Arbor Crest Winery
Spokane isn't always thought of as wine country, but it is home to at least six wineries that are producing excellent wine.
Arbor Crest is going through a bit of a renaissance, with new winemaker Kristina Mielke-van Loben Sels leading it to new heights in quality.
This improvement was dramatically evidenced by Wine Press Northwest's recent blind tasting of nearly 100 Northwest chardonnays, in which both of Kristina's chardonnays (Columbia Valley and Conner Lee Vineyard) finished with the coveted "Outstanding" rating.
Remarkably, the Columbia Valley wine, one of the least expensive in the tasting, was our top chardonnay. It has a toasty oak beginning with butter and apple aromas and loads of flavors, including tropical fruit, apples and spice. A long, rich finish will leave your palate satisfied.
Food matches: This wine is a great summer sipper with grilled chicken. If you want to go for something a little special, try it with grilled halibut or swordfish with a mango salsa.
Arbor Crest Wine Cellars began in 1982 when Dr Harold and Marcia Mielke along with Dr. Mielke's brother converted the old family cherry farm from orchards to vineyards. At the same time a winery in California went out of business and the family decided to purchase the winery equipment and have it shipped to the old cherry processing plant where the first vintage of wine was produced.
In late 1983 the Mielke brothers purchased what is known today as the Cliff House. The Cliff House, which is located 450 feet above the Spokane River, has been designated a national historic site. The Tasting room is located in the Royal Riblet Mansion which was built in 1924 by inventor Royal Riblet.
Mr. Riblet's claim to fame was his square wheeled tractor and the Riblet tramway. The square wheeled tractor can be seen at the Cliff House grounds. With over four acres of gardens and 75 acres of grounds the cliff house is host to tourists year round. The estate is also host to a small five acre vineyard. Five varieties of grapes are planted at this sites' location of 2500 feet in elevation. Although the weather conditions are cool, fruit is grown and harvested for an estate bottled sparkling wine.
In June of 1999 sole ownership was transferred to Dr. Harold and Marcia Mielke. In addition to the ownership change Arbor Crest Wine Cellars has hired Dr. Mielke's daughter Kristina Mielke-van Löben Sels as winemaker. Kristina, a graduate of the University of California Davis in Fermentation Science, brings six years of experience as an associate winemaker from Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery of Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County California . Additionally Kristina's husband joins the Arbor Crest Wine Cellars staff with his strong background in agriculture economics and viticulture
The rich tradition of quality wine will continue as Arbor Crest Wine Cellars new team brings to the table professionalism, dedication and experience.
Winemaker Kristina Mielke-van Löben Sels
Kristina Mielke-van Lobel Sells got her start in the wine buseinss when she was 12.
That was in 1982, when her family established Arbor Crest Wine Cellars. Kristina spent her summers helping out at the winery, and she liked the work so much, she chose it as her profession.
After earning a degree in fermentation science from the University of California at Davis, Kristina took a job as an enologist for Ferrari Carano Vineyards and Winery in Healdsburg, CA. There she developed an experimental winery, mixing and matching clones with different rootstocks. The results influenced Ferrari- Carrano's decisions about larg scale plantings.Kristina was promoted to asociate winemaker in 1997, and served in that capacity until she joined Arbor Crest in 1999. Her experiences gave her immediate insight into Arbor Crest's methods, and the changes she wanted to make. "I realized the production facility needed to be modified" she says. "It was basically a white wine facility. I had the tanks converted to red wine fermetners and implemented a bin dumping system in our 10-ton Willmes press for red wine pommace and whole cluster pressing. Now we have a facility that gives us options."
Kristina plans to make use of that flexibility. While she's focusing on four main varietals, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon- Kristina is also producing Pinot Gris and Syrah. "I'll make special releases depending on vintage, or if a particular wine speaks to me and says, ' I deserve to be in a bottle all by myself'" she says. "I'm always experimenting. It keeps me thinking- and making the best wine possible."