Our history with Melon
Our first experience with this winegrape was tasting the varietal
release from Panther Creek in Oregon. My wife Beth and I both very
much enoyed its flavors.
Our first grape supplier as amateur winemakers was Newhouse Vineyards
in Sunnyside, WA. This is a larger vineyard (~300 acres). They
have one small plot (just a few acres) on the north side of Snipes
Mountain that (if my understanding is correct), is actually grown as
nursery stock, as opposed to being cared for for grape production. I
gather it produces cuttings certified for export to Canada. In this
special nursery section, of about 30 different varieties, they have
one row (about 80 plants) of Melon.
Our first trip to this vineyard (1998), I was like a kid in a candy
store! I went nuts, wanting to pick some of everything and try making
lots of different types of wines. Fortunately my wiser side prevailed
(in other words Beth gave me a reality check), and that day we only
picked things that were ripe! On our next trip back a few weeks
later, the Melon was ripe, and we picked about 250lbs.
We made a simple dry white wine from it, and I was very happy with the
flavors. I decided to make it into a Chardonnay-style wine with a
touch of oak. So I added French oak chips to half the carboys (as I
recall we had two carboys, one with oak, one without). When I got
back to them, the oak was a bit strong, but when blended with the
non-oaked carboy, the oak level was perfect! The grapes were fairly
high in acid, so we chose to induce malolactic (ML) fermentation in
order to reduce it.
Over the next year, we'd occasionally open a bottle of this wine and
enjoyed its flavors very much! Whenever Beth and I have an
exceptional meal, we most always try several different wines
(including notable commercial wines; not just our own) with it,
sometimes having several bottles opened. We've tried our Melon with
seafood and thought it was excellent, much better than any
other wine we tried that evening.
Since then, we've tried our Melon with many types of fish; Copper
River Salmon, Chilean Sea Bass, Yellowfin Tuna, Chinook Salmon,
Halibut. In every case our Melon wine was by far the best wine
with the fish; and our wine was but a lowly amateur production!
(This includes Pinot Gris' from Alsace and WA, Chardonnay from WA and
CA, Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, on and on.) Without having been
aware of it, we proved to ourselves the expensive way that Hugh
Johnson's quote "... for seafood, the incomparable match of
Muscadet..." is spot on!
When we learned more about this winegrape, we learned that it's home
in the Nantes area of France is near the Atlantic ocean end of the
Loire valley, and enjoys a cooler maritime influenced growing climate
very similar to our Puget Sound AVA. When we learned of a lovely
property adjacent to Bainbridge Island Vineyard and Winery that was
ideal for a vineyard, we were thrilled to get it, knowing we'd be able
to have our own Melon vineyard.
In 2004, as we had just planted our first grapes, we did not have any
grapes to harvest, so we took this opportunity to visit the Muscadet
area in France. We learned a great deal and sipped many wonderful
wines. Hopefully I'll get a chance to post few photos here
For more details, please see