Can't travel to a winery? Check out its website or wine club

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDSeptember 3, 2013 

One week after touting the virtues of traveling to Eastern Washington and experiencing the wineries there firsthand, I'm sorry to say that I did not make my annual trip to Walla Walla this summer.

I am such a loser.

But this gives me the opportunity to talk about how easy it is order wines through a winery's website or, if you're ready to make a bigger commitment, through a wine club. This shouldn't be viewed as a substitute for visiting a winery, but it is a nice alternative that allows you to keep up on the latest releases when traveling there isn't an option.

Wine clubs are as varied as the wines they offer. Some require a one-time activation fee; some don't. Some let you choose the wines you want; others pre-select for you. It's all a matter of personal choice. It's a good idea to shop around to get all of the particulars upfront, so you aren't blindsided with wines you don't want.

If you can't find a wine locally, or if it's listed as sold-out on a winery website, don't give up. There are dozens of online retail wine outlets that might have what you're looking for in stock.

Simply Google the name of the wine, go to any one of the sites listed, and place your order. Wines can usually be shipped to you in a number of different time frames, depending how quickly they're needed and how much extra you're willing to pay.

So despite my inability to get to Walla Walla, I was still able to have these red wines from Walla Walla wineries delivered to my door:

Charles & Charles 2011 Red Blend (about $11) - K Vintners' Charles Smith collaborates with Charles Bieler on this easy-drinking, lower-than-usual-alcohol cabernet sauvignon/syrah blend. Subtle blackberry and currant flavors come to mind, with good acidity and a touch of vanilla bean.

Bergevin Lane Vineyards 2010 Wild Child Merlot (about $28) - Bold yet sexy and elegant, this wine is as mellow as 1980s rocker Joan Jett at age 55 (which she is, by the way). Black plum and dark fruit flavors lead to a touch of molasses on the extreme finish, along with silky, beautifully integrated tannins.

Tamarack Cellars 2010 Cabernet Franc (about $28) - There's a pleasant aroma of earthy, cedary forest floor for openers that follows through to the palate. Then a weighty, almost meaty, texture kicks in with slightly chalky tannins and a trailing note of black cherry.

Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.

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