Milbrandt Vineyards
Part 11, Washington State: visiting one of North America's leading wine growing regions

Butch Milbrandt is a fourth generation farmer. He arrived in Washington State (from Oregon), aged 9 in 1954 along with his brother Jerry. They started farming together in 1969, and in 1997 realized that grapes were an ideal crop for where they are. So they began planting vineyards. Initially they sold everything under contract to Chateau Ste Michelle, but now sell to some 30 wineries, as well as making wine under contract for around 20 wineries (mostly second label stuff in the range $12-17). Clients include Charles Smith, Powers and Chateau Ste Michelle, among others.

This is a pretty big operation. Butch and Jerry have 2500 acres of vines between them, and this is soon going to rise to 3000. Butch says that Jerry, who’s now 68, is building his own winery and with this growth the Milbrandt brothers expect to be crushing 20 000 tons in three years (currently they average around 13 000 tons). Their vineyards are located in the Ancient Lakes AVA and the Wahluke Slope AVA, and grow 27 different varieties. They own five machine harvesters!

Milbrandt made their first wines in 2005, and their range is now 19 strong. Their first winemaker was Gordy Hill, and in 2011 he left to be replaced with Josh Maloney. Production is around 60 000 cases.

Butch says that they are skewing their production more to reds, because this is what people are looking for. He also says that rosé is getting bigger and bigger. His personal favourite Washington State wine? Merlot. ‘Washington does an awesome job with Merlot,’ says Butch. ‘It is probably the variety we should hang our hat on.’


Milbrandt Vineyards Pinot Gris 2014 Washington State
Lively, youthful and fruity with bright citrus and pear. Focused. 86/100

Milbrandt Vineyards Traditions Riesling 2013 Washington State
Lively, taut and citrussy. Vivid with some grip. Zippy and nicely fruity with a hint of sweetness. 88/100

Milbrandt Vineyards Traditions Rosé 2014 Washington State
Syrah and Sangiovese. Bright pink colour. Bright, fresh cherry and cranberry flavours with attractive fruitiness. 87/100

Milbrandt Vineyards Brothers Blend 2012 Washington State
Seven different varieties. Bright, fresh, accessible and fruity with sweet juicy berry fruits. Smooth and drinkable. 88/100

Milbrandt Vineyards The Estates Merlot 2011 Washington State
50% new oak, a mix of French and American. 14.5% alcohol. Sweet, supple and nicely textured with hints of cinnamon and spice. Easy, rounded, pure and quite tasty. 87/100

Milbrandt Vineyards The Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2012 Washington State
This has a quarter new French oak and 10% new American oak. 15% alcohol. Spicy, chocolatey edge to the vivid berry fruits. Sweet, ripe, spicy palate with berries, vanilla and chocolate. Quite convincing. 89/100

Milbrandt Vineyards The Estates Syrah Northridge Vineyard 2012 Washington State
15.5% alcohol, pH 3.98. Ripe, sweet and rich. Jammy blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. Soft textured and sweet. 86/100

Milbrandt Vineyards Sentinel 2012 Washington State
Cabernet Sauvignon (71%) with Malbec (23%) and a bit of Merlot and Petit Verdot. 16% alcohol. Rich, ripe, warm and powerful with lush liqueur-like black fruits and some sappy, spicy framing. Powerful stuff. 88/100

Columbia Winery
De Lille
WT Vintners
Savage Grace
Chateau Ste Michelle
Andrew Will
Airfield Estates
Milbrandt Vineyards
Ciel du Cheval Vineyard
Col Solare
Powers/Badger Mountain
J Bookwalter
Pacific Rim
Gordon Estate
Long Shadows
Seven Hills
Charles Smith
Geology with Kevin Pogue
Woodward Canyon
Gramercy Cellars
L'Ecole No 41
Columbia Crest
Memaloose/Idiot's Grace
COR Cellars

Wines tasted 06/15  
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