Seven Hills, one of the Walla Walla Valley’s oldest and most revered wineries, now will be regularly featured at Crimson’s tasting room in Pioneer Square, alongside two other high-end Northwest wineries.
Three to try
Seven Hills Winery 2013 McClellan Estate Vineyard malbec, Walla Walla Valley, $30: This is a stunning example of the red Bordeaux variety, revealing aromas and flavors of violet, spices, fig and blueberry, all backed by bright acidity and mild tannins.
Double Canyon 2013 cabernet sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $25: Dark aromas of coffee and coconut meld with notes of blackberry, black cherry and dark chocolate. This is an impressive and harmonious wine at a reasonable price.
Archery Summit 2013 Red Hills Estate pinot noir, Dundee Hills, $85: Wines from Oregon’s Dundee Hills tend to feature high-toned red fruit, and this is a classic example, thanks to notes of strawberry-rhubarb jam, red currant and cranberry. This is highly collectible.
The Napa Valley-based company’s roots go back to 1991, when Ian Cumming and Gary Andrus began to work together. Andrus had launched Pine Ridge in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District in the 1970s and was looking to Oregon for his next step. Together, they created Archery Summit in the Dundee Hills, about an hour southwest of Portland.
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By 2002, Andrus moved on from Crimson, selling his shares and developing a new small winery called Gypsy Dancer. In 2009, he died at age 63.
Through the years, Crimson has created or acquired other brands, primarily in California. In 2005, it bought land in Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills and planted Double Canyon, a 90-acre vineyard. In 2010, it made the first Double Canyon cabernet sauvignon, and this winter it began to distribute Double Canyon nationally.
With the purchase of Seven Hills Winery from Casey and Vicky McClellan, Crimson now has a firm — if small — footprint in the Pacific Northwest. And Patrick DeLong, CEO of Crimson, said the company isn’t likely to be finished growing. He likes the idea of establishing wineries in areas where quality is all but guaranteed. In fact, DeLong is deeply impressed with the Red Mountain wines made by the McClellans and hinted that he would be interested in more from Washington’s smallest and most important wine-growing region.
Crimson is by no means a large wine company. At about 300,000 cases annually, it doesn’t try to compete with mega-producers. Instead, expansion would seem to happen only when high quality allows.
Now, with the new Estates Wine Room in Pioneer Square, it’s easy to learn more about Crimson Wine Group.