10 Approachable Washington Reds New reviews of Syrahs and Rhône-style reds from the Columbia Valley for $30 or less

 by Augustus Weed                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2009 Dark Star front

Posted: September 20, 2013

Washington state produces some of the most distinctive Rhône-style red wines in the country. Vintners have homed in on ideal growing sites for Syrah throughout the Columbia Valley, and the best examples of the grape are often expressive, with pure fruit flavors and bright acidity. This report focuses on moderately priced Syrahs and Rhône-style blends, with the majority available for less than $30.

One of the best values from the region comes from Purple Star, a relatively new label that donates 15 percent of its proceeds to Seattle Children’s Hospital. Owner Kyle Johnson, who made the wines at the now-shuttered Olsen Estates, mainly used grapes from Olsen Vineyards in Yakima Valley, with a dash from Red Mountain. L’Ecole No. 41 is a blend of Syrah from four vineyards, and with several thousand cases produced, it should be relatively easy to find. Some vintners like to add a touch of Viognier to their Syrah for additional aromatics and texture, as is the case with Guardian’s The Informant.

There are several single-vineyard wines on offer here as well. Columbia Crest turned to Coyote Canyon Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA for its reserve bottling. Meanwhile, Gård winemaker Aryn Morell used grapes from the winery’s estate vineyard in the Frenchman Hills for its savory Syrah.

DAMA Syrah Columbia Valley 2009 Score: 92 | $25

Vibrant, focused and juicy, with beautifully shaped blackberry, black currant, green olive and spice flavors. There’s just enough transparency in the texture to let it all shine through on the long finish. Drink now through 2018. 200 cases made. -H.S.

COLUMBIA CREST Syrah Horse Heaven Hills Coyote Canyon Vineyard Reserve 2010  Score: 91 | $30

Smooth and vibrant, with green olive and fig overtones to the blackberry flavors, pushing against peppery tannins on the long finish. Best from 2014 through 2018. 300 cases made. -H.S.

L’ECOLE NO. 41 Syrah Columbia Valley 2010  Score: 91 | $25

Grippy tannins give way to fleshy plum and currant fruit, shaded with hints of fennel and peach fuzz, lingering well. Best after 2014. 2,430 cases made. -H.S.

PURPLE STAR Syrah Columbia Valley 2009  Score: 91 | $16

Smooth, polished and expressive, layering its blackberry, plum and spice flavors on a velvety carpet of tannins, coming together on the refined finish. Drink now through 2018. 378 cases made. -H.S.

GUARDIAN The Informant Wahluke Slope 2010  Score: 90 | $30

Smooth and savory, with meaty, earthy grace notes to the black cherry and licorice flavors, finishing with polish. Syrah and Viognier. Drink now through 2018. 250 cases made. -H.S.

KANA Dark Star Columbia Valley 2009  Score: 89 | $20
Firm in texture, with   prickly tannins around a gentle core of black cherry and spice flavors,   lingering nicely on the finish. Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache. Best from 2015   through 2017. 600 cases made. -H.S.

MCKINLEY SPRINGS Horsepower Horse Heaven Hills 2009  Score: 89 | $16

Fresh and vibrant, this is juicy with dark berry and licorice flavors that show a hint of wet rock on the finish. Fine tannins don’t get in the way. Syrah, Barbera, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Mourvèdre. Drink now through 2015. 898 cases made. -H.S.

AIRFIELD Mustang Yakima Valley 2011 Score: 88 | $25

Fresh and vibrant, with a dusky undertone to the black olive and roasted meat flavors, lingering well. Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Drink now through 2016. 714 cases made. -H.S.

CANOE RIDGE Cherry Street Reserve Columbia Valley 2010  Score: 88 | $24

A fresh, vivid style, offering blackberry and rare roast beef flavors on a lean, lithe frame. Syrah, Malbec and Grenache. Drink now through 2017. 3,500 cases made. -H.S.

GÅRD Syrah Columbia Valley Lawrence Vineyards 2010  Score: 88 | $29

A savory style, this red layers notes of cinnamon and hops over dark berry and cherry fruit, coming together on the refined, taut finish. Best from 2015 through 2018. 252 cases made. -H.S.


Seattle Met Rising Chefs 2013-Kana Winery Exclusive Winery Sponsor

Only a few tickets remaining for this great event in Seattle on June 27th….BUY TICKETS NOW 


June 26th KORAL Bar & Kitchen Kana Winery Winemaker Dinner w/ Kana Winemaker Tony Lombardo



Kana Winery Winemaker Dinner @KORAL-Bellevue

Includes Barrel Sample of 2012 Mourvèdre

 Chilled Shellfish salad

Organic greens, harissa vinaigrette

Katie Mae Riesling

Pan-roasted Halibut filet

Sweet corn sauce, caramelized morel mushrooms

Masterpiece Reserve white wine

Grilled Niman Ranch pork chops

Mustard-honey caramel, braised seasonal greens

Old Vines Lemberger

Grilled Petite Tender

Black pepper-Bing cherry ketchup, forbidden rice salad


Grilled Lamb rib chops

Pan-roasted summer squash, blistered tomato-garlic butter, salsa verde

Dark Star Syrah

Chef’s selection of artisan cheeses

Please consider joining a small group, on June 26th @ 6:30pm RSVP to KORAL Bar and Kitchen

at 425-623-1123 or cost per person is $65 plus tax and tip.

Let’s kick summer, off, yet again!




Kana Winery announces new Winemaker and Yakima Tasting Room expansion

Tony barrel no logo
Photo: Katherine W. Kehrli


Deba Wegner

Recipe for Success, Inc.


Winemaker Tony Lombardo in charge of the Kana Winery Cellar since last year,  expansion coming Summer of 2013

  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Yakima, April 25, 2013

Kana Winery said this week, that enologist Tony Lombardo has been hired to make wines for Kana at their Yakima winery. Before joining Kana in 2012, Tony worked in Walla Walla with vintner Serge LaVille at Spring Valley Vineyard and served as interim winemaker at Walla Walla’s, Ash Hollow Estate Vineyards & Winery. Tony also interned at Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla while studying enology. “Kana Winery has developed a loyal following because our wines are made with some of the best fruit Washington State has to offer, the wines are also food friendly and moderately priced, said winery owner, Dr. Palmer Wright. With Tony’s winemaking ability and direction Kana Winery will strive to continue a tradition of small production, award winning wines.”

Dr. Wright is investing further in the future of Kana Winery by expanding retail presence in downtown Yakima. The Kana tasting room, located in the 82 year old art-deco Larson Building in downtown, was one of the first valley wineries to call town-center home. This coincided with the beginning of the currently on-going revitalization of downtown Yakima. Today, the Upper Yakima Valley is home to over 10+ wineries and a popular wine touring destination in its own right. By summer 2013, Kana will have added to their current retail foot print: expanding the tasting bar, adding additional bistro seating, event space and an a la carte food menu.

About Kana Winery:

Crafting award winning, Rhone varietal wines in Yakima, WA since 2004.  1600 cases made yearly.  400 cases of Katie Mae, a popular, off-dry Riesling also produced.

Tasting Room & Hospitality Center      __ Historic Larson Building 10 S.2nd Street Yakima, WA 98901

Visit our Tasting Room & Hospitality Center in downtown Yakima. Taste current releases, find your favorite and purchase a glass or a bottle to enjoy with friends in our bistro seating area. A $5 tasting fee is refunded when tasters buy one bottle per visitor.


Mon-Thurs 12:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Fri- 12:00 – 8:00 pm

Sat 12:00-6:30 pm

Sun 12:00-5:00 pm

Happy Hour 5:00-6:30 pm Monday-Saturday

Live Music Fridays @ Kana 5:30-8pm

Yakima First Fridays, 6-10 pm monthly live music at downtown wineries & restaurants


Kana Winery & 100 PERFECT PAIRINGS AUTHOR: June 9th @ noon A FUN AFTERNOON of FOOD AND WINE Pairing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Deba Wegner, Recipe for Success, Inc.


Event LocationJill-Silverman-Hough-headshot for Deba

Cast Iron Studios (Private Events)

10650 NE 4th Street

Bellevue, WA  98004  


The age-old mystery of food and wine pairing revealed: featuring Forgeron Cellars, Kana Winery & Chinook Wines

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Bellevue, WA April 9, 2013

Join Napa Valley media personality and nationally known cookbook author Jill Silverman Hough as she brings her 100 Perfect Pairings cookbook series to event venue Cast Iron Studios in downtown Bellevue.

In a fun, informal dialog Chef Hough teaches basic food and wine pairing principles, leading guests through an interactive tasting showing how different foods and flavors affect how wine tastes.

Three fun, stress-free recipes selected from 100 Perfect Pairings-Small Plates (Wiley) will be prepared by the Cast Iron Studios kitchen and perfectly paired with current releases from these featured local wineries: Forgeron Cellars represented by Co-Owner & Winemaker Marie-Eve Gilla (Walla Walla), Kana Winery represented by Managing Partner Katherine Goodson (Yakima) and  Chinook Wines represented by Co-Founder and Winemaker Kay Simon (Prosser). No matter how much you already know—or don’t —about food and wine pairing, this event is sure to be chock full of fresh and immediately-useful information. Use these straight forward, common sense concepts, also outlined in your take home cookbook, (100 Perfect Pairings-Small Plates (Wiley), for the rest of your wine drinking days. Let’s Drink to that!

untitledIncluded in the ticket price:(click links below to buy via pal pay) $45 without book  $55 with book       

  • 100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates Cookbook Valued @ $16.95

(A food and wine pairing resource organized by grape type: even those with many cookbooks will find these recipes fresh and new)

  • 3 appetizers from 100 Perfect Pairings
  • 3 x 3 oz. Wine pours**

**Additional wine available no host

Includes Gratuity & Tax