Phinney Brown - Hospitality and Marketing Manager, Tucannon Cellars

Experience Tucannon Cellars!

First Impressions:

Last week Phinney Brown (Hospitality and Marketing Manager) of Tucannon Cellars was kind enough to invite me out for a visit.  She offered a special tasting and tour of the winery and facilities on Red Mountain!  I’ve known Phinney for quite some time during her tenure at the Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center in Prosser.  It was exciting to receive her offer, essentially out of the blue!  This past Friday, (Dec. 20th) Aaron’s Wine Chronicles accepted Phinney’s invitation.  My last visit here was back in the Fall of 2015, a few months after the Tasting room opened.  A lot can happen in 4+ years, and I was pleasantly surprised as I pulled into the Sugar Pine Barn parking area.  The grounds were impeccable and nicely manicured.  The landscaping offers a beautifully tranquil, man-made creek, a deck with outdoor seating and some stunning facility structures as well.  The ambiance for some relaxing outdoor wine escapades can certainly be found here.  It was time to once again experience Tucannon Cellars!

Experience Tucannon Cellars!

Walking into the tasting room you’re greeted with Christmas décor and some great Holiday Case Specials on Tucannon wines.  In addition, they offer winery apparel and logo’d wine glasses!  I absolutely had to add one of these babies to my collection.  It was great seeing Phinney again, now that she’s acclimating to her new digs on Red Mountain.  For such a small production winery, (approximately 1000 cases per year), winemaker Phil Warren and his Team craft a diverse array of wines.  These include dry whites and rosés, off-dry and sweet wines, and both Bordeaux- and Rhône-style varietal wines and blends.  For those looking for reasonably priced wines, Tucannon really delivers, with wines ranging from approximately $18 to $40 per bottle.  Their current tasting lineup includes vintages spanning 2013 through 2018, with much of the grapes being sourced from the Columbia Valley and Horse Heaven Hills AVAs.

The Wine Tasting:

Today I focused on the red wines.  Phinney started me with the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon.  This was a bold, full-bodied Cab from Alder Ridge Vineyard and was very approachable.  This wine would pair nicely with meats or spicy cuisines.  Next was the 2014 Red Fusion.  This nicely balanced blend of Merlot, Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Franc offered ripe fruit and a nice finish.  Phinney then provided a side-by-side tasting of their 2013 and 2015 Syrah’s.  The 2013 was lighter in body, color and mouthfeel than its 2015 counterpart, but each wine was unique and quite delicious!  Both wines will continue to evolve with bottle aging.  The 2015 Mourvèdre was the last of the standard tastings.  While young, this wine has awesome potential.  The aromatics are wonderful and the flavor profile exhibits dark fruit, spice and big tannic structure.

The Grand Finale:

The special “reserve” wine sample was a real treat.  The 2016 Zinfandel has yet to be officially released, but this young gem is sure to please!  With 15.3% alcohol and some notable acidity, this wine will pair nicely with Italian pasta in hearty red sauces.  For the final stanza, Phinney asked me (Mr. Cigar Aficionado) if I might be interested in tasting their 2016 Dolce Rosso (sweet red wine)!  What was I supposed to say?!?  OF COURSE!!!!  And much to my delight, this specialty wine was perfect for how I would serve it…with a smooth Padron.  The nose carried notes of sweet ripe fruit and the mouthfeel was similar to that of a Port-style wine.  However, this wine captures your palate with hints of anice, molasses and sweet fruit that bathes the mid- and back-palates with a lasting finish.   A perfect complement to a cigar, or solo, as an after dinner drink.

The Facilities!

After the tastings, Phinney took me on a tour of the grounds in order to fully appreciate and experience Tucannon Cellars. This included a visit to the Barrel Room and the Tucannon Event Facility.  Not only is Phil Warren a talented winemaker, this man can build!  The event facility is expansive and elegant, offering contemporary capabilities for holding meetings, celebrations, weddings, and much more.  As we roamed about the grounds, it was apparent to me that Tucannon Cellars is heavily invested in what they provide their customers.  From the design and fabrication, to the maintenace of their property, Tucannon Cellars entices not just the solo wine consumer, but all types of family, business and community-type activities and engagements.

My Experience of Tucannon Cellars – Final Notes

As we made our way back to the tasting room, I ended up purchasing the 2015 Syrah because it was simply outstanding.  I also walked away with a stemmed and logo’d Tucannon Cellars wine glass to add to my ever-increasing collection.  My tasting and tour experience was outstanding and I’m thankful to Phinney Brown for the invitation and for her time and effort in hosting me.  As Magellan, or…Ponce de Leon….or Columbus…or some damned explorer once said, “I shall return!”  From Aaron’s Wine Chronicles, Cheers to all and Happy Holidays!!!

Aaron Diaz