Columbia Winery, one of Washington's first wineries, was established in 1962 by six University of Washington professors and four local businessmen, known in the early days as "Associated Vintners". They planted a small vineyard with classic European vinifera vines and set out to prove that quality wine could be made in Washington. The wines quickly acquired a cult following and became so popular that they sold out even before they were released.
The winery has grown steadily to become one of the largest wineries in the Northwest, and in 1996 Columbia produced over 125,000 cases of wine for national distribution. Many awards and national recognition have come Columbia's way. Columbia's Milestone Merlot was recently described by Frank Prial, of The New York Times as "Washington's best merlot." In addition, the winery also produces a Pinot Noir that received a platinum medal at the American Wine Competition sponsored by Wine & Spirits Magazine, the first Washington Pinot Noir to ever achieve this level of recognition. Also, according to Stephen Tanzer of Food & Wine Magazine, it's Woodburne Cuvee Chardonnay "could easily be mistaken for a top-notch $30 white Burgundy."
Columbia's aim is to make distinctive Washington wines, not copies of wines from other wine regions. The winemaker, David Lake, uses only European vinifera grapes from areas of Washington State best suited to each varietal and supervises all aspects of growing the grapes. He decides to harvest them when their balance of sugar, acid and varietal character is at its peak.
Over the years Columbia's winemaker David Lake has sought specific vineyard sites which exemplify the best which Washington has to offer: Cabernet Sauvignon from Otis, Red Willow and Sagemoor Vineyards; Merlot from Red Willow Vineyard and Chardonnay from Wyckoff and Otis Vineyards--all bearing special labels announcing them as "David Lake Signature" wines.
Columbia, along with Red Willow Vineyard, was the first to plant Cabernet Franc and Syrah. Today, both varietals extend the depth of Columbia's portfolio and made them the first winery in America north of the 45th parallel to produce and market a Syrah, the great red grape of France's Hermitage in the Rhone Valley, that is terrific with heartier dishes.
Call us at
Cole Danehower on
This is the best guide, bar none, to Oregon's wines. Insightful articles, interesting reviews, in depth interviews- you'll find them all here. Worth every penny if you're interested in Oregon wine.