Woodinville Wine Tastings unites four wineries that sit within a pleasant walk of each other. At Davenport Cellars, patrons may sip cabernet sauvignon aged in French oak beneath impressionist oil paintings of natural landscapes. John Patterson of Patterson Cellars lets more than two decades of experience shine through in swirling elixirs, and red blends at Pondera Winery show a range of crimson shades like a bull’s anger-management counselor. Bordeaux grapes from a handful of Columbia Valley vineyards mingle in the shop’s cuvee, and guests at William Church Winery stroll beneath walnut-hued barrels, clicking together glasses of a pinot gris that hints at lemon zest and green apples.
DeLille Cellars' grape-transforming staff concocts myriad French-style wines, including varieties served at the White House and named the 2011 Wine of the Year by Seattle magazine. During the tasting experience, enthusiasts and neophytes can tickle their taste buds by sampling six wines crafted with wrath-free grapes from Washington state. Guests can cleanse their palates between wine samples by nibbling on squeaky morsels from an artisan cheese tray or quickly repeating "big black bear" three times. An astute wine educator will be on hand to discuss topics ranging from DeLille vintages to Washington's wine industry to international grape creations. Located about a quarter-mile from DeLille Cellars, the Carriage House Tasting Room boasts wine-barrel tables and candlelight wall fixtures that unlock a secret passageway to a light-bulb retailer.
Opening Covington Cellars was a natural step for David and Cindy Lawson—he loved home winemaking, she loved pushing the boundaries of her home kitchen. Eventually, they decided to turn their hobbies into something larger. David enrolled at UC Davis to study enology (the study of seminal winemaker Brian Eno) while Cindy expanded her knowledge of cooking and wine at culinary schools around the country. Today, the two oversee a diverse line of wines and a locally sourced, seasonal menu to match. They also share their enthusiasm with visitors during winemaking events, tours, dinners, and bottle-smashing parties.
Stan Barrett already had a winery and a passion for French cuisine when, in 2002, he found himself in need of a winemaker. He found Sean Boyd, who had worked at wineries in France, New Zealand, and around the world. As of today, Boyd's favorite part of the wine-making process is the final blending stage, when he gets to tap into his creative side and combine fermented juices into their final state. He still learns new techniques and oversees every step of production at Woodinville Wine Cellars, where the staff specializes in crafting small-batch, additive-free wines using only grapes sourced from Washington vineyards. They let the wines age for up to 18 months in French oak barrels, which allows them plenty of time to take on complex flavors and read Madame Bovary.
It's this dedication to detail that has earned Boyd various accolades for more than a dozen wines, including the deep cabernet sauvignon, peppery rose, and rich Last Man Standing malbec. Over time, the selection has included more than 45 styles, some of which are produced only rarely. Most of the small batches that are currently available, though, are uncorked during tastings at the winery's creek-side tasting room. Barrett also owns Art Culinaire, the North American importer of Lacanche ranges.
Before Darren and Melissa Des Voigne started Des Voigne Cellars, they honeymooned in Italy, staying for a week at a winery in Castellina in Chianti. Their stay coincided with the release of the historic 1997 Chiantis, and drinking the excellent vintage hooked the couple on the wine industry. When they returned to the States, Darren decided to turn his wine-making skills?which up until then had been limited to making wine in his garage?into a full-blown career.
He succeeded. Today, Des Voignes Cellars is a full decade old, and Darren is the house wine-maker. He crafts traditional and creative varietals with equal aplomb, and as an extra flourish, shows his love of vintage jazz records through his wine labels. The labels of his "Untitled" wines boast lines of sheet music, whereas his 2009 Montreux's label depicts a thoughtful drummer, probably contemplating what terrible drumsticks wine bottles would make.