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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Five Syrah Under $15

Thursday, March 31, 2011 4 comments







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

This month’s Five Under $15 focuses on Syrah - with an additional wine thrown in for good measure. In a recent article in Wine Press Northwest I wrote that one of the issues with Washington State Syrah is that it is difficult to find quality bottles at value price points. With this in mind, it seemed like a good time to check in on some current releases in the value spectrum.

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The March Virtual Tasting is tonight from 7-8pm Pacific. The wine is the 2008 Desert Wind Ruah Red Wine. This wine retails for $20 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 between 7 and 8pm. For those on Twitter, follow me @wawinereport. I will be using the hashtag #dwruah during the event.

Hope you will join us!

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Reminder: The March Virtual Tasting takes place this Wednesday at 7pm Pacific. Read about how to participate here.

The following post was written by Carrie Simon. Simon is the founder of Washington Wine 9, a custom trip planning service for travelers to Washington State wine country.


In 2009 I returned to the Pacific Northwest after nearly 20 years away. Hearing so much about the wine region in Washington State that had emerged during this time, I felt compelled to start planning my maiden voyage. What I discovered is that Washington’s wine country is unlike any other area I had visited - in both good ways and bad.

Understand first that, while I love wine, I am far from an oenophile. While I have been to other notable wine producing regions, including Tuscany, Burgundy, Stellenbosch, Napa, and California’s Central Coast, I did not crisscross the globe in pursuit of wine. I went because I love to travel and these destinations offered the types of experiences I enjoy: wine (of course) along with good food, beautiful scenery, and days of leisure. This is what I looked forward to discovering in Washington.

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Lake Chelan's WineGirl Wines

Monday, March 28, 2011 0 comments

Reminder: The March Virtual Tasting takes place this Wednesday at 7pm Pacific. Read about how to participate here.

WineGirl Wines winemaker (say that three times fast!) Angela Jacobs first became interested in wine while working at an Italian restaurant in Bellevue. She tried a 1996 Archery Summit Premier Cuvee Pinot Noir - “When it was affordable, of course,” she notes. She fell in love with the wine and with the grape. “Way before Sideways,” she is quick to add.

Jacobs made her first wine in 2001 (“Before I was 21,” she says gleefully), making a mere two cases of Pinot Noir. Though she was already interested in wine when she was in college, the University of Washington did not offer winemaking courses, so Jacobs instead focused on the sciences. Upon graduating, she subsequently spent time in California, New Zealand, and Oregon learning the trade.

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Okay folks, Taste Washington weekend is upon us. Here are some tips and tricks to help you make the most of this year’s event.

1. Make a plan for Sunday’s Grand Tasting

There are over 200 wineries represented at Taste Washington, so it is only possible to taste wines from a small fraction of them. You can take a walk and wander approach and taste at wineries as you come across them, or you can have a specific plan of attack.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from March 15th to 21st. See previous round-ups here.

From around the country…


The Fall River Herald News writes about the Washington Hills Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat writes about interesting wines from the Puget Sound.

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Fresh Sheet March 23rd 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 4 comments








Today’s Fresh Sheet – new and recent Washington wine releases – includes wines from Betz Family Winery, Quilceda Creek Vintners, :Nota Bene Cellars, Cave B Winery, Maryhill Winery, and Ott & Murphy Wines.

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Winemaker Justin Neufeld of JB Neufeld Winery was taking a mycology class (the study of fungi) his junior year at the University of Washington when the class went on a field trip to Columbia Winery. “I was at that point in my life where I needed to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of it,” Neufeld says (Ah seems like yesterday. Wait! It was yesterday!). Pondering the question further at Seattle’s Green Lake, Neufeld started thinking about the people who make wine. “Why not me?” he asked. For Neufeld, winemaking seemed like a perfect blend between art and science.

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In Washington State, few labels have been as iconic as L’Ecole No 41’s watercolor depiction of its schoolhouse building. Starting today, that image is part of the winery’s history as the label receives a significant makeover.

L’Ecole’s rebranding effort began almost two years ago in the summer of 2009. For second-generation owners Marty and Megan Clubb, the original intent was to differentiate between the winery’s Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Valley wines. However, it quickly became clear to the Clubbs that they needed to do much more.

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Fresh Sheet March 18th 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011 1 comments







Today’s Fresh Sheet – new and recent Washington wine releases – includes wines from Grand Rêve Vintners, Maison Bleue, Waters Winery, Rulo Winery, and Kaella Winery.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from March 8th to 14th. Read previous round-ups here.


From around the country…


The San Francisco Chronicle writes about Washington considering wine tastings at farmer’s markets.

Aspen Daily News writes about Charles Smith.

Gary V at Wine Library TV talks with Dave Butner from Woodinville’s Kaella Winery.

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Washington Syrah - Star or FUBAR?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 4 comments

At this year's Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers conference, an interesting and important question was asked: Is Washington Syrah a star or is it FUBAR? Panelists Bob Betz (Betz Family Winery), Marty Clubb (L'Ecole No. 41), Paul Gregutt (Wine Enthusiast, PaulGregutt.com), Brian Carter (Brian Carter Cellars), and Brett Scallan (Ste. Michelle Wine Estates) discussed the history of this grape and its struggles in Washington and elsewhere in an interesting two and a half hour seminar. In the Spring Edition of Wine Press Northwest, I give my own thoughts on the future of this grape in Washington. Read the article here.

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The Taste Washington Japan event scheduled in Tokyo later this week has been postponed due to the massive earthquake and tsunami in Sendai. A trade tasting in Osaka continued as scheduled.

The promotional event in Tokyo was scheduled to occur March 15th through 17th. The event, sponsored by the Washington Wine Commission, was to include representation from 34 wineries, including industry leaders Chateau Ste. Michelle, Hedges, and Woodward Canyon. More than 550 tickets had been sold for the consumer event. Seminars and winemaker dinners had also been planned.

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The big story in Washington wine earlier this month was eight Walla Walla wineries cited by the state Liquor Control Board for selling alcohol to minors. By the end of last week details had emerged that the Liquor Control Board had erringly allowed minors to be in possession of alcohol for an extended period during the compliance checks. Charges against three of the eight wineries were subsequently reduced to a written warning due to the error.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from March 1st to 7th. See previous round-ups here.


From around the country…

The Miami Herald writes about Pacific Rim’s 2008 Vin de Glaciere.

The Great Falls Tribune writes about an upcoming wine festival.


From the blogosphere…


Paul Gregutt writes about Walla Walla wineries cited for selling alcohol to minors. He also writes about Seven Hills library wines offered by Full Pull.

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Many a wine consumer has tasted a wine and then looked at the alcohol level and thought, “That doesn’t seem right.” There are many reasons why that suspicion might be correct.

Wines fourteen percent alcohol by volume (ABV) and under are allowed a 1.5% margin of error – provided the alcohol content does not exceed 14%. Wines over 14% are allowed a margin of error of 1%. In other words, a wine listed at 15% alcohol may be as high as 16% without running afoul of the feds. For this reason alone, there is a good chance that the percentage listed on the label is not entirely accurate. There are other reasons.

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In a sign that the wine touring season is upon us, the Washington State Wine 2011 Tour Guide has been released.

This year’s tour guide has been radically changed from previous versions. The guide is physically larger – magazine-sized instead of a booklet - and sports a considerably more attractive cover. The differences are not just in appearance though.

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EFESTĒ winemaker Brennon Leighton is a force of nature. As passionate and opinionated as he is talented, Leighton is poised to make a huge impression on the Washington wine scene in the decades to come. That time starts now.

A former punk rocker with the tattoos to prove it, Leighton first became interested in wine after his boss at a restaurant shared a bottle of 1985 Cheval Blanc. Inspired, he ultimately returned to school and earned a degree in viticulture and enology from UC Davis.

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March's Virtual Tasting will be the 2008 Desert Wind Ruah Red Wine. This wine retails for $20 and is widely available. The tasting will take place on Wednesday March 30th 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 between 7 and 8pm. For those on Twitter, follow me @wawinereport. I will be using the hashtag #dwruah during the event.

Hope you will join us!

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A Mistake

Saturday, March 5, 2011 2 comments

I noticed a disturbing thing when I created my list of top wines from 2010. When going through my tasting note database I came upon the rating for the 2007 Col Solare Red Wine and said – aloud - “That’s not right.”

The rating was listed as a star (‘Excellent’ in my rating system). I vividly remembered the wine both from a barrel sample note and from its release as being the most impressive wine I have had from the winery – my tasting notes on the released wine even stated as such - and clearly an Exceptional (**) wine.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from February 22nd to 28th. See previous round-ups here.

From around the country…

Wine Business.com writes about a new operations manager at SeVein.

MSNBC writes about new tasting rooms in the Marcus Whitman.

Business Week writes about the Goose Ridge Riesling.

The Dallas Fort Worth Tribune writes about Hogue’s Riesling.

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With 700 wineries in Washington State and 200 in neighboring British Columbia, the two areas would seem to be ideal partners for wine related commerce. Unfortunately, antiquated laws and protectionist taxation in British Columbia hurt trade between these two wine regions.

Washington wine has frequently been noted for its affordable prices. However, don’t tell that to folks from BC. NAFTA be damned, British Columbia adds a whopping 100+% tax to all imported wine. The result is eye-popping prices for BC consumers for wine from Washington and other areas.

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Fresh Sheet March 2nd 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 1 comments








Today’s Fresh Sheet – new and recent releases in Washington wine – includes wines from Stevens Winery, Cana’s Feast Winery, Airfield Estates, Gård Vintners, and Columbia Crest.

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For the past three years I’ve published an annual list of some of my favorite wines based on those I’ve sampled for the blog from the year gone by (see 2009 here and 2008 here). Belatedly, below is a look back at some of my personal favorites from 2010.

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