Some people will do anything to get out of mowing the lawn, even if it means putting in their own vineyard.
Charles Terranova, the owner and winemaker at Bellingham's Inyo Vineyard and Winery, recalls how in 1997 he conceived his vineyard, located on a grassy slope adjacent to his house off of Agate Heights Road.
"I got tired of mowing the lawn," he says, "so I thought, I can take some of it out, plant some grapes, and make my own wine."
Somehow I'm not convinced doing that reduced Terranova's workload. But the happy result for the rest of us is Whatcom County's newest winery, with a cozy tasting room in a serene setting dotted with firs and cedars overlooking Lake Whatcom.
Because of its tiny production - 200 cases last year, 60 cases this year - Inyo qualifies as something even smaller than a boutique winery. Terranova aptly calls it a "nanowinery."
The "estate" vineyards are planted with Siegerrebe and Madeleine Angevine grapes that won't be ready for bottling and release until next spring, provided they ripen sufficiently. To augment production, grapes are also sourced from Eastern Washington's Columbia Valley and Wahluke Slope appellations. Here are my tasting notes on some current releases:
2011 Dry Riesling ($18) - Tangy Granny Smith apple and citrus flavors lead off, with a splash of ruby red grapefruit on the finish. This wine begs for food and Asian cuisine, such as shrimp with a creamy curry sauce, comes to mind. I noted a bit of sulfur on the nose, but it gradually dissipates as the wine has a chance to aerate.
2008 Sangiovese-Barbera ($18) - This delicious red wine blend opens with a fragrant aroma of caramel and berries followed by bright fruit flavors of red currant and cherry, and a lengthy finish with hints of orange peel and pekoe tea. A fine effort well worth the price.
2008 Syrah-Mourvèdre ($24) - Restrained dark berry and cola flavors are capped with an unmistakable hit of black pepper provided by the mourvèdre, along with touches of brambly spice. This wine should pair perfectly with most anything beef.
During July, the winery will donate 20 percent of purchases to your choice of several Whatcom County organizations, including Whatcom Humane Society, United Way of Whatcom County and Whatcom Hospice Foundation.
Tastings at the winery are by appointment only. To schedule one, call Mary Michelutti, 360-398-3785.
DAN RADIL is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.