For month’s I’ve been dying to try Barili Cellars. Everyone I’ve talked to for the last six months raves about them…but they are sold out. I drive by…they’re closed. Their first release…gone in just a few short months. The anticipation has been building to try the wine, the myth the legend that is Barili Cellars.
Barili Cellars was born because of a scheduling conflict. For several years, Russ Feist and Steve Trabun had been independent home wine makers. They honed their craft in small barrel productions of beautiful Columbia Valley fruit. In the fall of 2005, Russ’ schedule kept him from being able to pick up grapes from his source in Prosser. Steve, who sourced grapes from the same place, agreed to take Russ’ grapes to him. In addition to the grape connection, Steve and Russ work for the same Northwest company. The Barili relationship began.
In 2007 Steve and Russ began the steps to open Barili Cellars by sourcing grapes that would become their first release. Steve’s wife, Dana completed WSU’s Enology program in 2009. She, along with Russ’ wife Marlene, help in every step of the process. Bonding was secured for production facility but that space couldn’t be used as a retail location. After connecting with local businessman Steve Salvatori they moved into an entrepreneur center that acts as an incubator for start ups. Mr. Salvatori helped transform the space into an awesome tasting room AND winery production facility. In the Spring of 2009 Barili opened and their production of 150 cases nearly instantly sold out.
Having fully moved production to their downtown space, Steve and Russ have ramped production up to 350+ cases for 2010 with the Barreling Red Blend (1/3 each of Merlot, Cab and Syrah), Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Viognier. The red wines spend 16 months in American / Hungarian oak and the Chardonnay spent just 30 days in barrel during fermentation. All of their wine is 100% self-distributed. If 2009 is any indication, you won’t want to delay if you want to drink some Barili Cellars wine.
Currently, Barili is sourcing grapes from vineyards in Red Mountain, Rattlesnake Hills and Prosser. When talking about the future, Steve and Russ are excited to continue refining their process and will most likely increase production to about 500 cases. They’re looking to lock down their grape sources, move to tighter grained oak, and continue to make great fruit forward wine that people love.
Barili is open on special event weekends like Spring Barrel Tasting, Holiday Wine Festival and First Friday’s from 5-8pm.
608 W 2nd Ave
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
After waiting six long months, I finally got to try all of their new releases including this Cab Sauv. One word of advice to you…hurry. Two words to Steve and Russ…make more.
- The Stuff: 50% Cabernet from Dineen Vineyards and 50% Cabernet from Seth Ryan Vineyards; 90 cases, 14%abv
- The Swirl: Good bright color reminiscent of a plum but with about 30% translucence. The color dissipates towards the edges
- The Sniff: Immediately struck by good structured raspberry and pepper aroma with a nice subtle hint of oak
- The Sip: The wine comes alive as it crosses your palate. There is a good structure of fruit, black berry and cherry, that then morphs to smooth cocoa. The finish has medium, well balanced acidity and a great pepper spice that lingers for quite some time. The wine still feels a little young and could cellar for another 5-7 years but is still approachable today.
- The Score: At $22 (their most expensive offering), I can easily score this wine a 3+ (out of 5). If they ever have it on sale pick up more than one. This is one wine that won’t disappoint for an elegant steak dinners or the everyday BBQ.