I’m a big fan of Vital Wines. They’re from Walla Walla, Washington, which is a great wine region, with something like 120 vineyards, almost all of which seem to sell out well before they reach stores, at least here on the East Coast. A year or so ago, a Walla Walla Syrah, the 2014 Powerline Estate, was No. 2 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list. And Vital Wines are very good. They were served at an Oscars event a couple of years ago. Here’s a picture of three bottles to which I have clung, so far —
Vital is not an ordinary winery. It’s a nonprofit. All of the profits go to SOS Clinic, which offers free health care to workers in the wine industry, where much of the world is physical and seasonal, and many workers are uninsured. Grapes and many other goods and services are donated.
I was introduced to Vital Wines while Nancy and I were visiting Kit and Gary Maestretti, whom you have met in this post. Kit was Nancy’s college roommate, and Gary taught Bill Gates Physics at the Lakeside School in Seattle, which specializes in turning out college dropouts who become multi-billionaires. We all went by Vital and met Ashley Trout, the head winemaker and, according to Wine Enthusiast magazine, one of the Top 40 under 40 Trailblazers — the people “who are shaping the future of wine, spirits, beer and cider in America.”
Ashley Trout grew up not far from our current house. She went to Whitman College in Walla Walla, and worked in wineries while she wasn’t studying. She spent some time in the Mendoza wine region of Argentina, and returned to found Flying Trout. After selling Flying Trout to Tero Estates, she founded Vital and subsequently her own winery, Brook and Bull Cellars. Ashley Trout is very impressive, especially to me living here in DC. Washington is a town where people talk a lot, as you may have noticed, but rarely actually do things*; a town where an entrepreneurial spirit is viewed variously as a threat or as a menace. I admire people who actually create and build things, so I admire Ashley Trout.
Nancy and I promptly joined the Vital Wine Club, which means we get six bottles of wine in the spring and six more in the fall. The wines are very good — company-you-want-to- impress good. I am not one to describe the taste of wines. Every time I try I can’t help but think of this James Thurber cartoon —
There are, however, detailed descriptions of the various wines at the Vital website, which you can view here. The bottom line description is “great.” It looks like the spring shipment will be three Rose’s and three Syrahs. I can’t wait.
*True story: Some years back, there was a huge controversy over which textbooks to use in the DC public schools. It degenerated into lots of name-calling, anger, and racial tension, and lasted for years. Finally, they decided on which texts to buy. When the next September came, it turned out that no one had bothered to order the new text books.