An Afternoon At Barrister Winery
This past Easter weekend was a great food and wine weekend, as I drank some good wines, ate a lot of good food, and also had the opportunity to take a tour at Barrister Winery in Spokane, WA. This Winery is owned and operated by two attorneys (hence the name, Barrister) Michael White and Greg Lipsker, and is located downtown in an old classic brick building. The two started making wine in 1997 as a hobby, and then became a bonded winery in 2001.
Inside the winery it is nicely put together, with a tasting bar as well as art displayed on the walls. The winery is also set up for events, so weddings and other social gatherings are commonly done there. Our party arrived a few minutes early and spent that time tasting the wines. We then met owner / winemaker Greg Lipsker who proceeded to give us a fantastic tour of the facility. The tasting room had a nice lineup of wines available, which included one white and four reds. The white, a Sauvignon Blanc, was a 2011 made with grapes sourced out of Klipsun Vineyard in Red Mountain AVA. It was a nice pleasant wine, with fresh citrus on the nose and a refreshing grapefruit taste along with a clean, crisp finish.
The red wines included their blend known as Rough Justice (Non Vintage), a 2009 Artz Vineyard Merlot, 2009 Columbia Valley Cabernet Franc, and finally the 2008 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Of these four I liked the Merlot and the Cabernet Franc the best. The 2008 Merlot as mentioned was made with grapes sourced from Artz Vineyard, which also happens to be located in Red Mountain AVA. This wine had a ruby red color to it with aromas of ripe raspberry on the nose. It had a nice spicy taste with hints of ripe red fruit and chocolate, with just the right amount of oak along with a smooth finish. The 2009 Cabernet Franc had aromas of dark fruit along with a little earthiness and toasty oak. The first sip gave way to spicy red fruit and more of that toasty oak. I thought all of the wines were impressive, and the tasting staff was very friendly which made the experience all the better.
After tasting the wines we met up with Greg and he led us on a tour of the winery. First we stopped off where most of the winery equipment was, and explained the wine making process that takes place. I found it interesting that during the fermentation process, they are punching down the cap formed by all of the grape skins several times a day with a manual punch down tool on all of the fermentation vats, and there are quite a few of them (definitely a good way to get some exercise!). The next stop was down to the barrel room, which is accessible by an old elevator. This was the best part of the tour, as Greg gave us several different barrel tastings. We were given tastes of new oak vs. used, French vs. American, and also tastes of wines from different regions /soil types and vineyard plots. I found myself liking the used oak a little bit more than the new, and I think the French was more appealing than the American oak; it had a nice spiciness to it that really stood out. It was a great learning experience, and really gave me a great perspective on all the different types of flavors and aromas that can be sensed from the different oaks and other factors such as vineyard location and region. This was a certainly a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon on a holiday weekend. Barrister is a great place to try some fantastic wines, so if you find yourself in Spokane and in the mood for wine, don’t hesitate to stop at Barrister Winery.