Betz Family Winery: At the Source

By Kori ~ September 16th, 2009.

Wine Blogging Wednesday, the blogosphere’s monthly virtual wine tasting event, is now in its fifth year. Our host this month for WBW #61 is none other than the founder of Wine Blogging Wednesday himself, Lenn Thompson of Lenndevours: The New York Cork Report. Lenn selected At the Source as the theme with the following conditions, “Rather than walking into your local wine shop to pick up a wine for WBW, I want you to actually visit a winery and taste a wine there. Bonus points if you can taste it with the winemaker or the vineyard manager.”

Betz Family WineryBob Betz, owner/winemaker of Betz Family Winery, in Woodinville, Washington, is one of the most well-respected winemakers in the State of Washington. He is a Master of Wine; for those of you who don’t know what that is, MW is the highest qualification in the wine industry. There are only 280 Masters of Wine in the world. Last weekend, Colby and I had the pleasure to meet Bob and his wife Cathy during their 2007 vintage Rhone-style wines release weekend. Betz Family Winery is only open to the public a couple of weekends a year so this was the first time we had had the pleasure to visit.

“2007 is one of the great vintages in Washington. I’ve been in the industry about 35 years, and I believe that 2007 is in the top five vintages that I’ve seen. The purity and elegance of the fruit really make it a great vintage while it also has the structure to go the distance. It has a very attractive lift. 2007 was easier to make than 2006 or 2008 which made for more fun winemaking.” –Bob Betz, MW, owner/winemaker Betz Family Winery

Betz Family Winery is a small family operation. Bob is the winemaker, Cathy is the president and handles the winery’s business affairs, and their daughter Carmen is the Director of Sales. They have grown steadily since their inception, from producing 150 cases of their first vintage in 1997 to currently producing around 3,500 cases which is the level they plan to maintain. Last year, the Betz mailing list closed. While they hold back some wine for retailers, the majority of Betz wines are sold through their mailing list.

Colby and Kori with Bob and Cathy Betz

As a winemaker, Bob strives for purity, elegance, and balance in his wines. Across the board, his wines are food-friendly and exhibit an Old World style. Since Bob truly believes that his wines start in the vineyard, each of the Syrahs he produces feature fruit from different vineyards in Washington’s Columbia Valley.

The La Serenne Syrah has been farmed from the same block in Boushey Vineyard since 2000. The La Côte Rousse Syrah is sourced from two vineyards about a mile apart from each other on Red Mountain, Ciel du Cheval and Ranch at the End of the Road. The newest addition to the Betz portfolio is the La Côte Patriarche Syrah. The fruit for it comes from the 1986 Syrah block at Red Willow Vineyard, the oldest Syrah planting in the State of Washington. The name of this wine which translates as “the founder’s slope” is a nod to Red Willow owner/grower, Mike Sauer, and former Columbia Winery winemaker, David Lake, who planted those original Syrah vines. We were completely blown away by the La Côte Patriarche Syrah. It is a smooth, well-integrated wine that will be fabulous with food.

The four Betz wines we tasted in my personal order of preference:

2007 Betz La Cote Patriarche Syrah2007 Betz La Côte Patriarche Syrah (Yakima Valley, Washington): 80% Syrah, 10% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre. Gorgeous nose with aromas of black fruits, spice, leather, and black pepper. Smooth, well-balanced, well-integrated, and a long finish. Can’t wait to try it with food.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Winery, $55

2007 Betz La Côte Rousse Syrah (Red Mountain, Washington): 100% Syrah. Aromas of smoke, leather, and oak lead to red and black fruit flavors. Smooth and well-balanced.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Winery, $55

2007 Betz La Serenne Syrah (Yakima Valley, Washington): 100% Syrah. Black fruits and a hint of earth come through on the nose, black cherry and dark chocolate on the palate. A little hot on the back end. Slightly bitter finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Winery, $55

2007 Betz Bésoleil Grenache (Columbia Valley, Washington): 80% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 5% Syrah. Bright red fruit aromas, especially strawberries and raspberries. Slightly bitter finish. Improved the second time I tasted it.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Winery, $45

Filed under: American Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Grenache, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Washington State Wine, Wine Blogging Wednesday, Wines Over $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Bean | September 16th, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Thanks for a well written and informative blog post. Woodinville was all “a buzz” about the Betz release party last weekend and who was able to attend.
    I am curious about Wine Blogging Wednesday. I see people talking about topics like Zin and BBQ last month and the Source this month, but the last topic posted at is dated 2/09. Where are current topics being posted?

  2. Sean Sullivan | September 16th, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Glad you guys got a chance to check out these wines. I also loved La Côte Patriarche (my writeup at: I assume this will remain part of the lineup going forward, rather than a one-off, but forgot to ask.

  3. Kori | September 17th, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Thanks! The Betz release was a lot of fun. I’m glad to hear that you’re interested in WBW. Unfortunately, as you noticed, they haven’t been keeping the main site up to date. I generally see the announcements on other wine blogs I follow or on Twitter. If I don’t see it there, I generally google Wine Blogging Wednesday #??? when I think the announcement should have been posted and see if I find anything.

    Glad to hear you enjoyed the La Côte Patriarche too. According to Bob Betz, Patriarche is now a regular part of the Betz portfolio.