Last year, we toured the state, sitting down with 40+ winemakers and grape growers. We asked a bundle of questions, from how they began their wine journey to why they settled where they did, but one of the most interesting questions was to see how each person answered this short but not-so-simple question: how would you describe Washington wine in one word?
Some of the answers? Balance, Diverse, Now, Expression, Lively, Finesse, Undiscovered. The list goes on:
Why did the winemakers and grape growers in the above video choose those words? See their full answers below:
If I could describe Washington wine in one word, I think I would use the word holistic. It’s the best wine on the planet made by the most passionate people in the state of Washington. We are a world class winery hidden in the Northwest competing with any region of the world, doing it as well as, different than, or better than any other region of the world.
— Dan Wampfler, Abeja
That’s a difficult question. Maybe it’s too obvious, but I would say unique. Because I don’t think there is that many or any communities around the wine industry such as this one in the world, at least of the ones I have met, with all the people trying to move forward together. There are beautiful wine regions all over the world, but I cannot think about any wine region that has this community that is helping each other so much, welcoming new wineries that are coming here. I just don’t know any other place in the world like this. — Jesus Martinez Bujanda, Valdemar Estates
If I had to describe Washington wines in one word, badass. I think there’s just a juicy rush of acid, and when you get it on your palete, it’s bright and it wakes you up and commands your attention.
— Brian Rudin, Canvasback
I would say balance probably, but I can’t do one word things, you’ve probably noticed this. I’m not a Twitter girl. The balance allows all of that delicious fruit and wine flavors to stay fresh, vibrant, and textured.
— Kelly Hightower, Hightower Cellars
Voluptuous. Because of the hours of sunlight we get each day with no fog, at such a high latitude, we have the ability to ripen grapes and we have a touch of wind in certain spots and all of that really leads to luscious, ripe, big dark wines, if that’s the way we want to make them. And they can also veer on dusty and cooked like pie marmalade notes in ways that are really voluptuous.
— Ashley Trout, Brook and Bull
My word would have to be generational. When you get into agriculture, you’re in it for the long-haul, so the people who are growing grapes are not going to disappear. People growing apples, real crop people, these are families. Our daughter is now in the business, so we have four generations growing apples, and now grapes. I think that’s the word I would say about the wine industry out here and the agricultural backbone in the state of Washington.
— Karen Wade, Fielding Hills
While we hope this gives you a good view into some of the defining characteristics of Washington wine, there are all kinds of words and ways to describe what we’re doing out here. To close us out, we asked Dr. Kevin Pogue, licensed geologist and Professor of Geology at Whitman College (so more or less our terroir scientist), to describe Washington wine in one “unword.” His response?
Unpretentious. I think we don’t put on airs, we don’t tend to flaunt ourselves. We’re down-to-earth folks making fantastic wines. Perhaps we’re a little too humble, a little too shy to toot our horn, but there’s some wines you have to seek out and some people that are fairly unassuming and unpretentious that are making unbelievable wines that might surprise you coming here. — Kevin Pogue, Geologist