When it comes to wineries in Washington, the Walla Walla region often garners most of the attention. It’s no wonder, with the region’s outstanding soil and unique climate, it is home to a number of superb wineries that are making their mark at major wine competitions around the country.
However, the greater Spokane area also boasts a number of excellent wineries, including Arbor Crest Wine Cellars. This is why you need to see this winery on your next visit:
It has a rich local history.
Arbor Crest Wine Cellars stands out not only for its excellent wines but also for its stunningly beautiful views at the Cliff House Estate, which sits 450 feet above the Spokane River Valley. The historic home dates back to 1924. It was designed by Royal Newton Riblet, an inventor who patented a number of devices, including the pattern sprinkler system and mechanical parking garage.
At the time, visitors entered the estate through an arched gatehouse before reaching the beautiful three-story mansion. Riblet also included a number of fascinating features in the estate, such as a human-sized checker board and an enclosed croquet court. Eventually, he added a tram that took groups of five across the Spokane River up to the estate for ice cream social events.
The estate was purchased in the 1980s by Harold and Marcia Mielke. They turned it into the region’s most popular winery after transferring their California winery’s operations to Spokane. Today, Arbor Crest Winery Cellars is run by their daughter, Kristina Mielke van Löben Sels, who serves as director of winemaking. Her husband, Jim van Löben Sels, serves as general manager and viticulturalist. Together, they lead what has become a premier Inland Pacific Northwest destination winery that draws some 35,000 visitors per year.
It sources its grapes from some of the best growers in the state.
Arbor Crest Wine Cellars sources its grapes from some of the best wineries in Washington to produce exceptional wines. The winery’s red wines include the Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a blend of grapes from five top vineyards in the Columbia Valley. Aged for 20 months, this wine features flavors of red currant, plum, and chocolate. The winery’s red wines also include the Cadillac Red, a limited-edition wine named after Harold and Marcia Mielke’s 1931 Cadillac V16 Phaeton, which was designed by Harley Earl.
Red wine lovers should also try the Dionysus, which is named after both the Greek god of wine and the vineyard where its grapes are grown. Aged in French oak barrels for 24 months, this wine features flavors of nutmeg, plum, and black cherry. Finally, visitors should try the Cliff House Red, which is made exclusively from grapes grown in the Columbia Valley. It features flavors of red currant, cedar, spicy oak, and black raspberry.
Arbor Crest Wine Cellars also produces a number of excellent white wines. One such is an unoaked Chardonnay made from grapes grown at Bacchus Vineyard in the Columbia Valley. Aged in stainless steel, this wine boasts flavors of honey, apricot, and peach and offers a creamy finish.
Another wine made with grapes from Bacchus Vineyard is the Sauvignon Blanc, which offers flavors of pineapple and grapefruit. In making this wine, Arbor Crest Wine Cellars employs a special method that does not involve aging in oak or malolactic fermentation. The result is an exceptional wine that maintains the natural qualities typically found in this varietal.
The winery also offers an oaked Chardonnay made with grapes from Conner Lee Vineyard, also in the Columbia Valley. Aged in new French oak barrels, this wine has flavors of apricot and peach. White wine lovers should also try the Cliff House White, a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The Chardonnay gives this wine melon and tropical flavors, while the Sauvignon Blanc gives it a stone fruit flavor.
It offers tasting events and a summer concert series.
Visitors can sample the wide selection of wines at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars by signing up for the Tasting and Tour Package. It includes a guided tour of the gardens and estate, go to light hors d’oeuvres, a personalized tasting, and a souvenir wine glass. The winery also offers a picnic package that includes a charcuterie platter with cheese and fruit, two stainless steel souvenir wine tumblers, and a picnic blanket.
Arbor Crest Wine Cellars also hosts a number of concerts in the spring and summer. On Thursdays, visitors can enjoy outdoor concerts right outside the tasting room below the estate’s giant pine trees. On Sunday’s the winery brings in popular regional bands to play on the main stage by the Cliff House courtyard. Those who join Arbor Crest Wine Cellars’ Wine Club enjoy free access to summer concerts as well as complimentary tastings, discounts on wine sales, and early access to the winery’s annual case sale.
To learn more about Arbor Crest Wine Cellars and its outstanding wines, visit www.arborcrest.com.