Our visit to Col Solare was a highlight of our autumn trip to Red Mountain — not only for the tasting of its excellent namesake blend, but also for the experience at the vineyard and tasting room. Because Col Solare is more than a wine – it’s the epitome of one of Washington’s best-known wine regions.
Thanks to Wendi Warner and Gracie Doyle at Col Solare, we had a private tour of the state-of-the-art estate winery on the top of Red Mountain. The minute we passed through the magnificent gates, we knew it would be unique.
The vineyard’s location was carefully chosen by the partners, Chateau Ste. Michelle and Tuscany’s Marchesi Anitori. We learned that Col Solare is Italian for “shining hill” and indeed, the vineyard blocs were designed to look like the sun’s rays. More importantly, the grapes were planted to take best advantage of the direction of the sun and the wind, and particularly attention was placed on the vine density and slope of the land.
We were there during Crush, so we saw the fermentation process firsthand in the new cellar, and watched a variety of techniques used to create the wine. And then we tasted the 2006 Col Solare – an exquisite blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 4% Cab Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Syrah – and the first vintage to be produced start-to-finish at the new location.
We first enjoyed this big, elegant wine at the Auction of Washington Wines picnic on Aug. 13 and again at its Seattle release party on Aug. 19. By the end of September, when we were at the vineyard, the wine had opened up a bit more and was even better.
At about a $75 price point, a bottle of 2006 Col Solare is a special-occasion wine for us. And the trip to the vineyard was a special time too. If you’re heading toward Red Mountain, be sure to call ahead, because the vineyard is only open by private appointment.