Every week the founder of Washington Wine Report, Wine Enthusiast contributing editor, and Seattle Met's house wine guru recommends a (typically) budget-friendly Northwest wine.
What: Eight Bells Winery Syrah Red Willow Vineyard Yakima Valley $25
Where: Winery, McCarthy & Schiering
Why: The story of Eight Bells Winery is one of three friends—Tim Bates, Andy Shepherd, and Frank Michiels—who started out as long-time home winemakers and subsequently decided to launch a commercial winery as a quasi-retirement project.
Shoehorned into an alleyway in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood, Eight Bells is a true urban winery. Bates, Shepherd, and Michiels have creatively leveraged every square inch of space available for barrels and equipment. An army of mailing list volunteers helps out during harvest as grapes spill out into the street.
Much of the focus at Eight Bells is on Red Willow Vineyard, home to Washington’s first plantings of syrah and one of the state’s most iconic sites. Indicative of the quality of its fruit, Red Willow-designated syrahs start at $40 and go up. The Eight Bells 2010 Red Willow Syrah comes in at only $25 with quality that competes with the best of them. The rest of the winery’s lineup is also high quality and incredibly well priced.
“We’re aggressively pricing everything,” Michiels admits, noting that part of the winery’s goal to is to build its brand and do as much direct-to-consumer sales as possible. Eight Bells is open Saturdays from 11-4pm. You’ll probably have to walk back and forth a time or two to find it, but it’s well worth the search.