Hot to Trot

The evening called for each attendee to wear something red. Sadly, my wardrobe is predominately black and grey. Note to self - acquire more colour in clothing. I like the colour red very much - red roses, red shoes, red wine. Ripping apart my closet, I found a pashmina scarf to satisfy the requirements of the soiree. Profile Wine Group, a Toronto-based wine agency behind familiar wine brands found at the LCBO, hosted an event at Turf Lounge in downtown Toronto.  It was to celebrate the launch of two blended wines coming from Washington State.
14 Hands Winery
Painting by
Cynthia Sampson

About Washington State

Washington State shares a similar history to other American wine regions.  European immigrants first planted the area, but it wasn't until many years after prohibition that wineries started to take root. Did you know that Washington Sate is the second largest wine producing state in the country? I had no idea. With approximately 30 grape varieties cultivated throughout the state, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot dominate red wine production. Chardonnay and Riesling lead the herd for the whites (I'm trying to stay with a horse theme here). The main region is Columbia Valley, covering about a third of the entire state. It encompasses smaller areas such as Walla Walla Valley, Yakima Valley, Rattlesnake Hills, and Horse Heaven Hills. I quite enjoy saying "Walla Walla".

Columbia Valley AVA in Washington State
This wine region was established in 1984
Here are some tidbits about eastern Washington State:
  • There are 300 days of sun during the year so get your most stylish shades.
  • The eastern part of the state is dry and arid, classifying it as a continental semi-desert. Irrigation is often necessary with water coming from mountain snow melts that flow into the rivers.
  • The Olympic Mountains on the coast and the Cascade Mountains to the west of the valley creates what's called the "Rain Shadow Effect". This leads to those sunny days during the important grape ripening period and protection from rain during harvest. 
  • High day time temperatures are reached creating grapes with optimal sugar levels but with the cool nights, the acid is retained leading to wines of good structure. 
  • Existing in most of the worlds wine regions, Phylloxera (a root-damaging aphid that eventually kills the vine) does not exist here meaning that vines are not grafted. That's a rare thing!

About 14 Hands Winery

Why the name 14 Hands? It's actually a measurement. Horses are measured in units of a man's palm-width, or hand. These wild mustangs were described as being "14 hands high". Small yet strong, they used to roam the hills of eastern Washington State.

"Whether you enjoy 14 Hands by the glass in your favorite restaurant, or share a bottle with family or friends, our wines are the quintessential Washington wine experience – fruit-forward, easily enjoyable with any meal or on any occasion, and delivering a superb value for the price." -

The Wines

2011 Hot to Trot White Blend $14.65
A blend of chardonnay, pinot gris, and viognier from grapes sourced throughout the state. Each of these varieties were fermented separately in stainless steel tanks with a small percentage fermented in neutral barrels and aged on the lees to give a fuller mouth-feel.

2010 Hot to Trot Red Blend $15.30
The 2010 vintage was recorded as one of the coolest in the eastern part of Washington State. Harvest was 3 weeks late. This red blend is comprised of merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, mourvedre and other red varieties. The wine was aged mostly in neutral French and American oak for 6 months.

A juicy red with soft tannins, lots of fruit flavour and a hint of sweetness on the palate. Perfect for parties this holiday season.

Hot to Trot launch
Turf Lounge
A fun wine-filled, horse-betting night with our friends at Profile Wine Group.  I placed my bet on the horse with the best sounding name. I don't think it did me any good. I also ran into some of the local Toronto bloggers, one of which had won a lucky golden horseshoe! @ToWineMan - you'll need to make sure to carry that with you always. It'll come in handy I'm sure.

Friends often ask me for recommendations of wines that are easy to drink and at a reasonable price-point. Hovering around the $15 mark, I'd ask them to try the Hot to Trot wines from Washington State.  Great value, packed with flavour, and enjoyable as quaffable every-day wines, they are available through General List at the LCBO. The 14 Hands blends should be relatively easy to find at most locations.

If you are more inclined to drink wines from California, why not saddle up and head north for something new!

Wines on display and
horse races on the screen

Visit 14 Hands Winery:

Explore Washington State wine: