Brian Carter Cellars


Brian Carter Cellars
August 22, 2016

Here we go again! Harvest 2016 is rapidly approaching. Chateau Ste. Michelle is harvesting Sauvignon Blanc starting this week! For Brian Carter Cellars, we are talking probably the first week of September for our first grapes. This week we start cleaning the harvest bins in anticipation of sending them out to our growers in time for them to pick into them. It is another early harvest but fortunately the warmth occurred early in April, May and June. The temperatures in July and August, at least up to now have been more moderate. For me the ideal would be to hold the daily highs between 80 and 90 degrees with nights cooling to the 50's. Those kinds of moderate temperatures hold the acidity and fruit while building deep color. Looks like excellent quality so far and a bit bigger crop than last year as well. I will keep you posted as I am over in the vineyards almost every week between now and the end of the October.

Meantime, Robert and I are putting together the 2015 blends. The Solesce, Trentenaire and Le Coursier are already racked and blended with the Corrida and Byzance happening in the next few days. And somehow I have to get a couple of days off to backpack in the mountains with my two sons (a 16 year annual tradition) before it all starts in earnest.

Valerie Valerah!

Aug 22, 2016 at 10:13 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
November 13, 2015

Try this great recipe for Sautéed Cherry Pan Sauce with Touriga Nacional ONE. Recipe by SizzleWorks

Nov 13, 2015 at 10:17 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
October 16, 2015

Vanilla Salted Chocolate Cherry Decadence

Chef Carol Dearth, Sizzleworks Cooking School

2 tablespoons Brian Carter Cellars Opulento
1/2 cup dried cherries
16 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla salt (1/2 teaspoon if using unsalted butter)
For Garnish: Powdered Sugar

Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat two 8-inch false bottom tart pans** with cooking spray; set on large sheet pan, set aside. In a small bowl, pour Opulento over cherries, let stand to soak until ready to use.

Melt butter over low heat. When butter has melted add chocolate. Stir to combine. Let stand 5 minutes to melt chocolate, then stir again to smooth out.

Meanwhile whisk eggs in a large bowl with sugar and vanilla salt. Whisk until the mixture triples in volume, about 8 minutes. Fold in slightly cooled chocolate mixture. Strain cherries, reserving the Opulento; fold cherries into chocolate mixture. Spread in prepared pans.

Bake for 20 minutes. The center will be a little soft. Let cool at least 30 minutes before serving. Center will sink as it cools. Holds up well in refrigerator.

To serve: Slice into thin wedges, plate on dessert plates and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Each tart serves 6-8.

** or one 1/4 sheet pan, lined with parchment paper. Makes 121 servings 1-inch squares.

Opulento Whipped Cream:
1 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar (I like to use brown sugar here)
reserved Opulento (from soaking cherries)
vanilla salt

In mixing bowl, combine cream and Opulento; beat to soft peaks. Spoon or pipe onto of cake; garnish with a sprinkle of vanilla salt.

Sizzleworks Cooking School
14111 NE 24th Street • Bellevue, WA 98007

Oct 16, 2015 at 11:13 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
October 16, 2015

Recipe by SizzleWorks

Grilled Peaches with Burrata & Honey

Serve with Brian Carter Cellars 2013 Oriana

3 large peaches, halved and pitted
1 tablespoon butter, melted
8 ounces burrata
2 slices bacon, cooked to crisp, broken into bite size pieces* (optional)
Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg 3 peaches, cut in half
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh thyme leaves

Brush cut side of peaches with butter; set aside. Preheat grill to around 400°F. Grill peaches, cut side down, until grill marks appear, about 2 minutes. turn and grill 2 minutes longer. Remove peaches from grill and slice. On a serving plate, cut into the burrata to show the creamy interior. Arrange peach slices around burrata. Sprinkle the bacon pieces over, if desired. Then sprinkle with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Drizzle with honey and oil. Garnish with thyme. Serves 6.

*or you may use crumbled gorgonzola here.

Recipe by SizzleWorks

Oct 16, 2015 at 10:39 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
October 16, 2015

Recipe by SizzleWorks

Grilled Herbed Pork Tenderloin

Serve with Brian Carter Cellars 2011 Corrida

2-1/2 pounds boneless pork tenderloin
4-5 tablespoons fresh herb mixture (recipe follows)
1/4 cup olive oil salt and pepper

Preheat grill to 450°F. With a sharp knife, cut pork almost in half lengthwise. Fill the cut with the herb mixture. Close and tie with kitchen string. Rub the outside of the roast with olive oil and any remaining herbs. Sprinkle lightly with paprika, salt & pepper.

Place roast in preheated grill over direct heat; cook for 10 minutes, turning every 2 minutes to brown the outside. Drizzle with a little more olive oil if necessary; reduce the heat to 375°F and cook for about 15 minutes over indirect heat, basting frequently. Internal temperature should be 145-150°F (it will rise to 150-155°F). Let the roast rest 10 minutes before carving.

Fresh Herb Mixture:
1 large branch rosemary
1 large branch sage
3 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)

Remove rosemary and sage from branch, place on cutting board. Top with garlic and salt. Chop finely. (This can also be done in the food processor.) Leave any unused herb mixture on cutting board to dry, then seal in a jar to store.

Recipe by SizzleWorks

Oct 16, 2015 at 10:36 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
October 16, 2015

Recipe by SizzleWorks

Poached Shrimp on Melon Smear with Horseradish Cream

Serve with Brian Carter Cellars 2013 Roussanne

Melon Coulis:
1 1/2 pounds cantaloupe or honeydew melon
2 tablespoons butter
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup heavy cream

Peel, seed and cut the melon into 1/2" dice. Put the butter in a 10" skillet and place over medium high heat. Once the butter has melted completely, add the melon and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the melon begins to break down and most of the liquid it releases has evaporated, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the melon mixture to a blender, taking care to fill the blender jar no more than half full. Holding the lid tight with a pot holder, begin pureeing on lowest speed. Then increase the speed to puree, and process until mixture is smooth. Stir in cream; season with lemon juice and additional salt & pepper as needed. Store refrigerated. May be frozen up to 6 months.

Horseradish Cream:
1/2 cup whipped cream
2 teaspoons fresh horseradish
Pinch of salt

Fold horseradish into whipped cream, season with salt.

Lemon Poached Shrimp:
2 cups dry white wine
1 cup water
6 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt
1 large lemon, cut in half, juiced
1-1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp (16-20 count)

In a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan with a lid, combine the wine, water, peppercorns, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt, lemon juice and the lemon halves. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium low, and let the liquid simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the shrimp, cover, and poach for 4 minutes. Do not allow the liquid to heat past a simmer. Turn off the heat and let the shrimp sit in the covered pan for another 2 minutes, or until they are pink. Transfer the shrimp to a colander with a slotted spoon; discard the poaching liquid. Let the shrimp sit in the colander until they're cool enough to handle. Chill for at least 2 hours or up to a day. Serve cold.

To Assemble:
Spoon a tablespoon of the melon mixture onto a serving plate. Using the back of the spoon, smear the puddle. Arrange shrimp atop the smear, then garnish with a dollop of horseradish cream on the side. Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper.

Recipe by SizzleWorks

Oct 16, 2015 at 10:31 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
June 10, 2015

Our official Washington Winery of the Year award arrived today! We are very grateful for this recognition. To learn more about Brian Carter Cellars winning the Washington Winery of the Year Click Here

Jun 10, 2015 at 10:42 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
June 3, 2015

May 20, 2015
Last week, I spent the day in the vineyards covering ground to cover 10 of the 12 vineyards we purchase from. A long day but good to catch up with the growers and see how they are coping with 2015. It is up to the partnership between the grower and the winemaker to overcome any challenges, as well as take maximum advantage of the best qualities of the vintage, in order to make the best possible wine. While every vintage has it's 'unique' qualities, this one has the potential to be one for the record books.

Already we have the earliest bud break on record due to a very mild winter and spring. Also, as you no doubt have heard, water is scarce and it is shaping up to be a challenging vintage for irrigation management. Water supplies are below 40% of normal and the predictions are getting more and more grim. In the Yakima Valley, which is more dependent on snowpack than other regions, the canals are currently closed for a period of two to three weeks. The real challenge will come in September and October where they are certain to close the canals early. This is creating some real challenges in managing crop load and canopy in an attempt to minimize the amount of water the vines will require during the year.

One more challenge we are facing this year is some winter damage in several spots. In particular, I looked at one Chardonnay vineyard that is being used by Array Cellars that has a significant amount of damage. Crop levels will be 3/4 to 1/2 of normal in that block if my predictions are accurate. I also saw a few examples of spring frost this year. But in general, it did not appear to be enough of an issue to significantly impact crop with proper management going forward.

In the meantime, in addition to irrigation, we are dealing with normal issues like shoot thinning, pest control and vigor. Shoot thinning is critical this time of year. Most vines tend to produce many 'non-count' shoots that clog up the canopy. These shoots, which are typically not very fruitful, prevent sunlight from getting to the fruit which is important to flavor development, especially in red wines.

These shoots also prevent sprays from penetrating and stop airflow through the canopy which increases disease pressure. Getting in the field early helps with these problems but it also makes the job easier compared to later season shoot thinning where the shoots become more lignified and harder to remove. Soon we will be talking about leaf removal which further opens up the canopy giving us even better cluster exposure.

The next big occurrence in the vineyard will be bloom and fruit set. We will have a better idea of crop levels after the little green berries are hanging on the shoots. The weather continues to be warm so I am expecting bloom will occur fairly soon, weeks ahead of normal. All this is shaping up to be an unusually early harvest. I'm not making any vacation plans for Labor Day weekend this year!

Brian Carter

Jun 3, 2015 at 10:46 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
April 16, 2015

At Brian Carter Cellars, we have just two bottling's per year. Together with harvest, it is the most intense part of the winemaking process. In many ways, it is actually the most stressful for several reasons. For starters, it is the culmination of all the hard work that has gone into the wine up to that point. All the walks through the vineyard, the sorting at the crusher, the punch downs, the pressing, the barrel selection, the blending, and the topping come down to this moment. A thousand details that had to be done just right can be for naught in this final hurried process. Secondly, it is a winemaker's last chance to touch the wine. Once the cork goes in, there isn't much I can do to change the wine.

The process of bottling takes place over just a few short but furious days. It is not my favorite part of the winemaking process, nor do I think it is for most winemakers. Even though the dates have been set aside for months, everything must come together for the bottling to work. The corks, the bottles, the labels, the capsules, the truck, the labor and of course the wine, all these things have to be planned well in advance and missing any one of them, the process comes to a screeching halt.

The wine is no small part of the process, but if everything has been prepared properly, it should be a minor part of the bottling process come bottling day. Before bottling, the winemaker has to check the wine’s stability, especially for white wines which can turn cloudy in the bottle if they are not heat and cold stable. Bentonite is added as a fining agent to remove proteins that lead to heat instability. Chilling and the addition of potassium bi-tartrate (cream of tartar) gives cold stability to the wine. The decisions of whether to filter the wine or not and how tight the filtration should be are critical. Precise additions of sulfur dioxide made to each lot, too little will cause the wine to become oxidized with time, too much will cause the wine to have an unpleasant aroma. We also carefully monitor the wines oxygen, carbon dioxide and temperature.

Once bottling day arrives, the wine must be ready, the packaging materials are all there, the truck is in place, the crew has assembled, and then the real fun begins. It is hectic, it is noisy, it is mechanical, it is sometimes heavy lifting, and it is often monotonous. But the winemaker's attention to detail needs to be in top form. Are the bottles clean, do we have the right corks, labels and capsules going on? Is the cork going in the correct depth? Is the vacuum on the corker giving us the right cork pressure? Is the fill level correct? Is the capsule wrinkling? Are the labels going on straight, unwrinkled and in the right position? Is there any scuffing as the bottles go into the cases? Are the boxes labeled correctly? Are the cases stacked properly on the pallets and the pallets stacked properly into the winery? There isn't any time to relax while the line is pounding out four pallets (224 cases) an hour.

At the end of the last day of bottling, there is a big sigh as the final step in the process is completed. Time to relax, enjoy a glass of wine, and dream of more fun times in the winemaking process. Once again, it is time to get back into the vineyards, the buds are breaking!

If this description hasn't scared you off from helping out on bottling day, get ahold of Robert at and let him know you would like to come out for a day. Our next bottling is April 7th, 8th & 9th.

Brian Carter
Director of Winemaking

Apr 16, 2015 at 10:53 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
April 16, 2015

This years Yakima Enological Society Platinum Awards Wine Dinner was held at the Yakima Country Club on April 11th. Brian attended along with other honored winemakers that received Platinum ‪‎wine‬ awards from Wine Press Northwest this year. Memorable highlights of this years event were two separate dinners at John Caudilll's home featuring Brian Carter Cellars wines sold at live auction, for $2,000 each.

Apr 16, 2015 at 10:50 AM