Not too long ago I spend some time touring Woodinville wineries as a guest of the Washington Wine Commission. My days there culminated with attending the Auction of Washington Wines, an event that raised over 1.8 millions dollars (!) to support uncompensated care at Seattle Children’s Hospital and fund viticulture and enology research at WSU.
But a lot happened leading up to the auction in Woodinville, which is not too far northeast of Seattle (like 30 minutes). There’s a lot going on there: over 100 wineries and tasting rooms. Did I hit all one hundred-plus? Not this time. But I did interview a slew of interesting folks representing Washington wine, from newbies to some of the top names in the state. It’s going to be a two-part extravaganza on my Wine Without Worry podcast. So who is up in Part One? Check it:
Betz Family Winery: Steve Griessel, who owns the winery along with his wife Bridgit, reveals how a wine lover from South Africa finds his way to Woodinville. (Note: Betz Family Winery is not open for visits, but they’d be happy to answer any questions you have about the wines or the winery if you get in touch with them.)
Two Vintners: Winemaker Morgan Lee steps out of the tasting room and into the parking lot to speak with me about extended skin contact. Which means we’re talking about one thing: grapes. (That’s what you thought, right?) Specifically, Gewürztraminer. The “O.G.” is–as far as I know–Washington State’s first “orange” wine, with the color coming from the skins hanging out with the juices for a longer period of time than usual. Strangely enough, the story starts with a Bloody Mary.
Refuge and Prospect: You’ve gotta be intrigued by a winery that derives it’s name from a book by Jay Appleton called “The Experience of Landscape“. Winemaker Jason Baldwin explains.
Avennia: How do you make a Sauvignon Blanc that is an intriguing contrast to the light-and-lively versions you’re most likely to encounter? Chris Peterson (pictured at top courtesy Richard Duval Images–Richard was on an earlier show giving wine country photo tips), Avennia’s winemaker, walks me through the process. BTW, I corralled him after a stupendous meal at Cafe Juanita. Seriously, go there if you are anywhere near Seattle.
Cadence: Though the winery is 5 miles south of downtown Seattle, I was able to speak to Winemaker Ben Smith just before a dinner in Woodinville about a grape we both have a great fondness for: Cabernet Franc. Also discussed: how to show off a site by blending Bordeaux grapes, specifically single vineyards on Red Mountain.
Listen to the episode:
Want more Washington wine? Let’s head to the Horse Heaven Hills.