Friday, May 10, 2013

The Artist Series: Woodward Canyon Winery

Woodward Canyon Winery, known for their premium award-winning wines, is tucked away in the Walla Walla Valley at Lowden, Washington and was founded in 1981 by winemaker, Rick Small and his wife, Darcey Fugman-Small. Their line-up of wines include merlots, chardonnays, many other wine varietals, and last but not least, Woodward Canyon's selection of cabernet sauvignons. Their current selection of cabernet sauvignons include: Walla Walla Valley, Old Vines Reserve, Nelms Road, and Woodward Canyon's Artist Series.

Woodward Canyon's “Artist Series” began in 1992 when the winery made a decision to produce a new cabernet sauvignon from the Canoe Ridge Vineyard in which the Smalls were partners. They were looking for a unique label that would distinguish it from their Old Vines Reserve and Walla Walla Valley Cabernet labels. Also, the wines used for this series were to be  heavier-bodied cabernets, with typical aging of 10+ years.

While they were pondering a new label, it just so happened that Rick was in Portland, Oregon at a wine tasting event and was approached by an artist, Jennifer Marks. Jennifer suggested using one of her works of art on a wine label. After discussing her idea, the Small's created the “Artist Series” Cabernet Sauvignon and Jennifer became the winery's first artist on their new cabernet production. Not only do these special pieces of art adorn the wine label, but posters are also printed and available for purchase. 

Over the years the cabernet sauvignon has transitioned from being a vineyard-designated wine to a blend of  some of the oldest and most well-respected vineyards across Washington State. 
Moonlight Becomes You
The artist's work used for these vintages have primarily been from the Northwest; with the exception of one artist from Chicago and one from the San Francisco Bay Area. Darcey says that artists will often find them or suggestions are given from the Small's friends or winery customers.  

The 2011 vintage will be Woodward Canyon's 20th anniversary and the work of local artist Melissa Webster, who designed their original Woodward Canyon label in 1981, will be featured.

This blogger is proud to say that I own the 1993 #2 Artist Series poster which is from a pastel and named, "Moonlight Becomes You" by local Walla Walla artist, Elizabeth Harris. It was a gift that holds a very special place in my heart. It is framed and matted in a black and gold wooden frame and hangs in my dining room.

And now to the current 2010 "Artist Series"Cabernet Sauvignon - this exceptional piece of art features 65 handmade paper roses on canvas by artist, Taras Lesko and Friends, with a dedication to those with cystic fibrosis (see original below). It just so happens  included in the artist's listed friends was the Cramer Family, whose two children live with cystic fibrosis and are being treated at the same hospital.

Rick and Darcey purchased the artwork at the Auction of  Washington Wines which assists in benefiting  Seattle Children's Hospital. The Smalls made a commitment to donate a portion of the proceeds of their 2010 "Artist Series" Cabernet Sauvignon to Seattle Children's Hospital to support children living with cystic fibrosis.   

The recent vintage 2010 Woodward Canyon "Artist Series" Cabernet was included in Decanter Magazine's, Top Wines of Washington. And yes, I have sampled this lovely new vintage. The blend of vineyards used are from Champoux Vineyard (55%), Woodward Canyon Estate Vineyard (24%), Sagemoor Vineyard (17%), and Weinbau (4%). The addition to this cabernet varietal is 7% merlot, 5% cabernet franc, and 1% petit verdot.  

A rich and aromatic nose of earth and a cedar lined cigar box mixed with aromas of dark stone fruit and black currants. On the palate more richness showing off notes of pepper and very juicy blackberries.  Complex and generous with a long finish.  

Besides the beautiful labels, and the extraordinary wines, the series of art posters are a wonderful keepsake long after the wine is gone.


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