Introducing Corliss Estates

Corliss Estates is one of those wineries that aims to be larger than life. Veiled in secrecy, it has been lying patiently in the wings, ready to introduce itself to the world as the next great Washington wine. With the release of their 2003 vintage they are entering the front door of the wine world and not planning on leaving. I’m excited by them, I’m sure you will be too.

I first learned of Corliss Estates at a wine tasting that I attended with Stephen Tanzer this past summer. Steve was talking about this new winery from Walla Walla called ‘Corliss Estates’; he discussed how they’ve been very low key and quietly doing their thing. Steve envisioned Corliss Estates to be one of those wineries whose goal was to hit 100 points continually. Grand ambitions indeed. It was both intriguing and exciting to hear of a winery that wants to be the very best at what they do and given Steve’s excitement for their release, I was interested too. Armed with this knowledge, I did a Google search for Corliss Estates, came upon their website and signed up for their registry.

Who wouldn’t want to be a part of something ground level up with the ambition of positioning itself to be one of the great wineries of Washington and to further establish itself as world class? I received email updates (they were great with correspondence!) and then the letter came in the mail requesting orders for their 2003 vintage. This release included a Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Red Blend. I jumped at the Red.

Already excited by the idea to get the wine, but was then ecstatic when I got the email that they would be having a party to launch it. The party was at The Ruins in lower Queen Anne where we could pick up the wine and have a barrel tasting of the ’06 Red Blend. Um yeah, I’ll be there! First off, The Ruins is an awesome venue – uniquely decorated and a perfect place to have a coming out party. Secondly, the atmosphere was fun. Everyone was excited to try out the wine and check out the scene, which always makes for good conversation. Lastly, the ’06 Red that we were barrel tasting was already very good; it’ll be exciting to see how winemaker Kendall Mix continues to evolve it.

Conversed a bit with Kendall – it’s always fun to talk wine with those whose hands help create it. We touched on vineyard sourcing, the challenges in working in a winery that was very top secret, evolution in barrel and bottle, and creating and executing a vision for their wine. Interesting stuff. Also great to see that Michael Corliss was introducing himself to the guests of the evening. I enjoyed my talk and look forward to visiting the winery sometime in the near future. Thanks Michael for making this exclusive but at the same time local and fun!

Corliss has received some good local buzz too. Jay Schiering, of the excellent wine shop McCarthy & Schiering, states that Corliss Estates is “Washington’s most important new winery”. High praise indeed. Paul Gregutt, acclaimed wine writer who provides the wine columns for the Seattle Times, also had a great write-up on Corliss Estates.

Yup, lots of info, but it is kind of fun to be a part of something that is on the down low coming onto the scene with a bang. According to their website, Corliss Estates is sold out of their 2003 vintage, so sign up for their mailing list to get in on their other releases. The aforementioned McCarthy & Schiering is the only place to sell it at retail. Go visit Jeff at the Queen Anne location; he and the rest of the team are great.

News about Corliss Estates is still breaking and there is definitely a buzz factor, but remember who told you about it first. Cheers!


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