If you’re part of the “Anything But Chardonnay” crowd, grab a glass and take a journey through an exotic landscape filled with flourishing blossoms and their enticing perfume, along with captivating textures. Close your eyes, tip your head back, then surrender to the bright flavors swirling around. Without further ado, here are seventeen of Washington’s white wines for the adventurous along with some reliable producers.
There’s a winemaker in Woodinville who says, “Not all damsels are in distress.” That vintner is Mari Womak of Damsel Cellars. For nearly two years I’ve had the great pleasure of working with her. The truth is, a lot of winemakers relish days hiding out in the cellar. However, that’s not the case with Mari. In fact, keeping up with Damsel Cellars and all that Mari is doing can be a challenge.
Regardless, she’s still accessible to Damsel’s wine club and consumers. Perhaps that’s the secret to her success. Somehow, Mari knows how to make serious wine yet keep the tasting experience fun and engaging. It’s not about ego or being a “rockstar winemaker.” However, a rockstar partnership is indeed part of the story. Here’s a glimpse at what is keeping Damsel Cellars so busy besides her fantastic vino (pro tip: her Mourvedre is particularly spectacular). If you’re a fan of supporting small locally owned businesses, take a look and plan to rescue some wine!
Hint: read all the way to the bottom for a giveaway alert!
She’s Gone Hollywood
I still recall my first encounter with Elsom Cellars wine years ago. It was a malbec, and a distinctive one at that. It exuded a spicy, black pepper nuance. Is there a spice more popular than pepper? It adds abundant flavor to life. As do the wines coming out of this woman led business.
While Malbec is still considered the signature variety of Elsom Cellars, the winery is about so much more than that. Especially to me personally. I am a member of the board of Seattle Urban Wineries as a result of Winemaker Rebecca Weber’s outreach. Even if it weren’t for that, I find it admirable that the people behind the brand create such a welcoming space and foster community. They also have much to offer wine loving consumers such as a one-of-a-kind urban tasting experience on the outdoor patio, an indoor space available for private events, and a diverse range of tantalizing wines that even includes a vermouth. There are also bottles that give back to the community.
Meet The Keeper
Elsom Cellars recently scored a collaboration with celebrated Seattle Sounders goalkeeper, Stefan Frei. The wine project, aptly named The Keeper, benefits youth sports programs through Washington Youth Soccer. The bottle is adorned with label artwork created by Frei, a two-time MLS Cup champion and an avid artist.
“I’m really excited about this project,” said Frei. “It’s about coming together to support our community’s young athletes and helping them reach their goals on and off the field.” Continue reading “Elsom Cellars Scores a Goal with Stefan Frei Partnership”
How about a glass of wine to celebrate Earth Day? In keeping with the theme, be sure it’s from an eco-friendly producer. How do you know whether a winery uses sustainable practices? If you ask Esther Mobley, Senior Wine Critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, “The best resource I can recommend is the Slow Wine Guide.”
It was my privilege to conduct 17 interviews in Washington and Oregon for the Slow Wine Guide USA 2023. Each winery entry provides a snapshot of the people, the vineyards, and wines.
Top Slow Wine Awards
When I received my author’s copy it was a thrill to see that two of the wineries I wrote about are among recipients of Slow Wine’s top award for their dedication to greener farming practices. This includes Bethel Heights Vineyard, one of Oregon’s pioneering wineries. In Washington, Hedges Family Estate achieved this special recognition.
Celebrate Earth Day and Learn More About Slow Wine
I’ve previously written about what Slow Wine means and why it matters as well as which Washington wineries attained Slow Wine Awards last year.
The Slow Wine Guide USA 2023 is $25 a copy. Purchases made directly from the Slow Food USA Bookshop help support ongoing work. This isn’t just a terrific resource for buying wine, it’s been helpful to me when planning trips to wine country.
Find more pictures and back stories about some of the wineries on my Instagram account including my tour of the Hors Categorie Vineyard of famed Bionic Wines (aka Cayuse), where Syrah vines grow on a 65 degree slope. Their biodynamic practices previously earned them Slow Wine’s top accolades.
Discover the Pecorino grape in my write up about a master class offered during the 2020 Slow Wine Tour.
Want to hear more about Washington wine and wineries in the guide? I was interviewed by Scott Cowan for the Explore Washington State podcast. Give it a listen!
About the Author
The founder of VinoSocial.wine, Nancy coaches wineries and wine regions on social media practices and provides marketing services. A graduate of the Northwest Wine Academy and a Certified Specialist of Wine, she works with wineries, wine regions, event producers, and wine competitions. In addition to writing for the Slow Wine Guide USA, her work has been published by Explore Washington State and Washington Tasting Room Magazine. She serves as Vice President of Seattle Urban Wineries.
Look up “Colorado wine” and Google suggests people want to know, “Is Colorado good for wine?” and, “Does Colorado have good wineries?” Up until last week, I had no idea.
Enter Colorado winery, The Ordinary Fellow. The labels on the samples I received are anything but commonplace, splashed with colorful artwork. A small peel off tab enables an outer sleeve to rotate around the bottle. With each turn of the clever wrapper, cutouts highlight different images below along with clever sayings. The innovative approach is something perfectly playful and enchanting for those who feel that stodgy wine labels can be a snooze fest. Perhaps this is one way to attract a new audience to wine?
While the labels may be unique and unconventional, the varietal contents are more commonplace. Bottles I received include consumer darlings Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, and Riesling. What may be a surprise to learn is that the Riesling and Cabernet come from the same vineyard. However, different microclimates can enable very different grapes to flourish within one vineyard. That’s not to say Colorado wine country doesn’t have distinctive qualities. By way of example, here’s a quick overview.
Fun Facts About Colorado Wine
Want to dazzle people with your knowledge of Colorado wine? Here are some talking points to share the next time you’re at a party courtesy of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board.
- Colorado has more than 170 licensed wineries.
- It is home to two federally designated American Viticultural Areas (AVAs): the Grand Valley AVA and the West Elks AVA.
- These two AVAs contribute 90% of the wine grapes grown in Colorado.
- At 4,000 to 7,000 feet in elevation, Colorado lays claim to the highest growing regions in the Northern Hemisphere (by comparison, Washington State’s Horse Heaven Hills AVA ranges from 200 to 2,000 feet).
The Ordinary Fellow Origin Story
Interestingly, Ben Parsons, the bloke behind The Ordinary Fellow, sounds anything but ordinary. The winemaker previously founded The Infinite Monkey Theorem (TIMT) winery in 2008. A 2019 Wine Spectator article announcing his resignation reports, “He kickstarted the urban winery and canned wine trends.” Sounds like Ben is intent on making wine more accessible, something the industry desperately needs. Continue reading “A Colorado Winery for The Ordinary Fellow”