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Winemaker's Journal — Good wine is a science at Ginkgo Forest Winery

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Ginkgo Forest WineryMike Thiede has been a scientist, a farmer and now an award winning winemaker, among other endeavors.His latest job as owner and winemaker of Ginkgo Forest Winery near Mattawa is ambitious and challenging the one he finds most and satisfying, largely because it involves his training and experience as a scientist and farmer."I enjoy coming up with better and better wines. There's always so much more to learn," Thiede said. Thiede is well prepared to learn the fine points of wine chemistry. He was a research scientist for the Hanford Project for 18 years. His wife, Lois, also worked at Hanford. The two dreamed of one day retiring to a life of farming. They purchased land and grew apples and cherries near Mattawa. Some growers were planting grapes along the Wahluke Slope in the late 1990s, and the Thiedes decided they should too.Grapes haven't been as profitable as the apples and cherries, but they have been a lot more fun. Mike consulted with local winemakers and friends and did his own research before bottling his own commercial wines in 2005. Mike grows the vines and makes the wines. Lois does the bookwork and oversees two tasting rooms.Their wines have brought more and more acclaim every year, including one of only two Double Gold medals — for Ginkgo's 2008 Cabernet Franc — awarded at this year's North Central Washington Wine Awards. The winery also won a Gold Medal for its 2010 Barbera and Silver Medals for its 2009 Mourvedre, 2019 Pinot Noir, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2012 Riesling. Quite a showing! The wines have done very well in state, national and international competitions too.Ginkgo Forest makes a wide variety of wines, nearly all from its own grapes grown in the famed Wahluke Slope. He plans to add a line of port and perhaps brandy in the future.Making wine helps satisfy his need to keep a hand in scientific research, Thiede said. But he also likes the social aspects of dealing with wine customers."I get a lot of satisfaction in seeing a happy customer and making good wines," he said.Ginkgo Forest has two tasting rooms, one at the winery at 22561 SW Road T.7, just off Highway 143 near Mattawa; the other is at 2221 N. 30th St., in Tacoma's Old Town.Here's my notes on a few of Ginkgo Forest's recent releases:2012 Viognier: A gleaming beauty of a white wine with a flowery nose and aromas of ripe honeydew and melon; peach and mango flavors with a little butter. This is a wine that makes me smile. Very pretty in the glass, a wonderful summer wine.2008 Ginkgo Red: Lots of strawberry, raspberry, cherry and rhubarb flavors; subtle oak and a nice balance of fruit, acid and tannins.2010 Ginkgo Red: Lots of berry with a hint of pepper and chocolate; a nice follow-up to the 2008, but less intense, with less alcohol and more food friendly. It should age nicely for a couple years.2008 Cabernet Sauvignon: This is a great cab, full of leather and wood with ripe cherry, raspberry and blackberry flavors. This wine grew remarkably more soft and velvety a day after I opened it.2009 Mourvedre: A rich, spicy wine with lots of ripe blackberry, a little spicy cinnamon; lingering essences of leather, cigar tobacco and earth.