This article and the Design Behind the Vine series is brought to you by Columbia Winery.
The natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest is iconic within the continental United States. Stunning vistas, awe-inspiring mountain ranges, and arid deserts span the state of Washington, from the snow-capped peak of Mt. Rainier to the wild and rugged Olympic National Park to the chilly, choppy waves of the Puget Sound.
Washington is also known for producing fantastic wine, boasting more than 50,000 acres of vineyards across the state, primarily in the Columbia Valley. Natural surroundings – the Cascade and Olympic Mountains towering to the west, the hot, sweeping deserts to the east – combine to create a truly unique terroir with rich soils that are the result of the Ice Age-era Missoula Floods.
The confluence of these geographical conditions has resulted in excellent grape-growing conditions for a diverse array of varieties that are showcased in the wine produced in the state. The Columbia Valley’s arid, sunny climate, with warm days and significantly cooler nights, helps to concentrate the grapes, resulting in rich, fruity flavors with bright, crisp acidity and subtle tannin notes. Washington wine is truly like that of no other region in the United States.
For decades, one of the standard bearers of Pacific Northwest wine has been Columbia Winery. With roots dating back to 1962 when a group of close friends started what would become Columbia Winery, the winery represents not only the natural beauty found throughout the state, but also the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that is intrinsic to its founders. Columbia Winery has grown into a highly respected producer that is recognized nationally but continues to keep consumers top of mind by continuing to foster relationships and always conveying a sense of place that is true to its origins.
The winery is also focused on capturing the spirit of Washington and its unique terroir through its beautiful bottle design and, most importantly, crafting flavors that truly represent the region. A key part of representing Washington is the welcoming environment at the winery’s historic Woodinville tasting room, where educational tastings and a variety of other classes are available to the public, regardless of your level of wine expertise.
Winemaker Sean Hails pays close attention to the art of winemaking as he experiments and innovates with blends and varietals. Just as much attention is paid to the beautiful photography displayed on the bottles’ labels that evokes the place and personality of Washington with imagery of mountains and winding rivers, all of which are indicative of the various AVAs in the region.
“We always strive to convey our sense of place and personality,” says Sean Hails, winemaker at Columbia Winery. “Our unique landscape and the distinct personality of Washington have a direct impact on our portfolio of wines.”
This doesn’t just provide an evocative link to the spirit and beautiful natural features of the state of Washington, but it acts as an emotional connection for consumers who are looking for a real sense of place and identity. This is key to Columbia Winery’s ethos, and always has been.
The spirit and character of Washington is certainly evident in Columbia’s four nationally available wines – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Blend, and Chardonnay. At the Woodinville tasting room, even more wines are available, including small-lot wine sourced from appellations like Red Mountain, Horse Heaven Hills, Wahluke Slope, Yakima Valley, and Ancient Lakes. All of Columbia’s wines are crafted with the intention of cultivating a relationship with consumers by providing a story and sense of place through flavor that not only educates the consumer about what Washington wine is, but perhaps even entices someone who has never been to visit the region to experience it for themselves.
The spirit of Washington that Columbia Winery embodies is not just a destination, it’s a journey; a journey to follow your passion, to work toward your goal regardless of obstacles, to chart an entirely new course if necessary. Columbia Winery’s founders could not be certain of their future when they left their day jobs to follow their dreams, but the results speak for themselves. And, most importantly, the wine speaks for itself, conveying the distinct personality of Washington’s Columbia Valley through beautifully photographed, attention-grabbing labels and bold, terroir-forward flavors.
“We’re proud of where we’re from and value the land and environment in Washington that make it so unique,” says Hails. “We hope our labels grab attention and excite people to learn more – or even visit – this awe-inspiring region.”