For the last two Autumns I have poured White Heron wines for the Ephrata Wine & Art Walk. I had never tasted Cameron Fries’ wine before this, but I had heard about all the bold reds he made. As it turns out, I was pouring a Chardonnay and a Rousanne; no reds that first time. This year I had a 2005 Merlot & the Sweet Rousanne, pouring at a local pizza shop. The pizza wasn’t the best pairing with either wine and we were at the very end of the ‘Walk’ so we didn’t get much traffic.
With that much exposure to a winery within half an hour of my house, I had to stop in. Situated on a south-facing slope above the Columbia River at Crescent Bar, a small cement building houses the winery and tasting room amidst the Mariposa Vineyards. A small picnic area with shade trees, a large chess board with pieces, and a couple of big fluffy cats greet you outside. Inside a wood bar provides the podium from which Cameron enthuses about wine, his wine as well as others.
After a sojourn in Switzerland to learn wine making, he and his wife, whom I have not met, purchased this parcel of land in the mid 80’s to raise their family and live a dream. Their home is slightly higher on the hill than the tasting room, making his commute to work enviably short. With all of the work in the vineyard and winery, that is probably a good thing.
Using Mariposa Vineyard Estate grapes, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Rosanne and Chardonnay, the White Heron wines express Washington State’s new AVA: Ancient Lakes AVA terroir. No oak in these wines; but bold flavors abound in these very drinkable wines – whether you want to age it in your wine cellar or open it for dinner. I ended up purchasing 2002 Merlots and 2011 Pinot Noirs for now and a 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon to cellar.
Throughout the summer there are catered dinners prepared by local chefs paired with White Heron wines & music, a Tomato Festival in August, Farmers Consumer Awareness in September, and, of course, wine tasting all year. Apparently, the vineyards are on offer as a wedding venue as well, check their website for more information: White Heron Cellars.