Wine Writer Says Goodbye To Wine, Hello To Circus

Inspired by those she's interviewed, Willow Foster found her dream and is heading off to chase it down.

I’m running off to join the circus. Well, not just yet; I’ve only started taking classes, and Seattle has a hopping circus arts scene so I won’t have to run far, but I have embarked on a new journey and this is my final column as Woodinville Patch’s wine writer.

For the last four months I’ve been writing about Woodinville’s wine industry and during that time I’ve met several people who are undeniably pursuing their passion. I’ve heard about hobbies that became consuming enough to require getting business licenses and signing commercial leases.

More than one winemaker described, without complaint, the hours-long journey from this side of the Cascades to the vineyards in Eastern Washington to check in on the grapes, a trip made multiple times a week for weeks on end. I saw the way my interviewees opened up and spoke excitedly once the questions turned to making wine.

And after every interview I walked away completely high on the energy given off by these individuals who have found a way to follow their bliss.

If I’m being honest, I have to admit that I also felt envious after these encounters. I wanted that passion-fueled pursuit of a singular goal for myself. I’ve tried my hand at many things over the years and while I have gained a large skill set as a result (I can cook, bake, plan events, sew, sculpt, needle felt, knit, crochet, make jewelry, paint murals and write), none of these abilities “do it” for me. True, they come in incredibly handy at gift-giving times, but I’d be just as happy never doing any of them again.

So I began wondering if I needed to learn how to make wine. The process seemed daunting given what I’ve learned during my time spent on this column, but if this many people were deriving so much joy out of the activity, how could I not think about trying it for myself? Surely, I thought, they know something about the magic of making wine that overrides the massive undertaking it is.

It never came to that. Instead, a Girls’ Night Out trapeze class at the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA) in May became a life-changing evening for me.

My fear of wobbly ladders vanished as I ascended the tallest, wobbliest ladder I’ve ever set hand and foot on. My apprehension of heights didn’t enter the picture as I maneuvered around the coaches and the hand rail on the platform to take my position at the edge. My distrust of people hanging onto the back of my clothes saying, “Lean forward over the edge, I’ve got you and won’t let go until you’re ready,” was fleeting, and I willingly followed their directions. After a final rundown of the instructions, I had both hands on the trapeze bar and was ready for my first flight. At the sound of the coach’s, “Ready, hup!” I stepped off and experienced the greatest 30-second thrill of my life.

I had only three turns on the trapeze yet I was able to keep my husband up from the time we went to bed that evening until the wee hours of the morning talking about it. I couldn’t shut up because I knew without a doubt I had found my passion.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this column as much as I have enjoyed writing it. It has been a pleasure to introduce you to a few of Woodinville’s wineries and tasting rooms and to shed some light on industry topics like and . And while I am handing this column over, I’m not completely leaving Woodinville Patch. You’ll still be able to find me here, blogging about my experience as I pursue my dream, and I invite you to follow along.



Here’s Woodinville Patch’s Guide to this week’s events, July 1 – July 7 

Special Events

Friday, July 1

  • , 12280 NE Woodinville Dr, invites you to the first in its summer series of family style Demo Dinners with Chef George Stevenson and Winemaker Mark Newton in the tasting room at 7 p.m. Hone your slicing and dicing abilities with this Knife Skills and Techniques dinner. Tickets cost $45 plus tax and include a glass of wine. Call (425) 487-1648 or fill out the online registration form to sign up.
  • , 16116 140th Pl NE, is kicking off Independence Day weekend with a Summer BBQ featuring Chef Bobby Moore of Barking Frog Restaurant and live music by local band Penthaus Sweet from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Your $35 ticket gets you a gourmet barbeque meal and a glass of Matthews wine. Space is limited, reserve your spot online.

Thursday, July 7

  • , 14450 Woodinville-Redmond Rd, is partnering with Corks and Canvas Events to bring you an evening of painting and wine from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. All you have to do is show up and follow directions and at the end of the evening you’ll have created your own masterpiece. Tickets cost $45 and you can register online or pay with cash or credit card at the door.

Coming Soon

  • Winemaster (and Brewmaster) Festival of Washington at the Red Hook Brewery grounds, 14300 NE 145th St, takes place on July 27 from 5 – 9 p.m. Tickets cost $49 and are on sale now. In addition to cheering on your favorite winemakers and brewmasters as they compete in the Winemaker Olympics, you’ll enjoy food from favorite gourmet food trucks and live music. This event raises funds for Heartbeat, serving wounded warriors. 

Tasting Room Happenings

Month Long

  • Brian Carter Cellars is extending its hours in July. Bring a picnic, an appreciation of patio dining and scenic views on Fridays and Saturdays, noon – 8 p.m. Stop by during normal hours Sunday – Thursday, noon – 5 p.m.

Saturday, July 2

  • , 14450 Woodinville-Redmond Road, Suite 109, is featuring live music by Randall Jex at 2 p.m.
  • , 15007 Woodinville-Redmond Road #100, is hosting a Glass Show featuring the art of the University of Washington’s School of Fine Arts recently graduated seniors from 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. The hand blown glass vessels will be available for purchase during the tasting room hours of noon – 5 p.m. as well as during the show. RSVP online or by calling (425) 298-3082.

Wednesday, July 6

  • , 14030 NE 145th St, invites you to battle the mid-week slump with half-priced flatbread pizza and wine by the glass in the tasting room from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. No reservations necessary.
  • , 14710 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE, is keeping the tasting room open until 8 p.m. during the summer for its weekly Wednesday Wine’d Down. Enjoy wine specials, pizzas and tapas, live music and bocce ball. 
  • , 15608 NE Woodinville Duvall Pl, hosts its weekly Wine Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. This week marks the return of Gorman Winery, which will be pouring one white and four reds. Enjoy these samples with a selection of classic Italianissimo appetizers for $15. 
Tony Bussert July 01, 2011 at 05:03 PM
I am jealous! Good for you for following your passion. I almost went to Clown College in Christchurch Australia when I was in regular college, but was talked out of it. Maybe it's time I start thinking about that again.
Willow Foster July 01, 2011 at 05:19 PM
Tony, I have a bookmark that reminds me it's never too late to be what you might have been. I say go for it! SANCA has grown to become the largest circus school in the U.S. and for good reason. So, assuming you're local, it's well worth looking into - they have an open house coming up on Saturday, July 9, from 1 - 5p.m. to tour the expanding space, see classes in action and try your hand at walking the tight wire and juggling.
Karin Hsiao July 01, 2011 at 11:22 PM
Wow, Willow! Congratulations on finding, and following, your passion. I look forward to reading your blog on Patch!
Malia Kawaguchi July 02, 2011 at 12:43 AM
Congrats, Willow! We'll all follow your journey with joy.
Willow Foster July 02, 2011 at 02:15 AM
Hmm, looks like my initial reply didn't "stick"? In any event, I wanted to let you know, Tony, that SANCA is hosting an open house on Saturday, July 9, from 1 - 5 p.m. where you'll be able to tour the expansion space, see classes in action and even give tight wire walking and juggling a go. As someone who always thought time was of the essence, I find comfort in the George Eliot quote, "It's never too late to be what you might have been." I say go for it!!


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