Grand Rêve, French for “great dream,” was founded in 2004 by Paul McBride and Ryan Johnson. Grand Rêve takes a unique approach to making wine, pairing top Washington winemakers with fruit from one of the state’s top vineyards – Ciel du Cheval on Red Mountain. Johnson, who serves as vineyard manager for Ciel, selects the blocks to be used for the project. Johnson also manages Cadence’s Cara Mia, Quilceda’s Galitzine Estate, and DeLille’s Grand Ciel vineyards – an exceptionally impressive portfolio.

Grand Rêve begun its Collaboration Series in 2004. Thus far winemakers they have partnered with have included Ben Smith, of Cadence Winery (Release I); Mark McNeilly, of Mark Ryan Winery (II); Ross Mickel of Ross Andrew Winery (III); Carolyn Lakewold of Dondei (IV); and Chris Gorman of Gorman Winery (V). The first three of these wines were released earlier this year. Most recently, Grand Rêve announced Syncline Wine Cellar’s James Mantone would serve as winemaker for Release VI.

At the picnic for the Auction of Washington Wines last week, Grand Rêve provided barrel samples of Chris Gorman’s Release No. 5. This wine, from the 2008 vintage, is 88% Grenache and 12% Syrah. While quiet on the nose at present with Ciel’s tell-tale earth and floral aromas just starting to emerge, Release No. 5 glides beautifully across the palate with well-integrated oak. This wine continues what seems to be an increasing trend in Washington of high alcohol levels – clocking in at a whopping 15.8%. The planned released date is Spring 2010.

While Grand Rêve is currently focusing its efforts on Ciel du Cheval, the winery has plans to use its own estate fruit in the future. Two years ago the winery planted an estate vineyard on Red Mountain, high on the hillside above Col Solare’s facility on Antinori Road. The winery worked with geologist Alan Busacca to determine which varietals and clones would best match the soil. As a result, the plantings are a patchwork that twist and turn. The first fruit from this estate vineyard is expected next year.

Grand Rêve’s tasting room, which opened in March of 2009, is located in Woodinville. The tasting room is open Saturdays and by appointment.