Allen Shoup, Long Shadows, Seattle and Woodinville

By Denman Moody –

Allen Shoup is firmly ensconced in my list of “Top 20 Most Important Wine Luminaries of the World.” While he is modest about his impact on the world of wine, his achievements are worthy of praise. He almost single-handedly created the second-largest wine state in the U.S.

Allen joined Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Seattle in Woodinville outside of Seattle in1980, was instrumental in the creation of its second wine Columbia Crest in 1981 and became CEO in 1983.  At that time, Washington wasn’t even in the picture as a major wine state, and total production at Ste. Michelle was less than 30,000 cases a year, equaling about 70% of the state’s production. When he retired in 2000, Ste. Michelle and Columbia Crest each exceeded 1,000,000 cases per year! He expanded the winery’s portfolio to include Domaine Ste Michelle, a top-selling sparkling wine, and several additional labels in addition to forging the winery’s partnership with Tuscany’s Piero Antinori and Germany’s Ernst Loosen.

In 2002, Allen started Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla, which today is one of the highest-quality wineries in the world.  In one winery, with Allen as founder, Dane Narbaitz as president and Gilles Nicault as Director of Winemaking and Viticulture, there are seven world-class wines produced – one from each of the following iconic wine super-stars: Pedestal – Merlot from the worldwide, flying winemaker Michel Rolland of France; Sequel – Syrah from John Duval, former winemaker of the most excellent wine in Australia, Grange; Feather – Cabernet Sauvignon from Randy Dunn of Napa Valley; Saggi – Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah inspired by the Folonari family from Tuscany; Pirouette – primarily Cabernet Sauvignon from Agustin Huneeus, Sr. from all over the globe and Philippe Melka from Napa Valley; Poet’s Leap – Riesling inspired by Armin Diel of Germany and last but not least, Chester Kidder – Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc from Gilles Nicault.

Except for the Riesling, which sells for $20 each of the others is in the $55 to $70 range and is competitive with world varietals in the $100-$150 range.  While in Walla Walla, I tasted each of the reds in the 2015 vintage and the Poet’s Leap in the 2016 vintage with Gilles, and highly recommend each, like of all the other wines mentioned in this article!  All carry the Columbia Valley appellation.

While visiting Seattle, we stayed at the highly recommended Willows Lodge and the adjoining Barking Frog Restaurant in Woodinville where we enjoyed a fabulous four-course meal and tasted wines from Two Vintner’s Winery with the owner and winemaker Morgan Lee. The best were Grenache Blanc Yakima Valley at Boushey Vineyard 2017 at $25; Merlot Columbia Valley 2014 at $32; Claire (Grenache) Yakima Valley Boushey Vineyard 2016 at $40 and Syrah Columbia Valley 2015 at $50.  We also met Lola, Morgan’s Lab!   

Also while in Seattle, we visited the Nine Hats Tasting Room (an offshoot of Allen Shoup’s Long Shadows) and adjoining Nine Pies Pizzeria with nine uniquely sophisticated wines with silver, gold and double gold awards abounding. Best tasted were: Pinot Gris 2016 at $14; Riesling 2016 at $14; Julia’s Dazzle Rose 2017 at $18 and Merlot 2014 at $25.

A mysteriously attractive and exciting tasting room in Seattle is Sleight-of-Hand SODO.  Sleight-of-Hand Cellars recently has been called one of the newest cult wines by a well-known wine writer. Best wines tasted were: The Enchantress Chardonnay 2015; The Conjurer (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot) 2016; The Sorceress Grenache/Syrah 2015 and Levitation Syrah 2015 listed in The Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of the World 2018.

About a 25-minute drive north of Seattle is Woodinville, “the place to be” for oenophiles!  It’s all about wineries and tasting rooms, including Chateau Ste. Michelle, certainly the leviathan of all wineries in Washington. I recently wrote about Chateau Ste. Michelle, so I’ll concentrate on some others here.  The Long Shadows tasting room is where I enjoyed some more of the great Long Shadows wines with Ryan Shoup. We also tasted the following from other Woodinville producers, all highly recommended:

=Novelty Hill-Januik Tasted with winemaker Mike Januik.  Best wines: Januik Chardonnay Cold Creek Vineyard 2016 at $30; Novelty Hill Merlot Columbia Valley 2015 at $23; Januik Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain 2015 at $30; Andrew Januik  Stone Cairn Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain 2015 at $40 and Januik Cabernet Sauvignon Champoux Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills 2015 at $55.

Patterson Cellars Tasting Room Tasted with Heidi West, Manager of Operations:  Go after lunch. I enjoyed the best wine and chocolate pairing ever. The iconic JCOCO chocolates were delicious. Best wines: Melange Blanc Columbia Valley 2017 at $24; Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley 2015 at $36; BDX (all five Bordeaux grape blend) 2015 at $38; Syrah Columbia Valley 2015 at  $40 and Port Yakima Valley (Touriga Nacional, Souzao and Tinta Cao) 2016 at $40.

Matthews Winery and Tasting Room Tasted with owner Diane Otis. Best wines:  Tenor Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley 2016 at $37; Merlot Columbia Valley 2016 at $57; Tenor Syrah Columbia Valley 2016 at $60 and Reserve Claret Columbia Valley 2016 at $62.

For your final night in Seattle, we recommend Cedarbrook Lodge. Not only is there a short,  complimentary shuttle to the Seattle airport, but it is also a lovely place to stay with an excellent restaurant.