MyWinePal Visits Woodinville Washington Wineries – March 2011

This is my second trip to Woodinville to taste the wines from Washington State. In my first review I visited Chateau Ste Michelle, Airfield Estates, E.B. Foote, and Castle Bridge. You can read about my first Woodinville Wine Tour – Part 1 and Part 2 here.

In this trip I tried wines from Ross Andrew Winery, Dusted Valley Vintners, Amavi / Pepper Bridge Winery, and gifford hirlinger. Most of the wineries you will visit in Woodinville will be sourcing their grapes from vineyards in SE Washington state.  Walla Walla and Horse Heaven Hills are two AVAs that you will hear about.  The largest AVA is Columbia Valley. Some other AVAs are Wahluke Slope,  Rattlesnake Hills, Columbia Gorge, and Red Mountain.  There are a few more, but maybe I’ll cover WA state AVAs in another article for you.

I primarily tasted red wines from these latest wineries in part due to there being less white wine, and many of the white wines being sold out. Let me give you a peek into these 4 wineries.

Ross Andrew Winery

Ross Andrew Winery gets their grapes from Red Mountain, Horse Heaven Hills,  Columbia Gorge, and Columbia Valley and Yakima Valley AVA. The wines that they were pouring were all outstanding in my opinion.  They served one of the few white wines I tried during this tasting trip.

  • Ross Andrew Winery Celilo Vineyard, Pinot Gris, Columbia Gorge AVA 2009 was medium lemon in colour.  There was melon, peach and a slight bit of orange peel on the nose.  Very ripe fruit aromas of peach and nectarine.  Vanilla and sweet spice to complete the aroma profile.  Round mouth feel, medium body and off-dry.  A very nice wine.
  • Ross Andrew Winery Syrah / Cabernet Blend, Columbia Valley AVA 2006 is 35% Syrah and 65% Cabernet. It was deep purple in the glass.  Smoke, vanilla, dark ripe fruit, and cassis aromas. Medium body and smooth on the palate. Flavours of cocoa, dark cherry, cassis and a bit of meatiness.  Some spice on the finish.
  • Ross Andrew Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley AVA 2006 is primarily Cab, but does have 17% Merlot to add some softness to the Cab.  This wine was medium garnet in colour.  Cassis and smoke on the nose.  Medium body with savory flavours, soft fine tannins and medium length.  A very elegant wine.
  • Ross Andrew Winery Boushey Vineyard Syrah, Columbia Valley AVA 2008 is 100% Syrah. Beautiful deep purple colour. Some barnyard, smoke, meat, and blueberry aromas in the glass. Full body with bright acidity.  Cassis and ripe blueberry flavours with a bit of vanilla.  Long length with soft tannins.  You can’t go wrong with this wine.  I loved the acidity making this wine quite lively.
  • GLAZE Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley AVA 2008. GLAZE is a 2nd label for the Ross Andrew Winery. This is the wine left over from blending their premium wines.  This wine was $15, which is a great deal, as the wine should be in the low $20’s.  This wine was deep purple in colour.  Lots of vanilla, dark fruit and some meaty aromas. Quite round mouthfeel with black cherries and vanilla flavour.  Lots of fruit up front and lacking a bit on the mid-palate (some of their Merlot would fit here).  But overall an enjoyable wine at a nice price point.

Dusted Valley Vintners

Dusted Valley Vintners are formed by Corey Brunel and Chad Johnson, who are brother-in-law to two sisters, Janet and Cindy.  All 4 were raised in Wisconsin.  Chad and his wife Janet convinced Corey and Cindy, to move west to Walla Walla and start a winery in 2003.  Fast forward to now, they have a 4000 case facility and are winning many medals for their wines.   One notable item is that some of their wines are aged in Wisconsin oak barrels, tipping their hat to their Wisconsin heritage.

I was able to taste 7 wines during this trip, with one wine being a late harvest Syrah (which is a first for me to try):

  • Dusted Valley Wallywood, Columbia Valley 2009.  This is a fun label name combining Walla Walla with Woodinville, where their tasting room is located. The wine is a blend of Syrah (63%) with lesser amounts of Grenache (30%) and Mourvedre (7%). Nice purple colour in the glass.  Dark fruit nose with a bit of spice.  Full body with ripe cherries, mocha vanilla, and a hint of capsicum.  Medium tannins and medium length.
  • Dusted Valley Tall Tales Syrah, Walla Walla 2008. The Tall Tales name comes from their grandfather who would tell one of the wine makers tall tales of things he had done in his life. This is a Reserve level wine, and this vintage was just released in November 2010. There is 7% Viognier co-fermented with the Syrah, which adds a flowery component to the Syrah and makes it even more extracted in colour and flavour. This method of co-fermentation of Syrah with Viognier originates in the Rhone Valley in France.  Think Hermitage.  A very nice nose on this wine with cassis, smoke and oak.  Round mouthfeel with firm tannins.  Spice, cassis, cherry and vanilla flavours.  Still a baby in the bottle, so buy it now and let it age in your cellar for a year or two before opening and enjoying this wine.
  • Dusted Valley Malbec, Columbia Valley 2008. Primarily Malbec with 4% Cabernet Sauvignon blended in to this wine. Big legs on the side of the glass. Light nose with vanilla, cherry and a bit of banana.  It is quite round on the palate with chocolate ,vanilla and sour cherry flavours.
  • Dusted Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla 2008.  This is a newly released vintage and has a bit of Cab Franc and Merlot blended into it. Deep garnet in colour. Restrained nose with cherry and vanilla aromas.  Full body with quite firm tannins.  Dark cherry and vanilla on the palate, with a very dry finish. Another youngster from the barrel, so give this wine a few years in the cellar before you open it and enjoy it on a summer BBQ.
  • Dusted Valley Grenache, Columbia Valley 2009. This was such a wonderful wine.  Just the right balance of fruit, tannins, and acidity.  The wine was medium garnet in colour.  Cherry, vanilla and smoky aromas.  Raspberry, cherry, and vanilla on the palate.  Medium bodied with a raspberry finish.
  • Dusted Valley Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley 2008. A small lot production.  Only 2 barrels were produced (making 140 cases). Deep garnet in the glass.  Black cherry, cedar, and vanilla on the nose.  Medium body, off-dry with cedar, cherry and vanilla flavours.  Round mouthfeel.  This wine is 17% alcohol, but surprisingly not hot.

Amavi Cellars / Pepper Bridge Winery

Pepper Bridge Winery practices sustainable viticulture, remaining committed to the long-term viability of the wine making industry in the Walla Walla Valley. They have a second label, Amavi Cellars, where they produce wines which are targeted to restaurants to pour by the glass.  This does not mean that Amavi is not a quality label.  The 2 Amavi wines I tried were very high quality.

  • Amavi Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley 2008. This wine is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, with lesser amounts of Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc  blended in.  French, Hungarian, and American oak are used on this wine. It had aromas of dark fruit and cedar. On the palate, it was full bodied, lots of fruit.  Cassis, black cherry and plum, along with vanilla. Very firm yet find grained tannins.
  • Amavi Cellars Syrah, Walla Walla Valley 2008. This is 100% syrah. Deep purple coloured. Light ripe berry nose. Blueberry, dark fruit and vanilla on the palate. Lots of fruit.
  • Pepper Bridge Winery Merlot, Walla Walla Valley 2007. This Merlot has a bit of Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon blended in. 100% French oak for this wine. Medium garnet in colour.  Light raspberry, cherry, chocolate and vanilla aromas. Firm tannins up front.  Round mouthfeel with medium body.  Cherries, chocolate and vanilla all the way through from the start, mid-palate , and through to the finish.
  • Pepper Bridge Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley 2007.  This ultra-premium wine is made from 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot. 100% French oak, and 21 months in the barrel. Deep garnet in the glass.  Dark fruits, plum and vanilla on the nose. Full body, dry with medium plus tannins.  A good amount of fruit to balance out the tannins.  Plums, cassis and vanilla flavours.  Very dry finish.  The tannins make this wine too strong to drink now, but buy it and give it a few years for the tannins to soften and you will be rewarded.
  • Pepper Bridge Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley 2006.  This wine is made from 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot. Compared to 2007, it appears that the climate may have been a bit warmer in 2006 as a higher amount of Cabernet Sauvignon was used.  Cab Sauv needs heat to ripen, so having a higher percentage to me indicates a warmer vintage. It is amazing what one year difference can make for a vintage.  This wine is drinking excellent now.  I really enjoyed tasting this wine.  Deep garnet in the glass.  Meaty, cassis, and mocha on the nose. Full body, with cassis, plum and dark cherry flavours. Tannins kick in around the mid palate.  It finishes with a long length.

gifford hirlinger

This is a family run winery, started in 2001. I was speaking with the sister of the wine maker as I sipped their wines.  I unfortunately did not have a tasting sheet from the winery, so no detailed notes.  I was able to try their Stateline Red, 2008 Estate Malbec, 2008 Estate Merlot, and 2006 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The Stateline Red is a blend of 6 varietals including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Tinta Cao, Tempranillo, and Petit Verdot.  It is a very easy to drink wine and would go well with many dishes.  I also really liked their 2008 Estate Malbec.  It is a blend of 79% Malbec, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Tempranillo. I remember good fruit and a bit of earthiness to this wine, which I enjoy.

So that’s all my notes for Woodinville Wineries Trip #2.  I am looking forward to trips #3 and more.  There’s lots of wine to discover in Washington State.  Cheers!


Author: mywinepal
Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.