When a wine makes the annual “Top 100” list selected and published by Wine Spectator magazine, two things typically happen.
First, the wine almost immediately sells out. Second, the price goes up for the next vintage.
It’s too early to know whether that will happen with the three-variety blend known as “Vireo,” crafted by Goose Ridge Vineyards and Estate Winery in Richland, Wash. The 2006 bottling of “Vireo” – consisting of 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Syrah and 29% Merlot – claimed the No. 41 spot on the Spectator’s list for 2010.
What is known is that Goose Ridge has been producing high-quality wines ever since its founding in 1998 by the Monson family, with the assistance of legendary Washington wine figure Walter Clore.
The late Dr. Clore – known as the father of the Washington wine industry – assisted Arvid Monson in establishing the estate. Today, it includes a 1,400-acre vineyard that’s planted on a south-facing slope in the Columbia Valley appellation, adjacent to Red Mountain.
From the very beginning, the vineyard has yielded grapes of exceptional character and complexity, a key to developing a line of highly regarded wines.
“We are committed to producing consistent, high quality, memorable wines through sound viticulture practices, site selection with low yield vineyards, and artisan winemaking,” a Goose Ridge spokesman tells us. “Our winemaker, Kendall Mix, works closely with our vineyard manager to indentify the best blocks in our estate vineyard.”
Those blocks provide the fruit for the winery’s signature blends, including “Vireo,” as well as “g3” and “Sol Duc.”
The “g3” wine features the same varietal mix as the “Vireo,” but with more Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and a little less Syrah. “Sol Duc” is named for the sparkling waters that nourish the Columbia Valley, and is positioned by the winery as “a classic concentrated red wine.”
Sheltered from Seattle’s maritime climate by the towering Cascade Mountain Range, the Goose Ridge vineyard receives less than 8 inches of rainfall annually. Long, warm summer days and cool nights contribute to the growing of grapes that are noted for their ripe, rich character.
“We are committed to sound viticultural practices,” the spokesman adds. “All vines are planted on original rootstocks. We have south to north row orientation for maximum solar exposure. We use drip irrigation, we manage the crop loads, and we make canopy adjustments.”
All that work pays off, as one can taste in the award-winning blends as well as the various single-variety bottlings made at the winery. Those single-variety wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling – all of which have developed strong track records in the Columbia Valley climate.
Goose Ridge provides two tasting rooms for traveling wine lovers. The “home base” is situated in the heart of the vineyard, and includes an event center which enables it to host large groups. Private tours also are available by appointment.
The second tasting room is in Woodinville, in the heart of the Columbia Valley “wine country,” not far from Seattle. It’s located adjacent to the historic Hollywood Schoolhouse, and can host intimate private events.
The wines of Washington state have been growing in popularity as touring in the Columbia Valley has increased. Visitors to the dozens of tasting rooms have known about the high quality of the offerings for years.
Now, with the kind of added attention provided by a “Top 100” ranking from Wine Spectator, even more people will be in on the region’s “vinous secret.”
When planning a trip to the great Northwest, a stop at one of Goose Ridge’s tasting rooms should be on your “To Do” list – before all of its now-famous bottlings are gone.
Goose Ridge Vineyards and Estate Winery
16304 N. Dallas Road
Richland, WA 99352
Open Daily, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
14450 Woodinville Redmond Rd. NE, Suite 108
Woodinville, WA 98072
Open Daily, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.