When Maryhill Winery opened 14 years ago, the Washington wine industry was much different.
Maryhill was one of the first 125 wineries open in the state when owners Craig and Vicki Leuthold launched their winery near the remote community of Goldendale. Today, there are more than 800.
The Leutholds, while maintaining their Spokane home, opened Maryhill by offering just a few hundred cases of wine with hopes of attracting visitors from Portland, Seattle, Spokane and Boise. Today, Maryhill is one of Washington’s largest wineries, producing about 100,000 cases annually and providing for more than 70,000 visitors.
For these and many other good reasons, Maryhill Winery is being honored as Wine Press Northwest magazine’s 2015 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year.
Richard Batchelor is Maryhill’s fourth winemaker, having arrived in 2009 and helping the winery grow in quality and quantity. This year, he expects to bottle as many as 60 different wines. Many of these are available only to Maryhill’s wine club members and those who come to the winery and visit the Leutholds’ special reserve tasting room — the only place where Maryhill’s Vineyard Series wines are poured.
The Leutholds, with a residence above the winery, have built something stunning on basalt cliffs above the Columbia River. Their tasting room looks out over the eastern Columbia Gorge, with Mount Hood rising in the distance. Adjacent to the winery is Maryhill’s 4,000-seat amphitheater, where top-name acts come to perform at summer concerts. (This year, there is no concert series because of highway improvements being made near Maryhill.)
Nearby is the famous and eclectic Maryhill Museum of Art, as well as the Stonehenge replica that serves as a World War I memorial to soldiers from Klickitat County (it was the first World War I memorial in the United States).
Perhaps the biggest success of one of the Northwest’s most accomplished wine producers is the Winemaker’s Red, a $12 red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc that makes up about half of Maryhill’s production. And it isn’t just an inexpensive wine. Two years ago, it won best of class at the prestigious 6 Nations Wine Challenge in Australia.
Here are four Maryhill wines we’ve tasted recently. Look for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the winery directly.
Maryhill Winery 2012 Proprietor’s Reserve Syrah, Columbia Valley, $25: Winemaker Richard Batchelor’s 2012 wines are stunning, as this Syrah reveals. It opens with aromas of chocolate-covered blueberry, black licorice, vanilla extract and rose hips. On the palate, it is mouth-filling yet balanced, thanks to flavors of blueberry and black licorice backed by fine-grained tannins. This won a gold medal at the Great Northwest Wine Competition in March. (14.8 percent)
Maryhill Winery 2012 Zinfandel, Columbia Valley, $17: Maryhill has long produced some of the Northwest’s finest Zins, and this effort further burnishes that reputation. Aromas of ripe red cherry, raspberry and black pepper give way to flavors of ripe red and black fruit and a wisp of smoke. It’s all backed by beautiful acidity and mild acidity. This won a gold medal at the Great Northwest Wine Competition in March. (14.9 percent)
Maryhill Winery 2013 Winemaker’s White, Columbia Valley, $12: This is a delicious blend of Pinot Gris, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc that opens with clean, bright and straight-forward aromas with nice notes of pear and Golden Delicious apple with touches of tangerine, butter and lemon oil. Enjoy with summertime fare. (12.5 percent)
Maryhill Winery 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $24: New oak barrels create fun aromas of gingersnap cookie and cocoa powder along with blackberry, dark raspberry and crushed herbs. Flavors run the gamut of black currant, boysenberry, Western serviceberry and brown sugar, while the structure is balanced with a long finish of mocha, vanilla bean and black licorice. Suggested pairings include gyros, lamb or prime rib. (13.7 percent)
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company. Listen to their weekly podcast on iTunes or at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.