Instrumental Washington Winemakers Through the Decades

From Quilceda Creek in 1979 to Prospice in 2019.

By Sean P. Sullivan 9/24/2019 at 9:00am Published in the October 2019 issue of Seattle Met

  • 1979: Quilceda Creek makes its first commercial wine—a cabernet sauvignon; it goes on to become arguably the most prestigious label in the state.
  • 1989: Soos Creek creates its first wine in founder David Larsen’s garage, starting a 30-year legacy of unassuming excellence.
  • 1999: Charles Smith launches K Vintners, focusing largely on single vineyard syrahs, and in doing so sets himself up to become a ruler of Washington wine.
  • 1999: James and Poppie Mantone start Syncline Winery. Rhône-style wines in Washington are never the same.
  • 1999: Ernst Loosen of Germany’s Dr. Loosen partners with Chateau Ste. Michelle to create Eroica and leads a U.S. riesling renaissance.
  • 2009: Charlie and Lacey Lybecker found Cairdeas Winery, helping to put Lake Chelan on the appellational map.
  • 2019: A new crop of wineries are already making waves this year. See Grosgrain and Prospice.

Soos Creek Wine Cellars
24012 172nd Ave SE
Kent, Washington 98042

David and Cecile Larsen,

Phone: 253-631-8775



“I have pounded the drum for Soos Creek since I first tasted the wines 20 years ago. For those of us who want great value at stupidly great prices, Soos Creek is a treasure.” -- Paul Gregutt

2020 Champoux Vineyard Block 4 Cabernet Sauvignon This old vine block is now controlled by another winery, so this will be the next to last vintage of Champoux from Soos Creek. It gets the all-star treatment: native yeast. 50% new French oak barrels. Note that some of Washington’s most prestigious wineries get this fruit, and get a whole lot more for the wine. Here the balance is spot on, the flavors firm and dense. Black fruits, a dusting of toast, coffee grounds, polished, grainy tannins – it’s all here in this young wine that needs more bottle age to show its best. 14.1%; (Horse Heaven Hills) 94/100

2020 Stampede Pass Red Wine I continue to be amazed at the quality wines that Dave Larsen puts together at budget prices. Here is a Bordeaux blend sourced from Ciel du Cheval, Champoux and Elephant Mountain vineyards, fermented in native yeast and aged in 15% new French oak. It’s principally Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with a splash of Cabernet Franc. Firm, tight, dark and tannic, yet beautifully balanced for aging, this could be your go-to Bordeaux blend for aging over the next decade. Cassis and black cherry fruits, a streak of coffee, a hint of licorice… wow, this over-delivers past any reasonable expectation. 14.1%; (Columbia Valley) 92/100

2020 Elephant Mt. Cabernet Sauvignon This wine from a 1998 planting is the last we’ll see from Elephant Mountain, as Larsen says he is transitioning to vineyards from the Horse Heaven Hills and Walla Walla Valley AVAs. So enjoy this excellent example from the Rattlesnake Hills. Firm, tight and tannic, its dark fruits are streaked with copper and coffee. The wine continued to improve over a full three days. 14.1%; (Rattlesnake Hills) 93/100

2021 King Cab Soos Creek’s Dave Larsen sources Cabernet from some of Washington’s A+ vineyards, and here he’s given a gift to wine lovers with a single vineyard HHH Cab at a supermarket price. The blend includes 15% Merlot, which helps to soften the tannins. There’s an interesting sweetness here – not from fruit or sugar, but more like the sweetness of fine tobacco. This is classic Washington Cabernet, with black fruits, sandalwood, toasted walnuts and tannins with a firm streak of espresso. 14.1%; (Horse Heaven Hills) 91/100

2020 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon Principally sourced from Ranch at the End of the Road vineyard, with a barrel from Ciel du Cheval, this is the last Soos Creek vintage from any Red Mountain grapes. Dense, compact and deeply saturated with flavors of cassis, black fruits, anise and espresso, this just needs time and/or decanting to unpack all it holds. I suspect it will age into a truly gorgeous old wine, but that may take a decade or more. Were it aged in new oak, rather than used, it would rock the world. 14.1%; (Red Mountain) 93/100

2020 Cabernet Franc This wine was sourced from the Champoux Vineyard. The grapes were inadvertantly picked at a lower brix (less sugar) because a change in viticultural practices slowed down their ripening. The difference in the character of the wine is a nice change of pace with flavors that are more red than black fruits, lower alcohol, and higher acid. The character of the wine reminds me of a good Pinot Noir.