Facts about Washington Wine

Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 9.31.42 AMEvery year around this time, we love to share facts about the wonderful wine industry in Washington state.

We hope you enjoy the 2014 version, courtesy of the Washington State Wine Commission.

Note: The average amount of summer sunshine in Washington state, compared to California, might surprise you!

Scroll down for details.

 

Facts about the Washington State Wine Industry

National rank: Second- largest premium wine producer in the United States

Number of wineries: 750+

Winery growth:

  • 1981 – 19 wineries
  • 1996 – 80 wineries
  • 1997 – 101 wineries
  • 1998 – 129 wineries
  • 1999 – 160 wineries
  • 2000 – 163 wineries
  • 2001 – 170 wineries
  • 2002 – 208 wineries
  • 2003 – 240 wineries
  • 2004 – 300 wineries
  • 2005 – 360 wineries
  • 2006 – 460 wineries
  • 2007 – 540 wineries
  • 2008 – 580 wineries
  • 2009 – 650 wineries
  • 2010 – 700 wineries
  • 2011 – 740 wineries
  • 2012 – 760 wineries
  • 2013 – 780 wineries

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 3.59.19 PM Number of wine grape growers: 350+

Appellations:
Thirteen American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), as recognized and defined by the United States Treasury Department; Alcohol & Tobacco Taxes & Trade Bureau.

  • Yakima Valley – 1983
  • Walla Walla Valley – 1984
  • Columbia Valley – 1984
  • Puget Sound – 1995
  • Red Mountain – 2001
  • Columbia Gorge – 2004
  • Horse Heaven Hills – 2005
  • Wahluke Slope – 2006
  • Rattlesnake Hills – 2006
  • Snipes Mountain – 2009
  • Lake Chelan – 2009
  • Naches Heights – 2011
  • Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley – 2012

Varieties produced: 30+ varietals

Leading white varietals:

  • Riesling
  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Gris
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Gewurztraminer
  • Viognier
  • Semillon
  • Chenin Blanc

Leading red varietals:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Syrah
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Malbec
  • Pinot Noir
  • Sangiovese
  • Lemberger

Ratio of white to red:
55% white to 45% red

Wine production:
12-million cases

Wine grape acreage:
43,000+ acres

Estimated Direct Revenue:
Winery Revenue = $1 billion; Wine Related Tourism = $1.06 billion

Full-time equivalent wine-related jobs:
27,455 in Washington, 68,719 nationwide*

Average hours of summer sunlight:
16 hours per day, about 1 more hour than California’s prime growing region

Annual rainfall:
Eight inches (20.32 cm) in Eastern Washington (the major grape growing region) 48 inches (121.92 cm) in Western Washington

Wine production growth

  • 1981 – 2.0 million gallons (7.5 m liters)
  • 1996 – 5.3 million gallons (19.9 m liters)
  • 1997 – 9.6 million gallons (36.3 m liters)
  • 1998 – 10.9 million gallons (41.5 m liters)
  • 1999 – 10.0 million gallons (38.0 m liters)
  • 2000 – 14.0 million gallons (52.7 m liters)
  • 2001 – 15.5 million gallons (58.5 m liters)
  • 2002 – 17.7 million gallons (67.3 m liters)
  • 2003 – 17.3 million gallons (65.5 m liters)
  • 2004 – 16.5 million gallons (62.9 m liters)
  • 2005 – 19.0 million gallons (72.0 m liters)
  • 2006 – 20.0 million gallons (75.8 m liters)
  • 2007 – 20.0 million gallons (75.8 m liters)
  • 2008 – 21.4 million gallons (81 m liters)
  • 2009 – 25 million gallons (94.6 m liters)
  • 2010 – 20.1 million gallons (76.1 m liters)

*figures from the 2012 Economic Impact Study by Stonebridge Research

Cheers!

 

 

 

Get Ready for Washington Wine Month!

Walla Walla, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 12.02.23 PMAs far as we’re concerned, every month is Washington wine month, because we are major supporters of our state’s abundance of good juice.

From Woodinville to Walla Walla, vineyards (where it all begins) and wineries come together to produce exceptional wines to please every palate.

But March is officially Washington Wine Month, so please celebrate with us. If you haven’t joined the parade yet, now is a perfect time.

In addition to celebrating our state’s award-winning wine, the Washington Wine Commission offers March promotions at participating restaurants, wine shops, winery tasting rooms and even some hotels. The Commission’s website provides a calendar to see what is going on any day of the month.

The festivities culminate in what we call “the Super Bowl of Washington state wine events,” Taste Washington on March 29-30. (And you know how well the real one turned out! Go Hawks!)

Taste Washington is the country’s largest single-region wine and food event. More than 200 wineries will be pouring at Century Link Field, 70 restaurants will be preparing tasty bites, and you can learn more about Washington wine at special seminars about the state’s one industry, wine-and-food pairings, wine blending and cooking with wine.

It is important to note that we recommend tasting and spitting wine during your time at this major event, but if you think you might want more than a sip or two, many hotels in the area are offering special weekend packages.

We’ll be writing more about Taste Washington in the weeks ahead but until then, stop by some of the 750+ wineries in our state and celebrate Washington Wine Month.

Cheers!

 

Washington State Barbera

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Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 3.59.19 PM Relatively speaking, Barbera is a newer grape in Washington state, often found near the cool growing climate of the Columbia Valley, in Horse Heaven Hills and Walla Walla.

Its native home is in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy; the grape arrived in California in the 19th century.

When crafted by experienced winemakers, Barbera somehow tastes both rich and light-bodied, with flavors of dark cherry, strawberries, plums, blackberries, vanilla and anise.

With low tannins, high acidity and juicy flavors, Barbera is a food-friendly palate-pleaser, particularly when paired with turkey, grilled chicken, pizza or spaghetti with meatballs. Or for something simple, try it with rich blue cheese or Reggiano Parmigiano. Delicious!

We have found a few excellent Barberas in Washington state:

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 3.59.02 PM

Unfortunately, many of these are now sold out, so please let us know if you’ve found an excellent Washington state Barbera.

Cheers!

Windy Point-Beauty & Value

Bordeaux Blend, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 10.50.22 AMWhen you drive between Seattle and Prosser or Walla Walla, be sure to stop at Windy Point Vineyards for a pour of some excellent value wines in a beautiful tasting room. Or if you’re looking for something different to do over a weekend, it’s worth the trip to Windy Point.

With stunning architecture and beautiful views of Yakima Valley, the well-designed tasting room is airy and comfortable, with a professional kitchen as the centerpiece.

Outside, you are surrounded by gently rolling hills, a small waterfall and a pond. And if you’re lucky, you’ll see some Mississippi sawbuck turtles raised at the vineyards.

And talk about value – our favorite Windy Point reds are priced between $17-$23, and we always seem to go home with a case. You can purchase the wine outside the tasting room but it’s much more fun to visit.

Here are the wines we enjoyed:

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 10.48.51 AM2007 Pointless Red ($17): A blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Cabernet Franc and 3% Merlot, Pointless is known for its four “E”s: estate-grown, economical, easy-drinking and “endlessly pleasing.”

2005 Cab Franc ($18): This vintage was awarded a platinum by Wine Press Northwest and a gold medal at the Washington State Wine Competition; the more recent 2006 Cab Franc ($20) won a silver medal at the Washington State Wine Competition.

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($20): Showing excellent potential, this Cab was just released. We were big fans of the 2004 Cab, so we’re cellaring the more recent vintage for a couple of years.

2007 !Exclamation Point! ($21): Windy Point’s signature wine is a rich blend of 60% Cab Franc and 40% Merlot, one of the winery’s best-sellers, a two-time gold medal winner and “best in show” at the Washington State Wine Competition.

2008 Moot Point ($23): This is an elegant Bordeaux-style blend at such a low price point: 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% CabFranc and a splash of Malbec.

While some of these wines were lovely to drink on their own or with almonds and cheese, they also pair well with different foods. On the Windy Point website, you can find recipes, such as  Apple Wood Smoked Pork Loin Sandwich, Seared Halibut, Braised Colorado Lamb Shank or Wine Infused Beef Flank Steak with Savory Mushroom Napoleon, Crispy Root Vegetable Cakes & Red Wine Cream Sauce.

Cheers!

 

 

 

Coming Soon! Seattle Wine & Food Experience

California wineries, Carlton Wine Country, Events, Oregon wineries, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville 1 Comment

You’d better move quickly – tickets are now on sale for the Seattle Wine and Food Experience at Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. If you like good wine, beer and food, mark your calendars for this delicious experience on Feb. 23, from 1-5 p.m.

New this year is a VIP experience,which includes a one-hour early entry, an event tote bag, wine glass and tasting plate, plus an opportunity to win a variety of wine-related prizes.

This year’s featured region is Woodinville Wine Country, with pours from many excellent wineries, including Alexandria Nicole Cellars,  Lauren AshtonObelisco and The Woodhouse Wine Estates. Other Washington AVAs are represented by Double Canyon, Kiona and Red Mountain AVA Alliance, among others.

Some of our Oregon favorites – Seven of HeartsKing Estate and Willamette Valley Vineyards – will be be pouring, along with wineries from California, Idaho, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Argentina.

You can find a full list of wineries that will be pouring, along with beer and ciderspirits, and coffeein addition to information about numerous restaurants serving gourmet bites, at the Seattle Wine and Food Experience websiteTickets are $55.

It’s important to note – this is the sixth annual SWFE, which is testimony to the reputation and following that this event, with its explosion of tastes, has generated in Seattle. 

So run, don’t walk to get your tickets! We hope to see you there.

Cheers!

Four Great Wines from Guardian Cellars

Bordeaux Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 4.05.31 PMWe have been fans of Guardian Cellars since first tasting the heavenly 2004 Gun Metal, the winery’s flagship Bordeaux blend. We happily joined the crowds at the 2007 opening of the winery’s tasting room in Woodinville.

Since the beginning, owner and winemaker Jerry Riener has maintained a policy: to cellar each premium red at least one year before release, something not common in new world winemaking styles.

The result is beauty in a glass.

From three wines and 300 cases in those early days, Riener increased production to nine wines and about 5,000 cases in 2013.

We visited the Guardian Cellars tasting room over the holidays and were not surprised to find out that the 2010 Gun Metal sold out shortly after its release. But we were delighted to find three more beautiful reds:

2011 Chalk Line is a scrumptious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot, rounded off with a splash of Malbec, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot. Jerry describes this sixth vintage as “a bona fide buffet of delicious grapes” and we couldn’t agree more.

2010 The Alibi is a stellar blend of Red Mountain fruit — 54% Cab Sauv, 31% Merlot and 15% Cab Franc from three vineyards, Obelisco, Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun. The Alibi is absolutely gorgeous in its third vintage, in our humble opinion.

In its fifth vintage, the 2010 The Rookie is 100% Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, blended from grapes grown at Obelisco, Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun vineyards. The Rookie was aged for 21 months in 100% new French oak, and 17 months in the bottle, before being released a couple of months ago and is, simply, amazing.

Next time you’re in the Woodinville wine warehouse district during a weekend, be sure to stop Guardian Cellars and try these wines for yourself.

Cheers!

Special Wines for New Year’s Eve

Bordeaux Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 9.30.32 AMSome wines are just perfect for special occasions, and bringing in a new year seems like a great time to pop open the cork on one of them.

There are so many to choose from, we decide to list several special-occasion wines from Washington state and decide later which one we will open!

We highly recommend all of them!

Let us know some of your favorites.

Cheers to a healthy, happy and prosperous 2014 from your friends at Write for Wine!

Margot and Dave

Where is the Love?

Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 9.53.01 AMWe just got back from a trip to New York, where we played tourists for a weekend and had an incredible time.

That, despite a 20-degree snowstorm with high winds during an evening of a lot of walking around to see the lights and the sights.

So it was understandable that we wanted to take breaks to “come in from the cold” — and what better places than wine stores and wine bars? Since you’re reading this blog, we’re sure you’ll agree!

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 8.37.48 AM It was a very cold night. So we went into a lot of places to get warm. And we looked for Washington state wine.

We were not happy with the results.

One wine store had a couple of bottles from two Washington state wineries, on a shelf clearly marked “California.”

Another wine store said they only had one Washington state winery represented … until we pointed out a bottle from another one. The person helping us had no idea that bottle was from Washington state.

The third and fourth wine stores did not have any Washington wine whatsoever.

We didn’t fare much better at wine bars or even at restaurants with extensive wine lists.

We’re sure there are many good reasons why Washington state wineries don’t ship to New York – but we’d love to hear your take on it.

Meanwhile, we’re back at home, and loving our Washington wine.

There’s no wine like it!

Cheers!

Mackey Vineyards, Walla Walla

Cabernet Sauvignon, GSM, Syrah, Walla Walla, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 5.34.39 PMWe recently had the opportunity to taste wine described as “hidden gems” from Walla Walla: Mackey Vineyards 2009 Syrah ($32), 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($32) and 2009 Concordia ($38). We give a thumbs up to all three.

Mackey Vineyards was launched in 2010 by Philip and Roger Mackey, who collaborated with winemaker Billo Naravane of Rasa Vineyards. Although gaining some local acclaim, the portfolio is not very well known across the state. As a result, Write for Wine received these samples to taste – and we are glad.

2009 Mackey Vineyards Syrah, Walla Walla Valley

This wine manages to pack a wallop, while being silky and elegant at the same time. Big and beautiful, this Syrah has a lovely nose with aromas of blackberry, vanilla and minerals, and is full of flavors of spice, black pepper and smoked meat — a showcase of the way this grape is crafted in Washington state. We enjoyed it with Dave’s amazing spaghetti, but this robust wine would also go well with grilled meats, game, beef stew and meat lover’s pizza. This Mackey Syrah is strong enough to simply pair with some tasty cheese, too – a mild but smokey blue cheese or a white cheddar.

2009 Mackey Vineyards Concordia, Columbia Valley

This deep, dark red wine is a Rhone blend of 77.4% Syrah, 12.9% Grenache, and 9.7% Mourvedre. In some circles, this big, peppery combination is known as GSM. Frankly, unlike many of our friends and colleagues, we are not big fans of Mouvedre or Grenache as stand-alone wines; there are many good ones in Washington state, but they aren’t to our palates. So we were always hesitant to taste a wine that blends those two grapes with Syrah. That is, until about a year ago, when Seven of Hearts in Carlton, Oregon encouraged us to stretch our palates and wowed us with their version. Thanks to Seven of Hearts, we decided to try again with this Concordia, and we loved it. The 2009 Mackey Vineyards Concordia showcases flavors of white pepper, black fruits, dark chocolate and vanilla. Mackey describes it as complex and decadent, and we agree.

2009 Mackey Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

Our palates favor Bordeaux-style wines, so how could we not enjoy  a Cabernet Sauvignon that is rounded off with 15.8% Cabernet Franc and 5.3% Petit Verdot? This wine features a silky texture and good complexity, and we both talked about how it is a good every day wine to pair with some of our favorite home-cooked meals. But notably, we both also think it will age to become a special-occasion wine, if we cellar it for 5-8 years. In other words, it definitely is drinkable now, but has the potential to be be really powerful a few years down the road.

By the way, both the 2009 Mackey Vineyards Cab Sauv and Syrah won a gold at the 2012 Seattle Wine Awards and silver at the 2013 Tri-Cities Wine Festival last month. The 2009 Concordia received 92 points from The Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast, and 91 points from Wine Spectator.

Give all three a try and let us know what you think!

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Belated Thanks!

Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Thank you for your patience while our blog, Write for Wine – it’s Wine O’clock Somewhere, was offline for more than a week after being hacked. As a result, this Washington wine blog was not accessible during Thanksgiving.

We are thankful that you stayed with us, and we’d like to send belated Thanksgiving wishes to family, friends and our readers. We’re thankful for many, many things.

First, always is health and family, followed by good friends and good jobs. We’d also like to give thanks for any unknown blessings already on their way.

We are thankful that we’ve had an opportunity to become friends with many people at Washington wineries including:

Jarrod and Ali, Vida and Ross, Matt, Kathie, Rachel, Shanah and Carah at Alexandria Nicole Cellars; Rod, Leslie and Marcus at William Church Winery; Angie and Kevin, Daniel and Helen, Peter and Nancy at Efeste; Kevin and Rebecca at Barrage Cellars; Doug and Manny at Obelisco Estate; Bijal, Sinead and Jean Claude at The Woodhouse Wine Estates; Marie-Eve at Forgeron Cellars and Gilles at Long Shadows; Charlie, Jess and Cindy at Fidelitas Wines; Mike and Kate at Northwest Totem Cellars; Justin at Va Piano; Neil at Cooper Wine; John and Peggy at JM Cellars; Tim and Nancy at Fall Line; Judy and Don at Hard Row to Hoe; Hope at Heaven’s Cave; Chris at Gorman Winery; Darby at Darby Winery; Marty and Chris at Avennia; Trey at Sleight of Hand; Amber and Greg at Desert Wind; Bart at Bartholomew Wine; and Mike, Karen, John and Kelly Sauer of Red Willow Vineyard.

And a special shoutout to our Walla Walla gal-pals Jamie at L’Ecole 41; Muriel at Otis Kenyon; Shari at Woodward Canyon; and Catie at Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman; and to our special friends who are now in Walla Walla, Brennon and Paige Leighton.

Of course there are dozens of other fabulous friends and wine enthusiasts in Washington state, Oregon, California and other places — too many to name — and we wish you all the best too.

Happy belated Thanksgiving! Stay safe over the holiday season.

Cheers!

Margot and Dave

 

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