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  • First Friday

Robert Karl Cellars

A visit to Robert Karl Cellars is like being transported to another time and place. The eclectic old horse drawn fire carriage house is home to Joe and Rebecca Gunselman’s family legacy. In this old building you’ll find character, hard work, discipline, Joe’s meticulously keen scientific mind and Rebecca’s infectious southern charm.

Robert Karl is a name that bridges both sides of the family. Robert is from Rebecca’s side of the family and Karl is from Joe’s. It is also the name of Joe and Rebecca’s youngest son. “Statistics say that if they can’t pronounce the name, then they won’t buy the wine, and people can’t pronounce Gunselman,” Rebecca can often be heard saying. Robert Karl Cellars procures grapes from four vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA in the lower Columbia Valley including their own eight acre block called the Gunselman Bench. The other three vineyards grow dedicated blocks under Joe’s specifications.

Joe and Rebecca moved to Spokane from Roanoke, Virginia in 1998 in search of the “best place to grow grapes.” Joe’s research led him to Washington State and eventually to Horse Heaven Hills. Horse Heaven Hills is a perfect growing climate for Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, Merlot, and Malbec. The vineyards also provide Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc. Rebecca says the Sauvignon Blanc was recently chosen so she had ’something to drink during the hot summer days in Spokane. Robert Karl also makes a delightfully dry Rose of Cabernet Franc, another perfect wine for summer sipping.

Joe is an exceptional winemaker that applies his medical training and scientific background to meticulously create quality wine with each new vintage. Their hands on attention to the process shows with their highly acclaimed Inspiration, a Bordeaux style blend and the Claret, a proprietary blend that is not only well made but also a bargain. Robert Karl’s wines are receiving high praise from magazine reviewers and Robert Karl was recently listed as one of Spokane’s four-star wineries in Paul Gregutt’s Washington Wines and Wineries and one of the Best New American Wineries (Wine & Spirits Fall 2008) -10 year retrospective of new wineries.

Dr. Gunselman is an advocate for the health benefits of wine and recommends it with every meal. Visitors are encouraged to join the “Health Club,” Robert Karl’s wine club, for a regular check up. A stop in the historic building on Pacific will give you a glimpse of the wine making process. Ask nicely, and Rebecca will give you a guided tour.

Location: 115 W. Pacific

Hours: Thurs, Fri 2-5pm and Saturday 12-5pm

Phone: 509.363.1353

Website: www.robertkarl.com

Twitter: @robertkarlwine

Facebook: Facebook.com/RobertKarlCellars

This article was published in the November 2010 issue of Spokane Wine Magazine

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