Woodinville Wineries Could Get Boost From New 'Artisan' Organization

The former head of Woodinville Wine Country is focusing on wineries that do their production in Woodinville with a new group aimed at educating consumers.

Cynthia Daste left  last year after a 4½-year stint as the promotional organization's executive director. But she's still promoting local wines.

Daste has helped create Artisan Producing Wineries of Woodinville to promote wineries based in Woodinville, versus wineries with tasting rooms in Woodinville but making their wines elsewhere.

The new organization will start with three events a year. The first will be the Spring Barrel Tasting on May 20. Participating wineries include , ,, , , , , ,  and 

Tickets for the afternoon of wine tasting and education from noon to 4 p.m. sell for $85 here.

Daste said events such as the Spring Barrel Tasting were created in a response to promotional events organized by Woodinville Wine Country that she said have lost their luster, such as St. Nicholas Open House in the winter and Passport to Woodinville in the spring.

“Those events need some upgrading. They need some changes,” Daste said. “That hasn't happened. The thing that has been lacking has been the educational perspective.”

During Spring Barrel Tasting, guests will taste wines in production cellars from barrels. The wines will be presented by winemakers who will also share insight into winemaking.

Daste promises to schedule Artisan Producing Wineries of Woodinville events around the traditional St. Nicholas Open House and Passport to Woodinville.

“I was hoping that they see it as enhancing the Woodinville wine experience,” said Daste. “It's promoting Woodinville.”

Woodinville vignerons say any promotion is a good promotion, whether it’s by Woodinville Wine Country or by Artisan Producing Wineries of Woodinville.

For its part, Woodinville Wine Country has revamped its strategy and eliminated the position of executive director previously held by Daste. The organization is now run by a new marketing coordinator, Gretchen Smith, and a volunteer board of directors made up of representatives from member wineries.

“Woodinville Wine Country is a marketing entity trying to promote the Woodinville wine industry,” said Mike Stevens, president of the Woodinville Wine Country board of directors and a  proprietor. “Anybody else that’s promoting Woodinville is good for the industry.”  

The Woodinville wine industry continues to grow as producers around the state seek a footprint in the Seattle area market, the largest Washington wine retail market in the country. Many wineries across the state have opened tasting rooms in Woodinville, including Pepperbridge/Amavi, Trust Cellars, , , ,  and Long Shadows.

In other cases, such as  and  and , the wineries were founded in Woodinville but moved their production to Walla Walla last year. Both wineries have kept their tasting rooms in Woodinville open.

Matthews Estate and Tenor winemaker Aryn Morell moved production to Walla Walla to be closer to vineyard sources. The move has freed the eight-acre estate in Woodinville for events, which have been profitable for the winery.

Its White Party, a late summer bash at the winery, drew almost 1,200 guests last August. Planning for this summer’s White Party has already begun, and it will be yet one more event to draw wine consumers to Woodinville.

“The wine consumer is looking for an experience,” said Bryan Otis, a Matthews Estate and Tenor vigneron. “Right now, it’s a wide open game. The more awareness the better.”

Wine Pick of the Week: 2008 Spring Valley Vineyard Uriah, Walla Walla Valley

Woodinville-based  bought the Walla Walla winery Spring Valley Vineyard in 2005. All the fruit for this wine continues to be sourced from the estate vineyard in Walla Walla.

The 2008 Spring Valley Vineyard Uriah combines the power of Walla Walla Merlot with the elegance of Old World Right Bank Bordeaux blends courtesy of the deft blending touch of winemaker Serge Laville, who grew up in France’s Rhone region.

The 2008 vintage is a blend of 53 percent Merlot, 36 percent Cabernet Franc, 8 percent Petit Verdot and 3 percent Malbec. The seductive nose of black cherries, currants, licorice, cloves and cigar box leads to a palate of more black cherries and currants. Pleasant acidity, espresso and fine grained tannins complete this balanced wine that drinks more elegantly than the 14.9 percent alcohol would suggest.

Pair this blend with a hearty steak like the ancho sirloin steak at in Kirkland. It is served with potato gratin, sautéed asparagus and a veal demi-glace.

Brix is currently serving the 2006 vintage of Spring Valley Vineyard Uriah. The blend, 54 percent Merlot, 33 percent Cabernet Franc, 7 percent Petit Verdot and 6 percent Malbec, is similar to the 2008 vintage.

The 2008 Spring Valley Vineyard Uriah retails for around $50 at in Bellevue or Redmond.


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