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Obelisco Wines

Premium wines, premium experience, part 2

Last month, we talked about how Obelisco started and the soil on Red Mountain that grapes love. This month, we'll talk about their wines and tasting rooms.

Obelisco sells about 60% of their grapes. "We like to sell to people who make great wines, like Guardian Cellars, Gorman Winery, Mark Ryan, Sparkman. It's wonderful to see what they do with our grapes. That percentage could change in the future as we use more," says Ken. "We also buy from our neighbors, like the Sangiovese from Kiona's upper hill vines. We've purchased Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Syrah for one-offs; things we like to do for fun. Eighty percent of what we grow is Cabernet, then Merlot and Malbec." Their Rosé is 100% Cabernet, and reds are their primary focus. They have made Chardonnay and Riesling. "We like to make whites here and there, but want to do something that consistently fits our style: dry, fruit forward. We have 25 cases of our first Sauvignon Blanc test right now, with good grape sources to use. We'll be producing more next year."

Photo courtesy of Obelisco

They make three Cabernets: their big production is a Bordeaux style which is 75-85% Cabernet with Merlot and Malbec mixed in. Percentages depend on the year. There's the "Aunt Betsy" style, their Electrum: 90% Cabernet, 7% Merlot, 3% Malbec, shifting slightly depending on the year. They don't use heavy pressing, but have longer maceration, giving it a darker color. They do limited production on the III Nefer. It is heavy press and all new French oak. "Nefer can be cellared for 25-30 years," says Ken. "Electrum and the Bordeaux Cabernet can go 15-18."

A year and a half ago, they moved production to a new facility in Walla Walla called The Walls. "It was built to do nothing but create world class wines. It's a winemaker's dream land, no joking. We've always made wine by committee, knowing that if we spread it out with more people and palates, we get better wine. We hit it off with winemaker Ali Mayfield of The Walls and her brother Jake, the cellar master. Ali's one of the best winemakers out there and we love working with her and trust her implicitly."

They talked about opening a tasting room on Red Mountain, and held out 2-1/2 acres to build on, but couldn't do it. "It's such a waste of great grape-growing land. We planted it," laughs Ken. "And now Red Mountain is planted out. People are trying to grow on the fringes to use the name, but it's not the same."

Obelisco has three tasting rooms, two in Woodinville. "We originally were focused on great rooms that match the personality of our wines. Afterward, we realized what cool spaces we had and that we should be marketing them as places for private parties! Actually, when we got the Warehouse District tasting room, we planned to have a barrel room for private tasting dinners, so we weren't completely unaware of the possibilities. We just weren't actively marketing them."

Ken in Apple Valley private room

 The Apple Farm Village tasting room is near the Hollywood District and is open daily. A tasting counter, leather couches around a low table, a room that can be completely closed off, and a few tables on the deck make it a very appealing spot with plenty of natural light, accommodating 75. The Warehouse District tasting room and regular tastings on Saturdays and Sundays, with private barrel room tastings, dinners, and special events. It has a darker, cool feeling with a tasting counter and the barrel room, and can accommodate 60. In October 2017, Obelisco opened a third tasting room, this one in Leavenworth. They are in a new development called the Wine Cellar with five other wineries. All three tasting rooms have a tasting fee which is refundable with purchase.

Warehouse barrel room, courtesy of Obelisco

"You can offer premium wine, but if it's a bad experience, people won't return. Our staff love it here and love each other. We're all into an educational, interactive wine tasting. We can really nerd out on wine. A memorable experience for the guest is what it's about: premium wine, good experience, cool people. And although our wine is premium, we don't get snooty about it. We don't want to lose the connection with our customers; we want to be accessible to people." You'll love the welcoming atmosphere at Obelisco.

Connie Adams/November 2017

Apple Farm Village Tasting Room
14525 148th Ave NE, Ste 121
Woodinville, WA 98072

Warehouse District Tasting Room
19495 144th Ave NE, B-220
Woodinville, WA 98072

Leavenworth Tasting Room
217 9th St, Ste E
Leavenworth, WA 98826

Click here to read part 1 of the Obelisco story

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