Overview


Washington Wine Report is an independent publication focused on bringing Northwest wine to you and bringing you to Northwest wine. Our goal is:
  • To help you select Pacific Northwest wines at a variety of price levels
  • To keep you up-to-date about the Northwest’s wineries, vineyards, and individuals
  • To help you plan trips to wine country
  • To connect you to the larger wine community

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'17 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

Buckle your seat belts. A round-up of stories on Northwest wine from August 22nd to September 7th 2017. Read previous round-ups here.

From around the country…

Wines and Vines writes that Oregon wineries welcome eclipse viewers. They also write about the start of harvest.

Decanter writes about Oregon Gamay.

Shanken Daily News writes that Ste Michelle Wine Estates sees innovation pay off. They also write that Oregon wines are on the rise.

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Seattle Metropolitan's 2017 Top 100 Washington wines list has been released in the October issue. This is the eighth year that I have written this list for the magazine. This year, the lists are as follows:

Cabernet Sauvignon
Syrah
Best wines under $30
Bordeaux-style blends
White wines
Other reds

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50 Years of Chateau Ste Michelle

Friday, September 1, 2017 0 comments

With Washington now home to over 900 wineries, it seems almost unimaginable to think of just how small the state’s wine industry was when Ste. Michelle Vintners was founded in 1967. “At the time there were only 12 wineries in the state, and 88% of the wine was fruit wine or fortified dessert wine,” said Ted Baseler, President and CEO of Ste Michelle Wine Estates, Chateau Ste. Michelle’s parent company. “There was only a small amount of varietal wine.”

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Pic of the Vine - August 2017

Thursday, August 31, 2017 0 comments

In the western most point of the Yakima Valley appellation stands the much praised Red Willow Vineyard. Planted and farmed by the multi-generational Sauer family, Red Willow’s iconic landmark is the Monsignor Chapel, built by the family as an homage to the many chapel vineyards in France. A favorite site of resident photographer Richard Duval, the chapel is as distinctive as the grapes.

Aiming to capture a truly spiritual image that reflected Red Willow’s beauty and reverence, Duval and associate Chris Rider, an experienced night sky photographer, enlisted a clear summer night and the vineyard’s 1,300 foot elevation to capture the Milky Way. Starting at 11 pm and shooting till nearly 3:00 am, they captured nearly two dozen striking images.

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I had the opportunity to talk with Allen Shoup for a Wine Enthusiast podcast about the early days of the Washington wine industry, how the industry has evolved over the years, and his work at Long Shadows Vintners. You can listen to the podcast here.

Enjoy!

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A round-up of stories on Northwest wine from August 15th to 21st. Read previous round-ups here.

From around the country…

Wine Spectator writes about donating $1M to WSU’s viticulture and enology program.

The New York Times writes about Yakima Valley.

Wine Enthusiast says Oregon Riesling is the best in the west.

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Harvest begins in Washington

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 0 comments

Harvest has begun in the Northwest. Ryan Driver, vineyard manager at Tertulia Cellars, reported harvesting Tempranillo (21.2 Brix) today for rosé at the winery's Rivière Galets Vineyard in the Rocks District on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley. In the Yakima Valley, David Minick reported harvesting Pinot Noir for sparkling wine at Precept's Canyon Vineyard Ranch. Winemaker Aryn Morell (MatthewsTenorAlleromb, Gård) said that he will begin harvesting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on Thursday August 24th for a sparkling wine project. The fruit will come from Solaksen Vineyard, a Lawrence property in the Columbia Valley.

Most growers and winemakers I've spoken with have said that they expect to start bringing in white wine grapes either at the end of August or beginning of September. Red wine grape harvesting is expected to begin in the second week of September, considerably later than recent (warm) vintages.

Let harvest begin!

Picture courtesy of Ryan Driver, Tertulia Cellars. This post has been updated to include the harvest at Canyon Vineyard Ranch.

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A round-up of stories on Northwest wine from August 8th to 14th 2017. Read previous round-ups here.

From around the world…

Shanghai Daily writes about Washington wine.


From around the country...

Wine Enthusiast writes about the diversity of Washington State wines (article by yours truly).

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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for September 2017. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here.

283 wines reviewed in the September 2017 issue of Wine Enthusiast. Lots of top quality wines in this issue. I’ll highlight a selection of them here.

Newcomer Ardor Cellars continues to impress with its Syrahs (Ardor 2015 Quaternarium Reserve Syrah Columbia Valley $7093 pointsArdor 2015 Stoney Vine Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $5091 points).

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A round-up of stories on Northwest wine from August 1st to 7th 2017. Read previous round-ups here.

From around the country…

Wine Enthusiast writes about relying on animals for sustainable winemaking, with mentions of several Northwest producers. They also write about old vines of Oregon.

Food and Wine writes about where to eat and drink in Willamette Valley.

Winston-Salem Journal writes about recently tasted wines, with a callout to the Stoller Pinot Noir Rosé and Left Coast Cellars Pinot Noir.

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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for August 2017. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here.

153 wines reviewed in the August issue of Wine EnthusiastAvennia continues to make some of the best wines in the state (Avennia 2014 Valery Columbia Valley $5092 pointsAvennia 2014 Sestina Columbia Valley $6591 points).

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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for July 2017. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here.

125 wines reviewed in the July issue of Wine Enthusiast. They include a great Syrah from Eight Bells (Eight Bells 2014 Eight Clones Red Willow Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $3592 points).

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A round-up of stories on Northwest wine from July 22nd to 31st 2017. Read previous round-ups here.

From around the country…

Wine Spectator writes about an ownership transition at Adelsheim.

Boise Weekly says to think pink, with a recommendation of the 2016 Dunham rosé.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune makes the Cooper Hill Pinot Gris its wine of the week.

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Pic of the Vine - July 2017

Monday, July 31, 2017 0 comments

With the growing season hitting its stride, resident photographer Richard Duval is roaming the Washington wine community capturing the colors of summer.

“Wandering around the south section of Walla Walla, I visited one of my most dependable photos spots - Northstar winery and vineyard,” said Duval. “Meticulously maintained, Northstar always delivers a colorful scenario. Sure enough, that morning the lavender framing the rows was in full bloom, adding a splash of vivid color to this vineyard vista.”

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Veraison in Eastern Washington

Saturday, July 22, 2017 1 comments

Veraison - the changing of color of the grapes - has begun in eastern Washington's vineyards. This picture of Sangiovese comes courtesy of Seven Hills Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley. The folks at Seven Hills report that they saw veraison in Sangiovese on this same date in 2013, a warm vintage.

Meanwhile Hillary Sjolund of Wine Boss and Sonoris Wines reported seeing veraison in Merlot at Quintessence Vineyard on Red Mountain on July 18th. Ryan Driver of Tertulia Cellars also reported seeing veraison in Tempranillo in the Walla Walla Valley on July 20th.

The start of veraison can only mean one thing - that harvest is not far off!

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Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the founding of Washington Wine Report as an on-line site (it existed as an email list two years prior that). I sincerely appreciate everyone following along over the past decade, and I thank you for your support. It's been amazing to watch the industry grow these past 10 years. Here's to the next decade of Washington wine!

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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for June 2017. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here.

188 wines reviewed in the June issue of Wine Enthusiast. They include two high quality wines from Avennia (Avennia 2014 Gravura Red Blend Columbia Valley $3591 pointsAvennia 2014 Justine Red Blend Columbia Valley $4092 points).

The 2014 Bordeaux-style releases from Betz Family Winery do not disappoint, including the Betz Family 2014 Clos de Betz Red Blend Columbia Valley ($6092 points); Betz Family 2014 Père de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley ($7593 points); and Betz Family 2014 Heart of the Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain ($11093 points).

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Pic of the Vine - May 2017

Monday, May 29, 2017 0 comments

Signs of a glorious spring in Washington wine country abound. Buds have broken throughout the state; al fresco sipping sites increase daily; and resident photographer Richard Duval is on the road.

“While shadowing the recent Masters of Wine tour through the heart of the heart Washington wine community, I caught this spring activity at Canyon Vineyard Ranch owned by Precept Wine,” he said. “Tractors amongst the rows and hills of this great vineyard made for near perfect photos of the bustle of spring.”

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Bloom is beginning in eastern Washington's vineyards. Sagemoor Vineyards reports bloom in their Chardonnay, pictured at left, on May 27th. This same block had bloom on May 5th in 2016 (which had an extremely warm start); May 14th in 2015 (a warm year); May 20th in 2013 (also a warm year); and June 7th in 2012 (a year that tracked to 20 year averages for heat accumulation). See a graph of current Growing Degree Days, a measure of heat accumulation, from Washington State University here.

Click on the picture, which is provided courtesy of Sagemoor Vineyards, to see a larger image.

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The following is excerpted from an on-line article at Wine Enthusiast. Follow the link below to the complete article.

From the state’s first Syrah plantings to the creation of some of its finest wines, Red Willow has made a name for itself in Washington.

One of Washington State’s most influential sites, Red Willow Vineyard, sprung up from humble beginnings.

“I was a new kid on the farm, 22–23 years old,” says grower Mike Sauer. “Just came to the farm looking for my place.” Sauer would decide that his place was to grow wine grapes, a relatively novel idea back in the early 1970s.

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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for May 2017. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here.

60 wines reviewed in the May issue of Wine Enthusiast. They include a strong set of wines from Cairdeas, including the Cairdeas 2014 Caislén an Papa Red Wine Blend Meek Vineyard Washington ($4591 points); Cairdeas 2014 Trí Red Blend Yakima Valley ($3991 points); and Cairdeas 2014 Consonance Red Blend Yakima Valley ($42 91 points).

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Bud break in eastern Washington

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 0 comments

Bud break is occurring in eastern Washington. This picture is Phelps Clone Syrah on April 10th at the Ziggy Stardust block of Elevation Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley and comes courtesy of Trey Busch at Sleight of Hand Cellars. Busch reports that bud break took place at the same location last year on April 1st.

Bud break has also been reported in Grenache by Ryan Driver of Tertulia Cellars at the winery's Rivière Galets Vineyard in The Rocks District; by Hillary Sjolund in Chardonnay at Gordon Estate Winery in the Columbia Valley; and at Watermill Vineyard in The Rocks by Brian Roy.

Let the 2017 growing season begin!


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Pic of the Vine - March 2017

Friday, March 31, 2017 1 comments

Celebrating its 50th year, Chateau Ste. Michelle is the flagship of the Washington wine industry. When the spring season finally arrives, the French-styled chateau, surrounded by 105 wooded acres, draws hundreds of visitors a day, including resident photographer Richard Duval.

“Spring skies prompt colorful flora and happy wine aficionados to Woodinville, and particularly to Ste. Michelle,” he noted. “Aiming to record the color of the day, I traversed the grand walkway and captured the chateau on a brilliant spring morning.”

Click on the picture to see a larger image.

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The following is an excerpt of an article I co-wrote with Paul Gregutt in the April 2017 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Paul wrote the first section on Washington winemakers making Oregon wine. I wrote the second section on Oregon winemakers making Washington wine.

A number of Oregon and Washington wineries are heading across state lines to find the best grapes, proving borders don't matter when it comes to good wine.

No single place grows every grape variety equally well. Moreover, grapes know nothing about imaginary lines like state borders. In the Pacific Northwest, enterprising winemakers reach into neighboring states to tap great vineyard sources and craft compelling wines.

South to Oregon 

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The 2017 Washington State Wine Tour Guide is now available. You can read the tour guide online here. Order hard copies of the guide here.

Of note, in this year's guide I wrote the sections Washington Wine Primer, Meet the AVAs, and Walla Walla Valley.

 Enjoy!

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