Grape Killers Attack Woodinville
September 18, 2009 by Erin Thomas
“I’m just here to hang out with my best friends,” said a truly unfeigned and heartfelt Tim Stevens of Stevens Winery. Stevens, and his besties, literally walked down the street to Willows Lodge to throw the second celebrated bash for the Grape Killers, the avant garde and humble bunch of “Woodinville’s coolest young wineries.”
Still confused at their purpose other than buddies drinking each others’ wines and shooting the shit?
Don’t worry, it only took me four trial runs to get a serious response out of Mark McNeilly from Mark Ryan Winery. “The Grape Killers is a loosely formed marketing group with very different wines but similar paradigms and philosophies,” he said as the corner of his mouth turned up in sheer mockery of me. “This group of killers will make you weep.”
McNeilly, who was excited about this second event because the first one was compared to a “ho-down” with the amount of people at the Waterfront Grill in Seattle, prepared his section as a themed tasting to spice it up. “Tonight, it’s ‘big bottles, little bottles.’ Splits and magnums.”
The $50 event held in the ballroom at Willows consisted of less of a “ho-down” than the boys and Lisa (Baer of Baer Winery) were expecting, but at such events, it’s quality over quantity.
“We’re really doing this to see new people and old faces and it’s really an amazing venue to host this at,” Darby English of Darby Winery said. “It’s being with the best winemakers in Woodinville.”
English, who was the last addition to the group of grape murderers, said he was honored to be included with these acclaimed, young vintners.
“We respect what each other are doing,” Stevens added. “We’re happy and proud to be associated with the group. You want to make wines like they do.”
Jerry Riener, of Guardian Cellars, said he looks at the Grape Killers events as a way to show fans and consumers that they are trying to establish a class of winemakers that are in it together.
“It adds perspective on each other as winemakers without the hoitiness of some wine parties,”Riener said. “We want to bring it down to our level.”
But down to what level? The level of 90+ scored wines from multiple judging tables and publications? The level of comradery and support for them amongst outside vintners? The level of maximum person capacity their releases and parties weigh in at?
In my opinion, these boys and girl have raised the bar that other young and conceptualizing winemakers have to live up to. Everyone else needs to come up to their level and own up that they’ve taken a grape’s life once or twice.
Notable wines I tried:
*The limited and highly allocated 2008 Guardian Angel Sauvignon Blanc. Oh. My. God. It was amazing and highly reminiscent of the previously mentioned DELICIOUS Sancerre on Monday.
*2007 Baer Maia. Baer’s first 100% Cabernet Franc, not vegetal in the least bit, strong and fruitful.
*2007 Gorman Winery The Pixie Syrah. Dark, inky, thick and rich in oak.