After four long years away due to a pandemic-related pause, Taste Washington returns this month, with the Grand Tasting March 11th and 12th. Over the years, this event has been a launch pad for many newly minted wineries. Now, some of these wineries have had to wait a very long time for such an opportunity. That time is finally here.
Here are 15 must-try wines at the Grand Tasting from new wineries, most of them pouring at this event for the first time. Wines are listed in alphabetical order.
Devison 2020 Above the Flood Boushey Vineyard Yakima Valley In just a few short years, Devison has established itself as one of the most exciting wineries in the state. Devison’s 2022 Sauvignon Blanc (also being poured at this event) is electric, while this GSM from Boushey Vineyard has layers of depth and intensity. Read reviews of Devison’s current releases.
Devium 2021 French Creek Sans Soufre Mourvèdre Yakima Valley By day, Keith Johnson is the production winemaker at Sleight of Hand Cellars. By night, he focuses on Devium – a project with a rebellious streak, such as producing Mouvèdre without added sulfur. “If I don’t push the boundaries, who is going to do it?” Johnson says. Read a profile of the winery.
Dossier 2021 Syrah Walla Walla Valley Dossier is a new project from former NFL star Sidney Rice and businessman Tim Lenihan. Billo Naravane (Rasa) makes the wine. This Syrah hails from the Rocks District and is an impressive inaugural release. Read a review.
Echolands 2019 Syrah Walla Walla Valley Doug Frost, who co-founded Echolands in 2018 with Brad Bergman, is one of the few people in the world to hold both an MS and an MW degree. Frost’s educational background informs the wine style, which focuses on higher acid wines that go well with food. Taylor Oswald, who has experience at Mark Ryan, Gramercy, and Rôtie, makes the wine. Read a profile of the winery from my time at Wine Enthusiast.
Grosgrain 2021 Albariño Phillips Vineyard Walla Walla Valley Matt and Kelly Austin champion “underdog” varieties at Grosgrain (pronounced grow-grain), from sparkling Lemberger to early release Grenache and beyond. Here we see a rare Walla Walla Valley Albariño. Read a profile from my time at Wine Enthusiast. Read a recent update.
Hoquetus 2020 Syrah Walla Walla Valley Located in the incubator region, Hoquetus is one of a number of new wineries in Washington marching to its own drum. For this offering, winemaker Robert Gomez fermented the fruit in amphora and neutral oak, bringing freshness and lighter-styled flavors.
itä 2020 Merlot Walla Walla Valley In her own words, winemaker Kelsey Itämeri favors a “lighter, more acid-driven style of wine.” She does so by focusing on fruit sources in the foothills of Walla Walla Valley’s Blue Mountains. This Merlot is unlike anything else produced in Washington. Read a profile of the winery.
Laterus 2019 Megalith Red Mountain Owner/winemaker Tyler Farnsworth has spent over a decade as winemaker at JM Cellars in Woodinville. Laterus is his own project, located at The Vault in Maltby. This wine is principally Cabernet Sauvignon (80%), with the rest Merlot. Read a review.
Le Doubblé Troubblé 2021 Pinot Noir Phelps Creek Vineyard Columbia Gorge Washington Pinot Noir remains, to date, a rare beast. The most promising examples have come from the Columbia Gorge, which brings a style all its own. This wine from upstart Le Doubblé Troubblé shows both the potential and plenty of delivery. Read a recent review.
Prospice 2022 Rosé Lonesome Spring Ranch Vineyard Yakima Valley Winemakers Jay Krutulis and Matt Reilly met as students at the Institute for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College. While I have not yet tasted the winery’s 2022 offering, Prospice consistently makes some of the best rosé in the state. Don’t miss the reds either.
Quiddity 2018 Amore Columbia Valley This GSM-style wine is one of the inaugural offerings from Quiddity. Believe it or not, it was made as a graduation project when winemaker Greg Pieker was a student at Northwest Wine Academy. Pieker has a style all his own, focusing on Rhône-style wines with dazzling purity. Read the origin story of Quiddity.
R.R. Poet 2019 Allusion Pinebreak Vineyard Rattlesnake Hills This is an inaugural offering from this producer, focusing on a single vineyard in Yakima Valley: Pinebreak. The wines are made by the hyper-talented Billo Naravane (Rasa). Naravane’s precise style and 2019’s elegance are a perfect match for this blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Read a review.
Valdemar 2020 Syrah Walla Walla Valley This fifth generation Spanish winemaking family made an enormous splash when they entered the Washington wine scene, building a multi-million dollar winery and planting several vineyards. They’ve followed that up with attention-getting wines, such as this offering from Walla Walla Valley. Read a profile of Valdemar as well as a recent update.
WeatherEye 2019 Estate Syrah Red Mountain You have heard me rave about WeatherEye Vineyards wines. You saw WeatherEye was my 2022 Winery of the Year. Now is your chance to see what all the fuss is about. This wine, crafted by Todd Alexander (Force Majeure) is not to be missed. I expect the winery might pour out early, so think about stopping here first.
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