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.
Jim Petty, owner and winemaker, has high standards for wine that have motivated him to craft an array of award-winning varietals from the grapes of local vineyards. Aspenwood Cellars’ signature series boasts Seattle Wine Award–winners, such as the silver medal 2009 syrah and the bronze medal 2008 cabernet sauvignon, while the current production series includes a 2009 Elegance red-wine blend, which serenades tasters with the cherry and toasted vanilla notes that earned it a silver medal at the Washington State Fair in 2012. Aspenwood Cellars invites guests to visit on the weekends for tastings led by Jim. Guests can take the opportunity to learn about how the wine is made personally, since Jim takes a more personal approach, meeting and talking with guests about all things wine.
Long before Genoa Cellars opened its doors, long-time friends Derek Berger and Scott Heinrich held a shared appreciation for Italy's Sangiovese grape. That, they might tell you, was the start of it all—wine-appreciation transitioned to wine-making, which led to amateur winemaking awards and relationships with some of Washington's top vineyards. Eventually, they were crafting Sangiovese-based red blends and showcasing their Washington interpretation of Italy's Super-Tuscan-style blend. Today, their operation has grown into Genoa Cellars, where they produce Tuscan–style wines from Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot. Participants can sample their wines and take home a bottle to have on hand for special dinners or occasions.
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.
With the help of his uncle Tom Campbell, who just happens to be a seasoned enologist and viticulturist, Bijal Shah and his wife Sinead founded The Woodhouse Wine Estates in 2004. The winery's vintages are brought to life by Jean Claude Beck, whose winemaking genes reach back to Alsace, France, where his family estate has been crafting wine since 1579. The team at Woodhouse focuses on expressing the unique terroir of each grape’s origin, yielding balanced, mature wines marked by full flavors. Inside the tasting room, chandeliers sparkle over a long bar, where visitors can sip pours of any number of select wines.