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We left Yakima and headed South over the mountains to the beautiful Columbia River Gorge and drove West on Route 14 on the Washington side. The scenery along the way varied from high desert brown grass mountains with green patches of trees, to snow capped mountains, to cliffs overlooking the Columbia River. We stopped in one spot where Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood were all visible.

As we drove along Route 14, we passed Maryhill Winery, a beautiful new edifice with a number of cars around it. My wife wasn't keen on too many winery visits that day, so we passed it by in favor of Cascade Cliffs which MJS had recommended. The winery building is small and plain and a young man walking from the vineyard greeted us as we walked up to the door. He was Bob Lorkowski, the winemaker and one of three owners. We went inside to taste his wines. All varietals are 100% with no other varietals added. The wines from this relatively young winery show a lot of promise. Some are already outstanding. The wines:

2002 Symphony, barrel sample I had never heard of this grape before. It is a rather esoteric hybrid of Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris. The wine was slightly sweet with a abundant fruit. Nice. 89

2001 Syrah Cigarbox nose. Rich. Ready. 90

2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Ripe berry nose with rich flavors of dark fruit. 90

2002 Nebbiolo, barrel sample Floral nose. Fruity. Ready. 88

2002 Zinfandel, barrel sample These grapes were grown in The Dalles, Oregon, several miles away. Nose of coffee, cherries, and spice. Delicious. 92

2002 Petite Sirah, barrel sample Nose of plums and cooked fruit. Tannic and tart. 86

2001 Petite Sirah Sharp. Not special. 85

General impressions: This is an up and coming winery. Their Zinfandel is head and shoulders above any OR or WA grown Zinfandel I've ever tasted. With the exception of their Petite Sirah, a varietal of which I am not enamored, the wines are all worthy of purchase. It's a pleasure to see a small operation like this succeeding.

Just one more sip.
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