Pro Version | USD Change Currency | Help | Mobile Site
Advertisement

Cult Winemaker Leaves Napa for Washington

Cult Winemaker Leaves Napa for Washington
© Force Majeure Vineyards
Not just another winemaker hire – it's a historic moment, says winery owner.

Does Washington state's Red Mountain need more affirmation of its greatness as wine terroir? Last week winemaker Todd Alexander left one of Napa Valley's priciest wineries, Bryant Family Vineyard, to take a job at Force Majeure in Washington.

Related story:
America's Most Expensive Wines

"As far as I know, that's the first time Washington's ever been able to recruit a cult-wine Napa guy to Washington state," said Force Majeure owner Paul McBride. "It's a historic moment for Washington as a serious wine region. It's more serious than just another winemaker hire."

Alexander, 36, Bryant's winemaker for the past two years, will no longer be working with the hillside vineyard in Napa's Pritchard Hill district that produced a string of high 90s scores in the Wine Advocate. Instead he will be given the freedom to make his own mark on Washington's Red Mountain.

"I could've stayed at Bryant and just kept steering the ship, but it wasn't all that exciting to me," Alexander told Wine Searcher. "The wines were getting so expensive. That was a turnoff. I want to make wines I can afford to drink."

Force Majeure is a unique opportunity because, while it already has some critical acclaim, it hasn't really had a winemaker. All the company's previous wines were part of the Collaboration Series, where different Washington winemakers made the wines at their own facilities.

Previously known as Grand Reve, the company has a hillside vineyard on Red Mountain planted to Bordeaux varieties and Syrah. It had to change its name after Domaine Carneros, which makes a sparkling wine called Le Reve, complained. McBride said Domaine Carneros noticed the newcomer after its 2007 Cabernet got 97 points from Wine Spectator.

Now, Force Majeure will build a winery to Alexander's specifications in Woodinville, a suburb of Seattle.

"Washington's such a wide-open place. Everybody knows it can make wine, but there's room to grow," Alexander explained. "We'll try to make really great wine, but we don't want to use a scarcity model to drive up prices. That's not what we're trying to do. Washington doesn't get enough credit for its great wine. We'll see what we can do."

Chris Stone, vice president of marketing and communications for the Washington Wine Commission, said: "I would take it as another sign that Washington state wines continue to gain momentum and emerge as a world-class region. With all the recent outside investment, and now this development, I think it’s safe to say the quality and limitless potential of Washington state are no longer a secret."

Signup for our Free Weekly Newsletter


Write Comment


  • Comments

    Chatter Creek wrote:
    14-Jun-2014 at 05:14:17 (GMT)

    Todd I guess we're going to be neighbors. Come by for a pop when you get to town. Gordy

  • Daniel wrote:
    10-Jun-2014 at 01:23:04 (GMT)

    Well said, Joe Slow news day on Red Mountain, I suppose

  • Fritz wrote:
    09-Jun-2014 at 15:39:21 (GMT)

    Bryant loses a winemaker ever 2-3 years so would not read to much into this new lose.

  • joe wrote:
    09-Jun-2014 at 15:05:59 (GMT)

    "It's a historic moment for Washington as a serious wine region. It's more serious than just another winemaker hire." -Really?








Recent Stories

Rudy Kurniawan in prison blues (L) with his defense lawyers Vincent Verdirama and Jerome Mooney

Kurniawan Settles with Koch but Sentencing Delayed Again

Sale of the Century Sees Petrus Go for $500

Napa's Quixote Winery Sold to Chinese Company

More Bordeaux Wineries Change Hands

Malibu the Latest Official U.S. Wine Region

Kurniawan Lawyers Dispute Victims' Claims

Burgundy Vineyards Experiment with Anti-Hail Nets

French Wine Exports to China Remain Strong but Slip Elsewhere

Prosecutors Name More Kurniawan Victims

Wine Writer Award Shortlist Revealed

Kurniawan Sentencing Drags on for Another Week

Sotheby's Targets Online Audience Through eBay

Noval Makes Late Declaration for 2012 Vintage

Insurance, Solidarity and Social Media for Hail Victims

Food and Wine MBA Scholarships Up for Grabs


 
Site Map About Contact Business Advertising Social