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Washington Wines and Wineries

Washington Wines and Wineries: The Essential Guide

Paul Gregutt
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 2
Pages: 360
  • Book Info
    Washington Wines and Wineries
    Book Description:

    As the global wine industry reinvents itself for twenty first-century palates, Washington is poised to become as important and influential as California on the world stage. National and international attention has brought interest in the state's wines to an all-time high. Yet, in just the past few years, a tidal wave of change has rolled over the state's wine industry. To keep wine enthusiasts thoroughly up to date, Paul Gregutt has now completely revised and expanded his critically acclaimed guide to Washington's best grapes, vineyards, wines, winemakers, and wineries. With twice as many winery and vineyard profiles, updated tasting notes, and new recommended producers for each grape variety, this edition ofWashington Wines and Winerieswill continue to be the definitive reference on the subject.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94727-6
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    Paul Gregutt
    (pp. xvii-xxiv)

    As in the original edition of this book, I have attempted once again to thoroughly cover the history, grapes, AVAs, essential vineyards, and most important wineries in Washington. Reading this book should feel like a tour through the state with an old friend who happens to be a local and who knows it well. I am that friend.

    I have lived in Washington since 1972. A Seattleite (“wet-sider” as we’re called) for most of that time, I saw my life change dramatically in 2005 when Mrs. G and I purchased a run-down, all-but-abandoned farmhouse in the city of Waitsburg—population...


    • 1 WHICH SIDE OF THE POTOMAC? A Brief History of Washington Wines
      (pp. 3-12)

      For many years Bob Betz, a Master of Wine (MW) who now has his own Betz Family winery, traveled the globe speaking to audiences on behalf of Stimson Lane (the corporate parent of Columbia Crest and Chateau Ste. Michelle, among others). His standard spiel neatly encapsulated the story of the wineries, their vineyards, and the growth of winemaking in Washington. Nonetheless, he found that a certain amount of confusion persisted among a significant percentage of his audiences. At one particular East Coast appearance, he recalls, his audience seemed to be paying close attention, following his every word, carefully studying the...

    • 2 THE AVAs
      (pp. 13-40)

      The American Viticultural Area (AVA) system was instituted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) in the late 1970s in order to regulate the use of place-names on wine labels. Though widely viewed as an American version of the tightly controlled appellation systems in place in Europe, it is really nothing of the sort.

      In Europe the granting of an appellation generally brings with it specific rules regarding the grapes that may be planted, the sugar levels (and sometimes the actual picking dates) at harvest, prescribed (and outlawed) viticultural and winemaking practices, and other quality controls. In the...

    • Maps
      (pp. None)
    • 3 THE GRAPES
      (pp. 41-76)

      There is no simple answer to the question, What is Washington’s signature grape? But that question—a natural for those trying to get their arms around an unfamiliar wine region—makes a good entrance point for an overview of what does grow best here.

      The focus on identifying wines by their grape varietals is largely an American invention. The standard European model for classifying wines has relied almost exclusively on place names—the exception being varietally labeled wines destined for American supermarkets, usually from appellations with little or no cachet. This American penchant for varietal labeling was a reaction to...

      (pp. 77-110)

      If you are the type of person who delights in reading through every scrap of information on the back labels of wine bottles, you will no doubt have encountered the wordterroiroften enough to conclude that—at least in the minds of those who make and market wine—terroir(and its lesser-known variant,terrior) is as common as dirt. In some sense it is dirt, tasted in the flavors that a wine picks up from the soils in which the grapes are grown. But a full explanation of this unique French term encompasses much more than just that, which...


      (pp. 113-146)

      This book’s highest accolade—a five-star rating—indicates not only that the wines are exceptional but that the winery, whether large (Ste. Michelle), medium (Barnard Griffin), or small (Cadence), has taken a leadership role in one or more aspects of wine production. Whether in vineyard development and management, exploration of wine styles and varietal grapes, innovative marketing, or offerings of exceptional value, they set the highest standard. In tasting after tasting, visit after visit, vintage after vintage, these producers have helped to improve and define the image of all Washington wines.

      As a minimum, these five-star wineries or their winemakers...

      (pp. 147-200)

      The four-star wineries featured here make up only about 7 percent of the state’s vintners. Their strengths are proven, and most reach across a broad spectrum of vines and vintages. They often rely upon veteran winemakers, and always draw from exceptional vineyard sources (estate or otherwise). What truly elevates their wines is that they express a specific, individual, stylistic signature that you may attribute to terroir or to the talent of the winemaker, but that rises well above the norm.

      As the number of Washington wineries steadily climbs, the quality bar for any particular type of wine is steadily raised....

      (pp. 201-248)

      Many of the three-star wineries listed here were included in the “Rookies” section of the previous edition of this book; others with a bit more experience were given numerical ratings that qualified them for inclusion in the chapters covering the top 15 percent of all the wineries in the state. Newer additions to this list include some old hands on an upward quality curve and a few exceptional newcomers not previously reviewed that have jumped ahead of the Rising Stars in chapter 8 simply by virtue of overall quality and the undeniable excitement being generated by their first vintages.


      (pp. 249-298)

      The number of bonded Washington wineries has motored past 650, accompanied by the now-customary fanfare trumpeting the industry’s steady growth—the state ranking number two in the country, winery numbers quadrupling in just a decade, and so forth. Though I too applaud the growth and do not wish to turn curmudgeonly, the fact is that the vast majority of these new wineries are so small as to be insignificant.

      Some are virtual; others barely rise above the hobbyist level. All but a handful make very limited amounts of wine. Provided that the wine is decent, the prices not over the...

  9. EPILOGUE: What’s Next?
    (pp. 299-302)

    In the first edition of this book, I asked if Washington might be the Blanche Dubois of wine regions; its fortunes dependent on the kindness of strangers such as wine critics, wine buyers for influential restaurants, and judges at prestigious wine competitions.

    Ten influential wine industry veterans, all with different perspectives and agendas, offered their comments, specifically addressing the most important criticisms and challenges facing Washington vintners. Let me quickly summarize their thoughts.

    Myles Anderson, a partner in Walla Walla Vintners and the founding director of Walla Walla’s Institute for Enology and Viticulture, noted the “collaborative spirit” of Washington winemakers...

    (pp. 303-314)

    Two of the most eagerly awaited annual “Best of” lists are the year’s Top 100 wines as profiled inWine SpectatorandWine Enthusiast(for whose tasting panel I contribute wine reviews and scores). Washington does quite well in both of these publications, especially considering how truly small its wine industry is. But in 2006, while I was working on the first edition of this book, it occurred to me, why not do my own annual Top 100 Washington wine list? It remains the only such list focused exclusively on wines made with Washington grapes, and compiled by a single...

  11. INDEX
    (pp. 315-331)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 332-332)