Two Washington State Wines

A little known fact: Washington State is the 2nd largest producer of wine in the United States. And all its wine is premium or super-premium. Although the image of Washington State is based on its rainy largest city, Seattle; roughly 2/3 of the state is east of the Cascade mountain range and receives very little rain. In fact, if it weren’t for irrigation, little would grow there except sage brush and rattlesnakes.


The largest producer of wine in Washington State is Chateau Ste. Michelle Estates. They have multiple brands and labels, but their largest is Columbia Crest. It ranges from the relatively inexpensive Two Vines line to their Reserves.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Estates has 15 wine brands in Washington State and Oregon, 4 in California and 17 international partnerships. I tasted one of the international partnership wines: Col Solare, a collaboration between Ste. Michelle and the renowned Antinori family of Italy.

Stylistically, Washington State wines offer a wonderful cross between the structure of European wine and the fruit character of “new world wines”.

 2010 Columbia Crest Two Vines Riesling, $9.50, 11.5% alc. Washington State.

Floral nose with a nice round mouth feel. Peaches & apricots. A touch of sweetness but with a crisp finish. Good with appetizers. Very drinkable.

2010 Columbia Crest Two Vines Chardonnay, $9.50, 13.5% alc. Washington State.

Unoaked style. Tropical fruit and earth. Simple and drinkable. BEST BUY

2010 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Chardonnay, $12.00. 13.5% alc. Columbia Valley.

Earth, oak, tropical fruit & minerals. Crisp and round. Nice finish. Could be French!

2007 Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot, $9.50, 13.5% alc. Washington State.

Berries, black fruit. A bit tart with a short finish.

2007 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot, $12.00, 13.5% alc. Columbia Valley.

Nice, complex nose of berries & earth. Almost rustic feel in the mouth. Chocolate in the finish.

2009 Columbia Crest Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon, $9.50, 13.5% alc. Washington State.

Nose of cherries & black berries. Mouth of berries & prunes.

2006 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.5% alc. $12.00, Columba Valley

Complex and well balanced. Cherries, chocolate, black berries, earth. Long finish. BEST BUY

col flare2004 Col Solare, 14.4% alc. $60, Columbia Valley. Blend of 80% cabernet sauvignon, 17% merlot, 3% cabernet franc & petit verdot.

WOW! This is the best wine I have had in Panama! It was even better on the 2nd day. If you want a really good wine at a peak of maturity and flavor, this is it! So many flavors: Aromas of red & black cherry as well as black currant. Notes of vanilla, clove, and tobacco. Rich and balanced on the palate. Finishes with long, lingering flavors of cocoa, black currant, and vanilla. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

M. Stefan has over 20 years experience in the wine trade and has traveled extensively throughout the wine producing regions of the world.  His column is a regular feature of La Playa Community. He can be reached at and appreciates your comments.