Possibly the most enjoyable part of Maryhill, from a grower’s standpoint, is the wide variety of grapes the area will support—including several difficult-to-grow varietals often stunted in many of the region’s other vineyards. We focus on producing premium red wines, with special attention to Syrah and Sangiovese. Our larger vineyards include blocks of Zinfandel, Viognier, Merlot, Syrah and vines, as well as smaller sections for Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Grenache.
We contract with growers all throughout the lower Columbia Gorge. From the east in the Alderdale area in the Horse Heaven Hills to Yakima Valley near Grandview and up near Mattawa in the Wahluke Slope on the Columbia River, we work closely with select premier vineyards to produce wine showcasing the rich and pleasurable flavors of this unique growing region.
Maryhill produces 18 different varietals and 27 different wines. Anyone, from the first-time winery visitor to the seasoned aficionado will find the perfect wine for any occasion.
photo: Jackie Johnston/WineCountryCreations.com
Exerpt from an article
By Andy Perdue,
Wine Press Northwest
When Craig and Vicki Leuthold opened Maryhill Winery in 2001, they did so with 4,300 cases from the 1999 vintage. The wines were delicious, but the Leutholds had something grand in mind.
First was location, which is nothing short of stunning. The winery is on the edge of a cliff overlooking the grand Columbia Gorge and provides an inspiring view of Mount Hood to the southwest. The facility is deliberately just outside of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, a designation that would prohibit future expansion.
It is on the Lewis & Clark trail - the intrepid explorers floated down the Columbia River just below Maryhill - and the bicentennial of the pair's trek west was expected to be a big deal.
Many of the grapes the Leutholds wanted to use were planted nearby, and they have a great relationship with the Gunkel family, which has been farming the region for decades.
And they could envision a concert venue in a natural amphitheater just below the winery. It now seats 4,000 people who love the idea of listening to great music, sipping wine and watching the sun set over the Cascades.
That the Leutholds have been able to exceed their own lofty goals and turn them into one of the premier destination wineries in the Pacific Northwest made it pretty easy for us to name Maryhill our 2009 Washington Winery of the Year.
The couple were from Spokane, where they worked in businesses unrelated to the wine industry. As they grew to love wine and traveled throughout the Northwest, the realized there was more to life.
"We wanted to get off the corporate merry-go-round," Craig said. "We always had a passion for wine, and we wanted to take that to a different level. We knew Washington was on the cusp of greatness, and everyone we met in the industry was so wonderful. That excited us, and we knew we wanted to become involved in it."
Today, Maryhill has grown to 80,000 cases, making it the state's 15th largest winery. The Leutholds' original business plan figured they would be at 20,000 by now, but they didn't count on their Winemaker's Red, a value-priced blend, exploding from 3,000 cases to 30,000. In fact, most of Maryhill's wines are priced in such a way that they are pretty much recession-proof, with whites in the $10-$15 range and non-reserve reds between $15 and $20.
In 2007, 75,000 visitors stopped by the winery, an astonishing number considering its relative remoteness from major cities. The Leutholds credit the growth of the Columbia Gorge as a wine-touring destination, but they also are savvy marketers, using many forms of advertising and distribution to draw visitors.
And the wines are nothing short of superb. Maryhill has won hundreds of medals in eight short years, including six Platinums and unanimous Double Platinums in our annual year-end best-of-the-best competition.
They also are building an event area near the winery, complete with four bocce ball courts, a large grassy area and 3,000 square feet under an arbor, complete with a tasting bar. They have their summer concert series lined up, too. Though they could not reveal the acts until all contracts are signed, they promised several big names.
The only thing left to do, it would seem, is to open a restaurant at the winery.
"We keep telling people to shoot us if we think about opening a restaurant," Vicki said with a laugh.
Instead, they'll probably beef up their on-site deli and continue to use caterers from The Dalles, Hood River and other surrounding communities.
With everything else they've done right, you can't blame us for trying to talk them into it.
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