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

Ryan Raves about "The Great SchisM"

Ryan Raves about "The Great SchisM"

Recently I ran into a glitch with one of our labels. It turns out that the TTB didn’t like the label for the 2013 GSM (Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre). They called it misleading, in other words they said we were liars. That didn’t sit well with me. We had but seven percent Cinsault into the GSM and mentioned it on the back label. According to their “rules” the blend couldn’t have any more than two percent of a varietal besides the three main grapes that make up the GSM. There was no way around it we would have to change the label. I decided to go back to my original idea for the label by calling it the Great SchisM. The great schism was a historical event taking place in 1378, when the Catholic Church split for nearly 40 years. At that time there was a Pope in Rome and a Pope in Avignon. The Pope in Avignon resided at Chateauneuf du Pape, which translates to chateau of the new Pope. Our GSM is made in the same style and of the same varietals of Chateaunuf Du Pape wines. We even have similar river rocks in our vineyard as seen in Chateauneuf du Pape.  You will notice we put the emphasis on the G, the S, and the M in the Great SchisM.

I feel pretty pleased with the results. We made a great wine with a great label. We learned a little history and we pulled one over on the Man!

Ryan Raves about Caipriniha Brazil cocktail

Ryan Raves about Caipriniha Brazil cocktail

Caipriniha, is the national drink of Brasil, and it is made with cachaca, a sugar cane rum.  This is a great cocktail for pool parties, hanging out or after work drink.  


First I want to talk about Cachaca,  there are many different makers of this fine liquor but every few who create a smooth product.  Our favorite brands are:


Pitu: Is the most recognized brand of cachaca, mostly by it's label that has a red lobster on it.  It is also a better quality & half the price than most cachaca. 


Leblon: Is an 8 time gold winner at the SF Competition, and it is also the most expensive cachaca that I found.  This brand promotes more fruit flavors. 


Novo Fogo:  Is my favorite, and it is distilled in stainless tanks for over a year.  This adds to it's spicy flavor profile and beautiful burnt sugar aromas.  I might be a little subjective since this is an organic producer and they are 100% sustainable.  This makes my little environmental heart flutter. Check out their website to learn more: http://novofogo.com/Home/Welcome


Strawberry Caipriniha:  


1 Whole Lime or 1/2 shot of lime juice 

4 Ripe Strawberries

2 heaping Turbino Sugar

11/2 shot of Cachaca 

A few twigs of Basil



Muddle together the lime, sugar and strawberries(add basil if you want more basil flavor in your drink) until they are blend or mashed nicely together.  Add the cachaca with ice and shake!  Pour in desired glass add twigs of basil for decoration.  

Volia! Now you have a beautiful drink to show off to your friends.  

Ryan Rants about Elevation Vineyard

Ryan Rants about Elevation Vineyard


                  Elevation is the name of our new vineyard up the North Fork of the Walla Walla River. Elevation vineyard sits between 1500 and 1700 feet. At first we believed that the vineyard rested at 1200, which came to be an inaccurate reading we got off our GPS.  Months passed before we relized our error. It’s human nature to laugh off our follies and embrace them. That being said, I think it’s important to know this new vineyard is no laughing matter. We are quite proud of this new venture.

 Nestled on the South slope of a pristine river valley this vineyard is a sight to behold. Elevation  was planted in 2013, with grapes expected to be under production in 2015. Nearly all the blocks are terraced. The blocks that aren’t terraced rise vertically on a 38 degree slope. The vineyard consists of silt soil and fractured basalt. Well over half the vineyard had to be jack hammered to place the vines in the ground.  Many would think, is it wise to plant grapes on such rocky ground? Only time will tell but the most interesting wines are typically planted on the worst ground. Grape vines have done us a favor by making themselves most presentable in otherwise useless terrain. They take on the personality of the very environments they inhabit.  If the wines are half as beautiful as its vineyard they will take your breath away.


Ryan Raves about camping winemaker style

In a few short weeks my wife, daughter and I will be going on our summer camping trip. We will be heading to the Washington coast to get away from all this abysmal heat. Nothing is more pleasing to me than camping under the stars with a cool breeze blowing the salt brine off of the sea. It brings fond memories of my youth. I am happy to be passing those good times on to my daughter Sofia, who just turned six. Camping is a great way to save money on a family vacation but there is one thing I will never skimp on! You guessed it, on my camping trip there will be a fortitude of epicurean delights. No frank and beans for this family. After hiking along the coast during the day we will still have plenty of time to whip up something delectable. Time that at home would have been otherwise wasted watching reality TV.  Below are some of my must haves and suggestions for eating under the stars in style.

            Here is my list of must haves. Number one, you need a cast iron skillet. Skillets are useful for cooking up pancakes, sausages, sauces and warding off angry bears!  In my opinion you should have one of these anyway. I use mine at home almost every day. If you are new to iron skillets make sure you read up on seasoning it so it doesn’t oxidize. Number two, you will need a dutch oven.  Dutch ovens are great for making stews, chili, cobblers and popcorn. Same rule applies for seasoning the dutch oven, as it is also made out of cast iron. Third, you will need a pot! Of course you will need a pot, I mean what if you need to boil something like water. I guess you could use your dutch oven but the cobbler is in the dutch oven and you can’t make hot coco or coffee now. What were you thinking!  One of my favorite things for grilling is an extendable broiler basket.  I can put chicken or veggies in it, flip them around without losing so much as a tiny morsel of food. They only cost about $15.00. I have two, one for veggies and one for meats. Finally, it should go without saying you will need a knife, spatula, tongs... This is a guide, not a comprehensive list. Simply plan out what you want to cook each day and think about what you will need to bring to see your vision to its completion.

            Part of what I just mentioned, planning ahead, can also mean prepping ahead of time.  Why you can make dressings, sauces, and pasta salads before you ever hit the road. Simply seal them up and store them in your cooler until they are needed. 

            Now that you have planned everything out and couldn’t be more excited about doing the cooking for your camping party, but there is one thing missing.  What you have forgotten is style.  Bring a table cloth or two. Some stem wear, proper plates and cutlery will class up your picnic table. Light some candles and those other campers will look on with envy. You will be the cool kids on your block while the folks next to you scrape beans out of their tin cans.


Sample Menu


Day One


Tomato and Egg Plant Terrine (made ahead of time)

Pesto Pasta Salad (made ahead of time)

Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs (marinated in lime, garlic and salt overnight)

Served with Tertulia Cellars Reserve GSM


Dutch Oven Carmel Popcorn

Day Two


Pancakes filled with ham and cheese

Eggs Sunny Side Up

Fresh Fruits


Sandwiches made with previous nights leftovers

Pesto Pasta

Fresh Fruit


Steamed Mussels, Clams and Chorizo Sausage (cook with some Rose and chopped garlic, soak up the juices with sour dough bread)

Grilled Salmon

Caesar Salad (dressing made ahead of time)

Serve with Tertulia Rose, Viognier, or Cinsault


Grilled Fruit Drizzled With Balsamic and Condensed Milk

Day Three


Fruit Parfait with yogurt and cereal 

Salmon Omelet (use left over’s from previous night’s dinner)



Eat Out


Grilled Sour Dough Slices With Blue Cheese and Honey

Grilled Veggies

Butterflied Leg of Lamb Marinated in Lemon, Rosemary and Garlic

Serve with Tertulia Excelsior


Dutch Oven Berry Cobbler





Ryan Rants about Petanque

When I say Rudy I mean the pint sized walk on for Notre Dame who was immortalized in a movie by the same name. When I say I know how he felt, I mean by sacking a quarterback for his one play in college football and not how he felt later in life after he was charged for security fraud. To be honest, I am not really sure what security fraud is.  I digress. Everyone has their moment of glory and mine came at the 11th annual Northwest Petanque Tournament. 

For those of you who don’t know what petanque is, it is the French version of bocce ball or rather bocce is the Italian version of petanque. 


It was a sunny yet breezy Saturday afternoon when Thomas my right hand man in the cellar and I stepped onto the petanque court. We had been here before. Last year we failed to make it to the second round of the tournament despite months of practice. This year we had a simple strategy; no practice, and drink copious amounts of alcohol. We were sure to lose, but at least we wouldn’t remember. Little did we know that fate had something else in store for us. As luck would have it, we were one player short so Philippe the tournament director placed Michael Rashe on our team. Michael is the owner and winemaker for Golden Ridge winery here in Walla Walla.  He had won this tournament before with his family. He is arguably the best petanque player in the valley.  Our hopes of getting blatto and going home early were suddenly dashed. Now with a ringer, we had our sights set on the grand prize, a new French oak barrel and our names immortalized on the petanque trophy forever!!! 

Thomas was steady, calm and cool under fire. Michael was the master, wielding his impressive petanque prowess whenever we found ourselves in a jam. I was the guy who created most of the jams.  In our first four matches we conceded only four points. We were on fire despite the fact that I was the fire extinguisher. 

In the semifinals we faced a brutal team, fueled by beer and rage, they were nearly unstoppable. With Thomas’s steady hand and Michael’s Jedi like skills with the boulles (French for balls) we found a way to put a kibosh on their leisurely pace to the finals. In the final match it was touch and go.  In the end the guy who could barely keep his balls on the court found the strength to muster up one good shot to win the championship match. Just like Rudy I tried to get people to carry me off the court, but unfortunately everyone suddenly had to be somewhere else.

Next time you stop by the winery we will be happy to show you our trophy!


Ryan Raber


Tertulia Cellars

Ryan cooks: Empanadas Brazilian style

Ryan cooks: Empanadas Brazilian style

Goallll!!!! My eyes are currently glued to the FIFA World Cup app on my Iphone and Brasil just scored. That’s right ladies and gents I am one of the many who has become addicted to the world cup. I really have no choice in the matter as my wife is from Brasil and it is like a religion there. Today, of course I am at work and can’t enjoy the game to its fullest, but that doesn’t necessarily stop the rest of you. To enjoy the games, I suggest broadening your horizons beyond the atypical bottle of beer. I have been coordinating my meals with whoever is playing at the time. For example if Italy is playing I go for Italian food. If France scores it must be haute cuisine! With all the above, how can I not pour a decent bottle of wine. Seeing how the Cup is in South America and so many Latin American nations enjoy empanadas, I thought I would share my recipe with you.

Ingredients For the filling

1 tablespoon vodka (this will help the crust become flakey since it will evaporate in the oven)

4-5 tablespoons ice cold water One egg lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

For the dough, in a large mixing bowl add the flour and salt. Mix by hand. Next add the lard or shortening. Using a fork and knife cut the lard into pea sized pieces. Now add the vodka and water one tablespoon at a time, mixing into the bowl with a fork. When the flour has combined into large clumps with the lard gather up the dough and form into a large ball. Divide into two balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in your refrigerator for 30 minutes while you make the filling.

Now onto the filling, add vegetable oil to a cast iron or heavy bottomed pan. On a burner heat the pan to medium high and add onions. When onions turn translucent add the ground beef. Brown the meat and add the cumin and paprika, then the olives. Mix in the spices and


1 lb of ground beef

1/2 medium onion (Walla Walla Sweet of course) finely diced

2 teaspoons of ground cumin 1 1/2 tablespoons of sweet smoked paprika 1 cup green pimento olives chopped 2 tablespoons vegetable oil Optional (chili flakes to taste) Salt to taste

1 1/2 cups all purpose white flour 1/2 cup whole wheat flour 1 teaspoon salt

2/3rds cup shortening or lard plus 2 tablespoonsseason with salt to taste. At this point I like to drain a little bit of the grease off.

Next lightly flour a large surface on your kitchen counter for rolling out the dough. Take one of the dough balls out of your fridge and gently press into the floured counter top with the palm of your hand. Now roll the dough out with a large rolling pin that you have also lightly floured. Roll the dough out till it is about 3mm thick. Next using a soup bowl as a guide cut a four inch diameter circle into the dough. You should be able to get four circles made with each dough ball and another four if you recombined the scraps of dough. Now place one large spoon full of filling onto the circle. Wet your fingers with a little water and run them along the edge of the circle so you get a good seal. Fold the empanada in half and seal the meat into the middle. Seal in the edge using a lightly floured fork. Once you have done this with all your empanadas, place them on a baking sheet. Now lightly brush the egg over the empanadas and place in the oven. When the empanadas turn golden brown after 18-20 minutes let cool for a few minutes then serve them hot with a few lime wedges for taste. This goes great with almost any red but since it is a Mendoza empanada you should drink Malbec and since I supplied you with the recipe you should drink our Tertulia Malbec! (Warning shameless self promotion) By the way our 2008 Malbec is amazing and 30% 0ff with free shipping included! (Ryan's daughter Sophia shows off her Dad's amazing cooking skills & her true love of futbol!) 

White Wine Sangria

White Wine Sangria

This Memorial Day Weekend should be all about doing everything outdoors and in the sun, which made me realize that why not cool off with a White Sangria?  Sangria is the perfect summer choice when your thinking about a picnic or even a big outdoor gathering.  Here is our recipe to the perfect Summer Sangria.  Enjoy!


1 bottle Sweet Riesling

1 cup Triple Sec

2 Cups Orange Juice

1 Lemon

1 Lime

1 Orange

Quarter and slice fruit.  Mix all ingredients in a pitcher.  Set aside in refrigerator for two hours.  Serve over ice.  Serves 5 to 7 people.


We hope that you enjoy our beautiful summer Sangria with your own Tertulia!

Fishing out my trusty flip flops


What is that bright shinny orb in the sky? No I am not talking about a UFO I am talking about the Sun.  As spring turns to summer we will see the luminescent primary of the sol system more often. Just yesterday the temperatures soared to 90 degrees and I had to fish out my flip flops. 


With flip flops on my feet and a bag of charcoal briquettes under my arm I marched out to the BBQ last night.  As I lit the briquettes my mouth started watering, in anticipation for the ensuing feast.  To get away from the smoke I stepped back onto my lawn. I looked down at the deep green grass beneath my feet. Thinking to myself, this is all because of Sol.  If it wasn’t for our Sun we wouldn’t have green grass. If not for the green grass what would cows eat and if naught for cows what the heck would I throw on my grill? Speaking of cows, you know what goes really well with cow? Insert obvious product placement here, our 2011 Reserve Excelsior, which will be in the next Inner Circle wine club shipment! Just as the Sun feeds the land it also feeds the sea and so it feeds my appetite not for just turf but also surf. Did I forget to mention that our 2013 Viognier is also in the next club shipment?  Personally I would try pairing the wine with some mussels or clams sautéed in the very same vino, oh and don’t forget to toss in some garlic. I digress.


Ah, sweet sparkling Helios how I love you! You make all life endurable and enjoyable on this green Earth. Tonight when we all sit down for supper let’s make sure to raise a glass to our Sun and the many warm days of summer she is sending out our way.



Ryan Raber


Tertulia Cellars


Ryan Raves about Celebrate Syrah hosted by Edgefield McMenamins

Ryan Raves about Celebrate Syrah hosted by Edgefield McMenamins

 I was recently at Celebrate Syrah hosted by Edgefield McMenamins. Syrah threw an amazing party and brought some of his best friends along. Grenache, Mourvedre, Roussanne and Viognier were all there. Not just local grapes we had them from all up and down the West coast, France, Australia and even South America. We took part in the dinner. Local wineries from both Washington and Oregon joined us. Our wines were each paired with great Northwest cuisine. I loved the reds but was especially impressed that every single white wine was outstanding.  The next day we took part in the grand tasting which included 110 different wines from around the world with the main focus on aforementionedSyrah.  This was my first trip to McMenamins and I was impressed to say the least. The buildings have been beautifully restored and the grounds are breathtaking. I liken the place to Disneyland for people who enjoy liquid libations. I was reminded of a Friday night after finals on a college campus. I hope I can return to Celebrate Syrah next year. I will even request one of the haunted rooms. “I ain’t afraid of no ghost!”




Ryan Raber


Tertulia Cellars




Ryan Rants about Taste Washington

I was happy to see so many people enjoying themselves at Taste Washington in Seattle this past weekend. I am impressed by how many people are knowledgeable about our wines. For those who are not I thought I would explain what makes Washington wines unique.

 Contrary to many who believe Washington tastes damp and musty it is quite the opposite. Please forgive me about the damp and musty comment if you are from the West side of Washington, or as I like to call it the “wet side”.  Many of you already know about the complex geographical and climate make up of the Evergreen state but, not all of you do so I will elaborate.  The area nearly everyone outside of the Northwest associates with is the West side, which only makes about 1/3rd of Washington.  This side of the state is green and lush perfect for raising a family of Sasquatch. The East side of Washington lies in a rain shadow past the Cascade Mountains; here it is dry and sunny for much of the year. This is an ideal place for raising a family of vitis vinifera (wine grapes). Eastern Washington is classified as a high desert. It gets quite warm during the summer and there is an extreme shift in the day to night time highs and lows.  This climate allows for the perfect ripening of grapes while retaining Washington’s signature acidity. 

New world fruit, old world tannins and acids is how best to describe Washington wines. The next time one of you encounters an outsider please be gentle and explain how Washington makes such wonderful wines. I trust you will all make great ambassadors!

Next year if you haven’t yet had the chance come to Taste Washington where you will find over 225 wineries and 70 restaurants from the tastiest state, where yours truly grew up, Washington!!!

In other news we have some exciting new wines being released and some end of vintage sales you won’t want to miss out on. This weekend April 5th-6th in Walla Walla and Dundee we will be pouring the 2012 Reserve GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) Riviere Galets Estate Vineyard and our 2012 Reserve Estate Syrah. We only produce a limited amount of these wines and are limiting the wine club that they are associated with to 100 members.  We will also be pouring some of our end of vintage wines. These wines listed below are all 30% off with free shipping. Note we can only ship to states that allow us to ship our wines.


Ryan Raber


Tertulia Cellars 



The Big Tuna and My Favorite Cabernet!

What does tuna and Cabernet Sauvignon have in common?  Very little but it’s an excellent combination all be it not necessarily food and wine. Instead the combination is about vines and people. Big Tuna is my nickname for my good friend Dick Beightol. Dick owns Phinny Hill vineyard where we get much of our Cabernet Sauvignon and all our Carmenere grapes from. 

I guess the nick name requires some sort of explanation.  So gracious is Mr. Beightol that on each of my visits to his family’s vineyard, if the timing is right he offers me a tuna fish sandwich. Hence the name Big Tuna! Now I must admit that the timing of my arrival is nearly always deliberate. I know it sound terrible the thought that I make a conscious effort to intrude on the Beightol lunch but I swear they don’t mind and you have never had such a great tuna fish sandwich.  What makes it special? Well the fact is the tuna is from a special boat that line catches the tuna and the mercury levels are lower. It is simply made, but more over it is made by a good friend who is always smiling. I know it sounds corny but the sandwich is made with love and you can taste it.

Like his sandwich, Big Tuna and his family put such effort and joy into their vines you can taste it in our Phinny Hill wines. I enjoy working with such a great family and over the years they have been able to give us advice with our own vines. I even remember Dick driving all the way out from his home to help me fix some damaged pipes.  How he got here in an hour when it takes me an hour and 45 minutes to make the same trip I have never asked. 

Now you know about the people that produce Phinny Hill’s fruit I should mention the terrior.  Phinny Hill is situated in the Horse Heaven Hills a few miles north of the Columbia River.  Across the street lies Champoux vineyard. Such notable wineries as Quilceda Creek, Andrew Will, and Woodward Canyon own that vineyard and make amazing wines from their grapes.  Phinny Hill has the same depth of tannin and varietal correct character as Champoux vineyard.

What makes Phinny Hill fruit different is the abundance of gravel in the subsoil.  The soil has an amazing capacity to transport minerals into the vines. This makes a wine that is more elegant, showing finesse rather than brute force. This lends itself well to my style of winemaking.

Our Phinny Hill wines are not simply about the geology, climate, and geography but also about the culture of my friends at Phinny Hill who work the land with pride. They are about our relationship. The care they take in the vineyard makes me do a better job in the cellar.

Cheers to the good folks at Phinny Hill.

Ryan Raber

Tertulia Cellars




Stomp, Stomp, Stomp!

Stomp, stomp, stomp, the dust from the vineyard sends a little plume into the air off my new work boots. I stop and admire them for a moment before heading into the cellar. I really like these boots. They were intended for use on ships. Dark brown leather, slip resistant and water proof they seem more suited to my needs then a sailors.  They are equally at home in the vineyard or cellar as they are out to dinner at Brasserie Four. I should know I got them on my birthday and wore them out that night to dinner.  I wash them off before heading upstairs to visit Michelle. I would advise against walking into the tasting room with dust covered boots. Just thinking about it gives me a flashback to the muck boot incident of the 2011 harvest. Said incident involved me, a pair of muck boots and a very angry Michelle. I think I should stop there since Michelle will be reading this and there was never a clear resolution.  Michelle shares with me that she won Bunko last night. I am not sure what this bunko thing is but it sounds a lot like an underground gambling ring ran but an odd ball group of women. 

I head down stairs to my office to write up a job description for the harvest cellar position. I have already decided that Nicki our Sunday tasting room employee will get the job.  Still I want to make sure she knows what working harvest entails. Here is my amusing description meant to take the sting out of how much sanitation (scrubbing) she will be doing. Well that is enough from me. I think I will go back to admiring me foot ware.


Ryan Raber


Tertulia Cellars Troll Cellar Position Responsibilities


                Albert Einstein once said “genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration”. Ryan Raber once said “winemaking is 99% sanitation and 1% inspiration”. Like how I just compared myself to Albert Einstein! There will be cleaning of tanks, the press, crush pad equipment, barrels, lab, grape bins, pumps, hoses and anything else I can think of. You will be getting sprayed with the hose on occasion! Most often on accident but there is an occasional water fight. I recommend dressing in clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, sticky and wet. Also keep a spare pair of clothes on hand in the event you lose a water fight! I advise bringing a good pair of water proof boots. Most of us wear Muck boots but any type of water proof boot is fine. Now for the details of cleaning, we use a lot of hot water. Be mindful it can get up to 180 degrees and that hurts. No worries no one will spray you will 180 degree water on purpose unless you turn into a zombie and it is as a weapon of last resort.  In such an event remember it was your own damn fault you were bitten by a zombie in the first place.  Chemicals for cleaning are Proxy Carb, citric acid and potassium bi met sulfite.  Don’t eat them, can’t tell you how many times I had to say that to Sergio! We will usually make up buckets of the various chemicals to sanitize things. Pretty easy it will take you a few minutes to learn. 

Processing Fruit

                Sorting fruit is a pretty easy job here. We have a machine that does almost all the work for us. There will be someone operating the forklift (me) and someone raking the grapes onto the elevator. We will also have someone watching the sorting table.  Once the berries are in the tank we chase it down with other fruit or water. Once we are done we break down everything and clean then maybe we go grab a beer…depends if all the work is finished.  Once the fruit is in a tank we run some analysis and do a few adjustments. Maybe we add yeast depends on the conditions and how tired we are.

Managing Fermentation.

                We do mostly pump overs. They are really cool. We shoot wine up into the air and it crashes into a bin then we pump it over the top. We do this twice a day from 10-20 minutes per tank. How long it takes depends on how many tanks we have fermenting.


Once the fruit becomes wine we will press it.  We pump the free run into a tank and press the grapes keeping the wine from each separate.  After pressing we clean the press so it is spotless. Next we clean the floor. The pressed grapes are dumped into bins and some guy I know with cows comes to pick it up. Cows love getting buzzed and the beef tastes better for it. We usually don’t schedule pressing on the same day we are processing fruit. 

Barreling Down

                Once the wine settles in tank after pressing usually the next day we pump them into barrels.  With a flashlight in one hand and a remote to the pump in the other you will fill the barrel.  Be careful not to overfill it or you will get a wine shower! I hear wine showers are good for the skin. Actually I just made that up.

Lots of other stuff to learn but it is pretty easy.  We like to have fun, listen to music and not take ourselves too seriously.





Roast Leg of Labrador

I just got back from the bar at White House Crawford. I wanted to thank them for putting our Cabernet on a glass pour. The 2006 Cab is one of the best wines I have made and it is unfined and unfiltered to boot! Moreover I was there for a drink. It had been one of those days and I needed something to fortify my soul.

The day started with Michelle and my desperate struggle to find someone to fill in next weekend in the tasting room while we are at Taste Washington Seattle. We go through our phone list discarding people for various reasons.  What about so and so I say to Michelle? No I don’t think he would work, he is a little irresponsible she replies. Like what type of irresponsible I ask? Like shooting heroin up in our bathroom or personally stocking his cellar with our wines? No, no, no he is just a little lazy and has a hard time keeping a job. Well how about Mrs. Blank? She moved away. Rats I say. How about Trista she used to work here. Nope she is at the same event we are pouring at.  Damn, well that exhausts my list how about you Michelle. Me too. Finally we found out that Karen who worked here last summer had an open weekend to help out, which worked out perfect. Next Michelle had to run off for a few minutes.  Turns out her dog Lizzy chewed a lab sized hole in the fence at her new home. Bad dog Lizzy, we will chop you up and feed you to our friends! To bring more joy to our fine day Michelle filled me in on some sad news. One of our friends has a terminal illness. No one wants to hear their friend has an expiration date.

Fast forward to Whitehouse Crawford, all the tension and anxiety melt away as the first sip of wine slides down my throat. I smile the 06 Cab Sauv is still holding up. I refuse to analyze it anymore. I do that too often. I simply enjoyed it and all is made well in my world again.