Paul Gregutt has written the book on Washington wine…literally. Paul’s book, Washington Wines and Wineries; Second Edition, provides an in-depth look at the history, viticulture, and wine making of the second largest wine producing region in the United States. Paul, wine contributor to Seattle Times and Spokesman Review and contributing editor for Wine Enthusiast magazine has covered Washington wine for 25 years. His longevity and vast tasting experience contribute to making this book the quintessential reference on Washington wine.
“Washington has moved out of the shadows of California. My sincere hope is that this book will help you understand what makes this state and its wines unique and memorable, so that you can make your own delicious discoveries.” P. Gregutt
As I read through Washington Wines and Wineries, the yellow glow of my Sharpie highlighter grew more and more with each page. Several times, since the first read through, I’ve returned to the book as a reference or a quick insight. Paul’s years of writing come through as each section is entertaining and informative. The book is divided into two main parts;
Part 1: History and Terroir – this section’s 77 pages cover the brief history of Washington viticulture, the AVA’s, grapes and the top 20 vineyards. Of particular enjoyment to me was the exploration of Paul’s “best varietally bottled” list of several wine grapes. While highly debatable, I found Paul’s list to be quite accurate as I related it to my significantly inferior experience.
Part 2: Winery Profiles – The heart of the book, with over 200 pages, Mr. Gregutt rates 205 wineries as 5 star, 4 star, 3 star or rising star. An awkwardly placed “want more” section highlights an additional 30 wineries of potential noteworthiness. In all, Paul’s ratings are of course subjective in nature, but can be tempered with his experience and knowledge of Washington wine.
Some argue Paul’s bias is for Walla Walla wines, based on his homes proximity in Waitsburg. While I can see the point, with 90% of Walla Walla’s wineries being reference in the book (approximately 40% of the remaining wineries in the state get a nod), one person would be hard pressed to provide an accurate accounting of all of Washington’s 700 wineries. While the book does not give an accounting for Paul’s opinion on every Washington winery and vineyard, it does provide a comprehensive guide for some of the best Washington has to offer.
As with any book of this nature, change is bound to make information quickly outdated. Paul’s reference to Spokane’s Lone Canary winery as a ‘rising star’ does not take into account the recent sale (Summer 2009), and the dismissal of winemaker Mike Scott (Spring 2010). While I still feel that Lone Canary is a rising star (even at 7 years old), the oversight of information is one that the editors should have taken note of.
I was also quite proud to discover five area wineries made Paul’s 5/4/3/rising star lists and a total of eight Spokane wineries were called out for their “best varietally bottled” wines. A more in-depth accounting of these can be found at Spokane Wine Magazine’s web site. Taking into account that Paul probably has little to no experience with newcomers Nodland Cellars, Liberty Lake Cellars, Vintage Hill, Barili, and Overbluff (all new in the last 4 years); a great majority of Spokane wines are honored.
Washington Wines and Wineries; Second Edition, is a must have for anyone interested in Washington wine and should be a part of any wine lover’s book collection. The aggregate of information, history, and winery profiles make for a valuable reference and resource. The book is a great companion for wine aficionados and explorers alike. Shop on Amazon.com or ask for it at your local book retailer. For more information on Washington wine, visit Paul Gregutt’s daily wine blog at www.paulgregutt.com.
Review from Sean Sullivan; Washington Wine Report http://www.wawinereport.com/2010/08/washington-wines-wineries-indispensable.html
Review from Wine Beer Washington http://wine-beer-washington.com/wine/paul-gregutts-second-edition-washington-wines-and-wineries/