Vinmotion? Zirkle? Wahluke? Who dat?

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Umiker Vineyard above Lewiston.JPG

Shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is Washington's largest wine producer (15 million gallons in 2016), with Coventry Vale (a longtime custom-crush facility in Grandview) in second place (7 million gallons).

But I doubt you've never heard of the rest of the top five: Zirkle Fruit Co. in Prosser (2 million) , Wahluke Wine Co in Mattawa (almost 2 million), Vinmotion in Richland (over 1 million).

Actually, you might have heard of Zirkle Fruit because two of their bookkeepers found a way to steal about a million dollars by paying phantom employees. But the wine, well, that started a few years ago with vineyards, then a custom-crush facility, and a label (Four Feathers),

Wahluke Wine Co. is the enormous white elephant winery that started as a vanity project by the owner of Germany's FW Langguth on the Wahluke Slope.

And Vinmotion is a custom-crush service as well, with a second facility in Oregon. Price per gallon of juice that's already in the tank: $7.50 for dry and off-dry whites, $14 or so for cab from the Horse Heaven Hills, up to $19 for rose from Red Mountain.

So yes, there are maybe 900 bonded wineries in Washington State, maybe more. Not even the Wine Commission can keep track. Now, a bonded winery doesn't have to be an actual wine-making facility, just a place to keep bottles until they're sold. But if you call your garage a winery, your driveway could become a legal tasting room where you could sell wine. Woodinville, for example, is home to over 100 tasting rooms, although not a single one of the wineries operating those tasting counters actually made the wine west of the Cascades.

That said, I'm leaving the concrete jungle of Belltown shortly for the wilds of Woodinville; the annual Auction of Washington Wines takes place this weekend. We'll see a lot of prestigious names. Zirkle? Nah.

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This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on August 15, 2018 5:35 PM.

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