DeLille Cellars Blog
Métier to Become a New Label and Brand in the DeLille Cellars Portfolio
With the 2020 vintage, DeLille Cellars will rename its Métier wine, a Columbia Valley blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Cinsaut. The cuvée will be renamed Le Dessein, meaning “the purpose”, a fitting tribute for a wine that has been made with great intention since its first vintage in 2005.
Le Dessein is mirrored after traditional Southern Rhône-style blends and combines old-world characteristics with the ripe terroir of Washington’s Columbia Valley.
2020 Le Dessein
In its youth, 2020 Le Dessein (formerly Métier) is showing dark, brambly fruits that are offered up by the Mourvèdre (44%) and Syrah (20%), with Grenache (36%) adding Bing Cherry and strawberry leaf. There is a serious meaty, bacon fat component to this wine that is accentuated by notes of black pepper, violets and cranberry. The silky structure is lifted by wonderful acidity, bringing a sense of freshness to the palate. This wine always drinks well on release and can be cellared for 12+ years.
Whether appreciating a glass on its own or pairing it with food, Le Dessein is delicious no matter how you choose to enjoy it.
Red meats and game, especially with mushroom and pepper sauces, pair particularly well with Le Dessein. Wild boar and pork chops are also great for lighter selections. Roasted, spice-driven dishes like Moroccan chicken or smoked cauliflower steaks bring out nuances of secondary flavors within the wine. We recommend avoiding seafood pairings, however, tuna and even salmon with rich, flavorful sauces complement the blend nicely.
2020 Métier Cabernet Sauvignon
With the renaming of our Columbia Valley Southern Rhône-style blend to Le Dessein, we are excited to announce the launch of a new Métier brand and Cabernet Sauvignon. Métier means craft, trade, or forte, and embodies the many hands involved throughout the winemaking process: from planting and pruning, to harvest, crush, fermentation, and bottling. We acknowledge the expertise required to create a Cabernet Sauvignon that honors Columbia Valley as a unique growing region.
The concept of Métier is also evident in the label, designed by local Seattle artist Becca Fuhrman. Two hands hold the sun and moon, representing the hot days and cool nights that make Washington’s sun-soaked Columbia Valley an ideal growing region for Cabernet Sauvignon. This natural phenomenon, known as diurnal shift, offers cool nights that conserve acidity, and intense sunny days that infuse bold, ripe fruit flavors. It is from this foundation of distinctive fruit that we meticulously craft our Métier, acknowledging the very best of the hands that diligently work the vineyards and the cellar.
Métier Cabernet Sauvignon is an inviting, smooth wine, with black cherry and plum aromas pouring from the glass. Flavors of bold dark fruits and charming notes of baking spice combine, with a juicy midpalate and pleasantly firm, dry finish. Best paired in the company of family and friends, Métier offers a balance of structure and approachability that can accompany a wide variety of foods.
More details will be available soon regarding the release of the new Métier Cabernet Sauvignon.
About DeLille Cellars
DeLille Cellars is the third oldest operating winery in Woodinville, WA, founded in 1992. Known for pioneering Bordeaux-style blends from Washington State, the winery has maintained a tradition of quality and excellence with over 700 individual 90+ ratings from leading publications. DeLille Cellars focuses on the Red Mountain AVA and sources grapes from Washington's most acclaimed vineyards. The winery is recognized by notable wine critics and influencers, including Robert Parker, as one of the top producers in the state. To learn more about DeLille Cellars and shop Washington wine, visit www.delillecellars.com.
DeLille Cellars Director of Winemaking and Viticulture Jason Gorski & CEO Tom Dugan in front of the Woodinville Tasting Room (Richard Duval Images)
DeLille Cellars is honored to be named the 2022 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year by Great Northwest Wine Magazine. Five years ago, our Woodinville winery was named 2017 Washington Winery of the Year and in 2018, DeLille Cellars Harrison Hill Cabernet Sauvignon wine was voted Best Red Wine for the Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition. The winery has earned many other accolades over its 30-year history, including multiple platinum medals and the 2019 Chaleur Blanc voted as Seattle Times' Top Northwest Wine.
DeLille attributes its success to the solid foundation laid by its four founders: Greg Lill, Jay A. Soloff, Chris Upchurch, and the late Charles Lill. Although DeLille Cellars was officially formed in 1992, two of our founders, Chris Upchurch and Jay Soloff, began making wine together back in 1980.
A Solid Foundation in Washington Wine
In 1979, Jay Soloff was working as Wine Director for El Gaucho in Seattle and hired Chris Upchurch to act as Wine Buyer for the 13 Coins restaurant at SeaTac. Chris was hired because he stated on his application that his home winemaking skills would help him make better decisions as a buyer. It wasn't long before Chris and Jay started making wine together and acquired "The Grapeline," a wine grower contract with Sagemoor Vineyards, and began selling grapes as well.
Jay A. Soloff and Chris Upchurch's business license for The Grape Line
In 1987, Jay Soloff joined the Emerald City Rotary and happened to sit next to Greg Lill, where they unearthed a mutual interest in wine. For years, the two friends would converse and enjoy wine at Cedar Ponds Farm (which would in time become the founding site of the winery) and in 1992, DeLille Cellars was founded.
The Early Years of DeLille Cellars
The founders hired David Lake, a luminary in the Washington wine industry, to consult for the winery’s first decade. He guided DeLille in the early years, advising on everything from equipment and winemaking techniques to vineyards and varietals. David facilitated making introductions to key vineyard sources, including Red Mountain sites and Red Willow in Yakima Valley. David encouraged DeLille to acquire the rights to Harrison Hill vineyard and guided them in the production of Washington's first white Bordeaux-style blend, Chaleur Blanc.
David’s advice and support were essential contributors to the exceptional quality and critical acclaim achieved in those early years. “Chris was an amateur winemaker, and Dad basically funded us to start with,” Greg Lill said. “In 1992, there was Columbia, of course, the Château (Ste. Michelle), French Creek Cellars and I think Facelli started the same year as us. What’s happened in Woodinville and what Washington has grown up to become is pretty remarkable, and a lot of industry people say that we’ve helped with that.”
The four founders of DeLille: Chris Upchurch, Jay A. Soloff, Greg Lill, and Charles Lill
CEO Tom Dugan & Director of Winemaking Jason Gorski Guide the Future of DeLille
Today, the winery is led by CEO Tom Dugan, although the founders remain involved shareholders. “All of the founders have been very active as owners, but most recently, less so in day-to-day operations with our move to Redhook,” Dugan said. “I think they’ve all enjoyed the growth and success, and I’ve always felt pretty honored that they felt comfortable to step back and hand the reins over to us.”
CEO Tom Dugan at the old Redhook Forecaster Pub, now The Lounge at DeLille Cellars
Back in 2014, Tom Dugan was planning to leave his career in investment banking and private equity for business school, but his plans changed when his former colleague, Sam Bronfman of Bacchus Capital Management, reached out. At the time, DeLille was also looking for a vice-president of operations. “When I spoke to Sam about business school, he along with Chris, Jay, and Greg, convinced me to move out to Seattle for a year to help them at the winery. That one year turned into what will be eight this August, and included becoming GM and COO before Greg stepped down,” reflected Dugan.
While CEO Tom Dugan spearheads the operations of the winery, Director of Winemaking Jason Gorski guides the winemaking team in producing acclaimed Bordeaux-style blends.
The DeLille Cellars winemaking team: Cellar Lead Page Kafonek, Cellar Lead Sarah Jackson, Director of Winemaking and Viticulture Jason Gorski, Winemaker Nick Bernstein, Cellar Hand Sophie Louaillier, Assistant Winemaker Mari Rossi
Gorski's Winemaking Journey
At the age of 19, Jason Gorski was in charge of choosing the dinner wine on the family-owned farm he worked on. “It was part of their family ritual,” he said. “I started to learn as much as I could about wine and thought about it as a career because I’ve always enjoyed making things with my hands.”
Gorski reflected, “I was fortunate to realize at a very young age that wine was my passion. During my education at Duke University, my academic advisor/mentor introduced me to a respected sommelier. That conversation became a pivotal moment when he told me to jump in headfirst. His words, “Life may get in the way, so don’t wait – just leap,” is what has guided me toward many professional and personal life choices. In hindsight, it was that encounter that influenced my career path and brought me to where I am today.”
After graduating in 2002, Gorski applied his biology degree to a winemaking position at Four Sisters Winery in New Jersey. After a few years, he landed a position at Château Ste. Michelle. In 2011, Gorski was hired to replace Chris Peterson at DeLille, who went on to pursue his own winemaking efforts at Woodinville’s Avennia Winery.
“(Upchurch) always said, ‘When you join the winemaking team, you are here to contribute, not just perform work orders,’ ” Gorski says. “Everybody brings something to the table. I think that’s the most important characteristic at DeLille — the culture of craftsmanship, working together, treating the wines as if they are your own, and honoring the legacy of people who have come through here.”
Guiding the winery's daily operations, Director of Winemaking and Viticulture Jason Gorski has been key to the winery's growth and continued lineup of accolades since 2011. Gorski now leads a team of five - Winemaker Nick Bernstein, Assistant Winemaker Mari Rossi, Cellar Lead Page Kafonek, Cellar Lead Sarah Jackson, and Cellar Hand Sophie Louallier.
“When I started here, we made 8,000 cases and eight wines,” Gorski reflected. “We have many more wines and many more cases now. I’m not an owner, but I think of these wines as if they are mine and our incredibly talented winemaking team.”
The words of Founding Winemaker Chris Upchurch still reign true at the winery: “At DeLille, we believe that Washington State is a Grand Cru wine-growing region, created 10,000 years ago. The challenge for us has always been and remains: to create special wines from the uniquely expressive terroir that Mother Nature gave us a long time ago."
The Lounge at DeLille Cellars, a new wine-centric Woodinville restaurant
In 2021, DeLille opened its newest venture, The Lounge at DeLille Cellars, a wine-centric dining experience next door to its three-story Tasting Room at the Old Redhook Brewery. Here, guests can enjoy wine by the glass and bottle alongside hand-crafted cuisine from Executive Chef Michael C. Toni.
The founding principle of “always seeking” guides the winery’s steadfast commitment to constant improvement, continuous discovery in the cellar, and the creation of exceptional wines and experiences. Always seeking to build on the strong foundation of its founders, DeLille Cellars is celebrating its 30th anniversary this spring, and we toast to what the upcoming years will bring.
The daisy, known as marguerite in French, is a symbol of devotion and patience. It is only fitting the flower lends its name to our 100% Sauvignon Blanc, loyally tended in barrel for three times longer than our norm.
Since 1995, DeLille Cellars has crafted Sauvignon Blanc as part of our esteemed Chaleur Blanc blend (Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon). For years, Jason Gorski, DeLille Cellars’ Director of Winemaking and Viticulture, had the vision to craft an exceptional 100% Sauvignon Blanc from some of Washington State’s finest vines. This long-standing goal came to fruition in 2018 when the Sauvignon Blanc was set apart to age separately from other wines. These grapes are sourced from Sagemoor Bacchus Block 5, planted in 1972, and are one of the oldest of the variety in Washington State. A single large-format “cigar” barrel was selected to over vintage, aging 18 months (versus 6 months for Chaleur Blanc). The wine was then bottled “sur lie”, unfined and unfiltered. We released the inaugural vintage of Marguerite spring of 2021.
Behind the Name
Three years ago, Jason Gorski sat in his kitchen pondering a name for the old vine Sauvignon Blanc. His daughter, four years old, asked what he was doing. Jason explained he was trying to think of a name for the wine - something like a white flower. “A daisy is a white flower,” his daughter replied. DeLille is a French-inspired winery and marguerite, meaning daisy, was perfect. Daisies also symbolize patience, an essential component in the winemaking process as Marguerite is aged three times longer than Chaleur Blanc.
“Overvintaging,” or resting the wine in barrel longer than usual, allows for the barrel to impart additional flavors to the wine. If the winemaking team finds a particular barrel of exceptional quality, they will hold it to over vintage Sauvignon Blanc, rather than adding it to the Chaleur Blanc blend, composed of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.
Daisies are featured behind the script on the Marguerite label. The DeLille crest is also featured, as Marguerite is one of three wines in our legacy series (alongside Chaleur Estate and Harrison Hill). Looking closely, there is a subtle change on the label: the lower icons of the crest are reversed. The flower (cinquefoil) is white instead of gold to represent the white daisy.
The cinquefoil highlights what the team at DeLille believes to be the ultimate end of our winemaking efforts – the joy of sharing a bottle of wine together. This symbol is seen in multiple places throughout the Woodinville Tasting Room, including in the center of the dancers at the end of the “Alchemy Wall” on the first floor that highlights the journey of wine from soil to celebration, as well as on the Bordeaux Lion, Charlemagne’s, cloak on the second floor.
The book represents the winery’s endless desire for exploration, discovery, and seeking new things – from vineyard sites to new blends or rare lots.
2018 marks the inaugural vintage of this old-vine Sauvignon Blanc. Fresh and vibrant, the wine is a special barrel-selection Sauvignon Blanc sourced from Block 5 in the Sagemoor vineyard with vines dating back to 1972.
In his tasting, Jason Gorski noted lots of lees impact on the wine, as the wine was in contact with the yeast that fermented it for 18 months (usually the wine is rested on lees for six months). The wine shows notes of woodsmoke, underbrush, pine needle, eucalyptus, and bakery spices that the yeast imparts. “Mission accomplished,” reported Jason Gorski. “After three to four years worth of envisioning what this vineyard site could do, with the barrel, and a completely different winemaking technique than what we have ever done”. 2018 Marguerite is delicious, distinctive, and unique.
At the top of the crest, the lion is moving forward but also looking back, symbolizing DeLille’s “always seeking” philosophy and moving to the future while paying tribute to the path and people that got us to where we are today.
Bob Betz, Master of Wine and Winemaker at Betz Family Winery described the wine as “maybe the best white wine yet to come from Washington”. He added, “The streak of fabulous DeLille white wines continues but reaches new heights with this wine. One of the great Sauvignon Blancs produced in America, and I think this is Pessac-Leognan Grand Cru level quality; it’s terrific wine. Specific fruit selection, unique barrel aging, judicious blending by Jason and his team has created a real masterpiece here. It’s got extraordinary dimension, expression, and harmony; generous yellow fig, fragrant lemon, grass, pear, spiced apple, a little tropical nuance. Long litany of descriptors here. It’s dry, yet weighty; unctuous, yet bright. A complete wine, this thing has it all.”
Owen Bargreen described the wine as “fresh and vibrant” in his 2022 Vinous scores. “It’s quite rich and intense, providing smoky and stony undertones alongside a silky texture, wonderful orchard fruits and serious viscosity.” Bargreen rated the 2018 vintage 94 points. Marguerite was also labeled in Robb Report as an “outstanding Sauvignon Blanc you’ll want to sip all Spring
The newly released 2019 Marguerite offers aromas of grapefruit, lemon rind, chamomile, and jasmine that effortlessly explode from the glass. There is a power and focus to this wine that is not easily attained by this aromatic varietal; credit is due to the complexity contributed by the older vines at Sagemoor Bacchus, planted in 1972. The texture is quite creamy and lush mid-palate with barrel influence and extended lees contact, yet balanced with austere minerality on the finish. Lay this stunner down for several years to optimize its full potential.
The Sauvignon Blanc grapes used for Marguerite were hand sorted, whole-cluster pressed, then cold settled for 48 hours and fermented in a mix of 320L and 225L French oak barrels. Each of the 30 barrels is stirred weekly for the first seven months. A mix of coopers, toast levels, yeast strains, and natural ferment gives each barrel a unique profile. We then select our favorite 10 barrels to keep on lees for an additional 12 months. The 2019 vintage is lightly filtered.
About DeLille Cellars
DeLille Cellars is regarded as a top American producer of Bordeaux-style blends, showcasing a tradition of quality and excellence over its 30-year history. DeLille remains a principal influence in establishing Washington State as a premier viticultural region, with a focus on the Red Mountain AVA and other prestigious vineyard sites throughout the Columbia Valley.
Founded on the concept of crafting world-class wine from Washington State, DeLille was one of the first five wineries in Washington to receive Robert Parker's 5-star excellence rating. The winery’s legacy of consistent quality and acclaim includes over 700 individual 90+ ratings from top international critics, numerous placements on Top 100 lists, and four consecutive Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wineries of the World accolades (2017-2020).
DeLille was the first winery in the state to focus on both red and white Bordeaux-style blends. Seeking to create the best blends through combinations of different grapes varietals and vineyard sites, the founders of DeLille Cellars believed that all good blends transcend the sum of their individual parts. This founding principle and a company philosophy of “always seeking” guides the winery’s commitment to constant improvement, continuous discovery in the cellar, and ultimately the creation of exceptional wines and experiences.
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