The Allure of Washington’s Boutique Wineries

Sandi Everingham: As “wanna-be-wine-snobs” who focus on Washington State’s vino scene, we’re often asked for winery recommendations. It can be challenging for newer wine fans to know where to begin with over 1000 wineries to choose from.

Dave Adams: Sandi, I find it challenging just to remember where my car keys are, so keeping up with the monster growth of Washington wine requires some serious effort. We’ve discovered some of our favorite wines at boutique wineries, most of whom produce 2,500–10,000 cases annually. I believe this is where you’ll often find the most ambitious products our state has to offer and where experimentation is still possible because many are self-governed.

SE: You’ll find these wineries guided by industry veterans, consulting pros, super side-hustlers and rising stars—many with critical accolades. Washington is steadily grabbing the spotlight on the national and world scene.

DA: Our bloated wine cellar, ad hoc storage space and unorganized wine fridge are primarily populated by selections from those boutique wineries.

SE: I’m ready to send Marie Kondo a DM, Dave.

DA: I think you’ll agree that all of those bottles “spark joy.” Let’s add some joy to your tasting adventure list with four standout vintners who are creating exciting wines that deserve your attention.

Succession Wines

One area that vacationing Washington wine fans flock to is Lake Chelan-home to boating fun and over 30 wineries. We fell in love with one of the newer wineries in Manson, Succession Wines, and joined their club during our first visit. Winemaker Brock Lindsay uses fruit from the Lake Chelan AVA (American Viticultural Area) and many Columbia Valley sub-AVAs to make his elegant, fruit-forward wines that show excellent consistency and quality.

 

Try the 2018 Rosé and the 2017 Cabernet Franc with black cherry and leather flavors. Brock also aged 100% sauvignon blanc for six months in new French oak barrels which will make you rethink this varietal. The fruit and acid hold form beautifully with a layer of complexity from the wood staves.

 

Don’t miss the warm and sleek tasting room which opens up to patio seating where live music can often be heard. Oh, and if you spot a massive white teddy bear, that’s just Larry, the winery dog.

Force Majeure Vineyards

Winemaker, Todd Alexander, has an illustrious history devising $500 cult cabs in Napa, but it’s his involvement with this label that’s been gaining attention
since 2014.

 

Todd sources his grapes from the prestigious Red Mountain AVA and the renowned The Rocks District AVA. We are especially obsessed with the savory flavor profile that only The Rocks can provide to syrah and grenache.

 

Todd’s 2016 syrah from SJR Vineyard recently garnered a coveted 100 points from wine reviewer Jeb Dunnuck.

 

If you want to start collecting this wine, now is the time to join the mailing list while they’re still growing. Acquisition allotments are limited, and prices range from $70 to $100, so not your everyday porch-sippers. Check out Todd’s secondary label, Parabellum, for wines in the $38-48 range.

Elephant Seven Winery

Let’s swerve this wine bus closer to the porch, shall we? Next stop: Elephant Seven. They first caught our attention because of their name—an ode to a legendary indie rock music label, but they kept our attention with their sublime wines.

 

Winemaker Joshua West’s skills have created the kind of buzz that quickly sells out his inventory. We’re huge fans of his 2017 Yellow Bird Vineyard Grenache and the 2018 Blue Mountain Vineyard Viognier.

 

Elephant Seven wisely opened their new, rock poster-chic tasting room a few blocks away from the crowded downtown wine scene where Joshua can often be found pouring his new tasting room exclusives like the 2018 Syrah “Mix” and getting to know his customers.

Upsidedown Wine

In 2005, the Kitzke family transformed their Richland, WA fruit orchards into grape vineyards. They started the Kitzke label with industry legend Charlie Hoppes, with whom Seth Kitzke later apprenticed.

 

Seth not only took over as winemaker for the family label, he has created a new legacy with his business partner-wife Audrey at Upsidedown Wine. The savory, smoky 2016 Artist Series Syrah from Yakima Valley fruit blew us away, and their refreshingly crisp 2018 Rescue Rosé is the only rosé made from nebbiolo in Washington.

 

Find selections from both the Kitzke label and Upsidedown Wine at Kitzke Cellars high atop the soon-to-be-designated Candy Mountain AVA in Richland. If those killer panoramic views aren’t enough, we highly recommend making a stop at the new Upsidedown tasting room in Hood River, OR—a town Wine Enthusiast named their Best Wine Destination of 2017.

 

Upsidedown is created with skill, intention and heart. Seth and Audrey give back 20% of net proceeds to causes like The Humane Society and A21’s fight against human trafficking. So, drink Upsidedown and give back.

Elephant Seven Winery
134 W Poplar | Walla Walla, WA 99362 
206.679.8705 | elephantsevenwine.com 

Force Majeure Vineyards
52274 Pleasant View | Milton Freewater, OR 97862
541.833.3051 | forcemajeurevineyards.com

Succession Wines
78 Swartout Road | Manson, WA 98831
509.888.7611 | successionwines.com

Upsidedown Wine
311 Oak Street | Hood River, OR 97031
541.436.3851 | drinkupsidedownwine.com

Dave Adams and Sandi Everingham of the Decanted Podcast take us around the state and introduce us to some of their favorite Washington growers, winemakers and industry professionals.

For more from Dave and Sandi, visit decantedpodcast.com or search for Decanted on your favorite podcast platform!

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