Pacific Rim
Part 16, Washington State: visiting one of North America's leading wine growing regions

 pacific rim winery 


Way back when, Randall Grahm did some graduate work in Trier, Germany. Here, he fell in love with Riesling, and then later he decided to make some – these sort of wines just weren’t available in North America. His first Pacific Rim Rieslings blended together fruit from California, Oregon and Washington, together with a quarter of German Riesling. Typical Randall.

pacific rim 

After a while, he realized that the best component to these wines was the one coming from Washington. So he decided to build a winery in Washington, and gradually phased out the German component. While Randall sold a bunch of brands in 2005, he kept the Pacific Rim operation. Since 2011, though, it has been owned by the Marianis of Banfi. It’s a 95% Riesling winery, making around 250 000 cases each year. They don’t own any vineyards.

We met with Steven Sealock, who’s one of the winemaking team here. He explains that there are three pillars to Riesling: alcohol, acidity and residual sugar. The sweeter styles are picked earlier so there’s good acidity to balance the sweetness.


Sealock showed us the electrodialysis machine (above) that is used for cold stabilization of the wines. The normal method is to chill the tanks down to almost freezing for a couple of weeks, but electrodialysis is a much less energy hungry process. The machines are expensive: Pacific Rim bought theirs in 2008, when there were only three in the USA, at the cost of $250 K. But aside from saving a lot of energy, it alters the TA very little. ‘This is great for us because we worked hard to get the wine into balance,’ says Sealock.

pacific rim


Pacific Rim Riesling 2007 Washington State
From the Wallula vineyard. Limey, spicy and slightly petrolly with some toastiness. Fresh and a bit oily and dry with some development. Nice complexity. 89/100

Pacific Rim Dry Riesling 2013 Washington State
Bright, fresh and citrussy with a slightly melony tang. Lovely balance and generosity here, with nice fruit presence. 89/100

Pacific Rim Organic Riesling 2010 Washington State
10.5% alcohol. Made in an off-dry style, this is lovely with juicy lemon and tangerine flavours, and some nice melon notes. 90/100

Pacific Rim Sweet Riesling 2013 Washington State
8.5% alcohol. 75 g/l residual sugar. Sweet melon, pear and ripe apple fruit here. Textured with nice fruit. 87/100

noble wine

Pacific Rim Riesling Noble Wine 2012 Washington State
From Selenium vineyard. 2011 vintage, left out for icewine, but it never got cold enough, so it was picked in February 2012. Honeyed with ripe apples and tea leaf notes, as well as some baked apple and barley sugar. Pear richness. Nice honeyed sweetness with some waxy notes in the background. Very stylish. 92/100

Pacific Rim Riesling Ice Wine 2013 Washington State
From Selenium vineyard. Rounded and apple with pears, grapes and some herby mushroom notes. Odd. 80/100

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 as indicated
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