Micro-Winery Silver Bell Makes it Mark in Burlington

Sometimes I find myself discovering a new winery in the most unlikely places.

This one comes to me by way of my dad, who hobnobs at Skagit Golf & Country Club with Alan Holtzheimer, owner/winemaker of Silver Bell Winery.

Silver Bell is, without a doubt, one of the smallest wineries I’ve ever encountered, but it’s not unlike dozens of other Washington wineries that got their start with nothing more than a home winemaking kit and someone who had the desire and drive to make their own premium wines.

Holtzheimer, who describes himself as “the world’s biggest anti-wine snob,” produces wine from his home-based business in Burlington. He recently invited me and my dad to a preview of his new releases at the winery tasting room, which conveniently doubles as the family garage.

The unpretentious setting, the lack of a winemaking pedigree…I had to ask myself, what the heck was I getting into? But Holtzheimer pointed out that he sources his fruit from quality vineyards and his wines had already passed the discriminating palate of Doug Charles of Compass Wines in Anacortes, who now carries them in his wine shop. Validation of that kind is good enough for me.

Here are my tasting notes on some of the wines I sampled:

2011 Copeland Vineyard Riesling (about $17) – Sourced from the Two Mountain Winery estate vineyards near Zillah, this is a lovely riesling that’s slightly fruity and refreshingly different. Apricot aromatics combine with more fresh apricot and peach flavors on the palate. The wine’s crisp acidity balances out a one-percent residual sugar content to virtual dryness.

2011 Airport Ranch Pinot Gris (about $20) – From Airfield Estates-owned vineyards near Prosser, this is textbook pinot gris. Bartlett pear and the tangy acidity of Granny Smith apple pops out in the initial stages and then lingers on to a finish with accents of dried pear.

2010 Dineen Vineyard Syrah (about $35) – This Rattlesnake Hills Appellation syrah spent 18 months in French oak and it’s drinking quite nicely. Green tea and strawberry on the nose, bright, red fruit flavors, a splash of acidity, and gentle, background tannins round out this fine effort.

Silver Bell wines are available for private tastings by phoning the winery at (360) 757-WINE or emailing Silver.Bell.Winery@gmail.com. Another option is a private wine tasting in your home which, remarkably, Holtzheimer currently offers free of charge.

And finally, you can sample Silver Bell wines at a spring release party on May 6 from 1 to 5 pm at Skagit Golf & Country Club. It’s open to the public and also free.

Comments are closed.