In the arid Columbia Basin, a winery is crafting beautiful and affordable wines from some of the warmest and coolest regions in Washington wine country.
As a result, few are able to keep up with the Joneses.
Jack Jones, the patriarch of a longtime farming family, began planting wine grapes in the mid-1990s. Now joined by his son Greg and daughter Megan, Jones has built his operation into one of the largest in the state. The Jones family now farms several estate vineyards on the warm Wahluke Slope and the cool Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley.
In 2008, Jones hired Victor Palencia as his winemaker. Palencia, who grew up in the Yakima Valley and learned winemaking at Walla Walla Community College, was 23 when he arrived. Now Palencia oversees winemaking at Columbia River’s Edge Winery, a custom-crush facility in Mattawa owned by Jones and Dick Shaw. Here, Palencia and his crew produce more than 1 million cases of wine. Most is made for other wineries, though some ends up under the Jones of Washington label.
The Joneses now have two tasting rooms, one in Quincy and one in Pybus Public Market in Wenatchee.
Jones wines are widely distributed and should not be difficult to find. Here are a few we’ve tasted this summer:
Jones of Washington 2013 Pinot Gris, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $13: This delicious white wine hints at tangerine, apricot, lemon curd, lime zest and minerality in the nose. The pour brings a luscious entry of mango, pineapple and apricot before transitioning into starfruit, Gala apple and river rock. (13.8 percent alcohol)
Jones of Washington 2009 Estate Vineyard Merlot, Wahluke Slope, $15: Aromas of cordial cherry, cola, black pepper, Beech-Nut chewing tobacco and baking spices lead to flavors of cherries and boysenberry with sandy and long-lived tannins, backed by notes of cherry wood. (14.8 percent alcohol)
Jones of Washington 2013 Rosé of Syrah, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $13: This wine’s dazzling color comes with aromas of fresh-picked Rainier cherry, pomegranate, strawberry fruit leather and river rock. Pleasing and mouthwatering flavors of cherries and cranberries are backed by a touch of residual sugar (1.1 percent) that’s skillfully balanced. (13.2 percent alcohol)
Jones of Washington 2013 Estate Riesling, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $12: This opens with a floral and tropical nose that gives way to flavors that are fruity, off-dry and scrumptious with ripe pear and Granny Smith apple. (11.6 percent alcohol)
Jones of Washington 2013 Estate Vineyards Viognier, Wahluke Slope, $15: Aromas of dusty pear, apple, Orange Julius and vanilla cream lead to a rather luscious drink that’s filled with sliced Gala apple, pear butter and lemon meringue pie. (13.9 percent alcohol)
Jones of Washington 2011 Estate Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope, $15: Charming aromas of cinnamon dust, pink peppercorn, black cherry, blackberry and mint transition into a gorgeous drink of black cherry, blackberry and cola with chocolate. The full mouth feel shows balance with elegant tannins and a long, complex finish of cherries, juniper, thyme and mint. (14.2 percent alcohol)
Jones of Washington 2013 Chardonnay, Wahluke Slope, $15: There’s no hint of wood in any corner of this wine, which opens with bright aromas of pineapple, mango, coconut, green apple candy, apple blossoms and minerality. The drink is akin to flavors of fresh-cut Granny Smith apple and Bosc pear, bringing persistent acidity and a finish of jicama. (13.5 percent alcohol)
Jones of Washington 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $15: This clean, green and mean sauvignon blanc opens with a nose of gooseberry, lemon curd, candy corn and fresh-cut grass. It’s lime juice and lime pith on the palate with notes of lemongrass and fresh mint in the dry finish. (12 percent alcohol)
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