Last weekend I had the opportunity to go down to Woodinville, WA and try the wines from 4 different wineries. I’ve been travelling down to Woodinville every few months and going to a different set of wineries’ tasting rooms. I think I’ve counted about 96 tasting rooms, so going to 4 per trip will take me 24 trips.
Where is Woodinville?
It is located just north of Seattle. By car from Vancouver, excluding border wait, you should reach Woodinville in about 2.5 hours.
A great resource that shows you the location of the wineries and tasting rooms in Woodinville is “Guide to Woodinville Wine Country“. Click on the link for the listing plus a Google Map of the locations!
Which Wineries Did I Visit?
The 4 wineries I visited were:
- Novelty Hill / Januik
- Facelli Winery
- Baer Winery
- Barrage Cellars
These wineries varied in length of time in business and in size. The first winery was Novelty Hill / Januik. This is one of the larger wineries in Woodinville. It has its own custom-built building with a huge barrel room, and a very nice tasting room and small restaurant producing hand made pizzas. Novelty Hill and Januik produce high-quality wines. The difference is that the winemaker, Mike Januik owns the Januik label (and produces the wines), while Novelty Hill uses Mike’s winemaking skills to produce their wines. It can be a bit confusing. I went through many of their wines and here are my favourites:
- Januik 2010 Cold Creek Vineyard Chardonnay (US$30) – These grapes come from a Chateau Ste. Michelle vineyard. Medium golden in colour with a light pear aroma and sweet spices and oak. Medium body, dry and crisp on the palate. Creaminess with laser like precise acidity. Pear and vanilla flavours. Very elegant, not overly oaked.
- Novelty Hill 2008 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Merlot (US$28) – Light garnet colour. Smoky, raspberry and mocha nose. I really enjoyed the aromas from this wine. Medium body with red cherries and some oak. Fine tannins. Light and lingering fruit flavours on the finish.
Novelty Hill 2007 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (US$30) – A bit deeper garnet, compared to the Merlot. Lots of cassis aroma along with vanilla, juicy black fruit and a hint of dark chocolate. As the wine breathed in the glass I detected some capsicum aroma too. Full body, dry with fine tannins. Even though it was very full-bodied it felt light in your mouth. Ripe red and black fruit flavours with a peppery finish. It had a medium level of acidity to make this Cab very lively.
- Januik 2010 Bacchus Vineyard Riesling (US$20) – Light golden colour. Nice peach, melon and citrus aromas. Light body, round with medium-plus acidity. Citrus and stone fruit flavours upfront, with apples mid-palate. Crab apple flavours on the finish.
- Novelty Hill 2007 Late Harvest Semillon (in the $20 range) – This is a high-quality late harvest wine, but you must enjoy sweet wines, as this one is a bit sweeter than the average late harvest. Waxy, lemon, vanilla and mint aromas. Medium sweetness, very round mouthfeel with apples, stone fruit, vanilla and some citrus.
Facelli Winery was my next winery, just down the road from Novelty Hill. This winery is the exact opposite of Novelty Hill. It is family-run, with the husband, Louis Facelli, being the winemaker, and the entire family, children included, working the tasting room. I had the pleasure of speaking with Louis and Sandy about their wines. I picked o visit their winery because I saw that they have some Italian varietal wines, Barbera in particular. In my visit to Wind Rose Cellars in the Olympic Peninsula, there is very little Barbera planted; approximately 28 hectares (70 acres) around Red Mountain in 2011 (info from Washington Vineyard Acreage Report 2011). They produce wines from several Italian grape varieties as Louis is part Italian descent. Louis likes to over deliver on their wines compared to price, so you are going to get good value for any bottle you purchase.
It is interesting to note that Facelli is the 3rd winery to be established in Woodinville, some 30 years ago. The first winery was Chateau Ste. Michelle, and the second was Columbia Winery. They do not sell their wines through any outlets; you have to go to their winery to purchase their wines. It is well worth the trip in my opinion. Here are my wine picks from Facelli:
- Facelli Pinot Grigio 2010 – Watery straw colour. Lots of stone fruit on the nose. Quite round mouthfeel. Medium body, dry with light acidity. Stone fruit flavours.
- Facelli Barbera 2008 – Medium ruby in the glass. Light cherry, liquorice and some floweriness on the nose. Nice minerality on the palate, along with smokiness, cherries and some oak. This wine has lots of flavour. Medium length, light-body, low tannins. I picked up a bottle and can’t wait to enjoy it with friends. My favourite wine from Facelli.
- Facelli Sangiovese 2008 – Pale garnet colour. Light strawberry, cherry and plum aromas. Light body with plums, strawberries and cherry flavours. Higher acidity with low tannins. A hint of smokiness on the finish and some pepperiness on the tip of your tongue.
- Facelli Primitivo 2008 – Pale garnet in colour. Smoke and raspberry on the nose. Medium minus body, dry, cherry, raspberry leaf and smokey flavours. Higher acidity.
Baer Winery started in 2000, so is one of the newer wineries in Woodinville. It is run by the Baer family. They produce two wines; both are red blends. Ursa 2009 is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Franc, with lesser amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc, and Malbec, while Arctos 2009 is another Bordeaux blend, with Cabernet Sauvignon as the primary grape, followed by Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. By the time I reached the tasting room, they had poured all their Arctos for the day, so I only had a chance to try the Ursa.
- Baer Ursa 2009 – Nice medium ruby colour. Cedar, blueberries and ripe dark fruit aromas. Full body, dry with medium tannins. Ripe black fruit, plums and vanilla flavours with some cocoa on the mid-palate. Quite a plush mouthfeel. Medium length.
I was introduced to Barrage Cellars in November 2011, during the Taste of Tulalip event. Barrage was selected as the winery to produce a special blend for this event, held at the Tulalip Casino (Early bird tickets are on sale for the 2012 event. I suggest buying them as it is a top notch wine and food event.). I remembered the quality of their wine, and sought out the winery on my next trip to Woodinville. I was happy to meet and talk with winemaker and owner, Mr. Kevin Correll about his wines. He produces red, white, and rose wines. Here are my picks:
- Barrage Rose 2011 – This is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot and 20% Syrah. Quite a blend. Pale cherry colour. Very nice red summer fruit nose. Light body with soft mouthfeel. Strawberry flavours. Off-dry. Very nice to sip for the summer.
- Barrage Nuclear Blonde Chardonnay 2009 – Watery lemon colour in the glass. Light citrus and lees greet your nose. Light body with a soft creamy texture. Dry with pears, citrus, and a bit of spice on the finish. Very elegant.
- Barrage Trifecta Merlot 2008 – Pale garnet in colour. Lots of violets on the nose as well as cloves. Medium body, round with lots of ripe plums, cassis and cherries. Round mouthfeel, with soft tannins and medium acidity. Cloves and spice on the finish. Very tasty.
- Barrage Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 – The grapes for this blend come from 4 separate vineyards. Deep garnet in the glass. Light cassis, mocha and red fruit nose. Nice flavours of anise, plums, blackberries and blueberries. Round and dry in the mouth with medium acidity. Vanilla on the finish.
If you have never been to Woodinville, I highly recommend the trip. There are so many wineries to choose from, and they are all fairly clustered so it is an easy drive, or an easy walk, to many of them. If you have a favourite Woodinville winery, please post your comment. I love to get feedback. Enjoy!