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The Woodinville Winers visit Zerba Cellars

  • Written by Mike McClure and Terry Morse

Did you know we now have Oregon wineries right here in Woodinville?  If not, let us introduce you to one of them — Zerba Cellars (www.zerbacellars.com).

Even though the Zerba vineyards are located in the Walla Walla Valley, this valley transcends the Washington-Oregon border, and the Zerba vineyards are all located south of the border, officially making Zerba an Oregon winery.

The Jon Cockburn Ranch Vineyard is located in the southeast corner of the valley, in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. Dad’s Vineyard is located in the “Touchet Beds,” near the state line, and the Winesap Road Vineyard is located in the rocky floodplain of the Walla Walla River.

Zerba Cellars is the product of Cecil and Marilyn Zerba, whose family’s roots can be traced to the Walla Walla Valley back as far as the 1850s.  When Cecil and Marilyn were married in September 1981, they established Zerba Gardens, a local nursery producing quality plants and produce. Over the next 20 years, Zerba Gardens grew into one of the valley’s most successful and trusted local nurseries.  In 2001 Cecil and Marilyn Zerba left the nursery business and founded Winesap Vineyards.  The vineyards are all certified sustainable by LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology), IOBC (International Organization for Biological Control) and Salmon Safe.

Greeting us was Mike who poured us two whites and three reds. The standout in the white category was the 2001 Rousanne which was nicely balanced.  Two of the red wines stood out for us — the 2008 Merlot and the 2008 Syrah. The Merlot (which contains 20% Cab) showcases grapes from the ancient rocky floodplain of the Walla Walla River and from the valley hillsides.  It has an exotic nose featuring mint, red cherries, anise and hints of earthiness and light tobacco.  The Syrah was fruit-forward with a nice finish.

We ended our tasting with a bonus wine (Mike must have liked us) — a late harvest red blend of 67% Syrah, 33% Barbera, and a kiss of 2008 Semillon Ice Wine. This was almost like drinking a light Port wine and made for a really interesting close to our tasting. It is apparent to us why Zerba was named 2011 Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest and why a friend of ours insisted that we had to try it.

Most Zerba wines are in the $20-$30 price range, with our favorite Merlot and Syrah being $30. The tasting room is located at the Apple Farm development on the northwest corner of the main roundabout in the Woodinville Tourist District.

They are open from 12-5 p.m. on Sunday – Tuesday and 11-6 p.m. Wednesday – Saturday.

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