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Sagemoor Vineyards & Wines

Kent Waliser & Lacey Lybeck of Sagemoor Vineyards & Wines

Led by Seattle attorney Alec Bayless and foreign correspondent Albert Ravenholt, a group of investors purchased land for Sagemoor Vineyard along the Columbia River north of Pasco in 1968.  At that time, Washington had barely a half-dozen wineries and no sizable commercial vineyards.  When in 1972 planting of vines began at Sagemoor and the nearby additional properties of Bacchus and Dionysus, Washington’s first large-scale commercial vineyard was taking root.  Today Sagemoor Vineyards includes these three original vineyards, as well as Weinbau and Gamache, totaling over 1,000 acres in both the Columbia Valley and Wahluke Slope AVAs.  Director of Vineyard Operations Kent Waliser and Vineyard Manager Lacey Lybeck work with Sagemoor staff to customize grape-growing practices for the winemaking needs of over 100 wineries throughout the state.

When Allan Bros., Inc. purchased Sagemoor Vineyards in 2014, Kent saw an opportunity to pursue his long-time dream of having a Sagemoor brand of wines.   He formed partnerships with several winemakers, and Selections by Sagemoor was born, going public in early 2018.  It is an online retail shop offering three-bottle boxes of wines carefully selected to highlight the strengths and diversity of Sagemoor Vineyards.  Some boxed selections also have an educational component, as they contain historical information, tasting notes, and  wines selected around a theme, such as the role of the winemaker or the differences in blocks of the same varietal.  Interested consumers can join the list to hear about Sagemoor Selections, with no obligation to buy.  Listen to this interview to hear more about the wines, vineyard history and characteristics, viticultural issues needing further research, potential hazards in the vineyard, and much more. 

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Beckham Estate Vineyard

Andrew & Annedria Beckham

In 2004, Andrew and Annedria Beckham bought land on Parrett Mountain in Oregon’s Chehalem Mountains to build a pottery studio.  Andrew was a ceramics artist/high school art teacher and looked forward to making pots in his new studio during hours outside the classroom.  Annedria was about to pursue a degree in physical therapy.  But then they discovered vineyards on nearby mountain slopes, and their careers took a very different path.  By 2005 Andrew was volunteering in local vineyards and wineries, and in the same year planted their first vines.  It was the beginning of what is today one of the most unique wineries in North America.  When Annedria showed Andrew an article about an Italian woman doing punch downs in clay vessels just as ancient winemakers had done, he said, “I can make those.”  The Amphorae Project was born, and Beckham Estate Vineyard became known for its uniquely designed clay vessels, or Novum, and the amazing wines fermented and aged inside.  Andrew now sells the vessels commercially, but can’t make them fast enough to meet global demand.

Beckham Estate’s original 6+ acre vineyard was planted to Pinot Noir and Riesling.  With the purchase of an additional 20 acres, Andrew and Annedria planted Trousseau Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Aligoté, and several high alpine Italian varietals.  Some or all of these varietals may end up in future wines.  For now, Beckham’s tasting room offers three estate Pinot Noir wines aged in oak, and Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Grenache, Syrah, and Vermentino wines made in clay amphorae.   Listen to the interview to hear more about these wines, the challenges of creating clay vessels appropriate for winemaking, the effect on wines of fermenting and aging in clay, and much more.

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AniChe Cellars

Rachael Horn & Anais Mera of AniChe Cellars

AniChe Cellars is a family owned and operated winery, with three generations offering a hand as the crush season begins.   All the winemakers are women, and they see themselves as trailblazers who “lead, scout and machete [their] way into the future.”   They are committed to making the wine industry more accommodating to women, and to sustainability on the farm, in the winery, and for the community.  For example, they support decent pay for growers, flex time for employees, Salmon Safe practices, and organic and biodynamic farming principles.  All employees have a seasonal reading list on their bio page, and many wines are named after literary characters or works.  One is even named after an ancient wine measurement and Underwood typewriter key, which is fitting for a winery located on Underwood Mountain in the Columbia Gorge.      

With backgrounds in catering and fine dining, it’s no surprise that winemakers Rachael Horn and Anais Mera make blended wines with specific foods in mind.  They see wine as a supporting actor, bringing out the best in foods at the family table.  Their Sirius wine, for example, is the perfect pizza wine, combining Dolcetto, Barbera and Zinfandel varietals.  Tastings at AniChe come complete with food pairings, and the four annual wine club dinners offer such cuisines as French, Spanish, Oaxacan and Moroccan with appropriate wines and entertainment.  You will find at AniChe unique Rhone, Bordeaux, Spanish, and Austrian style wines, including one made in clay amphorae like those used in ancient times.  The tasting-room site also offers one of the most spectacular views in Washington state.

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Gorman Winery

Chris Gorman of Gorman Winery

After graduating from Western Washington University with a marketing degree and lots of guitar-playing hours for the Crawdaddies, Chris Gorman went to work for a small Italian importer in Seattle.  Several jobs later he was tasting wines from all over the world and travelling as a sales representative to Italy, Spain and Germany.  He fell in love with Italy and winemaking and eventually turned his Seattle garage into a winemaking facility in 1999, going commercial in 2002.  From the beginning, he was partial to the "flavor, power, grace and structure" of Red Mountain fruit, and worked to make concentrated wines full of flavor to drink either by themselves or with food.   It wasn’t long before Wine Spectator recognized Chris as a rising star in U.S. winemaking, and in 2017 his Zachary’s Ladder blend was on Spectator’s top 100 list.

Chris is passionate about creativity, whether he’s winemaking, playing guitar, or cooking, and he excels at all three. Many wineries seek to bring wine and the visual arts together, but at Gorman Winery the emphasis is on combining wine and music.  Several dozen signed guitars decorate the tasting room walls, and many of the musicians behind the signatures have performed in the tasting rooms.   Gorman patrons can also access music via state-of-the-art pinball machines, accessible while sipping.   Gorman wine names, such as Pixie, Evil Twin, The Devil You know, and The Bully, are as memorable and unique as the wines which they refect.   Although the Gorman wines are typically Bordeaux and Rhone style, Chris is also a huge Chardonnay fan, and has created a special Ashan Cellars label for his Chardonnay wines.   Lines on Wines wishes Chris all the best with his upcoming move to a new winemaking facility in Maltby, WA.  Tasting rooms will remain in Woodinville!

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Wine Fraud

Shirley Orellana and Anne Johansen

Rudy Kurniawan helped to bring national attention to wine fraud in the U.S., and there is now a documentary Sour Grapes about his story.  But wine fraud is a serious international issue, as this interview and some wine publications make clear (see winefraud.com).  Just last month, Wine Spectator (June 2018) had an article titled “France Grapples with Wine Fraud.”  Experts have devised many ways to detect wine fraud, mostly without opening suspected bottles.  For example, they examine labels for uniformity with respect to aging, look at fonts, the age, stain and stamp of corks, consistency in age between capsule and label, weight of bottles, and so forth.   Others combating wine fraud look at the wine inside to examine its chemical components.

At Central Washington University, chemistry graduate student Shirley Orellana, working with Professor Anne Johansen, just won the university’s Best Thesis Award for her Master’s thesis “Geographic Classification of Wines Using Their Elemental and Water Isotopic Composition.”  The thesis geographically classifies 133 wines from Washington state, California, Europe and South America, using their unchanging chemical elements such as metals, non-metals and water isotopes, with the goal of helping to combat wine fraud.  The two researchers conclude that 11 elements are significant for classifying wines from these geographic regions, with manganese, zinc and lead being the three most significant elements.  Shirley and Anne are the first to offer a chemical profile, or “fingerprint”, for Washington terroir, and you can hear all about the process and its larger implications in this interview. 

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DavenLore Winery

Gordon Taylor of DavenLore Winery

For as long as he can remember, Gordon Taylor has been involved in agricultural work, starting with stall cleaning and tractor driving on his family’s Canadian beef farm.   In college he developed a passion for agricultural research, which led him to a job with Ocean Spray Cranberry where he helped to develop craisins.   When the company sent him from the East coast to Prosser, WA, he realized that he had landed in one of the top wine regions of the world.  His job involved many non-alcoholic juices, but the attention to detail, emphasis on cleanliness, and knowledge of equipment required to produce quality fruit juice were all good training for making wine.    He went commercial with DavenLore wines in 2005, with one of the most memorable and mysterious logos in the business.   You need to visit the winery to explore the mystery of Petro.

Gordon favors blended rather than 100% single varietal wines, but there are no rules at DavenLore that can’t be broken when necessary.  For example, Gordon said for years that he’d never make an Italian style wine, but just recently he made a Barbera.  He also makes a very nice non-traditional SVP blend – Sangiovese and Petit Verdot.  His best known blend is Aridisol, an anagram of arid soil that is typically a Rhone style wine.   Although you can find Petite Sirah at a handful of other WA wineries, DavenLore is the only one that uses the original French name “Durif” for this varietal and wine, one of DavenLore’s best sellers.   Listen here to find out more about Durif, the virtues of blending, why Syrah is the winemaker’s dream varietal, how many cases can be produced from a barrel of wine, and much more.

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Bartholomew Winery

Bart Fawbush of Bartholomew Winery

When Bart Fawbush went off to college at Gonzaga University, he took lots of biology and chemistry classes to prepare for a career in medicine.   But the career he pursued after graduating was business, first as a very successful bill collector, and then as an owner of a mortgage business.  A chance day trip spent wine tasting in Woodinville with a friend led to another career shift.  Bart was amazed at the quality of the wines he tasted, and the fact that the winemakers had other day jobs instead of chateaux and generations of family winemaking experience behind them.   He started tasting, volunteering at wineries, and asking lots of questions.  By 2007 he was making his own wine, and in 2010 he opened a tasting room in the SODO neighborhood of South Seattle.

Making wine in SODO had its challenges, as Bart’s tasting room and winery were in the old Rainier Brewery building, where he had to do everything over a 6-inch drain.  Things will be very different from now on, as Bartholomew Winery moved its winemaking operation in December 2017 to the Port of Kennewick’s new Columbia Gardens Urban Wine and Artisan Village.   Bart now has a state-of-the-art winemaking facility with tasting rooms in Kennewick and SODO.   The wines are amazing for both their quality and uniqueness.  You will find varietals at Bartholomew that you don’t see at many other wineries, including Tannat and Primitivo.   The Cabernet Franc is a hit as a glass pour at westside restaurants, and the Reciprocity Blend of Carménère and Cabernet Sauvignon is Bartholomew’s best-selling wine.   Listen to the interview to hear about other unique varietals available at Bartholomew Winery as well as the serendipitous manner in which the varietals and blends end up in bottles.   

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Wilridge Vineyard & Winery

Paul Beveridge of Wilridge Vineyard, Winery & Distillery

Growing up in the 60s, Paul Beveridge spent time playing in Napa cellars while his parents were wine tasting.  He caught the wine bug then and put it into practice in 1988, while at the same time practicing law in Seattle.  He and his wife opened a restaurant in Seattle’s Madrona neighborhood and sold their Wilridge wines to restaurant patrons.  Twenty years later he retired from the law firm to make wine and grow grapes full time in the Naches Heights area of Eastern Washington northwest of Yakima.  Paul was instrumental in getting AVA status for Naches Heights in 2012, an area unique for its andesite rock distinct from the basalt characteristic of other parts of Eastern Washington, and its generous layer of wind-blown loess typical of the Palouse.

Today Wilridge is the oldest continually operating winery in Seattle with tasting rooms in Pike’s Market, in the Sky River Meadery in Woodinville, and in a 100-year farm house in Naches Heights.  The farm house sits on 80 acres, with 14 planted to vines and others dedicated to apples and pears used in the on-site distillery.  The vineyard and winery are certified organic and biodynamic, reflecting Paul’s belief that the best wines in the world are produced from grapes grown in biodynamic vineyards.   He specializes in Italian and French style wines, and is the only vintner growing Sagrantino in WA state.  Wilridge Vineyard, Winery and Distillery in Naches Heights is a recreational destination, offering wine tasting, musical evenings in the vineyard, hiking on a canyon trail leading to Mt. Rainier, mountain biking, horseback riding, and cliff climbing.  Get all the details in this interview.

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Kerloo Cellars

Ryan Crane of Kerloo Cellars

When Ryan Crane left Seattle to study winemaking in Walla Walla, he was leaving a good job to pursue his passion and calling.  After studying at Walla Walla Community College and working with winemakers Marie-Eve Gilla and Justin Wylie, Ryan founded Kerloo Cellars in 2007, named for the call sound of cranes.  His wines are also a call to share in his passion for true-to-varietal, vineyard driven wines.  In 2013 Seattle Magazine named Kerloo Washington’s “Best Emerging Winery,” and high scores and accolades continue to come Ryan’s way.  He now has a second tasting room in the SODO neighborhood of Seattle, along with a new winemaking facility.

Ryan sources grapes from some of Washington’s top vineyards, including Red Willow, Upland Estates, Stone Tree, Klipsun, Blue Mountain, and Painted Hills.  He favors traditional winemaking techniques, even foot stomping for some varietals.  If you like Rhone wines, Kerloo is the place for you.  Ryan currently has Grenache Blanc, Grenache Rosé, three Syrahs, a Mourvèdre, and a GSM blend in his tasting room lineup.  He also offers two Cabs - a Sodo Cellars Deadbird bargain at $18 and a single-vineyard one from Klipsun.  Hear about these wines, whole cluster fermentation, the virtues of concrete barrels for fermentation and aging, the different ways to make rosè, and much more in this interview.

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Maison de Padgett Winery

David Padgett of Maison de Padgett and Horizon's Edge Wineries

When David Padgett’s wife objected to his spending 10 years in chiropractic college, he bought a vineyard and winery instead in the heart of the Rattlesnake Hills close to Zillah.  That was in 1999, and the winery-vineyard was Horizon’s Edge started in 1984 by Tom Campbell.   The 16-acre vineyard was planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscat Canelli, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and, eventually, Merlot.  The winery and vineyard came with 6 months of training from Tom in winemaking and grape growing.  Nearly 15 years later David decided to build a second winery facility that could accommodate events as well as wine tasting.  He found the perfect corner lot for what became Maison de Padgett, which is one of the most stunningly beautiful winery sites in WA state.   With nearly an acre of European gardens and views of Mount Rainier and Mount Adams, the spacious facility can accommodate up to 400+ guests.   

David specializes in dessert wines, including late harvest, ice, and port wines.  He is probably best known for his port style wines, which come in flavors such as peach, coffee, vanilla, chocolate, blackberry, and raspberry.  They are delectable desserts in a bottle.   The wine names and labels are as memorable as the flavors.  A typical bottle lineup displays funky monkeys, singing toads, unzipped dresses, smoking guns, bite me pleas, and more.  All in an effort to make wine tasting a delicious and fun experience.   David is also known for unique wines, such as the “Unzipped” white Pinot Noir and a popular “Timeless” late harvest, which is very white and clear, but made with a blend of Sangiovese and Gewürztraminer grapes.  Maison de Padgett and Horizon’s Edge wineries are about 5 minutes apart by car, and perfect destinations for spring and summer sipping.     

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Peter Miller Books

Peter Miller of Peter Miller Books

Peter Miller is the owner of Peter Miller Books, an iconic Seattle bookshop nestled along Post Alley in Pioneer Square.  The shop specializes in books and supplies to do with architecture and design, but you will also find an array of unique items for just about any room in your house, especially the kitchen or study.  Peter can talk engagingly about an amazing spectrum of things, including food and wine.  In fact, one of the most special things about his shop has to do with food.  He and his staff prepare and eat lunch together in the shop nearly every working day.  To help others transform the workplace lunch into a social experience that revives them for the afternoon, Peter has written a cookbook:  Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Mid-day Meal.  He has also written a dinner cookbook – Five Ways to Cook Asparagus:  The Art and Practice of Making Dinner – for working people who want to integrate healthy cooking into their lives as regularly and efficiently as possible. 

Peter’s cookbooks are about much more than food.  They are a call to action, asking us to slow down, to take back part of the day and make it personal and pleasurable, and to combat distance from each other and from our food.  Peter is also a strong advocate for certain types of wine and spirits.  He favors red wines of grace and humor as opposed to those that are knee-buckling, whites like rain off the roof, and aperitifs, which he thinks have never caught on as they should in the U.S.  Listen to this interview and read his books if you want to make lunch a “moment of a little care and community,” and dinner a pleasure to cook and eat, even when you need to improvise and make do, because you haven’t had much time to plan or shop.  

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The Walls Vineyards & Winery

Ali Mayfield of The Walls Vineyards

After making kit wine in an Indiana closet, Ali Mayfield left her UPS job and headed for West Coast wine country.  A meeting with Stan Clarke convinced her that Walla Walla Community College was the ideal place to study winemaking.    The hands-on education at the college, together with internships and jobs at Corliss, Long Shadows, and the Foundry wineries, provided her with an excellent foundation for launching her own wines.  It was her Chardonnay that first intrigued Seattle attorney Mike Martin, who was looking to invest in a winery project and to contribute to the Walla Walla community.  Ali shared a business plan, they talked wine over lunches and emails, and The Walls was born, with a first vintage in 2014. 

Creativity characterizes every aspect of The Walls, from branding, to winemaking, to distributing.  The name doubles for the WA state penitentiary down the street, nicknamed both “The Walls” and “Concrete Mama,” rooting the new winery in a local landmark and local history.  Another key to Walls branding is the instantly likeable cartoon character Stanley Groovy, created by New Yorker cartoonist Joe Dator.  Stanley can be seen throughout the winery and on wine labels interacting with walls in amusing ways.  But no amount of unique branding substitutes for wine quality, and there is plenty of that in every Walls bottle.  You can taste for yourself at the spacious, recently renovated tasting room/winemaking facility, or at the new Passatempo Taverna, also owned by Mike and featuring creative cocktails, Italian food, and plenty of wines, including many Walls labels.  Find out much more about all of the above in this interview.   

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Long Shadows Wineries & Vineyards

Gilles Nicault of Long Shadows Distinguished Wineries and Vineyards

Long Shadows Named 2018 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest

At Long Shadows Wineries and Vineyards, old and new worlds meet in WA state to produce amazing wines.  Distinguished winemakers from France, Italy, Germany, Australia, and California come to Long Shadows to express our Washington terroir with their special winemaking styles.  The on-site winemaker who makes it all happen is Gilles Nicault, named winemaker of the year in 2016 by Seattle Magazine.  Originally from France’s renowned Rhone wine region, he fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and has called Walla Walla home since the mid-1990s.  After working with Rick Small at Woodward Canyon, Gilles was hired as Director of Winemaking for Long Shadows when Allen Shoup started the winery in 2003.   

Gilles is in some ways like an actor who goes in and out of different personas, in this case winemaker personas.  He makes six wines to the specifications of other winemakers:  Pedestal Merlot Bordeaux blend (Michel Rolland), Pirouette Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux blend (Philippe Melka), Feather Cabernet Sauvignon (Randy Dunn), Sequel Syrah (John Duval), Saggi super Tuscan blend (Folonari family), and Poet’s Leap Riesling (Armin Diel).  But he also makes his own wines, in particular the Chester-Kidder Long Shadows wine that blends Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, with a touch of Petit Verdot.  In this interview, Gilles talks about why he considers his position at Long Shadows to be the dream job, the different winemaking styles featured in Long Shadows wines, Long Shadows’ second label Nine Hats, particularly the new Nine Hats tasting room and Nine Pies Pizzeria that recently opened in SODO in South Seattle, and much more.  

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Bonair Winery & Vineyards

Gail and Shirley Puryear of Bonair Winery and Vineyards

After falling in love with each other and with wine while studying abroad in Chile, Gail and Shirley Puryear settled in CA where he worked as an educator and she as a social worker.  They dabbled in wine making and then finally returned in 1979 to Washington state for an education job, determined to grow grapes and make wine in their spare time.  With a post-hole digger and a lot of hard labor, they planted their first vines among the Rattlesnake Hills in 1980 when there was only one winery in the area.  Today they farm 35 acres composed of two vineyards:  the original Chateau Puryear Vineyard and the Morrison Vineyard, the oldest vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA (planted 1968), which the Puryears purchased in 2001.  

Bonair Winery and Vineyards is today one of the most enchanting wine tasting destinations in the state.  With house and winery architecture reminiscent of England, Spain and southern France, the site offers a European feel with pond-side seating and stunning mountain views.  A short walk through vines ends at the tasting room where visitors can sample award winning and very affordable wines, especially Riesling, dry Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Bordeaux style reds, and red and white port.  If you’re looking for great everyday wines for $15 or less, you will find a nice selection here.  

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The Social Sip

Brooke Huffman of The Social Sip & Fletcher Bay Winery

Marketing maven Brooke Huffman wears many hats in our WA wine industry.  Most importantly for winemakers and wineries, she is founder and owner of The Social Sip – a business that takes expert care of marketing needs for wineries.  If you need assistance with social media marketing, website and graphic design, blogs, a newsletter, photos, label design, search engine optimization, or event planning, The Social Sip is eager to meet your needs.  In this interview, Brooke discusses key marketing strategies and social media platforms for wineries.  Brooke understands the needs of wineries very well, as she is co-owner of Fletcher Bay Winery, a Bainbridge Island winery focusing on full-bodied red wines as well as fruit wines.

A resident of Bainbridge Island, Brooke is also the Executive Director of the Winery Alliance of Bainbridge Island.  In this interview, she highlights how Bainbridge Island has become a wine tasting destination, especially with its not-to-miss “Wine on the Rock” events four times each year.  These events pair food and wine, an activity that Brooke loves as well.  She has written about food and wine pairing tips as wine writer for Westsound Home and Garden Magazine, and shares some pairing advice here in her interview.    As if all these hats weren’t enough, Brooke is also a member of the Washington State Wine Commission Board of Directors. 

The Social Sip - https://www.thesocialsip.org/

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Kiona Vineyards and Winery

John and Scott Williams of Kiona Vineyards and Winery

In 1972, Red Mountain offered farmers plenty of sagebrush and rattlesnakes, but no water, electricity, roads, or fellow residents.   This desert is where metallurgists John Williams and Jim Holmes decided to plant their vineyard.  They paid $200 an acre, and planted varietals such as Riesling, Lemberger and Chenin Blanc on ten of the 87 acres they purchased.  The necessary power line cost $25,000 – the price of a house back then -- so they lured others to the area to plant vines in order to share the cost.  Scott calls it a classic Huckleberry Finn “come-help-me-paint-my-fence” strategy.  People thought they were crazy, but soon other folks making wine in the state were talking about John’s and Jim’s grapes.  It was lucky for them that water was scarce on Red Mountain so they couldn’t overwater, an irrigation mistake confirmed years later by careful research.  

Today Kiona Vineyards and Winery includes 3 estate vineyards on 260 acres, and they sell to roughly 40 wineries.  A key thing they’ve learned since the early 70s is that you can’t farm from the seat of a pickup.  You need to have your feet on the ground and live where you farm.  In Scott’s words, “The best fertilizer is your footprint.”  Today they make at least 20 wines under three different labels, including 5,000 cases of estate Lemberger, three different styles of Chenin Blanc, Bordeaux blends that include Carmenere, to mention just a few.  Listen here to learn about why Lemberger has been so successful at Kiona, why Chenin Blanc makes an ideal ice wine, the virtues of vertical blending, what likely lies ahead for Red Mountain, and much more.  

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Hightower Cellars

Tim & Kelly Hightower of Hightower Cellars

A special book and alcoholic beverage law are responsible for getting Kelly and Tim Hightower interested in wine.  While carpooling between Columbia Winery and downtown Seattle, they hatched a business plan for Hightower Cellars, which began in a Woodinville Warehouse in 1997.  On this 20th anniversary they reflect back with no regrets and many awards for their red wines.  Red Mountain grapes were their choice of fruit from the beginning, and in 2002 they persuaded some original residents of the area to sell them 15 acres of ideal vineyard land.  Much to their surprise, they left Seattle behind and settled into a life of farming.

The original winery plan included one Cabernet wine.  Twenty years later, Tim and Kelly produce a variety of mostly Bordeaux varietal wines under two labels:  Hightower and Murray.  They share a winemaking philosophy that can be summed up by their motto “handpicked—handsorted—handmade.”  Although they source mainly from their estate vines for the Hightower wines, they also produce a Merlot from Pepperbridge Vineyards and most recently obtained some fruit from Red Willow Vineyards.  They’re committed to sustainable farming methods and building principles, as you can see from their very unique tasting room construction.  In this interview they reflect on their 20 years in the industry as a husband-wife team.

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Whidbey Island Winery

Greg Osenbach of Whidbey Island Winery

Greg Osenbach is an engineer turned winemaker, who left his north Seattle home to grow grapes and make wine on Whidbey Island.  In 1986 when he planted his first vines on the south end of the island, no one else was growing grapes on Whidbey.  He talked with one or two other Western WA winemakers before planting his vineyard to Siegerrebe, Madeleine Angevine, and Madeleine Sylvaner, the three varietals that still make up his estate vines today.  His Whidbey Island Winery tasting room opened in 1992, and he sold out of his first vintage of 400 cases in 6 weeks.  Greg makes 3,500 cases today, and Whidbey Island is a destination venue for sippers, with 7 wine tasting rooms and several distilleries.  

During harvest time, Greg spends a lot of time trucking fruit over the mountains, as 75% of the grapes he uses in his wines come from Eastern WA.  He’s partial to Italian red varietals, especially sangiovese, which is his flagship red wine.  A number of other Italian varietals appear on his wine list, including Primitivo, Dolcetto, and a Barbera Port.  His flagship white is the Island White, a blend of Madeleine Angevine and Sylvaner, with a touch of Riesling and Chenin Blanc.  This wine is a customer favorite that appeals to a wide range of palates.  In this interview he talks of his many diverse wines, the virtues of Whidbey Island as a weekend destination getaway, changes in the industry since the mid 80s when he planted his first vines, and much more.

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Spoiled Dog Winery

Karen & Jake Krug of Spoiled Dog Winery

After alternating between homes in Colorado and overseas, Karen and Jack Krug decided to settle on Whidbey Island so they could grow pinot noir.  They had spent time sailing around Washington’s islands and believed Whidbey to have the perfect growing season and rainfall patterns for superb pinot.  In 2003 they purchased 25 acres and started planting, producing the first "Spoiled Dog" wines in 2007.  With a copyrighted last name they couldn’t use for their winery, they turned to their very spoiled dogs, who welcome visitors and inspire an annual spoiled dog contest for special pets from around the world.  Spoiled Dog Winery is a working farm and vineyard in a stunningly beautiful setting that’s a destination place for memorable wines, farm tours, and winemaker dinners in the vineyard. 

Although Karen and son Jake specialize in both new and old world style pinot noir, they also make many other wines sourced mostly from grapes in eastern WA.  Their Deception blend named after the island pass is a Bordeaux blend, and they also make a malbec and  a malbec port, the latter fortified with their own wines distilled down the road.  The “pooch wine” is not to be missed --  house wine on tap that is excellent, inexpensive, and sold in growlers.  Taking advantage of the 100 year old orchards on the farm, they also make an apple and pear wine that is 85% apple and 15% pear.  Listen here to learn more about pinot noir clones, some advantages of growing pinot on American rootstock here in Washington, farm to table wine dinners that help local non profits, benefits of malbec for port, and much more.

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Chris Daniel Winery

Mike & Chris Stewart of Chris Daniel Winery

Chris Stewart and his father Mike say it was the combination of smoking Cuban cigars and sipping tempranillo on a Spanish beach that convinced them to open a winery on their home property near Quincy, WA.   Mike had years of experience as a vineyard and orchard consultant and Chris had a winemaking degree from WSU, as well as experience in the wine worlds of Chile and Napa.  In fact, Chris is now a winemaker both in Napa and here in WA at the new family-run Chris Daniel Winery.  Tasting room doors opened in April 2017, just a few miles off of I-90 on the Soap Lake road.  The facility was once an indoor pool, but is now filled with sand and covered with flooring and comfortable furniture to flop in while sipping Chris’s fabulous, mostly single-varietal wines.

The family property is in a climate zone too cold for vines, so grapes are sourced from vineyards Mike works closely with in the Wahluke and Royal Slope areas.  Chris and Mike plan to keep production low at 1000 cases in order to ensure quality, but they’ll be adding some new varietals to their line-up, including petite sirah and petit verdot.  In this interview they discuss key aspects of their winemaking process, such as fermenting uncrushed grapes, fermenting red wines in barrels with heads removed, barrel fermenting all their wines red and white, and much more. What you won't hear in the interview is why the clockworks on the label are fixed at 10:23 - the month and day Chris was born.

Listen to the Interview:

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