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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Well folks, 2012 is down to its last few hours. Below is a look back at some of the things that happened this past year in Washington wine. For more on the year that was and the year to come, pick up the Winter Edition of Washington Tasting Room Magazine where I write about trends in 2012 and predictions for 2013.

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Washington saw major changes as an industry in 2012 with the state auctioning off its liquor stores, liquor sales becoming privatized, and big box liquor stores – such as BevMo! and Total Wine coming to townMore stores are expected. Everyone got in on the game with spirits now sold in stores from QFC to Target and everything in between. In some cases, the effects were unanticipated.

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Today’s Fresh Sheet – reviews of new and recent releases – includes wines from CadenceSyncline Wine CellarsForgeron CellarsSparkman CellarsVa Piano VineyardsDusted Valley VintnersChateau Ste. MichelleLeonetti Cellar, and Brandborg Vineyard & Winery.

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Today as we begin to wind down the year, a look back at some of my personal favorite posts from each month this year.

January’s was How to Return a Corked Bottle of Wine (and Why You Should).

February’s was How Automated Cross-posting from Facebook to Twitter Can Defeat the Purpose of Social Media (see a follow-up post here).

March’s was a series of ‘wine country porn’ pictures from Napa ValleyOregon, and eastern Washington.

April’s was Washington, Oregon, and the Invisible Divide.

May’s was a post on Quilceda Creek, Washington’s First Family.

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Today, as we begin to wrap up the year, it's time to look back at goals for 2012 as laid out here. Succinctly stated, these goals were:

1. A rating system revision
2. Coverage of Oregon wines
3. Addition of other writers to this space
4. A revised site design
5. Improved access to the Tasting Note Database
6. Faster turnaround on wine reviews
7. Subscription charges for wine reviews

Let's look at how we did.

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Folks, you can see my segment on Seattle's Q13 FOX News on sparkling wines, including some recommendations, here.

Read about sparkling recommendations here. Enjoy!

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Seattleites, tune in to the Q13 News today at 4pm when I’ll be talking about sparkling wines.

Well folks, in the blink of an eye we’re once again coming close to the end of another year, so it’s time to turn our attention to sparkling wines for New Year’s Eve.

Now many tend to think of these as special occasion and celebration wines – and perhaps I am only reinforcing that by writing about them before New Years! However, if you don’t already, make your New Year’s resolution to drink sparkling wines early and often in 2013. These are everyday wines. You wouldn’t just drink Cabernet Sauvignon on a certain date or on special occasions would you? Why should sparkling wines be any different?

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It seems that these days that you can find a coach for just about anything. Career coach? Check. Fitness coach? Check. But life coach? Let’s hear what winemaker Rich Estrin of Estrin Estates has to say.

Estrin’s path to becoming a winemaker was inspired by two simple, provocative questions from a friend. “We were in the heart of our Hogue Genesis/Columbia Crest Grand Estates phase,” Estrin recalls. “That level of wine experience where you’re starting to move beyond your five dollar bottle and looking for a ten dollar bottle. We had some friends who were on that journey with us, and we’d get together and drink wine.”

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Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012 0 comments

Wishing Northwest wine lovers everywhere a very merry Christmas.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from December 15th to 21st 2012. Read previous round-ups here.

From around the country…

The Grower writes about a Washington model that helps predict cold injury to grapes.


From the blogosphere…

The Wine Economist says of Red Mountain, think global, drink local.

Great Northwest Wine writes that Washington wine grape growers continue to grow. They also give a book review for Dishing Up Washington, write about the 2009 Andrew Will SorellaChampoux Vineyard Red Wineexpansion of the Washington Wine Awards, and Washington’s rank in world Riesling production.

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Watch Out World - Here Comes H3

Friday, December 21, 2012 2 comments


NB: The title of this post is assuming that the world still exists on this date. If not, please disregard. 

In this month's Five Wines Under $15 we take a look at the H3 red wines from Columbia Crest. Since their introduction, the production of these wines has grown dramatically, in no case more so than the winery’s Les Chevaux Red Wine.

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Seattleites, tune in to the Q13 News at 4pm today when I'll be talking about holiday wine gifts. 

The December Virtual Tasting wine is the Treveri Cellars Brut Blanc de Blanc NV. This wine retails for $14 and is reasonably widely available. The tasting will take place tonight from 7-8pm Pacific.

What you need to do to participate is:

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

2. Tweet your comments about the wine on Twitter between 7 and 8pm Pacific using the hashtag #treveri. For those on Twitter, follow me @wawinereport.

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Walla Walla Valley Report 2012 Part V

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 0 comments


Below is Part V of a report from the Walla Walla Valley including wines from Dunham CellarsWoodward CanyonDumas StationTranche Cellars, and Balboa Winery. Read Part I here, Part II here, Part III here, and Part IV here. Photograph at left by Richard Duval.



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Fresh Sheet December 18th 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 0 comments







Today’s Fresh Sheet – new and recent releases – includes wines from Walla Walla VintnersThe Grande DallesL’Ecole No 41Tulpen CellarsSinclair Estate Vineyards, and Corvus Cellars.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from December 8th to 14th 2012. Read previous round-ups here.

From around the country…

No love this week.


From the blogosphere…

Great Northwest Wine writes about Ryan Patrick hiring a new brand manager (welcome). They also write about a Washington wine Christmas tree2013 Washington wine road shows, the Andrew Will 2009 Ciel du Cheval Red Wine and 2009 Two Blondes Red Wine.

Northwest Wine Anthem writes about Top 100 Listomania.

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Below is a recipe my girlfriend adapted for making glögg - mulled wine - using wines from Washington. Enjoy!





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Pic of the Vine - December 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012 0 comments


Pic of the Vine is a monthly image taken by contributor Richard Duval. See other Pic of the Vine images here.

December’s Pic of the Vine is a clever and fitting creation of Christmas lights at Bellevue’s Botanical Garden that caught the eye of our resident wine photographer Richard Duval. “Not often you can find grapes on the vine at Christmas,” he said. “I thought this electric display would make the perfect holiday greeting to Washington Wine Report readers.” Perfect indeed! Click on the picture to enlarge the image or go to www.vinelines.com to download a full-sized version. Happy holidays!

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Change is in the air at EFESTĒ

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 5 comments


Change is in the air at Woodinville’s EFESTĒ with former winemaker Brennon Leighton heading to Charles Smith Wines earlier this year (more on this in a future post) and Peter Devison, who was previously making wine at Precept Wine, taking over winemaking responsibilities starting with the 2012 vintage.

If you aren’t familiar with Devison yet, you will be. Devison grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia before moving to Vancouver to attend the University of British Columbia. It was in Vancouver that he first became interested in wine while working in restaurants. Wanting to be more knowledgeable about what he was serving, Devison started out – like many wine novices - reading Jancis Robinson’s Wine Course. Soon, he was devouring all of the books he could find. Devison went on to take WSET and ISG courses and work at a local retail shop.

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The current issue of Washington Tasting Room Magazine has an article I wrote titled, "The Year in Wine 2012-2013." See a list of locations to find a copy here.

Enjoy!

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from December 1st to 7th 2012. Read previous round-ups here.

From around the country…

Shanken Daily News writes about the increase in wine grapevine acreage in Washington.

The San Francisco Chronicle gives its top Rhone-style reds and Cabernets and Merlots. See links to other wines on their top list here.

Wine Spectator writes about rough spots for 2009 Washington wines.


From the blogosphere…

Rick Bakas writes about whether Walla Walla wines are overpriced.

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Below is Part IV of a report from the Walla Walla Valley including wines from àMaurice CellarsSeven Hills WineryTamarack Cellars, Pepper Bridge, and Amavi Cellars. Read Part I here, Part II here, and Part III here. Photographs by Richard Duval. Click on the pictures for larger images. At left, an aerial view of the Walla Walla Valley.

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The December Virtual Tasting wine is the Treveri Cellars Brut Blanc de Blanc NV. This wine retails for $14 and is reasonably widely available. The tasting will take place on Thursday December 20th from 7-8pm Pacific.

What you need to do to participate is:

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

2. Tweet your comments about the wine on Twitter between 7 and 8pm Pacific on the specified date using the hashtag #treveri. For those on Twitter, follow me @wawinereport.


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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from November 22nd to 30th 2012. Read previous round-ups here.

From around the country…

Alister & Paine makes the 2008 Cayuse Vineyards God Only Knows Grenache its wine of the week.

Wake Living writes about Walla Walla wine.


From the blogosphere…

Through the Walla Walla Grapevine writes about Washington Cabernet.

Paul Gregutt bids blogging adieux.

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Summary of Posts November 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012 0 comments
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Below is Part III of a report from the Walla Walla Valley including wines from Cayuse VineyardsGramercy CellarsAbejaReynvaan Family Vineyards, and Corliss Estates. Read Part I here and Part II here.

Cayuse Vineyards

Though Cayuse Vineyards has been more successful than most wineries in the Pacific Northwest or even around the world, vigneron Christophe Baron is far from finished putting his imprint on the industry. There are always new projects afoot, new frontiers being explored.

“We want to experiment,” Baron explains. One such experiment is a high density vineyard – called ‘3 x 3’ for its tight spacing. Rather than being ploughed by tractor, which wouldn’t be able to make it through the vineyard rows, the site is plowed by horse and the project called ‘Horsepower.’

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The November Virtual Tasting is tonight! The wine is the 2011 Dunham Cellars Three Legged Red. This wine retails for $19 and is widely available. The tasting will take place from 7-8pm Pacific.

What you need to do to participate is:

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

2. Tweet your comments about the wine on Twitter between 7 and 8pm Pacific using the hashtag #3leggedred. For those on Twitter, follow me @wawinereport.

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Fresh Sheet November 26th 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012 0 comments






Today’s Fresh Sheet – new and recent releases – includes wines from Stoller Family EstateSpring Valley VineyardSan Juan VineyardsLocati CellarsPamplin Family Winery, and Pendulum.

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The November Virtual Tasting has been moved from Wednesday November 28th to Tuesday November 27th at 7pm Pacific (the Bruce Springsteen show in Portland is calling Wednesday). Read details about how to participate on Tuesday here.

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

From around the country…

Wines & Vines writes about WSU’s research on Brett.

CNBC writes about Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer.

Wisconsin Gazette writes about the best of Wine & Dine Wisconsin with a shout out to Dusted Valley.

The Today Show recommends the O Chardonnay.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 22, 2012 1 comments

Happy Thanksgiving to Northwest wine lovers everywhere!

Leave a comment here or on the Washington Wine Report Facebook page and let us know what you'll be opening up to celebrate today. Enjoy the day!

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You can listen to a spot I did on holiday wines and other things Washington wine on Real Sisters Talk Live Radio here. I come in about 15 minutes in and continue just past the hour. Also, read my recommendations for Thanksgiving wines, some of which were discussed on the show, here. Enjoy!

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

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Pic of the Vine - November 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012 1 comments


Pic of the Vine is a monthly image taken by contributor Richard Duval. See other Pic of the Vine images here.

This month’s image – The Colors of Crush -- comes from Connor Lee vineyard, a source of distinctive grapes found in dozens of Washington wines. While not generally open to the public (or even all that accessible for that matter), wine photographer Richard Duval was shadowing winemaker Kristina Van Loben Sels of Arbor Crest Wine Cellars as she inspected her block of grapes to set the harvest date. A bit of morning mist followed by a touch of sun breaking through the cloud cover was all he needed to capture this image, which he describes as, “one of my favorite from this harvest season.” Download a screen saver sized version of this image at www.vinelines.com

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Thanksgiving Wine Recommendations

Friday, November 16, 2012 3 comments


Well folks, Thanksgiving is almost upon us, so it is time to trot out some wine recommendations for the holiday.

Depending on how you look at it, Thanksgiving can either present a near impossible wine pairing challenge – or it can present a wine pairing opportunity. In terms of the challenge, the diversity of food at the table and the assortment of friends and family feasting mean that it’s almost impossible to pick one wine that both goes with all dishes and will please everyone at the table. My solution? Don’t even try.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from November 8th to 14th 2012 (otherwise known this week as All Amazon All The Time). Read previous round-ups here.

From around the country…

Washington Post writes about Wine.com trying to one up Amazon.

NBC News writes about Amazon offering wine on-line.

Wine Business.com prints a press release from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates on the 2012 harvest (good read).

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Well folks, it’s that time of year again. Time when the annual Top 100 lists start rolling out and time to take a swing at guessing what Washington wines will be in Wine Spectator’s annual Top 100 list.

First though, for those who haven’t seen them already, check out Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Cellar selections here and Top 100 Best Buys here where Northwest wines are well represented. Also check out Paul Gregutt's Top 100 Northwest wines in the Seattle Times here.

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Seattle's Eight Bells Winery

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 1 comments


Wineries are tucked into just about every neighborhood in Seattle, from office parks in SoDo to basements in Ballard. In contrast to wineries in less populated areas, which often announce their presence with large signs and spacious buildings, Seattle’s urban wineries often blend into the city where, if you don’t look closely, you might not even notice they are there as you walk by.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from November 1st to 7th 2012. Read previous round-ups here.

From around the country…

No love this week.


From the blogosphere…

Paul Gregutt gives his Top 100 for 2012.

Through the Walla Walla Grapevine writes about the 2012 vintage in Walla Walla.

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March of the 2011 White Wines

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 0 comments


2011 was Washington’s second consecutive cool growing season, with the vintage winding up to be the coolest on record in many locations. Cooler than average years often seem to be particularly good for white wine grapes in Washington. While I don’t believe the 2011 vintage, in general, reached quite the same heights for white wines as the previous vintage - which was one of my favorites for Washington whites - there were still an abundance of quality wines produced. Below is a look at white wines from the 2011 vintage.

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The November Virtual Tasting wine is the 2011 Dunham Cellars Three Legged Red. This wine retails for $19 and is widely available. The tasting will take place on Tuesday November 27th from 7-8pm Pacific.

What you need to do to participate is:

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

2. Tweet your comments about the wine on Twitter between 7 and 8pm Pacific on the specified date using the hashtag #3leggedred. For those on Twitter, follow me @wawinereport.

Note: The date was originally Wednesday the 28th but it has been moved to Tuesday the 27th. 

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Fresh Sheet November 5th 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012 0 comments








Today’s Fresh Sheet – new and recent releases – includes wines from Long ShadowsNorthstarGård VintnersRyan Patrick VineyardsAlder RidgeSilver Bell WineryWaterbrook, and Six Prong.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from October 22nd to 31st. Read previous round-ups here.

From around the country…

Wine Spectator writes about the top wines of 2011 at the 2012 New World Wine Experience.

The Chicago Daily Herald writes about wine on tap.

Santa Fe New Mexican recommends the Charles Smith Wines Velvet Devil.

Washington Examiner recommends Ash Hollow’s Headless Red.

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What follows is a Focus Report on Manu Propria. Download a .pdf copy here. Read previous Focus Reports here

Located on a small knoll in the western section of the Yakima Valley, Red Willow Vineyard is hallowed ground in Washington wine country. The vineyard’s chapel is as recognizable an image as any in the industry, the vineyard’s fruit as distinctive as any grown in the state.

Together, Columbia Winery winemaker David Lake and grower Mike Sauer used Red Willow to help shape the state’s industry, exploring a number of different varieties – perhaps most notably planting the state’s first Syrah vines in 1986. Though Lake passed away in 2009, other winemakers continue to walk in his footsteps both figuratively and literally.

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This month’s Five Wines Under $15 is devoted to the wines of Columbia Crest’s Grand Estates series.

It is not hyperbole to say that there is no winery in Washington – perhaps even in the entire country - that puts out higher quality wines at lower prices than Columbia Crest. Even more remarkable is the winery’s incredible consistency year after year.

Columbia Crest’s Grand Estates wines sit in the middle of the winery’s lineup between the Two Vines and H3 series wines with the reserve wines at the top. Impressively for wines at this price, there is good separation between the varieties. The Merlot tastes like Merlot; the Cabernet tastes like Cabernet.

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Folks waiting for The Wine Advocate reviews for Washington will have to wait a while longer. Originally slated for the October 31st issue, the reviews will now be part of the December set of reviews. The delay was announced via e-mail to wineries as well as via Mark Squires' Bulletin Board. Writing about the change on the bulletin board Robert Parker stated, "I decided to push Washington state back to December, largely because the upcoming issue is exceptionally large even by our fanatical standards, and such articles don't lend themselves to being divided in two parts."

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For folks you missed it, you can listen to my appearance on Table Talk Radio KKNW 1150AM yesterday with Jamie Peha and Thierry Rautureau here. We talk about the 2012 harvest and Thanksgiving wines. I come on about 37 minutes in (takes some time to load). Enjoy!

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The October Virtual Tasting wine is tonight! The wine is the Renegade Wine Co.  2011 Columbia Valley Red Wine. This wine retails for $10 and is widely available. The tasting will take place from 7-8pm Pacific.

What you need to do to participate is:

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

2. Tweet your comments about the wine on Twitter between 7 and 8pm Pacific tonight using the hashtag #RWineCo. For those on Twitter, follow me @wawinereport.

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Pic of the Vine - October 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 0 comments

This is the first in a monthly series of images from photographer Richard Duval called 'Pic of the Vine.' This month’s image comes from the estate vineyard of a'Maurice Cellars in the Walla Walla Valley. The vineyard is fronted by a full bloom of lavender.

Duval notes that he first saw the scene at the end of the day drive-by on one of his frequent shooting trips to Walla Walla. The next morning he was in place for dawn’s light to illuminate the sky and the lavender field in front of the carefully tended vines. The result was this landscape that he jokingly titled “On the Corner of Lavender and Vine.” Download a screen saver sized version of this image at www.vinelines.com. Read reviews of the a'Maurice Cellars wines here.

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Reminder  - This month's Virtual Tasting is coming up Wednesday at 7pm Pacific. Read about how to participate here

I am pleased to announce that photographer and writer Richard Duval will be a regular contributor to this site.

Richard Duval’s world revolves around the three critical Ps – photography, pizza, and piano. Culled from his frequent travels, his wine, scenic and landscape images are found on note cards, galleries, and calendars, and as stock photography. His work is often featured in Washington Tasting Room magazine, the Washington Wine GuideNature Photographer, and Northwest Travel Magazine among others and his assignments include Holland America Line, Microsoft and Vermont Life.

Woven into this texture is his endless pursuit of perfecting the art of Neapolitan pizza making by evoking the traditions and practices of old world Naples. In between photo sessions and pizza tossing, Duval's main love is the piano. His CD “Notes to Myself” features his intimate and original musical stories. He lives near Mill Creek with his wife Leslee and Brunello, the wine dog.

See his wine work at www.vinelines.com and on Facebook at Duval Images.

Look for the first image in a monthly series from Duval called ‘Pic of the Vine’ later today.

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Reminder  - This month's Virtual Tasting is coming up Wednesday at 7pm Pacific. Read about how to participate here

A round-up of stories on Washington wine from October 15th to 21st 2012. Read previous round-ups here.

From around the country…

The Wall Street Journal asks if happy days are here again for Merlot.


From the blogosphere…

Paul Gregutt writes about the new Ancient Lakes AVA. He also gives a top 10 best buy from the Northwest.

Huffington Post writes about the TripAdvisor 2012 Travelers’ Choice Wine Destinations awards with Walla Walla at number 8.

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Please note that from September 26th through October 15th, the system that generates RSS feeds and distributes e-mails for readers of this site was not working properly. For this reason, during this time, people who read via RSS feeds did not see the posts updated and people who subscribe via e-mail did not receive e-mails. The problem has now been corrected - and thank you to the reader who brought the issue to my attention.

Below is a list of posts during that time from most recent to least.

HARVEST REPORT OCTOBER 15TH 2012

WASHINGTON WINE ROUND-UP OCTOBER 1ST TO 7TH 2012

OCTOBER VIRTUAL TASTING - 2011 RENEGADE RED WINE

THE WEEK OF THE WIND MACHINE - HARVEST REPORT OCTOBER 8th

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

From around the country…

Fox News writes about the top 10 wine country inns with a shout out to Abeja.

The Washington Post asks whether Amazon is any closer to solving the wine shipping riddle.

Florida Today writes about K Vintners.

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Washington will receive its thirteenth federally approved growing region - the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley - this week. The appellation is expected to be entered in the Federal Register on Thursday.

Cameron Fries of White Heron Winery petitioned for the appellation along with Joan Davenport, Professor-Soil Sciences at Washington State University. Fries says that he’s been working to gain appellation status for the region for almost seven years.

Fries believes that the Ancient Lakes region deserves to be recognized both for its grape growing and its majestic scenery. “It’s an extraordinarily beautiful area,” he says. “I call it a mini Grand Canyon.” Anyone who has seen a concert at the Gorge Amphitheatre, which lies within the growing region, will surely agree.

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Harvest Report October 15th 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012 0 comments


The past week in eastern Washington was notable for seeing limited amounts of rain – the first in several months. For most, this was a relief, cutting down on dust and clearing the air. Few growers or winemakers expected the rain to have any effect on harvest. Other than that, things are beginning to wind down for many.

Winemaker Ross Mickel of Ross Andrew Winery and Force Majeure says, “Not much is happening in terms of ripening or degradation of the fruit. Things are in a holding pattern. There is possibly some dehydration, so we'll probably see an increase in Brix levels, but in terms of flavors in the vineyards we are working with, what we're going to get is already there.”

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from October 1st to 7th 2012. Read previous round-ups here.

From around the country…

Wines & Vines writes about wines biggest winners and losers, with California and Washington wines driving growth for Bordeaux-style blends.


From the blogosphere…

Northwest Wine Anthem writes about Sonoris Wines. They also write about Woodinville’s harvest.

Paul Gregutt asks whether critics should criticize pricing or just wine. He also writes about Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Best Buys of 2012.

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The October Virtual Tasting wine is the Renegade Wine Co.  2011 Columbia Valley Red Wine. This wine retails for $10 and is widely available. The tasting will take place on Wednesday October 24th from 7-8pm Pacific.

What you need to do to participate is:

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

2. Tweet your comments about the wine on Twitter between 7 and 8pm Pacific on Wednesday October 24th using the hashtag #RWineCo. For those on Twitter, follow me @wawinereport.

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This has been the week of the wind machine in Washington with a series of cold nights from last Tuesday through Sunday. Temperatures in some of the cooler areas of the Walla Walla and Yakima valleys dipped into the low 30s and even high 20s in some locations. While some did report frost issues, many were able to keep the frost at bay by using wind machines. 

“We started running wind machines on Tuesday night and have been every night since,” one wine grower in the Walla Walla Valley said yesterday. “The forecast for tonight is around 35 degrees so we should be out of it.” Meanwhile on Red Mountain temperatures dipped down to the high twenties on Friday but wind machines kept temperatures a few degrees higher allowing the growing season to continue.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from September 22nd to 30th. Read previous round-ups here.

From around the country…

Wine Spectator writes about Owen Roe opening a new production facility in Washington. They also write about twelve exciting new Washington reds and Amazon trying to get into the wine business again.

San Francisco Business Times writes about Amazon trying again to get into the on-line wine business

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Today, a few pictures from a recent trip to Two Blondes Vineyard - Andrew Will's site - in the Yakima Valley. Click on the pictures for larger images. Enjoy!

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Fresh Sheet October 2nd 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012 1 comments

Today’s Fresh Sheet – new and recent releases – includes wines from Maison Bleue, Native Sun, Waterbrook, Hard Row to Hoe, and Avennia.

Maison Bleue
 
For anyone interested in the subject of Washington wine – or wine in general for that matter - the 2010 red releases from Prosser’s Maison Bleue are nothing short of required reading.

Earlier this year the winery released its 2010 reds from Upland Vineyard. Now Maison Bleue releases its two Boushey Vineyard reds, the 2010 Le Midi Grenache and 2010 Liberte Syrah. These wines are as compelling as any being made in Washington right now.

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A change in weather patterns this past week cleared out much of the smoke that had been hanging over eastern Washington. Still, smoke does persist in some areas. Several winemakers noted that ripening slowed down this past week, with some wondering whether the haze from the smoke contributed in some way.

“Last week slowed significantly from the previous two weeks, whether due to decreased sunlight because of smoke, lower temps, shorter days, I’m not sure,” Ben Smith at Cadence Winery says. Smith notes that, with the exception of Merlot, berry sizes have been smaller than average this year. “I recorded 0.78 grams per berry for Tapteil Cabernet Sauvignon, a record,” he says. Smith has been sourcing fruit from this vineyard for more than a decade.

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Five Wines Under $15 - September 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012 0 comments








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

Aligoté is a rare variety in Washington with a limited plantings of old vines at Upland Vineyard on Snipes Mountain (Notably, Smasne Cellars also makes a varietal bottle from Upland Vineyard). The grape is perhaps best known as the other white grape of Burgundy, although there are widespread plantings in other areas of the world. California’s Steele Wines has made the Shooting Star Aligoté for a number of years with the fruit for this wine all coming from Upland.

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The September Virtual Tasting is tonight from 7-8pm Pacific! The wine is the J Bookwalter Winery Notebook Red Wine NV2. This 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. Tweet your comments about the wine on Twitter tonight between 7 and 8pm Pacific using the hashtag #notebook2. For those on Twitter, follow me @wawinereport.

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

From around the country…


Wine Spectator writes about the FDA taking a growing interest in winery safety.

Lowell Sun writes about Drew Bledsoe’s Doubleback.


From the blogosphere…

Jameson Fink writes about the Waters 2010 Tremelo.

The Wine Economist asks whether the wine market is saturated.

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2012 Harvest Gets Hazy

Monday, September 24, 2012 1 comments

Two stories dominate this week’s harvest report. The first is the continuation of near perfect weather for harvest across eastern Washington. The second is the potential threat of smoke from a number of large wildfires. Let’s start there.

Due to the long, warm dry spell this season, a series of large wildfires are burning in eastern Washington and central and southern Idaho. Smoke from these wildfires has created a haze over large areas of eastern Washington. While most of Washington’s growing regions are far from the flames, others are fairly close.
 

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Below is Part II of a report from the Walla Walla Valley including wines from Mackey Vineyards, Tero Estates and Flying Trout, SYZYGY, Trust Cellars, and Bunchgrass Winery. Read Part I here.

Mackey Vineyards


Mackey Vineyards was founded by brothers Roger and Phillip Mackey. The winery has two estate vineyards. The first is Mackey Vineyard, located in the southeastern section of the Walla Walla Valley in a canyon on the south fork of the Walla Walla River. Fruit from this vineyard goes into the winery’s Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon reviewed below. The second is Frenchtown Vineyard near Lowden. Mackey also uses fruit from DuBrul, Sagemoor (Bacchus and Dionysus), Les Collines and other vineyards. The winery has a tasting room in downtown Walla Walla. Billo Naravane of Rasa Vineyards serves as consulting winemaker.

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Almost from the first sip, Kit Singh of Lauren Ashton Cellars knew he wanted to become a winemaker. Singh had moved to Seattle from Trinidad in 1985 to attend the University of Washington, where he majored in chemistry. Though he had tried wine in his native country, that wasn’t where he first became interested in the subject. “We had a bunch of God awful wines there!” Singh says with a laugh.

Rather, Singh’s interest in wine began during his years as an undergraduate at the University of Washington and then, increasingly, as he attended the UW’s dental school. While he knew that he wanted to make wine one day, first Singh had to get through school and get his practice – which is located in Redmond Town Center - successfully running before it was ever practical. “Once you do all that, then you can finally go back and start looking at the interests you had that you never pursued,” he says.

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In 1982 Steve Robertson and his wife Mary traveled down to Napa Valley for what turned out to be a fateful two-week vacation. While they were there, Mary noticed a postcard in Yountville advertising a 10-acre piece of land between St. Helena and Calistoga. “’We should call that!’” Robertson remembers her saying. And call the number they did.

Though the couple had just moved into a new condominium in Seattle – and neither one of them had jobs – the Robertsons put an offer in on the land and by the following February, they moved down to Napa Valley. “Our goal was to learn as much as we could about wine by being close to it,” Robertson says.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from September 8th to 14th 2012. Read previous round-ups here.

From around the country…

PBS Newshour talks about training students for jobs in the Washington wine industry.

Wines & Vines writes about the purchase of Blackwood Canyon by Michael Corliss.

Shanken Daily News writes about Ste. Michelle Wine Estates purchasing O Wines.

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Over the coming weeks, I will provide periodic updates on what is picked, where, and when as well as thoughts on the growing season from the state’s growers and winemakers. Read previous updates here.

9/14 Update: Across Washington this past week, growers and winemakers saw near perfect conditions with warm days and cool - even cold - nights. Whereas last week there was a small trickle of wineries starting to pick fruit, now more and more wineries are involved, with some beginning to pick red grapes.

Jarrod Boyle, owner and winemaker at Alexandria Nicole Cellars, says that the weather at his Destiny Ridge Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills has been ideal the past week and Brix levels are rising. “From September 4th to September 11th we saw around a 2 to 2.5 increase in Brix levels,” Boyle says. “The exciting part for us is that we are seeing the acid levels come down slowly, as opposed to taking a big dip as the sugar increases. Both the pH and acid levels are maintaining really good levels right now, so things are maintaining a really good balance. The weather has been great. We are still getting some heat in the afternoon, but it is cooling off significantly in the evenings.”

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The September Virtual Tasting wine is the J Bookwalter Winery Notebook Red Wine NV2. This wine retails for $15 and is widely available. The tasting will take place on Wednesday September 26th from 7-8pm Pacific.

What you need to do to participate is:

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

2. Tweet your comments about the wine on Twitter between 7 and 8pm Pacific on September 26th using the hashtag #notebook2. For those on Twitter, follow me @wawinereport.

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Tasting Note Database Read an explanation of the fields here. FINAL UPDATE 6/13/2015. See Wine Enthusiast for current reviews.

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