AWG Correspondent

Denise Gangnes

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars Photos

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars Review

Regions: Spokane Valley, Washington

Reviewed: October 20, 2012 by Denise Gangnes
Published: November 10, 2012

In 1924, inventor Royal Newton Riblet built an imposing three-story mansion overlooking the Spokane Valley. Little did he know that nearly 90 years later, his estate would build a reputation as Spokane’s premier wine tasting and special event venue.

The Place:  The original Florentine manse can be seen from more than 10 miles away, and Riblet’s ingenuity and attention to detail pays high dividends for both patrons and the current owners. Many aspects of Riblet’s original design are still evident. His famous invention, the square wheeled tractor, stands in tribute on the 75 acre property. A large oversized checker board, a 6000-gallon swimming hole, a red roofed gazebo, landscaped gardens, and architecturally striking ancillary structures pay homage to the estate’s designation as a historical facility and are used for private and public events. Spectacular views of the city and surrounding mountains abound in nearly every direction. The winery, purchased from Riblet’s descendants by the Mielke family, is celebrating its 30th year. These California transplants arranged for winery equipment to be shipped north from a defunct winery in the Napa Valley to start their own production in the 1980s.

The Experience:  Arbor Crest’s amiable and presumably, overworked staff, is attentive and informative. Considering the history of this expansive estate, I found this impressive. The winery hosts more than 40 weddings throughout the year, and a popular concert series lures up to 1700 patrons to trek up the hill. I visited on a cloudy day in October when the grounds and tasting room were peaceful, but rumor has it that the summertime events can be challenging for a quality tasting experience. I made a mental note to take advantage of their tasting and tour packages ($20 and $40) on a future visit to learn more about the history of the intriguing structures and grounds.

The Wines:  Arbor Crests’ historical heritage is backed up by legitimate wine craftsmanship. Winemaker Kristina Mielke-van Loben Sels spent several years at Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery in Healdsburg, California. Her husband, James van Loben Sels wears the viticulturist hat in the family. Together, they make a formidable team, with estimates of 25,000 cases from this year’s prolific production.

The Arbor Crest label includes 19 wines priced from $12 to $48, and there’s something for everyone, ranging from a Sangiovese with overtones of strawberry jam to an exceptional Barbera. I liked the estate-bottled Pinot Gris and many of the wines from a new second label, Van Loben Sels Cellars (yes, that’s a mouthful in more ways than one). These exceptional wines range from $30 to $65.

Insider's Tip:  A curving driveway hugs the hill to the estate 450 feet above the valley. Leave your Aston Martin at home and consider starting your tasting day here. Taking the road after consuming several tastings could be treacherous. The winery has a constant stream of events during warm weather months. Check the website to determine whether you’d like to visit on one of these days, or prefer a quieter experience enjoying the voluminous view and gorgeous grounds. Acrophobes and agoraphobics (fears of heights and crowds) may prefer to visit their tasting room in downtown Spokane at River Park Square.

Address & Contact Information: 4705 N Fruit Hill Rd. Spokane, Washington 99217. Telephone: 509-927-9463, email:, website: Tasting Hours: Sat-Wed 12:00-5:00, Thurs-Fri 12:00-8:00.

Overall Rating:  

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