What’s Hot in WA?

Highlights from 8 winery visits in Washington

 


After a brief introduction to the the state of Washington this past Monday I reported on my  visits to wineries in Walla Walla on Tuesday. Today I am reporting on visits both in Prosser, which lies roughly between Walla Walla and Seattle in the Yakima Valley as well as to wineries located basically within Seattle’s metropolitan footprint. As I’ve already discussed, Washington’s wine industry is fairly unusual in that so many of the wineries source fruit from one part of the state while they produce wine closer to where the money is. It’s a brilliant strategy and one that fosters a connection with their clients that is unusually close.
This departure from the estate winery mindset is evident throughout the state, with clusters of wineries being the norm, in Walla Walla as discussed, but also in Prosser and notably in Woodinville, which is a very short ride from downtown Seattle. Washington has made winery visiting an almost urban activity, and bringing the wineries to the people not only fosters that close connection but also gives unprecedented access to Seattle’s not inconsequential flow of tourists.

Coming from a retail background I know the power of the winery visit. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me for wines they tried while on vacation. Predisposed to enjoyment, it’s a magical time to sample myriad wines and the tight clustering of these wineries makes those visits simply too easy to avoid. It’s just another detail that makes up the structure of Washington’s impressively successful and rapidly expanding wine industry. The fact that the wines are varied, friendly, fascinating and in general well priced makes it easy to convert even sceptical consumers and jaded professionals!

Prosser actually has a sort of winery based industrial park known as Vintner’s Village. It’s another genius idea, fostering both the collaborative spirit that remains part of Washington’s wine scene as well as ease of access and promotion for the local wineries. My reviews that follow being in Prosser before moving back up to Woodinville.

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Comments

  • Snooth User: sgVA
    1300081 27

    Wow! No mention in this three part article about Charles Smith and his wines! This leaves this article woefully incomplete in my opinion. Perhaps Charles is/was less accommodating during your tour than others? That does not excuse a complete omission of his various wines and brands including Chateau Smith, Magnificent Wine Company, K Vinters and Steak House. He makes a great cabernet and his Syrahs consistently receive high 90's in publications including the Wine Spectator. Robert Parker is a fan, too. Shame on you!

    Mar 06, 2014 at 1:36 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 213,323


    How about Leonetti? L'Ecole? Quilceda Creek? Kiona? Porteous? Bernard Griffin? My missing any of those get your dander up? All historically more important than Charles Smith, whom I did not contact on this trip, though not out of any fear that he might be less accommodating. Simply put I included a set of wineries that I am familiar with or in some way are important to the Washington wine scene for this very brief trip I'm not saying Charles isn't important, but when you have but a few days in a region you're not going to hit every significant winery, and while I could have added two additional visits a day, is that what you really want? Massive numbers of wines tasted in minutes without any actual time spent learning about the wines/wineries/people? If so there is plenty of that out there for you. I would suggest you stick with the Wine Advocate.

    As for me, yes I will miss the obvious sometimes, but I think it's better to have an incomplete report on Washington state wines that affords me the background to write somewhat intelligently on the topic as opposed to a more comprehensive set of robo-written tasting notes.

    Having said all that, I will be sure to schedule a visit with Charles Smith upon my return to Washington. As well as some of the other wineries mentioned above, as well as Swiftwater Cellars, which was mentioned in a comment on the previous Washington article as an up and coming winner worthy of attention.

    Thanks for pointing out my omission.

    Mar 06, 2014 at 2:17 PM


  • Snooth User: sgVA
    1300081 27

    Wow, I seem to have struck a nerve there! Geez, chill out! I was simply pointing out my disappointment, perhaps too enthusiastically, that Charles Smith's wines were not mentioned in an article I thought surely would include mention of this big personality with an equally big reputation for producing outstanding wines. And he's only been in the wine business since 1999 so certainly a noteworthy addition to the Washington State wine industry. I discovered Charles Smith cabernets about a year ago and prefer it to the majority of California Cabs. But that's just me. I don't know Charles and have no hidden agenda asking why his wines were not included in this brief survey/visit to Washington State. And thanks for the childish comment that I stick with the Wine Advocate which I'll point out I've never read (or seen). So, sorry if I got your dander up with my comments. When I eagerly read your three part article, I presumed from the beginning that you were covering all the major and, up-and-coming Wash State wine players. Not being the seasoned expert on wines that you are, I had no idea there were so many noteworthy wineries in Wash State nor how comprehensive such an undertaking would have been. Maybe you could have pointed that out in one of the articles that this was a brief survey of a smattering of noteworthy wineries for some of us neophytes. Nevertheless, your tasting notes were great and I enjoyed the three installments.

    Mar 06, 2014 at 2:56 PM


  • Snooth User: emmagramma
    422865 27

    Next trip you must try Owen Roe. It's an all time favorite.

    Mar 06, 2014 at 2:58 PM


  • Snooth User: dondub
    882230 2

    Gregory,

    You should have visited every winery in Washington! ;>)

    But I am appreciative of this great effort. Another up and comer is Kestral, and DeLille is awesome too.

    So many wines....so little time.

    Thanks...Don

    Mar 06, 2014 at 3:06 PM


  • Snooth User: Zuiko
    Hand of Snooth
    540750 816

    I was hoping Snooth would be a pleasant place to visit, without the condescension and quid pro quo of many online forums. Personal attacks are not a good thing.

    Good information GDP.

    Mar 06, 2014 at 5:04 PM


  • Snooth User: Labby
    1374876 19

    At Prosser village, my sister insisted we try Thomas Wolfe. We loved everything we tried. Living in Maryland, the closest availability is in Virginia but worth the drive. Big big fan.

    Mar 06, 2014 at 5:43 PM


  • Snooth User: dondub
    882230 2

    If anyone needs to chill their wine here it's sgVA. Gregory deftly responded to his/her rant with a measured response and the reply that he would catch up to Charles Smith wines next time. The referral to the Wine Advocate wasn't childish at all, but a simple suggestion.

    In the meantime, let's hope Charles' wines can approach the level of others mentioned before Gregory gets there, or we could be in for another rant. They have a ways to go...

    Mar 06, 2014 at 7:26 PM


  • Snooth User: Lucha Vino
    Hand of Snooth
    249612 90,748

    I would agree with everything dondub said above. It is great to see some Washington coverage on Snooth. My only disappointment is that Greg did not invite me to come along for the visits!

    Mar 12, 2014 at 1:11 AM


  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 7,434

    Geez, I've been out of touch for a little while and just checked up on Ste. Michelle. Seems they've been busy, busy:

    "Ste. Michelle’s Washington portfolio includes Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, 14 Hands, Northstar, Spring Valley Vineyard, Col Solare, Michelle sparkling wines, Red Diamond, and Snoqualmie. The company also owns Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars (with Italy’s Antinori family), Conn Creek and Villa Mt. Eden in the Napa Valley of California, and Erath, in Dundee, Oregon. In 2006, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates became the exclusive U.S. importer for the acclaimed Marchesi Antinori wine portfolio of Italy and Chile’s Haras wines, for Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte of France in 2009, and for New Zealand’s Villa Maria Estate in 2010."

    Mar 12, 2014 at 8:51 PM


  • Snooth User: kaged27
    748218 66

    Fantastic article. I'm disappointed a WA wine fan felt the need to criticize you for leaving out Charles Smith. Yes the wines are good but he's hardly the only good juice maker in WA. My personal recommendations for your next visit would be Reynvaan and Abeja in Walla Walla. Hope you enjoy your visit(s).

    Mar 25, 2014 at 12:46 AM


  • Snooth User: kaged27
    748218 66

    Just saw your review of Abeja in the other article. Well done.

    Mar 25, 2014 at 12:58 AM


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