Brian Carter Cellars

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Brian Carter Cellars
April 22, 2019

"Meet our Employee"
Laurie Sheehan

If you have visited the Tasting Room during the week, you probably have met Laurie and her welcoming personality. We asked her some questions on our monthly spotlight.

What is your favorite part about your job? 
I would have to say the wonderful people that I work with, and the people I get to meet every day in the Brian Carter Cellars Tasting Room. I also love learning about wine.

What attracted you to work for Brian Carter Cellars?
I have been a fan of Brian Carter’s wines for years, so the decision was easy. It’s a great place to work and be part of the Brian Carter family. It brings you closer to the wine you love.

What is your favorite Brian Carter Wine?
I love the Takahashi, I am a huge Malbec fan and the balance of the Takahashi wine is perfect. It feels very rich and indulgent, plus it’s just yummy.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
I am the ‘guardian ad litem’ for foster children who are very special to me. I love to bike around Kirkland, and love to be in the sun. Every year I escape to Southern California for a month just to avoid the rain.

Tell us a little bit about your family?
I have three grown children and four grandchildren. We are a very lucky family, to be able to live close together here in Washington. I was born and raised here- it’s home.

Apr 22, 2019 at 10:32 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
March 7, 2019

When you visit a winery, chances are that you will also be getting a pitch about joining a winery wine club. Most wine clubs work the same way. Members of the wine club receive multiple shipments of wine per year adding up to a case or more of wine per year. Some wine clubs will offer different options. But, if you love their wines, enjoy the tasting room and friendly staff when you visit and find yourself always taking home a bottle or two each time you visit, orr you live out of town and want a regular supply of wine shipped to you with virtually no hassle.  Then you should join the winery’s wine club.

Benefits of joining a Winery’s Wine Club

  • Wine clubs may ship you wines before they are available to the public.
  • Wine clubs may ship you special wines such as reserve wines or exclusive releases that are not available anywhere except at the winery or to members.
  • Wine shipments are usually discounted off the normal retail price.
  • Wine club members receive a discount on any wines or merchandise they order or purchase from the winery.
  • Wine club members say they enjoy and look forward to receiving the wines and the element of surprise that comes with each shipment.
  • A convenient way to taste the latest offerings from a winery.
  • A winery may offer special events at the winery for wine club members only, or offer discounts on event tickets
  • There is often no cost to join a wine club.

Joining a winery wine club allows it’s members immerse themselves in everything the winery has to offer. It’s easy to lose sight of what draws you to wine in the first place: usually it is the complex flavors that excite the senses. Wine clubs offer bottles that are ready to be uncorked, or access to limited production wines that are not available in the market place. This might even inspire a few spontaneous blind tasting parties or an experimental food and wine pairing dinner with close friends. Regardless of where your wine experiences take you, rekindling your love of wine and the experience of learning something new can make any wine club worth joining.

Which Brian Carter Cellars club is right for you?

Club Vivant (“Life”) offers three releases per year of six bottles each, for a total of 18 bottles annually. It showcases our core collection of old-world, European-style blends.

Club Amour (“Love”) offers a truly special 9-bottle single release annually, highlighting the best of what Brian Carter Cellars has to offer. The single-vineyard, single-varietal “ONE” Collection, and limited-edition bottles to enjoy and add to your remarkable wine collection.

Club Dévotion (“Devotion”) is the epitome of the Brian Carter Cellars wine club experience. Combining the Amour and Vivant releases, you will receive a total of twenty-seven bottles annually, including wines from the core collection and the “ONE” Collection. 

The release parties are held in February, May, and October, with the Amour release in August, and are a great way to pick up your wine, meet new people, enjoy great music, and savor delicious food that complements the release wines perfectly. 

Brian Carter Cellars Benefits….

As a wine club member, you are invited to enjoy long summer afternoons on our patio while soaking in our grand view of Mt. Rainier and the Sammamish Valley. Or cozy up in our members-only Gallery on the weekends and having food delivered from one of the nearby restaurants.  Each membership receives a special tasting flight for you and two guests per visit, so you can invite your friends and family to experience Brian Carter Cellars. There is even an extra discount if you refer your friend and they join.

The Brian Carter Cellars tasting room is dog-friendly, so your four-legged family members are welcome to visit alongside you and get pets from the friendly staff. Make sure to get your pet’s photo on our “Animals of Brian Carter” wall.

Gain exclusive access to Brian Carter Cellars’ “ONE” Collection, library wines, and other limited-edition bottles, and receive information on discount codes and specials that occur throughout the year. 

Please contact our Wine Club Manager, Arielle at 425.806.9463 or wineclub@briancartercellars.com with questions for more information.

Mar 7, 2019 at 11:39 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
March 1, 2019

When you come into Brian Carter Cellars Winery, you are greeted by hundreds of oak wine barrels stacked to the ceiling. What is the big deal with barrels and wine? Do you need barrels to make good wine? They cost a lot of money, take up a lot of room, and they require a lot of labor to fill, top and rack. In addition, wine is lost through evaporation during aging.

Many wines, I hesitate to say a majority of wines, are probably made without using barrels. Stainless steel tanks can save a winemaker a lot of time and money. When you buy a bottle of wine for under $10.00 or $12.00 a bottle, it is unlikely that the wine was aged in oak barrels. The cost of making wine using oak barrels is too high to be able to sell a bottle of wine at that price point, at least in the United States. Winemakers can get lots of oak character in their wine without the use of oak barrels through the use of oak adjuvants such as oak chips.  So why bother? 

First a little background on oak barrels and wine. Wine predates the use of barrels; indeed, clay amphorae were the containers of choice for storing and transporting wine until around 300 BC when the Romans discovered the Gauls using barrels for beer. You can imagine the dangers of a large amphora of wine being hauled on a cart. Barrels became the favorite container for wine within a couple of centuries. It soon became apparent that barrels added some qualities to wine by imparting oak flavoring and tannins. Both elements helped wine become more age stable since spoilage of wine was a significant issue before the use of sulfur dioxide.  Ultimately winemakers also found that oak barrels, because of their porous nature helped advance the aging of wine. We now know that small amounts of oxygen permeate through the barrel and allow the wine to soften and become more complex over time. 

While all types of wood have been and continue to be used including cherry, walnut, chestnut, acacia, and redwood, oak remains the material of choice over the millennia as the choice material for making wine barrels. Few kinds of wood are as durable, resist leaking, and have the desired flavor characteristics as oak. There was a time when the highest demand for oak was to build ships rather than barrels. I have read that most of the oak forests in France were planted by Napoleon, who wanted to assure a long-term supply for his navy. Let us be thankful for the advent of steel hulls for making these forests available for barrels.

French oak barrels are the most sought after by most winemakers in France, and in this country where two oak species dominate: Quercus rober and Quercus sessiliflora. These two species are also used for barrels in Eastern Europe. American oak barrels are also widely available. French oak barrels are the most expensive and cost in the neighborhood of $1,000 to $1,400 apiece, while European oak is typically closer to $800 and American oak is closer to $500.  American oak prices have been on the rise recently because of the growth in the bourbon whiskey industry, which requires the exclusive use of American oak. One reason that American oak barrels are less expensive is that they are less labor intensive to make. French oak has to be hand split, or it will leak, whereas American oak staves can be machined because of their dense wood structure. French oak can be further categorized by the individual forests of origin such as the Vosges and Never. Each forest has its subtle differences in quality. Many winemakers are steering away from buying oak by forest and are instead focusing on the tightness of the oak grain.

Winemakers have many qualities of oak they like to specify including size, toast, length of time for the aging of the staves, and the stave thickness. A cooper or Tonnellerie is a person or company that makes barrels. Oak barrels are almost always toasted (although the heads may not be) and this adds almost an unlimited number of variables that often define a cooper’s style. Different styles can include the type of fire (propane vs. wood), time, temperature and moisture of the wood. Every winemaker tends to have his favorite coopers. The typical barrel is about 59 gallons or 223 liters. While this is the most popular size, barrels can be of almost any size imaginable. Another popular size is the 500L or so-called puncheon. Why the 223-liter barrel is popular is a bit of a mystery, but my theory is that it is the largest size that a (small) Frenchman could easily move around. The smaller the barrel, the greater the surface area to volume, and the more oxygen is transferred into the wine. Of course, an important decision for a winemaker who would like to see his wine either age quickly or more slowly.

So, back to the question, why do we still bother with this ancient system for storing wine? The best wines, certainly the best reds, are made using oak barrels. Consumers have become accustomed to the vanilla, coffee, caramel and smoke characters that oak imparts on wine. The slow oxidation makes the wine less angular and more complex. That is why here at Brian Carter Cellars all of our red wines are stored in 100% oak barrels.

Brian Carter, Winemaker

 

Mar 1, 2019 at 10:54 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
February 14, 2019

Meet our Employee
Kim Underwood

If you have visited the tasting room recently, you probably have met Kim’s bright smile behind the tasting bar. 

What is your favorite part about your job? 
I love the opportunity to share my passion for wine with our customers. Taking customers on a trip around the world with Brian's wines and describing the styles they reflect is one of the best parts of my job. I love the chance to create a unique and fun experience for each customer, which most typically involves adopting one of my specially customized accents to describe the wines. The great group of people at BCC is the icing on the proverbial cake, or perhaps more appropriately, the cheese to enjoy with the wine!

What attracted you to work for Brian Carter Cellars?
Brian Carter is a pioneer in the Washington wine world and remains someone who is highly respected amongst his peers and those who know his wines. Who wouldn't relish the opportunity to work with one of the best winemakers in Washington!

What is your favorite Brian Carter Wine?
Ask anyone in the tasting room - it is no secret that I have a very special place in my heart for Corrida.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I'm addicted to traveling and am always planning my next adventure. Most recently, I was in Ireland, a beautiful country which exceeded my expectations. I love to be active and spend time hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, scuba diving and walking my pups with my husband. We have a cabin in Mazama (the Methow Valley) where I get the opportunity to do a lot of my favorite things.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
Couldn't decide between the fact that I was on the drill team in high school or that I am an attorney. I guess the fact that I'm an attorney is more surprising since anyone who knows me probably figures I am the type who would have been the goofy girl on the drill team.

Tell us a little bit about your family?
My husband is originally from England. Although beer is his favorite beverage, he is a willing participant in my many wine escapades. I have two beautiful daughters; my eldest is a project manager for a digital presentation design company in Seattle while my youngest is in her second year of law school in San Diego. #proudmama, my family, also includes two wonderful pups - a Siberian Husky and a rescue "mutt" that my daughter says reminds her of the street dogs she would see while traveling in Mexico.

Feb 14, 2019 at 1:13 PM
Brian Carter Cellars
January 3, 2019

Happy New Year! It is time to look back on the year as Brian Carter Cellars wraps up 2018 on a successful note. Brian Carter shared his thoughts on his 39th harvest in Washington State.

“What a year,” said Carter, winemaker and managing partner of Brian Carter Cellars in Woodinville WA, “the 2018 harvest which is safely in the barrel and is one of the best I can remember, this year’s wines have great balance and fruit, with the reds showing particularly well with dark color and ripe, rounded tannins.”

This year, Brian Carter Cellars took home the following top honors:

  • “Winery of Distinction” Award - Northwest Wine Summit
  • Best of Category and Gold - Northwest Wine Summit for the 2013 Le Coursier, 2013 Solesce, 2013 Ace, and 2015 Opulento. 
  • “Best of Show” - Washington State Wine Awards for the 2017 Abracadabra Rosé
  • Double Gold - Washington State Wine Awards for the 2014 Trentenaire
  • “Top 50 Wines $30-and-under” - Seattle Times Pacific NW Magazine for the 2015 Abracadabra Red and 2015 Opulento.
  • Double Gold – Seattle Wine Awards for the 2013 ACE, 2013 Le Coursier, and 2016 Oriana
  • Jefferson Cup Nominee and Double Gold – Jefferson Cup Wine Invitational for the 2014 Solesce
  • Best of Class and Gold – Cascadia Wine Competition for the 2015 Abracadabra Red
  • Double Gold - Cascadia Wine Competition for the 2015 Opulento
  • Best of Class & Double Gold – Tri-Cities Wine Festival for the 2014 Byzance
  • Double Gold – Tri-Cities Wine Festival for the 2015 Opulento

Brian Carter Cellars was also honored with 8 Double Golds, 12 Golds, 30 Silver, and 14 Bronze medals in 2018, receiving a total of 70 medals.

“We are deeply honored to have Brian Carter Cellars chosen for these highly competitive awards. Along with the many honors we have received, this a great tribute to the Washington growers who provide us with such exceptional grapes and to my hardworking staff who continue to contribute to making Brian Carter Cellars great”, said Carter.

Brian Carter, Winemaker

Jan 3, 2019 at 2:25 PM
Brian Carter Cellars
December 3, 2018

Meet our Employees
Arielle Moule
Wine Club Manager

We would like to congratulate and introduce our new Wine Club Manager, Arielle Moule.  If you have visited the tasting room, you probably have already met Arielle’s bright smile behind the tasting bar. She has been a valuable member of our team since August and ready to help make the Brian Carter Wine Club something special for all of our members.  If you have any questions, Arielle can be reached at the tasting room or via email at wineclub@briancartercellars.com.

What is your favorite part about your job? 
I truly love how many new people I meet every day. It’s a fantastic Tasting Room right in the heart of Woodinville Wine Country, so there are always customers coming and going. It’s great to hear stories, find out where people have traveled from, and get to know new faces, as well as see the Club members too. What better way to meet new people than over a wine tasting?

What attracted you to work for Brian Carter Cellars?
I have been a fan of Brian Carter Cellars wines for years and was thrilled to learn that there was a position available. The staff here is like a family, and such a fun environment to be in, I couldn't think of a better way to be involved.

What is your favorite Brian Carter Wine?
That's like picking a child! I think my go-to favorite is Corrida. I love the earthy quality, with lots of dusty, dry gravel notes mixed with perfect spice and dark fruit.it Reminds me of the mountain paths of Northern Spain, and it’s a perfect glass on a chilly Autumn evening.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to garden. I’m always trying to pawn off extra veggies to the Brian Carter staff, I also love to cook and make pickles. I also love to read about history and travel and collect books from around the world.  

What would people be surprised to know about you?
I’m pretty quiet and shy most of the time. There's something about my passion for this wine that brings out this other side of me! It’s nice to tap into that, especially working with such other enthusiastic people.

Tell us a little bit about your family?
I grew up outside of Philadelphia, PA. I’m an only child, and my mother is a Dean at a Girl’s School in New Jersey. She and I are very close. We can trace our family tree back to 1258 AD in England, and we love to collect old family records. I moved out to Washington seven years ago to pursue the world of wine. I have two cats, Nyla and Pooh, and live in Mill Creek. 

Dec 3, 2018 at 1:30 PM
Brian Carter Cellars
November 25, 2018

Port is the most recognizable name in fortified dessert wines. In 2007, Brian Carter started a project to produce a great port-style wine in Washington. Working with the Newhouse family on Snipes Mountain in the Yakima Valley, we planted the Portuguese varieties Touriga Nacional, Souzao, Tinto Cão and Tinto Roriz (also known as Tempranillo) - the finest port varieties used to make the great fortified dessert wines of Portugal.

Hailing from the Douro River Valley in northwest Portugal, Port was originally created in the 18th century by the British who experimented with adding brandy to still red wines, fortifying them to stabilize them for the extended voyage across the Bay of Biscay and up the coast of France to England.

Most port-style wines have a semi-sweet to the notably sweet taste profile. Brian Carter Cellars Opulento is no different showing the intensity of fruit with a deep impenetrable garnet color, with aromas of raspberry, cherry, and chocolate with hints of almond and orange peel. On the palate, this wine has opulent flavors of chocolate and berry fruits with a perfectly balanced and satisfyingly sweet finish. The sweetness in the wine comes from the brandy that is added during fermentation, which halts the fermentation process, leaving some sugar behind.

Serve with your favorite dark chocolate dessert, such as our Flourless Chocolate Cake


Flourless Chocolate Cake

•   8 oz unsalted butter
•   8 oz bittersweet chocolate
•   1 Tbls cocoa powder
•   1 cup white sugar
•   5 eggs, separated
•   1 cup slivered almonds ground till fine or
•   1 cup almond flour

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease 9” springform pan with butter or pan spray and set aside.

Melt butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder either in a double boiler over water or in a microwave. Mix together till homogenous. Beat 5 egg yolks with sugar till pale yellow. Add chocolate mixture to egg mixture and mix well. Add ground almonds (or almond flour) and mix.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites till stiff. Gently fold whites into chocolate mixture.

Pour batter into prepared springform pan and bake at 350˚F for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Remove from oven and slide a knife around the inside of springform to separate cake from pan to eliminate center of cake falling.  Allow to cool.

When ready to serve, remove the jacket from springform pan and slice into 16 servings, as the cake is incredibly rich.  Serve with raspberry purée or fresh raspberries and whipped cream.  The perfect dessert served with Brian Carter Cellars Opulento!

Nov 25, 2018 at 10:31 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
November 12, 2018

Meet our Employees
Jenny Schaening

Jenny Schaening is Brian Carter Cellar’s Tasting Room Manager and is always ready with a smile and ready to create the perfect wine tasting experience for you. If you have any questions about our tasting room, you can contact Jenny at info@briancartercellars.com

What is your favorite part about your job? 
I began by volunteering with Brian Carter Cellars during crush season in 2009 while I was working in the tasting room at Columbia Winery. I quickly became hooked with learning everything there was to know about wine production and went on to complete two years of study at the NW Wine Academy. In 2012 I was offered a position at Brian Carter Cellars working in the tasting room and was promoted to Tasting Room Manager in 2017. I continue to get my hands dirty during crush as often as Brian will let me.

What attracted you to work for Brian Carter Cellars?
Meeting the customers that come through our door from all walks of life. I love working with my staff - they are super energetic, passionate about wine and a joy to have on the team.

What is your favorite Brian Carter Wine?
I would have to say Trentenaire, which I consider the most unique wine in Brian’s portfolio. With the main grape variety being Petit Verdot it also includes four other Bordeaux varieties. Big, bold, inky, slightly tannic and beautiful in its bouquet. I adore wine that you can sink your teeth into!

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I am all about cooking, enjoying great wine, spending time with my family and friends and listening to fun eclectic music! I would consider myself a culinary adventurer. Always up for exploring new cuisines, mastering recipes and creating some of my own. Sharing my cooking with others is one of my greatest passions.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
I have a BFA and an MA in graphic design and photography. My first job was dressing up as an elf and taking holiday pictures of unhappy kids on Santa’s lap.

Tell us a little bit about your family?
We are Michigan natives that transplanted to this beautiful state in 2004. I have three grown children, a wonderful husband, and a very active mini-Aussie named Audie. The rest of my extended family still live in Michigan, so I am a frequent mid-west visitor. I consider Seattle my home.

Nov 12, 2018 at 11:14 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
November 7, 2018

Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving
What will you be serving with your Thanksgiving dinner?

Question: Red or White? - A good and simple strategy for Thanksgiving wine is to offer a great bottle of each to allow your guests their choice. Plus, it's a good opportunity to introduce your guests to something new that they might not have tried before.

For a white wine, look for a wine with well-balanced acidity. The Oriana is the perfect choice for those prefer traditional white wines. With its seductive aromas and perfect balance, it’s popularity just keeps soaring. Oriana is a richly aromatic wine, resplendent with tangerine, apricot, ripe pear and apple with touches of honey and anise. Crisp acidity greets the palate while mouth-filling fruit flavors linger making this an excellent companion to any Thanksgiving table.

For reds, look for soft tannins that will yield to and blend with your dishes and will delight most red wine lovers without overpowering lighter turkey flavors. The ripeness of the 2013 Byzance with its complex nose of bright red cherries, tar, and white pepper. The wine explodes in your mouth with lots of bright fruit and finishes with a long slightly earthy mineral note. A great balance and a hint of tannin make this wine a great match for a wide range of foods, including your mother-in-law’s stuffing recipe.

Ending on a Sweet Note - Well, what pairs with traditional Thanksgiving desserts like Pumpkin or Pecan Pie? We suggest a glass of Opulento. Deep impenetrable garnet color, with aromas of raspberry, cherry, and chocolate with hints of almond and orange peel. On the palate, this wine has opulent flavors of chocolate and berry fruits with a perfectly balanced and satisfyingly sweet finish.   

Nov 7, 2018 at 10:56 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
November 6, 2018

Grapes are in! It is time to look back at the harvest and see what happened. Another memorable harvest indeed. A successful one, my 39th in Washington State. While the wines are certainly not finished, I am happy to say that 2018 was a good one for Brian Carter Cellars and Washington State. The flavors are really nice across almost all varieties. It was a warmer year which favored the varieties that like basking in the heat such as Cabernet Sauvignon. Just to put the heat in perspective: while 2018 was warmer than average, it was not in the record-setting league of 2015. 2018 was in terms of heat pretty close to 2017.  The hot summer got harvest started a week earlier than normal, but a moderate September and October temperatures gave us good hang time on most of our fruit. Harvest finished at the end of October which is pretty normal. We did have some rain this year, which caused us to cancel several pickings in October, but it did not last long and did not seem to have a significant effect on quality.

Quantity wise, yields were pretty close to expected in most vineyards.  I worked with each grower to assure we had a modest yield while supplying what we needed.  In total we crushed about 160 tons and just under 100 tons for Brian Carter Cellars, the balance being for our custom clients. This puts Brian Carter Cellars production a bit higher than the 2017 harvest and almost exactly what we did in 2016.

Again, the wines are tasting good. The white and rosé wines are fruit forward with some weight; the reds are dark in color and have good varietal character and balance. The tannins in the Bordeaux varieties are there but have a nice ripe smoothness.  More to come as the wines get finished; I can’t wait until the spring when I start blending!

Brian Carter, Winemaker

Nov 6, 2018 at 2:47 PM