Are you familiar with Slow Wine? We’re not talking “all natural,” or “clean,” wine which are basically marketing gimmicks anyway. Some might use the term sustainable, but even winemakers can’t seem to agree on what that means. So, let’s talk about Slow Wine and touch on what it really means and why it matters. Then, I’ll reveal a dozen wineries in Washington where you can find Slow Wine and, lastly, provide additional resources for those who wish to take a deeper dive.
What is Slow Wine?
My summer was dedicated to visiting and interviewing Washington wineries and tasting wines for The Slow Wine Guide USA 2022. In this quest I’ve encountered properties where draft horses work the vineyards, marmots help fertilize the vines, and exciting varieties like Madeleine Angevine, Gruner Veltliner, and Sagrantino grow. While words like “lively” and “vibrant” permeate my tasting notes, there are also comments such as, “More please!” and, “Savory for days.” In other words, these are delectable wines.
Slow Wine is an offshoot of the Slow Food movement originated in Italy by Carlo Petrini in response to the sweeping growth of industrialized fast food. Slow Wine speaks of place and is grown without chemicals. In fact, the Guide does not list wineries that use synthetic herbicides.
Wineries needn’t be certified organic or biodynamic to be included in the Guide. Nevertheless, eight of the twelve wineries I interviewed have at least one certification. Even the four without certification incorporate some organic and/or biodynamic practices.
As the Guide explains, “The idea behind Slow Wine is straightforward: it acknowledges the unique stories of people and vineyards, of grape varieties and landscapes, and of their wines. The knowledge that wine is more than just liquid in a glass helps wine lovers make better, more conscious choices and enhances the very enjoyment of these products.”
Does Slow Wine Matter?
If, as the guide points out, you wish to make more conscious choices and get more pleasure out of wine then Slow Wine is a means to that end.
I have also learned that Slow Wine represents people who care deeply about the land, the environment, their communities, families, and customers. Whether that matters to you is a personal choice. However, it does to me and certainly influences choices I make as a wine consumer.
Twelve Washington Wineries Crafting Slow Wine
Although I reached out to well over thirty wineries, I had the pleasure of interviewing only twelve that qualify for the Guide. Sadly, a number of wineries that make claims about sustainability on their websites didn’t get back to me. Some didn’t meet the criteria. Then, harvest arrived early this year and took priority for a few candidates I wished to include. I hope to have the opportunity to interview them next year.
I have immense respect for the wineries that qualify for the Guide and each brings something special to the table. These are wineries to celebrate, taste, and explore. As such, location is included for each winery to make it easier to plan visits.
Location: Bainbridge Island
Bionic Wines (Cayuse Vineyards)
Not open to the public
Location: Columbia Gorge plus tasting rooms in Hood River, Seattle, and Woodinville
Location: Walla Walla plus a tasting room in Seattle
Location: Lake Chelan plus a tasting room in Leavenworth
Location: Red Mountain
Location: Rattlesnake Hills (Zillah)
Location: Walla Walla
Location: Columbia Gorge
Location: Naches Heights (Yakima), plus a tasting room in Pike Place Market and Pie and Wine Bar in Woodinville. Additionally, Wilridge is a member of Seattle Urban Wineries.
I am extremely grateful to all the wineries who opened their doors to me, made time for an interview, walked me through their vineyards and properties, and shared the fruits of their labors.
None of this could be possible, however, without the support of wine writer L.M. Archer, and U.S. Editor Deborah Parker Wong. I am humbled that two such talented and accomplished women in wine chose me for this project.
Cheers to Slow Wine Editor-in-chief Giancarlo Gariglio, all the contributors, and everyone working behind the scenes to make the Guide possible.
Find more pictures and back stories from some of the wineries on my Instagram account.
Save the date for the U.S. Slow Wine Tour.
Meanwhile, discover the Pecorino grape in my write up about a master class offered during the 2020 Tour.
Purchase the Slow Wine Guide USA 2021 (my work isn’t in this edition, but it’s a great gift for wine lovers!).