Happy Father's Day

Father’s Day at my house is part of a many day celebration.  Both my wife and daughter were born around the same time. Sofia was sort of a birthday gift for my wife and a Father’s Day gift for me. It made me think about how special Sofia is to us and I realized my father must feel the same about me. And I, of course, got all emotional thinking about how special he is to me.


My Dad was always there for every sporting event. He even helped coach little league football. When I topped out at 5’6” and didn’t play football anymore my dad helped coach me in track and cross country. Looking back, he couldn’t have known much about those sports but I remember him reading up and watching videos in order to help me. He took me to art classes and attended every high school play. Dad is and was always there for me.


Through sports my father helped me develop a healthy competitive drive. We always had a ping pong table around growing up and dad had a wicked left hand serve that took me forever to learn how to return. Eventually I could, and became the family champion. He celebrated my victories even more than he did his own, thus teaching me good sportsmanship. I know I learned my drive to be the best I can be at whatever I do, including making wine, from my father.


I have had it pointed out by numerous people that my father and I have the same irreverent sense of humor. You can see the same mischievous glint in both of our eyes when either one of us is up to something. I remember when I was a kid, I played some trick on my dad. That was when he taught me that revenge is a dish best served cold. He had me on egg shells for weeks. I kept looking around corners and jumping at shadows. Finally, he got me and boy was he right, revenge can be very cold. I was taking a nice hot shower when to my surprise I felt cold water all over me. In retrospect I shouldn’t have left the window open to the outside, especially when it was right next to the outdoor faucet hooked up to a garden hose.


Dad, Thanks for everything, even the cold shower! Love you and see you soon.


Happy Father’s Day!

I Am Ridden With Guilt

I Am Ridden With Guilt

I Am Ridden With Guilt

                I feel terrible. In the past I have played a few innocent pranks on my co-workers. Each year I am expected to continue on my April Fool's Day tradition. Everyone around here is on edge. What will Ryan do to me, they think. I feel nauseated because I have to go to more extremes each year. This year I feel guilty because now it is just mean spirited. I must say it is not my fault. Certain co-workers want my antics to be shared on social media, so my hands are tied and in a way I am the real victim here. I am sorry Kristine but you made me do this!

Right now at this very moment there is a flyer with a photo of Kristine, or Madam Bonowski as I have dubbed her, sitting on the bulletin board at one of our local grocery stores. I can go into more detail but I suppose an image of the flyer says it all.

I am a pretty good sport when it comes to receiving pranks. Kristine is having a difficult time figuring out how to get even with me, so if you can shoot her your best idea for a little revenge I am sure she would appreciate your help!

In the event that I disappear and am never heard from again, Kristine did it!

Kristine, let me be the first to congratulate you on your newest endeavor as the psychic to the stars!

A very happy April Fool's Day to you all!


Ryan Raber

Prankster and Winemaker

Tertulia Cellars

Washington Wine Month Is Finally Here!

I am excited that Washington Wine Month has finally arrived! I am on the road quite a bit this time of year spreading the gospel of Tertulia. I really enjoy seeing so many of you celebrating right alongside me. Personally, I celebrate Washington wine from January 1st till December 31st each year but I digress. I was thinking in this blog post I would talk about some of the history of my favorite wine region and winery and my connection to them, that being Walla Walla and Tertulia of course.


Once again it is that time of year that we gather around a feast of roasted turkey and give thanks. How can I think of what I am thankful for between mouthfuls of turkey, gravy, and mashed potatoes? Oh, and don’t forget the apple and pumpkin pies.

I’m not sayin' you cray, but you cray!

Please don’t take offense if it sounds like I am picking on you but you must be crazy if you don’t like white and rosé wines. I would hear customers say all the time “I only drink reds” when I was helping out in the tasting room. Most people would try to sound a little snooty when they would say it like they are some Hollywood starlet. I would totally get it if I was offering them something gross like Bud Light Lime or flavored vodka. Anyway, like most people I love white and rosé wines. 

The thing is every wine has its time and place. When it is chilly outside and you crave a hearty meal, go with that big bold red. Take today for instance. It is 110 degrees outside, the hottest day of the year. A well chilled white or rosé should hit the spot.  If you happen to have a bottle of our rosé I would suggest a nice caprice salad to go with it. If you don’t have some of our rosé I am truly sorry but the ladies upstairs tell me by the time this message reaches you we will be all out. Don’t forget next year to order early and often! If you have our Marsanne or Viognier I suggest some surf. I love these wines with fish especially shrimp or mussels/clams. 
Remember my friends when it is this hot outside stay hydrated with a little bit of Tertulia rosé and white wine. Please note Ryan Raber is not a medical doctor and you shouldn’t take medical advice from him, but really these wines are pretty awesome!

Ryan Raber

Rev up your meat grinders, it’s picnic time!


I am going to be “Bach”-ing it for a while. My wife and daughter are on their way to visit family in Brazil. I will be joining them in a few weeks but till then I will be left to my own devices. Speaking of devices I got a new one for father’s day this year. It is a meat grinder and I plan on putting it to good use, which coincidently ties in nicely with this month’s theme. The folks upstairs have asked me to write about the art of picnics. I decided what they really want is for me to make Pate de Campagne (country pate) using my new grinder. To me, this fancy cold meatloaf is a work of art, an amazing masterpiece, and it just happens it is perfect for a picnic. All you need to go with the pate is a baguette, Dijon mustard, and some little cornichons on the side. Oh, don’t forget the bottle of wine a picnic basket and blanket! The best recipe I have found is from Chef John at allrecipes.com. Unfortunately, my girls have abandoned me so no picnics in my near future. Instead, I will share it with my Francophile friends in the Petanque Club. Oh look the recipe says it needs Cognac. Guess I am off to the liquor store!

Ryan Raber
Tertulia Cellars

Waygu Beef Hamburger


There is nothing more American than the Hamburger. It originated around 1850 on ships traveling from Europe to America on the Hamburg shipping lines. Ground beef patties were quickly grilled and served up on a bun.

Recently I have made a study of burgers. I have tried various interpretations. I have used lamb, lean ground beef, chicken which is not a burger but a sandwich, turkey burgers, and by the way turkey burgers or tofu burgers are a sin against god. The best burgers I have had were made with American Waygu Beef. There is a lot of fat in this ground beef. They don’t even bother telling you the percentage of fat; instead they show a picture of a man clutching his chest! That is how you know it’s good!


Serves: 5


2 – 16 oz packages of American Waygu Ground Beef

Salt and pepper

5 - Buns


Fry Sauce – For spread on burger

                ¾ Cup of Mayo

                1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard

                1 Tablespoon Catsup

                1 Tablespoon Relish

                1 Small Shallot Diced

                Ground pepper to taste

1 – Large Onion Sliced

1 – Large Tomato Sliced

Lettuce Leaves


Cheese, Bacon, Guacamole

Directions: I am going to tell you simply how to make these burgers.

Take the ground beef and separate into 5 equal balls. Gently form the beef into the patty. Don’t over work the beef! Next with your thumb make a small indent in the middle of the burger. This will keep it from bulging up in the middle. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on both sides of the patty and refrigerate while heating up your grill. I am not going to tell you how to grill. I could argue all the merits of charcoal over gas but I won’t. I will tell you to resist constantly flipping the burger. Also do not under any conditions press down on the burger, which pushes all the juices out of the meat!  To get the burger medium rare, which is how you should eat this burger use the hand test as illustrated below. Oh by the way eating raw or undercooked food can cause food borne illness. There I said it. Now let’s get grilling!



Drink with your mom this Mother’s Day!

Moms, they are the best, right? They bake you cookies, they bandage up your ouchies and making everything all better, and they slip you your first sip of wine. At least that is what the good mothers like mine did. I proudly admit I am a momma’s boy. 

I remember in high school my mom Cathy, worked four tens at a hospital on the night shift as a phlebotomist (vampire). It was hard work but she got paid a little extra and was able to spend more time with her family. Fridays were her first day off. She would get up shortly after my sister and I got home from school. The first thing she would do was make up a little vegetable tray with some blue cheese dressing for dipping and have a bottle of Riesling out. Then we would turn on the TV and watch Star Trek the original series. My mom grew up with a little crush on William Shatner. Come to think of it my father has some Shatneresque bravado, but I digress. Anyway, we would watch TV and she would let me take little sips of her Riesling. That was my introduction to wine. Now I have the opportunity to return the favor. I am always bringing over a few choice bottles to share with her.

This Mother’s day please raise a glass to your mother where ever she may be and if possible share a nice bottle with her. After all, she raised you to have impeccable taste, considering you are drinking Tertulia!

Shorts Season

Today as I opened my front door and walked down the steps towards my car a passerby looked in my direction. He covered his eyes from the blinding glare coming off my bare legs. Today marks the start of shorts season! Not just shorts season but the season for many things. The buds are out on the vines and developing tinny leaves. If you hold still long enough you can almost see them growing. Not just our vines that spring out this time of year but also fresh asparagus, salad green, and spring onions! I love nothing more than walking down to the farmer’s market on Main Street a few blocks from my house. I stock up my pantry until the next week with as much produce as it will hold. The drive-in theater will also be open. This is an Americana tradition we love to share with our daughter. We are lucky to have one of the few remaining drive-ins left in the nation so close. There will be many sunny days filled with petanque, wine, BBQ, friends and laughter now that the sun is out. The best part is that my legs will develop a healthy shade so as not to blind any poor victims! God, I love the spring!!!

Chocolate Covered Brussels Sprouts

You may recall the staff here at the winery decided to bail on April Fool’s day. They chalked it up to something about it being Easter. I didn’t buy it so I declared it April Fool’s month.

The best prank was the chocolate covered brussels sprouts, which I saw featured on one of the late night talk shows. I dressed the brussels sprouts up as chocolate covered cake pops with some white chocolate drizzled on as well. The tricky part was to get someone to take food from me so close to April Fool’s day. I told Kristine that my daughter, Sofia made them as thanks for her since Kristine is always giving her sweets. Kristine couldn’t pass it up and popped the whole thing in her mouth. She was a real trooper. She refused to tell me how awful my daughter’s baking was for about ten seconds. Finally, she couldn’t take it anymore and with her mouthful and a distressed look in her eyes, she asked what the heck is in this. Oh yeah, I replied I forgot to mention that we ran out of cake so we had to use brussels sprouts. Next to fall was Lacey then Kelsey.  Word quickly spread not to eat any food offered to you by Ryan.

Let me know if you like the idea and I am happy to provide you with the recipe.

Cheers, Ryan Raber

Now Announcing April Fools' Month

It would seem that my reputation as a prankster has terrified my coworkers. Since April Fools’ Day coincides with Easter and falls on a Sunday everyone here at Tertulia has decided to make themselves scarce. Personally, I think they are all a bit chicken. Not to worry I have a plan. I am declaring this to be April Fools’ Month, muahahaha!!! Oh, this month-long extravaganza will be legendary! Stay tuned in for updates. I promise my antics to amuse!

You know what isn’t a joke? We are releasing to the public three wonderful wines in time for spring and Easter weekend. We will have our 2017 Marsanne from Elevation vineyard, our 2017 Estate Rosé, and our 2014 Carménère. I consider these three the best I have made of each. The Carménère has already received a 92 and 91 pt rating and a gold in San Francisco Chronicle tasting. I hope everyone has a wonderful spring and Easter. Now I must go back to my plotting! 

It's Nice To Be Noticed

Last year we did really well in regards to having our wines noticed. We had 11 wines score between 90 points and 95 points. This year we are already off to a great start. Recently we received two gold medals at the San Francisco Chronicle tasting. One for our 2015 Tierra Labrada Merlot the other for our 2014 Carménère. Speaking of the Carménère we got another gold and 92 points on it the other day. I love it when we get good scores! It validates what we are trying to accomplish with our wines here at Tertulia. Still, I remember I was asked once who’s scores I most covet. I stopped and thought for a minute. The truth is I appreciate our customer’s opinions the most. After all, you have made the trouble of coming into the winery and enjoyed the experience of tasting with us. You are our Tertulia, our circle of friends. After all, we make these wines for you! You keep us working hard to make the best wines. We are truly happy when our wines leave with you to find a happy home.

Now I am not sure why I thought of this particular memory but it’s a good one to end on. Once we had a lovely couple in the winery. They had named their daughter after a famous wine. It got me thinking how many children might be the result of our wines, and where are all the children named Carménère?

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.