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Great Northwest Wine: Quilceda Creek donates $365,000 to Restaurant Employee Relief Fund

Quilceda Creek Vintners, one of Washington state’s oldest family-owned wineries, donated $365,000 to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. Holding 3-liter bottles from left to right are Bill Reith, CFO; Paul Golitzin, president/director of winemaking; and general manager Scott Lloyd. Also pictured are: MacKenna Bean, Northwest sales/tour and tastings; Alex Stewart, winemaker/enologist/production manager; Lawrence Stewart, director of member relations; assistant winemakers Hal Iverson and Jesse Schmidt;  and member relations liaison Owen Mayo. (Photo courtesy of Quilceda Creek Vintners)
Quilceda Creek Vintners, one of Washington state’s oldest family-owned wineries, donated $365,000 to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. Holding 3-liter bottles from left to right are Bill Reith, CFO; Paul Golitzin, president/director of winemaking; and general manager Scott Lloyd. Also pictured are: MacKenna Bean, Northwest sales/tour and tastings; Alex Stewart, winemaker/enologist/production manager; Lawrence Stewart, director of member relations; assistant winemakers Hal Iverson and Jesse Schmidt; and member relations liaison Owen Mayo. (Photo courtesy of Quilceda Creek Vintners)
By Eric Degerman Great Northwest Wine

Family-owned Quilceda Creek Vintners, one of the Washington wine industry’s most-storied producers, poured its heart into the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund this spring with a $365,000 donation to help those out of work in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result of the Golitzin family and efforts by their team in Snohomish, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation can issue $500 checks to more than 730 displaced restaurant workers. It is believed to be the largest pandemic-related donation of its kind by a Pacific Northwest winery.

“It was very humbling to witness the outpouring of support and a true honor to read the messages of personal connections to the restaurant industry we received from our customers,” Paul Golitzin, president and director of winemaking for Quilceda Creek Vintners, said in a news release.

“Because of them, we were able to make a huge difference and a direct impact on the lives of restaurant workers across the country. I give our heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated.”

Golitzin’s parents, Alex and Jeannette Golitzin, established Quilceda Creek in 1978, making it just the 12th bonded winery in Washington state. There’s been a natural affinity for wine from the start for Alex Golitzin, whose maternal uncle was André Tchelistcheff, the legendary winemaker credited with helping to develop the style of cabernet sauvignon in Napa Valley.

Tchelistcheff, an early consultant for Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, also provided insight on his nephew’s first wine, a 1974 merlot. Quilceda Creek became a two-generation winemaking team in 1992 when Paul joined Alex in the cellar.

Their work during the next decade led to a historic achievement when critic Robert Parker awarded a 100-point score to the Quilceda Creek Vintners 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was the first such recognition for any Northwest winery.

Since then, the Golitzins have earned six perfect scores from Parker’s publication, the Wine Advocate. Additional acclaim includes a 100-point rating from London-based Decanter magazine, three placings on Wine Spectator magazine’s Top 10 wines of the year and Wine Enthusiast’s Best Cabernet of the Year.

The family’s success and growth prompted investment and focus on five vineyards across the Horse Heaven Hills: Champoux, Galitzine, Palengat, Lake Wallula and Wallula. Quilceda Creek wines are allocated and first offered to a private mailing list, then wine merchants and restaurant accounts.

This spring, the family created a 10-day #quilcedacares campaign from April 24 to May 3. Support prompted the Golitzins to reach into their cellar for library wines they offered to the public as part of the fundraiser, an array that included the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley and the 2016 Palengat Proprietary Red.

Further demand led them to make available the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley. The Golitzins set aside 50% of the proceeds of those sales, and there were donations made throughout the campaign.

Scott Lloyd, who Quilceda Creek Vintners recently hired as general manager, said, “Our support does not stop there. On May 25, the United Sommeliers Foundation Wine Auction offered a magnificent selection of large-format bottles through a rolling charitable auction produced by Acker Wines.

“To this, we’ve donated double magnums (3-liter bottles) of our 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley, our 2017 Galitzine Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and our 2017 Palengat Proprietary Red Wine.”

Earlier this year, Quilceda Creek released the 2017 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 2017 CVR Columbia Valley Red Wine to its private members. In August, the 2017 Galitzine Vineyard Cab and 2017 Palengat Red are scheduled to be offered to members.

Last year, the Great Northwest Wine panel reviewed under blind conditions the superb 2016 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Look for it and examples of Quilceda Creek’s work from the 2017 vintage at your favorite restaurants and wine merchant when conditions are right.

Quilceda Creek Vintners 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $200: This statuesque cabernet sauvignon is built upon the shoulders of four estate vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills, the birthplace for many of Washington’s most-acclaimed cabs.

Champoux Vineyard long has been the backbone of this high-scoring wine complemented by nearby Palengat and Quilceda Creek’s two sites overlooking the Columbia River – Lake Wallula and Wallula.

A 20-month barrel program of 100% new French oak yields graceful aromas of cassis and dried blueberry with cinnamon powder, orange oil and the hint of dusty herbs – a classic thumbprint of Horse Heaven Hills wines.

There’s remarkable depth to the easy entry and juicy flavors of black cherry, plum and blackcurrant, which lead to chocolaty tannins capped by a long finish of vanilla and blueberry. This marks the second-largest production in Quilceda Creek’s storied Columbia Valley program, and the framework is there for this bottle to evolve during the next decade.

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

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