Founded in 1983, Columbia Crest has grown from a small winery in a relatively unknown wine region to one of the most significant wineries in the U.S. and a major force behind Washington state's emergence as a world-class wine region. Over the years, the winery has remained committed to delivery handcrafted, small-lot wines, as well as affordable, superior quality everyday wines. In 2009, the winery reached a milestone when Wine Spectator named their 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon "Wine of the Year," the first time a wine from Washington state has received the ranking. This accolade was not only a historic moment for Columbia Crest, but for all wineries in Washington and reinforced the belief that the region is among the best wine-producing areas in the world.
Learn More About Merlot
Merlot (mehr-LOW) No second fiddle
Merlot is coming back into its own. High popularity led to mass production, which then led to a backlash towards the variety (remember Miles in Sideways?). But passionate Merlot producers, and of course the right bank of Bordeaux, continued to produce quality versions of this grape. Merlot remains the principle grape of top chateaux in St-Émilion
(think Petrus), not to mention its growth in popularity and quality in California and Washington State.
Merlot flourishes both as a single varietal and as a blending agent. It's known
for adding softness to the austere Cabernet
Sauvignon in Bordeaux blends in France, California and elsewhere. Chateau
Petrus, perhaps one of the most expensive and sought-after wines of the world,
is almost 100% Merlot. The grape exudes soft fruit flavors of plum and blackberry,
but it's versatile - the style can change depending on the climate and soil.
Merlot from mountain areas are usually more Cabernet like, with stronger structure
and tannins, while Merlot from valley floor areas and clay-based soils are opulent, with velvelty texture, often approachable when young.
Summing it up
Successful Sites: Bordeaux, California, Washington State, Chile
plum, cherry, blackberry, spice, raspberry
Learn More About Columbia Valley, Washington
Columbia Valley is the largest of Washington State's wine growing regions, with almost 11 million acres. It encompasses a number of smaller regions, including Yakima Valley, Walla Walla Valley, Red Mountain and more. The vast area consists of a range of climates, allowing viticulturists to plant a diverse selection of grape varieties. Most wineries plant rows sparsely, which helps the vines survive the harsh winters.
Merlot is the most popular and most planted grape of the area, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Syrah and Riesling are also popular and continue to grow in acreage.