By Kori ~ August 4th, 2008.
Three of Washington Stateâ€™s largest and most opulent winery facilities are located in Woodinville, a suburb of Seattle. Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Winery, and Novelty Hill/Januik make excellent stops on anyoneâ€™s wine tasting adventure.
In addition to the â€œBig Three,â€ Woodinville is also home to a number of small, garagiste wineries. But instead of being located in someoneâ€™s garage, most of these mom-and-pop operations are located in local business parks or storage facilities. While over 30 wineries currently have production facilities or tasting rooms in Woodinville, almost all of them actually get their grapes from vineyards in eastern Washington.
One Saturday afternoon last month, the Wine Peeps made the 20 mile trek to Woodinville for a bit of wine tasting. Since we have been to the â€œBig Threeâ€ numerous times, we decided to check out a few of the smaller wineries that we had not previously visited.
Our first stop was at Chatter Creek. During our visit, we had the pleasure to meet Gordy Rawson, winemaker/owner, who founded Chatter Creek in 1996. Chatter Creekâ€™s annual production is approximately 2000 cases and is focused on the Rhone and Bordeaux varietals. We tasted five of their wines and especially liked the 2005 Clifton Hill Syrah.
Just down the street from Chatter Creek is Stevens Winery. Tim and Paige Stevens opened Stevens Winery in 2002. Tim is also an artist and designs an original label for each Stevens wine. Their yearly production is about 2000 cases. Of the three wines we tasted, their 2007 Divio Viognier was our favorite.
Our next stop took us to Matthews Estate. Matt Loso founded Matthews Estate in 1993. His wines have received numerous accolades. However, earlier this summer, Matt sold his interest in the winery to his partners. We, unfortunately, did not have a very pleasant experience at Matthews Estate. The four wines we tasted were okay, but not great, and certainly not worth the money. And the tasting room staff was a bit snooty. The lady serving us even made a snide comment to me about the fact that I was spitting and taking notes. I wonder if Matthews Estate has always been this way or if things have changed since Matt left.
Darby Winery was our final visit of the afternoon. Darby Winery is a fairly new winery founded by Darby English, winemaker/owner. Even though they are located in a business park, Darby has done an excellent job creating a nice ambience in the tasting room. Of the three wines we tasted, we liked their latest release, the 2006 Chaos, the best.
For information and a listing of other wineries in the area, visit the Woodinville Wine Country website.
Hereâ€™s a breakdown of the wines that we tasted in Woodinville. Under each Quality heading, the wine name and region will be listed along with price and QPR rating.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
2005 Chatter Creek Syrah, Clifton Hill Vineyard (Wahluke Slope), $38, QPR: 4
2006 Darby Chaos Red Wine (Columbia Valley), $28, QPR: 4
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
2005 Chatter Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, Alder Ridge Vineyard (Horse Heaven Hills), $30, QPR: 4
2007 Chatter Creek Pinot Gris (Columbia Valley), $15, QPR: 3
2007 Stevens Divio Viognier (Yakima Valley), $22, QPR: 2
2001 Matthews Columbia Valley Red Wine (Columbia Valley), $70, QPR: 1
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
2006 Stevens YES Red Wine (Yakima Valley), $16, QPR: 4
2006 Chatter Creek Cabernet Franc, Alder Ridge Vineyard (Horse Heaven Hills), $24, QPR: 2
2006 Darby Syrah, Destiny Ridge Vineyard (Horse Heaven Hills), $30, QPR: 2
2004 Matthews Columbia Valley Claret (Columbia Valley), $30, QPR: 2
2007 Stevens A Second Thought Sauvignon Blanc (Yakima Valley), $19, QPR: 1
2007 Darby Le Deuce Viognier/Roussanne (Columbia Valley), $24, QPR: 1
2005 Matthews Red Mountain Syrah (Red Mountain), $55, QPR: 1
Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
2006 Chatter Creek Grenache (Columbia Valley), $18, QPR: NR
2007 Matthews Columbia Valley Sauvignon Blanc (Columbia Valley), $30, QPR: NR
Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Red Wine, Roussanne, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz/Syrah, Viognier, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wine Travel, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Over $25, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25