Côte Bonneville is one of the few estate wineries in Washington State. In other words, all their wine is made from fruit from their estate DuBrul Vineyard. And this year, DuBrul is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Congratulations! DuBrul is recognized as one of the top vineyards in WA. Some of the state’s most admired wineries source its grapes. For example, Quilceda Creek and Long Shadows produce wine with DuBrul grapes. Moreover, Wine Advocate called Côte Bonneville winemaker Kerry Shiels “a master of her craft, creating brilliant wines of great complexity.” Read on for more details.
Thirty years ago, Hugh and Kathy Shiels envisioned a vineyard with key characteristics for growing world-class wine. They looked for, and found, a vineyard site on steep south-facing hills, with poor soil quality and various aspects and elevations for proper ripening. This was the beginning of DuBrul Vineyard in Yakima Valley.
Basalt bedrock and a thin layer of loess combine with river rock and mineral deposits from the Columbia River. Over the decades, refinements in irrigation, canopy management, disease control and sustainability helped plant the right varieties in the right places.
Consequently, some of the state’s most respected wineries source grapes from DuBrul. For instance, Quilceda Creek, Woodward Canyon, Long Shadows, DeLille Cellars, Betz and Avennia produce wine with DuBrul grapes. As well, Côte Bonneville never exceeds 25% of its estate grapes for its own wine production.
And now, Hugh and Kathy, along with their daughter and current winemaker Kerry, are celebrating the 30-year anniversary of DuBrul. When we asked Kerry how it feels to reach this milestone, she quoted her dad, Hugh.
“When we started, we never knew how special this vineyard would be and that such unique flavors would come from this terroir. It’s been an incredible treat to see the responses to the wines produced from this vineyard from people around the world.”
In 2001, the Shiels founded Côte Bonneville, a winery to showcase their DuBrul grapes in classic, age-worthy styles. These days, their daughter Kerry brings her UC Davis education and global winemaking experience to the winery. For example, Wine Advocate lavished praise on Kerry’s 2013 Côte Bonneville Cabernet Sauvignon.
“Winemaker Kerry Shiels is a master of her craft, creating brilliant wines of great complexity, deserving of a lock-box case at your local boutique wine shop. This luxurious and sophisticated Cabernet Sauvignon will undoubtedly make most drinkers do a double-take when tasting it for the first time, as it possesses all of the qualities of a cult wine in the making.”
Côte Bonneville Wines
We recently met with Kerry when she visited our area for a wine event. We brought home three wines: Côte Bonneville Syrah 2014, Carriage House Red Wine 2014 and Train Station Cabernet Sauvignon 2017. So far, we’ve only opened the Syrah, which is elegant and classic. Aromas of red berries and black cherries are mirrored on the palate, along with notes of chocolate, spices and anise. Most importantly, this wine will cellar for at least five more years.
Kerry also crafted several other current releases: Riesling, Cabernet Franc Rosé, Chardonnay, Train Station Red and their flagship, Côte Bonneville Cab-Merlot blend.
We really enjoyed spending a couple of hours with Kerry. We had a good chat about why owning a 100% estate winery is so important to her family.
“In the U.S., it’s really rare to have a 100% estate winery. But this is how you have the most control over the whole process. We can make more of an impact to achieving a desired wine style by changing something in the vineyard than I ever can in the cellar. Great wine starts in the vineyard, which is where the winemaker needs to be.”
In addition to Côte Bonneville, she noted that other estate wineries in our region include Cayuse, Reynvaan, Alexandria Nicole Cellars, Kiona, Two Mountain and Airfield.
Summary: DuBrul Vineyard
In conclusion, we wish Kerry Shiels and her family Happy 30th Anniversary for DuBrul Vineyard. What an accomplishment.
According to Wine Advocate, “If you don’t know about this winery, it’s time to get it in gear.” We did – and Côte Bonneville is now on our list of favorite Washington wineries.
Note: Photo credit goes to Côte Bonneville and DuBrul Vineyard for all photos except for the wine bottles.
Margot and Dave