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Great Northwest Wine: Spokane’s Winescape among top field of rosé growing – with delicious variety in region

UPDATED: Tue., July 28, 2020

By Eric Degerman Great Northwest Wine

During these dog days of summer, the sip of a beautifully crisp Pacific Northwest rosé can be a wine lover’s best friend.

Fortunately, most of the top producers in our corner of the world now craft at least one example of rosé. The increased thirst for this style of wine has prompted some winemakers to offer multiple expressions from the same vintage. It is a delicious trend that we hope never ends.

This summer, the Cascadia International Wine Competition helped to identify some of the best rosés made in the Northwest, and there were more entries in that category than ever. Each was crafted to be food-friendly and thirst-quenching.

The varieties of grapes used to make these ranged from pinot noir and pinot gris to grenache, mourvèdre, syrah, sangiovese and, yes, even cabernet sauvignon.

Look for these wines at your grocer and/or order directly from the producer. Don’t hesitate to slake your thirst by buying a case, not only because it often will come with a tidy discount, but also the popularity of these wines means small lots can be drained by Labor Day – if not earlier.

And don’t fret if this winter you find a bottle or two still left in that case from the 2018 or 2019 vintages. There is no expiration date on a bright rosé.

Rather, the structure and flavor profile of an expertly crafted rosé will make it worthy of opening for several years, particularly when paired with poultry or fish.

Here are five of the top rosés entered into the eighth Cascadia International, which included submissions from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia and Montana. Find the full results at

Winescape 2019 Sangiovese Rosé, Red Mountain $22: Phillip and Patricia Butterfield in Spokane have dedicated their professional lives to the field of medicine and helping others. From their young wine project on the Lilac City’s South Hill comes this beautiful rosé.

Their rosé offers an attractive salmon color and enticing aromas of fresh-cut apricots, white peach and floral notes. On the palate, there are more hints of stone fruit, a fascinating fleck of minerality and just the right amount of acidity.

Smak Wines 2019 Spring Rosé, Walla Walla Valley, $18: Winemaker/sommelier Fiona Mak grew up in Hong Kong, graduated from Syracuse in hospitality management and moved into the restaurant industry on the East Coast until her passion for wine led her to Walla Walla Community College’s winemaking school.

She now works at Artifex Wine Co., which allows her to moonlight on her brand dedicated to rosé. Spring is one of her three releases, and regardless of spring rains or sunny days, you will find this wine to show off floral aromas of apricot and honeysuckle with hints of lavender and melon.

Red cherry and red currant enter the palate with crisp acidity and meld into tropical fruit flavors. A delicate example featuring sangiovese, this wine finishes clean, with pleasing minerality and lingering red cherry. Suggested pairings include oysters, ramen, sushi and spicy and fried fare.

Chicken Dinner Wines 2019 Rosé, Washington State, $19: Gregg Alger of Huston Vineyards in Idaho goes beyond his native Snake River Valley and into Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills for these mourvèrdre grapes off Alder Ridge.

This is a gem of a rosé featuring a pretty coral color and aromas of red cherry and currant, kiwi fruits and pink grapefruit. On the palate, you will love the crisp, juicy acidity with strawberry, cherry and red currant. This medium-bodied rosé has a long clean and creamy finish.

Roaming Dog 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, Columbia Valley, $13: Tri-City winemaker Joshua Maloney earned a pair of double gold medals for the Aquilini family at the Cascadia for his work with rosé from cabernet sauvignon.

This example, which almost beat out Maloney’s slightly more expensive Be Human for Best Rosé at the Cascadia, entices with pronounced and pretty aromatics of strawberry, passionfruit and honey.

The color is a pleasant light rose, not too pink and not salmon. Its lighter structure solidly fills the mouth with flavors of berries, red plum and florals. It concludes with refreshingly delicious crispness.

Bayernmoor Cellars 2019 Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills, $15: The Harris family has hired one of the Northwest’s most respected winemakers, Brian Carter, to produce their wines. The Woodinville vintner once again displays his talent for blending wines with this even split of Rhône varieties grenache and mourvèdre.

It delivers perfumed wild strawberry, passionfruit and warm earth. The bright acidity wakes up the taste buds and encompasses myriad fruit sensations, including berries, tropical fruit and bright citrus. The finale arrives with zest.

Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue operate Great Northwest Wine. Learn more about wine at

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