Newcomer Dusted Valley Vintners Worth a Taste

August 29th, 2005

Add Dusted Valley Vintners to your list of newer Washington wineries to try. They recently were named as the “Winery to Watch” by a media and trade panel at this years Washington’s Arriving Vintners Event.

You can’t help but feel like one of family while visiting the winery’s Walla Walla tasting room, which is currently located on the lower level of co-winemaker Corey Braunel’s home. Along with co-winemaker and brother-in-law Chad Johnson, these two are turning out some awfully nice wines that are really worth trying.

Among my favorites is the 2004 Yakima Valley Viognier (about $20). This is no wimpy Viognier, with more depth and complexity than most. Yes, there’s the faint aroma of peaches to start, but oak aging adds some nice toasty notes to the wine, accentuating the peach and apricot flavors with a creamy finish.

Also noteworthy are the 2004 Old Vine Chardonnay (about $20) and the 2003 Barrel Thief Red Super Tuscan (about $22), a full-bodied red with lots of dark fruit and ample tannins. Give this one a little time to open up and prepare to be dazzled.

Dusted Valley Vintners wines are not currently distributed in the Bellingham area, so its up to us wine consumers to email Braunel and Johnson and let them know we’re here. You can find their address, as well as information for ordering wines at

Preston Doesn’t Charge a Small Fortune for Premium Wines

August 22nd, 2005

One of the things that I like about Preston Premium Wines is that they don’t charge a small fortune for grapes grown in the Columbia Valley. While some wineries outside the region use these same grapes and tack on a good $10 a bottle more (what I refer to as a “reputation surcharge”), Preston provides wine lovers with plenty of options at $20 a bottle or less.

Among their newer releases is the 2004 Sauvignon Blanc (about $10). This wine has the faint aroma of fresh peaches. Aging in new American oak provides it with a creamy, toasty quality and helps balance the acidity. This is a delicious wine that would be an excellent match with chicken or seafood.

Another reasonably priced choice is the 2003 Gamay Noir (about $10). This is really a fun little wine, packed with lots of strawberry flavors and a slightly sweet finish. Try it chilled with a variety of grilled foods or simply on its own; it’s great for summertime sipping.

Occasionally you can find Preston Premium Wines at your grocer or at State liquor stores. You can also check on distribution and ordering information by visiting their website at or by phoning the winery at (509) 545-1990.

Zerba Cellars Wines Take a Walk on the Wild Side

August 15th, 2005

Added Note: Zerba Cellars 2003 Wild Thing received a gold medal at the Tri-Cities Wine Festival on November 12, 2005

Although they’re located just a quarter mile south of the Washington-Oregon border in Milton-Freewater, Zerba Cellars is part of the Walla Walla appellation and many of their grapes are from Washington vineyards.

Despite the disarray of a tasting room currently under construction, Marilyn Zerba was an amiable and helpful host during a recent visit, treating me to a number of current releases that were all quite good.

I really enjoyed the 2003 Wild Thing Red Wine, a blend of Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet and Cabernet Franc. The wine is loaded with dark fruit, spicy notes and subtle oak flavors. At about $19 a bottle, it’s one of the more competitively priced red wines from this region. Ample supply and the amusing picture of the grinning zebra on the label make this wine a no-brainer for stocking up on.

Also available and worth a try are the 2004 Viognier (about $19), with creamy peach nuances and the 2004 Lewis Vineyard Chardonnay (about $15), a slightly tropical, lightly oaked wine that’s a steal at this price.

Zerba Cellars wines can be found at Compass Wines in Anacortes and can also be ordered by phoning the winery at (541) 938-9463.

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