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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Reviewed Wineries







The Fresh Sheet - reviews of recent and current Washington wine releases - for today includes wines from Betz Family Winery, Guardian Cellars, Gorman Winery, SYZYGY, Spring Valley Vineyard, Col Solare, and Cadaretta.

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The 2010 Harvest is underway in Washington State. Over the coming weeks, I will provide weekly updates on what is picked, where, and when. See previous reports here.

9/29 Update: The big news this week has been an extended stretch of 80-degree days. The warm weather is expected to continue for the next ten-plus days, allowing some sites to make up ground after a cool growing season. Kent Waliser says, “The weather this week in Eastern Washington is a multi-million dollar gift. It will make many a winemakers' dream come true.”

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Five Under $15 - September

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 0 comments





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

Chinook Wines is named after the Chinook winds in the Pacific Northwest. The winery is located in Prosser. Husband and wife team Clay Mackey and Kay Simon are the nucleus of the winery with Mackey doing the viticulture and Simon making the wines. Both University of California Davis graduates, their paths didn't cross until they both took positions at Chateau Ste. Michelle. Chinook Wines was started in 1983. The couple released their first wines a year later, two days prior to their wedding.

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Update on the Great Grape Caper

Monday, September 27, 2010 1 comments

Earlier today I posted about the grape theft at Grand Reve Vineyard. Below is some additional information courtesy of Grand Reve co-owner Paul McBride.

McBride says the fruit was stolen some time between September 15th and 21st. Winemaker James Mantone, of Syncline Wine Cellars, discovered the theft while inspecting the block. The theft was subsequently confirmed the next day by vineyard manager Ryan Johnson. The grapes were most likely stolen at night over the weekend. McBride estimates that it would take one person eight to nine hours to harvest the grapes. It would take a team of three about two to three hours.

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Recently I wrote a Focus report on Grand Reve Vintners. In that post, I mentioned that the winery was looking forward to its first vintage of estate fruit this year. Wednesday evening the shocking news came across Twitter from vineyard manager Ryan Johnson that the winery’s first vintage of mourvedre grapes had been stolen (the picture here was tweeted by Johnson showing the vines stripped of their grapes).

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from September 15th to 21st. See previous week's here. Please add any I missed to the comments section.

From around the country…


Wine Spectator writes about winemaker’s first harvests with Cayuse’s Christophe Baron among others (Note: May require subscription).

The Pensacola News Journal writes about Pacific Rim’s 2007 Solstice Riesling.

Wines & Vines
writes about the upcoming liquor initiatives.

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September's Virtual Tasting is tonight from 7-8pm. The wine will be the Townshend Cellar Vortex Red Wine NV. 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 you will join us!

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Reminder: September's Virtual Tasting is this Thursday from 7-8pm Pacific Time. Read more about it here.

The 2010 Harvest is underway in Washington State. Over the coming weeks, I will provide regular updates on what is picked, where, and when.

One of this week’s updates comes from Jonathan Sauer at Red Willow and Les Vignes de Marcoux vineyards in the Yakima Valley. Red Willow, one of the state’s finest vineyards, is the furthest western vineyard within the Yakima Valley. Sauer says that while the vineyard is not a particularly warm site, it is typically an early vineyard.

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Reminder: September's Virtual Tasting takes place this Thursday from 7-8pm Pacific Time. Read more about it here.

2009 was a watershed year for the Washington wine industry. Amidst numerous high scores and accolades, there were three particularly significant accomplishments. Columbia Crest’s 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was named Wine Spectator’s ‘Wine of the Year;’ Charles Smith’s 2006 Royal City Syrah received a perfect 100-point score from Wine Enthusiast; and Charles Smith was named Food & Wine Magazine’s ‘Winemaker of the Year.’ With three months to go until the end of the year, 2010 is shaping up to be an equally notable year for Washington State and its winemakers.

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In a nod to friend and fellow blogger Josh Wade at Drink Nectar, September's Virtual Tasting will be the Townshend Cellar Vortex Red Wine NV. The tasting will take place Thursday September 23rd from 7-8pm Pacific Time. The wine retails for $15 and is widely available. Hope you will join us!

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.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from September 8th to 14th. Please add any I missed to the comments section. See previous round-ups here.

From around the country…


Wines & Vines writes about the Washington Wine Commission’s campaign to increase local wine consumption.

Annapolis’ The Capital writes about merlot with a callout to Columbia Crest and Chateau Ste. Michelle

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Two headlines interwove late last month. The first was an Associated Press story about Northwest wineries working to expand their presence in the Chinese market. The second was the report of China becoming the world’s second largest economy. Can Washington wineries get a lift from China, especially in difficult economic times? Here is why they must, if not now, then soon.

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The story of Walla Walla Vintners begins in 1981. Gordy Venneri, a Certified Public Accountant, was teaching business at Walla Walla Community College. It was there that he met and became close friends with Myles Anderson.

Venneri had taken the job at the community college partly to take summers off. That year, he decided to use the time to travel, going to Italy, Spain, and Africa. Along the way he enjoyed the long, languorous meals that much of the Old World is known for (compare this experience to American fast food to get a sense of just how different the cultures are). Venerri says, “We had eight o’clock to midnight dinners. That’s how I got into wine.”

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I have a saying about the difference between red wine and white wine. Red wine is like standing in front of a mirror in a thousand dollar suit. White wine is like standing in front of a mirror naked.

Whereas red wine can be dressed up in fancy – and expensive – new oak that can add accents and hide imperfections, doing the same with white wine tends to be unforgiving. Use too much oak and the fruit gets clobbered. Don’t use any oak and imperfections get exposed. With white wine, if the grapes aren’t just right and the winemaking isn’t completely sound, it shows. Many a winemaker excels at red wines but falls short on whites. It takes a skilled hand to make extremely high quality white wines. It takes an even more skilled winemaker to excel at both.

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Some wineries are started organically with winemakers evolving from home winemaking to starting a commercial venture. Some wineries, however, are started by force. This is is one such winery's story.

Stephen Otis Kenyon and his wife Deborah Dunbar became interested in winemaking many years ago when they lived in Chateauneuf du Pape. Since that time, Kenyon, who is a native of Walla Walla, had watched the local wine industry grow and had even taken a few classes at Walla Walla Community College’s Center for Enology and Viticulture. But he had not taken the plunge.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from September 1st to 7th. See previous roundups here. Please add any I missed to the comments section.

From around the country…


Wine & Vines writes about Swiftwater Cellars.

WineBusiness.com writes about the Washington Wine Commission’s locally-focused promotional campaign.

The Santa Ynez Valley News writes about HR 5034 (which I prefer to refer to as ‘The Shame of the House of Representatives’).

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After a number of near perfect vintages the past decade, Washington is in the midst of a vintage that is far from it. In many respects it started with the frost last October, which put a punctuation mark on that year’s harvest. Since that time the weather has ranged from unusually warm to unusually cool leading to delays in ripening. At present growers across Washington State are significantly behind schedule. One week into September, is there still time to recover?

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When last we saw rocket ship Gramercy Cellars, I reported that the winery had left the earth’s gravitational pull. Today Gramercy hits the warp speed button with an announcement of an award from Food & Wine Magazine as the ‘Best New Winery in America.’

I had a chance to talk to Commander Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars via a satellite link shortly before he and his wife Pam blasted off into the cosmos. Below, we discuss Washington’s recent increase in recognition, the low alcohol movement, the state of syrah in Washington and around the world, and viral videos.

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Reynvaan Family Vineyards is nestled up against the Blue Mountains. The winery is located next to one of the family’s estate vineyards, Foothills in the Sun, with the family home a short walk away.

Two things strike me each time I drive out to Reynvaan. The first is the incredible scenic beauty of the area. I now double my estimation of the time it takes to get to the winery to allow for sufficient time to stop and take pictures (NB: Make sure to travel with patient compatriots; click on the pictures here for larger images). You literally feel like you are about to drive up and over the Blue Mountains as you get closer and closer to the winery. The second thing I am struck by is that I always feel lost. You keep going and going and going. The road narrows then turns to dirt. Is this right? And then you’re there.

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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 22nd to 31st. See previous weeks here.

Buckle your seatbealts boys and girls. This roundup is a long one.


From around the country…


The Chicago Tribune writes about viognier with callouts to Seven Hills and Chateau Ste. Michelle.

Wines & Vines
asks whether Washington will legalize virtual wineries.

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

Today Seattle residents filed a class action suit in the Great Court in the Sky against Seattle Sun Gods, Ltd. The suit seeks damages for what has been by all accounts a lack luster summer. Allegations in the suit include:

A seeming lack of interest in sunny weather throughout the spring and summer

Persistent rainy weather, particularly on weekends

Repeated dramatic shifts in temperature over a twenty-four hour period

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Summary of Posts for August 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 0 comments
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