Doug Roskelley and Mike Tembreull of Tero Estates and Flying Trout have purchased Walla Walla Valley’s Waters Winery. Terms of the sale were not disclosed but include both the Waters brand as well as inventory. The Waters building and the winery’s vineyards were not part of the sale. Jamie Brown will serve as Waters’ winemaker under the agreement.
Asked what led to the interest in purchasing the winery, Doug Roskelley, who serves as winemaker at Tero and Flying Trout, said, “The obvious answer to that is Syrah. We don’t currently do any Syrah. It’s something new for our portfolio, and Jamie is one of the best Syrah guys around.”
While it was Syrah that led to his interest, Roskelley admits to being slow to coming around to the variety in Washington. “Going back nine or ten years, they were high alcohol fruit bombs,” Roskelley said. “They never attracted me. The thing I really liked about Jamie’s wines is that the alcohol was low and it was kept in an Old World style. The fruit was there but it wasn’t so predominant.”
Indeed, while Waters Winery has excelled with a variety of wines since it was founded in 2005, Syrah has been the winery’s trademark. Having previously worked in the restaurant industry, Brown focuses on creating higher acid, lower alcohol wines better suited to pairing with food (read a previous write up on the winery here).
Roskelley said that he doesn’t plan to make major changes at Waters. “We want to make the transition for Waters' current customers as smooth as possible,” he said. To that end, the agreement allows for the Waters wines to continue to be poured at the existing facility until mid-2014.
For his part, Jamie Brown says he looks forward to partnering with the Roskelleys. “I'm totally excited!” he wrote via email. “Doug and Jan Roskelley are a perfect fit, especially since they've desired to add a high-end Syrah presence to their existing portfolio.”
With harvest coming up, Roskelley said that the plan is to ferment the 2013 wines at Tero Estates. After fermentation, the wines will be moved to a location on the Washington wide of the Walla Walla Valley appellation for ageing.
In addition to purchasing the Waters brand, Roskelley and Tembreull also purchased the 21 Grams brand, including Greg and Pam Harrington’s (Gramercy Cellars) stake in the business. Both purchases come at a fortuitous time with Waters and 21 Grams releasing some of their strongest work to date with their wines from the 2010 vintage (see reviews below).
Tero Estates was founded in 2007 as a partnership between Mike Tembruell and Doug Roskelley, with the winery taking on the first two letters of both of their last names. Flying Trout Wines – which focuses on Malbec, Malbec based blends, and Torrontes – was purchased in 2010.
Waters Winery Interlude Red Wine Columbia Valley 2010 $28
(Excellent/Exceptional) A lightly aromatic wine with olive, dry chocolate, and tobacco. The palate is sensuous and soft with elegant flavors that glide on the finish. 57% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Malbec, and 3% Cabernet Franc. 1,550 cases produced.
Waters Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Washington 2010 $80
(Exceptional) Elegance defined, this first reserve wine from Waters is one to swoon over with high toned herbs, cherries, and savory notes. The palate is seamless and shows exceptional polish with a satiny feel, fine grained tannins, and a lingering finish. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon (Cold Creek) and 25% Malbec (StoneTree). Aged in French oak (0% new). 14.6% alcohol.
21 Grams Red Wine Columbia Valley 2010 $125
(Exceptional) All about elegance, this is perhaps my favorite of the releases from this winery. It shows notes of cherry, olive, and dried herbs. The palate has incredible grace and texture, mouthwatering acidity, and a finish that stretches out for more than a minute.