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 vintage (from Red Mountain AVA) consists of Syrah (sold out), Merlot (reviewed below), Second Generation Red Blend, and a Cabernet Sauvignon (reviewed below). 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. In this reviewers opinion, the tasting room view is the best in Spokane (yes, I realize Arbor Crest’s view and property grounds is amazing but you don’t see it from the tasting room).
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.
“Our goal is to make wine we enjoy and hope others enjoy it too.” Stop by their tasting room and you’ll become a fan.
Liberty Lake Wine Cellars tasting room is open most Saturdays (call ahead 255-9205). You can stay in touch with all of their events and release dates at www.facebook.com/libertylakewinecellars
2006 Red Mountain Merlot
- The Stuff: 100% Single Vineyard Merlot aged 20 months in new/used oak combination 13.4% ABV
- The Swirl: Magenta purple color and moderately opaque
- The Sniff: Fantastic fruit (cherry and strawberry) with hints of eucalyptus vanilla and chalk
- The Sip: More mild on the palate than on the nose, above average structure. A slight minirality throws the balance off on the front end. Just enough back end support and acid to work well with food.
- The Score: At $22, I score this wine a 4 (out of 5). An excellent well crafted Merlot that speaks to why WA Merlot rocks the world!
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 100% single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain AVA
- The Swirl: Mild plum color with moderate clarity. Wine is lighter in color and less extracted than a typical Cabernet.
- The Sniff: A nice balanced nose of blackberry and mild green peppers
- The Sip: More fruit than spice with a solid tannin and acid structure. The finish falls off quickly. Definitely made in a new world way. Could cellar well for 3-5 more years
- The Score: At $25, I score this wine a 3+ (out of 5). Could imagine this to be a good food wine with a hearty steak or roast.
From back label: We believe that wine is about living and enjoying life with family and friends. Wine is an ingredient in the building of social community. It is with that belief that we share our wine with you.