Food & Wine

Woehler on Wine: A new take on tasting, featuring wineries of all ages

This marks a new day for my wine columns.

In the future, they'll be shorter, I hope sweeter and more frequent.

I've watched the Washington wine industry grow from fewer than 10 wineries when I started this column 30 years ago to 500 today.

It's become almost impossible to track them all. It's also harder to make weekly trips to all the wine regions because now they're all over the Northwest and travel costs are much higher.

So I'm starting a new concept, with a dash of wine touring on the Internet. Of course, I'll continue to visit wineries but will have more information from winery websites, plus observations from personal tastings.

And the columns will appear weekly in the Herald and on the Herald website,

The plan is to pick an established winery and a new winery, starting in the oldest Washington wine region, the Yakima Valley, home to Silver Lake and Kana.

Silver Lake Winery has been around since 1989 and is owned by 1,200 of its own customers. It's Washington's only consumer-owned winery with each member owning shares in the winery.

Silver Lake is part of the Washington Wine and Beverage portfolio, which includes Hoodsport, Glen Fiona and Blind Date. There are three tasting rooms -- at Woodinville, Leavenworth and the old Covey Run winery near Zillah.

The Zillah tasting room is by far the most interesting because it has a deck and picnic area made just for barbecue, concerts and viewing the scenic Yakima Valley.

Two Silver Lake wines that caught my fancy were a 2006 Chenin Blanc, Rattlesnake Hills for $8.99 that has wonderful juicy fruit characteristics and a finish of lemon and limes. Match with flaky halibut and a squeeze of lemon.

The Silver Lake 2005 Reserve Merlot, Rattlesnake Hills, at $18.99, shows tasty dark berries and bittersweet chocolate and is rated "outstanding" by Wine Press Northwest. A ground chuck burger on the barbecue would make a dinner match made in heaven.

Visit the winery at 1500 Vintage Road or go to

Kana Winery has a novel tasting room in the historic Larson Building, the tallest structure in downtown Yakima.

For a short while, Kana was the only producing winery in Yakima, after a few wineries shut down. But now there are seven, and reportedly two or three more are in the works.

Ben Grossman and Scott Southard are the winemakers. Grossman was assistant winemaker for Stimson-Lane and Southard worked for Yakima Cellars. Wade Wolfe of Thurston Wolfe in Prosser is the consulting winemaker.

Kana has redesigned its label featuring the works of Tri-City artist-photographer John Clement.

Kana 2006 cuvee blanch Yakima Valley, $18, is a peachy blend of Roussanne, Viognier and Marsanne. Slightly sweet, yet with great balance for a summer sipper, it is just right for a chicken breast covered with peach salsa. Rated "excellent" by Wine Press Northwest.

Then there is an old favorite of mine, Lemberger. The Kana 2005 Old Vines Red, Yakima Valley, $18, is the type of lemberger I grew up on, full-bodied and full of berries. A tri-tip sliced thin and medium rare would be an excellent match.

Visit at 10 S. Second St. or at

* Bob Woehler has been writing a column about wines of the Pacific Northwest since 1978.