We drove slowly up the narrow switch-back drive, me gripping both the door and the center console as if that would help keep me safe, with glimpses of the beautiful Spokane Valley appearing between the trees. As we reached more level ground at the top and pulled into the parking lot I allowed myself to breath again – no it really isn’t that bad to get to Cliff House, but I can’t reason with my brain and so I struggle through experiences like this. My super patient partner in wine drives and sometimes teases me but I wish I could get passed it as I am sure there are many places that I would appreciate if I could get there. Even with wine in the offering I wouldn’t have
driven myself up that hill.
Arbor Crest Wine Cellar, begun in 1982, calls Cliff House and the remarkable 1924-era estate home. We had been to the downtown tasting room in the mall several years ago, that space is no longer open but there are plans for another downtown space in the works. Registered as a national historic landmark in 1979 it is a lovely event location for weddings, family reunions, concerts, etc. Even in the earliness of Spring there was a quiet loveliness be lying what is likely in full bloom but a few weeks later.
We had a smattering of the wines on offer:
2012 Columbia Valley Merlot – 13.8% ABV is vanilla chia on the nose with bright red berries accompanying the spice through the finish
- 2012 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 13.9% ABV is an easy drinking blend of red and black fruit with a Chinese five-spice finish
- 2012 Avansino, Grande Reserve – 13.8% ABV is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Sangiovese opening with raspberry jam on the nose, soft, well-integrated tannins and a lingering nut finish
- 2011 Dionysus Meritage Red Blend – 13.8% ABV, 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot, has a sweet pepper nose, smoke and black berry palate with nice, crisp acidity and a white pepper and toasted oak finish
2011 Cabernet Franc from the Conner Lee Vineyard – 13.8% ABV, basking spices and floral nose with Cassis and black berry, reminiscent of a berry pie with silky tannins and well-balanced acid finish
- 2011 Syrah – 13.8% ABV is an easy drinker, blue and black berry cobbler with licorice spice tea, very yummy
- 2013 Riesling – 12% ABV, 3% RS is apricot and citrus on the nose, white nectarine on the palate with a pineapple finish, excellent balance of sweet and tart.
This is a widely distributed wine with their Cliff House and Arbor Crest labels making their way around the world.
Enjoy the photos, there is a great description of the original owner and the history of the Cliff House on the Arbor Crest Wine Cellars website linked above.