Nestled in the foothills of Mount Spokane is a family of gnomes that is hard at work making bubbles. These bubbles are enjoyed across the state and beyond to celebrate life’s precious moments. If you look closely you can catch a glimpse of the curious creatures as they work their magic to turn an ordinary bottle of wine into something sparkling and full of life.
Mountain Dome was born in 1984 and was named after the Geodesic dome that was built shortly after the Manz family moved to the area in 1980. Situated on 85 acres in Northeast Spokane, Mountain Dome was started by Michael and Pat Manz. The 9500 square foot production facility and 4,000 square foot dome were built by the family. Dr. Michael Manz was a child psychologist at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital until his passing in 2006. Manz built a legacy that lives through Mountain Dome and through the Children’s Hospital’s BEST program. Erik Manz, along with his uncle John Mueller carry on Michael’s legacy of celebrating life with every glass. “I love being a part of people’s celebrations,” says Erik, “every day you’re alive is worth celebrating.” Still a true family operation, each family member is represented on the label of gnomes.
Retail sales began at Mountain Dome in 1992 with their 1988 vintage. For 18 years, Mountain Dome has been the only ‘bubble maker’ in Spokane. They also sparkle wine for other wineries like Townshend, Lone Canary, and Arbor Crest. Mountain Dome makes sparkling wine in the méthode champenoise style. With this method the bubbles for more complex wines are produced by secondary fermentation in the bottle. As the name suggests, this is used for the production of Champagne and other quality sparkling wines, but is slightly more expensive (and well worth it). The process is very involved and Erik is hands on from riddling (turning of the bottles) to a special freezing machine that assists with removing the lees before disgorging.
The current line-up at Mountain Dome includes their non-vintage “gnome” label, non-vintage dry sparkling rose, vintage sparkling and their elegant Cuvee Forte. Each wine contains the traditional champagne grapes using approximately 66% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay all from Washington vineyards. With case production of about 3000 each year Mountain Dome is the state’s second largest bubble maker (behind Chateau St. Michelle). Erik is excited to be releasing a Blanc de Blanc (sparkling wine using 100% Chardonnay) in the Fall. The winery is open Saturday and Sunday from 11-4pm. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the beautiful view from the outdoor patio. If you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of those magical bubble making gnomes in action.
Mountain Dome has two external tasting rooms. The first is located at 906 W. 2nd in Downtown Spokane and the other is located in Seattle’s Pike’s Place area 1924 Post Alley.
- The Stuff: 85% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay fermented and aged in neutral oak barrels, skin contact for 10 hours, 1.2% residual sugar, 12%ABV
- The Swirl: Very pale salmon color with hints of orange. Bubbles are medium size and quickly move to the top of the glass
- The Sniff: Subtle yeast and strawberry aroma with a hint of smoked bacon. Lively aromas, if you’re not too careful, the bubbles may tickle your nose
- The Sip: A wonderful delight in the mouth with a soft berry flavor that is graced by a firm body that indicates that this wine would pair well with all kinds of food. There is a great added layer of fruit that comes from the short time with the skins.
- The Score: At $25, this may not be an everyday bubbly for me, but I love the balance of fruit, a touch of sweetness for an off dry flavor and a fantastic acidity that cleanses the palate. 3+/5