Best of Washington Wine

Washington’s 20 Best Wines Under $30

Budget-friendly wine doesn’t have to sacrifice flavor or local cred—especially in Washington. These high-quality wines are available around Seattle right now.

By Sean P. Sullivan September 13, 2017 Published in the October 2017 issue of Seattle Met

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A handy visual aid. (Bottles are pictured in order, clockwise from top left.)

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1. Two Vintners Syrah Columbia Valley 2014 • $21

You’d swear this outrageously delicious wine cost more than twice the price, between the powerful aromas (sagebrush, herb, blue fruit, and crushed flowers) and layer upon layer of pure flavors. 

2. Cadence Coda Red Mountain 2015 • $28

Barrels of declassified wines from Ben Smith’s other labels make up this blend, meaning it sees every bit of the love and care of a considerably more expensive bottle; it’s reliably one of the state’s top values. 

3. Les Trouvés Red Blend Columbia Valley 2014 • $25

Avennia’s side project buys high-quality wares from other wineries to blend with its own—the results are superb even before you consider the compelling price point. 

4. Board Track Racer The Shift Red Blend Columbia Valley 2014 • $28

Though it’s labeled simply as a red blend, this wine is almost entirely syrah and brings sweet, saturated black fruit flavors with a rich, hedonistic appeal. 

5. Angel Vine The Cluster Fus Red Blend Columbia Valley 2015 • $28

This Oregon-based producer largely dedicates itself to zinfandel, but its blend of mourvèdre, zinfandel, and its Italian cousin, primitivo, is hard to resist, especially the aromas and flavors of raspberry, red plum, and spice. 

6. Efeste Final-Final Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah Columbia Valley 2013 • $30

The last wine Efeste blends every year (hence the name) is an aromatic wallop of blue and purple fruit, then flavor that’s every bit as powerful. 

7. Damsel Syrah Columbia Valley 2014 • $28

Darby assistant winemaker Mari Womack’s new release is a standout, thanks to fruit from Stillwater Creek vineyard and a bright, fresh palate. 

8. Guardian Chalk Line Red Blend Columbia Valley 2014 • $25

Winemaker and policeman Jerry Riener once again overdelivers with this blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and syrah from top sites in Red Mountain and the Columbia Valley. 

9. Januik Merlot Columbia Valley 2014 • $25

Few wineries in the state consistently provide as much quality and value; this wine shows aromas and flavors of plum, milk chocolate, and blue fruit. 

10. Tenet The Pundit Syrah Columbia Valley 2015 • $25

Chateau Ste. Michelle’s partnership with Rhone stars Michel Gassier and Philippe Cambie delivers a charm offensive in the form of mountain blueberry, herb, and smoked meat notes. 

11. Novelty Hill Cabernet ­Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2014 • $26

A mouthful of cherry and chocolate flavors that persist to the finish: further proof of Mike Januik’s ability to consistently make a high-quality cabernet at an affordable price. 

12. Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2014 • $30

Cold Creek vineyard turns 45 this year, and still it’s one of the state’s top cabernet sites; here it delivers barrel-­forward aromas, with notes of vanilla and toast, then polished cherry and herb flavors. 

13. Dunham Three Legged Red Blend Columbia Valley 2014 • $19

This wine has all the immediate appeal of its namesake, Port the winery dog who lost one of his legs. Port has passed on, but his legacy remains in the form of blueberry, baking spice, and vanilla aromas, plus sweet and supple fruit flavors. 

14. Intrinsic Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2015 • $22

No one else in the state does this: Half the wine is fermented on skins for nine months (usually it’s a matter of days or weeks); the rest is aged in concrete and older oak. The pure flavor profile is just as distinct as the production method. 

15. Saviah The Jack Syrah Columbia Valley 2015 • $18

Some of the finest work yet from a winemaker who already excels at high-quality, affordable wines: Blue fruit, herb, and savory aromas lead to balanced, long-lasting flavors you don’t often see at this price. 

16. Gorman Zachary’s Ladder Red Mountain 2014 • $30

This winery is known for going big and bold, and that’s definitely what you get here—a wine nearly three-quarters cabernet sauvignon (the balance is syrah and petit verdot) with luxurious black fruit flavors that reflect the warmth of this vintage. 

17. Kiona Estate Bottled ­Lemberger Red Mountain 2014 • $15

Kiona has been carrying the flag for Washington lemberger for decades, and seldom carried it higher than with this delicious bottle, full of ripe, polished cranberry, cherry, and dark fruit flavors.

18. Nine Hats Cabernet ­Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2014 • $25

Long Shadows’ more affordable side project still delivers quality, not to mention full-throttle aromas of herb, spice, and black cherry, with hefty tannins to back them up. 

19. Soos Creek Soleil Columbia Valley 2014 • $20

Winemaker David Larsen has a knack for making high-quality wine that’s affordable; once again he delivers with this blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot that brims with spice, herb, and dark fruit flavors. 

20. Tempus Red Wine Columbia Valley 2014 • $25

Some of the state’s top vineyards supply this blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc; the combo in turn supplies well-roasted coffee bean, cherry, and herb flavors and an elegance rarely seen in a bottle at this price. 

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