Little did Ken and Virginia Bloom know when they sat around the dining room table with four friends and about 40 empty wine glasses, that an evening of sampling potential blends would create a Double Gold winner at the nation’s largest wine judging event — the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
With the help of Karen and Jim Carbone and Claudia and Jim Cox, the Freeland winery owners sampled a dozen variations of the blend of Malbec, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Eastern Washington. Keeping meticulous records of what percentages were mixed, then sampling and individually commenting on what was better or worse than other combinations, Blooms Winery on Whidbey created a wine named “Poetry.” The final blend was 40 percent Malbec, 40 percent Syrah and 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon.
At the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition more than 5,000 wines are submitted from 23 states. About half win an award; less than 10 percent win gold, and a small fraction win “Double Gold.” In fact, in Washington State, only 18 wines won Double Gold. Wines are tasted blind, and all the judges who tasted “Poetry” unanimously agreed that it deserved Double Gold status.
Blooms Winery on Whidbey also submitted two other wines, a white Bordeaux blend called “Calla,” which won a silver medal, and the Bloom Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (grown on the family vineyards in Mendocino County, Calif.), which also won silver.
This is not the first time Blooms Winery on Whidbey has won awards.
In fact, the Bloom Vineyards Cabernet has twice won silver and one bronze at the Mendocino County Wine Competition.
The recent Seattle Wine Awards presented Blooms Winery with a silver Medal for their Whidbey White blend and a bronze for the Calla. The Northwest Wine Summit awarded two bronze medals the previous year, one to the Semillon and one to the Calla. They also won best of show at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup for Ambrosia, a popular sweet rhubarb wine, as well as many awards throughout the state under amateur status prior to becoming a commercial winery.
After the family helped brother Jim Bloom plant his vineyard in Mendocino County, Whidbey Island resident Ken Bloom decided to make some wine out of the “family rows.”
The first harvest was in 1998, and Ken Bloom has continued to make wine each year since. In 2003, the Blooms decided to get licensed and get more serious about wine making. They started Blooms Winery on Whidbey and allowed it to grow slowly as they gained confidence in their abilities. Taking classes, attending seminars and learning from other professional wine makers, they began experimenting with varieties and blends, and continue to do so today.
In 2009, Blooms Winery on Whidbey, Spoiled Dog Winery and Ott & Murphy Wines opened a joint tasting room at Bayview Corner’s Cash Store called Taste for Wine. Now, just the two wineries — Blooms and Spoiled Dog — share the space, but it has become quite a popular spot for locals to bring visitors or to stop in for a taste.
Expansion plans are underway for the tasting room, with cheese plates and other simple nibbles to be added, along with shows of wine-themed art.