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Sampling some from the cellar before harvest heats up

Thank you Mary Earl of the Kitsap Sun for including the 2016 Diffraction in your recent lineup of cellar samples to taste before harvest starts.

Cairdeas Winery Diffraction 2016 Yakima Valley is a blend of 37 percent Syrah, 20 percent Grenache, and 17 percent Petite Sirah. The remainder is other traditional Rhone grapes: Mourvedre, Cinsault and Carignan. This one had earthy, chocolate, spice and plum aromas and flavors with Asian spices on a long finish.”

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You’re Invited to These Wine Harvest Events | Michelle Winner

Join in the celebration of the 2018 wine harvest by participating in festivals, luncheons, dinners, crush parties, wine stomps, vineyard hikes, and even a half marathon run through Wine Country. We’ve collected a sampling of events for you to consider across the United States from New York’s Finger Lakes to the hills of Sonoma, Virginia to Texas, Washington, Oregon and Napa. You can stomp grapes or dine in the vineyard by candlelight, go wine tasting with the winemaker, and even make your own case of rosé. Well, what are you waiting for? The grapes have been brought in and harvest season is here, so make some reservations and get in on the fun.

Winemaker’s Pop-Up Dinner Series at Cairdeas Winery

Cairdeas Winery

September 14 – 15, 2018, 7 PM 
Cost: $135 General Admission, $120 Wine Club Members

Cairdeas Winery will partner with Chef Aaron Tekulve of Surrell for the Winemaker’s Pop-Up Dinner Series at their vineyard and tasting room in the Lake Chelan AVA. Chef Aaron will create seven spectacular courses of New American Cuisine featuring ingredients from the very best of Pacific Northwest farmers and purveyors. The courses are thoughtfully presented with four featured Cairdeas wines and paired with the fresh ingredients of the season. Harvest is anticipated by mid-September, so you can expect a pre-dinner vineyard and barrelhouse tour to experience the beginning of Cairdeas Winery’s 10th vintage of wine.

31 Winesap Avenue, Manson, WA 98831, (509) 687-0555

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Northwest Syrah remains delicious, in demand

We are thrilled to have our Syrah in this lineup! It received an OUSTANDING review!

(excerpt from Great Northwest Wines)

Whether you’re looking for a Syrah that is subtle and savory or bold and rich, it’s easy to find various styles of the famous Rhône red in the Pacific Northwest.

Despite global sales of Syrah/Shiraz being soft the past few years, the demand for Northwest Syrah remains strong, and the amount being made grows each year.

Here are a dozen delicious Northwest Syrahs we’ve tasted recently. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.

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Experiencing the flavors of France – Foothills Magazine

Experiencing the flavors of France – Cairdeas brings the taste of the Rhône Valley to Lake Chelan

CairdeasFoothills FoothillsMag

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Winemaker’s Journal — Cairdeas big on Rhone-style wines

Cairdeas Winery owners Charlie and Lacey Lybecker have what it takes to operate a winery in Lake Chelan’s tourist-driven climate. The 30-something couple are gregariously friendly, energetic and passionate about the wine they make. And it is very good wine indeed.

The name Cairdeas is fitting. It comes from the Gaelic word meaning friendship, goodwill or alliance. Charlie eagerly pours goodwill along with wine while making new friends and building alliances at the modest tasting room close to Manson. It’s also close to popular Lake Chelan Winery and Benson Winery. The three tasting rooms and others in Manson benefit from their close ties and stay busy with a continuous flow of wine sampling customers through the summer and fall months. With Lake Chelan Crush going on now, it’s a great time to pay a visit.

Charlie tells visitors about the wines, their origin and inspiration, where the grapes are grown, how the wine is made and how the winery itself came to be. He recommends other local wineries for customers looking for a specific varietal he doesn’t make. He tells them how Lacey introduced him to the world of wine and how romance grew between them over bottles of Syrah. He tells them about their two young boys, Eugene and Francis.

“I didn’t know a thing about wine,” he told a couple of wine tasters from Tri-Cities.

I was there to interview the Lybeckers for an upcoming Foothills magazine story. I didn’t really have to ask Charlie any questions. He told the whole story, piecemeal but personably, to  customers who were as curious about his winemaking background as the wine itself. Nearly all purchased a bottle, some took out a case.

“We blend everything here. I love learning how different aromatics and flavors work together,” he told another group from Canada.

The couple started the winery in 2009 in the garage of their home in West Seattle. It didn’t take long for them to realize wine making was more than a hobby. They moved to Manson a couple years later and started their business on leased property. They later purchased six acres and opened their present winery and tasting room in April 2014.

“We came here on vacation and were having a glass of wine and looking over the lake and decided, this is it,” said Lacey, about their decision to move from Seattle to Lake Chelan. “We knew we didn’t want to be an urban winery. We wanted the wine country lifestyle.” Lacey splits her time between the tasting room, marketing their wines and working as marketing manager for the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce.

The couple looked at several locations in Washington and Oregon before deciding Lake Chelan was the ideal spot to start a winery, grow a vineyard and grow a family.

Cairdeas specializes in making wines inspired by the Rhone Valley of southern France. Syrah is the primary grape, often co-fermented with a small amount of Viognier for fragrance. Charlie seeks out exotic grapes like Roussanne, Marsanne, Picpoul, Grenache, Mourvedre, Carignan, Counoise and Cinsault for blending.

“We love the aromas and flavors of Rhone blends,” Charlie said. Blends from such grapes are common in France, but still very new to Washington wine drinkers. “Even people who are familiar with wine aren’t familiar with our wine varietals.” Cairdeas bottled about 2,500 cases this year, but plans to increase production after a new winery and tasting room is built on the present site next year.

Charlies says he learns more about winemaking with each batch and each year. The tasting room wall covered with awards shows he’s come far fast. He gives Lacey credit for his winning blends.

“She tastes everything and tells me when my work is done,” he said.


Here are my notes on the four Cairdeas wines now available. The 2013 Syrah will be released later this year to wine club members only.

2013 Southern White: This classic Southern Rhone blend of  Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Roussanne, with smaller amounts of Picpoul Blanc and Viognier is lively with fragrances of ripe fruit, lemon and spice. A smooth drinking wine that is refreshingly different from the usual Washington white varietals. $22

2013 Nellie Mae: This may be my favorite white wine of the year. Wonderful tropical fragrances of 60 percent Viognier float off the Roussanne foundation that gives this blend a lightness that at the same time is very substantial, smooth and lingering. Very tasty! $22

MV Tri: This is a terrific blend of three different vintages of Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache Noir and Petite Sirah. Uncommonly smooth and silky on the palate, this one kept opening with aromas of clove, pepper, licorice and hibiscus and flavors full of ripe blackberries, coffee and raspberry-chocolate. $34

2012 Consonance: Equal parts Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot marry nicely with smaller amounts of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon in this Bordeaux-style blend. Grapes are well selected from Wahluke Slope, Rattlesnake Hills and Red Mountain vineyards. Smooth, complex and delicious. $34

2013 Syrah: Three-year-old Eugene Lybecker’s colorful art decorates the label of this tasty wine. Syrah co-fermented with 4 percent Viognier makes for a silky, feather-soft wine that had me thinking of a bicycle ride along the Mediterranean coast. Super ripe blackberries, with notes of nutmeg, cardamon, cumin, cinnamon and a touch of cayenne. Careful with this one, it’s a 14.5 percent alcohol delicious bomb. Available only to wine club members.


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Excellent! – 2012 Counoise review on Great Northwest Wine

By on May 3, 2015

This young husband/wife team in Chelan, Wash., pushed the legal labeling standards for this Counoise from Airfield Ranch in Porsser by adding Petite Sirah (25%) from Inland Desert Nursery’s vineyard near Red Mountain to the final equation of this Southern Rhone-themed blend. There’s a spicy greetings in the nose with cracked black pepper and horehound along with poached cherry, fig, lavender and dried herb. Inside is a smooth entry of black currant and black cherry, backed by mild tannins, ample acidity and a lick of horehound candy. This merited a silver medal at the 2015 Seattle Wine and Food Wine Award

Rating: Excellent

Production: 200 cases

Alcohol: 14%

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OUTSTANDING! – MV Trí review on Great Northwest Wine

By on April 4, 2015

This young Lake Chelan winery uses the Gaelic term for “three” on its blend of four red Rhône varieties from three vintages and three vineyards. It’s a GSM-style mix primarily using whole-berry fermentation of 2011 Syrah (38%) from Dineen in the Rattlesnake Hills, 2012-grown Grenache (25%) and Mourvèdre off 24K on the Wahluke Slope and 2013 Petite Sirah (12%) from Inland Desert near Red Mountain. Toasted oak, cola and gamy aromas pick up hints of black cherry, dried blueberry, black licorice, mincemeat spices and black truffle earthiness. That dark fruit profile spills out with a rich and juicy approach, bringing more blueberry and plum flavors, backed by solid yet balanced tannins. The Lybeckes’ latest version of Tri is particularly impressive, meriting a gold medal at the 2015 Seattle Wine and Food Experience Wine Awards.

Rating: Outstanding!

Production: 200 cases

Alcohol: 13.5%

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The March of the 2012 Vintage Washington Whites

Cairdeas Nellie Mae Viognier 60% Roussanne 40% Columbia Valley 2012 $22
 (Excellent) An aromatic wine with orange peel, pear, and tropical notes. The palate is dry, full bodied, weighty and textured with a lingering finish. 60% Roussanne, 40% Roussanne. Lawrence and Antoine Creek vineyards. Aged in stainless steel. 13% alcohol. 100 cases produced.

Cairdeas Reserve Nellie Mae White Wine Columbia Valley 2012 $26
 (Good/Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with pear, citrus, and abundant barrel notes. The palate is full bodied with sweet fruit flavors and a lot of texture and viscosity. 60% Viognier, 40% Roussanne. Lawrence and Antoine Creek vineyards. Barrel fermented in new French oak and aged in stainless steel. 13.3% alcohol.

2012 marked a return to warmer times in Washington. After two successive cool vintages – which made for some thrilling white wines, especially in 2010 – 2012 tracked close to historical averages in terms of temperature.

One of the notable aspects of the vintage was a 100-day spell with no measurable precipitation from July through mid-October. While large amounts of rainfall are never particularly common in eastern Washington, where most areas receive less than ten inches of precipitation annually, this was unusual and certainly contributed to the resulting wines, white and red.

Washington white wines from 2012 are, generally speaking, considerably richer in style than their 2010 and 2011 vintage counterparts. Many are also higher in alcohol, some considerably so. As I noted here, while many 2010 and 2011 vintage red wines are noted by having listed alcohol levels under 14%, many white wines from the 2012 vintage have alcohol levels over 14%. Some of these wines were able to balance the higher alcohol levels with richer fruit flavors. Others were not.

Below is a summary of 2012 vintage wine reviews from Washington, including wines previously published as well as new reviews. I have also included at the bottom a listing of currently published Wine Enthusiast Washington white wine reviews from the 2012 vintage. You can read the individual tasting notes, which are freely available, by searching for them here. Note that Wine Enthusiast also recently launched an impressive mobile phone application that also makes the reviews accessible on the go. Find it here.

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Reserve Nellie Mae featured in WA Tasting Room Magazine


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2012 Nellie Mae – Top 100 WA Wines

Beyond this year’s Top 100 list, these 20 wines in the $25-and-under range were a cut above the rest, (listed alphabetically).

Cairdeas Winery Nellie Mae White Wine Columbia Valley 2012 $22


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