Vineyards: part owners of Champoux (AKA Mercer Ranch) Vineyard; own 15 acres on Red Mountain; grapes also purchased from Ciel du Cheval Vineyards, Benton City; Kiona Vineyards, Benton City; and Klipsun Vineyards, Benton City
Distribution: mailing list; 38 U.S. states; 7 foreign countries
The Golitzen family came to the Northwest from San Francisco in the early 1970's, originally living in Oak Harbor. Back then, Alex lamented the difficulty in finding decent wine, even out of state wines. Wine has been in the family for generations -- one of Alex's grandfathers was a winemaker in Crimea, his uncle is Andre Tchelistcheff, possibly the most important single individual in the history of WA State wine.
Alex's chemical engineering background (he worked for Scott Paper), love for wine, and of course Uncle Andre, all came together to get him to try making wine himself. From 1974 through 1977 each year he made one barrel of Cab. Sauv. for family and friends.
In 1977 they built their house in Snohomish, and built the adjacent winery soon after, bonding as a commercial winery in 1978. (The winery building has been added to twice since.) The first years were Alex as winemaker, and wife Jeanette doing pretty much everything else! In 1978 their decision to make it a business was reinforced by winning the only Grand Prize given for Cab. Sauv. at the annual Northwest Enological Society winetasting.
When I visited the winery, they had just made it through the 6.8 magnitude earthquake (28-Feb-2001) without a scratch. Jeanette and Paul had been in the barrel area at the time and were pretty scared when all the barrels were suddenly rocking and clicking in the cradles. Happily there was no damage.
Alex's engineering background shows in the winery with custom made stainless steel fermentation bins jacketed for temperature control. They are also proud of a recent innovation, a custom built device for "punching the down cap". Everything in the winery is on pallets and can be moved on a few minutes notice.
The business is still all family -- the three kids are grown now, all and their families are involved in the winery, including in the day to day operations. In 1992, Alex handed over the winemaking reigns to son Paul; and the husbands of both daughters are involved, one being the salesman and distribution organizer.
The Golitzens have been instrumental in establishing WA State as an exceptional area for the making of the finest wines. Alex and Jeanette are wonderful, warm and friendly people -- if you have the pleasure of meeting them in person, be sure to thank them for their hard work in putting WA State on the wine map of the world.
Quilceda Creek produces an ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon. Like the classic Bordeaux blends it is patterned after, it will contain a small percentage of Merlot and/or Cab. Franc.
The remainders of these latter wines after blending, and lesser-perfect barrels may be now be (since the late 1990's) released as a Red table wine and/or Merlot (approx 250 cases).
I'll leave the wine details to their website (visit link above).
Alex and Paul Golitzen
Of special note:
Quilceda (pronounced kwill-see-da) Creek is a Native American word meaning roughly "salt water people". The winery produces almost exclusively Cabernet Sauvignon, and a small amount of Merlot. Wines are barrel aged for 22 months in new French Oak, and bottle aged for an additional 9 months prior to release.
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