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Wine Scene: Fire up the grill and open a bottle

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A note from regular wine columnist Barbara Glover, executive director of Wine Yakima Valley: As we enter the summer grilling season, I thought bringing in a recipe and wine review from guest blogger Terri Oliver Steffes of would be a great choice for this week’s wine write-up. Be sure to follow her for more inspiration, recipes and food pairings.

Emily and Lee Fergestrom, owners of Fortuity Cellars, chose to begin their adventure in the Yakima Valley. Emily, a former public relations and communications worker, and Lee, a startup and tech-world worker, decided to do something different and start a winery. They wanted to make a very specific style of wine — acid-driven, bright and fruit-forward — so they looked for grapes that could be sourced within their local community.

Nearly all the grapes they use for their wines come from within 60 miles of their winery, just off Yakima Valley Highway at 160 Lombard Loop Road in Wapato. They leave the growing to local farmers and purchase the grapes to produce the wines. Their first harvest was in 2017 and the first wine came in the spring of 2018.

The Fergestroms have benefited from the Valley’s supportive wine industry. Matt and Pat Rawn, owners of Two Mountain Winery, worked with Lee and Emily for this first vintage. Fortuity produced 856 cases that first year, which included rosé, viognier, barrel-aged chardonnay, a red blend of syrah and malbec, and a cabernet sauvignon. Success came with a pretty bow: Fortuity was named the SBA Rising Startup of the Year for Washington and North Idaho in 2019.

I had the opportunity to set up a Zoom session with Lee and Emily. Both were eager to talk and share about how they met (a blind date with other people!), how they knew they wanted to open a winery and how things came to pass that helped them do so. They talked enthusiastically about the area of Washington they live and work in, the Yakima Valley, and gave me the desire to put a Washington wine tour at the top of my bucket list.

The wine I received was a bottle of the Fortuity 2018 Malbec ($38). The color is a deep garnet with ruby highlights and a bit of orange on the rim. On the nose there is vanilla, cedar and graphite. On the palate, juicy blackberries and dark cherry, soft tannins and medium acidity. The finish is a nice plum. This wine was so good on its own that we almost didn’t want to pair anything with it.

I did pair it with a trimmed ribeye steak on the grill. We grilled it to medium-rare and made a delicious chimichurri sauce with fresh herbs from the market. The rich steak, with the deep herbs and garlic of the sauce and the malbec, was decadent. The wine’s fruit-forward flavor played well with the fresh herbs in each bite.

Chimichurri sauce

Yield: 2 cups

Total time: 7 minutes (3 minutes prep, 4 minutes cook)

1 medium shallot

1 jalapeño, seeded

1 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, packed

1 cup fresh cilantro, packed

2 tablespoons fresh oregano

3 large cloves of garlic

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Skin shallot and add to a food processor with jalapeño. Process until small pieces form. Add herbs, garlic, vinegar and seasonings. Run the processor until well blended but where you can still see bits of the herbs. Transfer to a bowl and stir in olive oil. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

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