As we entered the building, we immediately got a warm and inviting feeling as we were greeted warmly by Ken and his daughter Laura. The inside of the house is separated into two sections, one for public tastings and one for private tastings and events. Ken and Laura were pouring five wines that day, each containing some of the best Washington grapes. They were expertly handling the full tasting room of eager winers.
Before we were even able to sample our first wine, we ran into Mike Stevens, who founded Brian Carter Cellars in 2005 along with its namesake winemaker, Brian Carter. We asked Mike what his favorite part about founding the winery was, now that he has been at it for seven years. He immediately said it was making interpersonal connections with people – which seems to go hand in hand with drinking wine. He sometimes even gets pictures from customers sent to him of places they are enjoying Brian Carter wines. In what other industry do customers send you pictures of them using your product?
During the wine tasting, Laura poured us five different wines, one white and four reds. All Brian Carter wines are blends. In fact, their tagline is “A Passion for the Art of Blending” and these wines certainly have passion. Each wine’s name matches the painting on the label in some way. Oriana (Latin for “Golden Lady”), is a while blend of grapes from the Yakima valley. This might be the ultimate red drinkers white wine. It is easy to picture having a bottle on a sunny day from the deck of the tasting room. My favorite Brian Carter red was the 2007 Le Coursier, a Bordeaux-Style blend that is representative of just what Brian can do with outstanding Washington grapes.
Mike and Brian seem to be doing quite well after just a few short years in business together as they are already winning industry acclaim. The wines are produced just down the street at the Columbia Winery building, since Columbia moved production to Sunnyside a couple of years ago. What a great example of coop-etition among Washington wineries.
Our experience at Brian Carter Cellars was outstanding. The wines, the people, and the tasting room are all very inviting. Prices range from $15 to $50. The tasting fee was $10, but is applied to any purchases that you make. The tasting room is open daily from 12-5.