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Brian Carter Cellars
April 8, 2015 | Brian Carter Cellars

A busy week at Brian Carter Cellars in January

We racked over 130 barrels last week. Brian, Robert and Dennis worked long hours to get this done.

Just to review a little winemaking 101, here is a summary of the Winemaking process at Brian Carter Cellars:

Red grapes Harvested > Shipped to winery >  Grapes crushed > 
Alcoholic Fermentation >  Pressing to barrel >  Malo-Lactic Fermentation > 
First Racking >  Barrel Aging >  Blending and Second Racking > 
More Barrel aging >  Bottling > Bottle aging >  Wine for Sale

The first racking does not take place until both the critical Alcoholic and Malo-Lactic fermentations are complete. The completion of these two fermentations is confirmed in our laboratory by measuring for the presence of sugar and malic acid. When yeast have used up all of the sugar in the wine and when the bacteria have converted all of the malic acid to lactic acid then the wine is considered stable and ready rack.

This first racking is essentially pumping the wine out of the barrel while leaving the heavy deposit (called lees) behind. During the process each individual lot is blended together in a tank, usually two to eight barrels per lot. We then add the minimum amount possible of sulfur dioxide to the wine to protect it from oxidation and growth of undesirable yeasts and bacteria. Finally the wine is returned to the cleaned and sanitized barrels, bunged tightly and put into the cool cellar to age.

Now is a great time for me to taste through the barrels and assess the quality of each lot. My enthusiasm for the 2014's has only grown more with every stage. Look for more reports as the wine settles down to age slowly in the barrel.

Brian D. Carter, Winemaker

Brian Carter Cellars
February 5, 2015 | Brian Carter Cellars

Bordeaux River Cruise

Bordeaux River Cruise: A week in French Wine Country

with Paul Gregutt of Waitsburg Cellars,
Brian Carter of Brian Carter Cellars,
Chris Peterson of Avennia Winery

 Join these Washington winemakers for seven nights in Bordeaux aboard the River Royale, a 130-passenger cruise ship sailing on the Dordogne, Garonne, and Gironde Rivers. This vessel sails from Bordeaux on Sunday, July 19th to Sunday, July 26th. Come early and stay late to enjoy Bordeaux, Paris, or Normandy after seven nights on the river. Explore Pauillac, Medoc, Saint Émilion, Libourne, Bergerac, and the city of Bordeaux. Visit Chateaux, tour cellars, and experience the wine that put Bordeaux on the map.

River Royale will cruise the three rivers that define the region, the Garonne, Gironde, and the Dordogne. In addition to the shore excursions and wine events provided by Uniworld, guests will have the opportunity to enhance their holiday with visits to renowned wine producers and chateaux in the area.

Extras aboard ship include a private seminar by instructors from l’Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux. We’ll also have an evening of tasting to compare the wines from the Bordeaux region with Bordeaux-style Washington Wines. You’re encouraged to bring whatever special bottles you might have found while ashore to enjoy with dinner or to taste with friends.

Opportunities exist to join small group excursions to visit First Growth producers in Medoc such as Mouton Rothschild and Chateaux Margaux. In contrast to the more established producers, tours will also be available to more contemporary wine makers in the area who are creating great wines.

River cruising is the easiest and most affordable way to tour Europe in comfort and style. Ships dock right in the heart of the towns and villages along the river. The itinerary is designed to maximize your time in each port of call.

Take a walking tour through a medieval village. Experience a winemaking course at the prestigious l’Ecole du vin. Join a small group to explore centuries old chateaux or taste one of the many “garagiste” producers that are establishing themselves in the region.

Guests are encouraged to arrive early for 2-3 nights in Bordeaux prior to sailing. The area is known for its vintages, but is incredibly rich in history, architecture, and natural beauty. Indulge yourself in additional wine experiences or tour the countryside.

It would be a shame to travel to France and not spend time in Paris. Stay three nights after the river cruise to experience the City of Lights. I have a hotel on the Left Bank near the Luxembourg Gardens that is a perfect place to wrap up your holiday.

Cruise Dates are July 19th to 26th, 2015

Tour program costs

Seven nights in Bordeaux on an all-inclusive river cruise ship, sailing the Garonne, Dordogne, and Gironde Rivers
Prices start at $3284 per person (category 3), based on double occupancy. - July 19th to July 26th
Optional pre-cruise stay in the city of Bordeaux for 2 or three nights. - July 23rd or 24th to July 26th
Optional post-cruise stay in Paris for three nights. - July 26th to July 29th
Optional Normandy D-Day beaches tour following the Paris stay option. - July 29th to August 1st

What your cruise includes:

• Seven nights’ accommodation aboard the ALL-INCLUSIVE River Royale
• Welcome reception
• All meals aboard ship
• Complimentary wine, beer, spirits, and soft drinks
• Uniworld Shore Excursions and tours as outlined
• Shipboard gratuities and Port Taxes
• Free WiFi access on aboard
• On board wine tasting and discussion
• Airport Transfers (Bordeaux Airport) on July 19th and 26th
• Access to optional wine excursions and tastings throughout the week

Paris and Bordeaux extensions include accommodations, tax, breakfast, local sightseeing, and airport ground transportation. Paris extension also includes TGV Rail from Bordeaux to Paris. Extensions are hosted by a representative of Northwest Travel Service.

Round trip airfare is available for as low as $1450. Business class options start at approximately $2800 round trip.

An initial deposit of $2000 per cabin is required to confirm your reservation.
Balance of payment for the cruise is due by January 15th, 2015.

Additional discount for check payment is determined by category. Check Discount is:
$400 per cabin category 1
$350 per cabin, category 2
$260 per cabin for category 3

Special discount of $600 per cabin is available to guests of Brian Carter Cellars.
Only 14 cabins remain available.

For reservations or more information, visit A full brochure is available by contacting Brad Cilley by email or phone at 425 313 1691 or

Northwest Travel Service
4271 257th Place SE, Issaquah, WA. 98029
425 313 1691

Brian Carter Cellars
December 22, 2014 | Brian Carter Cellars

2014 Harvest

Another great harvest is in the barrel. 2014 will be remembered for starting warm and pretty much staying that way; as a result, grapes got ripe quickly. Fortunately, the number of really hot days were limited so sunburn was not a big factor, and the acid and color seemed to hold. Like 2013, we started off with a bang and slowed by October. Quantities were also good and we picked a few more tons than originally planned for.

The red wines can be described as big and showy with nice balance, good color and fairly soft tannins. Oriana has it's typical fruit driven aromas and crispness. 2014, truly a vintage to look forward to.

Follow us on TwitterFacebook and our new Blog to learn more as the vintage progresses.