Lake Chelan itself is reason enough to make a trip to this beautiful area, where views of the lake, distant mountains, orchards and vineyards are awe-inspiring.
Now, however, the area is home to an emerging industry which offers pleasure year-round to residents and visitors alike.
In recent years 17 wineries have opened, each offering something unique — not just in choices of palate pleasing, award-winning wines, but in setting and scenery. Some offer dining, entertainment, winery tours and other attractions.
Henry Munneke opens a bottle of wine to offer a tasting to a customer at Chelan Ridge Winery in Manson.
Winemaker Lynn Munneke and her husband Henry are hostess and host at the tasting room on their grapevine-covered hillside. The couple’s teamwork in the tasting room provides a double treat of terrific wines and delightful conversation.
Lynn is a chemist who returned to the classroom at Washington State University to study enology and learn the science and art of making wine. She finished that program and moved shortly afterwards into the viticulture program to learn the skills necessary to manage their estate vineyards.
Henry, a retired airlines pilot, is enjoying his time in the vineyards and the tasting room, and, as I learned at my last visit during Chelan Nouveau, is now spending time in the cellar helping to craft the wines. He explains, “Our small acreage of grapes will increase in the future. We’re taking it slow and building on quality, not volume.”
Lynn and Henry have, in fact, achieved that quality element.
We tasted the first-ever Chelan Ridge Estate Merlot on our latest visit and couldn’t have been more pleased about sampling a wine. Aromatic with notes of cherry and black fruits, and rich with the flavors of those fruits, it is a wine that demands your attention.
This is not a jammy wine, but a masterfully crafted, medium-bodied pleasure that will satisfy even those who scoff at the very idea of Merlot.
This is Merlot as it was meant to be: delicate, but intensely flavored.
In the cellar and awaiting bottling are barrels of two new wines: an Estate Chardonnay and an Estate Bordeaux-style wine blended by Henry.
Bottling of these wines will occur soon, but both wines will have some time to rest in the bottle before they are offered for tasting or sale. Wine making takes time and patience. Quality, especially in a red wine, cannot be achieved in a hurry.
When I inquired about the High Hawk label, Lynn said, “Our goal is to reach the point where all our wines are Chelan Ridge, Lake Chelan AVA wines, produced from our own grapes grown right here on our property. That fire set us back a bit, but I think we have recovered nicely. The High Hawk label is our second label. It’s for the wines we’ve made from grapes sourced from vineyards other than our own.”
I agreed with Lynn’s assessment. The High Hawk label is nothing to shy away from, for the same care was taken in making the wine from the sourced grapes as was taken in making their estate wines. All are excellent, and can be served with pride at any table.
On this visit, we ended our tasting by enjoying the High Hawk Riesling Henry poured for us. This is not a dry wine, or trocken, as the winemakers along the Mosel or the Rhine in Germany would say. I’m guessing residual sugar at about 3 to 3.5 percent (if my memory is serving me here).
It would make the perfect ending for a meal — a small glass of the High Hawk Riesling, slowly sipped and savored — perhaps served with my wife’s tiny fruit tarts.
- Trackback Link
- Post has no trackbacks.