May 18, 2009 by Doug Haugen
Statistics show that a new winery is bonded nearly every week in the State of Washington. From the looks of it, all of them are opening shop in “Hoodinville,” the warehouse district in North Woodinville that has been taken by siege by tasting rooms over the past couple of years. Every time I visit, the number of roadside sandwich board signs guiding the way to individual tasting rooms seems to multiply like inebriated rabbits after a key party at Club Med.
I headed out to Hoodinville on Saturday for the Grand Opening of a tasting room that houses AlmaTerra, Farm Boy Wines, Gård Vintners and Smasne Cellars.
We’ve talked over recent weeks about AlmaTerra, a joint-venture between respective titans of the wine industry, Robert O. Smasne (winemaker for more wineries than you can count on all of your appendages) and Alan Busacca (geologist and vineyard consultant who has helped to engineer a majority of the AVA petitions in the state). To recap, AlmaTerra is a series of wines that represent a study in terroir. Three single-vineyard syrahs from three AVAs, but with identical winemaking practices, the remarkable differences between the wines are driven by and expressive of the vineyard sites from whence they come.
In addition to AlmaTerra, there are myriad wines available at the tasting room. The common denominator between the four labels being poured there, is Robert O. Smasne. Smasne is the winemaker for Gård Cellars, which is owned by Josh Lawrence in Royal City, and for his owner winery Smasne Cellars. Smasne’s family also owns Farm Boy Wines, and he’s a partner in AlmaTerra. These are just a few of a multitude of wines he engineers around the state.
During the Grand Opening event, I had the opportunity to taste from a selection of about twenty wines. While Smasne’s style is discernable, the variety among them is striking. The common thread is the coaxing out of the fruit in each one. Round, lush and expressive, the fruit shines. It’s clear why Smasne is a good match for AlmaTerra, wines that express the fruit in order to emphasize terroir.
You can try these wines by heading out to the tasting room in Hoodinville.
Open Friday, 1-6, and Saturday and Sunday, 12-6.
19495 144th Ave NE, Ste. B240
Woodinville, WA 98072