When we left Walla Walla in late June en route to a weekend party in Montana, we made a spontaneous decision to stop in Spokane and see Greg Lipsker, owner and skilled winemaker of Barrister Winery. We couldn’t stay long, but that didn’t prevent Greg from pouring a few excellent wines. Greg has a large portfolio of beautiful wines, all of which have the signature style of a soft mouthfeel and gentle tannins. Contributing to this style is a unique story – the wines are “train settled.” What does this mean? Read on for details.
Barrister Train-Settled Wine
What exactly does train-settled wine mean? Barrister winemaker and owner Greg Lipsker explains: “Barrister’s barrel room, where the wines age anywhere from 1.5 to four years, is located under the train trestle for the BNSF Railroad. Every time a train passes overhead, its movement gently vibrates the barrels, helping the solids settle out very efficiently.
“Most wineries rack their wines three times while aging in the barrel. Because of this gentle train vibration, Barrister wines are only racked once. More than 25,000 trains a year pass overhead. By the time a Barrister Cabernet Sauvignon is ready to be bottled, the wine has been ‘gently shaken, not stirred’ more than 70,000 times. We are the only winery in Washington to have train-settled wine.” In other words, Barrister wines rock!
First, during our June visit, we tasted 2020 Cabernet Franc ($35). We have loved this Cab Franc for years, and the 2020 vintage continues that tradition. Greg blended 5% Petit Verdot with the Cab Franc, which adds more flavor and a generous finish. This 2020 is rich and velvety, with notes of toasted oak, plums, oranges, cherries and spices. Its popularity put Barrister on the wine map — not just regionally, but in national and international competitions as well. The winery also helped elevate the status of Cab Franc as a single variety in Washington. It’s definitely what drew us to the winery around 2005, and keeps us coming back.
Next, Greg poured 2019 Sangiovese Red Mountain ($37), which received 96 points and a Double Gold in the 2023 Sunset International Wine Competition. This is 95% Sangiovese from the Estate Block at Kiona Vineyards on Red Mountain, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon from Seven Hills Vineyard in Walla Walla. The power and structure of Red Mountain shines in every sip. We adored it. Elegant, yet juicy and fresh, this earthy, smooth Sangiovese features red fruits and vanilla, with hints of citrus and spices.
Before we left, Greg opened a not-yet-released 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2023 Sunset International Wine Competition also awarded 96 points to this wine and a Double Gold. This 100% Cab Sauv comprises 95% fruit from Pepper Bridge Vineyard and 5% from Summit View. My notes simply say: “How does this wine taste so good when it has not yet been released? Wow. We can only imagine its magnificence once aged.” This gorgeous full-bodied Cab opens with pretty aromas, and then belts you with deep flavors of red, black and blue fruit, along with hints of vanilla, cocoa, cassis and a touch of earthiness.
In conclusion, we spent a brief, but captivating, time with Greg Lipsker at Barrister Winery, and he remains as engaging as his wines — a true storyteller. We highly recommend a stop at his tasting room, whenever you’re near Spokane.
Margot and Dave