Iconic is an adjective often overused in the wine world, but it applies to DeLille Cellars and L’Ecole N° 41 Winery when it comes to their statue-like presence on Wine & Spirits Magazine’s global Top 100 Winery list.
This month, L’Ecole owner/winemaker Marty Clubb shared the news that his third-generation Walla Walla Valley company earned the recognition for the 17th time. It’s an achievement that only 16 wineries across the world have matched in the quarterly magazine’s 41-year history.
“We have so much to celebrate and be thankful for including our 40th anniversary, this award, our Woodinville location turning a year old,” Clubb says, “and at the Auction of Washington Wines, we raised more than $100,000 for our lot with the Seattle Seahawks ‘Where World Champions are Made’ benefiting Seattle Children’s and other great causes.”
DeLille, based in Woodinville, joined the magazine’s top 100 club for the sixth time in the past seven years.
“For over 30 years, our entire winery has been committed to excellence, partnering with amazing growers and benefiting from the focused determination and effort of our winemaking team,” Jason Gorski, director winemaking and viticulture, stated in a news release. “I am very grateful for my team and their tireless pursuit of quality and constant improvement.”
Of the 36 wineries in the U.S. to make the list, 11 are in the Pacific Northwest. Last year, it was 38 and 13, respectively.
Wine & Spirits spotlights young Pásxa Wines
Pásxa Wines in Walla Walla is the lone Northwest newcomer to the Top 100 list. The acclaim adds to the debutante status of the sister project to The Walls Vineyard. Both brands are owned by former Microsoft attorney Mike Martin.
The winemaking by Todd Alexander of Force Majeure fame helped Pásxa achieve cult status immediately. Its inaugural release became available in early 2021, and the 2020 River Rock Vineyard Grenache grabbed the attention of W&S senior correspondent Patrick Comiskey, who awarded it 94 points and helped turn it into the publication’s Wine of the Week for Feb. 6, 2023.
“We were thrilled to be included in this and also recognized by Patrick,” Martin told Great Northwest Wine. “It’s a great honor, particularly given how new the Pásxa brand is.”
Martin, who received degrees from Harvard and the University of Michigan, pays tribute to the Walla Walla Valley with Pásxa, named for the indigenous people’s reference to arrowleaf balsamroot. It is pronounced “Pahk-sha.”
After the 2021 vintage, Alexander and his wife, Carrie, left to focus on their young Holocene Wines and Beatus Wines brands while remaining hands-on with Force Majeure and WeatherEye on Red Mountain.
“Patrick Comiskey will be here in Walla Walla for Grenache Fest, so I’m pretty excited about that!” she noted. “I’m obsessed with all things Grenache, and we have some exciting things coming down the line in the near future, such as additional Grenache vineyards in France and a tasting studio in Old Freewater called Atelier Freewater.”
Wine & Spirits Top 100 festivals in Bay Area, NYC
For each recipient, the fanfare comes with an invitation to pour at the Wine & Spirits Top 100 tastings in San Francisco (Oct. 11) and later in New York City, where they will pour alongside cuisine from some of those cities’ leading restaurants.
And while other magazines boast of larger circulations, New York-based Wine & Spirits is the only wine publication to have won the James Beard Award for excellence in wine writing five times.
Sadly, Canada was not represented this year, which has been the norm rather than exception in recent years beyond the 2022 recognition for Inniskillin, a historic company that produces wine in both British Columbia and Ontario.