Great wines are produced from a seamless relationship between the vineyard and winery. Although our winery is not located on the same property as the vines, and even several hours away, Doug spends many days each year in our Eastern Washington vineyards. A full knowledge of vine morphology is at the heart of understanding how to grow grapes that will ultimately achieve wines of maximum quality.
Although we don’t own the vines we have established multiple year contracts with our growers so that they feel certain Salida is on board for the long run. Also, they are paid by the acre, not by the ton, to insure that we are growing the finest fruit possible, not necessarily “bang for the buck,” but in balance with what a vine can produce to make the best possible wines.
So in a sense, we’re like a team, working together towards a goal both Salida and the vineyard have in common. Without this relationship, our fruit would likely be compromised and we would fall short of the quality we desire.
The vineyards are much like an outdoor classroom, a place of constant education and also of frequent surprises. The physiology of a grape vine is very complicated. It takes many years of experience and exposure to gain the understanding of how and why the vines will produce the kind of fruit required for the wines we offer our customers.
Having spent over 25 years in the Washington wine industry, Dougs’ winemaking background is extensive. As winemaker for McCrea Cellars he pioneered a cadre of Rhone grape varietals in Washington, many of which were firsts, including Syrah, Grenache, Counoise, Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Picpoul and Roussanne. He worked with several of the states’ most prominent grape growers at vineyards such as Ciel du Cheval on Red Mountain, Dick Boushey of Boushey Vineyards and Jarred Boyle of Destiny Ridge.
In the winery, Doug’s philosophy of winemaking is primarily to nurture the fruit. He is a minimalist in his approach to winemaking. His goal to allow the fruit to express its essence in effort to display the best the vineyard offers and to substantiate the terrior inherent to the site. Achieving this requires great dedication to detail, first in the vineyard then in the winery when the grapes arrive and are processed.
All red grapes are removed from their stems, basically just split to avoid excessive release of tannins and sugars, followed by a gentle punchdown regime. Once transferred to barrel, careful use of oak prevails so that it never interferes with the flavors of the grape, but acts more as a subtle spice, enhancing the wines’ texture and aromas.
White grapes are whole cluster pressed at fairly low pressure to avoid extraction of bitter phenolics, even though yields may be somewhat reduced. The juice is settled overnight then racked to neutral oak and fermented with commercial strains that prolong fermentation in a cool and steady process. The lees are stirred gently to impart greater textural mouthfeel and to gain subtle complexity. SO2 levels are monitored several times yearly to avoid oxidative issues. With most of the wines, racking of both red and white barrels typically occurs only once prior to being assembled for bottling.
A word from our winemaker, Doug McCrea:
“I believe we’re greatly a product of lifes’ remarkable journey. My upbringing in New Orleans left an indelible mark with its spiritual persona. There was the aroma of exotic foods drifting into the streets, the laughter of debauchery and loud music, mysterious corridors leading to gas-lit rooms, the heavy perfume of night-blooming flowers in the courtyards, the sound of horse-hoofs clopping along on the brick streets, and even occasionally, an unexpected encounter with a spirit still clinging earthbound.
This may seem to have little to do with making wines from Iberian grapes, but I believe that life is a continuum. While living there, I can’t say that I was literally aware of the profound Spanish influence in the Vieux Carre. So many years later, was there possibly a reason why I was compelled to make a bee-line for a tiny acre of Grenache in 1989 when no others were interested? Why am I intrigued with the remarkable aromas of Tempranillo, Abarino or Monastrell, and why did I have Tempranillo essentially ‘dropped in my lap’ in 2006. Was this all random? I doubt it!
Success for me is a phone call from a customer who says, ‘I opened a bottle of the Salida Tempranillo, poured a generous glass of the ruby nectar, took a deep sniff, then sat before the fireplace, slowly sipping the rich wine and relishing the moment. Suddenly, in the flames, I saw a vision of Don Quixote on his famous steed, Rocinante, dressed in his shining suit of armor, lance ready, calling out a challenge to do battle with a windmill in La Mancha.’ Now that’s my idea of success with sketches of Spain dancing in the flames, Tempranillo in hand!”
“Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished.”
Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote