Match Makers: Drumheller’s young chef wears founder’s vision on her sleeve

March 29, 2019 

  • Drumheller’s Food & Drink

    The Lodge at Columbia Point
    530 Columbia Point Drive
    Richland, WA 99352

    (509) 713-7423

    lodgeatcolumbiapoint.com .

Pauline Garza, a young wine-country culinary star in the Columbia Valley, looks down at the sky blue bracelet on her right wrist for words of inspiration when she’s in the kitchen of The Lodge at Columbia Point.

“WWTD — What Would Tom Do?” pays tribute to the late Tom Drumheller, a beloved figure in the Pacific Northwest hospitality industry. Employees throughout his Escape Lodging Co. refer to the color as “Drumheller Blue.”

“I consider it part of my uniform, so I don't go a day without it at work,” Garza said. “And I've worn it every day since Tom's passing.”

Coffee mugs in his boutique luxury lodge, spa, restaurant and wine bar near the Columbia River are emblazoned with “It will be fun!” — another Drumheller catchphrase that’s on the back of the wristband and continues to resonate with employees. A photograph of him hangs just inside the door to Drumheller’s Food & Drink, a restaurant the Walla Walla native sadly didn’t live long enough to see Garza open.

“The Lodge is something the Tri-Cities has needed for such a long time,” Garza says with pride. “To be able to collaborate with our wine partners, bring them into the property and show guests what they are doing — and what we’re doing — is such a beautiful thing. And to honor Tom Drumheller in such a way is pretty great.”

A native of Othello, Wash., Garza, 25, bubbles with charisma as she embraces and appreciates the acclaim and responsibility that comes with being the founding executive chef and food and beverage manager at Drumheller’s. The spotlight is significant because The Lodge at Columbia Point and its 82 rooms serve as a stage for 82 Washington wineries.

A year ago, the incomparable Kat Dykes, one of the most savvy folks in the Columbia Valley wine trade, joined Garza’s team.

“Each of the rooms is named after a winery, and a lot of these wineries were very good friends with Tom, our visionary,” Dykes said. “The wineries love it because they have a place to send their guests, and we have an arrangement with the wineries where we give their club members a discount on their rooms.”

When a guest brings a bottle of Washington wine to be opened at Drumheller’s, they are not charged corkage. And there’s an expectation that three times a year each of those 82 wineries will come to pour for guests at The Lodge.

“There are so many wineries that see the benefit and want to be a part of this program that we are going to open it up,” Dykes said.

This winter, The Lodge launched a series of Thursday afternoon pop-up tastings. Dykes taps into her longtime ties with KVEW-TV to promote each tasting the night before with the “Wine Wednesday” interview of that winemaker by reporter Kristin Walls.

“These are winemakers who may not have a tasting room and want to get their wines in front of people,” Dykes said. “They pour three of their wines to our guests and the public, and there is the opportunity for people to purchase those wines.”

Alumni of that series include Seth Kitzke of Upsidedown Wine, Jessica Munnell of Wautoma Wines and Joshua Maloney of Maloney Wine.

“We’re already booked through the end of May,” Dykes said.

Drumheller’s offers second-story views of the Richland Yacht Club and the Columbia River with its 15 tables. At this point, it is open for dinner only each night from 5 to 10 p.m. Downstairs, Garza serves the 25 seats in the Vine & Craft Bar from 4 to 10 p.m. daily.

A few weeks before The Lodge opened, Garza, the first graduate of the hospitality program at Washington State University’s campus in Richland, was approached by Drumheller. He was part of the inaugural induction class into the WSU Carson College of Business Hall of Fame.

“He told me about The Lodge and his plans, and said, ‘We’ll eventually open a restaurant, so why don’t you come and start by doing breakfast for our guests?’ ” Garza remembers. “I was a little hesitant because I hadn’t considered being a hotel chef.”

Drumheller, with his hotels and restaurants in Cannon Beach, Ore., had a way of charming people while inspiring them.

He also knew potential when saw it, which included the uncut gem that was Columbia Point, a parcel of land near the confluence of the Columbia and Yakima rivers. In 2006, he floated his concept for a luxury hotel, only to see the Great Recession delay his plans for nearly decade as he recruited financial partners. Construction then spanned nearly two full years.

Alas, just three weeks after his diagnosis, colon cancer claimed Drumheller on Sept. 17, 2017. It was a month after his 64th birthday and days after the ribbon-cutting, both of which he got to celebrate at The Lodge. News of his passing sent a shockwave throughout the Northwest hospitality industry. Within months, family and friends established the Tom Drumheller Memorial Scholarship at WSU for students majoring in wine and beverage business management or hospitality business management.

On June 12, 2018, Garza opened Drumheller’s Food & Drink, topping a résumé that’s impressive for a recent college graduate.

“Honestly, as cheesy as it might sound, I’ve never wanted to do anything else,” she said. “My chores were to cook and clean the kitchen. I’m pretty sure that by the age of 10 that I had kicked my mom out of the kitchen. Everything about food and being around the table enjoying each other’s company, I’ve always been in love with that.”

An early turning point in Garza’s culinary career began when she made a cold call to Emeril Lagasse's Table 10 at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas. The junior at Othello High School, in Vegas with her family, asked to a job shadow. Those three days with chef de cuisine Diana Davey proved life-changing.

“That’s when I knew I wanted to do this restaurant thing,” Garza said. “A high school girl who loved restaurants and wanted to become a chef. It was an amazing experience, and I still talk to Diana.”

Garza put herself through the WSU Tri-Cities business program by working at area restaurants starting with Twigs Bistro & Martini Bar in Kennewick.

“I was there as an 18-year-old line cook — and the only female in the kitchen surrounded by men in their 30s,” she said.

She then gained experience at LU LU Craft Bar + Kitchen and 3 Eyed Fish Wine Bar, two Richland restaurants owned by Cindy Goulet, also a product of WSU’s hospitality program.

“I would say Pauly is fearless, driven and hardworking,” Goulet noted with a reference to Garza’s nickname.

Prior to graduation, WSU invited Garza for continuing education in Italy at Apicius International School of Hospitality within the Florence University of the Arts. As one of the top students, she was selected to join the team from Italy to prepare four meals over several days at the iconic James Beard House in New York City.

“It was any cook’s dream,” she beams. “It was amazing 10 days showcasing the flavors of Tuscany.”

Guests won’t find her mother’s famous conchitas, but one of Garza’s all-time favorite dishes will show up on the menu when it’s in season - Asparagus Risotto.

“I can rewrite the menu daily,” she said. “I am Pacific-Northwest driven, but you will see some of the Spanish spices come through and the Italian techniques for things such as pasta or the fresh focaccia every night in Drumheller’s. And you will get chimichurri to dip your focaccia in.”

When she was growing up in Othello, Garza would either have The Food Network on in the background or she’d sing when in the kitchen. Her range runs from Etta James to Beyonce to gospel.

“I’m always, always, always singing in the kitchen,” she laughs heartily. “Sometimes, I surprise people — or sometimes people will say, ‘Hey, Chef, shut up!’

For Dykes, her gateway into wine came 21 years ago in the Tri-Cities through a wine shop called Wine Works.

“I was in radio at the time, and the group has a local news radio program,” she said. “So I started a series called, ‘Meet Your Maker’ — don’t I wish that I had trademarked that one! We would bring in a local winemaker, do an interview with them, and then have them over at Wine Works doing the wine. The first one I did was Gordy Venneri at Walla Walla Vintners. That was when they had just one wine — the cuvée. It sold out the next week. We were doing that show just once a month, but it just snowballed from there.”

In time, she worked at KVEW-TV and then to work for the Hogue family at their Prosser winery, where Wade Wolfe, one of the deans of Washington wine, hired her. Since then, she’s been a wine buyer for a grocery store and a wine steward in a restaurant. All of that experience and knowledge comes pouring out of Dykes in The Lodge at Columbia Point.

“You have to listen to your guests and what they are wanting, and there is definitely a trend around the blends,” she said. “I think there is life beyond Chardonnay now. I’m able to introduce them to things like Carménère and Mourvèdre, and they are gaining great popularity. Lucky for me that I’ve got great contacts, and some of these new kids on the block are just blowing my mind.”

Several have earned placement on Dykes’s list, including Kitzke’s Upsidedown Wines and Kyle Welch with Longship Cellars. These young winemakers are both based in Richland, with Longship just a 10-minute walk upstream along the Columbia River.

Dykes, 69, brings the enthusiasm of a 29-year-old and has helped Garza embrace her role as chef.

“She hooks me up with the best wine!” Garza said. “My knowledge has just expanded, and she’s so fun to be around. She’s just as passionate about wine as I am about what I’m doing in the restaurant, and she tells it like it is.”

It seems to come naturally to Dykes, who grew up in SoCal’s San Fernando Valley.

“In the wine business, it doesn’t matter your age. That’s why I’m still here after all these years of doing this,” Dykes chuckled. “In some ways, it’s a plus because you’ve seen the changes and tasted the changes. One of my favorite varieties is Carménère. Years ago, I worked with Mark Colvin of Colvin Vineyards in Walla Walla who was the first one to bring in Carménère, and now you see more people playing with it.”

Even on her days off, there’s a chance to find Dykes at a pouring around the Tri-Cities.

“I’m going to stay in this forever because I’ve got to keep that wine discount going,” Dykes chuckled. “I love food. I love wine, and I love the people associated with both.”

The house wine at The Lodge at Columbia Point is none other than Drumheller, the young Ste. Michelle Wine Estates brand named for the Drumheller Channels National Natural Landmark, an Ice Age floods feature less than 15 miles northwest of Garza’s hometown.

For this Match Maker, however, we selected wines by a pair of young Richland winemakers who are on the Dykes wine list.

Kitzke’s Upsidedown Wine 2014 GSM from the Columbia Valley made for a remarkable pairing with one of Garza’s signature dishes — her Five Spice Seared Duck Breast and Brussel Sprouts. The garnish of pickled huckleberry and the richness of the pork jowl demi-glace brought out the vibrant red fruit notes in the GSM.

“Combined with the spices, the wine just exploded,” Garza said.

Dykes said, “I can’t remember the last time I walked into a restaurant in the Tri-Cities and saw duck on the menu. Pauline is classic, but she very creative. She’s always got a risotto on the menu, and hers is the best risotto I’ve ever had. Her menu is small; it’s always fresh and it’s always changing.”

And Garza got to use her buzz-worthy Pacojet machine to create a Syrah Rosé Sorbet with the stunning Longship Cellars 2017 Rosé. It’s the first time in the 20-year history of the Match Maker series for a chef to present a sorbet. And Garza “Pacotizes” strawberries with the rosé.

“I have fun incorporating wine and food all the time, and I’m such a geek about the Pacojet,” she said. “It is the greatest invention, I think, particularly for my very small kitchen, so I have to be careful about any machinery that I bring in. It’s about the size of a coffee maker on your counter, and it is beautiful. It does so many things for me — ice cream, sorbets, compound butter, soups.

“Sorbet is so great,” she added. “It’s a nice sweet ending and yet still delicate after you eat all my food. You never leave hungry in Drumheller’s, I promise you that! I want you to love my food, create a memorable experience around the dining table and, I hope, will come back.”

Wine:

Upsidedown Wine 2014 Gold Drop GSM, Columbia Valley • $35
— 200 cases, 14.1% alcohol

Richland’s Seth Kitzke launched his Upsidedown Wine project in 2013, but he only recently took over the winemaking for his parents’ Kitzke Cellars on Candy Mountain overlooking the Tri-Cities.

“The Kitzke brand will always stay family-owned and operated - and hopefully family-made forever, too, you know?” he added with a chuckle. “That’s up to me there, right?”

He’s got massive shoes to fill replacing Charlie Hoppes, one of Washington’s most respected winemakers and known simply as “Wine Boss.” Kitzke has been well-trained, however. In addition to learning from Hoppes, Kitzke is a product of the Northwest Wine Academy at South Seattle College. He worked the crush of 2014 at K Vintners learning from Brennon Leighton, gleaning marketing concepts from maverick Charles Smith. Kitzke also spent time in Woodinville with Brian Carter, a master crafter of blended wines.

In five fast years, Kitzke and his wife, Audrey, have turned Upsidedown Wine into a 2,000-case brand, about twice the size of the eponymous family brand. And the youngsters who met at Central Washington University are making the distinction clear. While they pull grapes from the two Kitzke vineyards and others in Washington’s Columbia Valley, Upsidedown wines are poured more than two hours away at their tasting room in downtown Hood River, Ore.

“It’s a good fit because down there you just get a lot of people making their own wines,” he said. “There are tons of differential varietals, and native fermented stuff, so people are a bit more experimental, too.”

Kitzke Cellars debuted with the 2005 vintage and a focus on Bordeaux varieties. Upsidedown gets much of its inspiration from the Rhône Valley in France. In fact, the first Upsidedown wine was a GSM, the traditional Rhône-style blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre..

“We wanted to do something that was split off from Kitzke and focus Kitzke Cellars more on Candy Mountain because our Dead Poplar Vineyard is on the other side of Red Mountain,” he said.

For Upsidedown, he pulls heavily from Mike Andrews’ Coyote Canyon Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills and follows viticulturists Damon Lalonde to Red Heaven on Red Mountain and Ryan Johnson up to WeatherEye Vineyard, the fascinating planting atop Red Mountain.

This 2014 Gold Drop GSM signals the final vintage that Hoppes worked with Seth on the Upsidedown wines. Starting in 2015, Seth was on his own. A year later, he took over Kitzke Cellars, too. After all, Seth grew up working in his parents’ 150 acres of orchards and vineyards he helped plant.

“The GSMs are just my favorite wines,” he said. “My dad, a fruit farmer, was always wanting to plant different varietals, so when he planted Grenache and Mourvèdre, there wasn’t really that much being grown. I’m really glad he did because that’s the majority of that vineyard. People are planting more, having figured out how well it does in Washington.”

At the dining table, Duck Confit is the first thing that comes to Seth’s mind.

“Anything gamy,” he said. “Ours has 33 percent Mourvèdre, so it has some good spicy components. And our Grenache is a little bit lighter. You can have Grenache in the summertime and you can have it in the winter.”

And he keeps the oak influence for his GSM way in the background. “It’s all neutral just to showcase the terroir and the fruit,” he said.

The back of the bottle reads “Upsidedown Wine X Kitzke Vineyards,” which encompasses Dead Poplar, which his parents established in 2004 near the community of Kiona. That site butts up against the northern edge of the Horse Heaven Hills, making it a somewhat shaded site.

Also on the black back label, in big white letters, reads “GIVE BACK.” In the case of the GSM, 21 percent of the proceeds are donated to the A21 Campaign, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting human trafficking.

“With our brand, we wanted to work with nonprofits,” he said. “Each of our wines goes to benefit a different cause.”

Upsidedown’s flagship wine is a Nebbiolo rosé dubbed “Rescue.” Their vineyard dog, Turk, is living proof.

Recipe:

Five Spice Seared Duck Breast

Ingredients

2 duck breasts, scored
4 tablespoons Five Spice seasoning
2 tablespoons pickled huckleberry
4 ounces red wine veal demi sauce
10 Brussels sprouts, blanched and cut in half
1 tablespoon sautéed shallot
Kosher salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

Method

1. Score each duck breast and season skin side only with Five Spice seasoning

2. Place a sauté pan on high heat with canola oil, place duck skin-side down and sear to a crispy skin.

3. Finish cooking duck to medium rare in oven at 400 degrees for about 7 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a sauté pan on high heat with canola oil, sauté brussels sprouts, shallots, salt and pepper until Brussels sprouts are a little charred.

To plate

1. Place red wine demi veal in the center of the plate, slice duck at a bias and place directly on top of sauce.

2. Garnish duck with pickled huckleberries and seasonal microgreens.

3. Place brussels sprouts on the side of the duck and serve.

Wine:

Longship Cellars 2017 Wild Harvest Rosé, Wahluke Slope • $22
— 255 cases, 13% alcohol

Kyle Welch christened Longship Cellars during the 2013 vintage with five barrels of Syrah and five barrels of Tempranillo, the Spanish red that’s his flagship variety for several reasons.

“I had an internship in France, and we would take a bus down to Rioja every so often,” he said. “What we have on the store shelf here vs. what you try in Rioja are two very different things quality-wise. In Washington, we make a pretty solid Tempranillo. It grows really well here.”

However, Welch favors Syrah for his rosé, starting with the ability to create the hot pink color that he desires. His first expression emerged from the 2016 vintage with an experimental ton from a small grower in the Yakima Valley. In December of that year, he, his wife Cassie, and his parents opened their tasting room at The Bradley near Howard Amon Park in Richland.

In three vintages, Longship has grown into a 3,000-case brand, in part because of the thirst for rosé.

“In 2017, we went in-all, including a 36-hour maceration to get that really nice color and little bit of concentration of fruit,” he said. “We like a darker rosé, so that’s the direction we’re going in.”

For this spring’s release of his 2018, Welch took his rosé down the GSM path with 60 percent Syrah joined by equal parts of Grenache and Mourvèdre.

“Like Tempranillo, Syrah also is kind of an early ripener,” he said.

This Match Maker spotlights the Longship 2017 Rosé. Even though the front label doesn’t define it, this pink is 100 percent Syrah off Milbrandt-owned Northridge Vineyard, a caliche-influenced site at 1,200 feet elevation on the Wahluke Slope. The lot was hand-picked Sept. 1, then sorted by hand and crushed into small bins, then spent a day and a half on the skins at 55 degrees. Welch removed the free-run juice, pressed the skins, then blended that back with the free-run. At this point, he relied on an indigenous yeast for a ferment of 18 days at 60 degrees. It spent five months in stainless steel — no oak — before bottling. It is charming and vibrant at just 0.3 percent residual sugar.

“It’s so fruity that it gives people the perception of sweetness, but it is bone-dry,” he said.

Back in 2016, Welch pointed to Victor Palencia’s 2015 rosé under the Vino La Monarcha brand as inspiration.

“On the shelf, it really pops next to all the other rosés, so I wanted to try that,” he said.

However, Welch admits to feeling pressure to shy away from pink toward the light salmon color reminiscent of those from Provence.

“There are trends that you have to look at and take seriously, and it seems as though the trend is to make rosé as light as possible,” Welch said. “With the GSM style, we’re going to see what the response is. We tried to keep the mouth feel and the flavor the same, but just lighten it up a bit. We did a 12-hour maceration with the Syrah last year, compared with 36 hours in 2017. It’s quite different.”

However, those who prefer the color and approach of this 2017 rosé can visit Tap and Barrel in Richland this spring.

“It’s 100 percent Syrah and a longer maceration,” Welch said. “If you like that style, you can find it there. We’re still small enough that we can play around a bit and not upset anybody.”

Longship Cellars, 404 Bradley Blvd., Suite 100, Richland, WA 99352, (509) 713-7676, longshipcellars.com.

Recipe:

Rosé Sorbet

Ingredients

2 bottles, Longship Cellars 2017 Wild Harvest Rosé
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 pints strawberry purée (blended strawberries)

Method

(This recipe is made using the PacoJet, a professional-grade micro-purée machine.

1. Place wine in a sauce pot over high heat. Reduce about half way.

2. Add strawberry purée, sugar and water.

3. Cook for about 5 minutes.

4. Taste for sweetness.

5. Pour mixture into one-pint beakers and store in refrigerator uncovered until cool.

6. Place beakers in freezer for 24 hours with the appropriate lid.

7. When ready to serve, Pacotize the sorbet according to the unit's instructions.

ERIC DEGERMAN is co-founder and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.

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