Washington has long been known as the land of big bold reds and sultry whites, but lately the state’s been flashing some bling. Yakima’s Treveri Cellars is one of roughly a dozen Washington wineries that have begun producing sparkling wines. Most of these—including Syncline Wine Cellars and Karma Vineyards—have made sparklers a limited part of their lineup. At Treveri, it’s all they do.

“We already have Washington wineries starting to specialize in Rhone- and Bordeaux-style wines, so we figured why not sparkling wine?” says assistant winemaker Christian Grieb. His father, Juergen, caught the bubbly bug early, double majoring in winemaking and sparkling winemaking at the Trier School of Enology in Germany (and you thought a degree in poli-sci was cool). After nearly 30 years in the Washington wine industry working at a facility that produces wine for other labels, Grieb returned to his sparkling roots and opened Treveri Cellars in 2010. 

Treveri is making its name with wines that are both affordably priced—mostly between $14 and $19—and walk on sparkling’s wild side, exploring an unusually wide range of grape varieties. The lineup includes familiar styles like blanc de blanc, as well as sparkling riesling, gewurztraminer, Müller-Thurgau, and syrah brut. “The industry tends to use them in only one fashion, kind of placing them in a box,” says Grieb of these grapes. “We like to take the box, bend it and shake it a bit.”

The winery even works with petit verdot, a grape so tannic that it’s most often used in small amounts to add heft to Bordeaux-style blends. To make a sparkling wine from this grape is bold in the extreme.

Christian Grieb says he wants to remove the special-occasion formality and get people to experiment with bubbles throughout the year. In addition to unusual varietals and low prices, the Griebs draw drinkers to their wares by crafting fashionable wine-based cocktails in their Sparkle Tasting Room in downtown Yakima (225 S Second Ave, 509-248-0200; trevericellars.com). “We have people arrive at the winery that say they hate sparkling wine,” Grieb says. “Then we make them sit down with our hibiscus flower–rosé cocktail, and people end up walking out with a few bottles.”

The U.S. State Department purchased more than a few bottles in 2011 when the office’s executive chef decided to pour Treveri at all of the season’s holiday receptions, the first such honor (at least in recent memory) for a domestic sparkler that doesn’t hail from California.

 


Published: April 2013