Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Discovery of the Pacific Northwest

Did Juan de Fuca or Lewis and Clark ever envision over 400 wineries in Washington state? Did John Jacob Astor foresee over 300 wineries and 700 vineyards in Oregon? Did David Lett, Dick Erath, Bob Betz, Allan Shoup, Mike Wallace or the Hogues ever imagine over 700 wineries in the Northwest? In Washington, we went from six vinifera wineries to over 400 in less than thirty years. When my friends and neighbors, Dave and Liza, discovered Walla Walla wines five or ten years ago, they knew they were on to something really special. I suspect they regret that the secret is out. The Wine Enthusiast was the first of the big wine publications to get it. In 2001, they named Washington State, "Wine Region of the Year." The Wine Spectator and the Wine Advocate, also, seem to have finally figured it out, although the Wine Advocate still seems hesitant about Oregon. All I know is that on average, Oregon Pinot Noirs are more consistent and more enjoyable than most Burgundies.

Pierre-Antoine Rovani says in the Wine Advocate, "Washington State's Columbia Valley, long described as having potential has fulfilled many expectations and its future is as bright today as any viticultural region's on earth." The one hundred point rating awarded to 2003 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon by Rovani and Parker marks an inflection point similar to the Paris Spurrier tasting that put California wine on the world wine map in 1976. After California, Washington State is the biggest wine producer in the U.S. and can no longer be considered a regional producer. Washington's world class wines have been discovered. Chris Upchurch, winemaker at DeLille Cellars, is right when he describes the Columbia Valley as " a grand cru wine region."

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