Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards – Lake Chelan

Hard Row to Hoe Vineyard Blog

Winery Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous?

Posted by Don Phelps on January 11, 2010

Life of the Winery Owner

I was thinking today about the nice aspects of owning a winery which includes meeting great people, living in a beautiful area, being your own boss, etc. That got me to thinking about all of the folks that come to the winery and say how much they admire the place and wish they could take the plunge to do it themselves. And that is about where reality came into the picture.

We spend the lion’s share of each day paying bills, handling payroll, doing the taxes, ordering wine glasses so everyone has something to drink out of, getting change from the bank so the till has enough in it to get from one day to the next, ordering toilet paper and paper towels for the bathroom, buying bags and boxes, getting ice for the white wines, taking out the empty bottles, restocking the shelves, cleaning the bathroom and tasting room, picking up garbage outside, working with vineyards to grow next years grapes, worrying about freezing weather, insect infestations, bird damage, too much water, too little water, ordering barrels, spending entire days in the truck hauling grapes from up to 5 hours away, working 7 days a week from daylight to 10 at night during Sept and Oct, worrying about things like equipment breakdowns, enough help, enough bins to ferment the red grapes in, enough stainless steel tanks to hold all of the white wines, inoculation with the right yeast, the fermentation process itself, punch downs, YAN and FAN, secondary fermentation, along with a million other things that have to be done in the right manner and at the right time to make it all work and finally going to bed at night thinking about what needs to be done, and waking up in the morning still thinking about it. And if that was not enough you still have to figure out how you can sell your product and have enough money left over to pay the mortgage so that means back on the road promoting the sale of the wine, trying to get restaurants and stores to carry it, negotiating with distributors, dealing with frozen shipments in the winter months and over heated ones in the summer, and then staying open that last 45 minutes for the straggler that just could not come back tomorrow and loves your wine but leaves with a single 15 dollar bottle.   One more thing before I forget it – you need a second job to live on.  No question about it – this is the memorable life!!

Yep, if it was not for the pure gold customers that become your friends over the years we would probably sell the place and let one of you enjoy the life of Riley – owning your very own winery.


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’09 White Wine Recap, Update, Status…

Posted by Judy Phelps on January 1, 2010

Here is a run down on the 09 whites, all are done fermenting and cold-stabilizing. Judy tasted through them yesterday right from the tanks. Sauvignon Blanc: dry, crisp, loaded with citrus flavors. Pinot Gris: we picked this young so as to do it in a ‘vinho verde’ style, low alcohol, dry and high acid; a great food wine. Gewurztraminer – bone dry and lightly oaked, knocked our socks off! Edelzwicker – made from our estate grapes this year(Don does a great job with the vineyard, this wine is really delicious), only a tiny amount produced, done dryer than in previous years.

We will most like be tasting a couple of these out of the tank over MLK weekend, so plan to be here.

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Pruning Work Party

Posted by Judy Phelps on March 31, 2009

Reminded me a little about the Tom Sawyer bit about getting help whitewashing his fence. Wine Club volunteers came out to help prune the vineyard.Pruning Work PartyThe vines being worked on were planed in 2005 and we harvested our first crop off them last year. About 20 people attacked the vines with shearers in hand. After about 2 hours we retired to the barrel room for cigars and a taste of wine made from these same vines last year. Lovely. Peppery, tannic needs another year but tasting good right now.

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Sip of Snoqualmie

Posted by Judy Phelps on March 19, 2009

We had a nice shout out by the Wasington Wine Wench in her blog entry about the success of Sip of Snoqualmie. Read it here.  We poured two wines there our award-winning Miss de Miner and the 06 Syrah. Both created quite a buzz and the Hard Row to Hoe boy shorts displayed on one of the bottles opened people’s eyes too. Our table was busy all night.  We had a lot of fun telling the story behind the name to our unsuspecting tasters at the table. I can say with certainty that we were the only winery displaying ladies undergarments on the tasting table (or anywhere else for that matter). 🙂 The red satin and black lace table cloth help set the mood.

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Local Good Eats (and good wine too)

Posted by Judy Phelps on March 11, 2009

We get a lot of people asking us for recommendations of where to eat in and around Manson or Chelan. The following are just of a few of the places that Don and I love to go. All have wonderful wine lists too:

1. Local Myth Pizza- Chelan. Great pies and salads. I love the Shrimpster and the spinach salad.

2. Andante – Chelan. Wonderful Italian food and romantic ambiance. White linen table cloths and candle light.  I love the Seafood Pasta and the Brie Cheese appetizer. Wonderful warm bread on the table with delicious olive oil dipping sauce.

3. Tanti Baci – Manson. A small, intimate place with great italian food. Try the spaghetti and meatballs or the lasagne and don’t miss the grilled bread appetizer! I am not crazy about the house wine though…pass on it and get a bottle of Hard Row Barbera instead.

4. Alex. Wonderful, delightfully eclectic small plates to share. I love the tempura vegetables. Don loves the chicken parm. Bring a bottle of Hard Row to open there.

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Pike Place Market Cookbook

Posted by Judy Phelps on February 23, 2009

I got the Pike Place Market Cookbook by Braiden Rex-Johnson as a Christmas present from my husband. I love to read cookbooks, especially ones with local recipes and stories that go along with them.  I savored this book as much so as I will the recipes …someday. Not only is this a lovely read, but the recipes are devine and very approachable. I loved this book not only because of the delicious recipes but also because it revealed to me parts of the Market I did not know existed. I can’t wait to go back and find some of these fabulous restaurants, like Place Pigalle or the Pink Door.  There is a recipe in this book that I have flagged to try during peach season called Peach Grunt. The peaches are simmered in a sugar syrup laced with muscat wine ( of course I’ll use our delicious Orange Muscat for this). Then topped with a decadent gingersnap cookie /pecan topping. Zuppa del Futti di Mare ( Seafood Soup) also caught my eye.  I would love to taste this with our unoaked Chardonnay. I love Chardonnay and shrimp together!

Like the Market, this book is a melting pot of ethnicities in its recipes. Thai, Indian, Italian, Chinese, Greek, French, Mexican, Tex-mex.   If you like cookbooks, this one is a joy. Hopefully someday I’ll get out of my armchair and really make of these delicious dishes.

Thank you Braiden! Lets get together and make some of these and see which wines go best!

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Its time to uncork New Jersey

Posted by Judy Phelps on February 19, 2009

This article is definitely blog-worthy :


Many states have archaic laws preventing their populace from ordering wine directly from wineries online. Very uncivilized. There is a group trying to put pressure on lawmakers to change  that.  I am here to help!

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Posted by Judy Phelps on February 8, 2009

Don and I were in California last week attending the Unified winery trade show in Sacremento.  After the show, we headed southwest to do some wine tasting in Paso Robles. On the way we swung by Lodi to do some Zin tasting and decided to go on a tour at the venerable Woodbridge winery.

As we crested the hill to the winery, we came upon a site that made us both gasp. For as far as the eye could see, there were tanks…I mean BIG tanks stretched out like soup cans on a grocery shelf. This is a winery? It looked more like an oil refinery.

Woodbridge wine tanks

The tour was great, but we were amazed at the scale of it. The bottling building itself was bigger than our local Costco.

Woodbridge Bottling Line

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Land Hoe!

Posted by Judy Phelps on January 26, 2009

A neighbor of the winery here in Manson, stopped in the other day with this interesting lawn ornament that she bought for us at a local thrift shop because she felt it belonged here. We are not sure where we are going to put him or how long before the novelty wears off  but he’s here on the deck for us to have fun with for awhile.

We named him “Mr. Morehead” (no, we did not make this name up!) after the man who had the row boat taxi service taking the miners over to the brothel. Want more of the story? Visit the winery website.

Mr. Morehead

Mr. Morehead

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So how did our Zin stand up?

Posted by Judy Phelps on January 26, 2009

Hard Row to Hoe Zinfandel won a silver medal at the San Francisco Wine Chronicle Wine Competition earlier this month.  We knew our Zin was great but just how would it stand up to some of those great California Zinfandels we wondered. We entered it into the  $35 and over  category so we were up against the best out there. Check out the list of medal winners in the class.

The silver in this category is a great honor but what stuck me as I was going down the list was that Hard Row was the ONLY non-California wine that won a medal in the category. I think this just goes to show how unique a wine this really is and for those of you that know Zin, it is in very good company.  And at a great price too, there were only 3 other silver medals priced at $35. Get some here before it is gone.

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