New Wine Advocate Score! 2013 Forgotten Hills Syrah
2013 Forgotten Hills Syrah
'92 Points' Wine Advocate
Reviewed by William Kelley
The 2013 Syrah Forgotten Hills Vineyard wafts from the glass with aromas of cigar wrappper, rich soil and dusty blackberry fruit that nod to the Old World. On the palate, it's medium to full-bodied, rich and layered, with an attractively savory core of fruit and a long finish. $50 a bottle. Drink Date: 2018 - 2025.
30 Washington Wines to Drink Right Now, October 2019
'30 WA Wines to Drink Right Now' by Sean P. Sullivan, Seattle Met, October 2019
Its an honor that we got two wines in this issue! Considering that there are over 1000 wineries in WA State that is no easy feat. The wines featured in this article are the 2014 21 Grams (Cab dominant blend) for $125 a bottle and 2014 Tremolo (Syrah/Grenache blend) for $34 a bottle.
30 Most Exciting Wines of Washington State, October 2018
'The 30 Most Exciting Wines in WA' by Sean P. Sullivan, Seattle Met, October 2018
It's an honor to be mentioned in this article. Sean P. Sullivan is a respected wine critic for Wine Enthusiast and to even be mentioned on this great list of top Washington wineries makes us feel like we are doing something right over here at Waters Winery. Two of our wines were mentioned in this article! The 2013 21 Grams (Cab dominant blend) for $125 a bottle and 2014 Washington State Syrah (100% Syrah) for $32 a bottle.
2018 San Francisco International Wine Competition
2014 TERO Estates Petit Verdot~ Best in Show!
Wine Press Northwest Platinum Competition: Double Platinum!
TERO Estates 2013 Petit Verdot, Walla Walla Valley • $38
Doug Roskelley’s two-barrels of prized Petit Verdot from his Windrow Vineyard, the Walla Walla Valley’s oldest commercial planting, reveal this lesser-known Bordeaux variety’s character that’s often blended into Meritage-style wines. Richly concentrated from the expressive aroma, it transitions through the lush blackberry and dark plum fruit that melds with toasty oak nuances on the midpalate. Complex and full-bodied with chalky tannins, its firm structure persists alongside the savory finish of black olive. (47 cases, 14.1% alc.) Awards: Seattle Wine Awards (double gold), Oregon Wine Awards (double gold).
Seattle Magazine: Tasting Room Explosion Turns SoDo Into Seattle's Craft Drinks Capital
Walla Walla–based wineries have claimed the northeast corner of SUW, which began with Waters Winery next to Nine Hats’ pizzeria. The tasting room has an industrial core overlaid with an elegant finish and stunning paintings by artist Squire Broel. Winemaker Jamie Brown has never shied away from doing what he wants, and when it comes to wines, that means single-vineyard Syrahs showcasing the state’s most savory sites.
For those who aren’t club members, the tasting room here (and in Walla Walla) is the only local place to taste and purchase Brown’s 21 Grams label, which features acclaimed artist Makoto Fujimura’s nihonga work, created using traditional Japanese artistic conventions, techniques and materials.
New Wine Enthusiast Ratings!! 2013 Interlude
Merlot makes up just over half of this wine, with Cabernet Sauvignon (39%) playing second fiddle and Cabernet Franc and Malbec rounding it out. It's expressive, with aromas of fig, golden raisins, eucalyptus and red fruit, with the aromas seeming slightly dried out. The palate is fruit forward and textured, while still showing restraint and length..~SEAN P. SULLIVAN. Editors' Choice~89 Points!
New Wine Enthusiast Ratings!! 2016 Patina Rosé
This rare single-vineyard rosé is all Syrah. Pale peach in color, it brings aromas of blood orange and strawberry that are followed by a textured lively palate with an extended finish. It's one of the best rosés the state has produced to date.~SEAN P. SULLIVAN. Editors' Choice~92 Points!
2012 21 Grams~Wine Enthusiast Cellar Selection 93 points
21 Grams is art and wine collaboration with renowned artist, Makoto Fujimura and winemaker, Jamie Brown. This wine is always a 75% plus cabernet-based Bordeaux-style blend with the primary Cabernet coming from 45-year-old, “Fan Trained” vines from Cold Creek Vineyard. Cold Creek is St Michelle Wine Estates top vineyard. To stay away from a recipe mentality, Jamie blind tastes and rates all wines in his cellar and then does the cabernet-base blend blind before he starts refining the blend with other Bordeaux varietals to make what eventually becomes 21 Grams. Every year since its inception in 2005, a hand-selected piece of art from International renowned artist, Makoto Fujimura, has graced the label for each vintage of 21 Grams. We take the utmost pride in replicating Mako’s art, using only the best printing techniques to showcase the depth and layers of the original art. Makoto Fujimura is the preeminent, Nihonga artist of his generation. Nihonga is an ancient Japanese technique, using only elements of the earth for the pigments and surfaces, such as azurite, malachite, mica, gold leaf, silk, animal hide, or fishbone. We hope you will enjoy this wine-art collaboration as much as we enjoy creating it for you.
High-toned aromas of cranberry, herb, black licorice and dried cherry are followed by tightly wound dark-fruit flavors backed by firm tannins. The finish extends into the distance. It's a highly structured wine, with its best days far in front of it. Best from 2021 through 2027.~SEAN P. SULLIVAN~Cellar Selection-93 Points
21 Grams Seattle Met: Top 100 Wines 2016
Top Bordeaux-Style Blends
7. 21 Grams Red Wine Washington 2011 $125
Most of the fruit for this cabernet sauvignon–dominant wine comes from two stalwart sites, Cold Creek and Stone Tree. It’s wound up tightly with notes of herbs, vanilla, and dark fruit. Enjoy this sometime in the 2020s to see it at its best.
Winemaker, Jamie Brown, was honored with 21 Grams and three Waters wines placing in Seattle Met Magazine's Top 100 wines of Washington State. 2011 21 Grams and Waters' 2015 Prelude, 2012 Interlude, and the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
Seattle Met: Top 100 Wines 2016
The new crop of wines on store shelves is so impressive, it’s almost overwhelming.
Most bottles on this list—our seventh annual accounting of the state’s best wines—come from the 2013 vintage. Higher temperatures and ample sun deliver wines that are often richer and have a darker fruit profile than you might associate with our state; think black cherries and blackberries rather than red cherries and blueberries.
These wines are accessible on first pour but still feel like serious, ageworthy creations.
And there’s more headed our way; 2013 was the first of three increasingly warmer vintages for Washington (do I hear a fourth in 2016?). From the early returns, the 2014 and 2015 wines look to be every bit as impressive.
Let’s lift our glasses to living in a wine region capable of everything from age-worthy cabernets to stunning syrahs.
Washington's Best White Wines
3. Waters Winery Prelude White Wine Columbia Valley 2015 $28
Viognier from the cool-climate Antoine Creek meets roussanne from blazing-hot Alder Ridge Vineyard. These varieties from two vastly different sites marry perfectly—producing a complex wine that brings gravitas to flower, pear, and peach notes.
Best Value Wines
5. Waters Winery Interlude Red Wine Washington 2012 $28
This wine makes frequent appearances on our annual Top 100, due to Jamie Brown’s knack for making well-priced Bordeaux-style blends. Principally merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet franc, it offers notes of herbs, red and black fruit, and flowers, plus a depth of flavor uncommon for the price point.
Top Cabernet Sauvignon
7. Waters Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Washington 2012 $50
Old vines from elder statesman Cold Creek Vineyard provide much of the fruit for this 100 percent varietal wine. Aromas of savory herbs, blue and black fruit, and spice lead to a palate layered with fruit flavors, with an appealing mouthfeel.
Top Bordeaux-Style Blends
7. 21 Grams Red Wine Washington 2011 $125
Most of the fruit for this cabernet sauvignon–dominant wine comes from two stalwart sites, Cold Creek and Stone Tree. It’s wound up tightly with notes of herbs, vanilla, and dark fruit. Enjoy this sometime in the 2020s to see it at its best.
TERO Estates Winery: Bold Reds in the Valley
Walla Walla-based TERO Estates has grown to include three sister wineries that complement each other with a diverse collection of rich red wines. When Doug and Jan Roskelley, along with partner, Mike Tembreull, literally put down roots on the first commercial vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley—Windrow Vineyard—and launched TERO Estates in 2007, they couldn’t have predicted their trajectory would conjure part of Newton’s first law of motion: “An object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity.”
Doug Roskelley working in the vineyard
Doug and Mike quickly built a solid brand, garnering accolades early on for their Bordeaux blends, while bringing the historic vineyard back to life. But rather than rest at these accomplishments, Doug and Mike expanded their roots, planting in new varietals including Nebbiolo, Petite Syrah, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese and Charbono. With the release of the 2014 S.T. (TERO’s version of a super-Tuscan) the brand will have hit its goal of being 100% estate grown.
Real Food Traveler Washington – The State of Merlot
Doug Roskelley, who retired from a career in construction in 2007, says he “moved to where the grapes grow” to join the Washington winemaking throng. It was a good call. From his rambling front porch where wicker chairs share space with pots brimming with flowers and herbs and endless views of vineyards, we sampled 2009 Herb’s Block Merlot. Smoke and spice exuded from beneath rich, elegant fruit. The venue, Roskelley’s easy-going hospitality, and the delicious wine made leaving our seats rather difficult. - May 23, 2016 Julie Pegg, Wine & Spirits Editor, Canada
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East Oregonian: Oldest vineyard in Milton-Freewater part of new movement
Walla Walla may be known for its wines, but few know that reputation is in large part due to Oregon grapes.
According to the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, about half of the wines from the valley’s certified American Viticultural Area come from grapes across the Oregon border. It’s ever so slightly less chilly this time of year in Milton-Freewater, and for the delicate vines in hibernation, that can make all the difference....
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Wine Enthusiast, 90 Points: 2008 ST
2008 ST (Super Tuscan Blend)
The initials stand for Super Tuscan, after which this almost 50-50 blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon models itself. It’s an elegant wine with subtle power, a mélange of baked plum, fig, raisins, chocolate and black tea. Good balance and persistence, with plenty of alcohol-driven power.
— P.G. (11/1/2011)
Wine Enthusiast, 90 Points: 2009 Windrow
2009 Windrow Field Blend
This is a field blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 6% Malbec. Some overt stemmy notes are present, lending a bitterness to the finish that may not be for all palates. But the wine carries a thread of sweet berry as well, suggesting that not all of the grapes were equally ripe. An interesting wine, and it should improve with further…
— P.G. (3/1/2013)
Wine Enthusiast, 91 Points: 2007 Walla Walla Cabernet
2007 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon
This blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot includes fruit from five Walla Walla Valley vineyards. It shows plenty of muscle and bigger, rounder fruit than the single-vineyard Cabernet from TERO. Loaded with lush cherry and plum flavor, with a milk chocolate accent, it’s very appealing, nicely balanced and lingering.
— P.G. (2/1/2011)
Wine Enthusiast, 91 Points: 2007 Herb's Block Merlot
2007 Windrow Vineyard Herb's Block Merlot
This is 100% estate Merlot from the original 1981 planting. It’s very tight, and immediately showing a lot of barrel flavor, including some spicy pickle accents. The wine has excellent balance, with a firmness that is almost Cabernet like. Smooth, polished, cranberry and cherry fruit is threaded with black olive and red licorice.
— P.G. (2/1/2011)
Wine Enthusiast, 91 Points: 2008 Windrow
2008 Windrow Field Blend
This is a field blend wine that co-ferments the grapes planted in the estate vineyard in exact proportion—Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Malbec. In this challenging vintage it succeeds admirably, with ripe black fruits, baking spices, an acid underpinning and barrel notes of clove and coffee. Other highlights seep in—tobacco and…
— P.G. (12/1/2011)
Wine Enthusiast, 91 Points: 2008 Old Block Cab
2008 Windrow Vineyard Old Block Cabernet Sauvignon
This is a jammy wine, with an aroma and flavor that verge on being pruny. It offers good minerality, with a compact, focused flavor that suggests intensely concentrated berry compote, plus grace notes of plum and apricot.
— P.G. (3/1/2013)
Wine Enthusiast, 92 Points: 2007 Windrow Cabernet
Wine Enthusiast, 92 Points: 2007 Cab Franc
2007 Windrow Vineyard Cabernet Franc
Fragrant and showing lots of toasty oak, this has a lifted, lightly volatile nose with pretty cherry fruit underlying it. There is a little bit of a green character to the oak, and the wine is still resolving itself. Good varietal focus and character; it opens up nicely in the glass, with pretty, ripe, round cherry/berry fruit and streaks of earth, pepper and…
— P.G. (2/1/2011)
Wine Enthusiast, 92 Points: 2010 DC3
2010 DC3 Blend
This is a Right Bank-style blend of 62% Merlot and 38% Cabernet Franc. It shows impressive structure and clear varietal components from both grapes. Tannins are fine-grained and lead into a lingering streak of smooth, coffee-coated flavors.
— P.G. (8/1/2014)
Wine Enthusiast, 93 Points: 2007 Windrow
2007 Windrow Field Blend
This is the signature wine, a field blend wine that is a precise representation of the grapes planted in the estate vineyard, in exact proportion: 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 6% Malbec. Muscular and rich with dark fruits, cocoa, coffee, chocolate, fresh herbs and a streak of mineral, this is detailed, dense and compelling. Should age…
— P.G. (2/1/2011)
Wine Enthusiast, 93 Points: 2010 Windrow
2010 Windrow Field Blend
This is a field blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Malbec, all co-fermented and estate-grown. It’s nicely evolved, ripe and fruity—a flavor cavalcade of pastry fruits and spices, fig, twig, cacao and coffee. Yes you may cellar this wine, but why wait? It’s drinking beautifully.
— P.G. (8/1/2014)
Wine Enthusiast, 94 Points: 2009 Herb's Block Merlot
2009 Herb's Block Merlot
Youthful and compelling, this 100% estate Merlot comes with a seductive smoky note. The juicy berry flavor is rich and racy, while the barrel aging—50% new—hits exactly the right toasty note.
— P.G. (3/1/2013)
Wine Enthusiast, 95 Points: 2007 Reserve Cabernet
This is superstrong Cabernet Sauvignon, with precise, concentrated flavors of brambly old-vine fruit taking center stage. The wine spent 33 months in barrel and has the density and power to prove it.— P.G. (3/1/2013)
Seattle Met: Best WA Wines of 2012
Ranked 44th of 100 Best Wines for 2012
TERO Estates Windrow Red Wine Walla Walla Valley 2008
TERO Estates Windrow Red wine is a field blend, an extreme rarity for Washington: All four grape varieties—cabernet, merlot, cabernet franc, and malbec—are picked at the same time in proportion to their plantings at Windrow Vineyard and subsequently cofermented. No wimpy wines here, this is bold and brawny with exceptionally well-integrated tannins. $45
Wine Trails NW
When visiting with Doug and Jan Roskelley at their winery/vineyard outside Milton-Freewater, one gets the sense that they have always lived there. But such is not the case. In 2007, they made the big leap from their home in Woodinville, Washington, trading a successful home-modeling business for a farm. However, if you’re imagining a ramshackle farmhouse on a dusty plot of land, think again. No, their new life began with the purchase of the renowned 25-acre Windrow Vineyards, which had plenty of space to build a production facility and a new home. Needless to say, Doug’s background as a remodeler has came in handy.
Of course, you have to come up with a memorable name when you launch a winery, and Doug worked and reworked various names, but came to a dead end. He was nearly ready to give it up, but then the idea hit him to combine the first two letters from his last name, Roskelley, with the first two letters of the last name of his winery partner and friend, Mike Tembreull. A little shuffling of letters and he came up with TERO Estates. The fact that “TERO” plays on the word terroir is a bonus.
At the TERO Estates tasting room, located at street level inside the Marcus Whitman Hotel, you can sample the wines of TERO Estates and Flying Trout. While Doug and Jan were getting started with their winery, they developed a strong friendship with Ashley Trout (winemaker for Flying Trout). Wanting to focus on winemaking and not be shackled with the business side of owning a winery, she’s partnered with Doug and Jan.
WineTrail tip: Don’t miss TERO Estates’ S.T. (Super Tuscan), a blend of cabernet with a sangiovese backbone. Bet you can’t sample just one. It’s pure Walla Walla heaven.
WA Wine Report: A World Apart
TERO Estates is set apart from its peers in the Walla Walla Valley. The drive out to the winery, which goes deep into the heart of the ‘occupied area’ of the Walla Walla Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) south of the Washington border, is somewhat long but incredibly scenic. The twists and turns take one past some of the valley’s most prestigious vineyards – many of them marked, many of them not. With each passing mile the views get more expansive and impressive, and one seems to be transported to another, more peaceful world.
Stepping out of the car, I am struck by two things: the breathtaking beauty of the site and the awesome silence. There is barely a sound to be heard, and I am reminded of being out in the mountains instead of deep in the heart of wheat and wine country. This is exactly what one wants a trip to wine country to be – relaxing and transformative.
Jan Roskelly of TERO comes to greet me followed by numerous cats and dogs, which patrol the grounds. Jan, her husband Doug, and their partner Mike Tembreull, purchased Windrow Vineyards, TERO’s estate vineyard, in June of 2007. The winery’s name is a combination of the names TEmbreull and ROskelly.
Windrow Vineyards’ first plantings date back to the early days of Walla Walla Valley’s modern wine history. Dr. Herbert Hendricks put in the first vines at what was then Seven Hills Vineyard in 1980 and 1981. Fellow physician James McClellan (Casey McClellan's father) partnered with Hendricks in 1983, and additional acreage was planted in the ensuing years. Seven Hills Vineyard was subsequently split and sold in the mid nineties with Scott Hendricks retaining a portion of the vineyard that he renamed Windrow. This included a small amount of the 1980 plantings and substantial plantings from 1986. The vineyard was later expanded, including the addition of the colorfully named ‘Varsity Block,’ a Cabernet Sauvignon block planted by the Mac-Hi basketball team in 1998.
The list of wineries that purchased fruit from the original Seven Hills Vineyard – some of whom have subsequently purchased fruit from Windrow – is a who’s who of the valley’s history, includingLeonetti Cellar (which used Windrow Cabernet up until 2000), L’Ecole (which made a Windrow Vineyard designate in 1995), and Walla Walla Vintners. More recently, wineries such asGlencorrie, Bunchgrass, and Cooper Wine Company in addition to numerous others have also purchased fruit from Windrow.
Before moving to the Walla Walla Valley, the Roskellys lived for twenty-eight years in Woodinville, where Doug worked in the construction industry. Roskelly, a burly man with a thick, bushy beard, jokingly refers to the winery and vineyard as a "retirement project."
While many often think of owning a vineyard and a winery as romantic, the reality is often far from it. The Roskellys have been living in a trailer at the vineyard for the last fifteen-plus months while the winery buildings are finished.
TERO’s building plans include a winery facility and office (mostly finished), domicile (somewhat finished), and tasting room (not yet started). Roskelly designed the iconic winery building, which features a spiral staircase leading up to a patio with commanding views of the surrounding vineyard. Part of the original structure was an equipment shed where the first discussions about the Walla Walla Valley AVA were said to have taken place. Roskelly incorporated this shed into the new structure to preserve its historical significance.
In terms of the vineyard, the new owners have tried to keep some things the same and improve on others. They have maintained the same vineyard team, including the vineyard manager, Esteban Albarran, who has worked at the property for sixteen years. They put in drip irrigation and planted additional acres of vines. The plantings include Charbono, which the Roskellys believe is among the first in the Walla Walla Valley. Overall, Windrow now has 25 acres under cultivation.
Doug Roskelly is the winemaker for TERO with Ashley Trout of Flying Trout Wines working as his assistant as of late 2009 (look for a subsequent post on the Flying Trout Wines). Roskelly started out making garage wine in Woodinville. He says, “When I got to two barrels I said, time to make a serious decision here.” Roskelly heard that Windrow Vineyard was for sale and made a serious decision.
Stylistically, Roskelly likes big, but balanced, wines, saying, “I don’t like wimpy wines personally.” TERO Estates’ initial wines – which are not wimpy but are also far from colossal - will be released in October. The wines sampled below are an impressive debut. They include a Windrow Vineyard Cabernet Franc; a Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon; and a wine called simply Windrow.
The Windrow is a particularly compelling wine whose percentage of Bordeaux grapes is based on the plantings at the vineyard - 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Malbec. The wine is a field blend with all of the grapes picked on the same day and subsequently fermented together. Roskelly says, “This is the truest representation of Windrow terroir that I can produce.”
While much work remains to be done at the winery and vineyard - on the day I visited Jan Roskelly gleefully pointed out the recently arrived but not yet installed bathroom fixtures for the house - TERO Estates promises to continue and expand upon Windrow's long history.
TERO Estates made 600 cases in its first vintage. The winery plans to grow to 3,200 cases over a ten-year period.
TERO Estates Cabernet Franc Windrow Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2007 $38
Rating: * (Excellent) Tea leaves, chocolate, pepper, and herbal notes on a pleasing, moderately aromatic nose. A round, plush, silky palate, beautifully stitched together with rich fruit accented by chocolate flavors. 100% Cabernet Franc. 14.5% alcohol. 68 cases produced.
TERO Estates Windrow Windrow Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2007 $45
Rating: * (Excellent) An aromatic wine with rich black cherry aromas, milk chocolate, tobacco leaf, and pepper. The palate is marked by rich, tightly wound up fruit wrapped in a silky layer of oak. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Malbec. 14.1% alcohol. 108 cases produced.
TERO Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2007 $42
Rating: * (Excellent) Very pretty, compelling aromatics of herbal notes, black cherry, and light chocolate. Deliciously rich, chewy fruit on the palate. 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot. Windrow, Dwelley, LaTour, Les Collines, and Spofford Station vineyards. 14.2% alcohol. 240 cases produced.
Wine Enthusiast, 91 Points: 2012 Mary's Block Malbec
2012 Mary's Block Malbec (Estate)
Rating: 91 Points
Tasting Notes to be printed in the following month's addition.
Wine Enthusiast, 93 points: 2011 Brook Blend
2011 Brook Blend
Rating: 93 Points
The variety has shown great promise in the state, developing a reputation for rich plum and herb flavors, peppery spices, and soft mouthfeel. The 2011 Flying Trout The Brook Blend has all this and more. It’s a captivating wine with notes of herbs, cocoa, and dark plum. The velvety, elegant mouthfeel is where this wine truly shines, however, along with a lingering, fruit-filled finish—a true ‘Wow!’ wine. - Sean Sullivan
Wine Enthusiast, 90 Points: 2006 Deep River
2006 Deep River Red
Rating: 90 Points
Once past the horrid, impenetrable black plastic capsule, the wine rewards you with a firm, textured, interesting mouthfeel. A jumble of berries, spices, bramble, dried leaves and earth, even a dusting of cocoa, comes into play in a balanced, lingering finish.
— P.G. (4/1/2011)
Wine Enthusiast, 92 Points: 2010 Gamache Vineyard Malbec
2010 Gamache Vineyard
Rating: 92 Points
The best wine to date from Ashley Trout, this single-vineyard Malbec seduces with its thick, dense, decadently lush flavors of black cherry and cassis. Licorice, tar, coffee and cacao notes come into play on the deep and lingering finish. If anything, the wine is even better on the second day, as the fruit flavors mature into a plummy Christmas-cake delight.
Tasting Room Getaway Profile
4PM: TERO Estates & Flying Trout
Take the elevator to the ground floor lobby for more wine tasting. That’s right, three local wineries have opened tasting rooms inside the hotel. They are Don Carlo Vineyard, Locati Cellars, and lastly, TERO Estates and Flying Trout Wines. The latter is actually one winery but has two different winemakers making two distinct styles of wine.
TERO Estates winemaker Doug Roskelley and his wife Jan are a dynamic duo. Along with partner Mike Tembreull, they are responsible for reviving Windrow Vineyard, one of the oldest commercially planted vineyards in the Walla Walla AVA. Be sure to sample their esteemed Cabernet Sauvignon this summer, including the 2007 Estate Cabernet.
Ashley Trout is the winemaker for Flying Trout and divides her time between Walla Walla and Argentina, where she makes her Torrontes, which is a refreshing white grape varietal laced with soft flower aromas and light tropical fruits. Trout has developed a cult following for her Malbec.
Parade: Wine of the week
WINE: 2012 Waters Winery Forgotten Hills Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, WA
VARIETAL: 100% Syrah
TASTING NOTES: Aromas and flavors of black plum, blackberry, red cherry, dried red rose, violet, black pepper, rosemary, and cassis
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Grilled, braised or roasted lamb, pulled pork, grilled rib eye, bratwurst, grilled eggplant, olives and beef stew; to bring out the natural peppery flavors in the wine, try a weightier fish like tuna steak crusted in black pepper
ABOUT THE WINE: Founded in 2005, Waters Winery is an artisanal boutique winery focused on producing wines that reflect a varietal’s specific characteristics and the terroir in which it is grown. To accomplish this, winemaker Jamie Brown brings an artistic approach to his process. A musician and former music store owner, he credits his knowledge of making music with helping him to be a better winemaker. As Jamie explains, “My love of music and learning to write songs taught me to be intuitive and open-minded, and my musical heroes taught me the value of integrity and the importance of sticking to your guns stylistically in any art form. These guidelines have served me especially well in my winemaking.”
This Waters Winery Syrah comes from Forgotten Hills, which is one of Waters’ two estate vineyards. It is a sustainably farmed, 7.5-acre vineyard located at the eastern edge of Walla Walla Valley near the foothills of the Blue Mountains. Waters plants only Syrah in this vineyard, which has cobblestone and loam soils and sits at an elevation of almost 1000 feet. Due to the cool climate at this elevation, the grapes don’t get overly ripe, which results in a lighter bodied wine with pronounced acidity.
Waters Winery’s Forgotten Hills Syrah undergoes fermentation in stainless steel and is aged for 14 months in used French oak. And Jamie takes great care to ensure that his viniculture and aging practices allow both the fruit and terroir to shine in his finished wines. As he explains, “Each vineyard has a unique personality that I want the wines to express, so I don’t let oak get in the way of the wine.”
This wine is a brand new release, just coming on to the market May 1st. Only 3,000 bottles were produced, so you better snatch one up while you still can!
Portland Monthly: Oregon’s 50 Best Wines of 2014
2010 Mary’s Block Malbec, Windrow Vineyard
Inky purple in the glass, this ode to elegant Argentine-style malbec offers flavors of boysenberry and dark chocolate-covered cherries—surprisingly balanced while jammy and fruit-forward.
“Winemaker Ashley Trout knows a thing or two about malbec, having crafted the grape both in the Pacific Northwest as well as in its New World homeland of Mendoza, Argentina. The wine is fruit-driven and spicy, but full of restraint.”—Caryn Benke (beverage director, Andina)
Northwest Wine Night
Wine Trails Northwest
Ashley Trout, a transplant from Washington, D.C., somehow picked the Pacific Northwest to move to and, taking the “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” approach, found part-time work at a winery. Whereas most winemakers get into the business of making wine for their love of it, for Ashley, the reverse was the case. She discovered that she had a love for the work involved—the smell of the job, the labor in the vineyard, the mental exercise in terms of the biochemistry. It was the challenge of the unknown and the sensory bombardment that led to her to fall head over heels for wine.
A rock-climbing fall of 35 feet resulted in a long period of healing for Ashley, and it was during that period that she realized her career path really did center on making wine. Temporarily confined to a wheelchair, she couldn’t participate in crush. However, because she spoke Spanish before she learned English, it wasn’t long before Ashley came up with the idea of going to Argentina and working in a winery there. And so she became a bihemispheric winemaker, thanks to the diametric nature of the hemispheres’ seasons. She also developed a deep affection for that noble Bordeaux grape variety Malbec.
Flying Trout (named such because Ashley has racked up considerable frequent flyer miles traveling all over the world) has a symbiotic relationship with TERO Estates and its owners, Doug and Jan Roskelley. Located on the Oregon side of Walla Walla Valley, TERO Estates’ most noteworthy feature is its 25-acre Windrow Vineyard. It’s the source of the fruit that Ashley uses for making Flying Trout wines, including that delectable Malbec!
Flying Trout the "Studio 54" of Wine
There's a river running through Ashley Trout's veins and, apparently, it is made of wine. Her golden good looks, petite stature and laid back demeanor mask the fierce devotion of a woman who truly lives, loves and breathes her craft. After recovering from a devastating rock climbing fall, Ashley began working two harvests a year - one in Mendoza, Argentina, the other in Walla Walla - and now creates highly sought after wines for her label Flying Trout, as well as for TERO Estates, where she is the assisting winemaker (and which recently racked up an impressive number of Double Golds at the Seattle Wine Awards). Get out your rods, people, you're going to want to hook yourselves some Flying Trout before you miss the boat.
What's behind the name Flying Trout?
Flying Trout's actually a really easy name: my last name is Trout - I was born with it that way - and since 2005 I've been flying between Argentina and Walla Walla, working in both hemispheres doing wine.
I'm glad I asked because I thought maybe you really liked fishing or something
Nothing about fish, no. Last name's Trout. I am a terrible fly fisher-person. I've tried twice and lost many of Arnie's homemade flies in trees and felt really guilty. Arnie was nice enough to not complain but that was about it - then I was done. I am not a patient person. I don't like relaxing. I like moving and doing and fiddling. Patience and being mellow are probably not my bag of tea.
You mean you don't just sit around and wait for things to come to you?
No...I love the poetry of the fact that you've got this flowing water and the earth and the smells and everything that comes with it. I just can't sit there for that long. And people have asked me about this - as far as wine goes - because you're talking about aging things for years and years and years. The analogy I like to use is it's kind of like baking a cake. First you go to the grocery store and then you come home and mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, right? Then you mix the wet ingredients in another bowl and then at some point you mix them together - maybe you're mixing in egg whites or beating them for stiffness - you preheat the oven, you grease the pan, you pour everything in the pan, you put it in the oven, you wait, you take it out, you let it cool. Then, you're dealing with the frosting on top of all of that. Now imagine you're doing 17 cakes and they all started at slightly different time, or you've decided to do the frosting at a different time, so you can stagger out the 70 different steps to the point where there's no boredom - do you know what I'm saying?
Actually, no. That sounds like a lot of work!
Well, no...I think you can set yourself up for a lot of work. You can do things the hard way. And when I hear about people making one barrel in their garage or in their basement, I feel really sorry for them because that's as much work as I do. I just get to play with the bigger toys and we've got a bunch of guys rolling around helping out and it's all so much more streamlined. But yeah, if you pick the right vineyard, the right yeast strains, the right temperature for the room and you really get the infrastructure down, it's fun.
Some people say being a female winemaker is rough because the industry is predominantly male - what do you think about that?
I do think about it differently but I, oddly, have not talked extensively with the other female winemakers here in town about this topic. Which is odd because I talk to them about all sorts of other things. But I would think they would feel the same way - I would be shocked if they don't feel the same way - which is: it's a hell of a lot easier to be a female winemaker than a male winemaker. I feel really bad for male winemakers.
As far as whether more women than men are blessed with a palate, I'm not going to get into the politics of all that. I've seen all ends of the spectrum - there are men with fantastic palates - and that's not the issue. I just think that - gosh, everything is so much easier when you're a female in an industry that is so tangible with a product at the end of it. Here's a good example: when I show up to a vineyard I've got dozens of men who ask if they can load my truck for me. And this may be because they think I don't know how to drive a forklift after 15 years of working in the industry - which is odd - but instead of being concerned about that or taking that personally, I just think, "Well, that's a lapse of judgement on their part" and "Sure, I would love for you to do my work for me! Please load my truck up. Sounds great!" So that kind of stuff you can just hang back and people will do half of your work for you - which is awesome! Especially the stuff that isn't creative. You know, the stuff that just needs to get done. People really want to do that for women, which I think is just silly. But I'm not going to stop them.
So, I think it's easier to be a female winemaker. There are so many ways to take things emotionally but I think life's a lot easier if you just go out there and have some fun, get things done, learn, listen and make some wine.
Was there a wine that inspired you to start making wine?
Well, yes and no. I make all the right moves for all the wrong reasons. What inspired me to start making wine was that I'm from Washington D.C. and I wanted to see the Wild West so I visited colleges only west of the Rockies. I chose Walla Walla because Main Street was called "Main Street." I thought that was really funny and I wanted to live in a place where the main street was actually called Main Street. So, I moved here for that reason. Not because the college I decided to attend had this, that or the other - it was just that the town had a Main Street.
So about a week after I moved here I saw an ad for a job where the only credentials were, essentially, that you didn't mind working strange hours and you had a pair of biceps. And at age 18 I had a pair of biceps and I did not mind working strange hours. And I thought, "You know, when I move back to D.C. at the end of college, I will not be able to do something like make wine. But I'm able to do that now while I'm still here, so I am going to do it." And that was in 1999. But that's why I decided to start making wine - and because I could not make it on The Hill. And I had always envisioned working at a desk - I thought that's what big people did...they worked at desks year after year. Then I realized I had a job and it was actually a job I really loved.
But it wasn't until I drank Reininger's '99 Cab Franc that I helped make, that I really thought, "I get it. This is not only something that adults do but it would be a dream come true to keep doing this. I don't have to graduate from this. I have to graduate from college, but not this."
Will you ever go back to D.C.?
No. That's a one word answer.
You are somewhat of a yeast geek. How does one because a yeast geek? How does one even shop for yeast?
I'll pre-empt this by saying I am very impressed by guys who are able to do indigenous yeast - which is pulling from the atmosphere the yeasts that are already there and that's a tricky, tricky game. I know that Buty and Cayuse and some other guys have played around with it and have made some really beautiful wines. I think someday it would be fantastic to be able to do that. Having said that, in a lot of the facilities I have been in that has not been an option because there are already yeast strains rolling around the facility from previous lab yeasts that we have used. So, I could say it's an indigenous fermentation but really it's going to wind up being something that was already there. So that takes the wind out of the sails on that one.
And as far as shopping for yeasts, it's like the difference between oatmeal cookies and rosemary oatmeal cookies. You're just going one level deeper of what is the detail that's really going to set this wine apart - beyond the terroir because as a winemaker I've already made that choice. And then you've got the harvest date that's really important and you've got the oak to choose from, but I think year after year I'm so shocked at the difference that yeast strains make. I feel like it's one of the most creative parts of winemaking. You constantly talk about the creativity vs. the science and I feel like the yeast is one of those science-sounding things that is actually more creative.
How do you know which yeast is going to be right?
You don't. You just try. It's so scary and exciting because with winemaking you have to be a little bit ballsy every step of the way because you're not going to get to try it again - in my case for another six months - but really for another 12 months. So with every lesson you learn you only get one shot at it every 12 months. If you screw up, you really have to admit you screwed up because you can't band-aid it a week later or you can't make a different batch three months later. So that's what so incredible about yeast strains. You're not going to nail it because even though the labs will tell you it'll probably go well with a Chardonnay or Cabernet or whatever, you just don't know. I work predominantly with Malbec and there aren't that many yeast strains made specifically for Malbec so you have to pull something from a different realm and try it on Malbec. I've used some that I didn't like and that was that.
What do you do if you don't like it?
Well, one example was a yeast strain that I knew somebody else had used with Malbec and they liked it. I tried it and I didn't like it so I was stuck with this Malbec that I thought was fruit on acid on fruit - and that was a yeast strain that was supposed to really bring out fruit. But it was too one-dimensional. So that year, for that lot, I put it in one of my blends that was more earthy and spicy and less acidic. And it turned out just as great as the rest of the wines from that year - but only because I used it as an ingredient.
So it doesn't go to waste?
Certainly in some cases it does. I have to say I can think of two wines in my career that I have just done without. It's a sad moment. It's an angering moment because you've lost and you've worked so hard on it. I don't know why it angered me more than saddened me, but it just kind of pissed me off that it didn't work. I felt jilted by nature, you know what I mean? But it is what it is.
Mother Nature always rules.
She does. I was about to give birth last year and all of these women came out of the woodwork and they said, "You know, labor's not going to go the way you think it will" and I was like, "What are you talking about?" and they said, "Well I'm sure you've planned out how it's all going to go down, and you've got all the details covered, but you just have to understand that Mother Nature rules and she's just going to do what she wants to do." I would look at these women and be like, "Do you know what I do for a living?? Do you have any idea what I've been working with for like a third of my life?" I try very hard to let nature win without losing at the the same time, so I don't know why they thought I would not understand this concept.
How do you manage working on two continents when you've also got a young family and two dogs?
I would say "manage" is an extreme word. Certainly, I have to say a huge thank you to Doug Roskelley, that's first and foremost. I would say the dogs get less exercise than they did or ought to. My husband is also a winemaker - Brian Rudin, at Cadaretta - and he is very understanding that there is a season for everything. So there is a harvest season for us, and he makes more wines than I do so his harvest season is longer days and longer weeks than mine is, so I kind of try to hold down the fort a little bit during that time. And then we've got ski season of course, which he is very into, so I try to make that happen and then he tries to make my Argentine season happen so...unlike a lot of families where everything's 9-5, Monday through Friday - with maybe a little overtime here and there - we are weird. And luckily, I have a husband who understands that June will never look anything like October or March or December and we get through it - sometimes more intelligently than others.
Aren't Malbecs traditionally Argentinian wines - when did they start making their way North?
Well, who knows? Malbec could originally be from Iran or Syria or someplace crazy. Many, many varieties actually are from Iraq, Iran, Syria - places that you would never think of as being the birthplace of, say, Cabernet Sauvignon. But as far as where it's traditionally done most successfully, France tends to be the second stop. So Malbec was planted quite a bit in the Bordeaux area and used as a blending variety. Then there was a big freeze and the Malbec got wiped out. Instead of bothering to replant it, because they weren't so amazed with how it did, another region not too far away, called Cahors, started to get a bunch of it going. So to this day, it's used more in Cahors. Then, at some point, Malbec was brought down to Argentina and it was done a lot down there. I would say probably starting about 10 years ago, there started to be more plantings in the U.S. - mainly California, Washington and Oregon.
Why did it catch on so much more in Argentina as a standalone vs. being a blending varietal in France?
Terroir. I think Malbec does very different things in different soils and climates and that's why I've designed Flying Trout the way that I have. The point is to do a Malbec in different appellations up here, and maybe get some Malbecs going from Argentina up to here as well, so you can do sort of a compare and contrast. Then, I think even within up here the comparison and contrast is really impressive. I think Red Mountain and Horse Heaven Hills tend to do this very manly man, gnarly Malbec that I just love. I think Walla Walla tends to do a jammier Malbec, sort of on the marmalade-y side of things, with some pepper. I think places in the Columbia/Yakima valleys and Rattlesnake Hills tend to have more structured, long finish, bright front - more sort of brighter red, young fruit. Not the fruit itself, but the notes you get off it - a lot of cherry, strawberry, raspberry, and fig. So Malbec does different things in different terroirs, which is not surprising. If you try a Cahors Malbec next to an Argentine Malbec never in a million years would you guess it's the same thing. Certainly clonal differentiations have a lot to do with it as well, but for the most part my answer is terroir.
You mentioned your husband is also a winemaker - do you find yourselves ever getting competitive with each other in winemaking?
Oddly enough, neither of us are naturally competitive people. We have learned that in order to have a successful marriage, we need to not work on the same wine. Because he likes to roll in and speed demon and play AC/DC and tell me to hold the hose and I want to deck him. And I roll in and I play Nina Simone and I want to think about something and I kinda go back and forth on things for a second and he wants to scream at the top of his lungs. So, that doesn't work. But as far as him respecting me and my skills, or me respecting him and his skills, that goes without saying. The competitiveness is kind of out the door a) because our marriage is probably more important than who makes better wine, and b) because we're not naturally competitive people. So that's kind of where we fall on things - we're just not allowed to make wine together.
You missed your first harvest in the U.S. due to a bad rock climbing fall. Looking back at how that got you to harvest in Argentina do you see that a little bit like a blessing in disguise?
No, I don't. It just sucked. But I think it goes back a little bit to what we were talking about before - sometimes you just have to go with the flow and that's the best way to do things. But the flow at that moment was telling me now is the time to go and that was great. I have a feeling that I'm fidgety enough that I would have gone to Argentina at some point just to check it out but, because I was down there when I was young and it was pre-dogs, pre-house, pre-marriage, pre-starting a winery, pre-a lot of things, I could just go. And to boot, a lot of the friends that I made down there were going through the Master's program in enology at the time. Since then, of course, they've all graduated and are all winemakers somewhere or work in a lab somewhere so the web really fleshed out and it makes being in Argentina really easy. And all that has to do with timing.
And certainly when Brian and I started dating I said, "Hey, so...this is what I do. I take off in March." Then we bought the house and I said, "OK, I am going to take off in March." And then we got the dogs and I said, "OK, so I'm going to take off in March." We had the baby and I said, "OK, so I am going to take off in March." So you can't wake up, you know at 35, and turn to your baby and your dogs and your husband and go, "Hey, check it out - I am going elsewhere for an extended period of time. Ciao!" You can't do that after the fact, but if it's part of the infrastructure of who you are because you started early on, you get that leeway. And for Brian, it was, "Hey, I ski." So that's all stuff we figured out as a couple. And timing is everything - the fall helped with that, but that's about it. Otherwise, it just sucked.
Anything you want to talk about?
Well, we've talked a lot about how timing is everything and I think there have been times in my life where I can easily look back and say, "That was my Studio 54." You know what I mean? There were the right people, there was the right food, there was the right music, or there was the right place, or right things or right whatever...but mostly it was the right time and there was something really magical about it. And I know, without a doubt, that my ability to get a job in the first place in the wine industry was another example of timing is everything - because my qualifications were a pair of biceps and lack of things to do. But right now I think is another, oddly enough, Studio 54 of wine - for the industry, not for me or for Flying Trout - but for the industry in the sense that we've got this magical place of being recognized, old enough to be recognized, but young enough so that there's nothing stagnant. You can try to do a varietal Counoise and probably because everyone's excited about Walla Walla, that 40 cases of Counoise will sell out even if it's not phenomenal. And then around the bend you can try to do, what I've seen a lot of lately, is a varietal Cab Franc or Petit Verdot and it turns out that it really is phenomenal.
I think when things are too young, you can't get away with that because no one's selling any wine - you're just trying to get your name out there. That takes a lot of open samples and a lot of travel and a lot of energy and a lot of talking. And when you're too old, everything is sort of stagnant and in place and classic. Right now, I could not imagine a better time to be doing my profession - female, male, young, old - right now is the time to be making wine in Walla Walla. It's the Studio 54 of wine.
With it being the Studio 54, which was notoriously hard to get into, it is also getting harder and harder for people to get their hands on some of these wines. What's your advice to people who want to?
If you just want what you want when you want it, join a wine club. But if you like adventure, you like living in the moment, you like learning and all these things, then join the wine club AND come visit.
Walla Walla Lifestyles
Wine People: Ashley Trout
by Sarah Kokernot
I grew up in the “Bourbon Country” of Kentucky, so I always pictured “wine people” as French. If they were not French, they probably wanted to be French. The women carried small dogs; the men wore polo shirts and boat shoes. The wine people of my imagination knew how to sail but didn’t know how to defrost hamburger meat in the microwave. They would take one look at my Kentucky Ale and do their best to not to wrinkle their noses.
I met my first real-life winemaker at a casual backyard wine tasting a few weeks ago who proved my assumptions shamefully inaccurate. Ashley Trout neither wore a polo shirt nor carried a Shih Tzu. She carried her six-month-old daughter in an elaborate cloth sling, rocking back and forth to lull her to sleep as the party buzzed away. Her strawberry-blond hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and she had the glow of someone who spends a lot of time in fresh air. Around her neck was a gold necklace of a pre-Columbian figurine, given to her by her husband’s Costa Rican side of the family.
I had been in Walla Walla for three weeks and was dying to ask someone the question: Why wine? I mean, it’s tasty and mildly euphoric, but really, how did all this winemaking stuff happen? Why wine and not something else?
“It could be carrots,” says Trout. “It could be anything.”
The love of winemakers, I would soon learn, has as much to do with the alchemy of wine as it does with the wine itself.
Ashley Trout did not set out to be a winemaker. She first came to Walla Walla as a Whitman student and soon started working at Reininger Winery. She was initially drawn to wine because it seemed like something unique to the region, and making it was a job she would have never been able to do back in her hometown of Washington, D.C. This was 1999, when the wine business was just budding, and sweet onions were the crop that put Walla Walla on the map.
“I fell in love with the job before I fell in love with wine,” says Trout. The physical work of winemaking places a demand on the senses which immediately appealed to her. “There’s a kind of intelligence required in winemaking which we no longer think of as intelligence.” This sort of intelligence requires attention to all the senses — taste, smell and touch are put to use in a way that normally isn’t applied in a nine-to-five office job. For instance, to make a rosé, the winemaker must be on the lookout for the right color of must, the pulp that undergoes fermentation. When the must turns a pinkish color, it’s the signal to move on to the next process.
Taste and smell are involved, not just in the final result, but during the crush season. Trout and other winemakers make rounds at vineyards to test the quality of grapes, mostly by sampling them. Rather than coming with a preconceived set of expectations, the winemakers let the grapes dictate the qualities of the wine. Trout asks, “What’s this grape going to give me?” The answer is partly determined by taste. One essential aspect of choosing the grapes is sampling the seed, which is responsible for producing the wine’s tannins. If the grape isn’t ready, the seed will leave an acidic taste in your mouth like an under-ripe banana. When a grape is harvested later in the year, the seed will have a flavor resembling bitter almond. The grapes Trout chooses will then be processed into TERO Estates and Flying Trout wines. Her namesake label focuses on torrontés and malbecs — wines popularly produced in Argentina, Trout’s seasonal home since 2005.
Trout began her yearly migration to Argentina when she was injured in a severe climbing accident while traveling in Japan. The fall left her with a broken jaw, knee, hand and femur. The physical pain was difficult. The dullness of sedentary life was worse. She was in a wheelchair for three weeksand missed the Washington harvest for the first time since she was 18. Trout describes missing the harvest as “a void.” She realized how important winemaking was to her, and, as soon as she recovered, she set her sights on Mendoza, Argentina, to work the February crush.
This year she’ll be taking her daughter, Alice, to Argentina for the first time. They’ll stay with their friend Norma, an art teacher who has a “beautiful house and makes marmalade all day.” Norma is the aunt of friend who first invited Ashley to stay with her so that she could practice English. “We spoke English for maybe two days,” Trout laughs. It’s been Spanish since then. Trout was tempted to travel to Argentina while she was eight months pregnant, but Norma talked her out of it.
Alice, who turned six months old in September, will also be accompanying her mother to work during the Washington crush. Like all working mothers, Trout wonders how she’ll manage her job with tending to the needs of a small child. “It’ll be curious to see,” she says. “It won’t be pretty or fun … but I love my job, and I love Alice.”
Trout’s love of winemaking began with the job, but it wasn’t long before she also fell in love with wine. The life of a winemaker is a seasonal one, with months of frenetic work followed by months of fatigue and hibernation. Late one night at the Reininger Winery, during the exhausting end of harvest, Trout sat out on the porch with her co-workers, worn-out but content. She tried a Reininger cabernet franc, and that’s when the magic happened. “It was beautiful,” says Trout. “It completely validated the exhaustion I was feeling.” The cabernet franc is the lighter “granddaddy” of cabernet sauvignon. This particular incarnation had traces of spice, leather and old cherry. “Like drinking velvet,” says Trout. The alchemy of winemaking had paid off. She says, “You could taste how well-integrated nature had become.”
At the backyard wine tasting, my husband ran off to get a Diet Coke and some cookies. I listened to a friend remark on an elusive grassy finish to a chardonnay. People nodded in agreement. I stuck my nose in my glass (everyone else had their nose in their glass) and I wondered, “Grassy finish?”
A while later the party began to wane, and we gathered underneath a giant maple lit by a blue paper lantern. I was feeling a little sleepy when someone offered me a glass of red wine. And that’s when I found it, resonating warmly in my mouth. I could feel it in the space under my tongue, something like the forest floor, rich and muddy. People don’t just make up this stuff about wine – it’s really there. “What is this one called?” I asked around. It was Flying Trout’s Cutthroat Blend.
Great Northwest Wine Profile
MILTON-FREEWATER, Ore. — Ashley Trout enjoyed the rush of being back on the job Monday, but the winemaker for Flying Trout Wines in the Walla Walla Valley needed a little boost of caffeine before heading home for the day. “That’s why I’m having a cup of coffee right now at 4 p.m.,” Trout chuckled.
The hook of winemaking tugged greatly on Trout, who is back working after taking a year off following the birth of son Raleigh, the second child for Trout and husband/winemaker Brian Rudin.
“I thought my odds of being a stay-at-home mom for 18 years were zero, and everyone who knows me knew that, but I thought I would be able to take a step away from it for more than 12 months,” Trout said. “Thought it would be two years, but I couldn’t stay away.”
“I missed having that creative outlet. I missed having that adrenaline rush that you get from battling and working with Mother Nature when you work with wine. There’s a thrill and creativity to it, and I missed that visceral experience. Being a winemaker is a way to experience daily life in a much more thought-provoking way. You are constantly tasting and constantly thinking.”
Duckhorn Wine Company has named Brian Rudin as winemaker for its Canvasback project in Washington state. The native of Wenatchee, Wash., served as winemaker for Cadaretta and Buried Cane in Walla Walla.
Winemaking husband takes over Duckhorn project
Trout’s family life got a bit more complicated and exciting when Rudin left Cadaretta and Buried Cane to take over the Canvasback project in Walla Walla for Napa icon Duckhorn Wine Co.
“Brian and I are both extroverts. We’re pretty independent people, and Walla Walla is such a small town,” Trout said. “Four nights a week, we have either a fellow winemaker or fellow wine industry person over for dinner, so even though I wasn’t making wine, I wasn’t sent off to Napoleonic exile or anything like that.”
Trout has been a part of the winemaking scene in the Walla Walla Valley since 1999, when on a lark she took a part-time job at Reininger Winery as a freshman at Whitman College.
Five years later, she launched Flying Trout, and few winemakers travel as much as this native of Washington, D.C., who hung out with the children of diplomats and spoke Spanish before learning English as a child. Her brand spotlights Malbec, which she makes both in the Walla Walla Valley and Mendoza, Argentina. The continuing two-hemisphere passion for this admitted “A-D-D” winemaker began after a devastating rock climbing accident left her in a wheelchair and unable to work grape harvest in Walla Walla.
Flying Trout features Malbec from Windrow Vineyard
Production for Flying Trout runs at about 800 cases per year, and she leans heavily on Windrow Vineyard in Milton-Freewater, Ore., the pearl of TERO Estates.
“Windrow is the oldest commercial vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley, and I get to steal the Malbec for Flying Trout,” she said.
Trout’s return to winemaking this spring also means more stability for the growing wine company started by Doug Roskelley and Mike Tembreull. They purchased Flying Trout in 2010 and last year added Waters Winery and 21 Grams from Greg and Pam Harrington of Gramercy Cellars. Roskelley will return to focusing on the TERO Estates portfolio, the 25-acre Windrow Vineyard and a new winery facility in Walla Walla. Jamie Brown will continue to oversee Waters and 21 Grams while being based in Seattle.
“We couldn’t be more excited to bring Ashley back to our team,” Roskelley said in a news release. “We have been growing rapidly over the past year and achieving great levels of critical and personal success, but her return will help our winemaking team ensure that all of our brands are properly focused and refined.”
Changes, growth in store for Trout, Roskelley
There’s hope to expand production of Flying Trout as things continue to change around her, said Trout, who also works on the TERO Estates wines. Both are made at Roskelley’s winery in Milton-Freewater and poured at the tasting room they share at the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla, however they are building a new winery for Flying Trout, TERO and Waters on Peppers Bridge Road near Amavi Cellars.
Flying Trout produces Malbec and blends using fruit for the Walla Walla Valley and Argentina.
“There are a lot of balls in the air right now, and there will be more news in the next six months,” she predicted.
Juggling winemaking and family is something Trout, who played varsity tennis at Whitman, has become more accomplished at starting with the 2011 harvest, which she worked not long giving birth to Alice.
“I learned some lessons with her, and I learned that I needed to do just one thing well,” Trout said. “I was not proud of myself on either end, as a winemaker or a mother. It was just so exhausting and not really fair to her, so I wanted to do a better job this time.”
Rudin’s new responsibilities with Duckhorn have the couple looking at their calendars and trying to map out family duties.
“We are taking it one day at a time,” she said.
There likely will come a time, Trout said, when she again approaches friends Amy Alvarez-Wampfler of Sinclair Estate Vineyards, Marie-Eve Gilla of Forgeron Cellars or consultant Ali Mayfield with a question about juggling winemaking and motherhood.
“I tend to run into Marie-Eve more often, and I’ll ask her how she does it,” Trout said. “She answers in this very fantastically French manner and goes ‘Poof!’ with her hands and says, ‘What the hell? You just go with it! It will work out.’ “
Reininger Winery Blog
As Ashley is one of my favorite people in Walla Walla, I am happy to be able to write about her fantastic wines, and those of partner winery TERO Estates, for today’s winery roundup. Ashley worked for Reininger as Chuck’s Assistant Winemaker before going on to open her own label, Flying Trout in downtown Walla Walla. With her wonderfully complex wines and incredibly charming personality, it’s no wonder that Flying Trout has enjoyed great success.
With a new downtown tasting room opened in 2011, TERO estates with partner label Flying Trout Wines is well on its way to being a top-notch Walla Walla winery. When I visited I enjoyed a combination flight—a nice mix of the estate-grown vintages from Windrow Vineyards and winemaker Ashley Trout’s Argentine creations.
TERO partners Mike Tembreull and Doug Roskelley benefit from their vineyard’s history. The first commercial
vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley, their vines were planted in 1981, making them the oldest in the region and producing a beautifully sophisticated Cabernet Sauvignon grape. While TERO prefers mostly old oak and native plants, Ashley uses all new oak to create her Malbec, Malbec blends, and Torrontés, grapes she sources directly from Mendoza, Argentina through annual visits during their spring harvest. While I certainly enjoyed the downtown tasting room, for my next visit I’m heading to the red house on the vineyard, where I can sip from a rooftop trellis and enjoy a view of their rolling 32 acre property.
Stephen Tanzer 12/2010
2007 21 Grams Red Wine Walla Walla Valley
($120; a small joint venture of Waters Winery and Gramercy Cellars, made from their best lots of cabernet sauvignon) Good full red. Redcurrant, mulberry, plum and caramel on the nose, complemented by sexy oak spices. Broad, lush and sweet, with an almost exotic high- toned quality to the perfumed flavors of red berries and spices. Sound acidity gives the wine shape and balance. Finishes impressively broad and horizontal, with very smooth, ripe tannins and lingering spicy perfume. Sophisticated, glossy wine.
2006 21 Grams Red Wine Walla Walla Valley
($125; this cabernet sauvignon is a joint venture of Waters Winery and Gramercy Cellars) Dark red. Plum, redcurrant, tobacco and strong cedary oak on the nose. Dense and chewy but bright, with very good intensity to the flavors of redcurrant, plum, raspberry and nutty oak. Harmonious acidity gives the fruit a penetrating quality and helps it absorb its strong layer of oak. Finishes supple, smooth and long, with lovely sweetness. Very well done: I note that I rated this wine ahead of the cabernet bottlings from both Waters and Gramercy Cellars.
2007 Waters Winery Syrah Forgotten Hills Walla Walla Valley
Bright ruby-red. Sexy nose melds dark berries, smoked meat and crushed rock. Juicy, rich and sweet if youthfully imploded, with terrific freshness and creamy depth to its dark berry, flint and game flavors. At once generous and sharply delineated. Very concentrated and classic syrah, finishing long and rich, with thoroughly buffered ripe tannins. Wonderfully rich and expressive for syrah with just 13.8% alcohol.
2006 Waters Winery Syrah Forgotten Hills Walla Walla Valley
($40) Good deep ruby. Expressive aromas of smoked meat and brown spices. Conveys a strong cool-climate character with its musky spices, rocky minerality and firm grip. A saline suggestion of extract contributes to the impression of density. Finishes long and aromatic.
2005 Waters Winery Syrah Forgotten Hills Walla Walla Valley
($40) Bright medium ruby. Captivating aromas of dark berries, flint, pepper, game, earth and woodsmoke; smells like a Saint-Joseph from granite soil. Ripe and supple, even silky, but stony and dry, with dominant flavors of flint and earth. Offers a compelling aromatic
character in the mouth, with firm acidity serving to extend the finish. Some tasters may find this tart, but I'd like to see more syrahs in this style from the West Coast.
2007 Waters Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley
($50) Bright red-ruby. Expressive aromas of cherry, currant, cocoa powder and flowers. Suave on entry, then smooth and lush in the middle, with a restrained sweetness and good energy from ripe acids. Not at all a powerhouse, but there's no shortage of weight here. This classy cabernet finishes with good breadth, firm mouthdusting tannins and very good length. A suaver and riper version of the 2006 bottling.
2006 Waters Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley
($50) Bright dark red. Redcurrant, cocoa powder and cedary oak on the nose. Firm acidity gives clarity and penetration, as well as a slightly edgy quality, to the flavors of redcurrant and tobacco leaf. Finishes with a strong nutty oak component and a restrained sweetness.
2005 Waters Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley
($45; 100% cabernet sauvignon) Good bright ruby-red color. Complex, slightly medicinal nose melds blackcurrant, cocoa powder, licorice, tobacco leaf and spicy oak. Juicy and tightly wound, with the wine's fruit currently overshadowed by a dry spot in the middle. The tannins are similarly dry-edged and a bit tough.
2007 Waters Winery Syrah Pepper Bridge Walla Walla Valley
Bright ruby-red. Aromas of dark cherry, menthol, spicecake and chocolatey oak. Juicy, sappy and intense; a step up in density and chewiness from the Loess but not at all overly sweet. There's a lightly saline quality here that accentuates the varietal character of this wine. Finishes with solid chewy tannins and very good length.
2006 Waters Winery Syrah Pepper Bridge Walla Walla Valley
($40) Deep, bright ruby. Aromatic nose combines dark cherry, licorice, pepper and flowers. Dense, sweet and fruit-driven, if a bit youthfully clenched. Perhaps most impressive today on the finish, which offers noteworthy energy and tangy intensity to the pure fruit and spice flavors.
2007 Waters Winery Syrah Loess Walla Walla Valley
Medium ruby-red. Black fruits, minerals, smoked meat, herbs and brown spices on the nose. In a juicy, cooler style, with a strong flinty character to the dark fruit and pepper flavors. A wine of moderate flesh and sweetness but very nicely made. Finishes with a strong element of fruity pepper and very good length.
2006 Waters Winery Syrah Loess Walla Walla Valley
($40; includes 3% co-fermented viognier) Good full medium ruby. High-pitched aromas of blackberry, black pepper and licorice. Tightly wound and distinctly cool in character, with good density but a light touch. Not a fleshy style of syrah but brisk and focused, with the weight of a Saint-Joseph.
2006 Waters Winery Interlude Walla Walla Valley
($30; a blend of 53% merlot, 40% cabernet sauvignon and 7% cabernet franc) Good full medium ruby. Redcurrant and cherry on the nose, plus a positive raisiny quality. Sweet, brisk and intensely flavored, with ripe natural acidity keeping the wine's fruit under wraps today. Shows a cool-site character without coming off as herbaceous. Finishes with suave tannins and very good length.
2006 Waters Winery Syrah Columbia Valley
($30) Aromas of black cherry, blackberry pastille, fresh herbs and licorice. Juicy and sweet in the mouth, with good intensity to the flavors of dark berries and licorice. Finishes a tad tart and clenched, with notes of spice and Provencal herbs.
2005 Waters Winery Syrah Columbia Valley
($25; no new oak used!) Bright, saturated ruby. Dark berries, mocha and gunflint on the nose, with complicating notes of roasted meat and earth. Fatter and sweeter in the middle palate than the Forgotten Hills bottling, but has the bright acidity to frame its riper fruit. This, too, is silky and rich. Finishes with firm tannins and excellent length.
Wine Spectator 12/2010
93 | 2007 Pepper Bridge Syrah
Ripe and round, fleshy but not weighty, brimming with sassafras-accented cherry and guava flavors that linger on the pure, refined finish. The tannins are a bit crisp. Needs some cellaring. Best from 2012 through 2017. 298 cases made.
91 | 2007 Forgotten Hills Syrah
Supple, focused, elegant and refined, this weaves black olive, green olive and mineral notes through dark berry and wet earth flavors, mingling harmoniously as the finish rolls on. Drink now through 2017. 514 cases made.
91 | 2007 Interlude
Smooth and polished, this beguiling wine offers a plush mouthful of bright raspberry, cherry and chocolate flavors, finishing with a creamy note. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Drink now through 2015. 1,024 cases made.
90 | 2007 Columbia Valley Syrah
Fresh and vibrant, offering a lively mouthful of blueberry and plum flavors accented with hints of mineral, chalk and green olive as the finish sails on against refined tannins. Best from 2011 through 2015. 1,054 cases made.
90 | Loess Syrah 2007
Ripe in flavor, this is a minerally style with a distinct floral, peppery component to its berry and spice flavors, lingering against chewy tannins. Best after 2011. 190 cases made.
89 | Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Smooth in texture, an open, refined style that lets the dark berry and licorice flavors come through nicely, playing against savory flavors and silky tannins on the finish. Best from 2011 through 2015. 346 cases made.
90 | 2008 Interlude
Crisp tannins wrap around cinnamon- accented dark berry and toast flavors in this supple, generous, savory red, which finishes with a hint of roasted beet. Shows depth and dimension, but not weight. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2015. 859 cases made.
Seattle Met: Top 100 Wines
In 2000 there were approximately 150 wineries in Washington State. By the end of 2009, this number had ballooned to 650. Despite the economy, the winery count continues to expand, with a new winery bonded in the state almost every week. As we’ve gotten bigger, we’ve gotten better. Last year, Wine Spectator named a Washington wine its Wine of the Year, Wine Enthusiast gave one of our wines a perfect 100-point score, and Food and Wine named a Washington winemaker its Winemaker of the Year. These accomplishments would have been almost unthinkable 10 years ago. Coming on the heels of excellent vintages in 2005 and 2006, the 2007 vintage featured near-perfect growing conditions and is widely considered one of Washington’s finest. The 100 wines here represent the very best of a very good group.
Waters Winery Syrah Forgotten Hills Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2007, $40
94 points | Wines from Waters winemaker Jamie Brown stand out for their lower alcohol and higher acidity, and he focuses largely on single-vineyard syrah. This one has perfectly balanced fruit, acid, and tannins on an elegantly textured palate.
An aromatic wine with earth, sliced black olives, bright berries, floral notes, game, and a kiss of chocolate. Elegantly textured palate. A persistent finish caps off this exceptional effort. 100 percent syrah. Forgotten Hills Vineyard. 13.8 percent alcohol. 514 cases produced.
Waters Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2006, $50
90 points | While Jamie Brown of Waters Winery is perhaps best known for his syrah, he shows an equally skilled touch with cabernet sauvignon. This 100 percent varietal wine comes from Cold Creek and Pepper Bridge vineyards.
A very pleasing nose with tobacco, cranberries, herbal notes, cherry, and earth. Tart and puckering on a fruit-filled palate. 100 percent cabernet sauvignon. Cold Creek and Pepper Bridge vineyards. 14.2 percent alcohol. 346 cases produced.
Full Pull Wines 4/2010
From: Full Pull Wines
Date: Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Subject: Waters 2007 Forgotten Hills
Hello friends. I'm torn. On the one hand, I want to heap all the lavish praise on this wine that it deserves. Put simply, it is one of the most complex, exciting wines I have ever tasted from Washington. On the other hand, the parcel I have squirreled away in the warehouse is quite small, and prospects for acquiring a larger parcel are hazy at best. But I think I will err on the side of optimism, tell you all about this wine in all its glory, and hope for the best in terms of procuring more.
As I have mentioned before, it is my opinion that no red grape expresses Washington terroir with more clarity than Syrah. I consider Jamie Brown (winemaker at Waters) to be a champion of terroir expression in this state. Since 2005, he has been making single-vineyard Syrahs from three different sites: Pepper Bridge, Loess, and Forgotten Hills. A lover of Old World wines, Jamie takes actions during the winegrowing and winemaking processes to ensure that a sense of place is conveyed in the glass. First, he has secured access to exceptional vineyards. Next, he chooses his harvest time more based on acid than on sugar (the alcohol levels on his single-vineyard Syrahs almost always come in under 14%). Finally, he uses almost entirely older and neutral oak barrels to allow the fruit and vineyard to shine.
The results are astonishing, nowhere more so than with the Forgotten Hills bottling. I was first introduced to this vineyard through a 2003 James Leigh Cellars Syrah. At that winery's tasting room, the woman pouring introduced the wine to me thusly: "This one smells like armpits." I'm pretty sure "armpits" is not a section of Ann Noble's Wine Aroma Wheel. (Note to tasting room employees: when attempting to sell wine, there are some aroma descriptors best left on the cutting room floor). Ms. Armpits seemed a little shocked when I told her I loved the wine and its meaty, earthy funk. And who was the winemaker at James Leigh Cellars at the time? That's right: Jamie Brown.
When Jamie moved over to Waters, one of the first actions taken by the winery was to purchase Forgotten Hills Vineyard from Jeff Hill, who planted it in 1996 on his homestead at the base of the Blue Mountains. The vineyard sits on a combination of basalt cobblestones (always a good sign for Syrah), silt loam, and sandy loam. Its high elevation (1000 ft) has benefits and drawbacks. The benefit is the coolness of the site, which allows for the kind of long hang time required for truly complex aromatics. The drawback is the fragility of the vineyard, which yielded no usable fruit in 2008 and was harvested on frost day in 2009.
Luckily, 2007 was an outstanding winegrowing year across Washington state, including Forgotten Hills. I first tasted this wine during my December trip to Walla Walla, where Waters was my first stop of the trip. I left Seattle at 6 AM and wandered into the Waters tasting room, bleary-eyed, right after 10 AM. Just sniffing this wine was enough to pull me out of my fugue state. The nose is endlessly complex and layered: peppered slab bacon, damp earth, roasted nuts, minerals, smoke, blue and black berries, braised cabbage; absolutely captivating. The palate has stunning depth and a notably creamy texture; a richness that seems almost impossible given the low alcohol. This is a wine that will please the hedonist and the intellectual (two sides of the same personality for some of us). An absolutely remarkable achievement.
Fortunately for the winery, and unfortunately for us, Waters has achieved distribution across much of the United States. Only one pallet (56 cases) of wine has been allotted to western Washington, and that pallet is set to be released on April 8 (tomorrow!). Much (all?) of that wine is pre-allocated to other retail and restaurant accounts, but I did manage to wriggle my way into a small pre-release parcel, which I tucked away into a corner of the warehouse. I'm sending this offering out today to gauge our overall demand and see if I can acquire any additional bottles that other accounts refuse. Even under normal circumstances, this is an almost-culty wine that is difficult to source. The fact that there will be no 2008 upped the frenzy, as did this 93-pt score from Tanzer (scores that high from Tanzer appear about as frequently as Halley's Comet; the only Syrahs from Washington to ever score higher come from Cayuse and Betz; lofty company to be sure):
International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): "Bright ruby-red. Sexy nose melds dark berries, smoked meat and crushed rock. Juicy, rich and sweet if youthfully imploded, with terrific freshness and creamy depth to its dark berry, flint and game flavors. At once generous and sharply delineated. Very concentrated and classic syrah, finishing long and rich, with thoroughly buffered ripe tannins. Wonderfully rich and expressive for syrah with just 13.8% alcohol. 93 pts."
I'm going to open this up to a maximum of 12 bottles, but please understand that if I cannot procure an additional parcel, allocations are likely to be more like 3 or 4 bottles per person. As I noted, we already have a small lot in the warehouse; any additional parcel would likely arrive within 2-3 weeks. Please be patient, and I promise to source as much of this wonderful wine as I can.
This is a very strong set of wines from Waters, one of our state’s finest small production entities. With barely 1000 cases in total, all three of the examples below merit inspection from a curiosity, intellectual and pleasurable standpoint – something that cannot be said about the vast majority of domestic examples. Hardly distributed, this is what Garagiste is all about.
Waters sets out to create nothing – they allow each vintage and each plot of land to express itself (even if that means tossing out the entire vintage – how many domestic wineries will take that risk?). The anti-commercial entity, they produce real wine derived with a hands-off approach that deserves to be tasted by those that claim the US is incapable of terroir reflection.
What sets Waters apart is the ability to harness a specific northern expression of each vineyard site while still delivering wine that pushes numerous buttons on the pleasure scale (in a similar way to a vintage like 2009 in Cote Rotie). These are not acidic, lean examples (as would be my predilection), rather, all three ride a sliding scale of fruit density produced in an oxymoron fashion of “less is more” - they dance over the palate with restraint, perfume and elegance but are still relatively big wines that cover the taste buds and leave little room for escape. Yes, there is oak, but it is hardly a concern. Each is quite different from its neighbor, which is most apparent if tasted together. If you purchase to wine to drink, to explore and to learn without care for points or status, I urge you to experiment with all three of the Waters selections below – they are best enjoyed side-by-side over a long, drawn out evening (or over several days as they change immensely on day two with the Loess really gaining strength, whereas the Pepper Bridge initially seems to the strongest).
I’m tempted to print the winery notes on each wine as they are uncanny in their accuracy (no sales marketing – their descriptions are spot-on) but I will add the links to save space. Once again, I would order based on the text in the following reviews and based on the text in the winery notes, not on the numerical scores. The points will certainly change if tasted next year and over the following 6-10 - I’ve added my comments as well:
2007 Waters “Forgotten Hills” Syrah (Walla Walla Valley) - $35.96 (IWC93)
What can I say? This wine is immense but still beautifully directed – it overflows with a sense of place and sense of itself that is so absent in most domestic examples. The 2007 Forgotten Hills is a showcase for Washington State and how it differs from other domestic terroirs. Very pure Syrah that will be much admired for its impact and sensual attributes but also studied for its graceful expression of varietal and vintage:
Tanzer: “Bright ruby-red. Sexy nose melds dark berries, smoked meat and crushed rock. Juicy, rich and sweet if youthfully imploded, with terrific freshness and creamy depth to its dark berry, flint and game flavors. At once generous and sharply delineated. Very concentrated and classic syrah, finishing long and rich, with thoroughly buffered ripe tannins. Wonderfully rich and expressive for Syrah with just 13.8% alcohol. 93pts”
2007 Waters “Loess” Syrah (Walla Walla Valley) - $35.96 (IWC89)
This is the “famous” Leonetti parcel grown on pure Loess (http://dictionary.die.net/loess), thus the name. My favorite of the three wines, the Loess is an individual expression that changes over many hours and days. It is unlike most in its class, unafraid to sacrifice a brooding quality in favor of whiffs and quips of the unexpected and unexplored. With excellent natural acidity that buffers the Syrah, here you taste the stone in the soil meshed with a northern climate and exemplary fruit. I’ve tasted this wine several times and each has been an engaging experience that unfolds over an entire evening - my guess is that the best lies 4-6 years ahead for the Loess (this wine is the most limited of the three, I believe only 150-190 cases were produced):
Tanzer: “Medium ruby-red. Black fruits, minerals, smoked meat, herbs and brown spices on the nose. In a juicy, cooler style, with a strong flinty character to the dark fruit and pepper flavors. A wine of moderate flesh and sweetness but very nicely made. Finishes with a strong element of fruity pepper and very good length. 89pts”
2007 Waters “Pepper Bridge” Syrah (Walla Walla Valley) - $35.96 (IWC90)
The biggest and most in-your-face of the three wines (in a Waters way of course) this wine has a fair smattering of high-class wood wrapped around its grandiose fruit. The Pepper Bridge will please those looking for less eccentricity of the Loess and more intense, primary Syrah character that still drips a certain specificity - not just its cooperage. If more domestic Syrah had this level of intensity and harmony, more people would consume it:
Tanzer: “Bright ruby-red. Aromas of dark cherry, menthol, spice cake and chocolaty oak. Juicy, sappy and intense; a step up in density and chewiness from the Loess but not at all overly sweet. There's a lightly saline quality here that accentuates the varietal character of this wine. Finishes with solid chewy tannins and very good length. 90pts”
All three above are EXTREMELY LIMITED. Thank you,
Jon Rimmerman Garagiste Seattle, WA
Wine Advocate 12/2010
2005 Twenty One Grams
Rating: 94 Drink: 2015-2030
The 2005 Walla Walla Valley Red Wine is composed of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Petit Verdot. Purple-colored, it offers up an excellent perfume of pain grille, pencil lead, earth notes, black cherry, blackberry, and a hint of licorice in the background. Mouth-filling, ripe, and structured, this full-flavored effort could easily pass for a classified growth Pauillac from a top vintage. It should evolve in the manner of a top Bordeaux for another 6-8 years and perform at its peak from 2015 to 2030. This is a wine to please both the intellect and the senses.
21 Grams is a collaboration between Gramercy Cellars and Waters Winery in which each winery selects the best lots of Bordeaux varieties in the cellar to be blended together to produce 75 cases available only to customers on the mailing lists of the wineries. Kudos to the two participating wineries.
- Jay Miller (June, 2008)
2006 Twenty One Grams
Rating: 94 Drink: 2013-2026
Waters’ flagship is the 2006 21 Grams, a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon with the balance Merlot and Malbec aged for 25 months in 50% new French oak. Deep crimson-colored, it displays a superb bouquet of pain grille, pencil lead, spice box, mocha/chocolate, black currant, and blackberry. Velvety-textured, layered, and already complex, it is dense, concentrated, and impeccably balanced. Give this lengthy, effort 4-6 years of additional cellaring and drink it through 2026.
- Jay Miller (October, 2009)
2007 Twenty One Grams
Rating: 93 Drink: 2010-2027
The 2007 21 Grams is a collaboration between Greg Harrington’s Gramercy Cellars and Jason Huntley’s Waters Winery. The components were selected by double-blind tasting of the best lots of the two cellars and in this vintage is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, with the balance Malbec and Petit Verdot. It was aged in 50% new French oak for 14 months. A glass-coating opaque purple color, it offers up a brooding bouquet of wood smoke, pencil lead, truffle, espresso, violets, black currant, and blackberry. Dense, layered, and structured on the palate, this suave offering will evolve for another 5-7 years and drink well through 2027 if not longer.
- Jay Miller (August, 2010)
Rating: 88 Drink: 2008-2012
The 2006 Interlude Red Wine, a blend of 53% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Cabernet Franc aged in 25% new French oak. Dark ruby-colored, it has an attractive perfume of cedar, tobacco, cherry, clove, and cinnamon. This leads to an elegant, medium-bodied effort with ample spicy flavors and a pure finish. Drink it over the next 4 years.
- Jay Miller (June, 2008)
Rating: 90 Drink: 2009-2017
The 2007 Interlude, a blend of 55% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 17% Cabernet Franc, aged in 25% new French oak for 14 months. Dark ruby-colored, it offers up an attractive perfume of cedar, spice box, cassis, and black currant. Plush on the palate, it has ample ripe fruit, good balance, and a fruit-filled finish. It can be enjoyed now and over the next 6-8 years.
- Jay Miller (October, 2009)
2006 Columbia Valley Syrah
Rating: 90 Drink: 2011-2018
The lineup of Syrah begins with the 2006 Syrah Columbia Valley. The fruit was sourced from cool-climate sites and was aged in seasoned oak. The nose delivers aromas of smoke, blue fruits, and pepper. On the palate, it reveals an elegant personality with good grip and intensity. It should develop for another 2-3 years and drink well from 2011 to 2018.
- Jay Miller (June, 2008)
2007 Columbia Valley Syrah
Rating: 91 Drink: 2009-2017
The Syrah offerings start with the purple-colored 2007 Syrah Columbia Valley sourced from the Minick Vineyard. It exhibits an enticing bouquet of wood smoke, game, sausage, and blueberry. Savory, ripe, and plush on the palate, this flavorful effort will drink well for another 6-8 years.
- Jay Miller (October, 2009)
2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
Rating: 90+ Drink: 2012-2020
The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% varietal from the Pepper Bridge and Cold Creek Vineyards and aged in 33% new French oak. Dark ruby colored, the nose reveals cedar, pencil lead, spice box, and an amalgam of red fruits. Nicely balanced, it has the structure to evolve for 2-3 years and should be at its best from 2012 to 2020.
- Jay Miller (June, 2008)
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon
Rating: 90 Drink: 2012-2021
The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon was sourced from the Cold Creek Vineyard and spent 21 months in barrel. It reveals an elegant personality with plenty of racy fruit nicely framed by ripe tannins. Give this savory effort 3 years in the cellar and drink it from 2012 to 2021.
- Jay Miller (October, 2009)
2005 Forgotten Hills Syrah
Rating: 92 Drink: 2012-2020
The 2005 Syrah Forgotten Hills made use of 12% new French oak. It exhibits an aromatic array of meat, bacon, game, and wild blueberry followed by a round, ripe flavor profile with savory blue and black fruits, light tannin, and a lengthy finish. It will drink well from 2012 to 2020.
- Jay Miller (June, 2008)
2006 Forgotten Hills Syrah
Rating: 92 Drink: 2011-2021
The 2006 Syrah Forgotten Hills comes from an estate-owned vineyard. It is a very different, but equally fine, expression of the Syrah grape. Dark ruby-colored it offers an aromatic array of gun smoke, scorched earth, and savory spices. It is not as dense or opulent as the Loess cuvee but is more elegant and likely, more age-worthy. Give it 2-3 years in the cellar, and drink it from 2011 to 2021.
- Jay Miller (October, 2009)
2005 Loess Syrah
Rating: 91 Drink: -
The 2005 Syrah Loess Vineyard was co-fermented with 2% Viognier in neutral oak. Purple-colored, it offers an expressive nose of spice box, wild blueberry, and plum flavors. The palate has a good layering of fruit while retaining a sense of elegance. The savory, pure finish lasts for 40 seconds.
- Jay Miller (June, 2008)
2006 Loess Syrah
The 2006 Syrah Loess contains 3% Viognier. The grapes were sourced from a Leonetti Cellar vineyard. The wine has lifted, floral notes from the Viognier, an opulent palate presence, succulent flavors, and a pleasure-bent personality. Drink this sexy effort over the next 6-8 years.
- Jay Miller (October, 2009)
2005 Pepper Bridge Syrah
Rating: 90 Drink: 2008-2016
The 2005 Syrah Pepper Bridge has a slightly brooding nose which, with coaxing, reveals smoked meat, pepper, bacon, and blue fruits. Its structure comes from its acidity giving it a northern Rhone flavor profile. Drink it over the next 8 years.
- Jay Miller (June, 2008)
2006 Pepper Bridge Syrah
Rating: 92 Drink: 2013-2026
The 2006 Syrah Pepper Bridge sports an expressive nose of wood smoke, pepper, incense, blueberry, and blackberry liqueur. Concentrated and dense on the palate, it will continue to blossom for several more years and offer a drinking window extending from 2013 to 2026.
- Jay Miller (October, 2009)
Sunset Magazine 11/2009
Best Up and Coming Wine Region: Walla Walla Valley, Washington
In the past five years, more than 70 wineries have set up shop in the region wrapping the town of Walla Walla in the far southeast corner of Washington State, pushing the total to more than 100. Comfy inns have opened, chefs are turning local goods into yummy dishes, and Cab and Syrah have gone from good to great. You can walk to 21 tasting rooms from the center of town (we love Forgeron Cellars), or drive out through rolling hills to Northstar or Pepper Bridge.
The fireplace by the pond at Walla Walla’s newest tasting roomâ€•Waterbrookâ€•makes a great picnic setting; the pond at Waters and the lawn at Dunham are sweet spots too. Historic sleeps rule here: Walla Faces Inns’ restored downtown location, the Inn at Abeja’s turn-of-the-last-century farmstead, and the grand dameâ€•the Marcus Whitman Hotel, with the most rooms handy to downtown wine crawling. Don’t leave town without trying Buty’s Merlot/Cabernet Franc or Spring Valley Vineyard’s “Uriah.” If you can’t find them, give the anonymous gas station (aka Walla Walla Wine Depot) just off U.S. 12 a try. We’ve even spotted Leonetti there. For more info, contact the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance (wallawallawine.com).
An excerpt of Garagiste's October 31, 2009 email to its mailing list
This winery is pushing the envelope and they are doing it with a yin-yang of subtlety, power and varietal freshness.
As one of the most exciting new entrants in the Northwest, Waters refuses to slather anything with 100% new oak (or new oak of any kind) and their calling card lies within the walls of the Northern Rhone. The Central Coast may get all the domestic Syrah press but this entity is going to get noticed and it's going to come in a big way - think Cornas or the southern tier of St. Joseph meets the New World and it won't take long to realize they are on to something special. The past vintages were a step in the right direction (you can read Tanzer's comments on the 2005s or the WA) but this set is going to make them stars. If nothing else, it's not everyday that Gary Figgins (Leonetti) gives his fruit away - very telling indeed...
All of these are EXTREMELY LIMITED and worth the difficult effort to obtain (at this point, they are not distributed outside of Washington State).
2006 Waters "Loess Vineyard - Leonetti Estate" Syrah
No new oak and incredible fruit from Leonetti - quickly becoming a NW cult wine....
2006 Waters "Pepper Bridge Vineyard" Syrah
No new oak again and more of a northern CdP in style - If Janasse were made from Syrah (instead of Grenache) and you mixed it with tannic, glorious levels of the very best that Pepper Bridge can dole out, it is this wine...
2006 Waters "Forgotten Hills Vineyard" Syrah
Simply fabulous - Cornas dipped in full-bore domestic Syrah with no new oak. This is going to turn heads, especially from rival winemakers...
Garagiste is a small, independently operated purveyor of wine, wisdom and esoteric tidbits of travel and culture. Our passion is for small growers/producers around the world with an artisanal and often organic approach to farming. Most of our wines are not yet available in the US and few have heard of them - if you are looking for Parker scores this is not the place. If you are looking for the best wine and underground foodstuffs in the world, this is the place. We rarely, if ever, offer domestic wine - our specialty is outside of the US. While we operate within the three tiered system and do not grey market (ever) we cannot be strong-armed, bought or talked into carrying a wine. We are a 100% independent, pro-consumer advocacy purveyor and we have gained an international respect for our frank and open discourse on topics many would rather brush under the rug. We are not very popular with other retailers, we are very popular with consumers.
Garagiste specializes in artisan, often undiscovered/unscored, biodynamic or organic wines- wines that veer toward a road less traveled. These are wines that speak of a specific place, usually have very little oak and also have high acid and lean, medium weight (even the reds) - they can be among the best, least expensive and most interesting examples/curiosities of their kind. The US market does not typically know what to do with wines such as these but that is exactly why we started Garagiste nearly a decade ago - to give the consumer another choice and another voice of reason in the wine-world - to bring the small winemaker and the consumer closer together. Our passion is our story that we tell everyday.
Seattle Metropolitan 9/2009
Jake Kosseff, Owner, Jake Kosseff Wine Consulting
Blowfish Asian Café, Cascadia, Campagne—Jake Kosseff's been around, baby. And he's got the palette to show it. That's why back in 2006, When Seattle Met put together its resaurant dream team, Kosseff was our fantasy Sommelier. Today his consulting business helps restaurants design their wine programs.
2006 Forgotten Hills Syrah $40
Just beginning to show its character, this syrah is super-dense and intensely flavor, tasting of brooding blackberry, smoke, and creosote-- not for the weak-spirited.
Nelson Daquip, Wine Director, Canlis
Only 31, Daquip earned the top job at Canlis after starting as a server's assistant just seven years ago. He has received lots of awards, but we're most impressed with how Lettie Teague described him in Food and Wine: "Tall and good-looking with very white teeth."
2007 Waters Interlude $30
This merlot-cab blend has layers of currant, black plums and espresso.
Wine Spectator 8/2009
Washington has its share of big-ticket wines that (94, $125) shows its class with plum, currant, black olive, cedar and roasted meat ï¬‚avors playing against crisp tannins. Another high-end red is the Cote Bonneville DuBrul Vineyard Yakima Valley 2004 (94, $120), a supple blend of Cab ernet and Merlot that rolls out its mocha-accented blackberry and cherry fruit with grace and elegance. Dedicated collectors can try to get their hands on the 21 Grams Walla Walla Valley 2005 (94, $125), a Cabernet–Petit Verdot blend whose 100-case production is allocated to customers on the mailing lists of Waters Winery and Gramercy Cellars, the two winery partners in the venture.
But you can ï¬nd the same quality—or even better—for less. This report's top-rated wine, the Cayuse Syrah Walla Walla Valley Bionic Frog 2006 (96, $75), is followed closely by two more 2006 Cayuse Syrahs, both at 95 points and costing $65, Andrew Will's Sorella Horse Heaven Hills 2006 (95, $74), a complex Cabernet blend from Champoux Vineyard; K Vintners' Syrah Cougar Hills 2006 (95, $50) from Walla Walla; and Gorman's The Evil Twin 2006 (95, $55), a Syrah-Cabernet blend from Red Mountain.
These four wineries, plus Betz, Bookwalter, Bury, Fielding Hills, Januik and Spring Valley, make several wines that scored 92 points or higher at $75 or less. Credit an amazing consistency of vintage quality as one reason for this largesse. Except for a winter freeze that left Walla Walla virtually grapeless in 2004, conditions throughout this decade have produced one ripe, balanced vintage after another. There is special excitement over 2007 and 2008, which I tasted from barrel at several wineries in March. The wines show great promise, revealing remarkable depth to their fresh ï¬‚avors.
You can sense that promise in some of the wines in the $20-or less category, which producers often release earlier. Of the nearly 100 wines rating 88 points or higher in this price range, 56 are from 2007 and 2008. Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, Hogue, RiverAerie and Charles Smith all offer mul tiple bottlings in this value category.
Nearly two dozen wines at $20 or less reached the outstanding score range. They demonstrate Washington's great versatility: Besides the states's main strengths of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, the list includes Cabernet Franc, Gewurztraminer, Malbec, Riesling and Roussanne. Wine lovers willing to try new labels can discover such prizes as the Substance Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley Cf 2007 (90, $18), soft in texture but with lovely intensity to its currant and cherry fruit. A project involving principals from Waters and 21 Grams, the Walla Walla—based Substance bottles 100-percent varietals with simple white-on-black labels that recall the periodic table of elements. The Cabernet Franc is labeled "Cf," the Merlot "Me," and so on, and the wines cost $18 or less.
Charles Smith, whose K Vintners Syrahs turn heads regularly, keeps most of his Mag niï¬cent Wine Company wines at $12 or less, except for a few special varietal bottling& The Syrah Columbia Valley 2006 (91, $20), the best of them, wafts Indian spices through smooth, polished plum and blueberry fruit. Another Smith label, Charles & Charles, makes the dry, crisp rosé Volume II Columbia Valley 2008 (90, $12), vibrant and tangy, with pomegranate and raspberry fruit and a wel come hint of mineral.
You can get change from a $10 bill with the light, off-dry Barnard Grifï¬n Riesling Colum bia Valley 2008 (90, $8), which shows pretty peach, pineapple and ï¬‚oral notes that echo enticingly. For a bit more, Barnard Grifï¬n's velvety Syrah Columbia Valley 2007 (90, $17) has a racy edge to its spicy currant and wild blueberry ï¬‚avors.
Seattle Magazine 8/2009
The Next Cult Wines
By Jake Kosseff
We all covet Cayuse and love Leonetti, but who can get them? Now is the time to start collecting the bottles that will be the next big thing
Delicious wines are a joy on their own, but combine the highest-quality wines with extremely limited supplies, and the mix becomes irresistible. California has Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Colgin, Dalla Valle and a host of other wines that have developed a cult-like following. And though we trail California in this regard, Washington has a handful of wines whose quality and scarcity are also the stuff of legend.
What really characterizes a “cult” wine is a supply that is greatly exceeded by demand, but often these are wines for which nothing is allowed to interfere with the owner’s or winemaker’s vision. No expense is spared, whether for equipment, grapes—or even fabulous art in the winery (to inspire the grapes, perhaps?). It is often the intensity of that vision, more than the limited availability of the wine itself, that makes such wines truly alluring. But you won’t find these seductive wines at the corner store; most are rarely—if ever—available for purchase from retailers. Instead, buyers must sign up for a place on the winery’s mailing list (or the waiting list to be on the list). Mailing-list members are the first to receive offers of the wine; everyone else gets whatever is left over—if there’s any left over.
Leonetti Cellar, the first winery in Washington to create this magical “cult” combination, has boasted sold-out mailing-list orders since 1989 (though most of my favorite Leonettis start with the 2004 vintage), and its wines still rank at the top of the must-have list for wine lovers around the world. About the same time that Leonetti Cellar was becoming famous for its Cabernet, Merlot, Sangiovese and, most of all, for the Bordeaux-style blend called “Select” or “Reserve,” Quilceda Creek was beginning to be known for its powerful Cabernet Sauvignon and single-vineyard Merlot. Many savvy wine drinkers valued their place on Quilceda’s list as highly as their place on Leonetti’s (try to get onto Quilceda’s list now!). Over the years, a few Washington wineries have joined the ranks of cult producers, including Andrew Will Winery, Cayuse Vineyards, DeLille Cellars and K Vintners.
Nothing excites wine collectors more than a superb wine they can’t get. Except, perhaps, acquiring a superb wine their wine-collector friends aren’t able to get. With this in mind, I offer my picks for the next generation of wines you should discover—and purchase—before your friends do.
21 grams is a collaboration of two of Walla Walla’s most exciting winemakers, Jamie Brown of Waters Winery and Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars, and renowned New York City–based artist Makoto Fujimura, who creates original art for the labels and oversees printing to ensure that the labels are true representations of the artwork. Brown and Harrington produce only 100 cases of a single, exceptional wine each year. 21 grams is a carefully tuned blend of Bordeaux varieties that varies from vintage to vintage, but is always the result of exhaustive tastings of the very best from the cellars of both Waters Winery and Gramercy Cellars. Twenty percent of the proceeds from every sale go to Fujimura’s International Arts Movement, whose esoteric mission is “to gather artists and creative catalysts to…engage the culture that is and create the world that ought to be.” The wine is released each April and currently sells for $125 per bottle. Available through the mailing list only, which Harrington has assured me is still open. Go to 21gramswine.com to apply for a spot on the list.
Thoreau Did Not Like Wine
By Joe Chauncey, Architect
Thick masonry walls rose out of the earth and large horizontal expanses of operable windows offered panoramic views of the landscape. When clerestory windows and skylights were used there was plenty of daylight, enough to move throughout the house without turning on the lights during daytime hours. This is where I learned the basics of sustainability: the bene- fits of daylighting and how thick masonry walls, deep over- hangs, porches, breezeways, and deciduous trees help keep buildings cool in the summer. When those beautiful oak trees drop their leaves and the winter sun is low in the sky, warm rays stream in under the broad overhangs through windows to make spaces more comfortable during the coldest of months.
From agricultural buildings we all learned the benefits of shuttered windows, high ceilings and sliding doors. Closing shutters on windows in the hot summer months allows less sunlight to penetrate the structure, keeping its rays from strik- ing building components and the floor. Dirt and concrete floors in a barn, if kept shaded, provide several tons of natural cooling to a space. When the building needs to be open high ceilings allow heat to rise where it can exit through an open mow door. This process starts a natural ventilation cycle as the vacuum that is created pulls in cooler ground level air through the open sliding barn door keeping the barn cool.
These principles learned at an early age affect our design process today. Sustainable architecture relies on a system of balanced components designed specifically to reduce energy consumption and the use of natural resources while improving working environments. Located on a piece of flat farmland in Walla Walla, WA, is the 5,000 case Waters Winery we completed for Jason Huntley in the fall of 2007. It embodies many of the sustainable principles we absorbed by growing up in the Midwest. Portions of the winery have thick masonry walls and high ceilings. We reduced the number of openings, kept barrel room walls shaded by using porches and breeze- ways, and provided daylighting and views through skylights and large barn-like working openings. To further support our sustainable efforts, we ganged residential style wood trusses together to achieve a girder truss effect and framed the walls with engineered lumber. Both were made from small, low grade trees instead of large, high grade trees. The weathered steel siding and the steel roof trusses over the fermentation area contain as much as 60% recycled content which reduces their overall embodied energy and greenhouse gas production.
Thick Masonry Walls, Porches and Breezeways
We located the barrel rooms on the north side of the building and surrounded them with 17” masonry walls. These walls are double wythe separated by a cavity containing four inches of rigid insulation and two inches of air space. The outer struc- tural wythe absorbs heat all day long while the air space and insulation keep the heat from passing to the inner wythe. To further protect the rooms, the walls are shaded by a covered crush pad “porch” on the west side, a covered breezeway on the east, and the fermentation room to the south. Surrounding barrel rooms with mass reduces the need for mechanical cool
ing. Air movement from the fan coil units that cool most bar- rel rooms dries out the barrels and increases evaporation. To counteract this many winemakers humidify their spaces which can have it own detrimental affects. A barrel room that uses less mechanical cooling will save energy costs and reduce the amount of wine that evaporates from each barrel. Any wine saved from evaporation returns profit directly to the bottom line.
Jason loves old agriculture buildings which provided the per- fect model for his new winery. Large 8:12 pitch trusses spanning 57 feet rise to 34 feet above the winery floor and support a double skinned roofing/ceiling system. An outer layer of metal roofing is supported on sleepers set on top of eight inch es of rigid insulation and an inner skin of metal or wood depending on whether it is in wine making or guest service areas. Warm air naturally rises leaving a blanket of cooler air in the lower third of the winery where barrels are stored, tanks are located, and people are working.
Daylighting and Views
We placed a large Kalwall skylight over the full length of the fermentation and barrel rooms that dumps light into both spaces. This allows winemaking staff to work in processing and storage areas without the need for artificial light.
The obvious benefit here is a reduced electric bill. Daylit wineries can reduce lighting watts by as much as 66%. The less obvious benefit is that it improves staff attitude and efficiency and reduces sick days.
We utilized large insulated glass roll up doors to provide additional daylight and views to the outdoors. The ability to rest one’s eyes by looking at a distance and being able to see outside throughout the day achieves the same spin-off benefit as daylighting.
In the tasting room large wood and glass doors with transoms provide daylight and a welcome environment with views of the agrarian valley and Blue Mountains beyond. Studies have shown that products displayed with natural light sell better than products displayed under artificial light – another eco- nomic benefit of design using daylighting.
These are just a few of the dozens of design principles that we employed in the design of Waters Winery. The long term operational savings of each of these measures helps offset some of the initial cost of the more expensive sustainable options. Many do not add any initial cost yet offer long-term savings through reduced energy use.
If the improved operating economics of the winery and the increased profit margin on every bottle sold is not enough of a benefit to design sustainably, think about the improved work- ing environments, healthier staffs, higher productivities and increased retail sales. By considering our planet’s ecology, its effect on our long term economics and taking our part in the development of an equitable community, there is a benefit for everyone. These are not new ideas - they have a long histo- ry...Thoreau may not have liked the taste of wine but he might appreciate the thought we put into the design of our wineries.
Seattle Times 12/2008
With each passing year, my list of the year's Top 100 Washington wines gets more competitive. We now have nearly 600 wineries in the state, so even limiting it to one listing per winery means that five out of six wineries won't even appear on the list.
Washington wines do well on other Top 100 lists, and though these are not inexpensive wines, they are far less expensive than most of the wines that show up elsewhere. This list is the only one that focuses exclusively on wines made with Washington grapes — and the only one compiled by a single individual living and working here.
Whether or not you always agree with my choices, I hope they will encourage you to explore many of the wineries (listed from 1 to 100 on page 10), and not just for the specific wine on the list, but for all of their wines. Quality is rarely an accident; if the winery made one great wine, they probably made quite a few really good ones.
Every wine on this list has been scored 90 points or higher by me on the standard 100-point wine-rating system. Within each scoring category, I have listed the wines from least to most expensive, awarding a higher slot to the cheaper wines, because they offer the most value. They have all been released within the 2008 calendar year, but be advised — some are already sold out. Your wine seller can guide you to what is still available, and in some instances he or she may have a newer vintage in stock. (See a list of wine shops on page 10.)
This special NW Ticket edition of the Wine Adviser column will close out the year. In 2009, Wine Adviser will move to Pacific Northwest Magazine, the Times' Sunday magazine, and will appear weekly beginning in February. I wish you all a holiday season filled with good friends and family, good health and, of course, good wine!
- #19. Gramercy/Waters 21 Grams 2005 Red Wine ($125)
- #46. Waters 2006 Loess Vineyard Syrah ($40)
Seattle Times 11/2008
Little did I suspect when I signed on to write an article about a handful of our region's most innovative and eye-catching new wineries just how difficult that would be.
But with Washington state now home to something like 600 wineries, and Oregon boasting nearly 400, the process soon started to feel as daunting and mysterious as choosing a new pope.
Many lively e-mails flew from my home office to my editor, who's like everyone's favorite high-school English teacher — tough but fiercely fair and compassionate. Twice we met in her little office (once with the story's photographer and my editor's boss sitting cross-legged on the floor) to suss out the possibilities. Action figures of black-robed nuns were everywhere, which somehow seemed fitting.
To help us decide on half a dozen from among our region's best new wineries, we limited the nominees to those open five years or less. We paid particular attention to those with a notable, talented winemaker. I'd known a few of these people for years, so that was some comfort.
And because we agreed that access to good grape sources is another fundamental of good winemaking, that counted for a lot. Awards and/or high scores from respected wine competitions and publications commanded our attention.
And, of course, all our nominees had to offer well-made, well-priced wines.
Perhaps just as obviously, we journalists were immediately drawn to an intriguing story. Likely that's why the wineries featured in this story aren't huge corporate entities (although some may one day grow into that).
Instead, we tried to focus on heartfelt operations with genuine people behind them, places where the wine is aged in oak barrels, not huge stainless-steel tanks with added oak chips. Places where good winemaking overshadows the bottom line, even if that sometimes results in precarious consequences. Places where the number of cases produced is still (relatively speaking) small, with total production ranging from 2,500 to a high of 25,000 cases a year.
It didn't hurt if the winery had representation by a savvy public-relations firm. And we thought it smart if they made use of the latest technology to get their stories across: interactive Web sites, podcasts and vodcasts. A hearty dose of passion for their enterprises didn't hurt, either.
Finally, our list magically narrowed, and the smoke turned from black to white. Here you have it: our choices for six young wineries to watch.
Sometimes an idea seems so right, you wish you'd hatched it yourself. That's what crossed my mind in January when the buzz began to build about Walla Walla-based Wines of Substance.
The concept is simple. Focus exclusively on producing single-varietal wines (no blends) from Washington state that are high-quality, handcrafted, reasonably priced ($18 or less per bottle), and target younger or less-experienced wine drinkers.
The packaging elevates the concept — white-on-black labels modeled after elements on the periodic table. Pinot gris becomes Pg, chardonnay is Ch and cabernet sauvignon, Cs. The Web site's "periodic table" displays labels from all 30 wine varieties commercially available in the state. Click on an "element" and the wine's back label pops into view; click more for varietal information, tasting notes and the shopping cart.
"Wine is intimidating. With our interactive Web site, the cheekiness and fun way it's presented, it takes away the intimidation factor and adds an educational element," says Jamie Brown, the 42-year-old winemaker at Wines of Substance, Waters Winery and 21 Grams.
"I didn't want a 19-wine portfolio, but I did want to eventually try making every varietal found in Washington state, even if it was just 75 cases of Counoise," Brown says. So he and his partners (founder Jason Huntley and Greg Harrington, also a partner in 21 Grams and winemaker at Gramercy Cellars) created Wines of Substance. "We don't consider it a 'second label,' but the sister winery to Waters and Gramercy."
Brown, a musician who played in bands around Seattle and owned a music shop before moving back to his hometown of Walla Walla, credits his love of music for helping him become an intuitive, self-taught winemaker.
In Walla Walla, he worked for some of the best — Glen Fiona, Dunham Cellars, Pepper Bridge — before becoming the first winemaker at James Leigh Cellars in 2001. There, he produced elegant, food-friendly wines. His syrah, in particular, made people sit up and take notice, and continues as one of his specialties today. The Wines of Substance tasting room is at the industrial-chic winery shared by Waters and Gramercy Cellars. Wood-beamed ceilings and weathered steel siding evoke the feeling of a 100-year-old farm building. A great spot for a little "Substance abuse."
Wines of note: Wines of Substance 2007 Pg (pinot gris), Wines of Substance 2007 Re (riesling), Wines of Substance 2006 Me (merlot)
Seattle Magazine 10/2008
The heart of wine tourism in our state, the Walla Walla region is home to some of our best-known red wine producers, such as Leonetti, Cayuse and Woodward Canyon. But with many new wineries popping up, don’t miss some of the other tasting experiences you can only find in this “mini Napa” of our state. More than just a great place to taste wine, its world-class cuisine, lodging and views make Walla Walla—a Native word for ‘many waters’ where the Walla Walla River meets the vast Columbia River—a unique destination that’s truly so nice you’ll want to visit (at least!) twice.
Where to stay
For an off-the-beaten-path respite, Girasol Vineyard and Inn (504 Basel Lane, Walla Walla; 509.529.5407; $150–$198)—named for the French word for sunflower—is a relaxing oasis in the heart of wine country. With three charming, cozy rooms, each with a private patio, a homemade breakfast and a view of the rolling, vineyard-covered hills south of Walla Walla, this boutique inn is the perfect place to call home while visiting local wineries. (Pepper Bridge, Va Piano and many others are nearby.)
Get the vineyard experience
Most wineries get their grapes from various vineyards around the area, but if you want to see the grapes at their source, visit the vineyards and the Italian villa–style tasting room of Pepper Bridge Winery (1704 JB George Road; Walla Walla; 509.525.6502); the vineyards here are some of the oldest in the area. Relative newcomer Va Piano Vineyards (1793 JB George Road, Walla Walla; 509.529.0900) also grows grapes right outside the door of its equally charming villa, where you can wander through vines that produce its estate-grown wines.
Pepper Bridge, 2005 Merlot ($50)
Va Piano, 2006 Syrah ($38)
Savor some of the classics
Woodward Canyon (11920 W Highway 12, Lowden; 509.525.4129) and L’Ecole No 41 (41 Lowden School Road, Lowden; 509.525.0940), housed in a circa 1915 schoolhouse, are next-door neighbors in nearby Lowden, making it easy to taste classic Washington Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Bordeaux–blend wines—from two of the oldest wineries in the state.
Woodward Canyon, 2007 Estate Dolcetto ($19)
Seven Hills Vineyard, 2007 Estate Luminesce ($20)
Taste the innovators
The earthy, terroir-driven Syrahs and other excellent wines from Waters Winery and Gramercy Cellars (1825 JB George Road, Walla Walla; 509.525.1590), both produced in the same environmentally friendly facility, have recently found a cult following.
Waters Winery, 2006 Syrah ($30)
Gramercy Cellars 2006 Tempranillo ($40)
If time is short, you can walk Main Street in downtown Walla Walla and find some of our favorite tasting rooms. At DaMa Wines’ (45 E Main St.; 509.525.2299) refined tasting room, winemakers Dawn Kammer and Mary Derby’s elegant red and white wines bring you home to Washington’s terroir. And don’t miss Nicholas Cole Cellars’ (229 E Main St.; 509.525.0608) sleek new tasting room in an old Art Deco building, where you can taste winemaker Mike Neuffer’s intense, lush reds and take in a rotating art exhibit—and the wall made of barrel staves, a piece of art in itself.
DaMa 2006 Riesling ($16)
Nicholas Cole 2004 Camille Red Wine ($48)
Where to eat
Saffron (125 W Alder St., Walla Walla; 509.525.2112) has a hip atmosphere to complement its Mediterranean flatbreads and small plates.
T. Maccarone’s (4 N Colville St., Walla Walla; 509.522.4776) casual, hearty Italian fare includes house-made pasta.
26 Brix (207 W Main St., Walla Walla; 509.526.4075) is an elegant bistro featuring locally sourced meat and produce.
Seattle Magazine 8/2008
Jason Huntley and Jamie Brown of Waters Winery have built their new winemaking facility in Walla Walla with water, energy, and conservation in mind.
Unlike most wineries that have no windows and many fluorescent light fixtures, Waters uses mostly natural sources for heating, cooling, and lighting, saving thousands of dollars per year. The building's design employs simple stained-concreted floors, reclaimed boards, and galvanized steel that develops a natural rusty patina, and also reflects the hot Walla Walla sun. The 60 acres currently being planted on the vineyard are being farmed sustainably. The winery houses Waters and a few other ventures as well. Gramercy Cellars is the label of sommelier Greg Harrington, formerly of New York City. The other two, Wines of Substance and 21 Grams, are collaborative labels between Harrington, Huntley, Brown and Rotie Cellars
Puget Sound Business Journal 5/2008
Collaborative spirit pairs winemakers
by Heidi Dietrich
When Waters Winery winemaker Jamie Brown needs to borrow a pump, he heads across the vineyard to Va Piano Winery. There, neighbor and former classmate Justin Wylie is happy to lend a hand.
It's the kind of relationship that's common in the Washington wine industry, winemakers say.
"We're all so new at this, everyone is hungry to learn," Wylie said.
Collaborations are taking form across the state's wine regions. While some are no more than a neighbor loaning out gear, others involve formal business partnerships, tenant and r landlord arrangements, and special programs in which veterans aid emerging wineries.
In Walla Walla, a single address now leads to four separate wineries: established brands Waters Winery and Gramercy Cellars, and the brand new Wines of Substance and 21 Grams.
The collaboration began when master sommelier Greg Harrington, then living in New York City, tasted a 2002 Syrah made by Walla Walla winemaker Jamie Brown, who at that time was working for Jamie Leigh Cellars. Harrington called up Brown and ordered all the 2002 Syrah he had left.
Soon after, Harrington traveled to Walla Walla to look for land to start growing grapes. Brown suggested he forgo the grape growing, which would require a four-year investment before he could even begin to make wine, and just start a winery. Harrington founded Gramercy Cellars in 2005.
Brown, in turn, formed Waters Winery with business partner Jason Huntley, and they invited Harrington to make Gramercy wine in the same building. This year, the three together formed two new brands, — Wines of Substance, which sells wine for under $20, and the high-end 21 Grams. All four wine brands are now made in a new facility on 60 acres in South Walla Walla.
The tasting room offers Gramercy and Waters wines. Brown doesn't plan to offer samples of Wines of Substance, as he doesn't want a far cheaper cabernet sauvignon standing side by side with the more expensive Waters cabernet. With the limited production of 21 Grams, the winery's mailing list has been buying all the wine that's made.
Brown said the four brands must distinguish themselves by each creating their own style. He doesn't believe a joint production facility and tasting room will confuse customers.
"We're conï¬dent that each tells a cool story," Brown said.
Just across the vineyard, Brown's winemaker neighbor, Justin Wylie, is building his own kind of team. When building Va Piano Winery in 2004, Wylie created six spaces in his wine making facility for emerging wineries to rent out. Rent includes use of all equip ment, including tractor, trailer, truck, pumps, forklift, hoses, clamps, pressure washer and crushing equipment. Wineries are on their own for bottling.
Wylie ï¬gured the arrangement would help him cover construction costs and ï¬ll space that he didn't initially need. For the startups, the monthly rental fee offered a more affordable way to begin making wine.
That ï¬rst year, Wylie and the six tenants found they were forced to juggle schedules when trying to get their hands on the same equipment at the same time. When the tenants began to grow larger, they jostled even more for space.
In the last few years, all but one of the six tenants have grown too large for Va Piano's facility and moved on. Chateau Rollat remains in the space, though, and Wylie plans to continue renting space for some time.
Assisting startup wineries is also the notion behind the recently opened Artifex Wine Co. in Walla Walla. A customcrush facility, Artifex supplies labor,equipment and winemaking consultingfor burgeoning winemakers, at a cost of$25 to $35 per case.
The clients bring their own grapes,barrels, and winemaking talents. Inthree to four years, Artifex foundersexpect, clients willhave their wine onthe market and beable to move intotheir own home.
Artifex openedlast July in a warehouse that once housed Continental Cannery. Once the facility is fully built out, Artifexwill have 22,000square feet of spacefor barrel room,storage and ofï¬cespace.
While many of Artifex's clients arestartup wineries, some are larger wineries looking to enter the Walla Wallascene without investing the money tobuild a facility. King Estate Wineryin Oregon, for instance, just startedmaking Washington wine, and signedon with Artifex to avoid a major investment.
Artifex came about when PepperBridge winery managing partner NormMcKibben and winemaker Jean Francois Pellet kept receiving phone inquiries about whether Pepper Bridge hadroom for additional winemakers in itsWalla Walla facility. It didn't. Artifexwas granted a long-term lease in the old cannery building, which is owned by the Port of Walla Walla.
This year, Artifex plans to have 10 clients, producing a total of about 25,000 cases of wine. Artifex can be choosy about who it works with because there is substantial demand, McKibben said. The Artifex team expects it will take eight to 10 years for Artifex to make back the initial $2.5 million investment in the facility.
Artifex isn't the ï¬rst time the Port of Walla Walla has collaborated with winemakers. For the past eight years, the Col Solare port has used a good chunk of its 2,700-acre industrial park and airï¬eld to lease former barracks space to wineries.
The port also just used a $1 million state grant to build new facilities that act as temporary incubators for three startup wineries, each of which can stay there for no more than six years. With an additional $500,000 grant from the state, the port is currently constructing two more.
The port's property was built during World War II to house B17 and B18 bombers. Though two-thirds of the original barracks were torn down, some of the remaining structures serve as low-cost rentals for 20 winemakers.
While the port ï¬rst lured wineries with the promise of reasonable rent, winemakers now ï¬nd that the location has become a tourist draw. Wine aï¬cionados like to visit the port because they can hit more than 20 tasting rooms in a short proximity and parking is ample. During tourist season, limos now regularly drop off tourists at the port's property.
Outside of Walla Walla, a collaboration can be found in the Red Mountain region. Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery and the Italian winemaking company Antinori teamed in 1995 to form Col SoIare. Last year, Col Solare opened a winery next to its Red Mountain vineyard.
Chateau Ste. Michelle jumped at the chance to work with Antinori, a company that's made wine in Italy for over 600 years. Antinori President Piero Antinori, in turn, heard about the quality wine coming out of Washington and wanted to get his foot in the door. "The goal was to produce the top cabernet in Washington," said Marcus Notaro, winemaker for Col Solare. Col Solare's founders always intended to build a winery next to its vineyards, just as the Antinoris have done for generations in Italy. The partners selected Red Mountain for its reputation for rich wine with dark fruit and ripe tannins.
Notaro now collaborates with Antinori's chief winemaker, Renzo Cotarella, when creating Col Solare's wines. The winery adopted Antinori's style of growing higher density, smaller grape vines than is typical.
"Antinori is a wealth of knowledge for us," Notaro said. "I really value my relationship with Renzo."
Bon Apetit - 4/2008
Most classic wine. pairings are tough to improve upon. Sauternes with foie gras. Champagne with sushi. Cabernet Sauvignon with steak. Or so I believed until recently. when I asked sommelier Dana Fawner if she had a favorite Cab to go with the aged 20-ounce rib eye I'd just ordered at my favorite steakhouse. Cut in Beverly Hills. "What about a Syrah?" she asked. I've learned it's best to trust Dana. and so I went with it.
She returned to the table with a bottle of' Waters 2004 Columbia Valley Syrah. The nose was incredible—chocolate and anise—and the wine was lush with blackberry and plum fruit and a hit of black pepper on the Finish, It was a perfect pairing. The Syrah's soft tatin ins—which can sometimes be overpowering in Cabernet—and bright acidity gave just enough texture to balance the richness of the steak. "Syrah is great with steak because of how it feels in your mouth, The acidity hits right down the middle of your tongue, and it's higher in acid than Cabernet Sauvignon or Mei-lot," Dana says. "The steaks here at Cut are so beautifully rich that the wine needs to have some lift and texture." Washington State. she adds, has been producing Syrahs with great depth and complexity, thanks to what she calls "that 'true-to-the-earth philosophy.'"
In other words. what wine geeks call terroir In fact, if you've ever visited the Yakima Valley appellation of Washington State, where many of the state's top Syrahs are being produced, one of the most notable aspects is the soil. It consists predominantly of basalt, owing to the proximity of active volcanoes, as well as loam and pebbles that were brought in from the Arctic Circle by ï¬‚oods during the Ice Age. "It's remarkable what's happened here geologically," says Doug McCrea of McCrea Cellars in the Yakima Valley. He was only the second vintner to plant Syrah in Washington State; the ï¬rst was winemakcr David Lake of Columbia Winery with grape grower Mike Sauer of Red Willow Vineyard who planted the grape on the steepsouthern face of the Red Willow peninsula in Yakima Valley. The region's latitudes, it turns out, are very similar to those of the Northern Rhône in France, where Syrah is the principal grape in wines. Over in Walla Walla Valley, another premier region for Washington Syrah, stony riverbeds also echo the Northern Rhone. And the results from both regions seem to be something of a hybrid of Old World and New.
Although Washington Syrahs are very New World in that they tend to be fruit .forward, it's interesting that they also show traditional Old World nuances like earthiness and minerality, or almost gamy ï¬‚avors that are associated uwith Syrah-heavy blends from the Northern Rhone. It's this bridge that makes Washington Syrahs so intriguing and distinctive.
Just ask renegade winemaker Christophe Baron of Carrie. who was drawn to the area in the mid '90s because of the riverbed of the Walla Walla River. "It looks like Chatemuneuf-du-Papc: its pure cobblestone." Baron says. "At the time I came here, there were no vineyards planted. I put in ten acres of Syrah and called the vineyard Cailloux, which means 'stones' in French." Baron, who comes from a centuries-old winemaking family in Champagne, studied winemaking in Burgundy and Champagne. But he often played hooky so that he could sneak off to the Rhene region to taste the wines, which is how he fell in love with Syrah, "I said, 'One day I will have a vineyard in the New World and I will plant Syrah:" he recalls. "When I came to Washington. it was mainly Cabernet and Merlot. But I love challenge and so I decided to give Syrah a shot."
Both McCrea in the Yakima Valley and Baron in Walla Walla share the same sentiment: Syrah dramatically reï¬‚ects the terroir; or soil, in which it is planted. And the soil in Washington seems ideally suited tobringing out superior expressions of the grape. "There's no question that location makes the difference." says McCrea. Syrah grapes that he buys from two primary vineyards result in wines that are totally different from each other in style. "The Boushey Vineyard Syrah has been mistaken for a Cote-Rotie in blind tastings; "it's very gamy and smoky," McCrea says. "Not far away on Red Mountain, is the Ciel du Cheval vineyard, here you have New World ï¬‚avors: blackberry, mocha, cassis. It's amazing—they're totally different vineyards but planted with the same grape. That's your terroir"
To that same point, in Walla Walla. Baron says, "Our Five vineyards are in the same rocky area but the wines are so distinctive from each other." lie adds, "That's the beauty of Syrahs here—we are going back to the motion oï¬‚ terrain We're returning to a style of restraint instead of these fruit-bomb-style wines." The best examples tend to be great food wines—they're naturals with steak, as I learned at Cut—but because ofthat characteristic peppery spice. Syrah is also fantastic with Moroccan cuisine or Mediterranean dishes.
With an estimated half of Washington State's 500-some wineries producing Syrah today, it's hard to pinpoint a speciï¬c style, but the prevailing characteristics seem to be fruit-driven wines with softer, velvety tannins. From there— whether the wines are jammy, earthy, meaty. muscular. or ï¬‚oral and feminine—it's all up to the soil. Which is what makes opening a bottle of Washington Syrah such an adventure.
L'Ecole No. 41 2005 Columbia Valley Syrah ($24).
Plum and blueberry fruit with black pepper and earthy in nerality.
Waters 2005 Columbia Valley Syrah ($25).
Lush lackberry and plum fruit with black pepper spice.
Seven Hills 2005 Syrah, Walla Walla Valley ($28).
Black cherry. pepper. and spice with a hint of vanilla.
Columbia Winery 2002 Red Willow Vineyard Syrah, Yakima Valley ($30)
Raspberry and blackberry notes with pepper spice arid a smoky ï¬nish
K Syrah 2005 "Milbrandt" Syrah Columbia Valley ($33).
A big, ï¬‚eshy wine loaded with raspberry, smoke, and black olive ï¬‚avors.
Duck Pond 2005 Desert Wind Vineyard Syrah Columbia Valley ($35).
An inky powerhouse wine with rope fruit ï¬‚avors and a spicy oak ï¬nish.
Va Piano Vineyards 2005 Syrah, Walla Walla Valley and Columbia Valley ($38)
Black cherry, blackberry. and blueberry fruit with hints of olivearid oak.
Bergevin Lane Vineyards 2005 Barrel Select Syrah, Columbia Valley ($45).
Ripe cherry fruit with cedar spice and black pepper.
McCrea 2004 "Grande Cote" Boushey Vineyard Syrah, Yakima Valley ($45).
An Old-World-style 5rah with gamy smoked-meat ï¬‚avors. toasted nuts, and blackberry.
Betz Family Winery 2005 "La Serenne" Syrah. Columbia Valley ($50).
Blueberry and plum flavor, with a toasty oak ï¬nish balanced with silky tannins.
Cavuse Vineyards 2005 "Cailloux" Syrah. Walla Walla Valley ($75).
Luscious red plum and blackberry fruit with black pepper, chocolate, and tobacco.
Wines & Vines 10/2007
Waters Opens Sustainable Winery
by Tina Caputo
Walla Walla winery incorporates daylight, insulation and recycled materials
Walla Walla, Wash. -- On Nov. 2, Walla Walla's Waters Winery will welcome the public to its new $2 million, 5,000-square-foot winemaking facility and tasting room. Previously, Waters shared space at Saviah Cellars and operated a tasting room in downtown Walla Walla. Best known for its Syrahs and a Bordeaux-style blend called Interlude, Waters currently produces 3,000 cases of wine per year. The new facility will allow the winery to increase production to 5,000 cases.
Architect Joe Chauncey of Seattle's Boxwood Architects, who has designed for Col Solare, Hightower and Brian Carter Cellars, took cues from the agricultural design of the 19th century and clad the new facility in masonry and rusted steel panels. According to Chauncey, sustainability was a primary driver of the design and layout of the two separate buildings.
Natural lighting and views
"In the production building, a large linear skylight drops northern light into the fermentation room and then indirectly into the two separate barrel rooms," he said. "This skylight reduces the need for artificial lighting during most of the day and can reduce power supplied for lighting systems by up to two-thirds while providing a bright, naturally lit work space." Glass doors supplement the daylight and provide the same views for the working areas as in the tasting room.
"Daylight and views contribute greatly to increased production and improved health of staff," Chauncey said. "It has also been proven that products displayed under natural light sell better than the same product displayed under artificial light."
The barrel aging rooms are surrounded by 17-inch-thick, insulated concrete masonry. This provides mass, an important component in reducing temperature swings. "Reduced temperature swings translates into reduced cooling loads," Chauncey explained. "Reduced cooling loads means lower utility bills, but it also means something else that is even more important. It results in less evaporation from the barrel and more wine in bottles. … In another Boxwood winery where mass walls were used, the cooling equipment was left off for a week in the middle of the summer and the temperature did not rise above 58 degrees."
Augmenting the masonry walls is a large protective roof over the crush pad, which shades the barrel room. The lab and office space insulate the barrel room from the late afternoon sun. The high ceilings also draw heat away from the barrels and tanks, and from visitors in the tasting room.
Waters plans to add a subterranean barrel room, which will double production and storage capacity with the advantage of natural temperature stability.
One of the most sustainable aspects of the building, Chauncey said, is its use of only a few building materials. "The building is very simple with exposed structure and concrete floors, even in the tasting room where the floor is used in the winter to store heat from the sun's raysand re-radiated in the afternoon when the temperature drops," he said. "The main steel structure has as much as 80% recycled content. The steel decking, siding and roofing material are made up of as much as 30% recycled content."
The wood framed walls are constructed with engineered lumber fabricated from rapidly renewable trees. "From an embodied energy standpoint, the materials used are at the low end of the energy scale," Chauncey said.
Boxwood began design of the new winery and tasting room in June of 2006. Ketelsen Construction, Walla Walla, Wash., was the project's contractor.
Waters Winery will officially open its doors to the public for an open house party on Nov. 2, from 5-8 p.m. It is located at 1825 JB George Rd., in Walla Walla. For more information, call (509) 525-1590 or visit www.waterswinery.com.