What better way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than go drink wine, RIGHT? It’s the second weekend of our Woodinville Wine project. We’re officially doing this, not just saying we will!
This week’s choices were influenced by comments from Paul Gregutt’s excellent book, “Washington Wines & Wineries.” In reading profiles of wineries, the description of several winemakers and their personal stories caught my eye:
- “I started in this business with the simple goal to drive a forklift….Plus, making kick-ass wines is a nice change from my day job of arresting people.” (Jerry Riener, Guardian Cellars)
- “I don’t want to put my handprint on wine. I don’t fine, don’t filter, and I use 100% native yeast. I’m trying to be really gentle, like it’s an artifact.” (Brennon Leighton, Efeste)
First up, Guardian. They’re in the Warehouse Complex area of Woodinville, which we’d never been to before, and we were shocked at the number of tasting rooms. How did we not know about this?!?
Guardian’s interior was exactly what we were hoping for in going off the beaten trail. Crisp and modern, with rock-inspired posters on the wall and cool concrete–dark, but inviting. Guardian has a great theme going on. The winemaker’s profession–as a narcotics officer–informs the wine names, like “The Guilty” and “The Alibi.” Wine bottles are draped with handcuffs.
The treat of going to smaller wineries is that the owners are often pouring and will give you the facts and the story behind wines in an unbeatably direct way. When we wanted to know about the rationale behind adding 3% Viognier to a Syrah, Jerry eagerly explained how it absorbs red color like no other, making an incredibly vibrant wine, and also brings out the Syrah’s inherent qualities). Booyah! We are in this to learn something, after all. While Guardian’s wines weren’t our personal favorite–wine tasting is very subjective–we loved our visit and enjoyed the memorable and unique branding.
Next and last up (since we’re our daily maximum is now two wineries)–Efeste. Another laid back and friendly tasting room. This place was founded by three friends who just really liked to drink wine, but whose family history also included winemaking. The focus here is on terroir and purity. We tasted unabashedly beautiful single varietals, with nothing to hide. The wines here really struck a chord with us–and are impressing many others, too, by the many accolades they’re getting. Again, we appreciated that the guy pouring was one of the owners. On our final taste, when I asked about the name “Final Final,” he explained it was a tribute to his dad, who always referred to the last drink of the night as the “final final.”
Great wines, cool stories, and fun chats with passionate winemakers. Good stuff, good stuff.