Washington State might be a long way from the Rhône Valley, but winemaker Kevin White is doing all he can to bring it as close to what he sees as being his inspiration for making wine. Which is why he makes wine with Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre and does it with a minimalist approach as he wants the fruit to shine rather than anything he does in the winery. You can taste his wines for yourself at next month’s Washington State Wine tasting.
Kevin White is one of the ‘Unsung Heroes’ taking place at the Washington State tasting in London on March 10. Here he shares his story and gives an idea of what to expect to see at the tasting.
Tell us about your winery and the background?
After falling in love with wines from the Rhône Valley, I decided to focus my passion and energy showcasing what Washington State could do with Syrah and Grenache. I started our winery in 2010 with a focus on traditional varieties of the Rhône Valley grown on higher elevation vineyards in the Yakima Valley AVA of Washington State.
The Yakima Valley vineyards emphasise purity and elegance over concentration and power. We partner with some of Washington’s top Yakima Valley vineyards including Boushey, Upland, and Olsen vineyards. The winery currently produces 2000 cases a year.
How did you get into wine?
After my first few years in the tech industry, I began thinking about additional areas to pursue my passions and express my creativity. I found myself immersed in various activities, however, during this time I was introduced to a bottle of wine from a premier vineyard in Washington state. That wine was an ‘Aha’ moment for me!
I realised what great wine tastes like and the experience set me on what is now a lifelong journey in the world of wine.
French wine from the Northern and SouthernRhône, became a passion, if not an obsession for me. I particularly fell in love with Syrah from Saint Joseph in the north and Grenache blends from Gigondas in the south. After tasting some Rhône-inspired wines coming from Washington State, it was clear that we could excel with Syrah and Grenache. I decided that I wanted to be part of the early generation of winemakers showcasing the best of what Washington could do with these varietals.
What range of wines do you make and is that changing?
Our focus is primarily on Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. We produce single vineyard expressions of these varietals and blends that showcase the Yakima Valley. There are no plans to change.
What is your approach to winemaking and what do you want to convey in your wines?
We have a minimalist approach in the winery when it comes to winemaking. Our goal is to allow the vineyards speak and show their unique terroir in our wines. Native yeasts are allowed to ferment our lots followed by 15 months of ageing in mostly neutral French Oak barrels. Our wines are only racked once when blending and we bottle our wines without filtration.
Have you changed the way you make your wine in the last five years?
Over the past few years we have incorporated more concrete in our winery for fermentation and ageing. We find that when fermenting in concrete the wines are fresher with more texture. While ageing in concrete eggs, we see the development of a fuller mid-palate while keeping the wines fresh and vibrant.
Why are you taking part in the tasting in London?
We are here to share our passion and wine with the UK market for the first time. It is incredibly exciting and humbling to represent our wine on the world stage. London has always been a confluence of top wines from around the globe. We are excited to be included in this group.
Who do you hope comes to taste your wines?
We hope that while sharing our wines with industry professionals and wine consumers they discover that our wines straddle the line between the new and old worlds. Our wines are balanced and fresh with great mouthfeel and texture. They are familiar yet unique at the same time. It is exciting to share that balance with everyone.
What else are you planning on doing in London?
In partnership with our exporter, Awin Barratt Siegel, we are looking forward to hosting a lunch showcasing some of our library vintages and visiting some of London’s best wine merchants. Outside wine, I’m sure we will enjoy a few nice dinners and take in a show on the West End.
Washington State Wines Tasting March 10
The Unsung Heroes of American Wine is how Washington State Wine is billing its generic tasting on March 10. It all takes place between 10.30am – 5.30pm at The Hansom, Kings Cross Renaissance Hotel, London, NW1 2AR. To register click here.