Washington State Wines

 

Washington State Wines

 

The Rising Star of Washington State

A word from Sam Clarke, American Wine Buyer

Much of the attention for American wine is focused on California and Oregon, but the burgeoning wine scene in Washington State is not one to ignore. With more than 950 wineries in the state, it is the second largest wine-producing region in the United States, ahead of Oregon and New York. Much of the wine produced in the state is red (64%), although the region's first claim to fame was Riesling when the first modern commercial vineyards were planted in the 1960's. As the region has come into its own, Bordeaux varietals Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have both proven excellent matches to the terroir and climate, with Syrah making a recent splash in the wine scene.

In our opinion, the Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrahs that are found in Washington State are nothing short of spectactular; while they have the rich, lush fruit typical of American wine, the best winemakers of the state craft refined and elegant wines, with fine tannin that suggest these wines will do well in cellar. If you have California wines in your collection, we think it well worth a look to see what Washington wines have to offer, as the quality and accessibility have been growing exponentially. 

The very first Washington winery we have ever worked with was Gramercy Cellars, based in the Walla Walla Valley. Greg Harrington MS is a brilliant winemaker whose elegant wines lean perfectly into the European palate of fresh acidity balancing the ripe fruit of Washington, and his wines are consistently praised across the board every vintage. We have also recently brought on board one of the biggest names in Washington State: Quilceda Creek. With their Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon selling out quickly every year, we are delighted to have the opportunity to offer these wines to you.


Washington State Wine Region   The Region 

Washington State is made up of 14 different AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), which function similar to the sub-appellations in Bordeaux or Burgundy. Each AVA has a unique terroir, thanks to the Missoula floods during the last ice age, which deposited different soil types across its path. 

While the western side of the mountains sees cooler temperatures and wetter conditions, the hot, dry eastern half is perfectly situated for full-bodied reds. The  north-south running Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges in the Western portion of the state combine to stop the clouds rolling in off of the Pacific Ocean - known as a Rain Shadow Effect. The vineyards that sit along the Columbia Gorge benefit from the cool river climate, bringing excellent freshness to the vines planted there.


The AVAs 



 




 
Washington State Wines
 

 

Quilceda Creek

Founded in 1978 by Alex and Jeanette Golitzin (Alex is the nephew of renowned Napa Valley winemaker André Tchelistcheff), the project quickly became a mission to make the best Cabernet Sauvignon in Washington, sourcing grapes from five of the top vineyards in the state: Champoux, Galitzine, Lake Wallula, Palengat and Wallula Vineyards.

In 1993, the winemaking at Quilceda Creek was taken over by son Paul, and under his vision, has gone on to earn six 100 point scores from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, in 2015 earning the number 2 spot on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines. Paul’s style leans towards lush ripe fruit, with seamless integration that rewards those with patience enough to cellar. In short, Quilceda Creek has been leading the charge for Washington state Cabernet Sauvignon and has consistently delivered wine of the highest quality year after year.


Gramercy Cellars

Owner and winemaker, Greg Harrington passed his Master Sommelier Diploma exam at the tender age of 26 and an illustrious career in the restaurant industry followed. The long term plan was to own and run a winery but it remained a dream for the future until a fateful visit to Washington in 2004. 

The winemaking philosophy hasn’t changed since 2005 with the idea that great wines share common traits: great vineyards, small production, minimalist winemaking, time, and patience. Greg and Pam work to develop partnerships with the best vineyards, harvest ripe—not overripe—grapes, intervene minimally in the winemaking process, and use as little new oak as possible. The resulting wines are beautifully crafted, punctuated, refined and with a wonderfully savoury energy. Low in alcohol they are all about length and purity not immediate impact. Truly stunning wines.

 
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