In the fall, we visited the Col Solare Bottega in Woodinville, expecting to have some really good wine, but totally unsure what to expect from that shiny glass box towards the back of the Chateau Ste. Michelle tasting rooms. On Sunday morning, we ventured off in a similar way to the Col Solare Winery [photo: left] in Benton City, WA, after not making it there on previous trips to the Red Mountain area.
It shouldn’t surprise you, then, to hear that we were perhaps doubly surprised at the experience this time around.
First off, I’ll just throw out the suggestion that visiting there first should you be out and about planning on visiting a few wineries is definitely a good option, much like I tend to recommend for DeLille’s little yellow carriage house in Woodinville. Second, bring a camera and a bit of time, because you’re probably going to want to take it all in for a spell.
About a month ago, we returned to the Bottega with Brittany Tracy‘s mom and sister, so they could give the tasting room a try and see something unique and different. We were oh so disappointed to find that they were all out of the ’05 vintage, so we had to suffer through a flight of ’02, ’06 and ’07 Col Solare. If there were an HTML tag for sarcasm, I’d be using it here.
Flip the script to this week’s visit, and we managed to arrive just after the ’08 has hit the shelves. Aside from the ’08, it turns out that Col Solare made a little bitty amount of Syrah (ALERT: IT’S NOT IN A SYRAH BOTTLE!) that we were more than pleased with, and you can only secure at the winery. We took some home, of course. We also had the pleasure of trying out the ’96 and ’98 vintages, neither of which we’d had before, and it was truly a fascinating experience to be able to “walk through” the evolution of a winery like Col Solare, whose ultimate goal is to build the best Cab. They’re certainly dedicated, and most certainly making a good run at it.
Another “tidbit” that we were pleased to have come across was the opportunity to try Shining Hill – similar grapes, but slightly different blends from the “flagship” wines – released a year ahead of the Col Solare wines, for about half the price ($40, vs. $75), and only available at the winery. Well, except for the online store. It was fun to try out a “second” label, and it reminded me of Long Shadows’ Nine Hats, both in pricing strategy and marketing. Good idea, all around.
All in all, I probably couldn’t say enough about our experience at Col Solare. The staff was unpretentious, properly versed, and, IMO, empowered. The grounds were impeccable, and being able to be shown which grapes were growing where on the estate was fun to do from an elevated location. The tasting room was elegant, but approachable, and the experience was priced as you’d expect a winery with this visibility and price point to have.