With just over 1000 wineries, 400+ grape growers, and 60,000 acres of wine grapes, Washington State is the 2nd largest wine producing state in the U.S. They produce over 80 varieties from 19 AVAs. Washington has a lot of things going for it; a significant diurnal temperature shifts, the rain shadow effect, and extended daylight hours, which all play a role in growing outstanding grapes. This month we’ve selected two vastly different rosés from our neighbor to the north.

The first wine comes from Barnard Griffin Winery. In 1977, 24 year old UC Davis grad Rob Griffin left his native California and headed north to become the Winemaker at Preston Cellars, one of Washington’s first wineries. Since then, Rob has to continued to rack up accolades as Washington’s resident wunderkind winemaker. In 1983 he and his wife, Deborah Barnard, started Barnard Griffin Winery, the 7th licensed winery in the state. With Rob as Head Winemaker, Deborah as Co-Owner, and their daughter Megan Hughes as a Second-Generation Winemaker,  Barnard Griffin is truly a family operation. Decisions at Barnard Griffin are driven by the family’s lifelong dream to make world-class wines on their terms: a desire to put the absolute best wine in everyone’s glass, regardless of their budget. Barnard Griffin strives to make exceptional wines that speak to the Columbia Valley–a journey which starts with the highest standards for growers and the winery’s production.

The second wine comes from another Washington transplant, Greg Harrington. “A Manhattan-based sommelier tastes some Washington state wines and is so inspired, he sells everything to move across the country to make his own.” That’s the start of the story of Gramercy Cellars, where a close eye on the grapes (picked for almost-peak ripeness, mostly organic), matched with minimalist wine making techniques (no or little new oak, no additives) and a lot of time (extended aging) has created wine widely considered as some of the best that Washington offers. 

Greg started his career overseeing some of the most prestigious wine programs in the country. After passing the MS exam at 26 years old (the youngest person ever at the time), he started to feel that his future in wine was on the production side. In 2004, Greg attended an event featuring the wines of Walla Walla and was blown away by the potential of the area. In the fall of 2005, he and his wife Pam launched Gramercy Cellars with the intention of making a specific kind of old-world-meets-new Rhône and Bordeaux varietals. Their goal was to utilize the near perfect growing conditions near Walla Walla to create some of the best-reviewed wines from the region. The results are intense, yet restrained; elegant, yet earthy. The Walla Walla and surrounding AVAs offer the perfect climate and soil conditions for the kind of wines they wanted to make. 

Think Pink!

Carrie Upson-General Manager

2021 Gramercy Cellars “Olsen Vineyard” Rosé

Region/Country of Origin: Columbia Valley, Washington

About the Winery:  Gramercy Cellars makes around 8000 cases/year and works almost exclusively with Rhone and Bordeaux varieties, which Greg finds to be most suitable for the terroirs of Walla Walla as well as the greater Columbia Valley Appellation. The wine-making philosophy is simple: work with top vineyard sites, harvest the fruit when it’s in balance and not overripe, intervene minimally, and use as little new oak as possible.

About the Winemaking: To make Rosé, Harrington farms differently than they farm for red wines. They start by selecting the coolest blocks in the vineyard. More importantly, they manage the vines differently, with a more shade-producing canopy and a higher crop load, which helps retain acidity and keep alcohol levels manageable. This Rosé begins with a brief maceration, a traditional Provencal technique, which develops an orange hue in the wine, stopping before it turns pink. Think Alaskan Sockeye Salmon. Many of our favorite roses exhibit this color. After whole-cluster pressing, the Cinsault, Grenache, and Syrah were co-fermented together for a few days then aged without oak in stainless steel tanks. 

Tasting Notes: Modeled after the classic Provence Rosé blend of 52% Cinsault, 24% Grenache, 24% Syrah; the 2021 Rosé is bursting with cantaloupe, Rainier cherry, strawberry, watermelon and grapefruit. The aromatics in this vintage are very lifted and popping out of the glass. Wet river rock and subtle white pepper compliment the fruit. Palate is right in line with the nose loaded with melon and cherry. Fresh and vibrant with good flavor intensity that lasts all through the finish.

Winemaker: Greg Harrington

Price: $25 btl / $270 case

Suggested Food Pairing: 

Seafood Risotto

Salmon Tartare

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Baba Ganoush

2021 Barnard Griffin Sangiovese Rosé

Region/Country of Origin:  Columbia Valley and Wahluke Slope, Washington

About the Winery: Barnard Griffin Winery began in 1983 with borrowed grapes and a rented cellar, the dream of founders Deborah Barnard and Rob Griffin. It has since become one of Washington’s most enduring and award-winning wineries. At the helm then and now is the most experienced winemaker in Washington State, Rob Griffin. In addition to the winery production facility, the Richland campus is home to a tasting room and fused glass art studio. The brand also boasts a tasting room at the Vancouver Waterfront.

About the Winemaking: Harvested the week of 9/16/21. Cool fermented in stainless steel to retain fruit intensity and minimize oxidation.

Tasting Notes: Beautifully crafted, juicy, bright and flavorful. Bucket loads of strawberry, melon and pineapple flavors practically leap out of the glass. Dry with racy, vibrant acidity. Discover the amazing versatility of this refreshing, food-friendly Rosé.

Winemaker: Rob Griffin

Price: $16 bottle/$172.80 case

Suggested Food Pairing: 

Caprese Salad

Grilled Vegetables

Thai Curries

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