Cooper Wine Company, located on Red Mountain, is a new winery that had its first releases at the end of 2009. The winery is named after owner Neil Cooper. Cooper had been working in the farming and seed business for ten years when he felt it was time for a change. With lots of involvement from “corporate America” as well as a downturn in the economy resulting in a surplus of seeds, he began to look elsewhere. Sometimes bad circumstances provide the best inspiration. “As the economy continued to remain uncertain, I made an inconceivable decision to shut down farming operations and put all resources into the wine business on Red Mountain,” he says.

Cooper met Fidelitas winemaker Charlie Hoppes in 2002 through a mutual friend. When he decided to enter the wine business, turning to Hoppes as consulting winemaker was a logical choice. Enthusiastic, humble, and immediately likeable, Cooper – Coop to his friends – describes himself as a novice at winemaking saying “I am…on a very quick learning curve.” While he expects his influence on winemaking decisions to grow over time, he intends to continue to take advantage of other’s expertise in the future.

Cooper Wine Company focuses mainly on Bordeaux-style reds using fruit from exceptional vineyard sources including Champoux, Weinbau, Boushey, and Stillwater. The winery has released three wines from the Columbia Valley: a Pinot Gris, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Bordeaux-style blend called L’Inizio (“the beginning”). A Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Windrow Vineyard will be released in the future which Cooper is extremely excited about. Fans of Charlie Hoppes style will notice his hand here on these intensely flavorful, focused wines.

The winery has an eight acre estate vineyard with plans to plant an additional ten acres. The vineyard, located on Sunset Road on Red Mountain, is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Cooper brings an extensive background in agriculture, and he is excited to work with his estate fruit. “With a three generation agricultural background, I am very close to the dirt. Having a small estate vineyard and open ground to plant more, I am able to keep to my roots.”

Cooper Wine Company made 500 cases in its first vintage (2007), 1,000 in its second, and 1,650 last fall. Cooper anticipates reaching about 2,500 over time. The winery is set to have its grand opening in April.

Cooper Wine Co. Pinot Gris Columbia Valley 2008 $20
* (Excellent) An appealing nose with tropical fruit and light spices. The palate has a very pleasing weight to it without being heavy. A healthy dollop of fruit rounds out this perfect summer wine. 100% Pinot Gris. Goose Ridge Vineyard. Aged mostly in stainless steel. 100 cases produced. Sampled at 63 degrees.

Cooper Wine Co. L’inizio Columbia Valley 2007 $40
* (Excellent) Nose marked by coffee, vanilla, cherry, and light oak spices. A creamy mouthfeel on a wine that is richly flavored with fruit. Shows a fair amount of oak aromas and flavors at times, especially as it warms up. 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Malbec, and 6% Petit Verdot. Weinbau, Conner Lee, Northridge, Champoux, Stillwater, Red Mountain, and Boushey Vineyards. Aged in new French (60%) and American oak (40%). 14.9% alcohol. 200 cases produced. Sampled at 64 degrees.

Cooper Wine Co. Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2007 $35
* (Excellent) A subtle nose with cherry, light oak spices, and high toned coffee notes. Tightly compact with rich cherry fruit on the taste. Finish lingers. Needs time to open up and expand but a beautiful wine that is a pure expression of Washington Cabernet. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in new French (60%) and American oak (40%). 14.8% alcohol. 96 case produced. Sampled at 67 degrees.

Note: Wines sampled as part of a ‘Tweetup’ of Seattle-area tweeters. The tasting took place in Bothell at Russell’s Dining (@RussellsDining) and was set up by @DivaTink with @coop_cwc pouring the wines. Attendees were @SeattleWineGal @TarynMiller @Shona425 @NicoleEvents @YasharSeattle @LittleBlue (let me know if I missed anybody). The tasting used the hashtag #coopwine.