AWG Correspondent

Jade Helm

Mark Ryan Winery Photos

Mark Ryan Winery Review

Regions: Puget Sound AVA, Woodinville, Woodinville Tourist District, Washington

Reviewed: April 25, 2014 by Jade Helm
Published: May 28, 2014

Stepping into the Mark Ryan Winery tasting room in Woodinville's Tourist District is like stepping into a teenage boy's dream garage - a popular teenage boy with a budget for fun. Is this a nod to his winemaking beginnings in the garages of friends and family? The space is a mix of modern industrial and antiques. If Mark likes it, it is in the tasting room. If you like music, motorcycles, and wine you have found a kindred spirit. Framed "dude" style posters are on every wall. One of the tables is an old, wooden operating table on wheels. Leaning against the walls are both an antique motorized bicycle and a modern motorcycle. Nineties rock plays.

Mark Ryan McNeilly, owner and winemaker, did indeed have his humble beginnings as a bit of a vagabond winemaker. For the first few vintages, the winery consisted of borrowed garages and warehouse space. In 2003 he found a permanent home for his winemaking in Woodinville where his wines have been well received by locals and tourists. Wine and Spirits has named Mark among the top 100 wineries in the world three years in a row.

The winery operation is at a separate location so guests usually visit with tasting room staff not the winemaker. We found the staff to be educated and helpful. We were assisted by the knowledgeable Kasia Kim. Kasia is working on wine certifications and was able to offer insights about the wine based on vintage variation. She was also generous in suggesting other Woodinville wineries to visit. We overheard another staff member telling a guest she is studying to be a sommelier. Tasting sheets listing the wines poured make it easy to take notes.

The wines are good, some of them quite good. Our tasting partner pulled out the word "gorgeous" more than once. Mark releases his wines in the Spring and Fall. This year he ran out of his first label, and the Spring release is in May. His second label was being poured in the tasting room during our April visit. Visitor's tip: Plan your tasting trip for late Spring or Fall or call the tasting room to see what is being poured. The second label is quaffable wine. It has a fun motorcycle theme - Vincent Red and Rose, Suicide Shift, The Chief. But it is still just quaffable wine and those are too common for a special tasting trip.

The first label is definitely worth a stop. Most are blends of Bordeaux varietals. The 2011 Long Haul leans more toward Merlot while the 2011 Dead Horse is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon. Both are a pleasure to drink now and would continue to develop in the bottle. Long Haul is named for the "long haul" to get the fruit from the Red Mountain AVA. Like most wineries in Woodinville, fruit is purchased from specific vineyards selected for their terroir. A list of vineyards with more detailed information can be found on the winery's website. Most other names are related to Pearl Jam songs (ie. Bordeaux blend Lonely Heart and Mourvedre Crazy Mary). Mark even manages to bottle a very nice 2011 Pinot Noir (Black Love) with fruit purchased from Willamette Valley. This was known as the miracle vintage in Oregon and was a real test to the skills of the winemakers. Many 2011 Pinot noir need more time in the bottle. While Black Love will continue to develop, it already displays mounds of floral notes with red cherries, fine tannins, and a pleasurable finish.

There are several tasting rooms in the same strip of stores. One day we will visit them all and share the scoop. For now, if you like big reds that aren't complete brutes in their youth and promise to get even better with time, visit Mark Ryan. If you're closer to Walla Walla than you are to Woodinville, Mark Ryan also has a tasting room in Walla Walla.

Address & Contact Information: 14475 Woodinville-Redmond Rd Woodinville, Washington 98072. Telephone: 425-415-3865, email:, website: Tasting Hours: 12:00-5:00.

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