Sun River Vintners 2008 Boushey Vineyard sangiovese

Resident admirers of Washington wines know there are enclaves where one may daytrip it with friends and partake in tastings from a cluster of wineries. The two major cities that fully embrace their “wine destination” status are Woodinville and Walla Walla, each with over a hundred wineries within and adjacent to their city limits. Then, there are the actual “tourist” locales where tasting rooms have sprouted to take advantage of the heavy foot traffic… why, that would be Leavenworth and nearby Lake Chelan! And sure, there are those that have tried (and not sustained success) but are still making an effort… calling Seattle and Snohomish here. Finally, there are the emerging wine meccas that are quietly but progressively growing their winery numbers, making their area a future “must stop” for those traveling winos. Common threads for these budding wine zones are that (1) they are situated close to a few existing wineries, (2) have cheap rental space, and, more often than not, (3) are located in the heart of wine country. You know a few of them: Yakima, Prosser, and perhaps the one area with the best opportunity for becoming the next premier “wine destination” due to its proximity to a large population, plenty of hotel space, and a distinguished regional culture– the Tri-Cities, representing Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco!

Let’s take a look at what each city offers.

Richland: Barnard Griffin Winery, Boulder Estates Winery, Cavallo di Ferro, Denhoed Wine Estates, F/W Wine, Goose Ridge Estate Vineyards & Winery, Hamilton Cellars, Holmes Family Winery, J. Bookwalter Winery, Kitzke Cellars, Lawrelin Wine Company, Market Vineyards, Pacific Rim Winemakers, Purple Star Wines, Sonoris Wines, Tagaris Winery, Terra Vinum, Thomas O’Neil Cellars, Vinaceus, Alexander The Grape (really? really?), and Gorgeous Wine Company (*facepalm* really??).

Pasco: Claar Cellars, Gordon Brothers Cellars, Preston Premium Wines, Vineyard View Marketplace.

Kennewick: Canyon’s Edge Winery, Farmhand Winery, Giant Wine Company, Moonlight Sparkling Wine Cellar, NW Vine Project, Powers Winery, Smasne Cellars, Thompson Hill Cellars (formerly 360 Cellars Estate), aaaaand this one.

Sun River Vintners. Just the name alone confuses many a Northwesterner with that resort town down south– Sunriver, Oregon. However, this is a very true Washington winery run by longtime electrical and plumbing experts, Daniel and Glenn Washam. While their construction-related company has stood since 1985, in the last few years, the Washams have nursed a winery on the property, purportedly as some homage to their favorite vacation retreat.

The Washams prefer to stay out of the wine-light and have brought in Kathleen Annette Dykes, 63, to be the “face” of the winery and handle the daily operations. “Kat” has extensive experience within the industry as she is also the “wine agent” for the Wines of Washington tasting rooms. The former Kathleen Cross married another wine-centric aficionado in Bob Dykes in 1998 before Bob succumbed to cancer on January 14, 2010.

Sun River’s winemaker is Gregory Steven Vogtritter, 50.

The winery produces approximately 2500 cases/year and wants to be known for using Le Grand Porto Pipe barrels. These monster-sized, 650 liter (110kg) barrels from Cognac, France, as you can imagine, pump a massive lot of toasty tannins to enhance a wine flavor’s profile. Each barrel holds about 72 cases of wine, three times the capacity of a “standard” barrel. Imagine racking and cleaning those bitches!

Sun River Vintner’s current lineup boasts a typical “I make what I like” set of wines: zinfandel, syrah, nebbiolo, merlot, chenin blanc, gewürztraminer, nebbiolo port, semillon/sauvignon blanc blend, and a cab/merlot/syrah blend. Prices top out at a reasonable $32 and feature a few single vineyard gems. Tastings by appointment only or on release/special event weekends.

To the wine…

Tasted at 60-64 degrees on the IR temp gun. Elegantly dressed in magenta with a ruby edge on dark mahogany, the wine’s Riedel-filling aromas overflow with Lambert cherry, raspberry sauce, and strawberry fields forever. Medium-bodied on the palate with a slight alcohol bite, this well-built sangiovese leaves enduring notes of plum, black cherry, and high-toned cupboard spices such as anise and cinnamon. Dense and active with fruit on stage and savory tannins behind the curtain. Give it 40 minutes to open up and for the tannins to become a red velvet carpet. Timeless sangiovese. Food pairing was quick-n-easy chili. Nice.

Alcohol: 15.3%. Boushey Vineyard. Yakima Valley AVA. Black waxed top. Power: 3/5. Balance: 3/5. Depth: 3/5. Finesse: 3/5. Rated: 92. Value: $35. Paid: $25. Music pairing: “Timeless” by The Airborne Toxic Event. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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4 Responses to Sun River Vintners 2008 Boushey Vineyard sangiovese

  1. csabernethy says:

    I know Glen, Daniel, and Greg well. In fact, Glen closes down the bar at the Tri-City Country Club frequently – it’s just across the street from his house. In their first bottling, Sun River had a completely different wine lineup than they do now, including an ’07 Carmenere (Phinny Hill) than we tried in a blind tasting alongside Smasne’s ’07 and ’08 and some others. In the beginning, they got “ratings” and pricing suggestions from Angelo Tavernaro, one of a handful of master sommeliers in the country at the time. I think Angelo over-rated and over-priced the wines, and with the lack adequate marketing, I think they struggled a lit bit in the beginning. Since then, they have switched to more reasonably priced wines and interesting varietals. From what I understand, their Nebbiolo is good, but I have not tried the Sangiovese yet. But if it is from Boushey Vineyard, I can almost guarantee the grape quality is superb. I know they have big plans for the future, including a new location in a wine community “touristy” development, but I haven’t been keeping up on the progress of that venture. Some of those types of ventures take years to get off the ground.

  2. wawineman says:


    No wonder you hang out at the T-triple-C! And I thought you just enjoyed watching the hot babes in the mini-skirts line up their putts on 18.

    That takes some balls to do a Phinny Hill carmenere for their premier lineup. Too bad they looked to an outsider to price their wines. Had they consulted moi, they would have gotten a more honest pricing.

    Their current lineup’s prices appear to match the quality. This sangiovese overperformed, perhaps due to the extra bottle aging. Regardless, I haven’t tasted a sangiovese at this level since the Furion Cellars effort. Good sh*t.

    Boushey Vineyard is all about the syrah. The other varietals are good from this vineyard but not outstanding. However, that aside, Dick Boushey gets the most out of the clones he has and this bottle upholds that impression.

    As for nebbiolo… I have a bottle stewing in the basement locker that I will review this year. I don’t know of one in-state winery that is known for its nebbiolo, so maybe there’s a niche there but that would be bad for business.

    Yes, I have also read about plans for some “wine village” in Kennewick. I’ll believe it when I see it, after being burned by the charades in Prosser and Woodinville.

    You may not blog about wines but you certainly know more about Washington wines than just about every wine blogger here! You know who b.s.’s and who’s real and it is an honor that you are a regular here. I’d give you a Purple Heart medal but you haven’t been injured from removing Stelvin caps off a wine bottle with your teeth, yet. Yet. I’d beat you to it but they still believe in corks here.

  3. csabernethy says:

    I may not have been injured by a Stelvin yet, but in my college days, I opened enough beer bottles with my teeth that I filed the edge off of one of my pre-molars.
    At tonight’s Brown Bag, one of the people who is familiar with the future development was there. It is called “Badger South” and is to be located at the Dallas Road exit off of I-82. Apparently, it is moving forward!
    Tonight’s big runaway winner in the 2009 WA Cabernet Sauvignon tasting was Smasne’s Reserve Cab. It blew the field away. Even the young hotties loved it!

  4. wawineman says:

    Are you sure your nickname wasn’t “Jaws” or something? I am impressed!

    Badger South? Curious. Are the developers from Wisconsin? Well, call it whatever they want, just build the dam (pun) thing. There are plenty of good new wineries in the area now.

    Smasne, huh? When the hotties give it the ‘boobs up’ recommendation, I need to go git sum. It’s just too bad that Smasne’s wines aren’t the deal they used to be. The ’09s keep rising in stature… probably thanks to the oh-’10s.

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