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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'18 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

Below is a look at what was picked, when, and where in Washington during October 2018.

Harvested ended for some growers in warmer sites toward the end of September, whereas for others it stretched into mid to late October and even into early November for larger production wineries.

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2015 is the third in what I refer to as Washington’s ‘staircase vintages’ from 2013-2015, where each growing season was a step up in heat accumulation from the previous one (read a recent post comparing these three vintages here).

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Three warm vintages result in very different wines

After a vintage in 2012 where heat accumulation was a near perfect match for 20-year historical averages in Washington, 2013 through 2015 saw three increasingly warm growing seasons. While it is tempting to characterize each of these years as simply producing ‘warm vintage wines,’ side-by-side tastings reveal significant differences.

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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for November 2018. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here. Read instructions on how to find Washington wine reviews at Wine Enthusiast here.

181 wines reviewed in the November issue of Wine Enthusiast.

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Bodegas Valdemar, a fifth-generation family winery based in Spain, is in the process of building a facility in Washington. The winery, which will be called Valdemar Estates, is expected to open in spring of 2019.

“We decided to do this big step to Washington State, and we are really, really excited about it,” says Jesús Martínez-Bujanda Mora, who recently relocated to Washington with his wife and three-year-old daughter to focus on the project.

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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for October 2018. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here. Read instructions on how to find Washington wine reviews at Wine Enthusiast here.

280 wines reviewed in the October issue of Wine Enthusiast.

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We’re at the six week mark of harvest!

Harvest began in Washington this year on August 17th, with a pick of Chardonnay for sparkling wine at Hilltop Vineyard in Yakima Valley. Most winemakers I’ve spoken with recently have reported they have brought in about 60% of their fruit and expect to continue harvesting for the next several weeks. Hillary Sjolund, consulting winemaker at Wine Boss in Richland, provided on Facebook the following summary of 2018, which I have combined with her summary from the same point at previous vintages:

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Pic of the Vine - September 2018

Saturday, September 29, 2018 0 comments

With harvest in full swing around the state, contributing photographer Richard Duval is always on the road, looking to capture images of great wines in the making. Last week, he touched down in the Columbia Gorge hamlet of Lyle, home to Syncline Wine Cellars. As luck, the calendar, and the harvest gods would have it, he arrived on the day of Syncline’s harvest of its Nelson Vineyard Syrah.

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The October issue of Seattle Metropolitan contains a listing I wrote of Washington's 30 most exciting wines of 2018. This list was culled from sampling over 1,000 wines. Long time readers should note that this list is a reimagining of the annual Top 100 list that I have written for the magazine since 2010.

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“Muscadet makes a lovely hot-weather aperitif – ice cold, low alcohol, and insistently neutral, which I’ll admit does sound eerily similar to the selling points of Bud Light,” writes Paul Zitarelli in his debut book, 36 Bottles of Wine, which will be released later this month.

Many lovers of Northwest wine will no doubt recognize Zitarelli’s name and often humorous writing style from his Seattle-based, email-driven retail wine company, Full Pull Wines. Though Full Pull offers wines from around the world, Washington and Oregon are at its heart, with Zitarelli’s engaging writing and incisive palate making the engine go. Zitarelli also serves as wine columnist for Seattle Magazine.

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Pic of the Vine - August 2018

Thursday, August 30, 2018 0 comments

All around the state, vineyards are showing the full display of harvest colors. At Clark County's Bethany Vineyard and Winery, contributing photographer Richard Duval captured this image of Golubok grapes, a Russian variety favored by owner/winemaker Walt Houser. Just weeks away from harvest, these grapes will eventually be used for blending in Bethany wines.

Click on the picture to see a larger image.

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Harvest begins in Washington

Friday, August 17, 2018 0 comments

Harvest began today in Washington, with Treveri Cellars picking 25 tons of Chardonnay from Hilltop Vineyard in Yakima Valley. The fruit was picked at 18.1 Brix for sparkling wine. Treveri picked their first fruit in 2016 on this same date.

Let harvest begin!

Photo courtesy of Treveri Cellars.
Already picked your first fruit? Leave a comment on the date, variety, and vineyard.

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Pic of the Vine - July 2018

Thursday, July 26, 2018 0 comments

Though not yet a common practice, camping in style in a vineyard - known as glamping - is on the rise in Washington. Contributing photographer Richard Duval spent a colorful day with glampers at Stillwater Creek Vineyard, just north of Royal City. Stillwater offers a striking vista from a tent happily ensconced by deep green vines.

Click on the picture to see a larger image.

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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for September 2018. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here. Read instructions on how to find Washington wine reviews at Wine Enthusiast here.

119 wines reviewed in the September issue of Wine Enthusiast.

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Veraison, the changing of color of the grapes, has started in the Columbia Valley. The picture here is of Carménère at Weinbau Vineyard, a Sagemoor Vineyards property on the Wahluke Slope, from July 16th.

On the same date, Quilceda Creek noted veraison beginning in Cabernet Sauvignon at their Lake Wallula Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills. Ryan Driver, vineyard manager at Tertulia Cellars, also noted veraison starting in Tempranillo at Rivière Galets Vineyard in Walla Walla Valley.

Harvest approaches!

Picture courtesy of Sagemoor Vineyards.

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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for August 2018. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here. Read instructions on how to find Washington wine reviews at Wine Enthusiast here.

81 wines reviewed in the August issue of Wine Enthusiast.

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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for July 2018. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here. Read instructions on how to find Washington wine reviews at Wine Enthusiast here.

132 wines reviewed in the July issue of Wine Enthusiast. Avennia has (deservedly) gotten a lot of attention for its Bordeaux-style wines. However, the winery's Rhone-style offerings are also not to be missed (Avennia 2015 Justine Columbia Valley $3892 points).

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The 2018 Washington State Wine Tour Guide was released earlier this year. The guide contains two articles from yours truly, one called "Pushing Boundaries" on the state's wine industry and a second on Walla Walla Valley.

An electronic version of the guide is accessible here. You can request a hard copy here.

Enjoy!

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The following article was published on-line at Wine Enthusiast on June 12, 2018.

The majority of the wines you drink are blends, but why do winemakers blend and what does each variety bring to the final wine? Washington State winemakers tell us their tricks.

“I love blending,” says Ben Smith co-owner Cadence Winery. “It’s one of the two times a year—along with harvest—I actually feel like I’m making wine.”

Almost all wines are blends of some sort. Some might be a blend of different barrels, vineyards or blocks of a single variety. Others might be a blend of different appellations or varieties.

Read the full article here.


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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for June 2018. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here. Read instructions on how to find Washington wine reviews on-line at Wine Enthusiast here.

102 wines reviewed in the June issue of Wine Enthusiast. Of note, Gorman Winery assistant winemaker Ben Paplow has his first release from Paplow Cellars (Paplow 2014 Boushey Vineyard GSM Yakima Valley $3091 points).

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The following article was published in the June issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine.

Despite Washington State’s relative youth as a wine-producing region, a number of its wineries have decades of history. Many of them not only helped put Washington on the wine map, but set a high bar for quality.

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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for May 2018. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here. Read instructions on how to find Washington wine reviews at Wine Enthusiast here.

128 wines reviewed in the May issue of Wine Enthusiast. Headlining the group is a new project – MTR Productions – from Matt and Lauren Reynvaan of Reynvaan Family Vineyards. The wine is a 2012 Syrah aged 24 months in barrel and 36 months in bottle prior to release. It’s a stunner with an insanely long finish (MTR Productions 2012 Memory Found Syrah Walla Walla Valley $8594 points).

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Pic of the Vine - May 2018

Thursday, May 31, 2018 1 comments

Spring is in full gear throughout the vineyards of Washington. Contributing photographer Richard Duval recently traversed the state looking for iconic vineyard views.

"Wenatchee's rich landscape is dotted with orchards and vineyards," he noted. "When the light is just right, I like to capture the vines of Martin-Scott Winery, with its stunning view of the Columbia River rolling through the Wenatchee Valley."

Click on the picture to see a larger image.

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Bloom has begun in eastern Washington. Sagemoor Vineyards reports bloom occurring in their Chardonnay at Weinbau Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope and at Sagemoor Vineyard in the Columbia Valley's to-be-approved White Bluffs appellation.

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Pic of the Vine - April 2018

Monday, April 30, 2018 0 comments

With spring comes an increase in vineyard work, as vines are being shaped for the growing season. Such activity sends contributing photographer Richard Duval on the road to capture the hard work that goes into each bottle.

On a recent trip to Walla Walla Valley, Duval found Tim Armstrong of Armstrong Family Winery pruning their newly acquired vineyard. “Re-vitalizing this vineyard is part of their long-term plan to expand the property and build their winery,” noted Duval. "But for now, the vineyard calls.”

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The 2018 growing season has officially begun, with Tertulia Cellars vineyard manager Ryan Driver reporting bud break in Syrah at Elevation Vineyard in Walla Walla Valley.

Consistently the larger Columbia Valley's earliest site in recent years, bud break took place at Elevation on April 12th last year and April 1st in 2016.

Here's to a great 2018 growing season!

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If we go back to the beginning of Washington’s modern day wine industry, the state was believed to be too cool to successfully grow many red grape varieties. Indeed, it is for this reason, that cooler climate offerings like Riesling became so prominent in the state. However, with Washington now producing an abundance of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and numerous other red varieties, it’s clear the state is very much capable of growing top quality red wine grapes.

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2017 was another warm vintage in Washington, though it certainly didn’t start out that way. Winter into early spring was cool and wet, with well above average snowfall in eastern Washington.

“Snow was on the ground for nearly two months,” said grower Dick Boushey of Boushey Vineyards in Yakima Valley. Boushey also manages properties on Red Mountain. “Everyone was behind from the beginning because you couldn’t get into the field.”

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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for April 2018. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here. Read instructions on how to find Washington wine reviews at Wine Enthusiast here.

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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for March 2018. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here. Read instructions on how to find Washington wine reviews at Wine Enthusiast here.

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Pic of the Vine - March 2018

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 0 comments

This month’s Pic of the Vine by resident photographer Richard Duval is of Celilo Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge. Celilo is not only one of Washington’s most picturesque vineyards, it also produces some of the state’s best white wines.

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Grape production in Washington was down 16% in 2017, with 227,000 tons produced. This is compared to a record 270,000 tons in 2016.

Cabernet Sauvignon led the way at 62,000 tons, representing 27% of total tonnage. While Cabernet tonnage was down from 2016’s outrageous number of 71,100 - which represented a 50% (!) increase from the previous year - the 2017 numbers were still well above the 47,400 tons produced in 2015. This indicates that the apparent surge in Cabernet Sauvignon production in Washington is real. That is to say, 2016 was not a complete outlier for production of this variety, unless of course 2017 is too.

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Recent Wine Enthusiast reviews

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 0 comments

I put up a series of posts today catching up on Wine Enthusiast reviews from the last several months. Here are some highlights, starting from the most recent reviews and working backwards.

From February, the Kiona Vineyards 2013 Estate Old Block Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain ($75, 90 points) comes from the oldest vines on Red Mountain and allows you to taste a piece of the state’s history. The Owen Roe 2014 Red Blend Yakima Valley ($2890 points) provides a lot of quality and value. In terms of value wines, look no further than the Chateau Ste. Michelle 2016 Riesling Columbia Valley ($9, 89 points).

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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for February 2018. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here. Read instructions on how to find Washington wine reviews at Wine Enthusiast here.

90 reviews in the February issue. Enjoy!

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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for December 31, 2017. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here. Read instructions on how to find Washington wine reviews at Wine Enthusiast here.

102 reviews in the December 31 issue. Enjoy!

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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for December 1, 2017. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here. Read instructions on how to find Washington wine reviews at Wine Enthusiast here.

67 reviews in the December 1, 2017 issue. Enjoy!

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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for November 2017. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here. Read instructions on how to find Washington wine reviews at Wine Enthusiast here.

221 reviews in the November 2017 issue. Enjoy!

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Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for October 2017. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here.

25 reviews in the October 2017 issue. Enjoy!

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As many of you know, I review Washington and Idaho wines for Wine Enthusiast magazine. Throughout the year, I keep a tabulation of wines that use natural cork closures as well as various types of alternative closures. I also keep track of wines that appear to have cork taint.

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The following article appeared in the March issue of Wine Enthusiast.

A bottling’s ability to stand the test of time has long been considered a mark of quality, but that might not be the case for every wine or even every region.

We’ve never had to question the ageability of wines from Old World regions like France and Italy—we already know the answer. Wineries throughout these countries date back generations, and top vintages of, say, Bordeaux or Barolo can last for decades; we have the pleasure and ability to taste such older bottlings as proof of their prowess. Can New World wines age the same way? More importantly, should they even be held to the same standard?

Read the full article here.

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2017: The Year in Washington Wine

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 0 comments

The following article appeared in the Winter issue of Washington Tasting Room magazine. 

WASHINGTON STATE continued a string of favorable growing seasons in 2017, with warm weather throughout the eastern part of the state during the summer months. Early reports from growers and winemakers indicate another high quality vintage is in store for Washington wine consumers. Reflecting back over the past 12 months, here is a look at some of the current highlights and trends we saw taking shape in the state’s wine industry.

Click here to read the full article.


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The following article was published on February 2, 2018 at Wine Enthusiast.

Based on my talks with winemakers over the years, I get the impression that many think cork taint, a contaminant that can negatively affect a wine, is currently at a low and perhaps even acceptable level. My experience says otherwise.

Last year, after tracking the more than 1,200 wines I sampled that used natural corks, 3.59% appeared to be cork-tainted, or were “corked.” That’s a completely unacceptable percentage.

Read the full article here.

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Pic of the Vine - January 2018

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 0 comments

Winter might mean fewer wine outings to Washington wine country for some but that doesn’t mean life stands still in the wineries and vineyards. Snow can actually help ensure healthy grape vines in the spring, acting as an insulator against freezing temperatures. It also makes for a striking photograph, noted contributing photographer Richard Duval, who ventured to the scenic Owen Roe wine estate in Wapato on a windy, snowy day.

“Owen Roe is amongst my favorite vineyards to photograph year-round,” Duval said. “The estate winds up and down the Valley hillsides, anchored by the dark red winery, and always offers a vineyard vista to capture. Here sleeps another vintage of a great Washington wine.”

Click on the picture to see a larger image.

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Recent changes on the Wine Enthusiast website have made it significantly easier to search for categories of wine reviews, such as Washington wines. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Go to winemag.com

2. Click on ‘Wine & Ratings’ in the upper left corner (or just go here).

3. Scroll down to where it says ‘Buying Guide’ on the left. Click on ‘Search.’ This will show you all of the reviews in the Wine Enthusiast database.

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The following article appeared in the December 31, 2017 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine.

Washington State wine is perhaps best known for its diversity. There are more than 80 grape varieties planted here, but one variety seems to be separating itself from the crowd: Cabernet Sauvignon.

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