Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dusted Valley-- 2010 Washington Winery of the Year!

When self-proclaimed Wisconsin "Cheeseheads"/winemakers Corey Braunel and Chad Johnson chucked it all and moved their families to Walla Walla in 2003, little did they know that seven years later their dream, Dusted Valley, would be named Washington Winery Of The Year by Wine Press Northwest. I had never heard of them until a few months ago when a general e-mail announcing the accolade graced my inbox. It must have been a good sign. I was curious and wanted to know more. Who were they and what were their wines like? A couple weeks and a couple sample bottles later, I am sitting here beside myself and extremely impressed with my finding! Thank goodness for e-mail!

Dusted ValIey is a small production winery located in Walla Walla, Washington. Most of you have probably never heard of them as they have limited distribution. However, I urge you to discover them through their website because their wines will woo you and find a special place in your hearts. As stated above, in seven short years they have become a force to be reckoned with! These are gutsy, edgy wines with emphasis on big taste. Something unbelievably great has evolved from such humble beginnings...

The vision for this winery is a combination of the winemakers' love of Washington wines, an agricultural background and education. Corey came from a farming background eventually moving into the sales and marketing area. Chad started in the hospitality industry and also studied food science and chemistry at school. Together, their love for the Pacific Northwest and the wines produced in this region was enough for them to uproot and move. They now have a 4000 case production, sustainable-practice winery dedicated to producing high quality wines in an affordable price range. Everything they do goes back to their roots, even the oak they use comes from Wisconsin! Their idea is that wine should be enjoyed as an experience with friends and family. These two make wines that they would want to be drinking and that is a great philosophy!

I recently had the chance to sample two of their wines and can't wait until next month when I get to sample more out in Washington! The two I tried are perfect examples of their dedication to taste and quality... (And the awards just keep coming!)

The 2008 Dusted Valley Yakima Valley Old Vine Chardonnay was clean, refreshing and flavorful. None of that overly-oaked nonsense as this one seems to be done in a very Burgundian style, keeping true to the flavor of the Chardonnay grape. What exactly is an "Old Vine Chardonnay"? The vines were planted in 1971. In Washington state terms, that is "old" because the industry there is so young. (It didn't begin hopping until shortly before that!) I really enjoyed this wine and unfortunately for my readers, so did everyone else! The winery is officially sold out of all 217 cases of this wine. Good for them, not good for us. Hopefully they will be releasing the 2009 sometime in the near future. $30.00.

The 2007 Columbia Valley Stained Tooth Syrah is amazing! (And yes, I can see why they named it "Stained Tooth"! You will have purple teeth after this one!) If I could use the word "Wow" in every sentence of this description, I'd certainly try to get away with it! I took this bottle over to a friend's wine shop and tasted it with him and we were blown away. This wine is a precision blending of Syrah and Viognier with some Grenache and rare varietal Counoise mixed in. There's absolutely none of that Rhône "funk" (although it's fashioned in the Rhône style). Just a lot of huge dark jammy fruit up front and firm tannins. Like I said, "Wow!" Fortunately for everyone they made over 1200 cases so you can still get some of this. $28.00 (yes, that's it--so much flavor and value!)

And as if this all wasn't enough, they have added a second "value" label, Boomtown, featuring other wines from the area. These wines are available in supermarkets and restaurants as well as their website. I haven't tried these yet but but hope to in the near future.

If you happen to live in Washington or are visiting Washington soon (2010 Wine Bloggers Conference attendees should look into this!), there are two places to enjoy these wines. In the Seattle area, they can be found at the Woodinville Wine Gallery and they also have a tasting room in Walla Walla. Please check them out on their website,, to learn about their other wines, all the awards and how you can obtain some of their wines for yourselves. I'd like to thank everyone at Dusted Valley for allowing me to sample such great wines! You are truly deserving of this accolade and I'm looking forward to meeting you in June!

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