Cold Snap

photo: moonlight vines, the shed

Allan's vines are a secret because there are only
eight grapes on them. Note 'The Shed' behind.

Moonlight Lights Its Stove

Paris:- Saturday, 2. November 2002:- I never realized being in the wine business would be so nerve-racking. This is not to be confused with the technical wine term of 'riddling,' which sounds to me like a joke word that I am having some problems with. Like not using it as a joke word.

I imagine Allan coming into his house from 'The Shed' and Paula asking him how his day has been going. He says, "Riddling 6000 bottles in an afternoon sure makes the wrists tired. I'm trying to figure out a way to get Moonbeam to do it."

Careful readers and all Metropole readers read every word carefully, will remember that Moonbeamphoto: red, white grapes is the Moonlight Sparkling Wine Cellar's forklift truck - the one that is cleverly useful for changing lots of snow tires all at once, so long as the winery's pickup truck is not already stuck in a snowdrift 30 miles up some dirt road in the hills.

But the real reason I'm nervous is Allan phoned me a little while ago and told me 47 things I didn't know about starting a winery from scratch. It isn't exactly like getting a computer and some borrowed shareware, and becoming an Internet start-up czar.

For example, there were two wine shops in Kennewick and Allan was worried about which one would get to sell Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc without offending the other. He needn't have bothered because one of them went out of business suddenly, and the new one snatched a couple of six-packs out of Allan's hands when he passed by to say 'hello' one day last week.

The first official sales date was last Friday, 1. November. But the shop with the wine stuck a sign out in front of their shop on Thursday - Halloween - the 31st of October! - with 'Café Metropole' written all over it.

It's like they were so enthusiastic that they launched the ship a day early without smashing a bottle of champagne against its hull to wish it 'good luck.'

I haven't studied the 'lore' department of the sparkling wine business enough to know if it is bad luck not tophoto: cafe metropole bottles whack the cork off a ceremonial bottle with a sabre, or first drive a red Formula One racing car around the winery 52 times before hitting the neck of the bottle with a blade and squirting the winemaker with a whole bottle of his own bubbly.

On top of it, I forgot to ask Allan these crucial questions. On the plus side, he has provided more insights to the intricate processes one must go through to produce a truly fine sparkling wine.

For example, 'The Shed's' wood stove had never been used before and the 'cold snap' Allan writes about below provided an excuse for him to read the user manual, toss some kindling in it, light it, and get to enjoy the fact that it worked the first time without any worried calls to a customer support telephone robot in Ireland.

What This Is About

The Metropole Paris issue of two weeks ago introduced the new Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine here for almost the first time in world history. It make a brief appearance in a prototype form last December in New York, but it 'came out' officially two weeks ago.

Take a look at the first week's initial announcement. This was followed up in last week's issue with some fascinating details about the winery itself, which is so new that it has no true 'lore.' Eventually I'll quit asking you to do this and gather all of the standard info together for a new 'About' page.

This Issue's New Wine News
Moonlightô and Café Metropoleô
by Allan Pangborn

Kennewick:- Wednesday, October 30th set a new record low in this area of eight degrees Fahrenheit or minus 13 degrees Celsius. Needless to say this stopped the grape harvest in its tracks.

The leaves fell off the vines almost overnight. A local winery had some Cabernet Sauvignon grapes still hanging and brought them to the crusher the next day. The clusters were frozen and promptly froze the pump that was moving them into a fermenting tank. Heat was applied to the pump and hoses and the crush continued.

Any Riesling grapes left for late harvest style wines have hit the jackpot. The cold concentrates the sugars and there will be some excellent wines from this year. 'Ice wine' can only be made from grapes that are frozen, so be on the look out for the 2002 vintage.

News from 'The Shed'

The wood stove at the Moonlight Cellar was fired up to keep the working conditions tolerable. With thephoto: allan's grapes 'cold snap,' keeping my hands in my pockets no longer does the trick. Labeling of the disgorged bottles will be this weeks' activity. This isn't too strenuous so the stove will be handy.

Closeup of real Moonlight grapes, not really for use with Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc.

Our grapes for sparkling wine were harvested in September and have now completed the first fermentation. The racking, fining, centrifugation, filtering, cold stabilizing, and blending have yet to be done before the wine can be bottled for the second fermentation, which will give the wine it's sparkle.

Then the bottles will be aged on their sides until the yeasts have imparted their flavor to the wine, and have died. The bottles will be turned necks down and the riddling process begins. Riddling moves the yeast sediment to the neck of the bottle. When the riddling is complete, disgorging or removal of the sediment occurs.

About three inches of the neck of the bottle is immersed in a minus-ten degree Fahrenheit solution of propylene glycol and water and it freezes into a plug combining wine and sediment.

The bottle, which has been sealed with a simple crown cap, is opened and the plug blows out. A dosage of sugar water and other ingredients is added and the permanent cork is inserted and wired down.

This is just a brief outline of the steps involved in making champagne or sparkling wine. The process takes two to five or more years, from grapes on the vine to a bottle of sparkling wine that is ready to drink.

Café Metropoleô

If you intend to visit 'The Shed,' 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 seven of them!

Ordering and Shipping

Café Metropoleô Sparkling Wine is available now to the residents of the following States:

California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

There are two packages available:

Two 750 ml bottles for $52.00

Six 750 ml bottles for $136.00

The price includes packaging, handling and shipping costs. Shipment will be by UPS '3-day Select' and an adult signature is required for delivery.

Overnight or two-day shipment is an option. The shipping charge will be slightly more, so email your order to and include your ZIP Code so I can tell you the actual cost.

Terms: Payment by check or money order, to 'Cafe Metropole' is acceptable. It should be mailed to :

Café Metropole, 4704 West 12th Avenue, Kennewick, WA 99338

As the winery is just beginning operations, we do not yet have the means to process credit cards. We will bephoto: cafe metropole label adding this service in the near future. Until then, we will appreciate your use of a check or money order.

Thank you.

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.

Photos © Allan Pangborn
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