Woodinville is far from the state’s vineyards, but it has long been home to Washington’s oldest and best-known winery. And thanks to the success of that producer — Chateau Ste. Michelle — more than 70 wineries and tasting rooms now crowd that city.
Ste. Michelle opened its chateau in 1976. At the time, few understood the move to what was then a remote area of King County. But wine lovers came in droves, and today more than 300,000 visit Ste. Michelle each year for wine tasting, events and concerts.
With this foundation, Woodinville has grown to a superb destination. Between new wineries that call Woodinville home and producers that have opened satellite tasting rooms, visitors will find more than 70 places to visit.
One can easily spend a long weekend in Woodinville or make it an afternoon trip.
Here are a few wines from Woodinville producers we’ve tasted recently. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or order directly from the wineries.
Pondera Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $28:
This big, bold wine opens with aromas of boysenberries, black tea, blueberries, mint and fresh-out-of-the-oven brownies. It’s a big wine in every way and should be enjoyed with grilled meats.
Baer Winery 2009 Ursa, Columbia Valley, $39:
A blend of Cabernet Franc (44 percent), Merlot (38 percent), Cabernet Sauvignon (9 percent) and Malbec, this brings hints of blueberry cobbler, dried cranberry, violet and sweet oak tones of tobacco and black pepper. The drink is dang delicious with its theme of inky blue fruit, bittersweet chocolate and Aussie black licorice.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2008 Ethos Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $38:
The attraction begins with its inky nose of black cherry extract and includes raspberry, root beer and woodruff, backed by humidor aromas and the cured meat mark of Syrah. This wine should continue to evolve for the next five to eight years. In the meantime, enjoy with a porterhouse.
William Church Winery 2009 Philip’s Vintage Gamache Vineyard Malbec, Columbia Valley, $30:
This Bordeaux variety is made with a fruit-forward approach that’s filled with intoxicating aromas of blueberry, boysenberry, plum, dried currant, fresh fig, chai and Jolly Rancher grape candy. There’s not much oak, little tannin and delicious pie cherry acidity. It’s polished off with hints of black olive and mocha espresso.
Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman are the editors of Wine Press Northwest magazine. For more information, go to www.winepressnw.com.