About Our WinesVashon Winery uses grapes from eastern Washington and also grapes from western Washington. Eastern Washington is a very warm growing region with relatively cool evenings, especially in the spring and fall. Summers can be very hot. Vitis vinifera thrive in that climate, retaining the natural acidity and producing plenty of natual sugars.
We use primarily Bordeaux varieties of grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Semillon.
All are red except the Semillon. The red grapes are vinified separately and kept as separate lots according to their type. The wines are almost always allowed to remain in contact with the skins, sometimes up to four or five weeks after the initial alcohol fermentation is complete, and while the malo-lactic fermentation completes. The wines are then transferred into mostly neutral oak barrels, barrels that we buy used from other wineries. We are not interested in getting heavy new oak flavors.
Rather, we are interested in the effect of aging a wine in oak barrel, and usually French oak though we also use Hungarian and American barrels. Some of the effects are: quicker clarification (than in stainless steel or polymer), better stabilization of color and flavors, a softening due we assume to oxygenation, and a growth of flavors that combine in the barrel, and finally concentration of flavors due to evaporation.
Semillon is vinified slightly differently. It is crushed and destemmed, immediately pressed, then transferred into oak barrels to ferment in the barrel. Then it is left in contact with the lees, a combination of spent yeast cells and parts of the skins and sediment that falls to the bottom of the barrel. This is called sur lies, allowing the lees to sit in contact with the wine imparting a slightly richer, bready character caused in part by a chemical change that occurs in the spent yeast. It is the same technique used to make really fine Champagne. There the sur lies occurs in the bottle. With the Semillon, it occurs in the barrel.
Mostly we produce varietal wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and coming soon, Cabernet Franc. And Semillon. Additionally we produce a blended red wine called Reserve Red, made only in particularly good vintages. Increasingly we are doing more blends such as Tramp Harbor Red and Right Bank Red.
Vashon Winery also produces occasional wines from grapes grown in the Puget Sound AVA, a warm but maritime climate that captures the delicate flavors and aromas of grapes grown in a marginal climate. We make a Chasselas Doré from grapes planted in 1940, located on Vashon Island, known as the Back Bay Vineyard. Chasselas is also known as Gutedel in Germany, and though extensively planted in France, it is best known in Switzerland. It is fruity, dry and delicate, like a white flower petal.
In 2006 we made our first Pinot Noir, from grapes grown here on Vashon Island. It was a spectacular year. The wine is light and fruity with good acidity and length. Lots of delicate cherry. We got all of a barrel, about 25 cases, and quickly sold out.
And finally Vashon Winery makes a lightly sparkling cider using European based cider apples; bittersweets and bittersharps. These apples are sourced throughout western Washington. The cider is fermented to dryness, then transferred to stainless steel barrels to age one year. The cider is then bottled in special 500 ml bottles. It is lightly sparkling with aromas of baked apple and bread yeast right from the oven. It finishes dry.