Wedge Mountain Winery: hand crafted wine in every way
Blog: Winemaker's Journal
February 16, 2012
If you haven't been out to Wedge Mountain Winery lately, maybe it's time to seek out one of the Wenatchee River Valley's best kept secrets.
Wedge Mountain is one of North Central Washington's oldest, smallest and most awarded family wineries. Located off Saunders Road between Dryden and Peshastin, the winery and tasting room are surrounded by pear orchards, horse pasture and an oxbow bend of the Wenatchee River.
Spring, when pear trees are in bloom and balsamroot flowers on hillsides across the river, is an ideal time for a visit. Late winter, when the orchard is still covered in snow, is a great time to sip, chat and learn about the winery.
Owners Charlie and Mary Ann McKee recently added a large, straw bale construction barn to the property. The barn — built with the help of Leavenworth builder Cliff Sittman — houses the winery's crushing, fermenting and bottling equipment as well as the comfortable tasting room with it rustic pine slab bar. For $5, you not only get to taste many of Wedge Mountain's award-winning wines, but get to see how and where it's made.
When you're there, don't forget to try the winery's excellent Roses & Rubies dessert wine, made from fresh raspberries. If you like dessert wines, you might also want to try Wedge Mountain's new Tawny Port, something you won't find at many other wineries.
Mary Ann showed me the hand corker she singlehandedly used to cork every bottle of their more than 1,000-case production last year.
Charlie, who's been making wines since he learned the craft in Italy in the 1950s, sources his wines from some of the state's best vineyards in the Red Mountain, Columbia Valley and Ancient Lakes growing areas. He also grows four acres of his own grapes.
Not everyone gets to sample wines from the underground barrel room. I was one of the lucky ones while interviewing the McKees recently for an upcoming story in Foothills magazine.
Charlie offered me tastes of two 2009 cabernet sauvignons and a syrah, each made from grapes sourced from different vineyards. All were remarkably delicious, and smooth, a Wedge Mountain trademark. The best of his wines gets three years in French oak before it's bottled.
I was also awarded sips of 2010 merlot, fruity and already quite mellow, and his first ever malbec, sure to be a future prize-winner.
The secret to his easy drinking wines? Charlie said it has to do with sourcing good grapes, picking at the right time and true hand-crafting through the entire process.
"We're very easy on the wine," he said. "We don't even own a pump. It's all moved around by gravity flow."
At a time when some wineries are pumping out millions of gallons and transporting good, but soul-less wine in tanker trucks, it's nice to know there are others right in our area — Wedge Mountain Winery among them — who still make their wines the old-fashioned way: in small batches and with simple tools, and with great results.