Maryhill becomes wine force

February 23, 2011 

One of the finest success stories of the past decade in the Washington wine industry has to be that of Maryhill Winery.

Owners Craig and Vicki Leuthold launched their winery in a remote area of the state with the 2001 vintage, making 4,300 cases. In less than a decade, they have grown that to 80,000 cases, making Maryhill one of the largest family-owned producers in Washington.

Along the way, Maryhill has gained a well-earned reputation for crafting wines of quality and value, with its Winemaker’s Red – a $14 blend – making up more than a third of its production.

In 2004, Maryhill shocked the California wine world when its 2002 Zinfandel won best in class at a prominent wine competition.

The winery, near the town of Goldendale and next to the famed Maryhill Museum, occupies a beautiful location atop basalt cliffs that provide delicious views of the Gorge, Columbia River and Mount Hood. The Leutholds take advantage of their location with a 4,000-seat amphitheater that plays host to top musical acts each summer. Between the winery and concerts, Maryhill attracts 75,000 visitors per year. The wines also are widely distributed and easy to find in wine shops and groceries.

Here are some Maryhill wines we’ve tasted recently:

Maryhill Winery 2006 Proprietor’s Reserve Syrah, Columbia Valley, $25: Chukar Cherry, red raspberry and boysenberry accents include cola, milk chocolate, RyKrisp cracker, soy sauce and peppermint for a hedonistic Syrah with some late tannin.

Maryhill Winery 2006 Proprietor’s Reserve Barbera, Columbia Valley, $20: Rich oak aromas gather in ripe red fruit and red licorice, and there are Van cherry, strawberry and plum notes on the palate. Raspberry acidity and good grip give it length, making it reminiscent of expensive offerings from Italy.

Maryhill Winery 2009 Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $9: Some of the Northwest’s nicest rosés come from this high-acid, food-friendly Italian variety, and this rates among them. First, there are whiffs of white strawberry, rhubarb, plum, blood orange, pomegranate and Lincoln rose. Inside, it’s all fruit, hinting at smooth strawberry, juicy Rainier cherry and peach. What little sugar is left (1 percent) gets whisked dry by citrusy acidity.

Maryhill Winery 2007 Vintage Port, Columbia Valley, $25: An estate gathering of Tinta Cao (30 percent), Touriga Nacional (30 percent), Souzao (30 percent) and Tempranillo – all Portuguese varieties – paves the way for aromas of golden raisin, Madagascar bourbon vanilla extract, almond, caramel and cherry cough syrup. Vanilla and almond extract ply their way onto the palate with raisins and Hoisin sauce as orange peel trails. The sweetness checks in at 6 percent.

Maryhill Winery 2007 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $15: Smoked cassis, blueberries and raspberry aromas stay ahead of fascinating scents of teriyaki, Westbrae Unsweetened Ketchup and horsehair. There’s a sweet entry of blueberry and black cherry with an Old World feel to the midpalate when remarkable acidity from pomegranate kicks in. Frontal tannins and black olive in the finish will make this a pleasure to pair with fatty meats.

Maryhill Winery 2008 Proprietor’s Reserve Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $15: Orange Creamsicle, sweet lemon and Granny Smith apple aromas are joined by smoked pineapple. There’s a nice balance of oak to the palate, and it shows as baked pie crust with apples, backed by more lemons and pineapple. Butterscotch and enjoyable spiciness arrive in the farewell.

Maryhill Winery 2009 Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley, $11: Filling the nose are hints of canned pear, gooseberry and starfruit. There are more fruit cocktail flavors on the palate with pear, tangerine, honeydew melon and lychee.

Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman are the editors of Wine Press Northwest. For more information, go to www.winepressnw.com.

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