Woodward Canyon Winery Review
Address: 11920 W. Highway 12 Lowden,Washington 99360.
Phone Number: 509-525-4129
Tasting Hours: 10:00-5:00 and by appt.
Region: Columbia Valley AVA, Walla Walla Valley AVA, Washington
Reviewer: Denise Gangnes
Review Date: 4/4/2012
Reviewer: Denise Gangnes
Even a reputation as one of Washington States oldest and most respected wineries sometimes means you have to give your image a little facelift to compete with fresh new facilities popping up in the Walla Walla region. Woodward Canyon has risen to the challenge; tempting visitors with a new tasting room experience in a sustainable new facility and offering a secondary line of affordable quality wines to compete with the ever-growing competition in the Columbia Valley.
The Place: Woodward Canyon is the first major stop on Highway 12 after a 30-minute drive from the Tri-Cities, and a welcome sight. If you havent been to Woodward Canyon in a few years, its time to give this venerable Washington player another look. Their restored 1870’s farmhouse tasting room was showing its age and created a cramped tasting experience compared to the more modern, spacious wineries nearby. So in 2009, they built the new Reserve House, a sustainably designed structure complete with glassed rolling garage-type doors, solar panels and craftsman styling.
The Experience:  For $5, you get a fine array of WCs staple wines. Add $20 and you can indulge in a private, sit-down tasting featuring current and limited reserve wines with food pairings in the Reserve House. Call ahead to RSVP; they take place at 11:30 and 1:00 by appointment only for 2 to 16 people. Its a cheaper alternative to purchasing the plethora of $50+ bottles offered in the tasting room, promising a more personal experience. The bungalow can also be rented for private dinners.
The Wines:  WC vineyards were planted in 1977 on 3rd generation family land these old vines produce amazing wines. Fruit from the respected Champoux and Sagemoor vineyards also boast some of the highest priced bottles. Generally, you can expect to pay $50+ for any Library or Reserve Cabs and Merlots; most 2007-2009 vintages are in the $80 range. To combat this sticker shock, WC offers a second label, Nelms Road, featuring Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from regional vineyards at $20 – $50 per bottle. I opted for the only white in the batch; taking home a delicious NV Dry Riesling with amazingly complex qualities for $14 after the $5 tasting fee was deducted. My wallet thanked me and my pallet appreciated the many fine reds I had just enjoyed for a nominal price.
Their Differences:  Surprisingly, WC doesnt have a wine club – almost unheard of these days. Their reputation and long history reflect a committed fan base that guarantees sellouts of many of their heady and highly rated vintages.
If you like sustainable winemaking practices, WC sets a high standard. In addition to participating in a renewable energy plan with Pacific Power, they have implemented a cork recycling program, use several bio-diesel vehicles, and reduced or eliminated herbicide and pesticide applications – techniques and standards that are common to large California wineries, but not so much in Washington State.
The flock of tourists to the area has also outgrown the grassy picnic areas surrounding the former schoolhouse tasting room, spurring WCs latest project – a marketplace in a separate building that will be used for selling vegetables and hosting special events.