was in a state of limbo. “Do we order tables and chairs now, or should we wait? Is it too early to create our menu? When should we start trying to create some hype?” These were but a few things that kept everyone on their toes.
Soon after Clark County entered Safe Start Phase 1, it became clearer that the Tasting Room would be able to open in some form or another. Exactly when was another story. But the team used that time to put in all of the finishing touches, including the “Brian Wall,” a familiar sight for those who have frequented Brian Carter Cellar’s flagship location in Woodinville.
At full capacity, the space can seat about 35 people inside, with outdoor seating available in the warmer months. Their wine list includes a rotating selection of Brian Carter Cellars classics. Their menu will feature house made soups, salads, flatbreads, and other small plates. In addition, Wine Club benefits will extend to the Vancouver tasting room, including special offers and the always popular release parties (when they’re allowed again). And just like Woodinville, you may see Brian floating around from time to time. “Sit and enjoy a glass of my wine, eat some fantastic food pairings, and look out at the evermoving Columbia River; we guarantee a good time at the new Waterfront location in Vancouver.”
Brian Carter Cellars Tasting Room & Wine Bar is open Tuesday – Sunday, 11:30-8:00pm, and is located at 660 Waterfront Way, Vancouver, WA 98660. Visit www.briancartercellars.com for more info, or contact us at email@example.com or (360) 216-1444.
When I first walked into the cellar to work with Brian and Robert, I didn’t know what to expect and I knew close to nothing about wine, wine vocabulary, or the industry. I was told to bring clothes that can get wet, painting a very strange picture in my head of what I just signed up for. To my surprise, it didn’t take me long to get the hang of things and begin to understand everything that Brian was teaching and instructing me. On this particular day, we were racking 2018 Abracadabra red from barrels to tank for bottling in mid-July. This procedure is very intricate and it requires you to strictly follow the steps in order.
First, I carefully plunged the racking wand connected to the pump into the bottom center of the barrel. I made sure that wine didn’t overflow from the top, which didn’t necessarily happen every time (sorry in advance if I wasted a glass of wine or two). Next, I would turn the valve perpendicular and begin pumping the wine into the tank. Then came my favorite part of the process, which was holding a flashlight up to the pump to observe the lees content. It fascinated me to see the particles running through the wine and compare the lees of one barrel to the other. Once all the wine is pumped, I would shut it off and repeat this process with what seemed to be an endless number of barrels. After each one, I would make sure to turn it over and dump all the lees into a bucket to preserve them for later.
Of course then came the fun part, which was scrubbing and cleaning the barrels. They must be scrubbed with a hydrogen peroxide solution to remove the stains, while the inside of the barrel is cleaned with hot water, steam, plugged close with a bung, and finished with cold water, each for a duration of four minutes. Being my first day on the job, I didn’t escape without an occasional splash to the face from a hose that I forgot to turn off.
Throughout this process, I took away two important lessons. On one hand, I now have a slightly better understanding of the phrase “every wine tells a story”, which really didn’t make any sense to me at first. As I was working, Brian would go around tasting every barrel, then take a second to think. He had a slightly different reaction to nearly every one. Some of them he liked, some just ok, and others were not up to his standards. Watching him do this helped me realize that even though it was all the same blend of wine, every barrel was different and told its own story.
The second and more blatant lesson I learned was that the beauty process is not beautiful. On the outside, the industry has a beautiful and glamorous image and wine has always been associated with luxury and high class occasions. But after being sprayed in the face and flinching after handling a scorching hot hose, I learned the process of making wine takes a lot of time, and is labour intensive. It showed me just how hard Brian, Robert, and the rest of the staff work to create a beautiful bottle of wine and make people happy.
Rick Montgomery, a longtime veteran in the food and wine touring business, has taken a break from travel to manage our exciting tasting room and wine bar on the newly developed Waterfront in Vancouver WA. Rick and Brian became friends over ten years ago when Rick and his ex wife, Alessandra, wined and dined our Wine Club from Southern France to Northern Italy. During their trip together, Brian and Rick realized they share the same love for the spectacular Chateauneuf Du Pape blend. Rick, in fact, knew he wanted to work for Brian after his first sip of Byzance — Brian’s spectacular Chateaneuf du Pape-style wine.
Rick has assembled a top-shelf team, including a great young chef named Kyrstin Gurule, who Rick says is a “rising culinary star in the Pacific Northwest.”
Rick is a 5th generation Oregonian who prefers Brian’s red blends over his native Pinot Noir. He says he is thrilled to "jump the river to pour wine for the greatest wine maker on earth because man can’t live on Pinot alone."
Rick and his team are excited to treat you to an exceptional food and wine experience the next time you are in Vancouver!
A few more things to know...
Favorite TV show: Gravity Falls (he has an eight year old.)
First car: VW Scirocco
Cake or pie: Yes, please
Our favorite summer holiday is right around the corner. The Fourth of July has always been characterized as a time to celebrate with friends and family, light off some fireworks, and of course enjoy the outdoors with some delicious food and drinks. A great food and wine pairing can turn any ordinary meal into a luxurious treat for you and your guests. To give you some advice on matching food and wine, here are some Fourth of July pairing recommendations for six of our favorite wines.
2018 Oriana: This white wine is richly aromatic with a fruity, crisp acidity, a great wine to enjoy on a hot summer evening. Pair a glass of Oriana with your family’s signature fried chicken, savory crab cakes, or even some beautiful oysters from Puget Sound. It also goes great with snacks such as chips and sweet onion dip, mac salad or potato salad.
2019 Abracadabra Rosé: The perfect outdoor wine. Enjoy this electric pink rosé with classic grilled meats like grilled salmon, pork chops, or hot dogs. The fruity aromas of strawberries, peaches, and orange blossoms make it an excellent complement to any fruit salad, or a delicious berry cheesecake.
2015 Abracadabra Red: The fruity, dark aromas of blackberries, black cherries and cedar make this wine the perfect pairing with any picnic-style feast. Pour a glass with a mouthwatering burger, lamb kabobs, or even spaghetti with a rich bolognese sauce.
2014 Le Coursier: Our amazing right bank Bordeaux blend gives off subtle notes of blackberries and aromatic spices, making it a perfect companion to a lovely dessert. We highly recommend trying Le Coursier with a small chocolate tart, or fudge chocolate ice cream with drunken cherries on top.
2016 Corrida: This bold, peppery wine emits aromas of fresh black cherries and pomegranate that really wakes up the pallet. Pair this beautiful and colorful wine with a juicy plate of steak frites, or any smoked meats that you love like pulled pork or tri-tip, and lift any regular dinner into a luxurious feast.
2015 Opulento: The king of dessert wines. This Portuguese beauty melts your palate with sumptuous berries and chocolate. Aside from the obvious chocolate pairing, try taking a different approach to this wine and enjoy it with your favorite ribs with BBQ sauce, teriyaki chicken, or some late night smores.
Luckily, it just so happens that our 2018 Oriana, 2019 Rose, and 2015 Abracadabra Red are included in our Fourth of July wine bundle, on sale for $55. It's the easiest way ever to make new friends at a BBQ.
We hope you all have a splendid Fourth of July and spend it in style. Cheers and stay safe!!