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 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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Seattleites, tune in to Table Talk Radio KKNW 1150 AM today from 8-9am when I'll be talking about Washington wine.

The story of Proper Wines – a new winery in the Walla Walla Valley - is one of the continuing evolution of the Washington wine industry as more and more people from outside the area take an interest in what’s going inside of the state.

Our story begins in 2005 in Colorado Springs when two 20-somethings, David Houle and Conor McCluskey, spent each of their Wednesday nights in the same fashion – eating take out Chinese food and brainstorming ideas for small businesses.

“This was back before we started having kids so we had some extra money and some extra time,” Houle says with a chuckle.

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Who killed Yancy Noll?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On Friday August 31st, Yancy Noll was murdered at approximately 7:30pm while driving in Seattle at 15th Avenue NE where it intersects with NE 75th Street.

Yancy was a member of the wine community - serving as wine steward at the Capitol Hill QFC - and was also part of the climbing community. While I did not know Yancy, he was a friend of many people I do know and his loss is deeply felt.

The Seattle Police have released a composite sketch of the murderer based on eye witness accounts as well as a description of the car - a 2002 to 2008 silver BMW Z4 with a black interior. The more people who see this picture, know the description of the car, and know the details of this crime, the more likely it is that the person who did this will be found. Please help by sharing the link below on Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media outlets. Your help could be the difference in bringing this person to justice.

Update: The Seattle Police Department arrested a suspect in the murder of Yancy Noll on Friday September 21st. 

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Ste. Michelle Wine Estates announced today the acquisition of Woodinville’s O Wines. This adds another winery to the company’s ‘string of pearls’ that includes Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, Northstar, Spring Valley, and a number of other Washington, Oregon, and California brands.

O Wines was founded in 2006 by Stacy Lill and Cathy Johanson. The winery’s goal has been to fund college scholarships for low income, high potential youth. To date, O Wines has funded over 40 scholarships, and Ste. Michelle will continue the donate a portion of the proceeds from wine sales for this purpose.

O Wines has focused on Chardonnay priced at the value level ($14). Ste. Michelle is expected to eventually add a red wine.

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

From around the country…

Wines & Vines writes about property selling on Red Mountain.

D Magazine writes about Woodinville wines.

American Vineyard Magazine writes about the International Wine Guild offering courses in Walla Walla.

From the blogosphere…

Downtoearth writes about Abeja’s focus on being sustainable and salmon safe.

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If the 2012 growing season must be summed up in one word it would be this: normal. After the 2009 vintage was clipped by an early October freeze and 2010 and 2011 were two successive cool years with a freeze sandwiched in between, 2012 has tracked closely to the statistical averages for the last twenty years.

“We are very close to what you want if you could ask for a normal year,” Kent Waliser of Sagemoor Vineyards says. Waliser notes that the more normal growing season should make this harvest considerably less compressed for growers and winemakers than the last several.

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

From around the country…

Wines & Vines writes that Washington wine sales are in a state of flux.

Rapid City Journal writes that Merlot is the comeback kid.

D Magazine writes about Cabernet Sauvignon with a callout to FIGGINS and Gorman.

The San Francisco Chronicle writes that Washington’s reds find a sweet spot.

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Harvest starts in Washington State

Tuesday, September 4, 2012 0 comments

Vineyards in Washington State started picking the first of their fruit today as the 2012 harvest began across the Columbia Valley. Sagemoor Vineyards started out harvest picking Sauvignon Blanc. Other vineyards in Red Mountain and other areas were due to start picking in the coming days. Look for a report on the 2012 growing season to date and full harvest update at the end of the week.

Picture of Sauvignon Blanc grapes courtesy of Sagemoor Vineyards (data junkies, make sure to check out the 'Grape Data' link). For vineyard updates, see Sagemoor's Facebook page here.

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Summary of Posts for August 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012 0 comments
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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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