SEATTLE — Greek myths sometimes work to explain mundane events, and as I was sipping my way through a handful of lovely but distinctively different local wines, I thought of Sisyphus.
He was a king whose punishment was to push a huge boulder up a hill, which would then fall back down and he had to start all over again.
The local wines were from the Puget Sound area of Washington, and the passion I witnessed from some of the wine makes here was as enthusiastic as any I have seen.
Problem was, the wines of this region are distinctively different, and not as much mainstream as they are interesting.
And thus my thoughts of the tireless quest to get people to try them.
What is made here is dramatic testament to hard work in both vineyards and wineries, and the wines themselves can be utterly fascinating. Aromas are of fresh fruit and superb varietal character, and the flavors are up-front and paired with superb acid levels, so most of the wines work nicely with food.
The main problem is that many of the wines are from grapes few people outside this region have ever heard of -- wines called Madeline Angevine, Siegerrebe, M?ller-Thurgau, and others. There are a few other more traditional wines, but many have a unique regional flavor.
One chore facing these hardy people stems from the fact that many reside on islands unconnected to other nearby islands.
And thus sharing ideas relating to this region isn't as easy as it might be if they were only a short drive away.
Puget Sound, though a legitimate American Viticultural Appellation, remains one of the least known wine-growing regions in the country.
Most of the wines here are sold at the winery tasting rooms or at local venues, and mainly to those intrepid souls who appreciate the distinctive flavors and good acid levels in these fascinating wines.
The local wineries are encouraged by recent publicity and social consciousness for the locavore movement, in which eating and drinking local products is a growing concept.
Still, I love the wines from this region and wish I didn't have to go to Seattle to find them.
A widely available brand of wines, recently released by the Wine Group in northern California, is the humorously named flipflop, a line of wines all selling for $7 a bottle and with two talented wine makers at the helm.
Wine maker David Georges and chief project director Adam Richardson have developed the wines to hit a style and price point that appeals to a wide range of consumers seeking soft, approachable wines from major varieties.
Patterned after Richardson's Cupcake wines, which sell for about $11 each and represent good value, the flipflop wines remind me a bit of E&J Gallo's excellent line of Barefoot wines (get it? feet?).
The flipflop wines are mostly vintage-dated; the Barefoot wines are non-vintage.
Both companies include a sweeter Muscat-based white wine in their lines, and there is a good reason: supermarket scanner data show a significant increase in Muscat wine sales nationally for the last year.
Wine of the Week: Nonvinage flipflop Riesling, Washington ($7) -- A slightly sweet, distinctively flavored riesling with good acid to keep the wine from being too dessert-like. An excellent value in a nicely balanced wine.