As the Washington Wine industry was stretching its youthful limbs, caterer Dave Westfall opened a retail wine store and then was the Washington rep for wine imports from France, Italy, California and other big players of the time. Apparently that wasn’t enough, in 1997 he and a few others opened a small winery in Spokane, Grande Ronde Cellars, sourcing their fruit from Walla Walla’s highly regarded Seven Hills Vineyard and Pepper Bridge Vineyard; they still source their fruit from these same vineyards 18 years on. We found Dave behind the bar of the tasting room early afternoon on a Saturday, watching the Gonzaga game. It is a spacious place with lots of seating and a space for musicians; there is music and food to go along with the wine every Friday evening and some Saturdays.
As we listened to Dave tell us about his life in the Washington Wine Industry we sipped samples of his wines:
- 2009 Grande Ronde Cellar Red – 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, 5% Malbec 14-18 months in French oak and a few years aged in bottle, a lovely, easy drinking Bordeaux blend
- 2008 Seven Hills Vineyard Merlot – 14% ABV, Cassis, tart cherry, anise and pot herbs carry through from the nose to the palate, integrated tannin structures and a smidge of fruity acid wraps up with cocoa notes on the medium finish
- 2008 Seven Hills Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – 14% ABV, vanilla, tobacco and spice mix with dark berries with enough tannins to carry the bold flavors through a lingering finish
- 2008 Pepper Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon – 14% ABV, bolder than the Merlot with more oak aromas, spices and tobacco, with herbs and tart raspberry finishing long and full
The whites and other reds they make are for EMVY & Bridge Press. It is interesting to taste three different takes on basically the same fruit made by the same people with the same equipment. This is the perfect example of the adage that there are as many wine styles as there are wine makers.