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End of an Era


I guess an "era" might be a slight exaggeration, but this year marks the end of Hedges Family Estate "Bottle Your Own" event held annually for several years at the Issaquah Tasting Room. 
As with most Washington wineries the real work – growing and winemaking – is done East of the Cascade Mountains at their Benton City estate. The Issaquah location was primarily an office, the tasting room and was available as a rental facility.  In recent months the Hedges have moved their offices into Seattle to be closer to the restaurants and wine shops they serve so it no longer makes sense to maintain the Issaquah facility. 
I asked Tom and Anne-Marie if they planned to offer BYO at the Benton City Facility or if there were any plans to hold it next year.  It seems there is no firm plan at this time, but I’m sure I was only one of many who voiced my hope that it would continue in some way. 
I have the last five years bottlings stored in my cellar (actually the 2001s are just empty bottles….) and had participated one or two other years prior.  It has become an annual event that friends I and have always enjoyed. 
Each year a special blend of Red Mountain and Columbia Valley wines were blended for this bottling.  Then, on this weekend, hordes of wine lovers would make their way to the tasting room where we’d be handed magnum bottles – as many as we had ordered when we RSVPed.  Actually, the first thing you are handed is a tasting glass and ticket for 4 samples of wine which you can use before, after or while you are bottling. 
With bottles in hand you make your way to the filling station, then to the corking machines, on to the foil putter-onner-thingy (I’m sure it has a real name) and into the labeling room to finish your bottles.  The very last step (if you wanted) was a stop at the table where Tom and Anne-Marie sign every bottle.  I’m sure they have massive writer’s cramp by the end of the weekend. 
I hope they manage to resurrect this event in some way.  Not only is the wine great – and I love the large format bottles – but it’s fun to have a little hands-on involvement in the winemaking process!
  1. Eric permalink
    20-Nov-2006 8:24 pm

    Remember when the Herb Farm operated out of the Hedges tasting room?

  2. Culinary permalink
    21-Nov-2006 6:24 am

    I had forgotten about that but you are so right.  When the first Herbfarm location burned down they used this facility as a temporary location and then ended up building the facility they are in today.  Good memory!

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