Betz Family Winery was founded by Bob and Cathy Betz in 1997, producing its first vintage that same year. Since that time the winery has gone from making 150 cases of wine annually to approximately 3,500 – about where they are looking to stay. They have also gone from an upstart to one of the premier wineries in Washington. This fall’s releases, with the exception of the 2007 La Côte Rousse which is still fairly closed, are more immediately accessible than their 2006 counterparts. For the 2007 Bésoleil, Betz used both a larger amount of Grenache as well as a new vineyard source, Olsen Estates. The 2007 Bésoleil is not only as good as any I have tried from the winery, it is also as good as any Grenache blend I have sampled from the state. The 2007 La Serenne exhibits more intensity and power than the 2006 offering while retaining exceptional balance. Finally, the 2007 La Côte Patriarche – whose Syrah comes from 23 year old vines – exhibits a depth and layered intensity that bodes well for Washington’s young vineyards.
As indicated by its name, Betz is a family-run business. Cathy serves as the winery’s president, Bob as its winemaker, and daughter Carmen as head of sales. Bob, who holds the prestigious Master of Wine degree, spent twenty eight years at Stimson Lane (now Ste Michelle Wine Estates) before retiring in 2003 to focus on the winery full-time. Betz held a variety of positions at Stimson Lane, including Vice President of Winemaking Research at the time of his retirement. Interestingly given the deft touch he shows at the family winery, Bob never served as winemaker during his time at Stimson Lane.
Betz shows a meticulous attention to detail from grape to glass. On the viticulture side, Betz partners with some of the state’s top vineyard managers to achieve the style he is looking for. Each year the winery uses the same blocks and rows from its vineyard sources to maximize control and consistency. On the enology side, the family broke ground on a custom facility in Woodinville in 2004. The building was designed to move both grapes and juice as efficiently as possible. It was also designed to maximize sanitation with walls and floors of concrete for easy spray washing. The facility was completed in time for the 2005 harvest.
In the five years since Bob’s retirement from Stimson Lane, the winery has continued to thrive. Last year, Betz moved to selling their wine predominantly through a mailing list. In July of 2008 they closed their mailing list and last fall they sold out of their new releases in two weeks. In a nod to the long-established relationships Bob has built across the industry, Betz continues to hold some wine back each year for retailers.
Betz Family Winery has two releases each year. The spring releases include the Bordeaux blends Pere de Famille (Cabernet dominant) and Clos de Betz (Merlot dominant). The fall releases focus on Rhone varietals with two Syrahs and a Grenache blend. The first Syrah is the La Serenne which is 100% Syrah from Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. The second is La Côte Rousse whose fruit is sourced from Red Mountain. This year, Betz added a third - La Côte Patriarche – whose Syrah comes from Red Willow Vineyard, the oldest Syrah planting in Washington. The Bésoleil, a Southern Rhone-style, Grenache-centric blend rounds out the Fall offerings.
Note: All of these wines were poured from magnums and sampled between 67 and 68 degrees.
This fall’s releases, with the exception of the 2007 La Côte Rousse which is still fairly closed, are more immediately accessible than their 2006 counterparts. For the 2007 Bésoleil, Betz used both a larger amount of Grenache as well as a new vineyard source, Olsen Estates. The 2007 Bésoleil is not only as good as any I have tried from the winery, it is also as good as any Grenache blend I have sampled from the state. The 2007 La Serenne exhibits more intensity and power than the 2006 offering while retaining exceptional balance. Finally, the 2007 La Côte Patriarche – whose Syrah comes from 23 year old vines – exhibits a depth and layered intensity that bodes well for Washington’s young vineyards.
|Betz Bésoleil Grenache Columbia Valley 2007|| Ruby colored. An elegant, alluring nose with light toast, red berries, black licorice, and earth tones. Light on the palate with a bowl of red fruit. A refined wine that is exceptionally well balanced. A tribute to the Rhone style. 80% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 5% Syrah. ||$45|
|Betz La Serenne Syrah Yakima Valley 2007|| A dark, intense color. Hallmark Boushey Vineyard Syrah nose with smoke, bacon fat, and floral notes. Rich on the palate with black fruit. Hangs endlessly on the palate. An earth-shaking wine that provides both power and refinement. ||$55|
|Betz La Côte Patriarche Syrah Yakima Valley 2007|| Deep and dark in color. A lively nose with light smoke, game, fresh berries, floral notes, and black licorice. Seamless on the palate with a creamy mouthfeel and a perfect amount of rich, intense fruit. 80% Syrah, 10% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre. Red Willow, Olsen, and Alder Ridge vineyards. |
|Betz La Côte Rousse Syrah Red Mountain 2007||Dark purple. The nose is fairly closed at present with light roasted meat, flowers, and a hint of licorice. A scrumptious, seductive wine that is seemingly light on the palate but offers a lot of fruit and layers of intensity. 100% Syrah. Ciel du Cheval and Ranch at the End of the Road.||$55|