Washington State is home to a growing number of winemaking facilities that define themselves as boutique wineries. These wineries are generally characterized by limited production, handcrafted attention to detail, and personalized service that you might not find at a large scale operation.
One of the best parts of my job is seeking out boutique wineries, and I came across a couple of them during a visit to Walla Walla earlier this year.
Flying Trout Wines has nothing to do with aerial fish, but rather a reference to winemaker Ashley Trout. I met with Trout at her startup tasting room in downtown Walla Walla and it was the type of informal visit that I really enjoy – conversation about her industry exploits, a stroll through the facility, and, of course, sampling good wine.
She currently offers a cabernet-based blend called Deep River Red (about $28). The 2004 vintage was outstanding and the 2005 promises to be a huge wine as well with excellent cellaring potential. Trout credits Chuck Reininger of Reininger Winery with providing advice and insight and it’s clearly apparent in this promising young winemaker.
At Gifford Hirlinger Winery, winemaker Mike Berghan was also a congenial and knowledgeable host. His winemaking facility and 10 acres of family-owned vineyards, located just south of Walla Walla, are literally on the Washington/Oregon border.
The upscale tasting room and contemporary label design are indicators that Beghan has done his marketing homework. But this would all be for naught if he didn’t have some good wines to put in the bottle; a test he easily passes with some first-class juice.
Current releases include the 2005 vintages of his Cabernet (about $28), Merlot (about $26) and Stateline Red blend (about $22). They’re all excellent wines, but the cabernet is a personal favorite. It’s a beautiful, lush wine that’s nicely balanced with good structure, acidity and dark berry fruit flavors.
For distribution and ordering information about these two boutique wineries visit www.flyingtroutwines.com and www.giffordhirlinger.com.