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On Tap

Defying Categorization STORY BY MEGAN HILL PHOTOS BY CHARITY BURGGRAAF Plums. Apricots. Dehydrated limes. Dandelion greens. Rose hips. At Urban Family Brewing in Interbay, a wild array of ingredients make their way into the off-beat beers that are continually rotating through the taps. On any given visit to the taproom, which is separated from the brewhouse floor by stacks of wine barrels holding sour beer, you’ll find 12 taps coursing with Urban Family’s beers, plus occasional guest taps from another local brewery or cidery. And just to the side of the barrels, the brewery team is likely considering their next concoction. “We love to play around with ingredients you don’t see too often in beer,” says Andy Gundel, the brewery’s director of operations and tap...

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From Grain to Glass

It’s still early on a recent Saturday night, but nearly all of the tables at Black Label Brewing Co. in downtown Spokane are already full. Of the brewery’s 15 beers listed on a chalkboard above a row of taps, two carry a special designation: insignias identifying them as Palouse Pints....

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Growing Trust

Wine people love to speak of terroir – the influences of soil, climate, and terrain that distinguish grapes from a certain region. It’s what makes a Bordeaux a Bordeaux....

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Carmenere

BY ANNE SAMPSON PHOTO BY BARBARA BEITO In every industry, business owners look for a way to stand out from the crowd. In the tech world, you develop the hottest new app – or the gadget to run it. Think Apple Watch. But if you grow wine grapes, you might have better luck with something old, maybe a little obscure. Something like Carmenere. That’s the path Dean Morrison followed at his Walla Walla vineyard, Morrison Lane. A bit of a contrarian, Morrison dedicated his vineyard to lesser-known grapes, like Counoise, Cinsault, and Barbera. He was one of the first in the Northwest to plant Syrah, in 1994, on four acres of his family’s farm. At the time, that grape was considered experimental in...

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A Little Night Wine

An afternoon in Woodinville offers Seattle wine lovers plenty of exposure to Washington's finest vintages. But for a deeper appreciation of the terroir that fuels the flavors, consider a night sleeping in the vineyard. It's one of the most enjoyable ways to get intimate with your favorite wine....

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Sip Into This

Smasne Cellars blends award-winning winemaking with a historic lineage of vineyards to uncork its premium vine-to-cork creations....

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Beyond the IPA

Though it may seem a blasphemous omission for a Northwest brewery, you won’t find an IPA at Propolis Brewing in Port Townsend....

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Going All In

How many of us have gazed out an office window and wondered whether we should be following our passions? Have you ever asked yourself what might happen if you ditched the nine-to-five job and lived your dream instead?...

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Grain Country Spirits

With wheat growing in their front yard, a new crop of distillers is making their mark on eastern Washington....

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Reinventing the Beer Wheel

Jason Yerger started brewing beer out of desperation. When he was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance in 2007, the craft beer lover struggled to find anything on the market worth drinking....

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Making Big Gin

Tucked away in a quiet corner of Ballard, Captive Spirits is one of a growing number of producers in the Northwest focused on spirits....

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Bellewood Acres Distillery

“We bought 30 acres of perfect soil in a perfect setting with our three perfect farm hands—our children,”...

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Washington Rose’

How France’s Favorite Seasonal Wine Won Washington Over...

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OUR AVAs – Walla Walla

French fur traders settled in eastern Washington 150 years ago, in the region we now call the Palouse. Was it named for the grassland, waving in the breeze like a vast lawn? (In French, your lawn is la pelouse.)...

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Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder

Yeah, that wormwood—the intensely bitter herb that contains the noxious chemical thujone, widely believed to induce hallucinations and insanity. Wormwood also happens to be the main ingredient in absinthe, the controversial "green fairy" of bohemian Paris that supposedly drove Van Gogh to sever his ear…...

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Madeleine Angevine

Grapes have been grown in the Puget Sound area since 1872, when Lambert Evans planted some on Stretch Island—but they were labrusca, or table grapes....

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The Audacity of Hops

It's an alcoholic beverage, lovingly crafted by lifetime artisans, from the fruit of a vine grown in Eastern Washington. No two batches are the same....

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Capitol Cider

Julie Tall has a motto, "Don't jump halfway across the ravine." In opening Capitol Cider, Seattle’s first cider-focused pub, in June of 2013, Tall made the jump, and a huge leap of faith as well....

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Rise of the Rhone

The vineyards of Syncline Wine Cellars, where James Mantone grows the Rhone varietal Mourvèdre...

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Skagit Malting

Skagit Malting is poised to change craft beer making...

Sangiovese

finding a happy home for the 'blood of Jove'  BY SEAN P. SULLIVAN It is said that wine is the 'nectar of the gods.' If so, no wine could be closer in name and spirit to the heavens than Sangiovese, a grape whose name derives from the Latin sanguis Jovis—the blood of Jove, king of the gods. Sangiovese is unquestionably one of the world's great wine grape varieties. It is the most planted variety in Italy, the grape's homeland,...

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Sour Beers

The sour beer renaissance is upon us...

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OUR AVAs- Naches Heights

"Naches Heights" sounds like a housing tract, but it's actually a 13,000-acre agricultural plateau at the northwest corner of the Yakima Valley....

OUR AVAs- Columbia Gorge

Columbia Gorge: scratching the surface BY RONALD HOLDEN For sheer size, the Columbia ranks fourth among North America's great rivers, behind the Mississippi, the Saint Lawrence, and the Mackenzie. It drains a basin that extends from the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean; it has twice the flow of the Nile, ten times as much as the Colorado. Some 150 miles from the sea, it courses through the Columbia Gorge,...

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Maison Bleue Winery

The Pursuit of Passion, Perfection and Peace of Mind at Maison Bleue...

Pike Brewing Company

If you're walking down the hallway that leads south from the old Economy Market Building toward Union Street, and you notice a man in rubber boots banging on a giant red silo with a big wooden oar, get closer and start sniffing: you've arrived at The Pike Brewing Company when the brewers are working....

OUR AVAs – Snipes Mountain

Mount Adams presides in the western distance as you drive through the Yakima Valley. A great arc of sky connects the hills that form its boundaries like crumpled blankets: Rattlesnake to the north, Horse Heaven to the south....

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The Chardonnay Paradox

Why America's Favorite Grape Struggles to Find Its Way in Washington BY SEAN P. SULLIVAN PHOTOS BY CAROLE TOPALIAN Chardonnay is a grape of many contradictions. On the one hand, it creates some of the world's most sought after and expensive wines; on the other, it creates some of the cheapest and most abominable plonk. Some consumers revel in the grape. In fact Chardonnay dominates the U.S wine market at 20% of all wines sold (Cabernet Sauvignon is a distant second at 12%). Others revile the wine. When I recently asked a friend what advice he would give consumers about Chardonnay, he responded drolly, "Look elsewhere." He is not alone in that assessment. Why do so many consumers love Chardonnay while others love to hate...

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Brennon Leighton, winemaker

From bus boy to punk rocker to one of Washington’s top winemakers, Brennon Leighton’s path has been a winding one. Equal parts passionate, outspoken, and honest, Leighton is poised to make a large impression on the Washington wine industry. Ironically, he is doing it by trying to leave as little impression on his wines as possible....

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OUR AVAs- Yakima Valley

Even before modern agriculture, the Yakima Valley was a bountiful land. In one of the many Native American dialects of central Washington, the word E-ya-ki-ma means “well-fed people.”...

Sparkling Wines from Domaine St. Michelle

The Burien pub is airy and inviting, and Elliott Bay's head brewer Doug Hindman's affable attitude suggests that the complex brewing system he manages brings him more joy than stress. "Craft brewers are generally a pretty agreeable lot," he says, and not surprisingly, I find myself agreeing with him....

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OUR AVAS- Lake Chelan

During the long summer days, Lake Chelan acts as a collector of heat, which it then radiates back into the vineyards. In winter, the phenomenon protects the vineyards from frost....

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OUR AVAs – Puget Sound

If you stop to think about it, why shouldn't western Washington be grape-growing country? There's plenty of daylight during the growing season, and Puget Sound's rainfall is not, in most years, any greater than Burgundy's. The climate is relatively cool, but so is the weather in Oregon, in New Zealand, in Champagne, and you don't hear complaints about their winemaking....

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Why the Chenin Blanc is a Grape Worth Saving

Chenin Blanc is sometimes referred to as the 'queen of grapes' in France's Loire Valley. There the grape goes into a dazzling array of wines from sparkling Crémant de Loire to the dry wines of Savennières to the sweet and off-dry wines of Vouvray....

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OUR AVAS- Columbia Valley

There was a problem to solve three decades ago, when Chateau Ste. Michelle's Bob Betz was doing his road show to promote Washington State wines, and regularly fielded questions (from well-meaning but clueless listeners) along the lines of, "On what bank of the Potomac do you grow your grapes?"...

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Syncline Wine Cellars

From the beginning the Syncline wines have been compelling and stylistically unique for Washington. The Mantones have focused on lower alcohol, food-friendly wines where the fruit is front and center. James says the couple's personal preference for European wines has informed the winery's style....

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Our AVAS – Horse Heaven Hills

If the Red Mountain AVA, subject of last issue's profile, is the rodeo rider down in the ring, the Horse Heaven Hills are the bleachers....

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Oyster Wines

A dozen Pacific Northwest oysters, served icy cold on a platter of shaved ice, hold the promise of an enlivening dining experience. Yet that very same platter represents a tough task for local wine connoisseurs and sommeliers, for those plump little oysters are notoriously difficult to pair with wine....

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Bainbridge Organic Distillery

Step through the door to Bainbridge Organic Distillers and the aroma is tantalizing, like bread baking. "That's mash cooking," says Keith Barnes, who owns the distillery with his son Patrick....

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OUR AVAS – Red Mountain

There's no official ranking of vineyard quality in North America, but if there were, Red Mountain would surely be Washington's very best vineyard site, what the French would call a Grand Cru....

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Elliott Bay Brewing Company

The Burien pub is airy and inviting, and Elliott Bay's head brewer Doug Hindman's affable attitude suggests that the complex brewing system he manages brings him more joy than stress. "Craft brewers are generally a pretty agreeable lot," he says, and not surprisingly, I find myself agreeing with him....

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Riesling’s Renaissance

There's a Riesling renaissance happening in our own backyard. And what a renaissance it is. Today, Chateau Ste. Michelle is the largest single producer of Riesling in the world, and makes up to nine different styles each year...

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Boundary Bay Brewery

Since opening almost 15 years ago in downtown Bellingham, proprietor Ed Bennett and his brewers have been tinkering with the brewery's recipes — and plan continual evaluation of the brews. And that has given Boundary Bay plenty of regional and national acclaim....

The Cask Ale Challenge

Whatever happened to cask ale (called "real ale" by some not-quite-militant beer-loving Brits) and its centuries-old methods? Progress!...

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The Grappa Guys

Soft Tails' smoother style of grappa appeals to new grappa drinkers and visitors who have tried other brands of grappa, but dismissed them as too harsh for their taste. It also attracts locavores and wine country tour groups who are looking for a respite from another glass of Merlot during their trip to Woodinville Wine Country....

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The Gospel According to Joel Butler

In the panoply of dream jobs, few have more potential for pleasure and satisfaction than Joel Butler's: he is director of education for Ste. Michelle Estates. Sometimes in tee-shirt and jeans, sometimes in coat and tie, he travels the country as a sort of wine evangelist, thumping a bible of enology, converting skeptics with logic and hedonism, rejoicing in those "Aha!" moments of revelation when his parishioners finally recognize the difference in the glass, the quality of Washington wine....