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Our History with Melon
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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 someday.

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