Tasting Notes: Grand Reve Vintners

The Grand Reve Vintners

By Seattle Mag December 31, 1969

Category: Tasting Notes


The Grand Reve Vintners’ wines show what happens when local winemakers have their way with some of the best grapes in the state

The process of growing and making wine takes talent and expertise in so many areas—viticulture, viniculture, chemistry, marketing—so it’s no surprise that some winemakers are collaborating. One notable local collaboration has been between Chateau Ste. Michelle and Ernst Loosen—a rock star in the wine world from Germany’s Mosel region—which has yielded Riesling wines much sought after by aficionados. Allen Shoup’s Long Shadows collaboration with international winemakers using Washington fruit has also created surefire hits. But a recent alliance shows just what can happen when an all-star list of local vintners is connected with grapes grown in an exceptional vineyard.

Grand Reve (French for “great dream”) Vintners, established in 2004, is a collaboration between Ciel du Cheval vineyard manager Ryan Johnson, his business partner, Paul McBride, and five Washington winemakers—Chris Gorman of Gorman Winery, Carolyn Lakewold of Donedei Winery, Mark Ryan McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery, Ross Mickel of Ross Andrew Winery and Ben Smith of Cadence Winery. The winemakers each work with Johnson to choose the best fruit from Ciel du Cheval—located in Washington’s Red Mountain AVA near Prosser—to work their magic.

The project began when Johnson was managing Smith’s new Red Mountain vineyard, Cara Mia, and he asked to be paid in wine instead of money. Soon after, he and McBride found a 20-acre plot on Red Mountain, Grand Reve Vineyard, planting 13 of those acres; while those vines grew, the two men decided to find a way to make wine from Ciel du Cheval fruit. “With all the relationships I was developing at Ciel du Cheval, there was an opportunity to work with some of the state’s rising-star winemakers,” Johnson says. “Everyone was enthusiastic about it. I can farm that fruit to our specifications, since I’m walking the rows and tasting the fruit every day, and each winemaker brings their own style to their particular wine.”

Lakewold, for instance, whose small winery near Tenino is a hidden gem, is known among a devoted following of wine lovers for her elegant, balanced Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot made from free-run juice—no pressing is used. For the Grand Reve project, Lakewold created Collaboration IV, a luscious Merlot blend.

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