Maryhill Winery

Voyage to Maryhill Winery

     Traveling East through southern Washington, once you peak the Cascades, and the Pacific rain forest abruptly turns sunny and Mediterranean, you’ll find the charming Maryhill Winery nested on a high hillside above a lazy stretch of the Columbia River, landscape skirted by peach and cherry orchards and vast rolling vineyards, a scattering of windmills and to the West a snow covered Mt Hood its’ only neighbors. I recently had the pleasure of touring the facility, and after, while relaxing on their vine-covered, Tuscan-style veranda, listening to live jazz and watching the Columbia roll gently by, I sampled many of their 40-odd spectacular varietals and blends.patio

Husband & wife owners, Craig and Vicki Leuthold Founded the winery in 2001. The surrounding vineyards were established by the Gunkel family in 1936, who continue to produce for Maryhill from the soils made rich at the end of the last ice-age by the Missoula Flood. Thanks to which, the Columbia basin is one of the most bountiful agricultural regions in the world (though, oddly, it did not impress Lewis & Clark who complained of having to eat so much fresh salmon.) The enterprising couple also built the adjacent Maryhill Amphitheater, which draws crowds from Portland, Seattle, and presumably much farther with top-shelf acts such as Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan. Fans of great wine as well as great music can watch from the overlooking veranda while they sip. (Styx and Foreigner will perform next month on my birthday.)stage

What was but an idea in 2000 has in less than 15 years has won hundreds of awards and even drawn the attention of Forbes magazine. Of the 1,400 plus wineries entered, Maryhill was just crowned “Winery of the Year” for 2014, at the San Francisco International Wine festival, the most prestigious wine competition held in America.

And speaking of those wines, not only are they delicious, but they’re a bargain as well. Innovations in their process, refurbishing and sometimes repurposing their own equipment, this in addition to wearing many hats, has kept their prices well below their price class.

Typically I am not a Zin drinker, but their Red Zinfandel I could drink continuously. It has all the spice and dimension you’d expect, yet is neither too sweet nor too lingering as Zin can often be. In which case, it pairs exceptionally well with most anything you’d desire to eat. Of course I enjoyed mine before and after dinner as well.landscape2

There immensely popular Winemaker’s Red is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Franc. Remarkably, they manage to caress the flavor from each, it is dry yet smooth with just a bit of spice. You’ll be inclined to finish it in one sitting whether or not you’re sharing with friends.
Regarding their delightful Maryhill Viognier they write; “Hints of dried pineapple, apricot, pear, vanilla bean and citrus rind will entice you into our newest vintage. With the first sip, you will experience a rich, full-bodied mouthfeel that lingers on your palate, finishing crisp and clean. Pair with spicy chicken, asparagus and shellfish.” Mine paired extravagantly with Meriwether Lewis’ despised local salmon.

Sustainability & Wine Making

The Rutherford Wine Company

We’re not sure when it started, but there’s evidence of viticulture that predates any we’ve found of writing. That seems plausible. Winemaking is a social tradition, and I’ll attest, a nip does help to get the ink flowing. Skill gets passed from artist to apprentice, down the generations. A mastery of the tradition mixed with one’s own ingenuity, plus a little sun and rain, provides what machines and software simply can not. A chance to work in partnership with mother nature to create a product both historical and unique. A world where even today the family business still thrives.


For three generations Rutherford Ranch has produced superior wines with this regard for tradition and an heart-felt emphasis on sustainability. For their accomplishments Rutherford Ranch has been crowned both the Napa Valley Winery of the Year and Family Run Winery of the Year by the NY International Wine Competition. Great wine is of course a gift from nature, and so for their accolades the Rutherford family gives back by retaining undeveloped lands that support indigenous plant and wildlife, and by employing eco-friendly practices. Creatures great and small -from owls to mites- have a home at Rutherford. The family adopts natural predators in lieu of chemicals to protect their grapes, while extensive water reclamation, and solar power reduces their carbon footprint. Such methods earn them certification by the California Sustainable Winegrowers Alliance. Cleaner soil and cleaner air not only yield a better product, but assure the health and prosperity of American viticulture for generations to come.

In addition to producing award-winning selections from their own estate, as the Rutherford Wine Company they manage an esteemed portfolio spanning the Napa Valley including the Wineries of Round Hill, the Scott Family Estate, Lander-Jenkins Vineyards, Predator, Rhiannon, Silver Buckle, and Red Bandana.

The Zaninovich family at Lander Jenkins provides an excellent Chardonnay & Cabernet Sauvignon each with many accolades, including a Best in Show at the 2012 NYIWC. “The Chardonnay is a lovely wine with whiffs of toasty oak with a light bodied mouth feel and a good finish. Their Cab Sauv is a delicious wine with a fragrance of blueberry, and a flavor of caramel on the palate.” In his own words 3rd Generation Winegrower, Morgan Zaninovich writes:

“Before my family established roots in California’s wine country, my great-grandfather, Rees T. Jenkins, ranched and farmed in Lander, Nevada. In his day all farming was done ‘the natural way’. Today, despite modern agricultural shortcuts, we continue to do things ‘the natural way’. It’s best for the land and the grapes and essential to crafting the finest, most flavorful wines.”

Rhiannon distills a fabulous Red Blend. In a nod to the families Welsh roots, Rhiannon is the Celtic goddess of earth and fertility. The name embodies their winemaking philosophy of reverence for tradition mixed with creativity and rebirth. “Divine fruit aromas and delicious flavors of bing cherry, sweet raspberry and vanilla. A lush mouthful with a silky finish.”

Predator’s Old Vine Red Zin blooms in the pristine Lodi valley from more than a half-century old grapevines producing a bold, yet layered palate. “..very concentrated and complex; great forward fruit flavors of black cherries and raspberries, with aromas of spice, espresso and bacon fat…” The equally bold title also refers to their devout use of raptors and ladybugs instead of pesticides. California’s fastest growing Zinfandel. As luck would have it, Banana Belt Liquor’s carries many of Rutherford’s great wines. Stop in and taste the nature!


Read more about Rutherford Wine Company HERE!