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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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Our August Virtual Tasting is tonight from 7-8pm Pacific Time. The wine is the 2009 Chinook Cabernet Franc Rose. The wine retails for $15 and is widely available.

What you need to do to participate is:

1. Buy this month’s wine from a local retailer or from the winery

2. Post your comments/tweets on the wine tonight between 7 and 8pm. For those on Twitter, follow me @wawinereport. I will be using the hashtag #wawine during the event.

Hope to see you there!

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Five Under $15 - August

Monday, August 30, 2010 2 comments

Please note, posts may be less frequent between now and Labor Day. The August Virtual Tasting will take place on Tuesday the 31st from 7-8pm Pacific Time. Read more about it here.

In tough times we continue the search for good, inexpensive wines.

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Seattle Metropolitan article

Thursday, August 26, 2010 11 comments

Please note, posts may be less frequent between now and Labor Day. The August Virtual Tasting will take place on Tuesday the 31st from 7-8pm Pacific Time. Read more about it here.

I had the pleasure of writing an article on Washington wine in September's Seattle Metropolitan magazine. The issue should be on stands today. Read an on-line version of the article here. Enjoy!

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Please note: August's Virtual Tasting has been moved from this Thursday to Tuesday August 31st from 7-8pm Pacific Time. My apologies for the change. The wine is the 2009 Chinook Cab Franc Rose. Read more about it here. Hope you'll join us!

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Please note, posts may be less frequent between now and Labor Day.

Today, a few pictures from Monday from the always scenic Lake Chelan AVA. Veraison is underway in many locations, although not yet in others or for particular grapes, such as Cabernet Franc. Most people I spoke with reported being two weeks or more behind schedule. By comparison, many other regions in the state estimate being ten days behind their historical schedules. Click on the pictures for larger images.

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Please note, posts may be less frequent between now and Labor Day.

A round-up of stories on Washington wine from August 15th to 21st. Please add links to any I missed to the comments section.

From around the country…


Wine Spectator
writes about twelve Washington reds (may require subscription).

D Magazine
writes about Spring Valley Vineyards Nina Lee Syrah. They also write about the 2007 Leonetti Cellar Cabernet.

Wine Enthusiast
writes about Salmon Safe wines catching on in the Northwest.

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I vividly recall when I first tried the inaugural releases from Rôtie Cellars. It was last spring at Seattle Uncorked’s annual syrah event. I had tasted through fifty some odd Washington State syrahs before I arrived at the table where winemaker Sean Boyd was pouring. Boyd poured a glass of his 2007 Southern Blend – a mix of grenache, syrah, and mourvedre. The first sip was arresting. I looked up from my glass and said, “You have my complete attention.”

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Early next month the second edition of Washington Wine & Wineries: The Essential Guide hits the shelves. Coming almost three years after the first edition, the book has been completely revised and updated. The need for a new edition, which includes greatly expanded winery listings, is indicative of the fast pace the Washington wine industry is growing. It also reflects the additional vintages numerous wineries now have under their belt.

Author Paul Gregutt writes in the introduction, “Reading this book should feel like a tour through a state with an old friend who happens to be a local and who knows it well. I am that friend.” He more than succeeds. Washington Wines & Wineries is written in the crisp, engaging style that has made Gregutt such a compelling writer over the years. It is a book the novice can understand and enjoy but still contains enough detail to engage and inform people already familiar with the state and its wines.

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Larry Bird retired from the Boston Celtics eighteen years ago today. Growing up outside of Boston, Bird was my childhood hero. Bird said to eat a McChicken; I ate a McChicken. Bird said to wear Converse sneakers; I wore Converse sneakers. It was that sort of thing. He left an indelible mark on my childhood and my life, teaching lessons of hard work, determination, and perseverance.

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Long time readers know of my concern (obsession?) with wine temperature. Summer is thus a particularly challenging time for me. I am constantly transferring wines from the fridge to the ice bucket to the freezer. I work on perfecting the frosted wine glass to combat the warmer weather. Is five minutes in the freezer sufficient to cool the glass down or does it need to be ten? What about the fridge? However, after recently stashing a bottle of wine in the freezer – and forgetting to take it out – I had a heat wave-inspired idea. Riesling Popsicles. Here’s how to make them – or try to.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from August 8th to 14th. Please add links to articles I missed during this time period to the comments section. See previous round-ups here.

From around the country…


The Associated Press writes about Northwest wineries attempting to access the Chinese market.


From the blogosphere…


Tourism Walla Walla says veraison is on the way.

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What follows is a Focus report on Grand Rêve. Download a .pdf version of this report here. Read previous Focus reports here.

Grand Rêve – the name of a new winery in Washington State - translates to ‘great dream.’ And what a great dream it is.

Our story starts when businessman Paul McBride moved to Washington in 1994. Before moving to the state, he didn’t know much about Washington wine. “I was a big California guy,” McBride says. “I didn’t really give Washington much credibility at all.” After relocating to Washington and tasting wines from some of the state’s finest wineries, including Quilceda Creek, Leonetti, and Woodward Canyon, McBride’s opinion of Washington started to change. He says, “It seemed like the handwriting was on the wall that Washington would become, in time, a world class wine producing area.” Still, McBride thought that time might be a ways off. He soon became interested in hastening Washington’s arrival on the world stage.

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Please note: The date of the August Virtual Tasting has been moved to Tuesday August 31st.

Our August Virtual Tasting wine, as suggested by Chef Frank Magaña at Picazo 7Seventeen, will be the 2009 Chinook Cabernet Franc Rose. This wine retails for $15 and is widely available. The tasting will take place on Thursday, August 26th from 7-8pm Pacific Time.

What you need to do to participate is:

1. Buy this month’s wine from a local retailer or from the winery

2. Post your comments/tweets on the wine that night between 7 and 8pm. For those on Twitter, follow me @wawinereport. I will be using the hashtag #wawine during the event.

Hope you'll join us!

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Tero Estates is set apart from its peers in the Walla Walla Valley. The drive out to the winery, which goes deep into the heart of the ‘occupied area’ of the Walla Walla Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) south of the Washington border, is somewhat long but incredibly scenic. The twists and turns take one past some of the valley’s most prestigious vineyards – many of them marked, many of them not. With each passing mile the views get more expansive and impressive, and one seems to be transported to another, more peaceful world.

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A comparison I often hear is that current day Walla Walla Valley resembles Napa Valley in the 1970s. There are, in fact, numerous parallels. There is a spirit of cooperation in Walla Walla that is said to have marked Napa during this time. Additionally, there is an almost continual influx of talent and aspiration. There is also, of course, explosive growth. One this is clear though. Walla Walla Valley will never become Napa Valley. Here is why.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from August 1st to 7th. Please add links in the comments section to any I missed.

From around the country…


The Witchita-Falls TimesRecordNews writes about the Red Diamond Merlot.

Sunset Magazine writes about Lake Chelan.

The Cleveland Sun Star Courier recommends the 2008 Duck Pond Red Blend.

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Locati Cellars (WWSR 2010)

Saturday, August 7, 2010 9 comments

What follows is a section of my 2010 Walla Walla Spring Release Report. The report will be published in its entirety in .pdf form after the last entry is posted to the blog. See previous posts here.

Locati Cellars is a new Walla Walla winery which opened in December of 2009. The winery, named after owners Michael and Penny Locati, focuses on Italian varietals. Locati's tasting room is located in The Depot building right off Highway 12 in Walla Walla.

While Locati has sourced fruit for its initial offerings, the winery has a thirty-seven acre estate vineyard, nine of which are currently planted to Barbera and Sangiovese. The vineyard is now in its third leaf.

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Shelf-talkers are an omnipresent part of the retail wine business. These cards underneath wine bottles provide information about the winery, tasting notes, and sometimes ratings. Often hand written, they can give a personal touch in the absence of interaction with the store staff and are, obviously, intended to influence purchasing decisions. Most people assume that the retail store staff writes these shelf-talkers. Much of the time, this is not the case.

In many stores, the distributors who provide the wines and stock the shelves write these shelf-talkers. I first realized this a number of years ago after seeing the same verbiage and handwriting describing a wine in numerous wine shops around town.

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Dave Butner of Kaella Winery is a Social Media success story. A native of Los Angeles, Butner moved to Washington in 1984. He started out as a home brewer around this time and didn’t turn his attention to wine until later, though he says he has loved wine “for as long as he has been old enough to drink it.”

Butner, who works in the information technology sector, was employed at Boeing from 2001 to 2004. Boeing Employees Wine and Beermaker Club has been the starting point for numerous Washington winemakers. Add Butner’s name to that list, although, ironically, he didn’t join the wine club until 2005, after he had left the company.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from July 22nd to 31st. Please add any I missed during this time period to the comments section.

From around the country…


Wine Spectator
gives nine value reds from Washington (may require subscription).

WineBusiness.com
writes about the resignation of Elizabeth Martin-Calder as head of the Walla Walla Wine Alliance.

The Memphis Flier writes about Bunnell Family Winery.

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Riverhaven Cellars (WWSR 2010)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 2 comments

What follows is a section of my 2010 Walla Walla Spring Release Report. The report will be published in its entirety in .pdf form after the last entry is posted to the blog. See previous posts here.

Riverhaven Cellars is a new Walla Walla winery. The winery is a showcase for its estate vineyard, Riverrock.

Riverrock Vineyards is located in the southern section of the Walla Walla Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA). This area, part of an ancient riverbed, has seen tremendous growth in the last five years following Christophe Baron’s success with Cayuse Vineyards. Commonly referred to as The Rocks, I prefer to think of this as the ‘occupied area’ of the AVA.

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What follows is a section of my 2010 Walla Walla Spring Release Report. The report will be published in its entirety in .pdf form after the last entry is posted to the blog. See previous posts here.

Steve Brooks of Trust Cellars is representative of what life is like for many of Washington State’s small wineries. More than three quarters of the state’s 670+ wineries are small producers like Trust making less than 4,000 cases annually. This preponderance of small wineries is a trademark of the state’s industry. By contrast, many wineries in other areas often make more cases of a single wine in their portfolio.

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