Northwest Wine

Northwest Wine: Gehringer Brothers ranks among the Northwest’s best producers

The tasting room at Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery offers a view of some Gehringer vines and neighboring vineyards on the Golden Mile Bench, a sub-appellation of the Okanagan Valley.
The tasting room at Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery offers a view of some Gehringer vines and neighboring vineyards on the Golden Mile Bench, a sub-appellation of the Okanagan Valley. Abra Bennett/Great Northwest Wine

It could be argued that a family-owned winery in the interior of British Columbia is the finest producer in the entire Pacific Northwest.

This pronouncement is based primarily on the results each year of Wine Press Northwest magazine’s annual Platinum Judging, its annual best-of-the-best competition.

To be eligible, a wine must have been awarded a gold medal in any of about 50 worldwide judgings tracked by the periodical owned by the Tri-City Herald.

In the 19-year history of the judging, Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery has won an astonishing 78 Platinums. No producer in Washington, Oregon, Idaho or British Columbia has amassed as many, making Walter and Gordon Gehringer's winery “The King of the Platinum.”

Many of these are bargains, and while the wines are not available in the United States, it is worth the effort to visit the winery along the Golden Mile Bench south of Oliver, B.C., just a few minutes north of Oroville, Wash.

All of these wines won Platinum or better during the judging staged during October in Richland. They are available from the winery and can be found through some retailers in the province. And the prices listed are in Canadian dollars.

Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2017 Classic Riesling, Okanagan Valley, $13.29: The King of the Platinum nearly produced the top wine of the judging with this quintessential Pacific Northwest example of Riesling, perhaps the most decorated wine of the judging. It broadcasts a classic Riesling aromas of river rock and stone fruit. It’s glorious on the palate with flavors of fresh summer peaches, hints of jasmine, crushed herbs and a fascinating thread of minerality. Zesty and precise, there’s a kick of lime zest on the forever finish.

Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2017 Old Vines Auxerrois, Okanagan Valley, $14.29: Few in North America work with this early-ripening white grape that’s most popular in Alsace. It can be argued that no one in the New World does it as well as the Gehringer brothers. It’s delightfully floral on the nose with a suggestion of tropical fruit peeking through. Beautifying the palate are delicate layers of crisp Aurora Golden Gala apples, herbal tea, dried pineapple, lemon verbena and white peach. Lovely acidity keeps it bright and dynamic through the invigorating finish.

Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2017 Private Reserve Dry Riesling, Okanagan Valley, $13.29: This marks the fourth straight vintage for Walter and Gordon Gehringer to earn at least a Platinum with this style of Riesling, which carries less than 1% residual sugar. An alluring stone fruit aroma engages the senses. Peach and nectarine fruit mingle with sweet herbs, minerality and a touch of lemon-lime exhilarating the palate. Crisp acidity offers perfect balance, and the scintillating finish persists long after the last sip.

Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2017 Gewürztraminer/Schönburger, Golden Mile Bench, $15: These brothers plug and play when it comes to this consistently successful 50/50 blend of Gewürztraminer and Schönburger. The latter is a cross of Pinot Noir with Muscat Hamburg and was developed at the Geisenheim Institute in then-West Germany while Walter Gehringer studied winemaking there. Lychee and passionfruit, lemon curd and fresh-chopped herbs unwind in this lightly off-dry white capped by a jovial kick of acidity. Wines such as this can be transformative.

Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2017 Dry Rock Unoaked Chardonnay, Golden Mile Bench, $14: Here is the third time in four vintages that this historic property north of Osoyoos Lake has earned at least a Platinum for its estate unoaked Chardonnay program. Lemon-lime, passionfruit and a squirt of gooseberry form a complex nose. Inside, there’s gorgeous acidity as minerality, light grapefruit flavors and lime combine for a remarkable mouth feel.

Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman operate Great Northwest Wine, an award-winning media company. Learn more about wine at greatnorthwestwine.com

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