Grape Days

photo: allan pangborn, riddling

Allan Pangborn 'riddling' the sparking wine by hand.

For Metropole

Paris:- Saturday, 19. October 2002:- Allan Pangborn has been reading this magazine for a long time. In September of 1997 he wrote an email comment about checking out the tools in the basement hardware department of the BHV department store.

When I finally met him early in 1999 I found out he has two passions, tools to make things with, and making sparkling wine.

At the time Allan was working as a consultant for a big winery in the United States. Early in the year is a slow time for this kind of business, so Allan would come to Paris and do a lot of walking around.

In fact, during his visit in 1999, he wanted to walk the Meridian Line that runs right through Parisphoto: grapes before continuing on to the poles. I walked parts of it with him, and he came with me to that year's Rétromobile Salon. Later, when some architects building a replica of one of Concorde's fountains for Las Vegas needed some photos, Allan helped me with these too.

By 2000 the Café Metropole Club was having its meetings and Allan came to a half-dozen of these. We also went back to the Rétromobile show because it is different every year, and at the Salon d'Agriculture we paid a visit to some Champagne stands and Allan had a couple of tastes.

Near the end of his visit that year, he told me he was going to retire from the consulting business. What he intended to do, he said, was build his own winery and make sparkling wine - using the same methods used in Champagne.

He suggested calling it 'Café Metropole.' We made a handshake deal on it and this is how the Café Metropole Sparkling Wine has become the magazine's sponsor as well as being its first but perhaps not only product.

During the fair amount of time that has passed since the spring of 2000 Allan has been taking care of some odd jobs like building a brand-new winery from the ground up, buying lots of machinery for it and putting it to work. My contribution was going to BHV hardware department to get some tools for the winery that are not available in America.

He has also been occupied with some minor details that have involved building permits, the construction itself, and getting Federal and state permits, the trademark registrations, and hosting lots of inspections.

Last fall he filled up a lot of champagne-type bottles with his first 'Blanc de Blanc.' At the same time I began what seemed to be endless sketches for a label. A preliminary one was done in time for a photo session done with a few sample bottles last December when I was in New York.

This year, while permits were being approved - slowly - I continued with the labels - slowly - but now everything has come together.

Within a very short time you will be able to buy Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine. You will find that it is very dry, somewhat like Metropole on its better days.

This will eventually serve as the 'About Café Metropole Wine' page, so it is appropriate that Allan Pangborn has written the rest of the story.

Moonlightô and Café Metropoleô
by Allan Pangborn

The 'Moonlight Sparkling Wine Cellarô' was established in 2000 by Allan and Paula Pangborn to produce a small amount of high quality sparkling wine.

I was involved in making sparklingphoto: prototype, 1 jan 2002 wine in California for ten years and in Washington for the past 13 years, from small wineries to large ones - multi-million case facilities. Without the past 30 years' experience I would not have the know-how, or means to make this wine. Making my own will be the most satisfying.

A 'prototype' bottle with a 'prototype' label of Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc on 1. January 2002.

The Moonlight Sparkling Wine Cellar winery is located in Kennewick in Washington state. Kennewick is 220 miles southeast of Seattle and almost on the Oregon border. The Yakima, Snake and Columbia Rivers converge here. It is a few miles north of the 46th parallel - about on the same latitude as Burgundy.

The climate is desert-steppe, which means normal rainfall is 10 inches. Sagebrush dominates the scenery, except where there is dry-land wheat or irrigated crops. The amount of snow in winter varies from none to 52 inches.

There are about 140 wineries in Washington State, with most of them between Walla Walla and Yakima. The Columbia Valley region is recognized for producing excellent red wines, as well as Chardonnay and Riesling.

As a winemaker, I chose the Kennewick area because of the potential to produce superior sparkling wines using the bottle-fermented process known as 'Méthode Champenoise.' This area is very favorable for wine grapes because the nights are cool, despite daytime temperatures over 100 degrees at times during July and August.

The wine can be no better than the grapes that make it and the Columbia Valley grapes are ideally suited for this type of wine. The California sparkling wines are good too and they benefit from the presence of the French Champagne houses that have started wineries in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties.

I believe the raw material in the Columbia Valley is better and I am now producing wine to confirm this supposition.

The growing season is the same as France, with the vines beginning to grow again in April. In Californiaphoto: champagne corking machine the season begins three to four weeks earlier. Kennewick has about an hour and a half more sunlight than the Napa Valley.

The corking/wirehood machine made in Epernay in Champagne.

Grapes for sparkling wine are harvested first and usually begin arriving at the winery during the first week of September. A small amount is produced because I perform almost all of the steps of production. The tirage bottling involves the help of seven or eight friends and family members for two days each year.

The preparation of the bulk wine blend, or cuvée, and all the steps after bottling are done by the winemaker. Most of the equipment is the same as used by the small Champagne houses.

I have a pneumatic corking/wirehood machine made in Epernay in Champagne and riddling racks from Reims, also in Champagne. Compressed-air driven machinery is often used in the cool, damp French cellars where electricity would be a hazard.

My filler was made by the Eyrle Company in San Francisco and was first used by Walter Richert to bottle dessert wines at his Richert & Sons Winery in Gilroy, California in the 1950s. I bottled many thousands of cases of sparkling wine with it when I worked in Santa Rosa.

The forklift is a real luxury as I have had to move cases by hand and by pallet jack in the past. It also comes in handy for yard work such as pulling fence posts or removing tree stumps and roots, and when you have to switch to snow tires in winter you can do two wheels at a time.

Café Metropoleô

This name for the label was developed from my trips to France over the past few years. Watching the world go by from a Parisian café while sipping a fine sparkling wine is one of life's rare pleasures.

photo: cafe metropole blanc de blanc labelsI have enjoyed reading Ric's weekly view of Paris. He has graciously allowed me to use the of his publication in return for the opportunity to present my wine to his readers and it gives the readers of Metropole Paris a chance to support his journalistic effort.

The Federally-approved labels for the Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc.

For now only readers resident in the 13 states that allow direct shipments of wine can place orders. The states are California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

The shipping laws are changing literally daily so other states may soon permit legal shipments. Visitors to eastern Washington state are most welcome to come by the winery for a visit and not restricted on the amount they can purchase.

Please contact me prior to your visit. The laws controlling alcohol, tobacco and firearms probably account for 3/4ths of all the laws ever written in the USA. The fact that I must be notified before your visit is one of them!

Allan Pangborn, Winemaker
Café Metropole Blanc de Blancô
Moonlight Sparkling Wine Cellar, LLC
4704 West 12th Avenue
Kennewick, WA 99338 USA
Tel.: 509 - 735 72 37
Tours by appointment only.

Note:- This is a 'preview' announcement. The only thing that is really ready to go is the Café Metropole Blanc de Blancô sparkling wine.

As of this writing the ink on the labels is still fresh and Allan has not told me about any order forms. But I am sure there will be more complete details by next week's issue, and if all else fails, the forklift will come in handy. I should know. I graduated from BMW's forklift driving school in Munich.

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