Kevin and Holly Brown do things a little bit differently at their new Lake Chelan winery, Siren Song.
Take the names of their wines, for instance. Instead of generic names like 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon or 2012 Red Blend, Kevin names his vintages after personal experiences and romantic places. A Night in Madrid is a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon inspired by the Spanish Rioja that celebrated the couple’s travels in Spain several years ago. His Piazza Nostra blends Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon into a Super Tuscan red that tributes their introduction to the wines and foods of central Italy.
Other wine names are Auberge (Syrah and Grenache), Adagio (Dolcetto and Zinfandel), Jolie (Cab Franc, Malbec and Merlot), Raving Beauty (Cabernet Sauvignon), Zelda (Zinfandel), The Enchantress (Aligote), La Fleurt (Marsanne and Semillon), Musique (Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Chardonnay), La Vie Est Belle (Pinot Noir Rose) and The Muse (Pinot Noir Methode Champenoise). There’s also a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The two former technology executives serve their wines up a little differently, as well. Instead of tiny pours of all their wines, servers offer a choice of three wines with larger pours in separate glasses that can be compared and considered at length.
“I think tasting three wines is about right,” said Kevin. The three wines I tasted (and a fourth later) were soft, supple and complex, a testament to Kevin’s study at South Seattle College’s Northwest Wine Academy and online study through Washington State University’s Viticulture and Enology Program. He worked with several other winemakers in a cooperative winery for awhile.
“When you work with other winemakers you can really gather a lot of new ideas quickly,” he said.
Winemaking is a passionate new career for Kevin, 58. He previously had a long career as a software and technology executive and entrepreneur. He and Holly met while both working for the Visio Corp. in Seattle before it was acquired by Microsoft. He started making wine as an amateur in 2007. He was bonded in 2009 and Kevin and Holly began selling wine under the Siren Song label from the West Seattle home in 2011. The couple loved holding dinner parties, and Holly started a series of cooking and hosting videos shot in their home kitchen. Episodes can be watched online at thebrownlounge.com.
Kevin boldly quit his day job in 2011 to focus on winemaking, starting in the vineyard. He purchased vineyard property with Walla Walla wine legend Bob Betz and proceeded to learn about pruning and irrigation. Great wine is made from great grapes. Wines still in the barrel were sourced from vineyards in Walla Walla’s famed Rocks and Seven Hills areas and Stone Tree Vineyards on the Wahluke Slope.
Not to be overlooked is the six-acre north-facing vineyard around the new Siren Song tasting room, event center and winery overlooking Lake Chelan. Kevin has high hopes for Lake Chelan AVA Pinot Noir.
The winery produces 1,600 cases of wine now. Kevin expects to top out at 4,000 cases, with most of the wine sold at the tasting room, direct to restaurants and through its wine club.
The new chateau-style facility is where all the couple’s love for entertaining comes together, they said. It’s open now for wine tasting, a daily menu of rustic pizza and appetizers, wine dinners, cooking classes, weddings, frequent music and entertainment events, corporate retreats and just taking in one of the lake’s best views.
“We’ve created a place and are developing an experience that we love and others can enjoy,” said Holly. “It’s a startup.”
Here’s a few notes I took while a few Siren Song wines. All of these wines were aged 18 months in French oak and are remarkably smooth and well balanced. All are priced at $32.
2011 Siren Song Piazza Nostra: This Super Tuscan-style red blends 34 percent Sangiovese and 30 percent Nebbiolo with 36 percent Cabernet Sauvignon from Boushey Vineyard. There’s fresh cherries, roses and cedar on the nose, followed by flavors of dried fruit, ripe cranberry and blueberry and rhubarb pie. Perfect for that pizza or red sauced pasta meal.
2011 Siren Song A Night in Madrid: This tribute to Spain’s Rioja district is made from 70 percent Tempranillo, 22 percent Garnacha and 8 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, all from Wahluke Slope vineyards. It’s full of cedar and saddle leather on the nose with fresher tastes of cherry and pomegranate.
2011 Raving Beauty Cabernet Sauvignon: 100 percent Horse Heaven Hills grapes offers sumptuous aromas of ripe blackberry, blueberry and cranberry, followed by soft and enduring flavors of black cherry, a touch of black pepper, licorice and dark chocolate.
2012 Jolie: Kevin Brown’s tribute to Paris blends Cabernet Franc with Malbec and Merlot from Wahluke Slope’s Sagemoor Weinbau Vineyard. Velvety soft and mouth-filling, this a jammy, fruit forward glass of ripe boysenberries, violet and dark chocolate.
Details: Siren Song Vineyard Estate and Winery, 635 S. Lakeshore Rd., Chelan. Phone: (509) 888-4657. Web: sirensongwines.com.
Fall and winter holidays are always a time for best wine lists. And why not, the holidays are a time to drink, eat, celebrate and give.
The end of the year is also when wine experts like Andy Perdue, who has tasted an unbelievable number of new releases from wineries all over the state, write about their favorites.
Perdue, wine writer for the Seattle Times and his own Great Northwest Wine column, and coordinator and judge for dozens of wine competitions (including our NCW Wine Awards) just released his Top 50 Wines of 2015 list. It will appear in Sunday’s Seattle Times. His list is the result of blind tasting, and retasting, several thousand Washington wines over the course of the year. It’s a tough job, but Perdue is always up to the task.
North Central Washington wineries, winemakers and vineyards are well represented on his list. The top wine is Woodward Canyon Winery’s 2012 Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon. That wine is priced at $99 and probably unavailable, so you’re better off sticking with the locals. Here they are with their ranking on Perdue’s Top 50 list.
4.Palencia Wine Co. 2014 Albariño: This bright Spanish varietal was the top white wine on the list. Winemaker Victor Palencia used Ancient Lakes AVA grapes from Quincy for this spectacular wine. $18
14.Jones of Washington 2014 Sauvignon Blanc: This wine is also made by Palencia with Ancient Lakes grapes. Jones of Washington is no stranger to awards. The Quincy winery was named state Winey of the Year by Wine Press Northwest in 2012. Perdue finds this teriffic Sauvignon Blanc bright, crisp, lean and complex. $14
15.Maloney Wine 2012 Elephant Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon: This Rattlesnake Hills wine is made by Josh Maloney, who is also wine director for Milbrandt Vineyards in Mattawa. $65
27.Dusted Valley Vintners 2012 StoneTree Vineyard Petite Sirah: This Walla Walla winery used grapes from the famed Stone Tree Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope to produce this rich and elegant red. $42
36.Cave B Estate Winery 2012 Sangiovese: Winemaker Freddy Arredondo used estate grapes grown next to the Gorge Amphitheatre to produce one of NCW’s finest wines. $33
37.Plain Cellars 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon: The tiny winery in Plain produces some big wines that shine with finesse. Perdue found this Cabernet elegant and complex. $35
49.Karma Vineyards 2011 Brut: Lake Chelan’s premier maker of bubbly is the only Champagne-style wine on the list. It’s a bone-dry sparkler with aromas of tropical fruit and flavors of lemon, brioche and pineapple. $50
Here’s a link to the full list: