Published July 24, 2012
It is easy to get in a comfort zone as a wine lover and seldom venture outside. Many lovers of the vino in our valley drink California and Italy, with little room for all the other great wine producing nations and regions our planet has to offer. Recently, Oregon has been catching people's fancy with their elegant Pinot Noir. Oregon's neighbor to the north, Washington, has been producing high quality wines of many varieties and price ranges for almost a century. Today, we look at perhaps the state's most historic and acclaimed winery, Chateau Ste. Michelle.
The winery was built on the estate of Seattle lumber baron Frederick Stimson just after the repeal of prohibition. The winery evolved over the next half century, and then in 1976 they built a french-style chateau on the estate and took the name Chateau Ste. Michelle. The winery was a leader in pursuing and obtaining the designation of AVA (American Viticultural Area) for the Columbia Valley.
Chateau Ste. Michelle was an early pioneer in sustainable viticulture and their growing practices have been considered among the most environmentally friendly for over three decades. They are also a "Salmon Safe" winery, which is an important disctiintion the pacific northwest. This cerification means the winery's agricultural practices promote the spawning and thriving of the salmon so vital to the ecosystem in which the winery exists.
The Wines of their Columbia Valley Series:
Chardonnay - Bright Apple and mild citrus balcance nicely. A very food friendly wine that is perfect for summer enjoyment.
Riesling - An "off-dry" Riesling with sweet lime and peach flavor. This is a great Riesling for those who like the sweetness a little more subtle.
Pinot Gris - Flavors of pear, fig and a hint of spice make this wine interesting and appealing to a diverse group of wine lovers. Blended with a touch of Viognier.
Merlot - A more complex and layered Merlot than one would expect at this price point. Rich dark cherry mingles with a jammy fruit quality from the small ammount of Syrah blended in.
Syrah - Very accessable, fruit forward style of Syrah. Vibrant berry and vanilla flavors with moderate spice notes.
Cabernet - An inviting cab with some appeal to those who like the fruit and people who prefer big tannins and spice. Can please a table of six with diverse pallates.
Chateau Ste. Michelle is a winery worthy of investigation. Their wines are widely distributed throughout our valley by Tri-County Distributing. Check out their Columbia Valley line and the diverse lineup of single vineyard and premium reserve wines they have to offer, you'll be glad you did!