Dusted Valley wines cited as 'serious, stunning, consistent'

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Don't expect to hear any corks popping in celebration of Dusted Valley Vintners new designation as Wine Press Northwest's Washington Winery of the Year.

The Walla Walla-based winery seals every bottle strictly with screw caps, one of numerous features of the operation highlighted in the spring 2010 Wine Press Northwest edition that touts the winery.

Ultimately what's under the cap caught the attention of the magazine, writes Eric Degerman in the piece.

"The wines are serious, stunning and consistent," the article describes.

"'Crack the cap' reads the invitation to their screwcap wines. 'The first two glasses are for your health. The second two are for ours!'

"That's how Dusted Valley evolved into our 2010 Washington Winery of the Year. And their empire continues to grow."

In a press release announcement on the win Dusted Valley co-owner Chad Johnson said he and his brother-in-law and winery co-owner Corey Braunel are "incredibly proud."

"It's really a true celebration of Washington state terroir and the people that help us grow and craft this art."

The brothers-in-law, who both grew up in Wisconsin, say they mix good science, experimentation and a blend of old-world techniques with the wines in their 4,000-case operation. They focus on sustainable vineyard practices and low-intervention winemaking.

They also have a unique barrel project, sourcing oak from the 45th parallel on the Wisconsin farm owned by Braunel's parents. The location is about as far north as American white oak will grow, Dusted Valley's owners say. That northerly climate creates an ideal tight grain in the wood that more closely represents the tight grain of famous French oak growing regions.

In 2009 the Dusted Valley owners renovated their tasting room in Braunel's home at the foot of the Blue Mountains and expanded their presence across the state with the opening of the Dusted Valley Wine Gallery in Woodinville. In addition to the tasting room, the space hosts one of Woodinville's first art galleries dedicated to Northwest artists.

This year they will continue to bridge their East and West operations with a new release called "Wallywood," paying homage to their estate vineyards in Walla Walla and tasting room in Woodinville. Dusted Valley will host two events to celebrate the "Washington Winery of the Year" award: March 13 at the Dusted Valley Tasting Room in Walla Walla and March 20 at the Dusted Valley Wine Gallery in Woodinville. For more details, visit www.dustedvalley.com .

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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