2015: The Year of Washington Wine

Posted January 13, 2015

Stephen Fahy


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I can still hear the lilitingly melodic ring of her voice in my head as if it were yesterday. It was a ‘warning’ from Betz Family Winery owner Bridget Griessel that she’d be watching me, the self-proclaimed ‘Big Man Buyer’ from the East who promised to “put Washington State on the map” - Yeah right, about that… still working on that Bridget, but truth be told, my visit to Washington State two summers ago lit me up unlike any other region had in years!

Betz Family Winery (yes, THAT Bob Betz, MW), and many others I had experienced in Woodinville, Washington during my stay in Washington State was the start of something really big for me as a wine buyer. I networked with several of the smaller, highly recommended wine shops, dined at several of the vino-centric restaurants, and came to discover a wine scene that was exploding with energy and purpose. Out of the shadows of behemoths Columbia Crest and Chateau Ste. Michelle have come smaller, more dynamic producers like Seven Hills, Avennia, Gorman, Sparkman, Dunham, Rotie Cellars, Abeja, Balboa, just to name but a few. Boasting a renewed focus on terroir-driven wines that weren’t afraid to show their mineral-infused soul, these were wineries that pushed forward less popular but (often) more gorgeous varietals.

The back story:

Although relatively young, Washington State is the second largest wine producing region in the United States. Production is situated in the dry, semi-desert conditions of Eastern Washington State, comprised of 8 distinct American Viticultural Areas (AVAs).  Among the best regarded are Red Mountain, Walla Walla, Horse Heaven Hills, Yakima, but all of them are producing wines unique in their own right. Each of these areas share the region’s benefits of extremely long sun drenched days (read: “high light intensity”), dry growing conditions, deep natural underground water sources, and wild diurnal shifts in temperature from day to night. Add to this the dried up river basin (from the Ice Age) that is ground zero for Washington State’s greatest vineyard areas and you have the makings of an epic wine producing future.

So back to that New Year’s resolution, to drink and sell more Washington State wine that is true to the terroir of the region. While it's not easy to turn people on to a totally new region, I am resolved. After all, if it were easy, anybody could do it, right? At least that’s what Bridget told me.


Stephen C. Fahy, DWS is the Sales Director and a Wine Buyer at the Wine Library. Prior to this, Stephen managed the buying and sales initiatives for stores large and small in both New Jersey and Manhattan. In addition, Stephen sold to some of Manhattan’s top restaurants and retailers while a Wine and Spirits Consultant for Importer/Distributor, WINEBOW.


Item: 81912

750 mL

Retail: $39.99

$39.99 per btl

Item: 85035

750 mL

Retail: $15.99

$11.09 per btl