Consulting Enologist: David Lake
Production: 1400 cases (1994), 2800 cases (1995)
In 1992, Charles Lill challanged his son Greg to turn the family farm into a productive venture. Greg decided to start a winery, an endeavour his father fully approved of as the Lill family is descended from anscestors who brewed beer in Bohemia and produced wine in France. Charles Lill's family owned a winery in Czechoslovakia until the Russians confiscated their vineyards during WWII. In 1951, at 24 years old, Charles moved to the U.S.; arriving with nothing to his name but $20 in his pocket and a new wife. He ran an insurance agency until he retired in 1989; this rags to success story shows his tenacity as the family had been wealthy before being stripped by war. Much of the backing for the winery came when they were able to sell the family property in Germany without taxes.
Charles and Greg recruited Jay Soloff, a veteran NW wine marketer, and Chris Upchurch. As equal partners, they started the winery, and named it DeLille Cellars after the ancestral name of the Lill family.
Chris got his love for wine while traveling extensively in Europe and the west coast of America while still young. He graduated from U. C. Colorado and University of Washington. After purchasing several well known Seattle restaurants, he became a wine buyer for the local Larry's Markets stores -- this enabled him to taste many wines from the world over, helping him to refine his palate and define his own thoughts on the ideal wine. He additionally worked his way into winemaking as a grape broker for some years. With 18 years experience as a home winemaker, the choice of having Chris as winemaker was hardly a risk! Even so, they got David Lake as a consultant to ensure an excellent start.
The original winery was located in a small warehouse in a north-end Woodinville business park. In July 1995, they moved the facility to its permanent location, the Cedar Ponds farm, about a 1/4 mile from the historic Hollywood schoolhouse, on the eastern side of the Woodinville valley. An addition was built onto the old farmhouse which Charles Lill has owned since 1982; the winery currently occupies the lower level of the building, the upper level is used for private winery functions, winemaker dinners, charitable fundraising events, etc. (Their proud of the huge conference table which they purchased from a local bank.) The winery has a capacity of 200 barrels, and 3000 cases.
As the wines produced are primarily blends, they are given proprietary
names. The first vintage produced was the 1992, sold entirely through
mail-order and to local restaurants.
The Wines: Current releases (Fall 1996)
Chris Upchurch 1991-present
Of special note:
In 1995, the 1992 Chaleur Estate Yakima Valley proprietary red wine was awarded the Certificate of Excellence by the Institue of Masters of Wine in London England. This was the first NW wine to recieve this prestigous award.
The 2nd Annual Bastille Day Celebration is July 13th, featuring 1996 Chaleur Estate Blanc paired with four new and/or up-and-coming chefs creating their own masterpiece dish to go with Chaleur Estate Blanc.
Five different winemaker, visiting winemaker and well-known (or reknown) guest chef's dinners are also planned between May and August.
And the first annual harvest event, named The Paullee, is scheduled for November 8-9th.
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