William Church Winery: Red Blends and Opening of 2nd Tasting Room



By Kori ~ July 11th, 2011.

William Church Winery, founded in 2005 by Rod and Leslie Balsley, is located in the warehouse district in Woodinville, Washington. After years in the high-tech industry, Rod and Leslie are thoroughly enjoying their second careers in the wine industry. Bitten by the wine bug when they honeymooned in Italy, Rod and Leslie got their start in winemaking as a hobby when they moved next door to a man named Dick Gidley who had been making wine in his garage for over twenty years. After a while, they decided to pursue winemaking on a commercial scale. Rod and Leslie are both actively involved in all aspects of the winery. Rod manages the day-to-day winemaking operations with the help of assistant winemaker Marcus Rafanelli. Leslie manages the marketing and sales aspects of the business. Rod, Leslie, and Marcus work together to decide what wines to offer and are all involved in blending trials. William Church Winery produces 2,500 cases per year.

We recently had the opportunity to taste two William Church wines in a blind samples tasting, the 2008 Bishop’s Blend Red Wine and the 2007 Sur La Mer Red Wine. Both wines are very good, but we were especially impressed with the Bishop’s Blend, a Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec dominated blend. Not only is it an excellent wine, but it also delivers serious bang for your buck. Sur La Mer, which means “on the sea,” is a classic Bordeaux-style blend named for the seaport city of La Rochelle in western France where Leslie was born.

If you live in the greater Seattle area or visit the area on vacation, a trip to the wineries in Woodinville is well worth your time. And while you are there, I encourage you to visit William Church Winery. In addition to their tasting room at the winery in the warehouse district, William Church is opening a second tasting room in the Hollywood Schoolhouse area next door to Purple Café. The grand opening is scheduled for this Saturday, July 16th.

2008 William Church Bishop’s Blend Red Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Malbec, 11% Syrah, 9% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Franc. Deep, dark purplish red in color. Very aromatic with black fruits and oak on the nose. Black plum, blackberry, black currant, licorice, and a hint of leather come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with good acidity and medium to high tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $20; Available elsewhere, $18

2007 William Church Sur La Mer Red Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec, and 10% Petit Verdot. Deep, dark ruby red. Aromatic with smoke, earth, black fruit, spice, and floral notes on the nose and palate. Medium to full-bodied and lively with medium to high tannins and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $30; Available elsewhere, $27


Filed under: American Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Red Wine, Washington State Wine, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Leave a Comment