January 4, 2014 coincided with John's birthday


This year, the day of John's birthday was very special.  It marked the annual celebration Raclette for pruners.  We traveled the hour and 20 minutes to our favorite winery and landscape, above the Columbia River, between Quincy & Wenatchee, WA.  Cameron and Phyllis Fries are the owners of this winery and vineyard.  The event was held to honor and give appreciation to the volunteer wine grapevine pruners from last year for work done during February and March.  Spouses are also invited.  This year's lunch was again a very Swiss, Raclette, involving a dish consisting of cheese melted and served on boiled potatoes (sometimes sauteed onions are included--we should have taken some this year); or bread (no one brought any bread this year).  Raclette is pronounced [rah-klet'].  Raclette (French, from racler, to rake, scrape), originated in Valais but is made elsewhere in Switzerland, France. and Germany.  Cameron Fries reasons that Raclette was made before the current political borders were made, such that Valais would have been part of the House of Savoy, and thus of the Holy Roman Empire.  The House of Savoy extended considerably into what is now called France.

Nancy carried her new camera this year to document the event to share below, including some fall memories. We believe the photo quality this year is superior to last, but so was the weather.  The people were super fun again this year, and we look forward to next.

 White Heron Cellars Sign  fine wine road  lovely day for a raclette on
          Fine Wine Road
From a visit Sept 20, 2013        Access to the winery & vineyard                      January 4, 2014 at the Raclette

OverlookingMariposaV-ColGorge  Start of Raclette
          View  2014
2006 view from the winery across Mariposa vineyard to Columbia River;  2013 view from the Raclette bonfire site;  view in 2014; sunny & 42º

Nancy Taken by Tom on our way in John & Nancy at
          Chef's Extravaganza John Explaining the
          shoulder on the Syrah grapes
More memories from Sept 2013 -- at the Chef's Extravaganza, September 13                                         and from our visit on Sept 20 where John helped harvest Syrah, a bit, and we delivered to Cameron some veggies from our garden (3 different onion types and a large Golden Health winter squash).  We stopped for a visit on our way to the Bluegrass Festival in George, WA, an annual affair that lasts all week.  We just made the one day.  Nice multi-purpose tripping.

In addition, for your pleasure, here's a video below of Cameron and John harvesting Syrah grapes September 20, 2013 in the wind:


White Grapes WHC  Red grapes WHC
                                                                                     Sept 20, 2013          Roussanne grapes                        Cabernet Sauvignon

And, now for the Raclette for this year's pruners and spouses:

Lynne & Roussanne Preparing Lynne & Tom Sydner
          preparing wood stack from John Phyllis Fries with sweet
          pickles Phyllis adding
            Pickles & Pickled Garlic
Lynne Snyder & Roussanne-dog early setup; Tom Snyder stacking John H's wood,Cameron Fries contemplating; Phyllis Fries-sweet pickles & pickled garlic 

Last year was cold and we got snowed on.  It took all the next day to warm our feet.  This year was warm(er) with sun and we carried along some of our stockpiled firewood as a precaution.  Really though, the Raclette is historically a pruners' meal cooked over stems and pieces of vine cuttings, and we try to have some grape wood on the fire at all times.  The cheese is imported as a full wheel and picked up on the other side of the Cascades.  For some background reading you can can go here:  http://www.laurelkallenbach.com/lkblog/?p=1283  and then click on the 'next' with arrow at the top right of the page.  Nancy disagrees with the explained pronunciation of Raclette.  It should be on the second syllable, not the first.

Nancy Hultquist & Phyllis Table of Goodies Back Table of Goodies Powdered Nut balls
Nancy Hultquist & Phyllis Fries;        Sides for the Raclette cheese & potatoes dinner;          Back of table (more below in the text);              Powdered nut ball goodies.

Last year, Nancy and Phyllis missed getting in the photos so we requested John to take our pictures at the start.  Good thing, because Nancy was the photographer for the rest of the day.  About the first table of sides, with another to come below.  Will try starting left to right on the back row.  Covered dish of chocolates, which ended up being too close to the fire and some melted early on, pickled red & yellow peppers, special wafers with cinnamon filling, pickled beets and onions, pickled egg dish, package for Ranch seasoned wheat berries in the bowl in front (from Nancy's friends in Condon, OR), Wasabi (hot) peas, continuing clockwise, cookies in the blue topped container -- that go by many names:  (I grew up calling these "Shorties", but I cannot find that anywhere on the web.  It goes by lots of other names though, as suggested here:  a favorite holiday cookie is known by many different names around the world, such as Mexican Wedding Cakes, Russian Tea Cakes, Swedish Tea Cake, Italian Butter Nut cookies, Southern Pecan Butterball, Snowdrop, Viennese Sugar Balls, Sand Tarts, and Snowballs).  They always contain finely chopped nuts and are twice rolled in powdered sugar.  [I suppose I should ask Margaret to share her recipe and find out what she calls them].  Coming on around are the sweet pickles, the pickled garlic and cukes, Gerkins, and pickled onions.  Finally, in the next photo (the back of the table), you can see a little more of the back row, and a container of garlic butter.  Also, note the 7 candles on the cake.

Moving along, John & Audrey
            enjoy fine wine Wine Table with cheese Raclette cheese from
            Valais via Auburn
John Hultquist & Audrey Seaberg tasting Roussanne, a wine made from a grape from the Rhône region of France.  Another wine served was Arvine, a Swiss grape from Valais and also across the border in Val D'Aoste in northern Italy, where Arvine is grown and vinified.  We tasted some 1990 & 1997 Riesling.  The Raclette cheese you will hear about later in this report.  Audrey picked up the cheese this year from The Peterson Company in Auburn, WA.  The Arvine was bottled this year at White Heron Cellars within the Ancient Lakes AVA designation.  The grape is also called, Petite Arvine.

Beverage table John toasting something
 Left is tea, sharing its color with the Riesling beside it.    John (right) toasting something that Margaret & Mark Amara and Tom are watching.

phyllis roasting apple-turkey
          sausage Cooked Sausage w/ raw
                    Perhaps the toastee is Phyllis roasting turkey-apple sausages.            Yummy finished ones and raw ones in holder ready to roast.

 Skewer for holding cheese over
          coals Ripples in rear - and
          Cameron starting the cheese Cameron sets up Cheese
Last year's skewer before setup, already done 2014; unwrapping cheese (note ripples-top left landscape); Cameron, adjusting cheese, w/potato pan behind

 cheese over
            fire john behind
   Cheese melting over coals--Note wood is grapevine cuttings                        John behind cheese that's melting over coals   

Nancy's Plate
Lynne's leggings          
Nancy's plate -- much cheese with outsides; without pickled side dishes - Lynne's neat homemade leggings and Julius       

Mark, Tom & Lynne
Fire and Pot of Potatoes
                         Mark, Tom, and Lynne                         Pot of potatoes next to fire (beyond its top are coals for melting cheese).
  cameron serves margaret Cameron Service Tom S. cameron serves John   
Cameron serves Margaret                                      Tom                                                        and John  

Before we get too far away from the comment of ripples on the landscape, four rows above in the middle photo, let us give you a little education here on the Ice Age Floods, which provided the excellent sandy soils for Cameron to plant his Mariposa Vineyard grapes.  The material was transported from the north in floodwaters that came down the Moses Coulee ~12,000 -15,000 years ago.  The first two pictures below show the ripples on West Bar across from and "below" the winery, while viewing the Columbia River as it flows east and then turns south at Crescent Bar.
old truck & ripples zoomed toward west
                bar ripples Deer tracks
              In Vineyard
Pictures taken in 2012 show, over Cameron's classic truck, the "Current Ripples" on West Bar.  The middle one is a zoomed shot of the ripples created from the ancient glacial (Lake Missoula) floods and deposited over the West Bar landscape along the Columbia River -- from the same source as much of the soil in the Mariposa Vineyard.  The photo on the right was taken in the vineyard Sept. 2013 of tracks in the vineyard's soil.  Check below for a quick, but thorough, explanation of the cause of these ripples.

For an interesting short video, go to the You Tube link below to watch our friend, CWU Geologist, Nick Zentner, explain the Ripples we viewed from White Heron.

Left below is a better shot than mine above of the giant current ripples at Trinidad, and in the picture on the right below, Nick explains these little sand dunes.  The team filmed them in Echo Basin, near Frenchman Coulee.  (Note the view from Google Earth below on the right for the location, and you should follow the landscape to see the perspective, nearby pivot irrigation, the Columbia River, and the surrounding landscape.  We went to street view and then exited and backed off for the interesting view.
Intro Nick Zentner to
                  Giant Current Ripples Little Sand Dune
                  ripples in Echo Basin Frenchman Coulee echo basin
                  sand dunes from Google Earth


Now back to the party.  Phil served Cameron, but he didn't get to finish much of his dinner, because of needing to run down to the winery to visit with customers. 

Phil serves Cameron cameron
Phil serves Cameron 

Cheese removed from rack
fruit salad
  Later we rescued the cheese before it fell into the coals, and we began to think about dessert, including a fruit salad (still covered).

I apologize for not getting a photo of Phyllis's fruit compote concoction.  It was beautiful and tasty, created from everything they grew,
except for the last two in this list of contents:  plums, grapes, apricots, peaches, blackberries, dried apples, and pineapple.

Celebration continued
Pruners enjoy kitbitzing
The pruners enjoying their usual bantering.

Cake Tom baked --carrot
                with tons of carpathian walnuts John's
                piece of birthday cake
Tom made a fantastic carrot cake chocked full of his Carpathian walnuts & made with ground spelt flour.   John's serving is above.

The cheese used on their device over the coals is a French cheese purchased at Peterson's Cheese in Auburn.  This type is especially needed for cooking over coals. "Raclette" ovens are sold, which utilize a squarer "Swiss Raclette" cheese, which has no crust and is specifically made for the oven use.

For some videos -- please follow these links, and enjoy:

Cameron Fries Describes Raclette  

Nicely Filled Plate -- Raclette Cheese on Potatoes

Cameron Serves Phyllis 1-4-14

Happy Birthday John 1-4-14

End of a nice day.

We left about 3:45 p.m. for a trip home in the sunset, later darkness, with night views of Mt. Rainier and wind turbines, with red lights and on cell towers.
Below are some parting shots from the moving car.  Interesting, the tree, ridge with wind turbines, telephone pole,
and center pivot irrigation structure, giving us a feel for the Columbia Basin and the Ancient Lakes AVA.

Sunset-tree sunset
            & wind turbines
Telephone Polesunset - center pivot

night lights on wind turbine wind turbine Cell tower
Cool view Mt. Rainier speed limit mt rainier
speed limit Mt.Rainier

Thanks, Cameron and Phyllis for a great culinary experience with good friends, fun, and fellowship.

If you'd like to refer to another page from 2012 about our experiences at this special location, check out:


We added a bit of 2013 to this, but not all, and nothing of annual greetings has been completed for last year (2013), except for the Raclette last year:

Comments to John and Nancy Hultquist, nancyh@ellensburg.com

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