Celebrate the Holidays With New Washington Grape Varieties

Looking for a rare and unusual wine to sip with Christmas dinner or on New Year's Eve? It's easy to throw cash at a well-known bottle, but why not take the savvy route and buy a well-price wine featuring a lesser-known, up-and-coming grape variety? I interviewed several of my favorite Washington wineries to find out which new grapes they're watching emerge in 2018 and 2019.

As you might expect when Washington wine is involved, the majority of the grape varieties are big reds; however, some winemakers reported exciting whites, including Alberino and Piquepoul.

This is the second part of my series on the best new grape varieties in the Pacific Northwest. See what's on the move in Oregon in part one.

Without further ado, here are the Washington grapes varieties to look for now and in 2019.

JJ Williams, Kiona Vineyards and Winery

Three generations of the Williams family—JJ, John, and Scott—owners of Kiona Vineyards. [Photo: Mattie John Bamman]

"Carmenère and Mourvédre are what first come to mind. Carmenère on Red Mountain has really nice color—it’s violet/blue. It's got a nice pyrazine profile without being downright vegetal as the grape can be in other regions. Here it’s herbal and spicy, with blueberry fruit notes."

"Mourvèdre is producing stellar wines in Washington but perpetually flies under the radar. These wines have a high 'yum' factor and tend to be tasting-room superstars. The grape is fairly common in the greater wine scene but for whatever reason has not gained mainstream recognition from the US wine-drinking population. Look for Mourvédre from Syncline, Mark Ryan, and Helioterra."

"I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Lemberger as well, although we’ve been growing it for 40+ years. It’s really a delight. Not a new grape but certainly obscure."

Brad Binko, Eternal Wines

Eternal Wine's Carmenere [Photo: Mattie J. Bamman]
"Carmenere is #1, then Roussanne and Pinot Noir. We make all three and the Carmenere is a huge hit. Subtle tannins smooth acidity and a nice spicy finish."

Nina Buty, Buty Winery

In Washington State, we are seeing growth in Rhone varieties: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Viognier. Also, we are seeing more experimentation planting new grapevine clones in new locations. We are learning about new sites with huge potential, new methods of growing from tip to tail. It's a very exciting time in the Pacific Northwest."

Paul Beveridge, Wilridge Winery

"Sagrantino, Zweigelt, and Touriga Nacional. We're growing them all at our certified Organic and Biodynamic Vineyard and Winery on Naches Heights."

Rachel Horn, Aniche Cellars

"Albarino, Mourvédre, and more obscure Rhones, like Cinsault, Piquepoul, Counoise, and Carignan."

Inland Desert Nursery, via DavenLore Winery

Davenlore winemaker, Gordon Taylor [Photo: Mattie J. Bamman]
"Aglianico, Albarino, Graciano, Gruner Veltliner, and Zweigelt."


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