Every time he begins a new handcrafted batch, winemaker Philip Coates strives to bring out the elemental flavors of his Washington-grown grapes. A limited production schedule lets Philip and his team spend more time on each varietal, de-stemming grapes by hand before fermenting batches with native yeasts and aging them in french oak barrels. Next, they fill, cork, and wax each bottle by hand before applying labels designed by local artists.
Though his repertoire has grown since 21 Cellars’ inception in 2003, Philip’s specialty remains bordeaux varietals, including a 2009 malbec and the 2006 Pont 21 cabernet sauvignon, which _Seattle _ magazine deemed Washington’s top new wine of 2011. Alongside wine by the bottle, staffers pour samples of current wines at weekly tastings at Anthem Coffee and the 21 Cellars’ own tasting room—a cozy grotto lined with oak barrels.
Perry and Penny grew up together near Prosser, Washington in the 1970s, and were close friends throughout elementary school. More than 20 years later, the two rekindled their friendship but it wasn't all smooth sailing from the start. That year, Penny started making fortified blackberry wine, which Perry described as, "indescribably undrinkable." More than a little annoyed by this harsh judgment, Penny challenged Perry to do better. The result of this winemaking challenge was four cases of merlot that won a second-place ribbon among the amateur entrants at the Puyallup Fair. Stina's Cellars grew from this initial success, and over time production grew and grew, until finally the team was able to move into a small facility and officially open the winery for business in 2006.
At the winery, Perry and Penny—joined by helpful family and friends—make small batches of wine using grapes grown throughout eastern and western Washington. The type of wines they make changes frequently, but past bottles have included a dark and fruity syrah balanced by its bold tannic structure as well as an amber-hued roussane with hints of poached peaches and a pronounced nuttiness reminiscent of sherry. These wines appear on store shelves and restaurant menus throughout the region, but can also be sampled inside Stina's Cellars tasting room. Visitors are encouraged to stop in, try some samples, and attempt to guess which wine bottle contains a wish-granting genie.
Six distinct wineries make up the South Sound Wine Trail. At each stop, visitors sample flights of handcrafted wines and meet the winemakers that produce them, using grapes from some of Eastern Washington's best vineyards. The award-winning wineries of the South Sound Wine Trail include, Stottle Winery, Madsen Family Cellars, Northwest Mountain Winery, Medicine Creek Winery, Scatter Creek Winery, and Walter Dacon.
Voted Best Tasting Room in the West by Sunset magazine, The Tasting Room works hard to dazzle palates both rookie and oenophile with the best Washington wines, as well as with hard-to-find vintages, limited editions, and artisan varietals. Tastes typically range between $2 and $6 an ounce, with full glasses starting at $4, and showcase pours from Wilridge Winery, Camaraderie Cellars, and other local purveyors. Indecisive imbibers, meanwhile, can take the stress out of decision-making by choosing a wine flight ($5–$15), a simpler and less terrifying alternative to the wine skydive.
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.