Yellowstone Cellars

Yellowstone Cellars SignYellowstone Cellars is a must-stop visit, if you’re anywhere near Billings, Montana. We spent a party weekend at the winery, and were impressed with both the wines and the laid-back, warm atmosphere. Winery founder Clint Peck, and his daughter and son-in-law, Sarah and Brandon Skarsten, who now own the winery, kindly invited us to join their family members and friends to celebrate many milestone birthdays and anniversaries — including those of our good friends and neighbors, Jill and Ken Peck. So, after our June road trip through Washington wine country, we drove to Yellowstone Cellars. And we discovered the Skarstens and the Pecks treat friends like family, and customers like friends.

Yellowstone Cellars & Winery Story

Yellowstone BarrelsWinery founder Clint Peck, a fourth-generation Montana rancher, established Yellowstone Cellars & Winery in 2010, offering “serious wines from Big Sky Country.” Subsequently, he sold it to his daughter Sarah, and her winemaker husband, Brandon Skarsten. “If there is anything we’ve learned from Clint, it’s if you have a dream, and 99% of people think you’re crazy… go for it!”

The family-owned winery sources grapes from the Yakima Valley here in Washington state. They travel to the vineyards and transport all the grapes back to Billings, 13 hours after picking. Subsequently, crush, fermentation, barrel-aging and bottling all take place on site in Montana. Total production ranges from 3,000-4,000 cases.

Sarah, who is co-owner and tasting room manager, said: “We are proud to be a family-owned and operated business with deep Montana roots. We love to share our story and passion for wine with everyone who walks through our door.”

As a result, Yellowstone Cellars offers complimentary tastings seven days a week, with no reservations, and live music on Friday and Saturday nights. You can also purchase glasses of really good wine and tasty dishes while you’re enjoying the tunes. (For example, we had yummy flatbreads.) If you’re lucky, Sarah and Brandon’s talented and beautiful daughter, Ariana, will be performing. She has an absolutely amazing voice.

Yellowstone Wines

Three WinesAs mentioned, Brandon and Sarah are passionate about wine, just like Clint. And they love sharing it with family, friends and customers. Certainly, we had an excellent experience. And we brought these three varieties home with us.

2022 Chenin Blanc ($25) is a dry, crisp white wine – perfect for summer afternoons and evenings. Pear aromas echo the palate, along with citrus, apples and melons. We drank glasses of it over the party weekend, and intend to open it at home to complement seafood dishes – unless we pair it with the deck during happy hour instead.

2019 Syrah ($26) is big, bold and beautiful. It was our go-to red with Montana barbecue over the weekend. Co-fermented with 3% Viognier, we adored its aromas and flavors of dark fruits, pepper, spices and cassis. Hopefully, Dave will make his wonderful spaghetti and meatballs to serve with this delicious red.

2019 Cabernet Franc ($28) tastes as fabulous as the previous vintage, which Jill and Ken Peck poured for us last year.  Wow, what a mouthfeel. This is a velvety, balanced and structured 100% Cab Franc. It opens with aromas of red fruit, licorice, chocolate and hints of vanilla, mirrored on the palate. As well, Sarah also poured us barrel samples of an already-amazing 2022 Cabernet Franc, which will be a killer wine after two more years in the barrel.

2019 Rimrock RedIn addition, we also tasted 2019 Rimrock Red ($25), which has that lip-smacking potential due to some voluptuous Petit Verdot (50%) and about 25% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Spicy black fruit (think blackberries), threaded with minerality, makes us look forward to tasting this again in a few years. Brandon and Sarah found the inspiration for their signature Rimrock Red from “the unique sandstone cliffs carved over the centuries by the Yellowstone River.”

Summary: Yellowstone Cellars & Winery

In conclusion, if you’re anywhere near Billings, we highly recommend you stop by Yellowstone Cellars & Winery. You’ll stay (and come back) for the friendliness, the warmth, and of course, for the wines.

Meanwhile, find us on Instagram, Facebook and of course, here, at Write for Wine – It’s Wine O’Clock Somewhere.

Margot and Dave