On the Road with the Grape Guy

Washington Story 4

10 Feb 2020

April 3rd, 2019 ... A relatively busy day on the docket with four wineries on tap, but two happen to be in the same family (Chateau Ste. Michelle), plus earlier in the week I also visited the "mothership" in Woodinville; Washington VIneyardthere I ended up tasting through a whole bunch of wine including their Canoe Ridge, Cold Creek, and Col Solare lineups. The location in Woodinville is Ste. Michelle's white wine location, while the Canoe Ridge facility is devoted to their red wine production. A 600 acre vineyard planted in 1991 and located in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, which has a very shallow top-soil made up of compressed volcanic ash ... During our visit certain tidbits are released like Ste. Michelle is the single largest producer of Riesling in the world and at this facility they produce 631,000 cases of wine (average annual).

From Canoe Ridge we move our party down the road a spell to Columbia Crest, another property now owned by Chateau Ste. Michelle. Columbia Crest was established in the 1980s and currently has 12,500 acres, but when they started it was a 1970 planting of a mere 2,200 acres. They produce three million cases of wine annually of which 1.2 are under the Columbia Crest label itself and there barrel program contains upwards of 130,000 barrels - that's a lot - they also have one hell of a bottling line.

Between the two wineries these were the wines of note one from each Ste. Michelle - Canoe Ridge - Columbia Crest:Washington Barrel and Bottle

Canoe Ridge 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Cold Creek Vineyard … (****)
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2015 Chardonnay, Cold Creek Vineyard … (****)
Columbia Crest 2015 Cabernet Franc, Beverly Vineyard … (****+)


From there we head to Mercer wine estate - to me this place proves that not all Washington State wine is all inspiring - sadly this is formulaic wine making trying to be something for everybody, but achieving mediocre results. Lots of easy drinking wine with lots of fruit but no substantial character oh, man I really hope this one gets better, to me and for me Mercer was a misstep. Only one wine stood out as having any kind of appeal.

2016 Reserve Heritage Blend … (*** ½+)


After the mistake of Mercer we end our day at Hedges - this turns out to be a real high point of the day with a relaxed in-the-kitchen dinner, beautiful views of the surrounding Red Mountains, and two wines that you could drink all day; and well Into the night. A great way to end our time in Washington State.Hedges Wines

2017 LeBlanc... (****)
2015 Red Mountain Red... (****+)




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