Washingtonians Mike and Kate Sharidan‘s love of wine is obvious. Their small, family-owned winery, Northwest Totem Cellars, is producing hand-crafted wines and getting the attention of some noteworthy wine connoisseurs. Praised in Wine Enthusiast and Sunset magazines, and selected to participate in participate in James Beard’s TASTE AMERICA, this six year old winery has racked up impressive accolades in its short years of production.

Mike Sharidan says his interest in winemaking began as a hobby. “Our first year, it was four friends and me in the backyard,” he says. “The next year, it was eight friends, and then we decided to become commercial.” That was in 2005. From the grapes of three vineyards near Prosser, WA, Mike and Kate have seven wines out this season, with the anticipated release of their Cabernet Sauvignon on January 14 – 15, 2012.

Each month, Mike and Kate open their Woodinville home for complimentary tastings – in their bright and spacious kitchen. Kate, a natural foods, vegetarian cook, can suggest wonderful food pairings for their wines. Friendly winery dogs Minnie and Luke will be there to greet you. A lover of all animals, but especially dogs, Northwest Totem Cellars has been a huge proponent of animal adoption. Since its inception, the winery has been supporting Homeward Pet (13132 NE 177th Place; Woodinville, WA 98072) a no-kill animal rescue and adoption center in Woodinville.

Why the totem pole motif for Northwest Totem Cellars? “We felt there was nothing more iconic to the Northwest than the totem pole,” says Sharidan, whose wife Kate designed the label. “The connection to nature, the ocean, the land…. That’s what we liked.” In 2005, Northwest Totem Sellers came up with a Bordeaux blend, and aptly named it Low Man Red. Why aptly named? “The low man on the totem was the most important,” explains Sharidan. “We seem to have a different connotation in our culture, but it was the chief who was depicted as the low man on the totem. He was greatly respected because he holds everyone else on the totem up.” Sharidan goes on to explain that the gold standard for wine is a Bordeaux blend. The chieftain among wines. Northwest Totem Cellar’s Low Man Red is smooth and flavorful. It’s an easy sipping wine, and pairs nicely with the sharpest of cheeses and the choicest of meats. Of Low Man Red, Winepress Northwest Magazine  says “…opulent and smooth only begin to describe the palate, which features enormous cherry and brambleberry fruit.”

Another unique feature of Northwest Totem Cellars’ wines is their German glass stopper. Not exactly a cork, but more elegant than a screw top, the glass is reusable and recyclable, and simple to open and pour.

You’ll find Northwest Totem Cellars at some of Puget Sound’s finer restaurants, including The Herb Farm, Ivars’ Salmon House on Lake Union, Purple and the Barking Frog. You can also find the wines in select QFC and Top Foods locations, and in local boutique wine shops.

Check out the website for Northwest Totem Cellars at http://www.nwtotemcellars.com. Check out Homeward Pet at http://www.homewardpet.org.


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