Washington Wine Report is an independent publication focused on bringing Washington wine to you and bringing you to Washington 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

Sean P. Sullivan

2019 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

Five Under Fifteen - January

Friday, January 29, 2010 2 comments

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

My father was fond of saying “Sometimes you eat the bear. Sometimes the bear eats you.” This month unfortunately the latter was more often the case.

The best of the bunch comes from Columbia Crest. This winery needs no introduction. I have written about them extensively in the past. Additionally, Columbia Crest’s wines have been featured in a number of our monthly Virtual Tastings (indeed, one of the wines below is from the January VT). Columbia Crest is, quite simply, the Quality-to-Price-Ratio (QPR) standard bearer for Washington wine – a position the winery cemented after having their 2005 Reserve Cabernet named Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator in 2009. Columbia Crest’s wines show consistent quality across their four tiers – Two Vines, Grand Estates, H3, and Reserve. While I found the 2007 H3 Merlot had much to offer, it also, had a number of distracting components that make it a good, but not great wine. The 2007 Grand Estates Cabernet was a bit of a disappointment. While a solid value wine for an under $15 cabernet, it didn’t transcend the price point in the way the wines from this tier often do. The Merlot-Cabernet is an interesting wine mainly in that the Cabernet referred to in the name is mostly Cabernet Franc (20%) instead of Cabernet Sauvignon (5%).

Clubhouse Cellars IQ2 Friends is a red blend made by Page Cellars with the branding “Two IQs are better than one.” I first tried this wine about a month back and found it to be dreadful. Not flawed but also not drinkable. I was therefore quite surprised to see it listed as Compass WinesWine of the Year in their monthly newsletter. The decision was based on the high QPR of the wine making it just what people were looking for in a bad economy. Although I had poured the first bottle down the drain, I decided to give it another try. However, the results were the same. I would like to think that this is just a difference in palates but frankly I find that hard to believe. It seems like we are talking about two different wines here (and I respect Doug Charles' taste in wines).

Pacific Rim has long been known as a Riesling specialist. The winery, founded in 2006 by a group of Bonny Doon expats, makes a wide variety of Washington’s signature white grape, from organic to biodynamic to single vineyard wines, from dry to sweet. Autumnus is Pacific Rim’s first red wine. The winery set out to make a wine to accompany food (here here). For this reason, Pacific Rim took an unusual approach for Washington, making a wine that is lower in alcohol, higher in acid, and minimally exposed to oak. They also used an interesting blend: Sangiovese (for “bright fruit and tannins”); Barbera (for “acidity and raciness”) and Primitivo (the only one aged in oak, for “rich meaty characteristics”). For all of this, Pacific Rim should be commended. Unfortunately, the 2007 Autumnus Red Wine doesn’t entirely come off, showing a bit too much acidity to be in balance and coming off as a bit green. When I tried it with food, it provided an interesting accent to the meal, but the accents didn’t move in the other direction with the wine not having the legs to stand on its own. Still, I look forward to trying the next release as the concept is right.

If you have favorite Washington wines under fifteen dollars, leave a comment or send me an email at and I will check it out.

Columbia Crest H3 Merlot Horse Heaven Hills 2007 $15

Rating: + (Good) A pleasing nose with blackberry, spice, and oak aromas. Palate is a bit frontloaded. Oak seems heavy handed, especially at higher temperatures. Shows a lot of chocolate but a bit too much overall A good dose of tannins for a wine in this price range, but they are somewhat drying. Overall, has a number of positive things about it but bit too many negatives to recommend. 79% Merlot; 11% Cabernet Sauvignon; 6% Cabernet Franc; 4% Syrah. Aged in French and American oak (33% new, 67% older). 14.5% alcohol.
Purchased for $12 at Safeway

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2007 $12

Rating: . /+ (Decent/Good) Wood, spice, and chocolate in the background on a nose that is quite muted. Taste shows a fair amount of oak influence with the fruit in the background. While this is often the style of this label, it doesn’t seem to work as well as usual on this vintage. Lingers in a slightly unpleasant way on the palate. 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah. 13.6% alcohol.
Purchased at Safeway for $9

Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot-Cabernet Washington State 2006 $8

Rating: . (Decent) Fairly light in color. A lot of chocolate and berry aromas along with a touch of green pepper. Cherry cola comes to the fore when the wine sits for a moment. Unoffensive but ultimately unremarkable on the palate. Pleasantly low in alcohol. 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. 13.5% alcohol.
Purchased from Fremont Wine Warehouse for $13

Clubhouse Cellars IQ2 Friends Red Wine Columbia Valley 2007 $10

Rating:. (Decent) A lot of berry aromas along with a bizarre lemongrass aroma on a nose that is fairly off-putting. Reasonably even but ultimately unremarkable on the palate. A decent but ultimately fairly uninteresting wine. Tasting twice with consistent notes. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. 14.1% alcohol.
Purchased from Pete’s Bellevue for $9.29

Pacific Rim Autumnus Washington State 2007 $14

Rating: . (Decent) A light nose with red fruit, spice, potpourri aromas, and green elements. A bit flat on the palate with a healthy dose of acidity along with some citrus components. Provides some accent with food but alone is wanting. Sangiovese, Barbera, Pinot Nero, and Primitivo. 12.8% alcohol.
Purchased from Fremont Wine Warehouse for $13

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January’s Virtual Tasting is tonight! The wine is the 2007 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is widely available in grocery stores and wine shops and retails for $12, although it can frequently be found on sale.

The tasting will take place from 7-9pm. Look for updates to this post and comments from the virtual tasters during this time (click on “Subscribe by email” after commenting if you want to follow the comment thread via email). I will also be tweeting @wawinereport.

What you need to do to participate:

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

2. Post your comments/tweets tonight between 7 and 9pm. Comments can be as long or short as you want (my personal favorite comment ever was “Blech!”). A good place to start is, did you like the wine or not? Not sure? Think about whether you would buy it again.

If you can’t participate tonight, feel free to try the wine at any point in the future and post your comments.

Read about previous virtual tastings here.

7:05 Update: And we're off!

Some background information. Columbia Crest has four tiers of wine – the Reserves (one of which was named Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year in 2009), H3 (for Horse Heaven Hills), the Grand Estates series, and the Two Vines.

Starting with the outside of the bottle, the 2007 Grand Estates Cabernet has undergone one of the more significant label changes the winery has made in recent years. Usually Columbia Crest has made slight alterations in color to distinguish between the vintages of the GE wines. With the 2007 release, it has a quite different looking label. Personally, I think the new label looks a bit more classy and contemporary. What do you think? Also interested to see that it says “Washington grown” at the bottom of the label. Don’t remember seeing this before. Does anyone else?

Time to pour this sucker…

If you’re leaving a comment and want to receive email comments from the other virtual tasters, remember to click on “Subscribe by email” in the comments section. For those tweeting, I’m using the hashtag #wawine.

7:20 Update: Opening the bottle up, a composite cork which is very lightly stained. Overchilled the wine a bit (58 degrees). As many of you know, I like to drink my reds between 62-66 and the room was a little warmer so I through it in the fridge. At this temperature the nose is light and the wine shows a lot of barrel aromas (vanilla but mainly wood and some spice). Not a lot of fruit showing through. Letting it warm up a bit.

7:30 Update: While the wine has warmed up, the nose has remained fairly stable. Light and dominated by vanilla, chocolate, and oak aromas. Fruit seems fairly far in the background. The nose and the taste definitely seem to match up on this wine. Taste shows a lot of chocolate (fairly consistent with the GE Cab and Merlot series) and lots of barrel influence. The palate has some weight but a lot of it seems to be coming from the wood rather than the fruit. The fruit is there but it is playing a secondary role. Palate seems to dip down and come out of balance about 2/3 of the way through. Leaves a bit of a strange taste lingering.

7:45 Update: A bit of background on the wine. 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah. 13.6% alcohol. No listing of the case production but Columbia Crest has generally made about 200k cases of this wine.

Tasting notes from the Winery: “Soft, yet intense aromas of chocolate cherry, cassis and slight spice lead to a medium-bodied palate of fruit- forward flavors. This concentrated wine trails into a supple finish that offers silky tannins, notes of dark chocolate and a slightly spiced finish."

8:10 Update: Four reviews on CellarTracker. See them here. Average 85.8 pts. and median of 84 pts. in 4 notes. No reviews yet from Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, or Wine Advocate.

8:30 Update: A nice tech sheet on this wine which you can access here.

Like many who participated tonight, I purchased this wine at the grocery store for a bit under $9. The wine retails for $12 but can frequently be found on sale.

8:45 Update: Overall I find the wine disappointing. Given that 2007 was such a spectacular vintage in Washington, I had higher hopes. The nose on this wine is dominate by oak aromas and the fruit is far in the background. The taste is about the same with a lingering aftertaste that I find a bit unpleasant.

That said, the main reason I am disappointed is due to the way that this wine - and the other wines in the Grand Estates series - have consistently over-performed over the years. This is a wine that more or less matches its price point. Generally, under $15 is an extremely tough price point for Washington cabernet. It's hard to think of one that is particularly compelling, outside of the Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet 2007, off the top of my head.

I would rate this wine somewhere between a dot (.) and a plus (+). If I were rating on a 100 point scale I would say 86 points. It's not a bad wine by any means but overall fairly unremarkable and a bit of a step down from its predecessors.

Final Update: That’s all folks! Thanks to everyone who participated and commented on the blog. Thanks also to those virtual tasting Tweeters: @nectarwine @winebeerwa @riche88 @boxboylover @sturat (forgive me if I missed anyone!).

If you didn't get a chance to try the wine tonight, feel free to do so and post your comments in the future.

We’ll do it all again next month. Let me know if you have any suggestions for the wine. Until then…

Final Final Update: Just added some food to the mix. Cheese and smoked salmon. Drinking this wine with this food is like putting a magnifying glass on the food. Everything about the cheese and salmon got larger! It didn't really go the other way with the food bringing more out of the wine. Interesting...

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REMINDER: January's Virtual Tasting is the Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet. The tasting will take place on Thursday January 28th starting at 7pm. Read more about it here.

While diamonds have the four Cs, wine has the two Ps - Price and Points. These are the primary drivers of wine sales. It is therefore not surprising that retailers often misrepresent them both.

In terms of price, the classic misrepresentation is the retail price of the wine. One frequently sees a sign that lists the retail price and a lower sale price. In fact, the wine retails for something closer to the sale price listed. Grocery stores seem to particularly favor this type of chicanery although wine stores are not immune. This is, of course, a classic sales technique that retailers everywhere use. Consumers think they are getting a better deal than they are actually getting, so they make the purchase.

The misrepresentation of points is more pernicious. The most frequent one here is the erroneous shelf talker - the signs on the shelf below the bottle that frequently give a score and a tasting note from a wine reviewer. The most frequent offense is a shelf talker from a different vintage. This is usually done carelessly rather than maliciously when retailers and distributors are restocking shelves. The highly rated vintage runs out, the next one comes in, and the shelves are restocked without removing the shelf-talker. Sometimes, of course, the wine is as good or even better. Sometimes it is not. Regardless, the consumer might be making a purchase based on misinformation.

Recently I have noticed a variation on this theme – the misattributed shelf talker. Here the shelf talker attributes a score from a widely known source when in fact the score comes from a different source. Several weeks back I saw an inexpensive wine with a high score attributed to Paul Gregutt who writes for the Seattle Times, Wine Enthusiast, and Spokesman-Review (NB: Gregutt also writes a blog which if you are not already reading you should stop, go to this link, thoroughly consume and enjoy the entire blog, and then return to the rest of this post). A person on the floor I spoke with even mentioned Gregutt by name when talking about the wine (I’m sure this was done naively by the way). Intrigued, I picked the wine up and found, to my surprise, that it was dreadful. A bit of research showed that Gregutt had never reviewed the wine. Rather, it had been reviewed by a blogger at Seattle’s other newspaper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Note: the Seattle PI is now on-line only. It has a number of bloggers with no affiliation to the paper who have sites set up there of which this was one). While this is the most egregious misattribution I have seen, I have seen others. While most are made out of carelessness, they are – quite simply – unacceptable.

So what does all this mean to you the wine buyer? Unfortunately, as is often the case, it means that if something seems like too good of a deal to be true, it probably is. That said, there are always good deals out there. Consider doing some research about a wine you are interested in, especially if you are spending more than $10 to $20. Wineries list retail prices on their websites and often list high scores as well so do some checking before making the purchase. Also, look for whether the shelf talker lists the vintage of the wine. If it doesn’t, it might be worth checking on-line before making a purchase. Personally, I always recommend talking with people at a wine store rather than relying on shelf talkers.

What does all this mean to you the wine retailer? Time to be more careful. While I am assuming these mistakes are made out of carelessness, reputation and customer loyalty is at stake. If consumers start to see this type of thing frequently, it is hard to believe it is not done knowingly. Checking for accuracy means extra work – being aware of wine reviews and when new releases are being put out - but that comes with the business. I would also suggest putting vintages on all shelf talkers to make it more obvious to everyone involved if there is a discrepancy.

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REMINDER: January's Virtual Tasting is the Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet. The tasting will take place on Thursday January 28th starting at 7pm. Read more about it here.

A round-up of stories on Washington wine from January 15th to 21st.

For your reading pleasure, the Winter edition of Wine Press Northwest is now available on-line (Note: It’s in an on-line reader).

From around the world

The Sydney Morning Herald writes that New Zealand winery Villa Marie has formed an export partnership with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

From around the country

Wine Spectator writes about the fire at Arbor Crest’s Cliff House (skip past the Mariah Carey story). They also write about fifteen 'spectacular' reds from Washington.

The North Dakota High Plains Reader writes about ice wine with a callout to Covey Run. writes that the number of US wineries has increased to 6,223. California has about half of them and Washington about one in ten.

From the blogosphere

The Oregon Wine Blog writes about Crayelle Cellars.

Through the Walla Walla Grapevine writes about Tranche Cellars 2004 Red Wine.

Beyond the Bottle writes about disclosing wine ingredients. Thad also writes about Nefarious Cellars viognier.

Woodinville Wine Update
writes about the possibility of Covey Run opening a tasting room in Woodinville. Shona also writes about Maison Bleue leaving their tasting space in Woodinville, Tempest Sol, and Woodinville wineries who tweet.

Yak Yak Wine
writes about the McCrea Cellars 2007 Mourvedre.

WINO Magazine does Part IV of a Walla Walla roundtable.

writes about the 2004 Columbia Winery Red Willow Syrah and 2008 Red Willow Sangiovese. He also writes about the Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2007 Grenache.

The Wine Muse writes about the Renegade Wine Company.

Wine and Beer of Washington State writes about the 2007 Icicle Ridge Merlot.

Wine Peeps
writes about Washington Riesling with callouts to Eroica, Trust Cellars, Poet’s Leap, Nefarious Cellars, Cave B, and Columbia Crest. They also check out Efeste’s 2008 Evergreen Riesling and try merlots from Januik and Fielding Hills.

Waddle Journal writes about barrel tasting in Walla Walla.

Wine the Blog writes about Gilbert Cellars.

Pour Wine Review writes about the 2007 Waving Tree Sangiovese.

General Wine Thoughts writes about Walla Walla wines with callouts to Woodward Canyon Winery, L’Ecole No 41, Gifford Hirlinger, Beresan Winery, Balboa Winery, Basel Cellars, Trio Vintners, Kontos Cellars, Dunham Cellars, Cavu Cellars and Waterbrook.

From the locals

KNDO reports on construction of a distillery in eastern Washington which will be owned by Joe Tefft of Tefft Cellars.

Writing for the Seattle Times, Paul Gregutt writes about box wines.

Woehler writes about the Covey Run Quail Series.

The Bellingham Herald writes about Idaho’s Pend d'Oreille Winery using Washington grapes for their wines.

The Walla Walla Union Bulletin writes about Queensryche’s Geoff Tate bottling his wine at Three Rivers Winery.

That’s all folks!

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REMINDER: January's Virtual Tasting is the Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet. The tasting will take place on Thursday January 28th starting at 7pm. Read more about it here.

This is part of a report on the South Seattle Artisan Wineries. Additional sections of the report will be posted to the blog. Download a complete .pdf copy of the report here.

Stomani Cellars focuses on “Italian style artisan wines.” The winery is family venture for the Stothers and Manoni families, and Stomani’s name is a combination of these two surnames. Alex Manoni serves as Stomani’s winemaker. Manoni seeks to make wines that are food friendly and a bit higher in acid compared to some in the state. Stomani focuses on Italian grape varietals, particularly Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Barbera, Dolcetto, and Aglianico. Manoni says “The blends we produce focus on something for each of the three areas of the palate, front, mid and back using Sangiovese as the backbone for the blend.”

Stomani Cellars currently produces 1,000 cases annually.

Stomani Cellars Pinot Gris Yakima Valley 2008 $15

Rating: . (Decent)
Clear in color. Nose marked by an aged cheese aroma along with melon, sweet, honeyed fruit, and mineral aromas. The nose is appealing once the odd cheese aroma comes off. A pleasing, straight-forward wine that doesn’t show a lot of movement on the palate. Wants a bit more acidity to lift up the fruit. 100% stainless steel. Sampled at 55 degrees.

Stomani Cellars Dolcetto Yakima Valley 2006 $20

Rating: . (Decent)
Cloudy and showing a bit of age. Bright red and blue fruit on a fresh, fruity nose that also shows an under-layer of ground cranberries. Crisp, tart, and acidic on the palate. A fun but overall somewhat unremarkable wine. Sampled at 60 degrees.

Stomani Cellars Sangiovese Wahluke Slope 2007 $25

Rating: + (Good)
Fairly dark in color. Initially a touch of mint on the nose that is replaced by earth, chocolate, and red fruit. Wood flavors get in the way on the palate overwhelming what otherwise seems to be very good fruit. The oak may settle down with additional time in the bottle. Sampled at 62 degrees.

Stomani Cellars Insieme 2007 $25

Rating: + (Good)
Nose marked by prune, cherry, and plum aromas along with black licorice and milk chocolate. An impressive palate with a lot of fruit across the mid-palate and a good amount of grip along with cherry and vanilla flavors. An impressive taste but the nose is a bit wanting. 50% Merlot, 35% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in French and American oak. Sampled at 62 degrees.

Stomani Cellars Terromoto Red Wine Columbia Valley 2007 $25

Rating: . (Decent)
Dark and purply. A lot of earth aromas along with spice, black cherry, chocolate, and ground black pepper. The nose seems a bit overloaded with pepper and spice. Tart, puckering, and very drying on the palate. Needs food to offset it. 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 22% Sangiovese, and 3% Petit Verdot. Aged in French and American oak. Sampled at 62 degrees.

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For four Mondays starting February 8th and ending March 1st Seattle's The Local Vine will conduct a tasting series looking at Washington winemakers and the regions that made them famous. Classes - which will be limited to 12 people - will be from 6:00-7:00pm and cost $25 each ($80 for all four). Each class will feature four wines which will be served blind.

Information about the series is below. Call 206-280-1429 or e-mail for reservations.

Monday, Feb 8th - Kimberly Bonebrake from Chateau Ste. Michelle will lead a tasting of two of Germany's most revered Riesling producers, Ernst Loosen of Dr. Loosen and Armin Diel of Schlossgut Diel. See how their interpretation of Washington Riesling, arguably our two best, compares to some of Germany's most hallowed vineyards.

- Dr. Loosen's, neck-breakingly steep Graacher Himmelreich vineyard's Spatlese from the Mosel river valley in Germany squares off against his Chateau Ste. Michelle collaboration "Eroica" from our Columbia Valley.
- Schlossgut Diel, Goldloch vineyard Kabinett, in the Nahe Germany butts heads with his small production Long Shadows Vintners "Poets Leap," Columbia Valley Riesling

Monday, Feb 15th - This tasting highlights Washington wines made by two of Italy's wine royalty. The Antinori and Folonari families have been making wines in Tuscany for over 600 years and now each has a foot firmly planted in Washington. Here are their interpretations of what our growing regions have to offer.

-Much revered Marchese Antinori's Tenuta Guado Al Tasso from Bolgheri, Italy vs. Washington's first "Super-Tuscan" Chateau Ste. Michelle Col Solare "Red Wine," from the Columbia Valley
-One of the Folonari's most prized estates, Tenute del Cabreo "Il Borgo," Italy vs their Long Shadows Vintners "Saggi," Columbia Valley

Monday, Feb 22nd - Join Erin Dobson, the National Sales Director for Long Shadows Vintners to lead a tasting of four of the United States finest wines.

Winemaker John Duval led Penfold's Winery into the wine worlds limelight by crafting the iconic Australian wine Penfolds Grange for over 20 years. He has now set off on his own with the boutique sized John Duval Wines in the Barossa Valley, Australia and teamed up with Long Shadows to show us what Washington Syrah can do. French born wine-icon Philipe Melka was one of the original flying winemakers, having spent time honing his craft at Haut-Brion, Petrus, Dominus, Bryant Family, 100 Acre and what many consider to be his top project Quintessa. Philipe has seen the great potential in our states wine regions and has brought his talents to Long Shadows Vintners.

-Long Shadows Vintners "Pirouette," Columbia Valley vs Quintessa "Red Wine," Napa Valley California
-Long Shadows Vintners "Sequel," Columbia Valley vs John Duval Wines "Entity" Shiraz, Barossa Valley Australia

Monday, March 1st - Comparing what many consider to be the top grapes in Washington-Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Randy Dunn of Dunn Vineyards has been working in Napa Valley for over 30 years and his wines ability to age is legendary. The Bookwalter family, longtime grape growers, are quickly establishing themselves as one of the states top wineries and the addition of legendary wine consultant Claude Gros ensures this winery's position as
one of Washington's elite for years to come.

-Bookwalter Merlot, Columbia Valley vs La Fleur Morange St-Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux France -Long Shadows Vintners "Feather," Columbia Valley vs Dunn Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley California

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CORRECTION: In the original post, the days of the week for the next Cayuse release event (April 8th and 9th 2011) were listed as Thursday and Friday. This has been updated and corrected below to Friday and Saturday.

Cayuse Vineyards announced a change in their release event weekend from November to April. Cayuse wine shipments will still occur in November. However, those who have historically picked up their wine at the winery will either have wait an additional five months for the April release event or pay to have the wine shipped. Cayuse’s next release event will be April 8th and 9th 2011 (a Friday and Saturday). The change from “chilly November to vibrant April” will be permanent the winery said.

Cayuse Vineyards has historically released their new vintages the first weekend of November. This has been the only time throughout the year the winery is open for mailing list members to pick up pre-ordered wine. Cayuse’s annual release event became such an attraction in Walla Walla Valley that the weekend has long been known, unofficially, as “Cayuse Weekend.” Many of the valley’s wineries opened to take advantage of the large number of visitors coming to the area. Last year, this weekend became an official event weekend called “Fall Release.”

Cayuse’s move from November to April will most likely impact any plans to continue maintaining the first weekend in November as Fall Release. In the past, some wineries have expressed a desire to move Holiday Barrel Tasting from December – when highway pass conditions can affect turnout – to November. There may be increased interest in consolidating these two events. However, the proximity of the November date to crush can present some difficulties for wineries. Additionally, a new unofficial/official event weekend could be expected to form around Cayuse’s new April event. Walla Walla’s annual Spring Release is one month later, the first weekend in May.

A complete transcript of the (amusing) letter sent to mailing list members is below.

Save the date: April 8 & 9, 2011

Lusting for warmer days

We caught him staring out the window today. His face was pressed against the glass, and he gazed into the gray with a vaguely wistful look in his bulging eyes. It didn't take a graduate degree in psychiatric herpetology to know the Frog had a touch of the blues.

And no wonder.

When winter comes to the Cayuse Vineyards farm, he's forced to suspend his frosty libido in a reluctant state of temporary hibernation. Sipping God Only Knows while idly thumbing through an aging copy of Better Ponds and Gardens, he patiently waits for better, brighter days.

For he knows that as surely as light follows night and caterpillar becomes butterfly, winter will end. The vines will shake the ice from their cordons, the grass will flush a vibrant green and the frozen world will once again transform into his romantic playground.

In the randy renewal of springtime, with the birds talking naughty to the bees and the vines throbbing in the sunshine as their roots tingle expectantly in the stones, the Frog will be reborn.



He'll feel it from the tip of his tongue to the webs of his feet. And then he'll want to party. With you.

That's why he's moving the annual Cayuse Private Release festivities from chilly November to vibrant April. Out of the cold, and into the sunshine.


So mark it on your calendar. Tap it into your smart phone. Scribble it on your refrigerator in bold, black Sharpie.

The next Cayuse Weekend will be April 8 and 9, 2011.

The Frog will be reveling in the Glory of Spring and the wonder of extraordinary wine. And he hopes you'll join him.

What Else is Changing:
Nothing, really. As in the past, ordering will begin in September each year, and your wines will ship the following November. If you're blessed with unusual self-control and prefer to personally pick them up four months later at the Private Cayuse Release Weekend, you're still welcome to do that. Otherwise, we'd be glad to assist you in changing your delivery preference from pick-up to shipping.

As always, we appreciate your incredible support of Cayuse Vineyards. We apologize for any inconvenience this change may cause you. Please don't hesitate to call or email if you have questions.

See you at the weekend in April, 2011. Best wishes and santé!

The Cayuse Gang

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Elsom Cellars (SSAW Winter 2010)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 0 comments

This is part of a report on the South Seattle Artisan Wineries. Additional sections of the report will be posted to the blog. Download a complete .pdf copy of the report here.

Elsom Cellars goal is to provide “Exclusively bottled wines that offer distinctive flavors, borne of a singular desire – to create the quintessential gesture of hospitality – served at our table or yours.”

After years of home winemaking, Jody Elsom decided to start a commercial winery. Elsom, who studied enology and viticulture at Washington State University, says “I was looking for a career change that would provide a balance between art and science, hard work and celebration…The winery offers such a balance.”

Elsom made its first commercial release in 2006, a limited production of Cabernet Sauvignon and a Red Wine composed of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. The winery has continued to focus on these varietals using fruit from Lewis, Two Blondes, Artz, Doc (Wahluke Slope), and Alder Ridge vineyards. Elsom says “Our focus is on creating wines we enjoy – big bold Cabernet and earthy Malbec with a bit of peppery spice.”

Though currently located in South Seattle, the winery will be opening a Woodinville location near Januik/Novelty Hill in the first quarter of 2010. This facility will serve as Elsom’s production facility (fruit from the 2009 harvest was pressed here). The winery plans to keep the South Seattle tasting room, called ‘The Vineyard Table,’ open for winemaker dinners, artist events, and other occasions.

With the move to its new Woodinville facility, Elsom increased production to 1,200 cases for the 2009 vintage.

Note: All wines sampled at 62 degrees.

Elsom Cellars Red Wine Columbia Valley 2007 $28
Rating: + (Good)
Fairly quiet on the nose with dusty chocolate, blackberry, and spice. An engaging palate with loads of black fruit and a healthy bit of grip. A bit dry at times. Needs time to open up. Give 1-2 years. 50% Malbec, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah.

Elsom Cellars Malbec Columbia Valley 2007 $32

Rating: + (Good)
Brilliant and purply in color. An attractive, peppery nose rich with blackberry and cedar aromas. Quite dry and puckering on the palate with bright acidity. Comes off a bit green at times but an impressive wine overall. 91.7% Malbec (Gilbert Vineyard), 8.3% Merlot (Wahluke Slope Vineyard).

Elsom Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Lewis Vyd 2007 $36

Rating: + (Good)
Lewis Vineyard aromas jump from the glass with cola, black licorice, black cherry, and ground spices. Again, fairly dry on the palate with lighter and more lithe fruit than the other wines sampled. A bit front loaded on the palate with drying tannins. Time may settle this wine a bit. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah. Lewis Vineyard.

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This is part of a report on the South Seattle Artisan Wineries. Additional sections of the report will be posted to the blog. Download a complete .pdf copy of the report here.

Fall Line Winery was bonded in 2004. The winery is owned by Tim Sorenson and his wife Nancy Rivenburgh. Sorenson, who serves as winemaker, began studying winemaking in 2000, taking an introductory enology course at UC-Davis. From there he began what he refers to as a two year ‘vinternship’ with Cadence’s winemaker Ben Smith.

Fall Line gets its name from Tim and Nancy’s love of skiing. The name is intended to evoke both the beauty and grace of a skier descending a fall line as well as the “balance, grace, and depth” that Fall Line seeks in their wines. Fall Line focuses on red blends that feature Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery also produces a single varietal bottling of Cabernet.

What impressed me most tasting through Fall Line’s lineup was both the exceptional fruit and the value these wines present. In terms of fruit, Sorenson uses top vineyards, including Boushey Vineyard (Yakima Valley), Artz (Red Mountain), and Red Willow (Yakima Valley). The Artz Vineyard offerings in particular are standouts. In terms of value, each of the wines is under $30 and walks the balance between approachability and ageability. While able to be enjoyed now, these wines will all benefit from some time in the cellar.

This is the first year that Fall Line has produced the Exhibition Red Wine. This wine currently contains fruit from Aldercreek Vineyard which the winery is phasing out as a fruit source. While the vineyard sources will change, Sorenson looks to continue producing this wine in the future.

Fall Line produces 2,100 cases annually.

Note: All wines sampled at 63 degrees.

Fall Line Winery Exhibition Red Wine Columbia Valley 2007 $22
Rating: + (Good)
Nose is marked by black licorice and blackberry aromas. Dry and puckering on the palate with a lot of licorice and fruit along with a strong tannic backbone. Loses a bit of its rhythm about two thirds of the way through. Aldercreek, Artz, Boushey vineyards. 302 cases produced. Recommended.

Fall Line Winery Artz Red Blend Red Mountain 2007 $28

Rating: * (Excellent)
An engaging nose with smoke, mineral, and currant. Tight, tart, and intensely focused with fruit on the palate. A pleasing balance of acid and tannins, although the latter are a bit drying at times. Give three years. 39% Cabernet Franc, 36% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. 490 cases produced.

Fall Line Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley 2007 $28

Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent)
A lot of Boushey perfume with earth, funk, violets, and pure licorice notes. Very nicely put together on the palate with puckering tannins. Loses a bit of its rhythm in the middle but comes back together. Give two to three years. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 50% Boushey Vineyard, 50% Artz Vineyard. 366 cases produced.

Fall Line Winery Red Wine Aldercreek HHH 2007 $20

Rating: + (Good)
Licorice, spice, and pencil shavings mark the nose. Tart, tight, and tannic on the palate. Mid-palate dips down a bit on an otherwise very enjoyable wine. 46% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Fall Line Winery Red Wine Artz Vineyard RM 2006 $25

Rating: * (Excellent)
A lovely nose with cherry, earth, and floral aromatics. Excellent balance of tannins, alcohol, and acidity with focused fruit. Give two to three years.

Fall Line Winery Cabernet Sauvignon CV 2007 $28

Rating: + (Good)
A lot of earthy, funky aromas along with pepper and black licorice. Mid-palate loses a bit of its focus. A lot of tannic structure.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from January 8th to 14th.

From around the country

The Chicago Tribune writes about Columbia Valley Merlot.

The San Francisco Chronicle writes about their wine competition.

The Miami Herald recommends Watermill’s Late Harvest Gewurz (a winner of the SFC wine competition).

recommends L’Ecole No. 41’s Seven Hills Vineyard Merlot and Ch. Ste. Michelle’s 2006 Ethos.

From the blogosphere

WINO Magazine
writes an excellent article about Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot. They also write about the Retrospective on Northwest Wines.

Seattle Wine Gal talks with Don Phelps of Hard Row to Hoe about the glamour of owning a winery. They also write about a Woodinville wine tweet-up (Sorry I couldn’t make it folks. Next time).

Through the Walla Walla Grapevine
writes about natural wine and labeling. They also write about SYZYGY’s 2006 Walla Walla Syrah.
writes about the state liquor monopoly.

Beyond the Bottle
writes about Pacific Rim Solstice Vineyard Riesling.

Paul Gregutt
writes about Petit Verdot.

Drink Nectar
writes about Latah Creek. They also write about Washington Tasting Room Magazine.

Yak Yak Wine
writes about Two Mountain 2009 Chalk Art Rose. They also write about some Washington wine finds in a local grocery store and Steppe Cellars 2007 Syrah Rose.

writes about Columbia’s Cabernet Franc. They also write about Rotie Cellars 2007 Southern Blend, Dusted Valley Vintners 2007 Grenache, Maison Bleue’s 2007 Le Midi, and Adams Bench 2007 V Cabernet.

Wine and Beer of Washington State
writes about aroma wheels. They also write about Covington Cellars 2006 Malbec, do a feature piece on Covington Cellars, and give examples of memorable tasting rooms.

Write for Wine
writes about the Woodinville tweetup at William Church and at Alexandria Nicole.

Washington Wine
writes about the 2004 Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot.

Wine Peeps
celebrates their 2nd birthday. They also write about current releases from Columbia Crest.

Seattle Dining
recommends places to eat while visiting wine country.

Woodinville Wine Update
writes about O Wines red wine release. They also write about Patterson Cellars, Kaella Winery, the Alexandria Nicole tweetup, and rumors of ANC moving.

Sizzle & Swirl
writes about Wines of Substance sponsorship of a Walla Walla women’s shelter.

Luscious Lushes
writes about the WBC-or-Bust campaign.

Purple Teeth Diaries
writes about Leonetti Cellar’s 1994 Cabernet.

Midtown Stomp
writes about the River Aerie 2005 Spring Creek Redd.

Corks and Caftans
writes about the Tyrus Evan 2002 Syrah.

Women Who Wine in Washington
gives some wine touring tips.

NW Wine & Real Estate writes about Carmenere (Note: I have excluded any accents until this matter gets resolved).

From the locals

Writing for the Seattle Times, Paul Gregutt writes about Malbec.

The Seattle Times writes about Chateau Ste. Michelle.

The Seattle PI writes about the Snipes Mountain AVA.

Wine Press NW
writes about Watermill’s Late Harvest Gewurz winning the best dessert wine at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. They also list other Washington wineries that won awards.

The Tri-City Herald writes about Wines of Substance donating 25% of sales in January to the Walla Walla HelpLine Women's Shelter.

writes about wineries looking for ways to bring in visitors during the winter.

That's all folks!

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:Nota Bene (SSAW Winter 2010)

Sunday, January 17, 2010 2 comments

This is part of a report on the South Seattle Artisan Wineries. Additional sections of the report will be posted to the blog. Download a complete .pdf copy of the report here.

:Nota Bene Cellars is the work of Tim Narby and Carol Bryant. :Nota Bene’s wines show a consistent style – lighter in body and color and straddling somewhere between the Old World and the New.

What I am always struck by each time I try :Nota Bene wines is how each wine seems to teeter between being good and excellent (Note: This is not a bad thing, but rather something I find interesting). Usually when rating wine, I try as best I can to avoid giving too many “slash” ratings. Rather, I score down. Here, I have intentionally left the slash ratings in to illustrate my point, indicating the direction the wines were leaning by the first score shown (Again, I am doing this to illustrate a point and do not use this of notation normally).

:Nota Bene Cellars Abbinare Columbia Valley 2006 $28
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) A bit of campfire along with some brett but not an overwhelming amount. A dip in the mid-palate on what is otherwise a very impressive effort. A very pleasant, easy drinking wine. 61% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec.

:Nota Bene Cellars Miscela Columbia Valley 2006 $29
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) A fair amount of smokiness along with some light candied notes. Alcohol pokes through at times. Again, smooth and easy drinking. 42% Cabernet Franc, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon (28% Champoux, 4% Conner Lee), 17% Malbec, 9% Merlot. 15.1% alcohol.

:Nota Bene Cellars Conner Lee Columbia Valley 2006 $32
Rating: */+ (Excellent/Good) Berry, anise, and floral aromas dominate along with a touch of funkiness from the Cabernet Franc. Smooth and even on the palate with silky tannins. About half way through barrel influences intrude. 65% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc. 14.5% alcohol.

:Nota Bene Cellars Ciel du Cheval Red Mountain 2006 $35
Rating: * (Excellent) A fascinating nose with a touch of smoke, an intriguing bramble berry aroma, and black licorice. Alcohol shows through on the nose at times. Taste is well balanced and easy drinking. Remains one of the better priced Ciels out there although the Ciel characteristics seem to get a bit lost at times. 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec. 15.1% alcohol.

:Nota Bene Cellars Syrah Columbia Valley 2006 $30
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Strong, fresh blueberries and blackberries along with a tinge of oak spices. Tart and tangy on the palate with threads of chocolate. 88% Syrah, 12% Grenache. 14.8% alcohol.

:Nota Bene Cellars Syrah Ciel du Cheval Red Mountain 2006 $35
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) A touch of brett, berry, black licorice, and mineral. Seems a bit disjointed at times. Finish comes up short. 97% Syrah, 3% Grenache (Stone Tree Vineyard). 50 cases produced.

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OS Winery (SSAW Winter 2010)

Friday, January 15, 2010 0 comments

This is part of a report on the South Seattle Artisan Wineries. Additional sections of the report will be posted to the blog. Download a complete .pdf copy of the report here.

OS Winery – formerly Owen and Sullivan Winery – was founded by Bill Owen and Rob Sullivan in 1997. OS creates big, rich, slap you in your face style wines with opulent amounts of fruit. Like many big wines, it is a style that makes some people swoon and others cringe at their audacity. The fruit comes from exceptional sources including Champoux, Sheridan, and Dineen vineyards. The wines have colorful names –such as BSH for Brick Sh*t House – and austere black and red labels. Like many wineries, OS has been feeling the effects of the economy and has reduced their wine prices across the board. This provides an excellent opportunity for people seeking high quality wine at reasonable values.

Note: All wines sampled at 62 degrees.

OS Winery Riesling Champoux Vineyard HHH 2008 $15

* (Excellent) Pale in color with a slight greenish tinge. A complex nose with acidic aromas along with mineral, spiced green apples, and light floral notes. Off-dry in style, the palate is exceptionally smooth and well balanced. 2% Residual Sugar. 9% alcohol. 325 cases produced.

OS Winery Ulysses Red Wine Sheridan Vineyard YV 2005 $32
+ (Good) An extremely funky, peppery nose with lots of black fruit. A big wine with a lot of cherry flavors and other fruit. A bit green at times. Very even but wants a bit more scaffolding to hang the fruit on. 45% Merlot, 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc.

OS Winery R3 Columbia Valley 2005 $30
+ (Good) A very funky nose with peppercorn, rich cherry, and spices. Smooth on the palate but falls a bit short on the last third and on the finish. Still, a lot of wine for the money. 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. 14.6% alcohol. 654 cases produced.

OS Winery BSH 2005 $30
* (Excellent) A cloudy wine that is throwing a lot of sediment. A fascinating nose with mint, cherry cordial, red vines, and dry chocolate. Packs a punch on the palate with a BSH of red fruit, high-toned coffee notes, and an under- layer of tannins.

OS Winery Syrah Dineen Vineyard Yakima Valley 2006 $25
* (Excellent) Dark and intense. An explosive nose with blueberries, smoked meat, chocolate, and flowers. Gorgeously textured with fruit and smoked meat. 92 cases produced. 14.8% alcohol.

OS Winery Petit Verdot Meek Vineyard Barrel Sample 2008 $NA
+ (Good) A lot of chocolate along with green aromas. Nicely put together on the palate although doesn’t seem to come off completely at the moment. Needs time but it has it.

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Cadence Winery (SSAW Winter 2010)

Thursday, January 14, 2010 5 comments

This is part of a report on the South Seattle Artisan Wineries. Additional sections of the report will be posted to the blog. Download a complete .pdf copy of the report here.

Cadence Winery is the work of winemaker Ben Smith and his wife Gaye McNutt. Before turning his attention to winemaking full-time at the beginning of this decade, Smith spent fourteen years as a mechanical engineer at Boeing working on airplane designs. While at Boeing, Smith began exploring his interest in winemaking via the Boeing Wine Club. Smith made his first wine in a five gallon carboy, entered it into a competition, and won! The rest, as they say, is history.

Cadence made its first vintage in 1998. The name Cadence has multiple meanings for the couple, from their love of music, cycling, and triathlons, to seeking “balance, harmony, and precision” in their wines. Fittingly, Cadence moves very much to its own rhythm. Unlike many New World wines which are big on fruit and charm early in life only to fade quickly within a few years, Cadence’s wines require time to fully reveal their charms, becoming more and more impressive with each passing year in the cellar. This is against the grain of the “drink now” approach of many winemakers – and wine buyers – but those with patience are generously rewarded.

Cadence’s wines display much more of an Old World touch than many – perhaps any – winery in Washington. While there is focused fruit, the emphasis is very much on the expression of the terroir and the creation of highly structured wines. The result, while atypical for Washington, is some of the most dynamic, age-worthy wines being produced in the state. Cadence’s wines are also unique in that Cabernet Franc is always featured in the blends - a callout to France’s Cheval Blanc.

Cadence currently produces four vineyard-designated red blends from the Red Mountain AVA, one from Ciel du Cheval, one from Taptiel, and two from the winery’s estate vineyard, Cara Mia. Smith has been working with fruit from Ciel du Cheval, one of the finest vineyards in Washington, since 1999. Few show a finer touch with the vineyard’s fruit. In an acknowledgement of his success with this vineyard, Smith was the first winemaker to work with Paul McBride and Ryan Johnson on the Grand Reve project. This project pairs top Washington winemakers with Ciel du Cheval fruit (Grand Reve will be using fruit from it estate vineyard in the coming years). Smith’s Collaboration Series I wines recently received 95 point scores from Wine Advocate for the 2005 and 2006 vintages.

In addition to his red blends from Ciel du Cheval and Taptiel, Smith creates two reserve wines from Cara Mia Vineyard, Cadence’s estate vineyard. The 2007 vintage marks the fourth leaf for this vineyard. While the second vintage from Cara Mia improves upon the first, it will take some time before these vines can match the intensity and structure of the older vines of Ciel and Taptiel. But it will be fun watching them get there.

Of note, the 2007 vintage marks a label change for the winery. In the 2006 vintage Cadence began using an image of an embossed barrel on their reserve wines from Cara Mia Vineyard. This year the Ciel du Cheval and Taptiel wines will feature a similar, albeit differentiated, label.

Cadence produces 2,100 cases annually.

Note: Wines double decanted two hours prior to tasting. All wines sampled at 60 degrees.

Cadence Red Wine Ciel du Cheval Red Mountain 2007 $45
Rating: ** (Exceptional) An attractive nose with lots of earth, floral notes, chocolate, and black fruit. Tight and tannic on the taste with a lot of currant flavors. Give this layered, exceptional wine three to five years. 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Cabernet Franc, 13% Merlot, 13% Petit Verdot. 14.4% alcohol. 495 cases produced.

Cadence Red Wine Taptiel Vineyard Red Mountain 2007 $45
Rating: * (Excellent) Dark and purply. An extremely fragrant, beautiful nose with earth, currant, and black licorice. A bit more masculine in style than the Ciel wine with a lot of structure. Lingers for a long finish. Give three to five years. 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Cabernet Franc, 11% Merlot. 14.4% alcohol. 440 cases produced.

Cadence Camerata Red Wine Cara Mia Vineyard RM 2007 $55
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Extremely dark purple. Intensely aromatic with pepper and black licorice. Lighter on the palate in terms of the fruit than the other wines sampled. A good scaffolding but needs some time to come into its own. 14.4% alcohol. 496 cases produced.

Cadence Bel Canto Red Wine Cara Mia Vineyard 2007 $55
Rating: * (Excellent) Dark to the point of being opaque. A beautiful, expressive nose with chocolate, licorice, earth, dark fruit, spice, and light herbal notes. Elegantly structured on the palate. Less fruit intensity than the Ciel and Taptiel offerings but still delivers with excellent focus and structure. Give two to three years. 62% Cabernet Franc, 31% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot. 14.4% alcohol. 570 cases produced.

Cadence Red Wine Taptiel Vineyard 2001 $NA
Rating: * (Excellent) Nose really pops on this wine with lots and lots of aged fruit and ground black licorice. Gorgeously textured with a number of different layers on the palate. Drinking beautifully with a long life ahead of it. 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 15% Petit Verdot.

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This is part of a report on the South Seattle Artisan Wineries. Additional sections of the report will be posted to the blog. Download a complete .pdf copy of the report here.

South Seattle is home to nine wineries that have banded themselves together under the moniker South Seattle Artisan Wineries’. The wineries are generally grouped into two areas. The first, near Boeing Field, includes Cadence, OS, and :Nota Bene. The second, near the Mariner’s baseball stadium, includes Elsom, Falling Rain, Sodovino, and Stomani. Between these two areas are two wineries, Fall Line and Laurelhurst Cellars.

Both the physical location and wineries themselves are largely short on charm. These are production facilities located in the nether land between highways 99 and I-5. Surrounding the wineries is an industrial dead zone interspersed with office parks and warehouses. The jumble of highways and train tracks makes finding some of the wineries a bit of a challenge the first time around. With many of the facilities in office parks, one feels very, very far from the vineyards upon arrival. Even the city can seem far off at times.

However, these wineries are labors of love, with most of the winemakers working other full-time jobs. What the wineries lack in terms of charm they try to make up for with quality wine and largely succeed. To the south, Cadence, one of the early wineries to locate in the area, is one of Washington’s top wineries, producing consistently exceptional wines known for their balance and structure. Cadence’s focus on graceful balance is juxtaposed by nearby OS Winery, known for their big, brawny reds. To the north, friends and former classmates from WSU operate out of a common building that includes Sodovino, Stomani, Falling Rain, and Elsom. The building is located a block off the elevated expressway (two words: earthquake insurance).

The South Seattle Artisan Wineries open infrequently, usually on the second Saturday of the month during certain times of the year as well as for releases. The wineries are also open by appointment. See a list of planned openings here.

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Zero One Vintners was co-founded by Gordy Hill and Kristin Vogele. Hill serves as winemaker. Zero One’s name has two meanings – the first is for the binary system, the second is for a “first step.” The winery is run out of Redmond, although the wine itself is made in Mattawa.

Zero One Vintners focuses on producing two wines – a Cabernet Sauvignon (sampled here) and a Riesling. The Cabernet is called “The Wild Sky” after the Washington wilderness area that was recently approved (a portion of all sales of this wine go to Leave No Trace, a non-profit organization dedicated to outdoor stewardship). The 2006 Wild Sky Cabernet is one hundred percent varietal from Walla Walla’s Spofford Station Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley. The 2008 ‘Golden Delicious’ Riesling is made in an off-dry style with fruit from Gamache Brothers Vineyard.

While these two initial releases totaled a little over 600 cases, the winery plans to expand this number to several thousand cases in the coming years.

Zero One Vintners The Wild Sky Cabernet Sauvignon WWV 2006 $30
Rating: * (Excellent) Some really fun earth aromas along with dark cherry and bramble berries. A hedonistic wine that is rich and opulent on the palate with lots and lots of chocolate. Spofford Station, Walla Walla Valley. 14.25% alcohol. 388 cases produced.

Wine sampled at The Local Vine's Celebration of Washington Winemakers

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from January 1st to 7th.

From around the country

The Anchorage Daily News recommends the 2008 Hedges CMS Red.

The San Jose Mercury News writes about increasing alcohol levels in California wine. While no explicit callout to Washington here, alcohol levels are increasing here as well (Mercy!).

From the blogosphere

The 1 Eye Wine Guy
at Kiona does a video blog on the 2006 Kiona Chardonnay paired with Croque Monsieur.

Paul Gregutt
writes about friction in the three tier system. He also writes about the dreaded 89 point score.

Beyond the Bottle
looks at Chelan Estate’s 2004 Pinot Noir. They also look at Pacific Rim’s 2008 Organic Riesling, their 2007 Chenin Blanc, 2008 Wallula Vineyard Biodynamic Riesling, 2007 Dry Riesling, and Wapato Point Cellars 2008 Pinot Grigio.

The Oregon Wine Blog looks at Port-style wines from Yakima Valley and checks out Wine Girl Wines. They also give a best of 2009 with a list that includes Terra Blanca, Col Solare, and DeLille.

Schiller Wine writes about Pacific Rim Dry Riesling and Ch. Ste. Michelle's Eroica.

checks out Latah Creek. They also check out Nikos Wine Bar in Spokane.

WINO Magazine
writes about the Seattle Food and Wine Experience. They also talk wine with Paul Golitzin of Quilceda Creek and write about Café Metropole.

Wine and Beer of Washington State
writes about important items for tasting rooms to have and also essential items.

Wine Peeps
hands out its Best of Washington Wine Country awards for 2009. They also write about where Washington wine is available in Los Angeles.

Yak Yak Wine
writes about Chinook’s 2008 Cab Franc Rose. They also write about Sageland’s 2006 Malbec.

Woodinville Wine Update
writes about Woodinville weddings and the purchase of Willows Edge Farm. They also write about Hollywood Hills Vineyards moving.

Write for Wine
writes about some favorite wineries to look for in 2010.

checks out Columbia’s 2008 Barbera. They also write about O’Shea Scarborough’s 2008 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, and Ch. Ste. Michelle’s 2008 Gewurztraminer.

Toward Every Wind
writes about Corvidae’s Rook.

The Wine Commentator checks out Latitude 46’s 2002 Vindication.

RJ’s Wine Blog
writes tasting notes on Cadence and Abeja.

Pacific Northwest Wine, Beer, and Food Ramblings
writes about Terra Blanca’s 2001 Reserve Cabernet.

Through the Walla Walla Grapevine
writes about the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference (the conference will be in Walla Walla) Scholarship Fun.

Wine Musings
writes about Woodward Canyon’s 1989 Charbonneau Vineyard Cabernet.

River City Food and Wine
writes about Owen Roe’s 2007 Abbott’s Table and Milbrandt Vineyard’s 2007 Traditions Cabernet.

Vino Diary
writes about Long Shadows 2006 Pedestal.

One Rich Wine Guy
names top wines of 2009 which includes wines from Kontos Cellars, Pepper Bridge, Saviah Cellars, Barnard Griffin, Fidelitas, Gordon Brothers, and Garrison Creek.

Jeremy Lycan
gives some favorites for the year, including two wines from Charles Smith, and says Washington state wine is here to stay.

From the locals

The Tri-City Herald looks back at 2009.

writes about Vin du Lac.The Bellingham Herald writes about Dynasty Cellars.

That’s all folks

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WWR TN Database

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

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