Yakima Valley winemakers show fondness for Secret Crush

By on February 6, 2016
Wade Wolfe of Thurston Wolfe Winery pours at Secret Crush, a new Wine Yakima Valley event, on Friday, Feb. 13. The event marked the beginning of Red Wine and Chocolate Weekend with an evening featuring some of the valley’s highest-rated wines served at the Fourth Street Theatre in downtown Yakima. The event was catered by executive chef Roger Hazzard of Bon Vino’s Bistro and Bakery in Sunnyside. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

Wade Wolfe of Thurston Wolfe Winery pours at the inaugural Secret Crush, the Wine Yakima Valley event that kicks off Red Wine and Chocolate Weekend and features some of the valley’s highest-rated wines. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

YAKIMA, Wash. — It’s an exclusive club, so it makes sense for Wine Yakima Valley to stage its second annual Secret Crush on the eve of Valentine’s Day at Yakima Country Club.

Organizers are looking up to build upon the success of last year’s event, so Friday’s event again will serve as the official kickoff to Red Wine and Chocolate in the Yakima Valley. A ticket to the three-hour pouring, which begins at 6 p.m., costs $75.

A year ago, more than 150 consumers paid $75 to spend several hours in a club-like atmosphere at the historic Fourth Street Theatre and mingle with winemakers and grape growers from Yakima to Red Mountain. Winery and vineyard principals such as Juergen Grieb of Treveri Cellars, Tim and Kelly Hightower of Hightower Cellars, Todd Newhouse of Upland Vineyard, David O’Reilly of Owen Roe, Jonathan Sauer of Red Willow Vineyard, Kerry Shiels of Cote Bonneville/DuBrul Vineyard and Wade Wolfe of Thurston Wolfe poured acclaimed wines that received gold medals, gained 90 points from wine publications or were small-lot productions.

“The Yakima Valley wineries are looking forward to another successful year for the Secret Crush event, which will feature more than 40 top-rated wines,” said Barbara Glover, executive director of Wine Yakima Valley. “The inaugural event was held at Fourth Street Theatre, which is a great venue – so great that it was booked for the Washington State Music Educators conference during Presidents’ Day weekend this year. The country club is a beautiful venue to showcase the valley’s best wines.”

Secret Crush features 17 wineries, 40 acclaimed wines

David O'Reilly, who recently moved his family and Owen Roe winery to the Yakima Valley, pours at Secret Crush on Friday, Feb. 13, The event was catered by executive chef Roger Hazzard of Bon Vino’s Bistro and Bakery in Sunnyside. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

David O’Reilly, who moved his family and Owen Roe winery to the Yakima Valley, poured at last year’s inaugural Secret Crush in downtown Yakima. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

This year, 17 wineries from the Yakima Valley will pour a combined 40 wines. Greg Masset, the winemaking executive chef of Yakima Country Club and son of Birchfield Manor founding chef Wilford Masset, provides hors d’oeuvres for the evening.

Secret Crush serves as a primer for Wine Yakima Valley’s Red Wine & Chocolate, one of the Pacific Northwest wine industry’s oldest celebrations of the three-day weekend involving Valentine’s Day. There will eight Yakima-area wineries, 14 surrounding Zillah, eight in Prosser and 12 Red Mountain-area wineries participating in the Premier Pass program.

A Premier Pass costs $35, which allows holders earn access to exclusive pairings, library tastings and tours not available to the public. Those who combine Secret Crush with Red Wine and Chocolate pay $95 — a savings of $15.

Auction winner takes home prized collection

Tim and Kelly Hightower of Hightower Cellars on Red Mountain pour at Secret Crush, a new Wine Yakima Valley event, on Friday, Feb. 13. The event marked the beginning of Red Wine and Chocolate Weekend with an evening featuring some of the valley’s highest-rated wines served at the Fourth Street Theatre in downtown Yakima. The event was catered by executive chef Roger Hazzard of Bon Vino’s Bistro and Bakery in Sunnyside. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

Tim and Kelly Hightower of Hightower Cellars on Red Mountain pour at the inaugural Secret Crush in Yakima. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

Among the Secret Crush highlights is the auction for a bottle of each wine poured during Secret Crush. The winner’s cellar will add the following wines to their collection:

Airfield Estates
2012 Mustang – 91 points, Wine Enthusiast (editors’ choice)
2012 Merlot – Double gold medal/best of varietal Tri-Cities Wine Festival, 90 points Wine Advocate
2013 Barbera – Double gold Tri-Cities Wine Festival

Chandler Reach Vineyards
2010 Parris Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – 91 points Wine Spectator

Co Dinn Cellars
2013 Roskamp Vineyard Chardonnay – Wine Enthusiast 91 points (editors’ choice)
2013 Roskamp Vineyard Block Two Syrah – Wine Enthusiast 93 points
2013 Painted Hills Cabernet Sauvignon – Wine Enthusiast 91 points

Côte Bonneville
2009 Carriage House –  93 points Wine Advocate, 94 points Wine Enthusiast (editors’ choice)
2007 Côte Bonneville –  96 points Wine Advocate
2013 Train Station Cabernet Sauvignon – 90 points Wine Enthusiast

Gilbert Cellars
2014 Gewürztraminer – 90 points Wine Spectator
2012 Reserve No. 1 – 91 points Wine Advocate

Hightower Cellars
2012 Red Mountain Reserve Red – 90 points Wine Advocate, gold medal 2015 Great Northwest Wine Competition

Kana Winery
2010 Old Vines Reserve – Gold medal Seattle Wine Awards, silver medal 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, silver medal Great Northwest Wine Competition
2010 Dark Star – 90 points Wine Spectator, top 10 wine affordable wines from Washington state by Wine Spectator under $30
2009 Scarlet Fire Reserve Red – 90 points Wine Spectator

Naches Heights Vineyard
2014 Albariño – Double gold 2015 Seattle Wine Awards
2014 Zeste – Best of class/double gold 2015 Great Northwest Wine Competition

Owen Roe
2012 Syrah, Union Gap Vineyard – 90 points Wine Advocate, 90 points Vinous Media (Stephen Tanzer), 93 points Wine Enthusiast
2012 Union Gap Vineyard – 91+ points Wine Advocate, 90 points Vinous Media (Stephen Tanzer), 92 points Wine Enthusiast
2013 The Pearl Union Gap Vineyard Cabernet Franc – 92+ Vinous Media (Stephen Tanzer)

Portteus Winery
2013 Bistro Red – Gold medal 2015 Seattle Wine Awards
2012 Zinfandel – Double gold 2015 Seattle Wine Awards
2010 Estate Bottled Reserve – Double gold 2015 Seattle Wine Awards

Thurston Wolfe
The 2010 Geologist – Double gold San Francisco International Wine Competition
2012 Petite Sirah – Double gold San Francisco International Wine Competition, No. 7 Seattle Times Top 50 wine list, double gold Seattle Wine Awards
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon – Double gold 2015 Seattle Wine Awards

Treveri Cellars
Brut – Double gold 2015 Great Northwest Invitational, double gold Tri-Cities Wine Festival
Rosé – Double gold Tri-Cities Wine Festival

Two Mountain Winery
2012 Copeland Vineyard Syrah – 90 points Wine Spectator

Elephant Mountain Vineyard
Eleven Winery 2012 Mourvèdre — Double gold and No. 3 Mourvèdre in the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
Maloney 2012 Elephant Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon — No. 15 in Seattle Times Top 50, Great Northwest Wines No. 10 in top 100, No. 9 Seattle Met Top 100, Wine Enthusiast 93 points
Maryhill Winery 2012 Mourvèdre — Best of Class/highest scoring Mourvèdre 2015 San Francisco International Wine Competition 98 points

Red Willow Vineyard
Owen Roe 2011 Chapel Block Syrah — 94 points Wine Advocate
Eight Bells Winery 2013 Red Willow Vineyard 8 Clones Syrah

About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for 15 years. He is a frequent wine judge along the West Coast and contributor to Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, the region's longest-running golf publication.

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