Since 2010, Avennia has gained a reputation as one of Washington’s most exciting young wineries, and owners Marty Taucher and Chris Peterson continue to raise Avennia’s quality and reputation.
The pair met while Taucher was an intern at DeLille Cellars, where Peterson had been a winemaker for several years. Taucher was on his second career after retiring as a Microsoft marketing executive and was taking classes at South Seattle Community College’s winemaking program.
Peterson, a Northwest native and University of Washington grad, went on to become one of the first graduates of the Walla Walla Valley Community College winemaking program in 2003. Then he returned to the Seattle area to join acclaimed DeLille Cellars in Woodinville. For the next eight years, Peterson worked alongside head winemaker Chris Upchurch, during which time he got to know where the best grapes in Washington were grown and what types of wine he might want to produce someday.
When Taucher interned at DeLille, he was working on a school assignment that was a winery business plan. It quickly became clear to Peterson and Taucher that they should work together, so they decided to create Avennia, a stylized word that pays homage to the French city of Avignon.
“We wanted it to reflect an Old World artisanal style that I learned at DeLille,” Peterson said.
Both share the duties of running the winery, with Peterson focusing on winemaking and Taucher handling the business side. Together, they produce 3,100 cases of wine, up from 1,100 cases in 2010.
Last year, the two launched a second label called Les Trouvés, which includes a red ($25) and white ($18) blend. They are produced in a “negoçiant” style, meaning Peterson and Taucher purchase barrels from other wineries and blend them together. The first release of Les Trouvés is about 800 cases.
In addition, Peterson makes the wine for Passing Time, a winery owned by retired NFL quarterbacks Dan Marino and Damon Huard. Taucher and Huard work with the same financial adviser, which is how they met.
Passing Time’s inaugural 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon was named Wine of the Year of 2015 by Great Northwest Wine. It used grapes from such top vineyards as Discovery, Champoux and Klipsun. Passing Time has opened an event center next to Avennia in Woodinville and will be open when wines are released.
Here are three delicious new Avennia releases we’ve tasted recently. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the winery directly.
Avennia 2013 Boushey Vineyard Arnaut Syrah, Yakima Valley, $50: Complex aromas cast hints of sizzling back bacon, delicious dark purple fruit, toast, sweet herbs, minerality and forest floor earthiness. On the palate, it’s smooth, clean and round with plum, blackberry, black cherry and espresso. Satiny tannins, huckleberry acidity, a touch of gaminess and pinch of baking spices make for a stunning finish.
Avennia 2014 Oliane Sauvignon Blanc, Yakima Valley, $28: This gorgeous white wine creates aromas of ambrosia salad, dried pineapple and starfruit, backed by honeysuckle, a wisp of smoke and the slow emergence of caramel corn. On the palate, the lively delivery of tropical notes is joined by mouthwatering flavors of gooseberry pie and lime peel. Spot-on acidity and pleasing minerality in the finish keeps you coming back, and suggested pairings range from chicken piccata to oysters.
Avennia 2013 Justine, Columbia Valley, $40: This Southern Rhône blend of Grenache (47 percent), Mourvèdre (38 percent) and Syrah brings fruity aromas of black cherry and plum, which are joined by brown sugar, cocoa powder, light toast and cedar shavings. Inside, the structure offers elegance over power as smooth flavors of dark plum and elderberry create a luscious mouth feel that picks up touches of anise and white pepper in the back.
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine. Learn more about wine at greatnorthwestwine.com.