- New Alliance of Women in Washington Wine already stands at 200 strong
- Bullocks bid goodbye to Eye of the Needle Winery in Woodinville
- VineLines Dispatch #7: That’s a wrap
- Former Oregon car dealer gears up with Jachter Family Wines
- VineLines Dispatch: 6 Vineyards at Work
- L’Ecole Nº 41 to create wine bar at Marcus Whitman Hotel
- VineLines Dispatch: Harvest surrounding Lake Chelan
- Northwest restaurateurs purchase Basel Cellars in Walla Walla
- Hayden Homes CEO buys interest in Pepper Bridge, Amavi wineries
- Walla Walla Community College to receive $15 million gift from MacKenzie Scott
Merlot, straight up delicious
It’s been 13 years since the movie Sideways told filmgoers to not drink Merlot. It’s time to get over it. Merlot, especially in the Pacific Northwest, is delicious, one of the best and most prolific red wines we make.
The numbers bear out the fact that Washington grape growers and winemakers didn’t pay much attention to Sideways. In 2003, the year before Sideways, Washington winemakers crushed 20,900 tons of Merlot. While production certainly leveled off for a few years, it has steadily grown for the past half-decade. Last fall, Washington crushed 34,600 tons of Merlot.
Cabernet Sauvignon has emerged in the past decade as Washington’s signature grape, but that has not been at the expense of Merlot, whose acreage continues to expand, partly because it’s a good blender with Cab, and partly because it’s a darn good grape to grow in the Columbia Valley. As it turns out, left to its own devices, Merlot will grow wildly well under most conditions, resulting in wines that are simple. But in Eastern Washington’s sandy soils which naturally temper the vine, then can be further controlled by irrigation, it can result in wines that are simply gorgeous.
Here are a dozen delicious examples of Merlot we’ve tasted in recent weeks, including examples from Idaho and Oregon. Ask for them at your favorite wine shop or contact the wineries directly.
If you have been avoiding Merlot because of a throw-away line in a movie 13 years ago, now is the perfect time to embrace a grape that deserves better.