Like many, Kevin Correll of Woodinville’s Barrage Cellars began making wine as a hobby before deciding to start a commercial winery. Affable, humorous, and self-deprecating, Correll says, “I still call it a hobby because I’m certainly not making any money!”
Correll made his first wine in a carboy in 1997. In 2002 he made his first barrel of wine while assisting at Wineglass Cellars. By 2005, he had launched Barrage Cellars.
The name Barrage Cellars is a tribute to the evolution of the winery. Correll started out making his wine in a barn. Outgrowing the barn, he moved to a garage. The winery’s name is a combination of the two locations. When Correll outgrew the garage, he moved to Woodinville’s Warehouse District in 2007.
Like many of Washington’s winemakers, Correll works a day job to pay the bills. He instructs manufacturing at The Boeing Company where he has worked for over twenty years. This often means pulling double duty, working at the winery after hours. The evening before my visit, Correll was at the winery until 3am cleaning the crusher.
Though working a full time job and running a small winery means many long days and nights, Correll doesn’t mind. Correll watched his father, who was a horse breeder in Arlington, Washington, become miserable after he retired and decided he didn’t want the same thing to happen to him. “I want to be busy until the day I die,” Correll says. “This is my retirement!”
In selecting vineyard sources, Correll said that two things were important to him. “First, I wanted to work with awesome vineyards. Two, I wanted to work with awesome people.” Barrage Cellars sources grapes for his wines from Conner Lee, Marcoux, Boushey, Dineen, and Destiny Ridge vineyards.
Stylistically, Correll started out wanted to make a Bordeaux-style blend from Merlot, Cabernet, and Cabernet Franc. However, when he tried various blends of the wine, he found that he liked the varietal wines better. He has subsequently maintained this focus on varietal wines. “I don’t blend grapes. I blend vineyards,” Correll explains.
Though each of the Barrage Cellars wines are varietal bottlings, Correll likes to name his wines. The first year he was buying his Chardonnay fruit from Conner Lee Vineyard, he was driving by the Hanford Site. As Correll explained Hanford to his daughter, she inquired about whether the grapes they had just picked up were radioactive. ‘Nuclear Blonde’ became the Chardonnay’s name. The ‘Trifecta’ Merlot is named for the three different vineyards the fruit is sourced from. The ‘Double Barrel’ Cabernet is named after the two different barrel types Correll uses for the wine. The ‘Outcast’ Cabernet Franc is named for this grape’s lowly status among Bordeaux varietals. “I love Cabernet Franc,” Correll says. “We’re all outcasts at some point.”
The only exception to Barrage Cellars’ lineup of named wines is the 2009 Riesling, which is simply labeled by the varietal. Correll made this wine in an off-dry style, making the wine based on taste. “When I thought it was balanced, I stopped fermentation on it. I didn’t look at the numbers.”
So what might the Riesling’s name be if Correll gave it one? “My girlfriend calls the Riesling ‘Rent’ because it pays the rent!” Correll says with a laugh.
Barrage Cellars makes approximately 2,700 cases annually.
Barrage Cellars ‘Nuclear Blonde’ Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2008 $24
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Very pretty toasty aromas along with spice, lemon, and lees notes. Very clean and evenly polished on the palate with a creamy, full-bodied feel. Barrel Fermented, 12 months Sur Lees. 100% Malolactic fermentation. 14.5% alcohol. 270 cases produced.
Barrage Cellars Riesling Yakima Valley 2009 $18
Rating: + (Good) An aromatic wine with freshly cut golden delicious apples, oranges, and pears. On the sweeter side of off dry, the palate is full of apricot and tropical fruit flavors. Les Vignes de Marcoux (75%) and Dineen (25%) vineyards. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 11.1% alcohol. 2% Residual Sugar. 230 cases produced.
Barrage Cellars Trifecta Merlot Columbia Valley 2007 $26
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Alluring aromas of red currant, mint, and cranberries on a very varietal nose. The palate is tart and clean and full of fresh, ripe fruit flavors. A slightly bitter note toward the finish is all that holds this wine back. 100% Merlot. 50% Marcoux, 30% Destiny Ridge, 20% Conner Lee vineyards. Aged 18 months in French oak (50% new, 50% second fill). 14.9% alcohol. 248 cases produced.
Barrage Cellars Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2007 $35
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Dark in color. A very pretty, very varietal nose with herbal notes, cranberries, cherry cola, and a whiff of licorice. On the taste, a big, dry, full wine with exquisite red fruit flavors and a solid backbone of tannins. Calls out for a steak. Red Willow, Sheridan, and Destiny vineyards. Aged 25 months in French oak (50% new, 50% second fill). 15.3% alcohol. 274 cases produced.
Barrage Cellars Outcast Cabernet Franc Yakima Valley 2007 $35
Rating: * (Excellent) An aromatic wine with abundant licorice, chocolate, and light herbal notes. Delicious, sinewy fruit flavors that wind and weave on an incredibly persistent palate. A big wine with a puckering, long lasting finish. 100% Cabernet Franc. Boushey Vineyard. Aged 21 months in French oak (50% new, 50% second fill). 15.1% alcohol. 121 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.