The History of Saint Valentines Day (According to Ryan)

The History of Saint Valentines Day (According to Ryan)

I will be celebrating Valentine’s Day like I do each year. With a succulent cut of steak, a beautiful bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and my oh so lovely wife! It’s such a sweet holiday to show your partner what they mean to you but do you know the dark origins of Valentine’s Day? Me neither, so I looked it up and I will never look at cupid in the same way.

                Turns out the Romans knew it as the feast of Lupercalia (February 13th-15th). As I write this, I am blushing so I don’t want to go into too much detail. Let’s just say they didn’t all wear their togas to the party! The oddest thing I learned was that they sacrificed a goat and a dog then tore a strip of the sacrificial animal off and smacked the ladies with said animal flesh to bless the women with fertility. Then, they drank bowl after bowl of wine. Red wine, I imagine! Probably not Tertulia though. We weren’t around back in the days of yore.

                In the third century Emperor Claudius II had it in for a couple of blokes named Valentine. On you guessed it, February 14th he had them executed. Later, the Catholic Church canonized them. Later still, a Pope who’s name I can’t pronounce combined the two holidays as a way to bring the pagans into the Church. The revelry wasn’t so, let’s just say, Roman in nature. They still drank wine but this time in cups!

                Shakespeare and Chaucer romanticized it. People began passing around handmade cards and drank wine! Eventually it made its way to the new world. Then in the early 20th century in some dark smoke filled room the evil cabal of Valentine’s Day met. Hallmark was there as I am sure where chocolatiers and representatives of the floral industry. A dastardly plan was hatched to commercialize the holiday. Now reservations at restaurants are impossible to find! You almost need to take out a second mortgage to buy a dozen roses!! They are bleeding us dry!!!

                I am sure if I explain this evil conspiracy to my wife I will only be met with scorn. So I will concede defeat and go through all the motions of this preposterous holiday. Still I wonder if my wife will let me slap her with the rib eye before I throw it in my cast iron. Either way a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon will take the sting away.

Pearls Of Wisdom from Mark Cuban

Pearls Of Wisdom from Mark Cuban

Half a billion bucks is a mind boggling amount of money, which is what Powerball is up to for today’s drawing. What I find mind boggling is how someone can blow through all that money and make their lives worse. That is exactly what happens to winners more often than not. I recently read advice from Mark Cuban, to winners of the lottery and it made me think about my own life. I don’t know if these are his exact words but basically he said if you weren’t happy before winning you won’t be happy after. If you were happy, you will likely be even happier. Of course, he is right. The pursuit of happiness has little to do with the pursuit of material objects.  It made me think about my New Year’s resolutions. I need to spend more time doing the things that make me happy and they are all well within my means. The next step was to pace for twenty minutes while compiling my thoughts. Pacing is a big part of my process.

                First of all, I should get the resolution we all have at this time of year out. Swimsuit season is only six months away and I need to lose a few holiday pounds! The conundrum is that starving myself goes against the basic tenets of my happiness. My solution is to be good for two out of my three meals per day. If eating cardboard flavored bran wrapped in dirt flavored kale for breakfast and lunch allows me to have a nice dinner with a few choice glasses of wine, that is one sacrifice I am willing to make. Also it wouldn’t hurt to put the sweat back in sweatpants instead of using them solely for their elastic band after a large meal. Having more energy makes me happy, so I will for sure follow through on this resolution.

                Second, I love writing. I honestly enjoy putting these blogs together for you. I am a creative person and writing is a wonderful outlet. Many of you may not know this but I have been working on a book for the past few years. It’s no ‘The Catcher in The Rye’, just a fun chapter book for my daughter, to make her laugh and smile. Still it would be cool to get it out there, even if my little girl is the only one who reads it. Plus all that pacing that’s part of my process will help my waist line.               

                Next, my wife and I have been talking about building more family memories. We used to go on more outings. I expect that this year we will visit my in-laws in Brazil but I also look forward to the little adventures close to home. I think a couple of glamping trips are in order to explore the natural beauty of the Northwest.

                Finally, have I ever mentioned Petanque? God I love this game!  I love it because I get to hang out with some of my friends, drink some nice bottles of wine and do a little friendly trash talking. I plan on entering some regional tournaments this year. I will bring my family along for some mini adventures, throw in a little glamping and some nice bottles of Tertulia for good measure.

                I guess my big take away from all these resolutions is to simply make more time to do the things that make me happy. Still, I am sure I will be buying a lottery ticket. I mean half a billion, I would be crazy not to!

Finally heard back from Santa

Finally heard back from Santa

Ho Ho Ho Ryan,

My most sincere apologies. I had no idea that Tipsy was acting up. I have had a little talk with him. Please give Tipsy one more chance or it is back to the clink with him. He is out on a work release program. Sometimes it is hard to rehabilitate these elves.

Thanks for understanding,

Merry Christmas,

Kris Kringle

Dear Santa..........

Dear Santa..........

Dear Santa,

Let me start by saying I am a huge fan. Love the red suit and the whole look! See myself going that way one day. You have known me since I was a little child. I am a good person and can’t think of anything I could have done to upset you. So why have you sent me Tipsy the Elf? Tipsy is a little monster. I am quite familiar with the concept of an elf on the shelf. We have had one at home for years. Our elf visits my family each day and at night reports to you if our daughter has been naughty or nice. My daughter adores her and I know Fisbee’s feelings are reciprocal. Fisbee is a wonderful elf who from time to time makes harmless mischief. Now Tipsy on the other hand goes way too far. He drinks too much, messes the place up and not to mention his creepy stare. He has everyone at the winery on edge during a time we should all be joyful. I would be remiss not to mention that he has on occasion tried to cause physical harm to one of our employees.

If there is any way that we could get a replacement elf I would be much obliged.

Happy Holidays,

Ryan Richard Raber

Extended Maceration, Only for the Brave



                Yesterday we pressed and today put the last of the 2017 wines in barrel. They were  two lots of Cabernet Sauvignon from our Elevation vineyard. We would have been finished putting these wine to bed three weeks ago, except we wanted to do something extra special with them. That extra special is called extended maceration. What is that you ask? Well, it is where you increase the normal amount of time red grapes stay in contact with the fermented wine. We fermented for about a week like normal. Once the yeast has consumed all the sugars we closed the lid for another three weeks rather than pressing the wine off right away.

                The first time I used this technique it was terrifying. After one week the wine tasted tannic and undrinkable. Oh god what have I done, I thought to myself. Two weeks in I wouldn’t wish this wine on my nemesis (now I don’t have a nemesis but it might be fun to get one). At this point I was thinking I might have ruined a perfectly good lot of wine and I was on my way to unemployment. The third week is where the magic happened. Those harsh tannins combined with proteins and precipitated out, leaving soft smooth tannins and a rich mouth feel. I am told this technique was originated in Bordeaux to add depth and complexity to their wines. I suspect it first happened on accident, though certainly a happy accident. Maybe everyone decided to go fox hunting and came back a few weeks later and discovered they had forgotten to finish off a vat of wine.  However, the first extended maceration came to be, we love it here at Tertulia. It’s just one of the many old world techniques that make our wines unique.



Ryan Raber

Mashed Potatoes......This means something. Its important!

Mashed Potatoes

“This means something. It’s important.”


I was asked the other day what this time of year means to me and what I am thankful for. All I can come up with is, …. mashed potatoes. Stay with me! You will soon see the significance of mashed potatoes, and in all probability you will have a deep insatiable desire for MASHED POTATOES!

Yesterday was a good day. It was Halloween. My wife and I stopped off at my daughter’s elementary school to watch her give a presentation on a model house she built in class. They’re learning about electricity and her house had working lights and a fan. Her whole presentation was done in Spanish as well. I was very proud. Afterwards I went shopping and I was still filled with pride so I decided a nice celebratory meal was in order. Of course I was going to need mashed potatoes. It was a French meal with roasted Brussel sprouts and rack of lamb so I went for fancy whipped potatoes with lots of butter and cream! The meal naturally included a bottle of Tertulia Cabernet Sauvignon and some hard earned trick or treating candy for desert!

 In a few short weeks we will celebrate Thanksgiving at my parents up in the mountains. The meal is made from scratch with most of the ingredients coming from my parents or uncles gardens. It is Uncle Snowy’s job to make the mashed potatoes. He leaves them with a few lumps, which is just fine. The best part is the gravy my mother makes with the pan drippings from the turkey. For thickening she pours the water used to cook the potatoes into the gravy.  We will probably have Viognier, Grenache and our C.C. red with this difficult to pair meal.  I can already taste it!!!

Christmas will be fast upon us after Thanksgiving and back to my parents for sledding and merriment! We will have days of feasting. I can’t promise we will have mashed potatoes with each supper but I am sure some garlic mashed potatoes will work their way into the mix probably smack dab next to a big old prime rib roast and lots of good wine.

Throughout the holidays mashed potatoes is a constant and its best accompaniments are family, friends, snowflakes, a little bit of magic and big bold red wines. 

Mashed Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes , Mashed Potatoes , ……


Death is in the Air.......Pioneer Bowlus Cemetery

Pioneer Bowlus Cemetery

            There is death in the air. Gone are the days of spring and summer where our little valley is full of lush green life. The season has changed. The leaves have changed color, faded to a lifeless brown. On this blustery October day Thomas and I are headed back to the winery from Pumpkin Hollow the little valley where our Elevation vineyard lies. Along the gravel road we whined, passing fallow wheat fields. Today I brought Thomas with me, not just to see the vineyard but for our secondary activity. We will be visiting a cemetery. I don’t hold much stock in superstitions but to be on the safe side, it’s best not to wonder alone in a graveyard.

            We pull off the road with not a soul insight, parking adjacent to a wooden arch with an old sign rocking back and forth in the wind. The sign reads Pioneer Bowlus Cemetery. Thomas and I pass undisturbed under the weather worn arch. Scattered between the over grown weeds lies small grave markers. Many are so old there is little left of them besides a wooden steak rising from the ground. Others are proper markers with long forgotten names chiseled in stone; left by long dead loved ones. Awhile ago I heard tell a story, that the cemetery is haunted. The farmer who works the land surrounding the cemetery claims that each time he passed a certain grave his tractor stalls out. Lost spirits have long been said to mess with the electrical systems of machines. Perhaps the lumbering tractor disturbed a wayward spirit’s rest; perhaps it’s just a coincidence or a tall tale. I read many of the grave stones. This brooding season and abandoned cemetery have turned me somber and contemplative. Some pull at my heart strings. Thinking of parents having to bury their children and vise versa. These brave pioneers found this land and wrought it out by hand making it the near paradise many of us call home.

            As we head back to the car my mind continues to wonder. I think about other carrier opportunities besides winemaking. Out loud I say to Thomas, I wonder if any of them were buried with their jewelry. Suddenly a chill wind rises and we feel a coldness pass through our souls like an angry wraith. Just kidding I shout, passing under the arch. I raise my arms pleadingly, just kidding, sorry not funny! On the drive back to the winery I fervently hope we didn’t pick up any extra passengers. Good thing I have a nice brooding bottle of Tertulia waiting at home to warm my tattered soul.

Hey Mistral......

Hey Mistral......

Hey Mistral you’re so fine you’re so fine you blow my mind! Hey Mistral!!!

Any resemblance to Toni Basil’s 1981 one hit wonder “Mickey” is purely coincidental.

Let me tell you about my best friend during harvest. Her name is Mistral, named after the brutally cold wind that blows through Southern France. She does the work of 10 people, never tiring. She is of course a machine, a very clever machine might I add. Her job at the winery is to remove MOG, (material other than grapes). Mistral has tiny little groves that remove shot berries. Shot berries are little green berries that were never pollinated and they taste horrible! These green grapes are about the size of little BBs and next to impossible to take out by hand. The same groves that catch the shot berries, remove raisins as well. I love raisins but the sugars are difficult for yeast to metabolize so we don’t want them! After the groves, there are tiny teeth that catch jacks. Jacks (named after the jacks kids play with) are persistent pieces of stem that can make their way into the wine. Ever tasted a stem? I wouldn’t recommend it. Finally before heading to the tank, the Mistral has one more trick up her sleeve. She has a fan blade that blows anything to light to be a berry out of the way. If a creepy looking spider that no one wants to touch goes by, Mistral blows it out of the way. The same goes for leaves or any of the above that Mistral’s groves and teeth don’t catch. The benefit is we get wonderfully clean fruit to make our wines. This is just one of the many things that make Tertulia’s wines bright, balanced, and beautiful.

Join Ryan and the Petanque Crew September 23rd

Lamb and Petanque

I’ve had a long love affair with lamb. It all started when I was 12 years old. My parents took my sister and I to Lake Chelan to visit my Aunt and Uncle’s family. My Aunt had a couple of young lambs that were being raised for wool. My sister was quite taken with them. Unbeknownst to my sister and I during the night the neighbor’s dog broke into their pen and killed one. That day my parents disappeared for a few hours and came back from the butchers with what they informed us was beef. Trusting as I was I took it at face value, that is until a few months later.

One Sunday my Mother was preparing dinner. Mom what are you cooking it smells delicious, I said? Shhh, she replied. It’s the baby lamb your sister was petting at your Aunt and Uncle’s.  It was at that point I learned the rest of the story and “promised" not to say anything to my little sister.

That evening we sat down for dinner. Hey Mom, this is the best roast beef I have ever had. Then I let out a long loud baahhhhh. I can still feel the pain in my shins from where my mother kicked me but it was worth it. From then on my mother would prepare lamb on special occasions. I have continued the practice for my family whenever I have the chance.

Next month on the 23rd of September the Walla Walla Petanque Club will have an open house. Locals are encouraged to drop on by and give the Provencal game a try. We will also have French fare to go along with the game. I will be making my favorite recipe of grilled leg of lamb seen below.


Provencal Grilled Leg of Lamb


1 bone in leg of lamb

5 cloves of garlic finely diced

2 tablespoons fresh thyme

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons fresh lavender

Salt and Pepper


Directions:  Take the leg of lamb and butterfly it. Set the bone aside and rub salt and pepper on both sides of the lamb. Then season both sides with the rosemary, thyme, garlic and lavender. Next place the bone back inside the lamb and roll the lamb back around the bone and tie the lamb up with kitchen twine. The lamb should look like you never butter flied it. Let rest for 2 hours. About 45 minutes before cooking get your Charcoal grill going or preheat your gas grill. I prefer using lump charcoal for cooking. When the brickets are red hot pile them on one side of the grill or heat on side of the gas grill.

Place the lamb over the direct heat and sear. This should take about a minute on each side. Next move the lamb to the side of the grill away from the heat. Place an oven thermometer in the center of the thickest part of the lamb (don’t have the thermometer touch the bone).  I cook with the lid off the bbq and add brickets as needed. Towards the end I may place the lid back to keep in the heat. I cook until the temp reads 130 degrees F (cooking time may take 1.5 to 2.5 hours).

Finally I pull the lamb off the grill and tent with foil and let rest for 20-30 minutes. Slice up and serve with a side of petanque.



Ryan takes on a Petanque Competition

It looks like disaster. My partner Philippe has a deep frown on his face and his shoulders are tense. He has thrown his last boule. Two of them are in a good position but our opponents have one closer to the cochonnet and a clear path to it is blocked by their next best boule. Now I know none of this should make sense unless you have played petanque a few times. Before I continue here is a brief lesson on the game. Petanque means feet tied together in French. Teams take turns standing in a circle throwing heavy metal balls called boules towards a small wooden ball called the cochonnet (little pig). The team with boules closest to the cochonnet get points for every boule they have closer than their opponents. Most teams have a pointer (someone who tries to get in close to the cochonnet) and a shooter (player who knocks the other team’s boule out of the way with their own). Games go to 13 and each team has 6 boules. Now back to my story. I have the game in my hands. First I need to make an impressive shot by tossing over their second best boule and removing their point with mine. Shooting in petanque is a skill learned through hours of practice. It requires a steady hand and sometimes nerves of steel. As I walk towards the circle I began taking deep long breaths. I step into the circle and relax my shoulders. Closing my eyes I envision throwing my last boule with a long arc threw the air and striking the opposite teams in dramatic fashion. I open my eyes and imagine breathing in through my feet and out through the top of my head. I take one last breath and hold it as I pull my arm back, hand with boule brushes past my hip. My arm springs forward in a straight line. Finally I release the boule when my arm is level with my head. I won’t know if my aim was true until an infinitesimal moment before either hitting the ground or the boule. If you blinked you wouldn’t have thought anything had changed and my boule was the one sailing out of bounds. Instead I hit my target and the kinetic energy of my boule transferred to theirs leaving mine in the exact spot theirs once was. We won the game, narrowly beating out our competitors!

With the confidence hard won we go on to win the rest of our games and the tournament. Both of us pocket 400 dollars in prize money. That night we celebrate by eating and drinking too much. At least that is how it should have gone. Instead I opted to point my last boule and it was far too short to make a difference, so we lost. That night we still over indulged, but hey that is who we are!

My partner and I faired pretty well despite the heart breaking loss. Any day I can play petanque with my friends is a good day.

My life can get busy with work and family. Petanque allows me to relax. I find the moments when I am in the hoop shooting or pointing almost Zen like. I love the camaraderie and the gentle ribbing we all give one another.

If you are more curious about the game please reach out to me. We have a great group of people who meet each week. Most of us are Frankafiles and we all love wine. The club plays one to three times per week depending on the weather. For the time being we are playing at 10 am each Sunday here at Tertulia.

Ryan Raves about Vintage Tempranillo Tasting in Dundee

Ryan Raves about Vintage Tempranillo Tasting in Dundee

Hello Hedonists and Gluttons,

Unkind words from some but I hold a special place in my heart for kindred spirits who simply can’t get enough of a good thing.  I want to tell you about last week.

Last week, I was over yonder in Dundee and oh we had so much FUN!!! We opened a vertical of our Tempranillo library wines: the velvety 2006, the smooth 2007 and the earthy 2008. There was even a special guest appearance by a barrel sample of the  2013 Tempranillo, which is being made in the fashion of the Grand Reserva Tempranillos of Spain. If you missed out on tasting these wines last week, stop punishing yourselves. No really, please stop punishing yourselves, that will leave a mark. We have decided to do it all over again in Walla Walla this Saturday! That’s right we will even have a few tasty bites to accompany these wines.

Unfortunately we are all sold out of these wines in Dundee. Not to worry, we have a few cases left in Walla Walla but this is your last chance to purchase them before these library wines go back into the Tertulia vault for an indefinite amount of time.

Oh, before I forget we have released our 2013 Petit Verdot and Estate Syrah to the wine club this past week. If you fell in love with these wines from past vintages let us know if you would like some. Just call or email us, even sending a desperate correspondence via carrier pigeon is totally acceptable.

Ryan Raber


Ryan Raves about Wine Club Wines #amazingtechnicalwinenotes

Ryan Raves about Wine Club Wines #amazingtechnicalwinenotes

2013 Phinny Hill Petit Verdot

Our 2013 Petit Verdot displays fruit aromas of tart cherry, dried blueberry, lychee fruit and juniper berry that give way to floral notes of lavender and jasmine, followed by hints of peat, pipe tobacco and cracked white pepper. In the mouth, focused fruit flavors combine with a bold fore and mid palate, as well as Petit Verdot’s signature fine grain tannins, making for wonderfully complex wine. The 2013 vintage, with nearly record breaking heat balanced with a drastic diurnal shift, brings out the dark and concentrated elements of the Petit Verdot, while creating a more fruit focused wine with softer tannins than past vintage. Out Petit Verdot was sourced from the sun-drenched western slope of the Horse Heaven Hills’ Phinny Hill Vineyard, perfect for the Bordeaux varietals with its generous heat and long growing season. The wines were aged in 50% New French Oak and 50% Neutral French Oak for 22 months during which it was racked using the old world technique, soutirage traditionnell, before being bottled as the final blend of 88% Petit Verdot and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink now or till 2030




2013 Estate Syrah

Our 2013 Estate Syrah is bold, with aromatics of black licorice, blackberry concentrate, fennel, graphite, savory herbs, fennel seed, and hints of smoke. As the wine opens, the subtle influence of the Grenache adds a delicate layer of figs and raspberry fruit leather. On the palate, a beautiful vein of acidity combines with a rich mid-palate for a smooth finish. 2013 narrowly missed out on being the hottest vintage by a slight margin, creating a foundation for fruit focused wined with softer tannins than past vintages. The signature Easter Washington drastic swings between daytime highs and nighttime lows preserved the acidity. Our 2013 Estate Syrah is made from 63% Whistling Hills Syrah, 32% Riviere Galets Syrah and 5% Riviere Galets Grenache. Our Whistling Hills Estate Vineyard hosts vines nestled deep in windblown loess soil with roots that grow unimpeded, while our Riviere Galets Estate vineyard is situated on an ancient dried up riverbed with round stones that litter the surface and subsoil reaching depths of 150 feet. Post fermentation, aging was conducted in neutral French oak foudres for 14 months. Drink now or till 2025.


Ryan cooks Mini Beef Wellington: Pairs well with 2013 Estate Syrah & 2013 Petit Verdot

Ryan cooks Mini Beef Wellington: Pairs well with 2013 Estate Syrah & 2013 Petit Verdot

Mini Beef Wellington
This delicious meal is my new favorite and easy to make.
Serves: 4
4 - Fillet Mignon
2 - Puff Pastry Sheets

10 - Button Mushrooms coarsely chopped
1 – Medium Sweet Onion finely diced
1 – Clove Garlic finely diced
Dijon Mustard
2 – Tablespoons Fresh Thyme
½ – Cup Sweet Vermouth
3 – Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 – Lightly Beaten Egg
Salt and Pepper


First pull puff pastry from the freezer, remove from box and let thaw for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

While the pastry thaws out, pat fillet mignon dry with a paper towel. Rub a little salt and pepper into each filet. Sear each side in a cast iron pan over high heat until each side becomes brown, about a minute. Once both sides are browned place filets in refrigerator. The reason I don’t let the filet reach room temp and try to keep it cool is that it will over cook in the oven for the amount of time it takes to cook the puff pastry.

Now it is time to deglaze the pan and sauté some mushrooms. Add butter to cast iron pan over medium heat. Once butter is melted add onions and sauté until translucent then add garlic. Stir garlic for 15 seconds. Next, add vermouth, mushrooms, ¼ teaspoon of pepper and the two tablespoons of thyme. Sauté until almost all the juices have evaporated, about ten minutes. Set mushroom mixture to the side.

Next remove filets from the fridge and spread a tablespoon of Dijon mustard all over each filet. Cut puff pastry sheets in half. Place a large spoon full of sautéed mushrooms in the middle of the pastry then place filet on the mushrooms and another spoonful of mushrooms on top of the filet. Finally, seal the edges of the pastry around the filet. Repeat with each half sheet and filet until all four filets are sealed. If the pastry is difficult to seal you can brush a little water on the edges before sealing. Now brush each filet filled pastry with beaten egg. Sprinkle a little bit of kosher salt on top of each pastry.

Set pastry filled filets on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Cook in oven for 20-25 minutes until they become golden brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes. I like to serve mine with some steamed or roasted veggies and of course our 2013 Petit Verdot and Estate Syrah.

Ryan Raber

Ryan Raves about New Years at Tertulia Cellars

Happy belated New Years from Tertulia. I would normally have written much sooner but I have been on a diet. Side effects included homicidal behavior. I decided I would wait until my mood improved before putting my thoughts on paper.

This year has brought many changes to the winery.  First of all, our tasting room manager Michael Ervin is no longer with us. Michael has left to pursue other endeavors. We wish him great success and luck in all he does. We are happy to announce that Sophia Titterton is our new Walla Walla tasting room manger. She has experience working in tasting rooms as well as on the production side. She is also a Whitman grad and quite the artists. Please stop by, sip some wine and get to know her.  

Back by popular demand we will be dusting off our paella pan for a dinner on April 23rd. More details to follow.

I am also excited to announce we will be doing Farm to Fork dinners between the vines. Each month, May through October, we will celebrate local seasonal produce and suppliers paired with our wines.  I am very much looking forward to this. When I started down the path to becoming a winemaker, I imagined having picnics in the vineyard. It has dawned on me that I never in fact had a meal, besides grapes, in the vineyard, so this will be a new experience for me as well.  

In addition to the dinners, our vineyard manager Ryan Driver and I will be doing tours and tastings in the vineyards during the spring and summer. We want you guys to be just as excited about our unique terroir as we are.

During these cooler months we will be doing a little wine 101 and sensory evaluation of wines.  I know you are all experts but bring a friend and I promise you will learn something new each lesson.  Not only will we be doing a little education we plan on some vintage tastings as well. In other words, we will be pulling some golden oldies out of the library, perhaps a vertical or two.

I want to share with you what I am most excited about. As many of you already know we have been developing a new vineyard along the North Fork of the Walla Walla River called Elevation. This last vintage, we pulled our first fruit off the vines. I knew that it would be extraordinary given a little time. I wasn’t expecting that the wines amazing the wines are right off the bat. Not only is the third leaf fruit but the wines are very young in the barrel. We have been racking the wines this week and tasting them as we go. Well, I know I am supposed to spit but it’s impossible. Never before have we made wines like these. Never before have we had fruit like this. The yields are very low from Elevation, after all, the vines are planted in fractured basalt. There will not be many of these wines so they will be sold as futures. We are working out the details but the plan is to host a tasting of these limited wines at Elevation vineyard sometime this spring. More details to follow.


Ryan Raber


Tertulia Cellars


Ryan Rants about Harvest 2015

It’s 6:00 pm October 9th 2015; I pull up to my house. I tilt my head back and rub my eyes letting out a big sigh. The sigh consists of 3/4th fatigue and 1/4th satisfaction.  Today we pressed off the final lot of wine.  This last day was the most physically demanding of the year. As I slowly slide out of my car seat I feel that soreness has begun to seep into my body. It’s the type of fatigue you feel rewarded with after an intensive workout. Walking to my front door little dried pink pieces of lees flake off my knees and shorts falling on the ground.  At the door I fumble with the keys, eventually getting the door open.  The sound of my entry triggers a social evolutionary response from my daughter. She yells “Daddy” then drops everything and runs at me with reckless abandon. I brace myself for the impact and grip the couch for extra support.  Moments later she crashes into me with her arms outstretched and gives me her best bear hug.  My daughter quickly comments on how I smell like wine. Not surprising, considering I am covered in vino. Wine is wonderful in a glass but on me it’s no cologne.  So after hugging my little girl I head straight for the shower.

Once I washed out the purple and put on some clean clothes I lay down on the floor in the living room.  I look like the subject of a chalk outline with my arms and legs stretched out.  My mind begins to drift as I travel back to all those days of harvest. The hard work of the vineyard and cellar crews slowly begins to sink in. I ponder how great our fruit tasted this year, especially the new Elevation vineyard. I think about the oddity of the harvest.  We started August 12th and finished almost a month early.  I smile to myself. Everything is in and finished fermenting. Another vintage and once again we won! Tomorrow I can sleep in!!!


Ryan Raber



Ryan Cooks Eggplant Parmesan with guest Ashley

Ryan Cooks Eggplant Parmesan with guest Ashley

Eggplant Parmesan:
You will need
2- Medium Eggplant
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup of Italian Parsley chopped fine(save some for presentation1/8 cup)
1/2 cup Grated parmesan
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 pinches of salt
4 eggs 

First cut your eggplant in thin slices, lay them out on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with kosher salt on top.  This helps to get rid of the bitterness in the eggplant, let them sit for 20 to 30 min or whenever beads of sweat appear on the eggplant.  Wash them with water and pat dry. 

Start boiling water for your pasta and start cooking your Marina Sauce.  I know everyone has their own take on Marina sauce but I like to add some wine that I'm serving to add to the flavor of my sauce.  I also add whatever I have in my kitchen at the moment but staples are always: garlic, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, rosemary and onions.  My favorite and key ingerident is pepper flakes with a sprinkle of brown sugar it creates a nice balance of sweet and hot. 

Mix your dry ingredients together breadcrumbs, flour, salt, parmesan, Italian parsley and garlic.  Beat your eggs until you get a creamy yellow color. Coat your pan with oil and start to make your eggplant. Coat with egg first than coat with dry ingredients.  Fry until golden brown and until you've used all your eggplant. 

Serve with Marina and any type of pasta, sprinkle parmesan and parsley on top. 



Ryan Cooks Cabernet Braised Beef Short Ribs

Ryan Cooks Cabernet Braised Beef Short Ribs

Goes with our 2012 Phinny Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

Prep & Cooking Time:  3 hours

Serves: 4

4 to 5 lbs. of beef short ribs
1 medium onion
4 garlic cloves smashed with skins left on
2 button mushrooms cut in half
1 large carrot cut into thick pieces
1 large leek cut thickly, white and light green parts only
1 shallot diced
1 bottle of decent Cabernet Sauvignon for cooking and 1 bottle of our 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon for drinking!
Half teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 bouquet garni (thyme, sage and bay leaves)
32oz salt free beef stock plus a little extra
2 cups blackberries
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
Chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

First, start by chopping up your vegetables and measuring out your ingredients. Pour a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon into a large Dutch oven. Add the following to the Dutch oven; 1 leek, 1 quartered medium onion, peppercorns, large carrot, 2 smashed garlic cloves, 1 diced shallot, bouquet garni, 2 button mushrooms. On a burner set the Dutch oven, and over high heat reduce wine by ½. This should take about 20 minutes.


While the wine reduces down, rub some salt and pepper into the short ribs. Next, brown them in a cast iron pan with a few table spoons of vegetable oil. Once browned set them to the side.


When your wine reduction has reduced by half place your short ribs in the Dutch oven and add the beef stock till it just covers the short ribs. Turn the burner up to high. Once it begins to boil turn down to low and cover. Check every half hour to make sure the Dutch oven is still simmering and scrape any bits off of the bottom. After two hours the ribs should be tender enough to pull away from the bone. Set the ribs aside in the refrigerator.


Next strain the liquid into a large sauce pan. Add the tomato paste, mustard and black berries. Turn the burner up to high and let reduce to a consistency slightly thinner than gravy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the short ribs in the pan with the sauce and turn down to low. Over the next five minutes occasionally spoon the sauce over the short ribs. When the ribs have reheated they are ready to serve. I like to have mine with a few BBQ sides. Then enjoy with our 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon.


Ryan Rants about Dundee Tasting Room

Ryan Rants about Dundee Tasting Room

Last week I attended a vintage tasting at our Dundee tasting room to celebrate Tertulia’s tenth anniversary.  On my drive back to my hotel my immediate focus was not on how amazing the wines had matured, but on the road. The problem was I could barely see a thing with the approaching cars head lights shining down on me. I pulled over to give my eyes a few minutes to adjust. A few weeks earlier I was pouring wine for an optometrist and mentioned my difficulties with night driving. He said, “yeah you are about that age where your eye sight gets worse”. I promised to go in for a checkup. Yesterday, I did just that and in a few short hours I will pick up my first pair of eye glasses. Good grief they are expensive. I imagine I could have bought a fair amount of wine with all that money, still I am grateful that I will be able to see. This has made me reflect on growing old.

I remember ten years ago I wasn’t concerned with getting glasses or throwing out my back. I was excited about making wine and seeing how they would age. I am coming to the realization that I have a few more vintages under my belt but I am also delighted with how well our wines have matured in that time. In the past I have mentioned we tend to make wines with more old world tannins and acids.  The intent has been to make age worthy wines and by golly it has worked. I couldn’t be happier with the way they turned out. A few of them are in their prime but others have years left in the bottle before they fade. The thing I want to impress on everyone is that you should hold onto some of these wines. I won’t berate you for drinking them early but think about buying a few extra bottles next time. Lay them down for a few years and you will be pleased with the results.  Next time your in the tasting room don’t forget to say how nice I look in my new glasses.

Ryan first cult the Order of the Purple Hands

Ryan first cult the Order of the Purple Hands

I switch on the lights and turn off the alarm. The next thing I do, and this is very important. I open the garage doors. This is because we have six fermentations roaring in the cellar. The carbon dioxide produced by the yeast fills the air mingled with aromas of banana, milk chocolate and rising bread. These aromas are pleasing but a constant reminder that our precious oxygen has been replaced with deadly C02. If I were to fail to open said doors, I may very well fall into a deep sleep of which there is no return. No worries, I am diligent in my personal safety.I was up at the crack of dawn. I popped a piece of toast and a fried egg down my gullet before heading out the door. The drive down the road is peaceful. The whole world is bathed in the half light between night and day. I listen to NPR to hear the latest news around the world, turns out it is supper Thursday pledge day. With guilt I switch the station off assuring myself I will make a pledge when I have more money. Finally, I am at the winery.

The previous night Thomas set everything up to fill barrels with the exotic Carmenere we are known for producing. In a few minutes I am happily filling a dozen barrels. When I am about half finished, my faithful assistant Thomas arrives. He quickly gets to work doing the punch downs and prepping the press and crush pad for the various tasks we fulfill throughout the day. Before the end of the day we will have filled barrels, pressed five tons of Merlot and crushed three and a half tons of Cabernet Franc. In addition we will have hosed everything down, often times ourselves either on accident or on purpose. I find a brisk shot of water to the face keeps you on your toes. At the end of the day the cellar floor is glistening wet all the equipment is shinny clean in preparation for the next day’s labor.

We stand in the cellar looking spent, covered in a combination of wine, grape juice and yeast. Our hands are stained purple. Purple hands brand us as proud members of the “Order of The Purple Hand”.  With a big sigh Thomas asks what time tomorrow. I decide we can come in a half hour later. That extra little bit of sleep seems like a little thing but it’s the little things that make the difference in the quality of the wines. I always talk about the grapes and the sense of place the vineyards exhibit but, one of the biggest things that make wine special is the human element. Do me a favor, the next time you take a sip of wine think about all the work that went into that bottle from the vineyard to the cellar, it will make you appreciate it even more.


Ryan Raber


Tertulia Cellars