El Corazon Winery offers Tiger's Blood

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What does a Walla Walla winery have in common with Charlie Sheen? Apparently they both have tiger's blood.

But in the case of El Corazon Winery, which operates a tasting room at 37 S. Palouse St., it comes in the form of a bottled Carmenere named after winemaker and owner Spencer Siever's son, Tiger.

Sievers said visitors to the tasting room have gotten a kick out of drinking the same juice as Sheen -- at least in name.

Carmenere is a unique varietal that originated in the Bordeaux region of France. Introduced in South America in the 1800s, the grape eventually fell out of favor in France and is reportedly produced in small quantities outside of South America, according to descriptions found online.

Sievers said he gets a little over a ton of the grapes from Seven Hills each year. That's enough for about 100 cases of wine. Most of that is accounted for before it's ever bottled. So sales haven't exactly spiked since Sheen's February interview, when he mentioned having tiger blood and Adonis DNA.

In fact, Sievers quipped, the word to the wise on anyone leaving the tasting room and feeling like stirring up a little trouble: Don't tell anyone it might be because of the Tiger's Blood.

The biggest of the area's big screens -- the M-F Drive In -- opens for the season April 1, according to the latest update on the operation's Facebook page.

The kickoff to drive-in movie season opens with "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1)" and "Yogi Bear."

Movies at the drive-in, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, begin at dusk. The cost is $6 for adults; $1 for kids 6-12 and free for children 5 and younger.

Longtime Walla Walla chef, teacher and farmer Greg Schnorr is the new head of the kitchen and catering at Fat Duck Inn.

Schnorr is taking the helm of food operations at the Walla Walla bed-and-breakfast, 527 Catherine St., while Charles Maddrey, the original chef and co-owner, takes a hiatus to spend time with his son.

A graduate of the Colorado Institute of Art in Denver, Schnorr is a familiar face in Walla Walla's foodie scene. His work at local restaurants -- former pastry chef at the Whitehouse-Crawford, and former head chef at Creektown Cafe -- marked a return to the area. Schnorr had previously studied at Whitman College.

According to his biography, he earned his baking and pastry degree from the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, Calif. His culinary career began in 1990, when he toured Alaska working for the Mount McKinley Explorer Luxury Rail. While in Colorado, he worked for Wolfgang Puck. He then finished his education as pastry chef at Bistro Jeanty.

In addition to his culinary ventures in Walla Walla, Schnorr is also an active organic farmer who raises pasture-fed pork under his SCHN??RG?µN?¥FF label.

The children who competed in a contest to design L'Ecole No 41's colorful label nearly three decades ago are all grown up. And now, the label is, too.

Owners of the Lowden winery have transformed the look on their bottles to better reflect the quality of the wines in the national marketplace.

An oil painting from a 1915 photo taken of the schoolhouse building where the winery operates serves as the foundation for the new label. It will appear on all wines by the end of the summer, according to a news release. The new package will appear in the marketplace in May, the release said.

Three versions of the new label are expected: a black label to designate wines from grapes in the Columbia Valley; a white label indicating wines made from Walla Walla Valley grapes; and a more upscale version of the white label for L'Ecole's high-end red blends, Perigee and Apogee.

The original child's drawing label has a rich history not only for the winery but also for the family. L'Ecole founders Baker and Jean Ferguson held a contest among children in their extended family for the design. The winner was Ryan Campbell, who was 8 at the time but has since grown up and become an architect.

Marty Clubb, the Fergusons' son-in-law and now owner and winemaker, told the Herald growth outside the Northwest triggered the change. L'Ecole started as a Northwest winery and now sells in 50 states and 20 countries. Labels with the same color and whimsy in the marketplace tend to be most prevalent on lower tier wines under $20 a bottle. "As the Washington wine industry has matured, so has L'Ecole," Clubb said.

"Our redesigned label reflects the extensive experience and knowledge we have gained since the winery was founded nearly three decades ago."

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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