At present, there are so many wineries in Washington State that offers different types of wines and make claims on paper to customers that at time it is hard to decipher this region. However, one needs to respect the fact that Washington State produces some of the absolute best Merlot varietals in the world and when matched to a great producer the results can be stunning.
Although an impossible task in choosing as there are some spectacular winemakers, here are some producers recently tasted that stood out beautifully.
- Gard Vintners Winery: Founded in 2006 by Josh and Lisa Lawrence, Gard Vintners is a family owned winery with a farmed estate vineyard on the Royal Slope of Washington’s Columbia Valley AVA. Gards Vintners produces humbly craft value-driven, award-winning wines from its sustainable estate vineyards that create lasting memories for their clients. The winery mission is to capture and bottle the unique characteristics of the land. At present, Gard Vintners produces 6,000 cases a year for its wine club, three tasting rooms, and select distribution in the northwest and across the country. Gard Vintners has three wine tasting rooms in Washington State; the first is located at Woodinville, another at Walla Walla, and the third situated at Ellensburg.
- COR Cellars: Founded in 2004, COR is an excellent winery in Washington that produces ten different wines with personality and character from the Columbia Rivers most distinguished vineyards. The winery also produces Alsatian and Friulian varietals from the Columbia Gorge and Bordeaux varietals from the Columbia Valley and Horse Heaven Hills. COR believes that wine is a perfect expression of human conditions and the fruit of the landscape that produces not just foods but an elixir that is expressive, delicious and healthful. One beautiful thing about COR Cellars is its modern tasting room which is situated at Old Highway 8, just above the quiet hamlet of Lyle, WA. All COR Cellars wines are sold at affordable prices that equates the quality of the juice and their Merlots have an exceptional price to quality ratio regardless of the label purchased.
- Domaine Pouillon: Established in 2005 by Alexis & Juliet Pouillon, Domaine Pouillon is a family friendly winery that produces wines that are driven by cuisine, passion, climate and those rooted in the French winemaking traditions of the Rhône Valley. The Winery is located in the hills near Lyle – just 15 stunning miles from Hood River which is a French hideaway in the Columbia Gorge. Each year, the Domaine produces approximately 2,500 cases of delicious and sophisticated wine with the highest standard. The grapes are hand-picked in small lots at their ideal ripeness. The firm also practices traditional artisan winemaking techniques: gently guiding the wine, allowing it to mature in the cellar before bottling and labeling each by hand.
Finally, as always, although these three wineries produce exceptional Merlots, it would be a disservice not to make the obvious statement that as a general rule, most serious wine producers in Washington State make exceptional varietal Merlots that are approachable in their youth and yet carry high complexity.