When my work life and wine life intersect, I always bask in the glow. I have been incredibly lucky to be accepted into the Executive Women’s Roundtable, an exclusive C-level women’s leadership organization that is run through the Dallas Chamber of Commerce. The women are amazing – it’s a who’s who of women who leave me in awe every time that I am in a room with them.
Annually, we have a weekend leadership retreat designed to be a time of learning, city exploration, laughter and networking. This year we headed to Seattle. Yes, the land of Washington Wine, which I fell in love with about five years ago at #wbc10.
Ian and Laura MacNeil
This trip allowed me to explore (briefly) a wine region that I did not have a chance to visit the last time I was there – Woodinville. But first, we needed to explore vodka. Ian MacNeil launched the Glass Distillery in 2012 to introduce his flagship spirit, Glass Vodka, to the public. The shop includes a gorgeous exhibition of glass and on our visit was coupled with a tasting of four types of vodka. Three were flavored, but the pure Glass Vodka was delicious, smooth and all about style. This made a girl that wasn’t necessarily a vodka fan, a vodka fan.
After a series of meetings and networking events, (if you want the outfit of the year, check out Luly Yang, one of the most fun designers I’ve seen in a long time), we headed to a morning tour of Pike Place Market.
We had a private tour at the Dale Chihuly Boathouse. It was awesome to see Chihuly’s glass vision come to life from an aquarium to his private pool to the best dining room ever. It was a blast from the past to see what inspired the gorgeous designs that have become the standard of glass couture.
Then the games begin. I’m never a tour bus winery kind of gal, so I’m going to focus on the two “off the beaten path” wineries that I really enjoyed out of the three we toured. Our first was JM Cellars, which is considered a private arboretum located on a hill named “Bramble Bump.” John Bigelow, the incredibly charismatic and passionate winemaker, who had such an infectious excitement for his wines and the story of his family, made us all fall in love with his story and the property. These guys make 500 cases a year – small and boutique in style. The 2012 Vineyard Estate red and the 2012 Syrah were my favorite wines that I tried.
Our next stop was Sparkman Cellars where we spent time with Brian Cade, the general manager. I loved the vision, “work with the finest ingredients known to man, craft it from something truly real and share it with people that want to drink it.” Sir, may I have another… I really liked everything that I tried. The fact that the wine club is named after Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” resonated. But sadly, to refrain a sad yet often stated theme, the wines are not yet available in Texas. I hate you three-tier ridiculous legal system. We are all missing out.
Anytime I can combine time with a group of awe inspiring women combined with the amazing city of Seattle paired with a region of wines that I just want to spend time exploring, that means one of the best weekend’s ever.