Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lake Crest Winery, Washington

Recently, we stumbled on a true gem of a winery. Lake Crest Winery, in Oroville, Washington, is a fairly small (1,000 cases) regional producer in the Okanogan Valley, just a few miles from the Canadian border. The Canadian Okanagan Valley (yes, it’s spelled differently) is becoming well known for excellent wines, and if Lake Crest is any indication, the Washington-state side is primed to excel also.

We tried Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and a couple of late-harvest and ice wines. Every single wine we sampled was simply excellent, and the prices were fabulously affordable ($10-15 per bottle for the table wines, $11-18 for late-harvest half-bottles, $40 for the ice wine half-bottle).

Co-owner Boni Mathews told us that she and her husband, Ken, had been growing apples, pears, and other fruit in the area for decades, but about five years ago switched seven acres over to vineyards. We were amazed that every wine – every varietal – was estate grown. They’re growing great Pinot Noir farther north than I ever imagined it could thrive.

Apparently, the grapes love the hot summers in the valley, yet the winters get cold enough to produce ice wine. We tried a Syrah ice wine that had beautiful flavors of ... rhubarb. Not what you’d expect in a dessert wine, but fabulous nonetheless.

Lake Crest has limited distribution in the central Washington region, but Boni told us that they’ve just signed with a distributor that will be getting their wines into the Seattle area. If you have a chance to try any of their wines, don’t hesitate – just buy a bottle and enjoy.

We don’t often give plugs, but visit to see their current offerings. You can buy from them online.