What’s old is new again

The Washington wine industry began in the Yakima Valley. This region is known to have pioneered the first plantings of several key grape varieties in the Pacific Northwest with the help of three researchers from Washington State University’s Research Center located in Prosser.

Dr. Walter Clore, George Carter, and Chas Nagel were instrumental in the development of ground-breaking research at the dawn of the Valley’s wine industry to determine which grape varieties would grow best in the region.

The Washington State Legislature officially recognized Dr. Walter Clore as the Father of the Washington State Wine Industry for his research contribution to Washington viticulture. In 1964, Dr. Charles (Chas) Nagel began making wine from test sites and putting together tasting panels to check progress. In 1966, George Carter became the official winemaker for the group, which became known as The Wine Project.

George Carter and his family moved to a 10-acre property north of Prosser in 1955, twenty years later he began planting grape vines. Today, the vines are 42 years old and though they have changed owners, they still grow quality wine grapes.

The property is now home to Domanico Cellars, a brand-new 2,000-case winery and tasting room. Jason Domanico opened his first winery in Seattle. While located on the west side, he made frequent visits to check on vineyards and buy wine grapes in the Yakima Valley. “When I learned this historic vineyard was for sale, I jumped on it,” said Domanico. “I wanted to be close to the vines. I want people to get a sense of the history of the vines. To know and understand that the wine industry has been here for a while.  It’s important to me that people get in touch and understand what goes on in the vineyard.”

“A lot of the wine industry [is] focused on what’s new. The fact that there are old vines here isn’t mentioned much,” says Domanico. “There are wineries here that make wine out of the grapes grown on-site. I think that is an interesting story. The grape commute at our winery is 60-feet from the vine to the winery. There is a sense of place here.”

 Wine to try:
2014 Domanico Cellars L’errant, Columbia Valley
This red blend is one of winemaker Jason Domanico’s favorite wines to a make.  He enjoys wandering around the barrel room trying different combinations for the blend. The 2014 vintage is 50% Petit Verdot, 25% Carmenere, 20% Malbec, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.   Dark and dense in color, it has wonderful aromas of cherry, pepper, sweet vanilla and oak with a hint of sweet smoke.  Great balance and smooth finish. This wine will pair perfectly with steak, pot roast or sautéed duck thigh’s. $32.00/bottle or $9.00 by the glass at Domanico Cellars tasting room.

If you are participating in Yakima Valley’s Annual harvest celebration, Catch the Crush on October 14-15, be sure to add Domanico Cellars to your itinerary. Jason has created a map identifying what vines are planted where on the property. Guests can walk through and see first-hand what old vines look like, and of course taste the wines they produce.

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