Co Dinn, former director of winemaking at Hogue Cellars in Prosser, left to start his own wine company.
IN A TIME when winemakers are exploring every possible wine-growing area of the Columbia Valley, Co Dinn has narrowed his focus to the cradle of the Washington wine industry.
Dinn, a Texas native who arrived in Washington via Napa Valley, spent 17 years producing large amounts of wine at Hogue Cellars. But after leaving the Prosser mega-winery in 2013, Dinn decided to dial down and now crafts fewer than 1,000 cases of wine per year for his eponymous Co Dinn Cellars.
And he focuses pretty tightly on the Yakima Valley. Dinn has spent his entire Washington winemaking career in the valley, so he knows the region pretty well. And he loves the area and its grapes because the Yakima Valley is large and diverse, with areas that can be cool and warm. Dinn has spent two decades tramping through most of the vineyards here, so he has a great idea of what he can get from these grapes and what he can do with the resulting wines.
Three to try
Co Dinn Cellars 2013 Roskamp Vineyard chardonnay, Snipes Mountain, $45: This vineyard in the heart of the Yakima Valley is a favorite for Co Dinn. This chardonnay offers aromas and flavors of tropical fruit, caramel apple, pumpkin spice and Asian pear.
Co Dinn Cellars 2013 Painted Hills Vineyard cabernet sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $60: Aromas of huckleberry and cocoa powder give way to flavors of black cherry and marionberry syrup. Notes of mint and black olive provide another level of complexity on the finish.
Co Dinn Cellars 2013 Roskamp Vineyard Block Two syrah, Snipes Mountain, $50: This classic Washington syrah brings hints of chocolate-covered blueberry, molasses and black pepper, along with plush flavors of ripe dark berry and even a hint of back bacon.
Dinn arrived in Washington in 1996 and was the white-winemaker for Hogue Cellars until being promoted to director of winemaking in 2006, which put him in charge of more than a half-million cases of wine per year.
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One downside of being in charge of a big winery is that you don’t often get your hands dirty, and Dinn wanted to get back to being a hands-on guy. He sure has that now: As a one-man operation, he gets to haul the grapes, scrub the barrels, make the wine, clean up any messes and market himself.
And he loves it all. Dinn especially enjoys his connection to the Yakima Valley, which is Washington’s oldest American Viticultural Area (approved by the federal government in 1983) and is home to some of the state’s oldest working commercial vineyards (with at least one dating to 1917).
Dinn has three wines released, and they are all superb. If you’re planning to head to the Yakima Valley for Spring Barrel Tasting Weekend on April 22-24, Dinn will be pouring his wine in Grandview. Call 509-840-2314 to schedule an appointment.