Red Willow Vineyard continues to shine, this time at Eight Bells Winery



By Kori ~ November 21st, 2012.

Eight Bells Winery is a small urban winery located in the Roosevelt/Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. It is jointly owned and operated by Tim Bates, Andy Shepherd, and Frank Michiels. The trio got their start as home winemakers. In 2009, they moved from their garages into a commercial space to start Eight Bells. Since their first crush in 2009, they have sourced fruit from vineyards in Eastern Washington and Western Oregon. Currently, their annual production is less than 2,000 cases.

Recently, we had the opportunity to taste eight of Eight Bell’s current releases in a blind samples tasting. All of the wines were good, but we were especially impressed with the 2010 Sangiovese and 2010 Red Willow Syrah Clonal Block. Both of those wines as well as the three other red wines are produced predominantly with fruit sourced from Red Willow Vineyard. And, one of the white wines even includes a small percentage of fruit from Red Willow.

Red Willow Vineyard is one of the top vineyards in Washington State. Located in the northwest corner of the Yakima Valley near Wapato, Washington, Red Willow is a fourth-generation family farm, owned and operated by Mike Sauer and his family. Red Willow has one of the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon blocks in the state, planted in 1973, and the first Syrah block in the state, planted in 1986. The iconic Monsignor Chapel sits atop Red Willow and gives the vineyard a distinct identity.

Red Willow Vineyard has had a longstanding relationship with Columbia Winery, formerly known as Associated Vintners, which dates back to 1978. For almost 30 years, Columbia Winery sourced Red Willow fruit almost exclusively. However, in 2005, Columbia started giving up some of their blocks, which allowed other notable Washington producers the opportunity to source this prized fruit. While Columbia is still one of their largest customers, this diversification is allowing the true potential and value of the vineyard to be realized. In recent years, we have been closely watching the releases of Red Willow wines from some of our favorite wineries including Betz Family Winery, Owen Roe, Adams Bench, and Fall Line, as well as newer wineries like Avennia and Eight Bells. While Red Willow’s place in the history of the Washington wine industry is already well established, it is exciting to see the Red Willow name on more bottles through these new partnerships.

Eight Bells wines are currently available at the winery or at McCarthy & Schiering Wine Merchants. If you have not had any Eight Bells wines, I encourage you to give them a try if you have the opportunity.

2010 Eight Bells Sangiovese (Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington): Deep red in color. Very aromatic with black cherry and spice on the nose. More black cherry and spice as well as cocoa come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and medium, dry 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

2010 Eight Bells Red Willow Syrah Clonal Block (Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington): 95% Syrah and 5% Grenache all from Red Willow Vineyard. Deep, dark purple. Beautiful nose with savory aromas of smoked meat and herbs. Black cherry, blackberry, smoked meat, and herbs come through on the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity and medium to high tannins. Well-balanced with a very long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $32

2009 Eight Bells Roosevelt Red (Yakima Valley, Washington): 100% Merlot from Red Willow Vineyard. Deep red. Nice nose with aromas of blackberry and raspberry. Black and red fruit, leather, and spice come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $18

2010 Eight Bells Red Willow Vineyard Syrah (Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington): Deep, dark purple. Aromatic with earth, barnyard, and black fruit aromas. Fruit-forward with blackberry, black cherry, and plum on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $25

2009 Eight Bells Yakima Valley Syrah (Yakima Valley, Washington): 85% Syrah from Red Willow Vineyard and 15% Grenache from Red Mountain. Deep, dark purple. Deep, dark purple. Aromatic with black fruit and spice rack on both the nose and palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $25

2010 Eight Bells Pinot Gris (Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon): Pale straw yellow. Very aromatic with apple, lime, and floral notes on both the nose and palate. Dry and light-bodied with tart acidity and a medium to 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 $18

2010 Eight Bells Chardonnay (French Creek Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington): Pale to medium yellow. Aromatic with toast, apple, and pear on the nose and palate. Dry and light-bodied with lively acidity and a medium finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $18

2011 Eight Bells Ravenna White (Oregon): 95% Pinot Gris from Methven Family Vineyard in Oregon and 5% Viognier from Red Willow Vineyard. Pale straw yellow. Nice nose with mandarin orange, pear, and melon aromas and flavors. Dry and light to medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a medium to long finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $16


Filed under: American Wine, Chardonnay, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Merlot, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Red Wine, Sangiovese, Shiraz/Syrah, Vineyards, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

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