In another renovated building, this one an old fire station from the days of horse-drawn water tankers also south of the railroad tracks, there is another Spokane winery: Robert Karl Cellars. Originally from Virginia, the Gunselman family, Dr. Joe, Rebecca and their three sons moved to Spokane so Dr. Gunselman could continue to to practice while making high quality wine. They have an eight acre vineyard, Gunselmen Bench, on the Horse Heaven Hills and purchase fruit from select other Horse Heaven Hills AVA vineyards not too far from their vineyard. Since their first vintage in 1999 to 2015, they have accumulated awards and accolades, not bad as self-taught winemakers. He is also a licensed pilot, allowing for more efficient vineyard visits as their vineyard is just over 200 miles from Spokane.
I had to smile when I read the wine club name, ‘Health Club’. How long has it been since science has supported the notion that a glass of red wine, now I see white wine being acceptable also, as a healthy daily beverage? Dr. Gunselman supports this notion of wine as healthy; “that wine is an essential part of every meal.” Nutrition was my first love and first declared major (didn’t follow through because I didn’t like an instructor, sigh) and I applaud the notion of a wine club as healthy, not only is quality wine good for you (in moderation, of course) but so is the social aspects of the club.
Did you see the Horse Heaven Hills and the horse drawn fire trucks connection? Look closely at the coat-of-arms logo, see the horses at the top? Yeah, there is certainly a connection there. As neither of the owners was present when we were in Spokane, we had a lovely young woman named Havilah pouring for us, we didn’t get to ask if they were horse people in Virginia or if there is any other significance.
The wines we tasted that day:
- 2012 Malbec – McKinley Springs Vineyard, 14.2% ABV, smokey and rich, a lovely, well integrated blend of fruit and wood all the way through the lingering silky finish
- 2012 Merlot – Andrew’s Horse Heaven Ranch, 14.3% ABV, dark, smooth fruits, easy drinking
- 2011 Claret – 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 20% Malbec, and 4% Cabernet Franc, 13.9% ABV, Cassis, herbs and licorice
- 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Gunselman Bench, McKinley Springs, Phinney Hills, 14.3 % ABV, blackberry, cedar and vanilla
We will have to return to Spokane and visit again as there are more wines than were open that day that we would like to experience. The Claret seems to be distributed, but I am not sure if any of their other wines are, if you see them, let me know.