I recently had the privilege of visiting Maryhill Winery as part of a press familiarization trip. As I sift back through my notes to re-live the adventure, two thoughts come to mind. This is an awesome place to visit. The wines are an amazing quality to price ratio (QPR)…all 29 of them. Founded in 1999, Maryhill Winery has grown to 80,000 cases making it the 15th largest winery in the state and one of the largest family owned wineries. Craig and Vicki Leuthold, from Spokane, WA are passionately involved in every step of the journey.
Situated on the Washington side of the Columbia River, Maryhill is about 90 minutes from Portland, 4 hours from Spokane and about 3 ½ hours from Seattle. Maryhill Winery sits perched above the mighty Columbia with breathtaking east to west views of the gorge, Mt Hood, and the dramatic river as it cuts through the basalt. Surrounded by 85 acres (Gunkel Vineyards), the winery is a beautiful destination for weary travelers, vacation seekers and wine lovers. Maryhill welcomes over 75,000 people per year. Visitors enjoy concerts at the 4,000 seat amphitheater and award winning wine.
Early on, Maryhill embraced the value proposition when other Washington wineries were exploring higher priced boutique business models. With wines over $30 selling at 20% of the levels seen in years past, the $10-$20 price point wine is the sweet spot. Maryhill’s flagship wine, the Winemaker’s Red, which makes up 30% of their production, sells for only $14 in the tasting room and can often be found for under $10 at retail establishments. How is the wine? My notes say…
“Dark red fruits with fragrance of lilacs and campfire with a medium mouth feel, well integrated oak and tannin. 3/5”
What impressed me most about the visit with the Leuthold’s was the genuine joy they had for running the winery. They live on site above the winery in a wonderfully decorated loft style space. Their Great Pyrenees, Potter, welcomes guests and helps with bottling and distribution on the lower level. When you visit you’ll often find Craig directing traffic in the parking lot and Vicki pouring wine in the tasting room. During our two day visit we had the opportunity to enjoy all 29 wines from the Maryhill line up. The majority of their white wines can be found in stores around $10 and the standard red wines are available for $13-$16. The “reserve” wines are available between $20-$35 with the price points topping out at $36 for Reserve Zinfandel, $38 for Reserve Cabernet and $40 for Proprietors Reserve Serendipity.
Tasting through 29 wines (along with wines from 2 other wineries) can be a challenge. Luckily for you, I’m here to take the brunt of the burden (hey, it’s a rough life but someone has to do it).
This is a bold statement, but every wine was of good quality. There were two wines that weren’t in my wheelhouse, but all the rest provided exceptional value. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending any of the wines I tried. While I didn’t particularly care for the fruit profile of the 2008 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2009 Rose of Sangiovese, the following wines stood out in my memory banks:
2008 Viognier $15 – Nose offers a combination of toasted almonds and floral fragrance. A round mouth feel compliments the nicely balanced finish. 4/5
2006 Sangiovese $18 – Bright fruit with strong acidity on the finish. The flavor is smooth and spicy and feels like a burst of juicy fruit in the mouth. 4/5
2006 Reserve Grenache $20 – 100% Grenache on the estate Gunkel vineyards, 20 months on 40% new French oak. A smooth and elegant fruit with a subtle hint of spice nicely compliment the medium tart tannin and crisp acidic finish. 4+/5
2007 Reserve Zinfandel $36 – 100% Zinfandel from Milbrandt and Alder Ridge vineyards. 70% new French oak, 1.6% residual sugar and huge 16.4% ABV. The Zin is sinfully delicious with big lush jammy fruit that includes cordial cherries, strawberries and hints of pepper. The wine is full of layers and explodes with flavor in the mouth. 4+/5
In conclusion, this is a place that I’m excited to go back and visit with friends and family. While Maryhill is a destination winery, they aren’t gouging you with their prices, nor are they trying to pass off inferior juice. I can’t wait to see next year’s concert line up. Chance are you’ll see me and my wife at least once.
Make a Day of It
Make a day of your trip to the area and visit the Maryhill Museum and Stonehenge memorial along with the John Day Dam and historic town of The Dalles. Maryhill Winery was recently rated 2009 Washington Winery of the Year by Wine Press NW and Best Destination Winery by Seattle Magazine.
- From The Oregon Wine Blog: The Columbia Gorge’s Maryhill Winery
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