Hard Row to Hoe has been one of our favorite Washington wineries for years. If you ever get a chance to visit their tasting room in Lake Chelan Valley, take it! We first visited in 2016, and were delighted to go back this past summer.
First of all, the name of the winery itself has two meanings — one obviously related to vineyard management; the other is racy! For the full story, see our 2016 post. Above all, Hard Row to Hoe makes really good wine.
During our recent visit, co-owner and winemaker Judy Phelps poured many of her winning wines, whose names reflect those racy stories.
2018 Hard Row to Hoe Shameless Hussy Rosé ($25)
This is an aromatic, zesty and crisp Grenache-based Rosé in the Provence style. A pretty nose leads into flavors of strawberries and cherries, and makes us think of sunny days. Yes, this is a beautiful summer sipper, but it is also good all year round with seafood, triple cream cheeses or salads. This vintage sold out quickly, so keep your eye out for a new release from this wonderful Chelan winery.
2016 Hard Row to Hoe Burning Desire Estate Cabernet Franc ($55)
Welcome to one of our favorite Cab Francs in WA year after year. Judy crafts this rich velvety-smooth 100% Cab Franc, but she also credits her husband, co-owner and vineyard manager Don Phelps, who she says spends time every day in the organically-farmed vineyard to make the grapes so flavorful. We have several vintages in our cellar. This beauty features dark cherry, blueberry and plum flavors with hints of dark chocolate, coffee and licorice. Wine critic Jeb Dunnuck said, “It’s possibly the finest wine I’ve tasted from this appellation.”
2016 Hard Row to Hoe S&M ($40)
We loved this wonderful Syrah-Malbec blend so much that we brought some home with us. We recently shared it with friends and were reminded of Judy’s comment during our time with her at the tasting room: “So good it hurts.” This vintage splits the grapes 50-50, and it is one big beauty of a wine. From the gorgeous nose to the bold flavors of black and blue fruits, S&M is a textured, balanced and intense wine.
2016 Hard Row to Hoe Syrah ($38)
This is an elegant, savory Syrah, showcasing this grape’s true characteristics. Violets and black and blue fruits on the nose lead into notes of blueberries, blackberries, pepper, milk chocolate, licorice and a hint of coffee. According to Judy, Lake Chelan offers a unique expression of this grape, distinguishing the local terroir from the rest of Washington state. Pair this wine with ribs, grilled meats or spicy spaghetti and meat balls.
2016 Hard Row to Hoe Cabernet Sauvignon ($55)
This excellent 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from Red Mountain grapes, which we adore. Specifically, the Cab comes from Kiona’s award-winning Heart of the Hill Vineyard. Velvety and smooth, this is one rich, powerful Cab. It features layers of dense flavors, including cassis, blackberries, cedar, baking spices and graphite. Wine critic Jeb Dunnuck said “It’s another seamless, layered wine from this estate that does everything right.”
2016 Hard Row to Hoe Petite Sirah ($40)
Oh my, we love this rich, brooding 100% Petite Sirah. Similarly, it’s another powerful, beautiful, full-bodied red wine sourced from Red Mountain grapes. Bottled “unfined and unfiltered,” Judy thinks it’s one of the most exciting wines she’s made to date. According to Judy, “this wine will age gracefully and will benefit with an hour decanting.” Petite Sirah is best paired with fatty meats like rib-eye steaks, pork or juicy burgers.
2016 Hard Row to Hoe Pinot Noir ($40)
During this visit to Chelan, we tasted Hard Row’s Pinot Noir for the first time. Most noteworthy, it won’t be the last. This 2016 Pinot Noir showcases florals, cherries and strawberries on the nose, with flavors of spice and red fruit. Judy elected to ferment it with native yeasts and bottle it without fining or filtering, “for pure expression of that sense of place.” It pairs well with turkey, salmon or duck. Consequently, we will be opening a bottle with Thanksgiving dinner – possibly both on the Canadian holiday next week and for the U.S. Thanksgiving next month!
These are our some of our favorites in Hard Row’s extensive lineup, but there are many more. First of all, you can purchase their wines on their website. Likewise, you can find some labels at certain wine shops. Most importantly, you can also buy them at the winery tasting room. And we highly recommend a visit if you are even remotely close to Lake Chelan.
Margot and Dave