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  • First Friday

Townshend Cellar

A typical spring day in the Northwest, the clouds are simultaneously flirting with rain and sunshine. The rolling hills are a backdrop for the start of the Rocky Mountains in the distance and the first growth of fruit trees is in the air. Visitors to the tasting room are greeted with wine that is aged to perfection as they slowly sip and watch the storm clouds pass across the sky.

Townshend Cellar has grown from a small production boutique winery to a powerhouse of quality producing over 20,000 cases per year from a selection of 20+ wines. Located 20 miles north of Spokane in beautiful Green Bluff, Townshend Cellar is a destination for wine in the heart of apples, strawberries, peaches and pumpkins.

Townshend Cellar began in 2001 with the release of their 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon, plus three other wines. That wine won the Inland Northwest’s best Cab award and the praise has never stopped. Don Townshend, owner and winemaker, attributes the success of Townshend Cellar to the Cab and the T3. T3 is a blend of Cab, Merlot and Cab Franc that was originally only available in restaurants. Customers can count on the wine to be consistent and a good value. Townshend’s signature wines spend up to 30 months in oak and another 3-4 years in bottle before being released. Sourcing 500 tons of grapes from Preston, Willard, Alder Creek and more, Townshend is committed to quality wine that he releases when it’s ready to enjoy, not when the cost sheet says so.

A surprise to many is the variety of wine that Townshend produces. From bubbles to Tempranillo, you can experience just about everything in the tasting room. A visit to Townshend Cellar will bring many highlights including Malbec, Viognier, Huckleberry Brut and even a Pinot Noir.  Prices for most of the Townshend wine is under $30, the exception being a Reserve Red blend. Don is also committed to the community creating two signature blends for the Spokane Symphony and private blends for local restaurants. Check out the ‘Diamond T’ club for 20% off of club shipments and cases of wine and 10% off bottles of wine and merchandise purchases.

The current location was voted one of the top 10 places to have a picnic by Tasting Room Magazine, so bring a picnic up, enjoy a bottle of wine and the fantastic view and sunsets at Townshend Cellar.

Location: 16122 N Green Bluff Rd

Hours: Fri-Sun 12-6pm

Phone: 509.238.1400

Website: www.townshendcellar.com

Twitter: @townshendcellar.com

Facebook: Search Townshend Cellar

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

Mountain Dome Winery

Nestled in the foothills of Mount Spokane is a family of gnomes that is hard at work making bubbles. These bubbles are enjoyed across the state and beyond to celebrate life’s precious moments. If you look closely you can catch a glimpse of the curious creatures as they work their magic to turn an ordinary bottle of wine into something sparkling and full of life.

Mountain Dome began in 1984 and was named after the Geodesic dome that was built shortly after the Manz family moved to the area in 1980. Situated on 85 acres in Northeast Spokane, Mountain Dome was started by Michael and Pat Manz. The 9500 square foot production facility and 4,000 square foot dome were built by the family. Dr. Michael Manz was a child psychologist at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital until his passing in 2006. Manz built a legacy that lives through Mountain Dome and through the Children’s Hospital’s BEST program. Erik Manz, along with his uncle John Mueller carries on Michael’s legacy of celebrating life with every glass. “I love being a part of people’s celebrations,” says Erik, “every day you’re alive is worth celebrating.” Still a true family operation, each family member is represented on the label of gnomes.

Retail sales began at Mountain Dome in 1992 with their 1988 vintage. For 18 years, Mountain Dome has been the only ‘bubble maker’ in Spokane. They also sparkle wine for other wineries like Townshend, Lone Canary, and Arbor Crest. Mountain Dome makes sparkling wine in the méthode champenoise style. With this method the bubbles for more complex wines are produced by secondary fermentation in the bottle. The process is very involved and Erik is hands on from riddling (turning of the bottles) to a special freezing machine that assists with removing the lees before disgorging.

The current line-up at Mountain Dome includes their non-vintage “gnome” label, non-vintage dry sparkling rose, vintage sparkling and their elegant Cuvee Forte. Each wine contains the traditional champagne grapes using approximately 66% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay all from Washington vineyards. Erik is excited to release Blanc de Blanc (sparkling wine using 100% Chardonnay) as well. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the beautiful view from the outdoor patio. If you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of those magical bubble making gnomes in action.

Location: 16315 E Temple Rd

Hours: Saturday-Sunday 11-4pm (Call ahead)

Phone: 509.928.2788

Website: www.mountaindome.com

Facebook: Facebook.com/MountainDome

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

Nodland Cellars

That is so cool, he makes his own alcohol,” exclaimed Tim during a family reunion trip with Tracy’s extended family. By the fall of 1999 Tracy and Tim acquired some Walla Walla Cabernet, hit the books, talked with winemakers and began experimenting with making wine. Over the years, one wine turned into five different wines and by 2007, Nodland Cellars became Spokane’s lucky 13th winery. Those early pre-release years were all about education and refining the process. Classes at UC Davis, Walla Walla Community College and the “school of hard knocks,” says Tracy led to their passion for “creating a small amount of the best wine we can make.”

The Nodland Red Blend is a traditional, pre 1870 style, Bordeaux blend. They drive across the state to source all six original Bordeaux varietals; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and even Carmenere The majority of their fruit comes from one acre each at Pepperbridge and Seven Hills vineyards. Their blocks are next to the same blocks used by Leonetti, Reininger, and Pepperbridge. When the vintage is right, Tim and Tracy also craft a Riesling and have recently introduced a 100% Carmenere and Rockin’ Red blend.

Tim is a lawyer by day and an accomplished jazz musician. Tracy is always hard at work at the tasting room and their 1200 square foot wine making facility. She is a talented artist. “I make wine, I drink wine, and I paint wine,” says Tracy. Often times you can arrive in the tasting room and find Tracy painting something new while Tim jams on his guitar. Tracy even puts a little bit of Nodland wine into every painting. The residue sentiment is collected when they clean the barrels and that dark inky purple paste is added to anywhere wine is used in a painting.

Tim’s love of jazz and Tracy’s love of art is how the Nodland Cellars label was born. Tim and Tracy discovered artwork by Tim Rogerson and as luck (or fate) would have it, Mr. Rogerson agreed to paint the label and created a beautiful image of Tim on guitar, and Tracy on the microphone (with a glass of wine in her hand). The Nodland’s produce 400 cases per year and self distribute almost 100% of the product through their mailing list, tasting room and local restaurants and retailers. Tim and Tracy would love to keep production low but are always looking to expand if the fruit is special.

Location: 11616 E Montgomery Rd

Hours: Saturday 12-4pm (call ahead)

Phone: 509.927.7770

Website: www.nodlandcellars.com

Twitter: @nodlandwine

Facebook: Search Tim Nodland

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

Liberty Lake Wine Cellars

Liberty Lake Winery’s story is not uncommon; a hobby that grows beyond the boundaries of a single cellar. What separates Doug and Shelly Smith is their passion for the Liberty Lake and Spokane community. “If we could just enjoy a glass of wine with everyone in our area, we’d be happy,” says Doug.  Originally Doug was experimenting with home brew when Shelly encouraged him to make something she could enjoy too. Realizing that their concentrated kit wine wasn’t up to par with what they were experiencing at wineries, they asked for tips from places they visited. “Good wine comes from good fruit,” was the response.  Obviously not one to ease into things, Doug and Shelly went from experimenting with 20lbs of grapes from Costco to buying and crushing 4 tons of grapes from the Walla Walla area.

Their 2005 vintage was released in 2008 and their current releases (from Red Mountain AVA) consist of Syrah, Merlot, Second Generation Red Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Heritage (a reserve red wine). The tasting room / production facility, among the treetops overlooking Liberty Lake, is where Doug and Shelly crush, ferment, store and sell their max capacity of 500 cases. While slightly out of the way for most Spokanites, Liberty Lake Wine Cellars is a must stop on your to do list. During the summer months enjoying a glass on the deck that overlooks the lake is a highlight for any wine lover.

While Doug and Shelly enjoy masquerading by day as city employee (Liberty Lake) and health care consultant respectively, you can’t help but notice the glint in their eye when they talk about their love of wine and sharing it with the community. “It’s hard and dirty work with lots of long days but we always have fun,” says Shelly. That hard work is paying off as Liberty Lake Wine Cellars is taking in award after award at regional and national competitions. One look at their line-up of wines is reminiscent of the medal count of the recent Olympic Games.

“Our goal is to make wine we enjoy and hope others enjoy it too.” Stop by their tasting room and you’ll soon agree.

Location: 1018 S Garry Rd, Liberty Lake

Hours: Saturday’s weather permitting (call ahead)

Phone: 509.255.9205

Website: www.libertylakewinecellars.com

Twitter: @liblakewine

Facebook: Facebook.com/LibertyLakeWineCellars

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

Latah Creek Winery

Only a handful of wine makers in the state ofWashingtonhave as much experience as Mike Conway. When Mike opened Latah Creek and Hogue Cellars in 1982 (in a partnership with Mike Hogue), there were only 18 wineries in the state (now there are more than 700). After two years as the head wine maker at Hogue, Mike left to concentrate fully on Latah Creek.

Mike crafted his winemaking skills in the 70’s working for wine giants E&J Gallo, Franzia Brothers and Parducci. It was while at Parducci that he honed his skills for white wine and brought the slow cold fermentation process to Washington state (cold fermentation brings out a natural residual sweetness in white wines at a lower alcohol level of 8-10%). It is the white wine line-up that helped Latah Creek grow to a 17,000 case per year company.

100% of Latah Creek’s distribution is done in the Northwest. The annual release of their Spokane Blush, Maywine, and Huckleberry d’Latah are highly anticipated in the region. While 70% of their sales are comprised of white wines, Latah Creek’s future focus is the introduction of small lot reserve quality reds. With the recent introduction of Vinosity and Monarch Red, consumer demand may push Latah Creek to increase their production. In talking with Mike, his passion forWashingtonwine comes through. He wants to expose some of the great grapes that grow in this state (Nebbiolo, Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Malbec) to his customer base.

While Latah Creek has been a business of two people for 20+ years, in 2005 daughter Natalie joined the team. Mike and Ellena’s vision had always been for Natalie to carry on the business. In elementary school, while all the other children wanted to be firefighters, pro athletes and politicians, Natalie wanted to be a wine maker. Natalie graduated with honors from EWU with a bachelors in biology. Shortly after, she joined the team. Under her dad’s guidance, Natalie is already contributing to the wine offerings with Natalie’s Nectar dessert wine and the Vinosity red blend.

Latah Creek; Mike, Ellena and now Natalie, and their wines, areSpokaneinstitutions. “Spokaneis the reason we’re here,” Mike says. Besides the wine, Latah Creek’s gift back to the community is their support of the arts and many other charities. TheConway’s are particularly proud of their sponsorships of the Spokane Symphony and the Foster Parents Association. If you haven’t been to their tasting room, you’re missing out on one of the best winery gift shops around. TheConway’s know how to throw a party too so stay connected to their web site and Facebook page for updates on the next big event.

Location: 13030 E Indiana Ave

Hours: Daily 9am-5pm

Phone: 509.926.0164

Website: www.latahcreek.com

Twitter: @latahcreekwine

Facebook: Facebook.com/LatahCreekWinery

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

Knipprath Cellars

Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Bordeaux…these may be the comfort wine of our world, but Spokane Winery Knipprath Cellars is making a bold departure and creating quite a stir with their Port line up and new focus on Iberian grape varieties Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Touriga Nacional. German born, Henning Knipprath grew his passion for wine in California, then started a winery in the state of Washington with a focus on Spanish/Portuguese wine. Henning brings his global experience to wine making and offers a perfect way to travel, with our palate, to new places!

After attending school in California and graduating with a Chemical Engineering degree, in 1990 the Air Force brought Henning Knipprath to Spokane. With a longtime passion for wine, Henning started Knipprath cellars in 1993. As an Air Force pilot, military deployments kept Knipprath Cellars a part-time operation until 1999 when they moved into their current location at 5634 E Commerce Ave. With his European background, Henning produced the “standard” Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet, Merlot), but it was his Port products that began getting the attention of consumers. “We didn’t set out this direction,” says Henning, “we were nudged by the customer’s response.” The nudge is so strong that Port sales are 60% of Knipprath’s production of 3000 cases.

The Port selection consists of a traditional ruby port, tawny port and creative delicacies that can only be described as desert in a bottle. The Au Chocolate is an infusion of pure chocolate extracts, and grape spirits while the yang to that yin is the La V vanilla port. The newest addition is the Coffee Port. One might imagine some interesting creations by mixing two or even all three. In addition to Port, Knipprath offers hints of Henning’s German heritage with a seasonal spiced red wine using a recipe from his mother’s cookbook and a refreshing summer Lagrima.

The entire production of Knipprath wine (from grape to bottle) is done in the historic 6700 square foot Parkwater schoolhouse. Every inch of this building oozes character showing small hints of its use as a parochial school, military typing depot, and convalescence home. Henning has big plans for the space as he continues to think toward the future of expanded production, events space and expansive tasting room.

Recently Knipprath launched a new label, La Bodega Del Norte. With Knipprath being so synonymous with Port, people often have a hard time recognizing the other quality wine. La Bodega Del Norte will focus on Tempranillo, Garnacha, and other Iberian grapes.

Location: 5634 E Commerce Ave

Hours: Wed-Sun 12-5pm

Phone: 509.534.5121

Website: www.knipprathcellars.homestead.com

Facebook: Facebook.com/KnipprathCellars

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

Whitestone Winery

An accidental discovery or a destiny finally fulfilled? Hailed as one of the best growing regions in the state in 1970 the Lake Roosevelt area (formed by the creation of the Grand Coulee Dam) remained virtually unplanted until the accidental discovery in 1992. Walter and Judy Haig were flipping through a scrapbook from the original homesteader that listed an old US Agriculture map identifying what crops were planted in 1900.  Wine grapes were on the list and the journey to fulfill the lands destiny began.

The Haig family wine story began with providing world-class grapes to wineries across the state through 2004. With the 2005 vintage, son Michael Haig, took over vineyard and winemaking responsibilities. It’s obvious in talking with Mike that he loves his fruit and he loves the process. “My job is to stay out of the way and produce wine that tells the story of the vintage.”  “Too often,” he says, “wineries try to make a wine that doesn’t fit the style of the grapes they have.”  We talked about fads in the wine industry and Michael is a believer in staying true to what his vineyard produces (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.) “We are 100% estate grown. We don’t buy grapes from anyone.” A fact he is very proud of and the only one in the city that can make this claim.

Whitestone has a tasting room, storage facility, and production facility in Wilbur, WA (about 16 miles from the vineyard). In April 2009, they opened a tasting room at 111 S. Cedar in West Downtown’s Carnegie Square. “Business has been great, but every day we still hear from people who had no idea we’re here.”  Part of the successful launch can be attributed to Whitestone’s commitment to Social Media like Twitter and Facebook. Whitestone is successfully taking advantage of this medium to connect with their customers to drive brand loyalty. Mike, a self-professed techie says, “With Facebook we can post an event notice and see immediately who has responded.”  Visit their website, or become their friend on Facebook to learn about their live music series at the Spokane Tasting Room. October through March, we feature food, wine and music.

Currently producing 2400 cases per year, they are pursuing a new production facility – preferably right on the vineyard. Haig says, “Too often people are pre-occupied with being the ‘next’ Chateau St. Michelle or whatever, I want to be the ‘first’ Michael Haig. Whitestone is finally seeing the destiny of the land fulfilled 40 years after its original proclamation.

Location: 111 S. Cedar

Hours: Thursday – Saturday 12-6pm (later on First Friday)

Phone: 509.838.2427

Website: www.whitestonewinery.com

Twitter: @pieces_of_red

Facebook: Facebook.com/WhitestoneWinery

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