Dunham Cellars recovers from tragedies to win big in Walla Walla

By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue, Great Northwest Wine

A winery that has overcome incredible challenges the past four years won best of show at the fourth annual Walla Walla Valley Wine Competition.

Dunham Cellars topped the judging with its 2013 Syrah and also won best white wine for its 2014 Riesling.

The longtime Walla Walla airport winery lost its two founders in two years when Mike Dunham died of cancer in 2013 and his son, founding winemaker Eric Dunham, committed suicide in 2014.

Late last year, the winery’s longtime winemaker, Daniel Wampfler, left Dunham to take over winemaking at Abeja. He was replaced by Tyler Tennyson, who had been the winemaker for Gordon Estate Winery near Pasco.

Here are the some top wines from the competition. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.

Dunham Cellars 2013 Syrah, Columbia Valley, $35: A classic Washington Syrah, this is loaded with aromas and flavors of black and purple fruit, particularly plum, black cherry and huckleberry. Round, plush tannins give this delicious approachability, thanks to a jammy midpalate and dark chocolate finish. This won best of show.

Dolan & Weiss Cellars 2015 Julia’s Dazzle Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills, $16: Long Shadows winemaker Gilles Nicault crafts one of the Northwest’s best pink wines annually, and his latest creation is beautiful. Aromas of pear, rhubarb-strawberry jam and clove lead to flavors of Honeycrisp apple, Rainier cherry and a hint of ripe pear. It’s all backed by bright acidity. This won best rosé.

Drink Washington State NV Sparkling Riesling, Yakima Valley, $19: Recent college graduate Brad Binko is off to a fast start with his new winery. This stunning sparkler offers bright aromas of apple, cardamom and clove, followed by flavors of citrus — particularly orange and a hint of lime. It’s off-dry in its finish, making this a pleasing wine to pair with Asian dishes. This won best sparkling.

Dunham Cellars 2014 Lewis Vineyard Riesling, Columbia Valley, $20: Daniel Wampfler was Dunham’s winemaker until leaving late last year for another Walla Walla producer. This superb Riesling will remain part of his legacy. Elegant aromas of apple, minerality and spice lead to flavors of pear and a hint of lemon. It’s all backed with stunning acidity that leads to a long finish. This earned best white.

Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, www.greatnorthwestwine.com.

Talk to us

More in Life

Most of the rooms boast views of Lake Stevens and the Cascade Range. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Victorian home puzzle inspired this Lake Stevens mansion

The 10,490-square-foot Mansion Inn is a massive secret that’s perfect for a mini getaway.

Caption: The years come and go, but some birthdays warrant extra reflection. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Milestone birthdays make parents ask: where did the time go?

From cake frosting in their hair to the car keys in their hands, it all goes by so fast.

Frankfurt's Romerberg Square looks old, but the half-timbered buildings were rebuilt in 1983, four decades after bombs destroyed the originals during World War II.
Rick Steves’ Europe: Experience modern Germany in Frankfurt

For years, Frankfurt was a city to avoid, but today, its no-nonsense energy makes it worth a look.

Budget charges $250 for calibrating a camera. Is that legit?

Budget sends Tony Parise a $250 bill for recalibrating a camera on the windshield of his rental car. But he says nothing happened to it. Does he still have to pay?

2023 Honda Pilot AWD TrailSport SUV (Honda)
2023 Honda Pilot AWD TrailSport SUV

If you are the adventurer type, the 2023 Honda Pilot AWD TrailSport SUV is right up your alley.

Featuring original band members Steve Fossen and Michael Derosier, Heart By Heart will perform Saturday night in Everett. (Steve Spatafore)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

MUSIC “No Quarter”: Led Zeppelin tribute by local band Colossal Boss. 7:30… Continue reading

This midcentury Windsor style chair features the crest and colors of Harvard University. It sold for $438, more than twice its estimate, at a Bonhams Skinner auction.
This chair brings together two icons of colonial America

This Harvard University Windsor chair is just one of many variations on so-called stick furniture.

Home & Garden Briefly: Arboretum to host ‘poetry in the trees’ exhibit

Arboretum to host ‘poetry in the trees’ exhibit In honor of National… Continue reading

Bold graphics on the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R body side are optional. (Ford)
2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R is a big sandbox toy for grownups

The Raptor, previous king of capability, is now the ‘regular’ Raptor, dethroned by this new arrival.

Steve Klein moves some of his glasswork into place as fellow guest curator Meg Holgate watches during installation of A Precarious Edge at Schack Art Center on Sunday, March 19, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Exhibits shine light on natural beauty on the edge of loss

Artists worried about climate change work ‘for future generations’

The best Italian food in Snohomish County

You voted, we tallied, here are the results.

In this side-by-side image, the Totem Diner and Pacific Stone Company signs put on a flirty display for all to see Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Signs of love on Rucker Ave: blushing rocks, scrambled eggs, a coffee date

Messages on display on Totem Family Diner and Pacific Stone Co. signs reveal “secret crushes.” More updates expected.