About McCrea Cellars
We pioneered Rhône varietals in Washington for over two decades.
In partnership with several dedicated growers, we began with a vision, believing that these grape vines would succeed in an unproven region.
Today multiple Rhône varietals thrive, a tradition carried on by other wineries in our State.
The wines from these plantings have exceptional quality and accurately reflect the distinctive flavors of their Rhône Valley predecessors.
Our story is not about a winery alone, but about relationships with inspired growers who believe in our passion and were willing to take risk.
Our first Rhône wine came from an old Grenache planting in the Columbia River Gorge.
In 1990 we planted Syrah next to the Grenache, ultimately producing the State's first Rhône-style blend, naming it 'Tierra del Sol.'
From this site we released our first Syrah from the 1994 vintage in December of 1996, receiving exceptional recognition and reviews.
This was the second Syrah ever produced in Washington State.
In 1994, Jim Holmes, owner of Ciel du Cheval, planted both Syrah and Viognier.
Also that year, we planted Syrah with Dick Boushey at what we now call the 'Grande Côte', with first production in 1997 of the Ciel and Boushey Syrahs as well as the Viognier.
When released, the reception of these wines by the trade and media was extremely supportive and scores were very good.
Also, the Viognier was a first in the State.
In 2000, Jim planted Mourvèdre, Counoise, Roussanne and two additional clones of Syrah.
From these vines we released the State's first Counoise and created a new Southern Rhône-style blend named 'Sirocco', comprised of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Counoise. In 2003 he added Grenache.
Then in 2004, Dick planted Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, Picpoul and Cinsault at a site very near the 'Grande Côte.'
Most of the cuttings for this vineyard were obtained from Tablas Creek Vineyards whose parent company is Chateau Beaucastle in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The Ciel du Cheval Mourvèdre, Counoise and Roussanne are also Beaucastle stock.
A modest beginning with Grenache in 1989 grew to a full complement of ten Rhône varietals.
We also established a fourth wonderful source with Joe Hattrup who owns Elephant Mountain and Sugarloaf Vineyards, located at the western end of the Yakima Valley.
From there we sourced Syrah, Grenache & Mourvèdre and small amounts of Counoise and Cinsault.
Championing these grapes required perseverance and careful site selection to assure their survival in Eastern Washington's cold winters.
The State's volcanic, glacial soils, combined with the arid, desert climate provide an ideal setting for complex, fruit-driven wines. We're very proud to have been at the forefront of this remarkable adventure.
McCrea Cellars is owned and operated by Susan and Bob Neel.