Wineries in Washington: The stunning signature Pinot Noir may be the first reason to take note of Challenger Ridge, but not the last – along with a distillery for fruit-brandies and small-lot liqueurs, Challenger Ridge offers a bevy of activities.
It would be a challenge not to find something worth one’s while at Challenger Ridge Vineyards and Cellars. There are Cabernet varietals and vibrant concerts; Syrahs and jet boat rides; Pinot Gris grapes and Gordon and Faye, two happy dogs that roam the property situated in the foothills of the North Cascades along the banks of the Skagit River. It is here that a 13-acre Pinot Noir vineyard was first planted in 1999 on a more than 100-year-old homesteaded farm.
In 2006, Doug Spady and Ryan Costanti purchased the property and, with six equal partners, turned the old farmhouse into a charming tasting room and produced a stunning signature Pinot Noir. It’s not only the Pinot that stands out. The 2007 Gordon, a red wine named after one of the dogs, won gold at the 2010 Dallas Morning News Wine Competition, along with other national awards.
In 2009, the winery became a licensed distillery. Now old barrels can be used to age fruit brandies and other small-lot liqueurs.
Challenger Ridge is now a 67-acre destination winery offering a bevy of activities, from fishing to biking, horseback riding to jazz concerts. What’s more, wine tourers can own a piece of the vineyard. The winery is selling lots on the property, equipped with power, water, phone, and beach rights. Here, wine enthusiasts can build a bungalow of their own, either as a rental investmant property or a vacation home. Those who purchase a bungalow on the property receive 1 percent ownership of the vineyard plus the option to produce wine and distilled spirits under the winery’s license. Now, instead of simply tasting the vineyard lifestyle, they can live it.
Recently, the winery also opened a 3,000-square-foot tasting and entertainment facility in Woodinville. Now city and vineyard dwellers alike can toast Challenger Ridge Vineyards and Cellars, an innovative winery making excellent wines.
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