Tasting Notes: A Year in Wine & Poems (Part 2)

By Katrina RobertsJuly 15, 2013

Tasting Notes: A Year in Wine & Poems (Part 2)

For Tasting Notes Part 1, click here.

Forming is an organic process that envelopes the maker in its path. [….] Perhaps, like the tensions between empiricism and metaphysics in the history of philosophy, the continual effort to yoke or otherwise combine experienced and imagined phenomena within the artwork is one way that we overcome our lived separation from other realms — from nature, but also from the unborn and the dead.

— Susan Stewart (The Poet’s Freedom, A Notebook on Making.)


THIS SEASON, BEFORE THE GRAPEVINES leaf out, we renew our awareness of and admiration for the architecture of vineyards — their underpinnings, foundations, the forms upon and within which we cultivate fruit. The vintner practices a certain kind of prosody, navigating the free verse of vines. We walk aisles to their end-stops, noting how the lavender or rose at the post’s base has weathered over; we turn to stride the next, enjambing rows as we go. We scan for growth, noting alteration in patterns. As with poetry, there’s wonder in the process; there’s concurrent value in both content and form, for they’re stunningly inextricable.

Years ago, we had to decide how best to tend to tiny starts and vines. Before that, we weighed how best to space aisles — for growth of a shading canopy, for width of a tractor’s sweep. Next we constructed appropriate trellises — end posts affixed to the ground by “earth anchors”; steel stakes sunk at intervals, along which we ran tensile high-carbon wire. We researched galvanized staples, brads, and wirevise tensioners, clever devices to tighten lines so they would not slip under the eventual weight of grapes. We sheltered, irrigated, tilled, worried, and waited — through years. Estate vines, once in the ground, need a good three years before grapes can be harvested; then there’s pressing, barreling, and, after time, bottling — all in all, at least another two years before there’s wine to begin sharing.

Now, we cultivate and craft, following the footfalls of traditions, the sine qua non of each season’s given rhythms and rhymes, burdens and blessings. Yet we also tinker and improvise as we go, adapting and trusting our forms and practices — simply because it’s a calling, this collaboration with nature; it’s a measured and examined way of living. If the meadow is a page, we ready it, drawing lines across it so that years later, we might begin to see what time has to say. Writing poetry, like growing grapes, requires a particular attentiveness and faith, a strange perseverance in the face of dismissal or anonymity, a marriage to patience with no promise of fruitfulness. “The airy sky,” Tomas Tranströmer notes, “has taken its place leaning against the wall. / It is like a prayer to what is empty. / And what is empty turns its face to us / and whispers: / ‘I am not empty, I am open.’”

For weeks now, we’ve heard the throaty rumbling of wind machines all night across the valley, their blades drawing down warm currents from above; growers hope circulation will lift temperatures a couple of crucial degrees to keep cold curtains from cloaking the rapid new growth that emerges in spring’s clement daytime temperatures. Walks through our vineyard here in the high desert of Eastern Washington State reveal swaths of damage: whole aisles lost to this year’s run of rogue cold snaps; vines that survived winter only to have vulnerable spurs zapped; tiny green unfurling hands jutting shriveled from canes; buds brown in their centers; and, perhaps even sadder, some of the decade-old noble vines the breadth of my arm, sheer, brittle, and dark, near ground-level when we jostle them, checking for life. “We are poor passing facts,” Robert Lowell reminds us. “[W]hy not say what happened?” It’s a tricky balance — investing in a future, yet striving to live wholly each day with no promises. Farming tests and tempers us; how quickly nature can destroy what has taken years of labor to cultivate toward fruition. Our losses may seem inconsequential, esoteric, or irrelevant to some, but these vines sustain us. We turn ourselves back again to the intensive tasks of pruning and re-trellising what is left.

In warm regions with long seasons, some growers cultivate head-trained (goblet), and vertical cordon vines needing no wires, encouraging straight growth supported only by trunks; without wiring, one can till vineyards both longitudinally and latitudinally, and extra-aerated soil warms grapes so they reach an ideal balance of sugars and acidity more quickly for potentially earlier harvests. Many vineyards in the inland Pacific Northwest, though, rely on trellising systems developed to serve our specific climate and grape varieties. Two-wire and three-wire systems are pretty common; the latter provides necessary anchoring holds for especially downward-sprawling varieties of canes. The poetically named Lyre system lifts new growth vertically so grapes can hang in unobstructed air, improving chances of avoiding mildew. Like poets, grape growers continually must perfect the art of palissage, albeit one with lines and the other with vines. Hudson River Umbrella, cordon spur, double-arm cordon, four-arm cordon, umbrella Kniffen, six-arm Kniffen, cordon cane, Keuka High Renewal, and the Geneva double curtain — there is lyricism in these vernacular delights. Each system offers growers options for working with what we’ve got. We trellis to manage foliage growth and shade, to increase airflow, to get vines high into warm microclimates, to create filters and pinpoint paths for sunlight to strike specific renewal areas where high shoots will produce fruiting canes the following year. In the vineyard with clippers, I aspire toward horticultural deftness. I long to be Vermeer, training the viewer’s eye toward an unexpected glint of pearl beneath a table, or a poet breaking a line so the needed-note hangs there for all to hear.

Few growers in Walla Walla haven’t heard the story of Ted Baseler, president and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, who, after epic arctic stretches, sacked significant proportions of the valley’s 1996 and 2004 harvests, not only providing grapes for at least a dozen small wineries to keep them afloat but also inviting the wineries into his best vineyards throughout the year to engage in vine-tending. That a winery — the oldest and biggest in Washington State, as well as purportedly the leading producer of Rieslings in the entire world — cared enough to aid small competitors precisely to sustain a thriving community and vibrant market speaks volumes.

Again, I bow before poets here. Three of them have new releases, one a decade-aged vintage I suggest we should keep quaffing. All of them I’ve never met, but their words infuse me. Here, I offer brief tasting notes, mere sips, to whet the appetites of those who have not already discovered the poetic riches these poets pour out. I’m struck by their collective dexterity — an attentiveness to formal choices — as well as by the emotional risks they’re willing to take and the ways they’ve found both to contain and incite. What links them in this poetic flight, perhaps, is a shared insistence that in deliberate looking, in precise situating, a trajectory of words can honor and burnish even the most fraught moments of living.


Refuge, Adrie Kusserow, BOA, 2013.

Rust, hibiscus, macadam & muck; hints of bouillon & bergamot, glints of bright citrus astringence underscored by long low tones of compost, yeast & dust.

A professor of cultural anthropology at St. Michael’s College, Adrie Kusserow crafts challenging ethnographic poems of witness, anchored by both her international fieldwork (especially concerning the “Lost Boys” and girls’ education in South Sudan) and her quotidian life as a mother. Kusserow nimbly strings together lines between these two worlds. Her poem “Borders” opens with a phone ringing; then suddenly “you’re there, all sun, war and heat. / You’ve decided to drive / over the Ugandan border, / the jeep all rigged — / it’s a done deal, / but I beg anyway.” Later in the morning, a daughter who “must have overheard me on the phone / pleading / […] jabs [her brother] hard in the ribs.” The poem is unflinching in spotlighting the intersection of these seemingly disparate worlds — worlds we share but often choose not to see — and asks us to consider our own responses and responsibilities:

And it happens again,
whereby war, however diluted, however transformed,
however many times removed, has spread,
whereby the suffering of Kenya begets Uganda,
begets my husband,
begets me, begets Ana, begets her brother…

Later in the mudroom, getting ready for school
I see Will kick our tiny old mutt.

Kusserow is masterful with metaphor, moving knowingly from the sublime in “The Adoration” to the horrific, as in “From Heaven, Mother Theresa Looks Down on Daya Dan.” In the first, she dubs herself “sound nymph,” setting in motion “the verbal fevers / of my love-smitten Tourettes, / speaking in tongues / wild with metaphor, / swinging from branch to branch of simile, / rooting about for words / to match [her infant son’s] roundness, [his] just succulency.” Yet in “Mother Theresa”: “Even after the monsoon takes its heavy skirts elsewhere,” more “ponytailed, sandaled” missionaries come, “hauling their boulders of guilt up the crumbling stairs,” toward

                        Mary, the oldest orphan, still there after all these years,

sitting like a queen, perusing her kingdom of cribs,
             holding court with her sweat-drenched devotees
                          who found her at Howrah train station

dragging her legless torso on the Calcutta Times,

              […and who]
                           On hot days, gently hosing her down, [avoid]

the leaking plum where pigeons made a meal of her eye.

Elsewhere, “new school girls [lie] / under their mosquito nets like captive brides”; a nursing son is “swelling like a tick”; “a group of lepers wave their heads about like seals.” Thoughts are “floating off like milkweed” one moment, “pawing the horizon like a cat toying / with a dying bird” the next, and finally are “like small birds [… ] instinctively opening their mouths / toward sky.”

About these poems, Bruce Weigl says, “They are beautiful to feel on your mouth when you say them out loud”; an enophile might add, their mouthfeel is decidedly smooth yet nervy. And they’re visually satisfying as well — tidal and breath-filled, the lines sprawl across the page, here-languorous, there-clipped:

I need to know —
one day, will it happen, will I swallow a God who can handle all of this,
my eyes watering as I hold Him down?
Will the gasoline in my throat
turn to wine
and I feel warm and giddy,
sitting in the front pew of the Church of Holy light,
the sun’s giant paw resting on my back?

In spring,
my mother will die […]
                                                     (“The Sweet Hereafter”)

Sometimes, Kusserow terraces her poems precisely down the page — visually stair-stepping toward a final zinger, as below in the opening and end of “Beneath the Sky, the Longing”:

At the top of the Thimphu hills, sun leaves its afterbirth everywhere,
             prayer flags drench the pines,
                           a monk scampers away like a red fox,
Outside their window barking dogs mince the night till it bleeds,
             the Bhutanese boy, high on meth,
                          wailing a kind of love song for the West
                                       deep in the alley below.

Refuge is a book of tears of both despair and joy. “Email Elegy” opens:

How quietly they land,
             bits of global sorrow accumulating like snowfall
                          as I teach a class, attend a meeting,
                                       make a cup of tea.

There’s something elegiac, too, in the form itself of “Moth,” a single typewriter-ribbon of an enjambed sentence curtained with long indentations, which begins:

What to do with the giant moth
                caught in our tent on the last night, dive-bombing out headlamps?
I tell my daughter not to touch it,
               why, she says, you’ll change them, I say,
trying to explain how our fingers are sponges
                for their blue and gold powders,
but we have no choice, she says

The long sentence tacks its way to its end, its lines visual evidence, perhaps, of the many rows we plow through life that nevertheless must lead to death.

Despite every harrowing thing she’s seen, Kusserow closes Refuge with “The Country of Your Garden,” a piece with marvelous celebratory cataloging that culminates in a speaker “waving from the window,” pleading with knowing redemptive urgency to her love: “There’s still time / […] Come, after all these years, prune me. […] I promise I could still rise up to you / like the sunflower, wild-haired, glad and naïve // but hurry, you know our children won’t sleep / for much longer.” This book reminds us how blessed sanctuary is.


Sped, Teresa K. Miller, Sidebrow Books, 2013.

Ash, mica, rock-salt, milk, dense with the thrum of honey, blood-sticky, crowned by blackberry brambles, with a haunted finish of smeared graphite.

It’s as challenging to know how best to incorporate exemplary fragments of Miller’s poems into a text as it is to read her dense debut quickly, despite the brevity of its (albeit cautionary) title. Each of the three longish prose poem sequences that comprise Sped relies formally on the justified blocks of text floating center page you’d expect from prose poems. However, these are shot-through with the oblique stroke or slash (or two for a stanza) generally used in essays to indicate the end-break of an incorporated poetic line. Throughout, the poet splices apparently discordant moments and meditations, though we soon come to see how deeply they’re entwined. The effect is that of a sustained fugue — three symphonic sequences pastiched from continuous fractured snippets and dispatches (from Rwanda, Seattle, Portugal, Oakland, Iraq, Chicago, and elsewhere) that speak of parallel worlds and sensibilities at odds.

But “wherever you go, there you are,” and the speaker lives simultaneously in physical and emotional worlds; the mind’s capacity to hold all time at once results in a kaleidoscoping of place and image. Only spacing and the appropriated symbolic slash punctuate the poems; the visual impact is that of an accumulation of neat aisles of strung-up vines. Yet, despite the static four-cornered shape of each “stanza” or untitled poem, there’s chaos within the compacted tilled rows. Rapid-fire cinematic crosscuts between subjectivities and settings agitate the waters of almost every moment, as Miller muddies and pixelates her poetry using linguistic disorientation (a blend of pidgins, Portuguese, English, French) — all is slippery and broken. Viewing Sped as a whole, however, lets several central and interwoven narrative threads emerge. Miller navigates personal selfhood and grief in the contexts of global genocide and terror, as well as in the aftermath of a cyclist father’s death. Another thread comes in her exploration of the continuous needs of autistic children within the world of standardized education — besides “velocity,” think “SpEd:” Miller has worked in Special Education for several years.

“My mother could just barely do a French braid/ sent me to school puffy headed to play with the little girls in tight plaits/” Miller writes, and as her poems unspool, I’m struck by how each narrative thread draws into its wake a wider swath from what’s around it. Weaving these individual threads into a single plait, Miller’s form highlights her expansive entanglements, as well as her singular focused journey through mourning.

The middle and final sequences (“The Apiary” and “Programs for Exceptional,” respectively) both reinforce and complicate themes set in motion early in Sped. Here, Miller addresses the negotiation of grief: how one sees and frames (“convex or concave”), how one comprehends scale (of anything!), and where one can compose a self in geographic relation to everything (“Pathways through his catacombs/”; “the lowest point”; “the trail of blood [running] out the door andAcross town and Ursula screamed and they couldnot contain the smell of gun powder//”). It’s as though the speaker, spinning the ever-turning faces of a Rubik’s Cube, hopes to solve for what’s missing by mathematical equation:

What do you do next?/I don’t know/3 goes into
5 how many times/ I / multiply/ subtract/ drop it
down// He woke in the night and screamed and
grabbed her ankle/ Father sending the sleepwalker
away as a rapist// I spent the first Easter xeroxing
death certificate/ Blunt force injury// les sans-
// Spring comes after winter/ What season
comes after winter? Spring/ What season comes
after winter?/ - // We scan the program/ count
the remaining verses// trade your Thunderbird
for a stint clearing trails/ he’ll never walk again//
But there’s a remainder/ What do we do with
Remainders?/ Here/ we put them here//

She later worries the linguistic delineation between: “I miss you” and Tu me manques, as if by spanning the distance between she might comprehend a logic of loss, what it means to live in any context of absence:

Spring came/ a spiraled wire//I’ve said his before/
before the panel/ was summarily Chaucered/ /
Life came of the broken thing/ the fracturing//
What no one will admit in the terrorism porn
I am a promise// They know how to say it better
Than we do/ I do not miss you/ gave up asking
Vestmented strangers your destination// It is you
Who are// Tu me manques//

Like the measured trellising of our vineyard (we're ever tying up outliers, trying to hold what can’t be contained — as Dylan Thomas does in his villanelle “Do not go gentle into that good night”), these poems sing with the density of a big spicy deepening Portuguese Douro that promises to age well. Powerful cover art by Augustine Kofie depicts a hinge, the juncture where escalators in any city world-round converge. When one squints at the image, there’s an X, an O/K, all rendered in colors drawn from earth’s natural palette. What a gripping debut Sidebrow Books in San Francisco has recently released.


TwERK, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, Belladonna, 2013.

Concentrated notes of zinc, cucumber & coffee; macaronic & jammy; hints of jasmine, jewel glints; fractured yet talc-soft, rainy-roofed-snare-drum frizzante.

That this is the same LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs who’s an established sound artist and whose interdisciplinary work has been featured at such places as the Whitney and MoMA won’t surprise you when you get your hands on her first full-length collection. (She has also presented — in her role as independent curator and artistic director — a range of literary/theatrical/musical events at Symphony Space, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, The Schomburg Research Center in Black Culture, and BAMcafé, and she has written three published chapbooks.) For TwERK is an amped-up tour de force of an astute polyglot — she speaks Spanish, English, Malay, Runa Simi, Japanese, Hawaiian, Yoruba, Cherokee, Tagalog, Portuguese, Maori, Samoan, Hindi/Urdu, among other dialects — an artist with her fingers firmly splayed on too many far-flung pulses to count.

Myriad voices entwine to celebrate a super-fierce, super-sensual, super-voracious, super-wide-eyed anime-cutie-nevertheless-carrying-a-concealed-weapon. So watch it! Listen! This braided spicy simmering gets its talons in quick: her poetry is a delicious ambrosia cobbler of vernaculars — here diced and raw, there sensual and pop-media-slick, always life-pulsing but ever-careening toward all that is vulnerable. Here’s the close of “gamab click”:

a moonful a spoonful a suga tit
              let dey high hat make water from yo’ hang glider
                          dis name jigga boo velveteen fraggle rock agogo funk

                                                                 di wind spit at your ravens
                                                   make nickles tickle mandingo saviors

              no appropriatin’ of tongues jigga gigga HOO true you knew ja rule

Diggs’ lines (or vines) ride almost boundless grids of sound — her vineyard is an elaborate, tendriled riff-scape of repetition that is sampled and re-dubbed. Yet the words are ever-driven by the wit and wisdom of this cosmopolitan horticulturalist, as in “dutty gal”:

                           titanium, boom shocka, kill di woofa.
thrash reverberating neatly polish mih ride.
                                        hyphy dancehall — no can
                          hear tings demur.
titanium, boom shocka, kill di woofer
whine mih curvature: cause a road slaughtah.
                                       ain’t neck breaking like dutty
                         when she whine.
                         titanium, boom shocka, kill di woofa.
thrash reverberating neatly polish mih ride. sih?

TwERK’s bubbling energy teases out a twisted grin; it begs to be sung. The book calls to mind a cacophonous vineyard scene: the symphony of starlings that scream from the poplars, the bounding rainbows of five leggy deer startled in dewy morning sun, the baying melody of a loose Doberman on the trail of a barn-cat. The work is seemingly all madcap bark and bite, fierce and tender, but it is also buoyant, enticing as “a day with Sizzla in a hot air balloon” and ironically refreshing like “a Hummer converted ice cream truck.” It is a bright mosaic love-letter to dream-logic-chaos, as in “mungkin (mencintai) mungkin”:

taisetsu na tu mio nyamuk
              how beloved you my baby mosquito

engkau imponente gila murasaki buaya
              you awesome insane purple crocodile

karakau mi cinta sampai saya chi es habuk
              ridicule me love until my blood is dust[…]

un aislado kelasi mungkin ninaru nyanyuk
               a lonely sailor might grow senile

dakedo, espero para kisu, muda bula mata
               although, I wait for a kiss, a young eyelash […]

Diggs translates and transforms mid-swim again and again; try and catch me if you can. These poems have the appealing, disturbing, and unnerving texture of “Unagi”:

                                                                                    (an acquired taste)
             It is said that eels can come back to life. Chopped into tidbits, left alone,
the pieces may regenerate, wiggle: grow new heads, eyes. Teeth. The girl thinks
of this every time she east sushi. She never eats eel two days old. What if it came
back to life and paid her a visit one shifty night?

        She met an eel one Sunday while playing with pencils and shoestrings.
Enthralled by her youth, he invited her into his dollhouse suite for sweets and
conversation. The suite was paved with peach bathroom tile. Curtains with
oranges hung heavy from iron branches. He was curious about her origins.

And, as with any good gustatory introduction, by TwERK’s end we’re left (taste acquired) utterly convinced and, once we’ve had time to digest the richness, simply hungry for whatever Diggs will release next.


Colombarium, Susan Stewart, University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Classical yet Calder-esque in balance; hints of cedar, slate & a soupçon of cassis; concentrated yet expansive, tinged with eucalyptus; quartz-bright & potent as mist.

When considering the marriage of organic form and artifice in vineyard practices, I immediately returned to poems by Susan Stewart (Princeton professor, former chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and MacArthur fellow). for her work rises from the pages like Da Vinci’s sculptures released from the marble they inhabit. In Colombarium, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award, Stewart practices a kind of magnificent topiary, as in “Unless and Until”:

You look around and wonder
at the string of progressions,
the trash in the corners that grew into ailanthus,
and all those new trains
rusting fast to their tracks.
There was an errand to be done,
someone needed a present,
ambition had the look
of a shiny bucket;
it was easier to be specific
than to keep in mind the picture
and by then the picture had changed.
It’s your field, your fence;
you’ve got a grip on all
the systems that underlie the system.
The dreams of reformation
that once pulled us forward have been
set up in the hallways
as sad dioramas.
Even so, I’d like to walk
through that wood again with you
where the sweet underbrush was waiting,
where necessity had a definite form
like the rain, or a roadblock,
or a so-called act of god.
We had forged a path there
for years on end, cutting back
the brambles of unless
and unless, stripping off
the low thorns of until before,
or after — I can’t remember now —
something somehow
called us away.

Poems in this book have an inevitability — they recall the organic mystery of cloud formations, of constellations, of making-do with what we’ve got. First and final sections (both dubbed “The Elements”) surround the alphabetically ordered sequence she calls “Shadow Georgics.” The book opens with air and fire; earth and water close it. Much here concerns a kind of elemental dismantling, as well as a reckoning with the aftermath of such deconstruction and what is needed to persevere. “I woke to wonder,” the speaker proclaims in the visually wind-flung “Sung from the generation of AIR,” which ends (anchoring lines included):

Unbind, unwind the four winds

                                                                              without them, no direction.


Yet air is the element most bearable                most bearable to every mortal thing.


Later, she uses controlled trellising, as in “Ellipse”:

Night after night the astronomer
              imagined the stars in their orbits,
                           building his orrery of glass and string;

                           he was making a kind of singing
              that came from far beyond
himself, beyond the sounds
              that human mouths will bring
                           into a form of being.

And again on form, in “The Seasons”:

                                                                              […] The seasons
always seemed to be a form of freedom, something good for making meaning,
             the kind of notion a founding father could
pull out now and then whenever
the now and then would flag. Time heading time, you know the saw.
              Lightning strikes and struck.
The shepherd fell down dead.
And then it all wound up again: a redbreast made a ruckus, the quick eternal sprung. […]

Stewart — like Kusserow, Miller, and Diggs — is highly attentive to the made-thing. In “Braid,” “Black and white are woven / into gray the way / hyperbole has no chance // once it’s juxtaposed / to reason — negation / just a thread among // the available options / and hope itself apparent / there in the very / notion that a made thing can last.” The poem ends:

You can tell a story
many ways. You can leave
something out or put

something in; you can fool
yourself and hide.
You can shake out

the form or try
to manage every wisp,
but the latter will

only bring you pain.
You went under
The hand and eye of another

And the tether cannot
Be undone.

Stewart’s formal invention inspires. Her poem “Wings” imitates the give-and-take of interview and puts me in mind of another brilliant piece, Marquez’s “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings.” Stewart’s poem offers an assured voice: yes, this is my life and I’ll take it, whatever the hardships:

But you would still have arms and hands and legs, and you could still
              speak, but you had wings, too. You would the want the wings, too?

              Yes, I would want the wings, too.

And when you were walking around, people would stare at you, and they
              wouldn’t necessarily understand that you could fly?

               I understand. I understand that they wouldn’t understand.

Or if people thought they meant something, something they didn’t really

               I would know what the wings were for.

And if you had them, forever — the forever, I mean, that is your life,
               you would still want them?

               Yes, I would want them. I would take them, so long as I could fly. […]


And the starlings wheel away over the vineyard, and the vines (Rage, rage against the dying of the light) hunker down to produce grapes. And we watch, and we wait, and we listen.



Here are three Pacific NW wines of note from artisanal wineries whose compelling stories (rebuilding after loss, intelligent sourcing and blending, visionary merging and trellising) embody a poetic spirit of attentiveness to craft.

(Language below is taken from winery sites):

2010 Temperance Hill Pinot Noir, Brooks Wines, (200 cases made); Amity, Oregon.

“Founded in 1998, Brooks Wines is a reflection of the visionary Portland native, Jimi Brooks; his reverence for the land and vines made him a practitioner of organic and biodynamic farming. Respect for vineyard individuality and blending mastery allowed Jimi to create wines of great depth, flavors, and balance. Jimi’s still-teenaged son Pascal, the winery’s sole inheritor after his father’s untimely death in 2004, assisted by Jimi’s sister Janie Brooks-Heuck and generous others, have rallied to carry on the Brooks Wines legacy.”

2008 Ciel Du Cheval Vineyard Reserve, Tamarack Cellars, (134 cases made); Walla Walla, Washington.

“Tamarack's wines offer a delicious expression and braiding of Washington vineyards' style and elegance. Ciel du Cheval Vineyard located in the Red Mountain Appellation was the first vineyard planted on Red Mountain in 1972; owner Jim Holmes farms the vineyard on this revered site and credits the success of Ciel du Cheval (French for “horse Heaven”) to ‘dirt and climate, climate and dirt.’”

2009 Shining Hill, Col Solare, (1,000 cases made); Columbia Valley, Washington.

“Col Solare — ‘the partnership between two wine producers recognized as leaders in their respective regions: Tuscany’s Marchesi Antinori and Washington State’s Chateau Ste. Michelle’ — realizes a shared mission to unite two unique viticultural and winemaking cultures to produce ultra-luxury wines. With the winery at its apex, the estate vineyard was planted in a radial (sun’s rays) pattern, following the natural contours of the site, trellised using a high-density Single Cordon training system, to establish uniform growth and fruiting.”


Katrina Roberts is the author of four collections of poetry.

LARB Contributor

Katrina Roberts is the author of four collections of poetry: Underdog; Friendly Fire; The Quick; and How Late Desire Looks. She and her husband, Jeremy Barker, own and operate Tytonidae Cellars & Walla Walla Distilling Company, in Washington State, where they live on a farm with their three children. She teaches at Whitman College.


LARB Staff Recommendations

Did you know LARB is a reader-supported nonprofit?

LARB publishes daily without a paywall as part of our mission to make rigorous, incisive, and engaging writing on every aspect of literature, culture, and the arts freely accessible to the public. Help us continue this work with your tax-deductible donation today!