EVERY YEAR in December, good friends of ours put on a bluegrass Christmas variety show in their hometown near Gig Harbor on Fox Island. Instead of driving all the way down to the Gig Harbor area from the north end of Lake Washington only to arrive in the dark for the evening show, we decided to make a day trip out of it.
We're glad we did because we had a chance to better appreciate life in the south Puget Sound islands and on the Key Peninsula. We wound up spending the day with a couple who run an organic farm and at a mom and pop winery that makes and sells what we believe to be the very best wine we've ever tasted.
It was a spectacularly sunny December morning when we set out to visit Creviston Valley Farm in Longbranch. The drive to the farm was breath-taking with twists and turns as we passed saltwater inlets and views of placid sailboats docked in Puget Sound waiting for their next run. We were completely enchanted by the hobby farms we drove by and blown away by the views of Mount Rainier. When we arrived at Creviston Valley Farm, we were graciously welcomed by Lalaine and Greg, owners of the organic farm.
A piece of heaven
As we talked with Lalaine and Greg they showed us around the farm. We watched them feed the cows and sheep, we saw their pigs, and watched the flock of several hundred free range chickens scurry around. Lalaine called the farm their "little piece of heaven."
The farm is 40 acres, and the nearest neighbors are half a mile away in each direction. Talk about peaceful. The only sounds we heard were the mooing cows in the background and the chickens pecking in the foreground. Lalaine and Greg have owned the farm for the last three years now—they originally bought it as a retreat.
Although many people would claim that farming isn't much of a vacation, Creviston Valley Farm allows Greg and Lalaine to escape their busy jobs and enjoy growing and nurturing local delicious meat, fruit and vegetables. The farm allows them to appreciate where their food comes from—a luxury many people don't have these days.
We were happy to see how content the animals were. They were just going about their lives with plenty of space to roam, not confined by tiny cages, or virtually piled on top of each other, as most mass-produced American livestock are these days before slaughter (see the movie Food Inc. for more information on where our food comes from).
Lalaine and Greg operate their farm with the mantra: "Don't waste anything, because there's value in everything." All of their animals are fed leftovers from whatever the Mexican restaurant down the street, the local brewery, the close-by elementary school, or the nearby tofu shop, couldn't sell or use that day. Instead of letting all of this perfectly good food go to waste, they feed it to their livestock.
How to enjoy the farm
Lalaine and Greg rent out the five-bedroom farmhouse at a rate of $100 per night per couple. Once you reach a rate of $500 per night, you can have up to 14 people sleeping in the farmhouse, comfortably. The house has a beautifully remodeled professional kitchen. You can find more details about the vacation rental and also book your stay at VRBO.
The farm is also rented out for weddings, so wedding guests can stay in the beautiful farmhouse and get married right on this organic farm.
You can purchase some of Lalaine's and Greg's delicious local meat through their website or at a local farmer's market in the Gig Harbor area from May to September.
We're looking forward to returning to the farm next October for the annual Harvest Festival that goes on during the first Saturday of October. This is a free event that invites the community to come and spend the day on a farm. Kids play with chickens, watch baby pigs, and everyone is welcome to taste some homemade jams and jellies. Creviston Valley Farm is the perfect get-away for many occasions.
Trillium Creek Winery
While you're staying at the farm, be sure to check out the Trillium Creek Winery. It's just down the street from Creviston Valley Farm. This stop was one that we didn't expect to make on our trip to the Key Peninsula, but Lalaine and Greg had so many good things to say about it that we had to check it out.
The winery is only five minutes north of the farm. You'll turn down the road just across from the only restaurant in Home, Wash., The Home Port Restaurant and Lounge. Then, follow the signs to the winery and you'll end at a traditional French-style house in the forest. There you'll meet Claude, a Frenchman, and his wife, Claudia, at their vineyard. You'll most likely find them in the wine tasting room that's right next to where you will park your car, or perhaps they'll be in the house, just down the drive. Claude and Claudia are extremely friendly and helpful. They'll offer you a free tour of their vineyard and free tastings of their estate wines made in their 1,500-square-foot wine cellar.
What sets the winery apart
The couple will teach you how to pair delicious local cheese with the wine, and you won't have to spend a penny. You'll learn what types of foods would go best with a glass of Merlot, Riesling, Syrah, and so on—making this as much an educational experience as a tasting. One of our favorite parts was when Claude poured us a glass of Syrah and said, "Take a sip," so we did. "Now have a bite of this double cream cheddar cheese," so we did. "Now taste the Syrah again and it will be as if you're tasting it for the first time." Oh, and it was!
Trillium Creek Winery chooses to use fewer sulfites, as a preservative, than other wineries. Trillium Creek does not sell its wine in stores, which makes this possible. Using fewer sulfites in wine keeps people from experiencing headaches, feeling flushed, dizzy, or "tipsy" too easily from wine, they explained.
As customers, we are not easily convinced, and honestly, we didn't quite believe Claude until we experienced the effects of the lower sulfites for ourselves. But it was true: no headache and no feeling flushed in the face—it was amazing to sip our wine and taste it for its true flavor. Claude told us that this is how most wine is made in France. We bought a bottle of Merlot and have enjoyed every sip. We're planning on making a trip back for more of their specialty wine very soon.
Finally, if you're planning a visit to the Key Peninsula, Penrose Point State Park is another wonderful, scenic spot, right on Puget Sound with nice beaches, trails and a great view of Rainier.
Maresa and Scott Gochanour write the blog Around Puget Sound and Beyond.