As of Tuesday, August 11, 2015
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to a quality, welcoming winery “off the beaten path” so to speak, in Winthrop. Wine lovers who enjoy the active lifestyle of the Methow Valley, like the owners of Lost River Winery do, can still indulge in quality wine tasting too.
Located just outside of downtown Winthrop on state Highway 20, the official tasting room is light and welcoming. They feature local artists on the walls and rotate the art every two months. They have an outdoor patio area where you can sit and have wine by the glass.
Liam Doyle who manages the tasting room, winery sales and marketing says the place is very popular on Saturdays with folks coming in with friends to sample, visit and buy their wine for the weekend. Open seven days a week in July and August; Friday, Saturday and Mondays are their main days year round.
There is no charge for wine tasting here in Winthrop and the $6 fee at their Seattle tasting room at Pike Place Market is waived with any purchase. Of course wine club members taste free over there.
Liam’s mom, Barbara, married John Morgan 15 years ago. He was from a long line of wine enthusiasts and himself a hobby winemaker.
After traveling and visiting small wineries in California, in 2001 they made the trek across the Cascades from Bellingham to a second home they had been building on the Lost River near Mazama. They added a winery addition to that home and in 2002 became vintners and co-owners of Lost River Winery. Liam joined them two years later.
John is the winemaker with an engineering background and love for chemistry and machinery. Adding some education from University of California at Davis with mentoring from fellow winemakers, he has brought quality wines to the Valley.
He purchases his grapes solely from the Greater Columbia Valley here in Washington. They buy clusters of grapes and crush them themselves. His Chardonnay grapes are 100 percent from a Walla Walla vineyard and he purchases from different areas for the results he is looking for in each variety.
An informative map hangs in the tasting room showing the vineyards, their locations, and what grapes come from where. Liam says there are no set recipes for their wines as growing seasons change and they adapt to that season.
In speaking with Liam, he was hesitant to pick his favorite wine. But he easily said the Pinot gris is the most popular. It is featured in local restaurants by the glass and used quite often for wedding receptions.
Even being the least expensive, it won first place in the 2014 Pacific Coast Oyster Competition for Pinot gris. This blind tasting pairs the best wine with an oyster in a half shell. They proudly display a golden oyster trophy and it is uniquely beautiful, for an oyster.
Liam was getting ready for a bottling of the Pinot gris the next day.
After some gentle haranguing, Liam said, his first pick would have to be the Cedarosa. He says it symbolizes their style which is decidedly Old World European. For instance their Cote-Wall, is co-fermented with Viognier and Syrah grapes in the style of a Cote-Rotie wine in the upper region of the Rhone Valley in France. It is very nice.
But they changed the name to play off of a very popular local climbing wall called Goat Wall. The wine labels, including Cote-wall, are the work of Dan Tuttle and showcase the Methow Valley’s beauty.
Want to be a wine club member? There is no fee to join, with a one-case commitment per year. Four bottles, three times a year and you get a 20 percent discount! They also feature a barrel tasting from the cellar at the winery on the Lost River in Mazama. Sounds wonderful.
Producing 5,500 cases a year, they are the most prolific winery in our county. With six whites and 11 reds available this year there is lots to choose from and makes the visit up there well worth the effort.
This is the last in a five-part series of columns on local wineries written by Sandy Hansen. To reach Sandy, email her here.