Paul Golitzin, president and director of winemaking, with winemaker Alex Stewart at Quilceda Creek Winery & Cellar on Monday, May 17, 2021 in Snohomish, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Paul Golitzin, president and director of winemaking, with winemaker Alex Stewart at Quilceda Creek Winery & Cellar on Monday, May 17, 2021 in Snohomish, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

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Famed Snohomish winery celebrates 40th vintage

Internationally known for its award-winning wine, Quilceda Creek releases its 2018 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

SNOHOMISH — Quilceda Creek is marking the 40th vintage of the winery’s award-winning cabernet this year.

Quilceda Creek’s 2018 vintage of its Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is hitting the market soon.

Founded in 1978 by Alex and Jeanette Golitzin, Quilceda Creek is Washington’s 12th winery established after the Prohibition Era. Their son, Paul Golitzin, now leads the winery’s team as president and director of winemaking.

Quilceda Creek was the first winery outside of California to earn a perfect 100-point score from influential wine critic Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. The winery has gone on to earn a total of 10 100-point scores and make a number of Top 100 lists from magazines that include Great Northwest Wine, Wine Spectator and Food & Wine.

President Barack Obama even served their cabernet sauvignon at a White House dinner with President Hu Jintao of China in 2011.

“It’s crazy how quickly time goes by,” said Golitzin, who joined the family business in 1992. “It’s been my life’s work and I’m very proud of all of our accomplishments. We have a wonderful group of talented people that work at Quilceda. It’s fun being part of such an amazing team.”

With Golitizin’s leadership, Quilceda Creek has earned international renown and is credited with bringing critical acclaim to Washington wines.

“I literally grew up immersed in wine culture,” he said. “I totally fell in love with it.” He credits a trip to France when he was 15 and mentorship from his father to his career in wine.

The winery’s team includes winemaker Alex Stewart, viticulturist Dan Nickolaus and general manager Scott Lloyd.

The Quilceda Creek team is working toward the perfect cabernet. They tinker with each vintage to make it better than the last and have experimented with winemaking methods and barrel type to reach perfection. Their motto is: “The best Quilceda that has ever been made is the next.”

Alex Stewart has been with Quilceda Creek for 17 years. He is one of three Stewart siblings on staff who grew up just a few blocks away from the winery in Snohomish. His brother, Lawrence, is director of member relations and his sister, MacKenna Bean, is the state sales manager.

“They brought me in to help out with bottling over the summer,” said Stewart, a Snohomish High School graduate. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do at the University of Washington, so they suggested I take a year off school and work a harvest with them. I absolutely fell in love with the science and art of winemaking.”

As Stewart’s mentor, Golitzin recommended he to transfer to California State University, Fresno, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in enology in 2008. Stewart studied winemaking in Switzerland, Italy and France.

In 2009, Stewart was hired back to Quilceda Creek as an enologist. He was promoted to production manager in 2014, and then named winemaker in 2019.

Alex Golitzin was born in France in 1939. He moved from Paris to San Francisco in 1946. It was in the Bay Area that he was introduced to wine by his uncle, Andre Tchelistcheff, who was considered the dean of American winemaking.

Golitzin also is a distant cousin to Prince Lev Sergervich Golitzin, the vintner to Russian Tsar Nicholas II. Nicholas II ruled Russia until he abdicated the throne in 1917 and was later executed by the Bolsheviks.

Trained as a chemical engineer, it wasn’t until the mid-’70s that Golitzin ventured into wine. In 1974, while he worked a day job at Scott Paper Co., Alex with his wife, Jeannette, rolled out their first barrel of cabernet. Quilceda Creek sold its first bottle in 1979. Golitzin retired from Scott Paper in 1994 to focus solely on the wine business.

Now in their 80s, Alex and Jeannette are enjoying retirement, although they are both still involved with the winery through the Quilceda Creek Board of Directors.

Each bottle of the 2018 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is adorned with a commemorative foil to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

The cabernet, which received 98 points from the Wine Advocate, is sourced from the winery’s Champoux and Mach One vineyards. Both vineyards are located in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA.

“In 2018, we got optimal ripeness, optimal fermentations — everything was maximized,” Stewart said of the 2018 vintage. “It’s cool that it worked out that way. Mother Nature blessed us with a beautiful vintage for our 40th anniversary.”

According to Golitzin: “Layered, rich and intense black and blue fruits are found in this wine, with nuances of violets, black truffle, graphite and Valrhona chocolate. This wine is amazingly pure and silky, with an ethereal texture.”

The 2018 vintage is as close to perfection as Quilceda Creek has gotten in 40 years. But don’t forget the winery’s motto: The best Quilceda Creek cabernet is the next.

The 2018 cabernet is priced at $200 per bottle. Go to www.quilcedacreek.com for more information.

Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; sbruestle@heraldnet.com; @sarabruestle.

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