Spotlight On: Quilceda Creek

By Kori ~ May 11th, 2009.

Quilceda CreekQuilceda Creek, located in Snohomish, Washington, was founded in 1978 by the Golitzin family. Generally considered the premier winery in Washington State, Quilceda Creek remains a small, family-owned and operated winery. Their flagship wine, the Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, has received three 100-point ratings in the last four years from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate for the 2002, 2003, and 2005 vintages. The 2002 and 2003 (rated at the same time) were the first Washington State wines ever to receive a perfect 100-point rating.

“The father-son team of Alex and Paul Golitzin are making, by anyone’s standards, as fine a cabernet sauvignon as anyone in the world. Their single-minded focus, their ability to make brilliant wine in virtually every vintage, and, most impressively, their unbroken track record of excellence are unparalleled. Nobody does it better.” –Paul Gregutt, Washington Wines & Wineries

Quilceda Creek sources their grapes from vineyards throughout the Columbia Valley. In 2001, they purchased and planted their own Galitzine Vineyard on Red Mountain. The 2004 Quilceda Creek Galitzine Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was the first release from their own vineyard. In addition to the Columbia Valley Cab and the Galitzine Vineyard Cab, Quilceda Creek produces a Merlot and a Columbia Valley Red Wine. They also purchased the Palengat Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills adjacent to Champoux Vineyard in 2007. Quilceda Creek will be releasing a single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Palengat Vineyard this fall.

Paul Golitzin, lead winemaker, signing a bottleQuilceda Creek wines are only offered to members of their private mailing list. The winery is open one weekend each year when mailing list customers can pick up their pre-purchased wines. Colby and I had the pleasure to visit the winery for the first time this year. Dad (John) is on the mailing list and was out of town during their pick up weekend, so we jumped at the chance to be his wine delivery service. I was very impressed with the event and the people that we met. Not only are they producing some of the best wines in the world, but Quilceda Creek knows how to run a business. They are well-organized and welcoming. When we checked in, they radioed the barrel room to get our order together so that it would be ready when we finished enjoying the wine and hors devours in the tasting room. At the door, we were greeted by a member of the Golitzin family who made sure that we felt welcome, gave us our tasting tokens and glasses, and showed us where to go.

They were offering two wines for tasting, the 2006 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon which was being released that weekend and the 2006 Columbia Valley Red Wine which will be released this fall. We took our time, enjoyed each wine, and strolled around their state-of-the-art facility. They are also planning to build a new 12,000 sq ft building next door.

2006 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet SauvignonAs you will see in the tasting notes below, we thought both wines were excellent. Given the fact that the Cab should age well and last for 15 to 20 years, I was blown away by how good it was upon release. I just hope that Dad will share some of his wine in a few years so that I can see how it evolves.

2006 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot. Dark, dense purple. Aromas of black fruits, smoke, and earth. More black fruits as well as coffee and tobacco come through on the palate. And there’s some sweet black cherry on the very long finish. Medium to full-bodied with soft tannins. Not an overpowering Cab on its own but absolutely explodes with food. Smooth and extremely well-balanced.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Winery, $125 [Private Mailing List only]

2006 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Red Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec. Dark, dense purple. Cherry, raspberry, and oak on the nose. Flavors of cherry, plums, and cinnamon. Medium to full-bodied with medium to high tannins. Smooth with a long finish. Very young.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Winery, $37 [to be released this fall]

Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Red Wine, Spotlight On, Washington State Wine, Wines Over $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Sean Sullivan | May 11th, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Kori, I agree with your surprise at how well the 2006 Cabernet is drinking as did several of my friends who attended. We also thought it was quite interesting that the Red Wine seemed less approachable at this point in time than the cabernet. Usually it’s the opposite. It made me wonder if they had decanted the cabernet bottles prior to serving but had not done so for the Red Wine.

  2. Kori | May 11th, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Interesting question about whether they may have decanted the Cab. With that in mind, I just looked back at pictures we took at the event. On the tasting table, there are open bottles, unopened bottles, and I even see a foil cutter. Leads me to think they were just opening them as needed and serving but who knows. It was quite surprising that the Cab was more approachable than the Red Wine.

  3. tony | May 11th, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    I was at the event on Sunday and was also blow away by how well the Cab was drinking. I asked the assistant pouring the wine if they had decanted this much earlier and he said no not really…they couldn’t keep up with the demand so they were opening and pouring. they like to have about 1hr but some were only open a few min. I asked Paul about this and he said “I know,I think it is drinking like a great Margeaux right now.” Don’t know what they did that was different but they made this wine ver aproachable early. Cheers.

  4. Kori | May 11th, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Thanks for the info. I thought they were just basically opening and pouring. Confirms how amazing this wine is right now. It’ll be fun to try it again in a few years and see how it has changed. Cheers!

  5. Debra | August 18th, 2009 at 1:05 am

    I just got on the maillist! No Cab left for purchase. I purchased 2 bottles of the Red Wine but wonder if I should purchase the Galitzine too? Not many reviews yet and not much on 2006 vintages overall. Is it possible to go wrong with any Quilceda offering? Cheers.

  6. Kori | August 18th, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Congratulations! Generally, you can’t go wrong on any Quilceda Creek offering. I haven’t had the 2006 Galitzine yet, but we had the 2004 Galitzine in March and rated it 4.5 stars.

    Here’s a link to that post:


  7. Bruce | January 5th, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    By all means buy the Galitzine, and also the Palengat. I just opened a bottle of the 2005 Galitzine over the holidays, and it was heavenly.

  8. Sean P. Sullivan | January 5th, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    I will second Bruce’s comment.

  9. Kori | January 6th, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Bruce and Sean,
    Thanks for the feedback. I look forward to trying them both. We have a couple of bottles of each but are giving them a little more time. Cheers!