With the burgeoning growth of wineries throughout Washington State producing some excellent wines, how does one select one winery over another? Price point, quality of the wines, nifty marketing and personal taste are all part of the decision but the best wineries, in my opinion, provide an exceptional wine experience. Talented wine makers, an educated and enthusiastic staff and a well, thought-out marketing scheme that includes innovative, fun activities for both wine club members and the general public are elements that come together to make EFESTE stand out.
The origin of EFESTE can be traced back to an Italian family tradition of one of the the founders, Daniel Ferrelli.
His grandfather pressed grapes into wine back in Chicago during prohibition. The wine press now stands proudly in EFESTE’s tasting room. Daniel also made wine for years in the garage attached to his home. When Kevin Taylor (his current son-in-law and partner) came a courting his daughter he often wondered why Daniel often disappeared into the garage. Eventually his curiosity was rewarded and he was intrigued with Daniel’s hobby. So much so that he convinced him to produce more.
Today, after Daniel’s pseudo retirement, EFESTE is now producing 10,000 to 11,000 cases of wine annually. The first vintage of EFESTE was produced in 2005 and the tasting room opened its doors in 2007.
Peter Devison, the current winemaker, is originally from Nova Scotia. He received his training in oenology in New Zealand and has been making wines at EFESTE since 2012. I met Peter, his assistant winemaker, Sam Keirsey, their interns, other staff members and a number of the Ferrelli family members who were helping out on this season’s crush. They were a hard working crew who made the chore of sorting grapes a fun event.
I described the syrahs (2011 Ceidleigh and 2011 Jolie Bouche) in a previous post. I revisited these wines again in the tasting room and am still enamored of the Jolie Bouche.
An intriguing wine is the 2013 Feral Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes for this wine come from the Ancient Lakes AVA in the Evergreen vineyard located along the banks of the Columbia River. Its location along the river as well as the high calcium content in its soil help derive its interesting terroir. According to Nancy Croisier, EFESTE’s Marketing Manager, the soil provides the minerality that is in the wine. This is a great wine for pairing with oysters.
The EFESTE 2012 Evergreen Vineyard Riesling is excellent. It is an off-dry wine with an RS of about 1% and is perfect for pairing with a variety of dishes or drinking on its own. Great acidity with a complex balance of tart and sweet. I really liked this wine.The 2013 promises to do even better and Peter has good reason to be proud of this vintage.
One of the best selling points of EFESTE is their rigorous wine club membership. Membership includes two annual releases and there are four events around each release that members can attend if they choose not to have their wine shipped. There are also monthly pizza events and wine tasting which are free to wine club members and open to non-members for a fee. EFESTE sponsors an annual fund raising event that supports research for leukemia and lymphoma patients. The proceeds from their “Tough Guy” wine also goes to funding pediatric leukemia and lymphoma to honor the successful treatment of one of the Taylor boys.
There are also wine dinners that showcase EFESTE wines with Helen and Daniel’s amazing culinary skills. Together with Peter’s wine making skills and Nancy Croisier’s decorating skills these are elegant events that are never oversold and have a lot of thought put into matching delicious food with great wine pairings.
While pulling up to EFESTE, for the interview, I noticed the scent of fermenting grapes. Upon entering the wine tasting room, however, the aroma of garlic, Parmesan cheese and an array of Italian spices hit me. Helen and Daniel were making meatballs. Later, Helen brought me one to try with the syrahs and I was overwhelmed. Amazing!
EFESTE is opened 12-5 daily, except holidays and is located in Woodinville at 19730 – 144th Ave. NE. More information about EFESTE can be found @ www.efeste.com.