William Church Winery: Featured Winery 11/09

Honeymoons herald the beginning of a marriage, but for Leslie and Rod Balsley,  it was also the inspiration for the award winning William Church Winery.

Rod and Leslie on their Italian honeymoon

Rod and Leslie on their Italian honeymoon

…”started on our honeymoon in Italy, where we were struck by the integral role wine played in the social fabric of everyday life for the people that lived there.”

They fueled their own passion for wine with juggling a wine making  hobby between their high tech careers and starting their family.  With a neighbor’s encouragement and inspiration, they made wine in their garage for several years. As their prowess in wine making grew, so did their passion and desire to create quality wines that would become as integrated into everyday life as the wines that they cherished on their honeymoon.

Balsley Family of William Church Winery

Balsley Family of William Church Winery

In 2005, Leslie and Rod began William Church Winery as a challenge to push beyond wine making as a hobby and evolve into a family business to nurture the family passions and values.  Designed as a legacy to past and future generations, William Church Winery is named in honor of William, Rod’s father. Church is Leslie’s Dads middle name and his grandmother’s maiden name. Each William Church Wine label includes a dedication to a family member or friend and a family symbol that includes the initials of our children.

Rod took wine making classes at UC Davis and they hired Matthew Loso, experienced and talented wine maker to help them learn the ropes of commercial wine making in Washington State. Our first commercial production was only 300 cases. In 2008, William Church Winery took over sole production of the wine and hired a full time assistant wine maker, Marcus Rafanelli. He is a graduate of the Walla Walla Community College School of Enology and Viticulture program. In addition, William Church Winery also consults with Erica Orr, a UC Davis graduate who is an expert enologist. Currently, this Washington winery produces 2,000 cases of wine with an eventual goal of 3,000 cases.

William Church Winery Wines

William Church Winery produces seven wines, a combination of single varietals and blends.


Their single white wine is their Viognier. The 2008 Viognier is fruit forward but well balanced with pleasing acidity. It is light, crisp and refreshing. This award winning Washington Viognier was one of Ed’s favorite white wines this year.


The 2007 Syrah is co-fermented with Viognier, giving it lovely floral notes on the nose. Crafted primarily from Dineen Vineyard fruit that benefited from a little extra hang time on the vine. Blended with a bit of Malbec, this Washington Syrah is inky black, plush with fruit and supported by a sturdy tannic structure.


Only approximately 100 cases were produced of  the 2007 Malbec that won double gold at the Seattle Wine Awards.  It is a rich and complex wine with berry on nose and palate that evolves as it is slowly savored in the glass.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Not currently available

2 Spires

The 2 Spires is a blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2007 vintage is predominantly Stillwater Creek Syrah, blended with Conner Lee and Dineen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. This award winning blend is designed to drink now or to cellar for up to 8 years. Gold Medal 2009 Northwest Wine Summit, Silver Medal 2009 Seattle Wine Awards

Bishop’s Blend

Each year, the Bishop’s Blend is crafted with attention to the characteristics and nuances of the fruit. Last year it was a blend of six grapes. The 2007 Bishop’s Blend is composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and was blended specifically for your table. It is reasonably priced at $19/bottle and is designed to pair well with a large variety of foods.

3 Responses to “William Church Winery: Featured Winery 11/09”

  1. Louise Brueske says:

    My husband, Jon, and I “inherited” some home wine making equipment. We are interested in some kind of class or experience whereby we can learn how to make wine. I was hoping to try to make a batch of Malbec and Viognier in the fall. Might you be able to help? We are total novices but we LOVE wine and very much are looking forward to making some!!

    Congrats to you two for making your dream a reality!!!

    Look forward to your thoughts and suggestions!


  2. Hi Louise,
    We are happy to be of help if we can. Stop by the winery on a Saturday (after our 3/14 wine release) and we’d be happy to talk with you about it. Also, both South Seattle Community College and Lake Washington College offer winemaking courses you could look into. We started as home winemakers ourselves so feel free to stop by and we’ll talk more

  3. […] Ed’s birthday, we opened up a bottle of William Church Viognier with the crab cakes, and found we liked it with the curry seasoning in the cakes. A chardonnay […]

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