Treveri Cellars – Sparkling wine at affordable prices: It’s the intentional business model of this Yakima Valley winery.
By Viki Eierdam
As the holiday season approaches, it’s time to break out the bubbles. There is much to celebrate, after all. Family and friends around the Thanksgiving table, twinkling lights and Christmas cheer and a round of “Auld Lang Syne” as the New Year’s ball drops and another year is put to rest.
While it is not on par with European consumption (walk into any bar in Bologna and you are greeted by a minimum of 8 to 10 bottles of sparkling wine on ice just to mark a Tuesday night), bubbles have made great strides in popularity among American wine drinkers in recent years. Still, this intoxicating effervescent beverage works overtime around the holiday table and end-of-year gatherings.
It’s apropos, then, that Treveri Cellars opened on November 23, 2010 — two days before Turkey Day. This Yakima Valley sparkling wine house had been the vision of founder, Juergen Grieb, for many years. In fact, as Juergen puts a cork in eight years of presiding over Treveri, 2018 marks his 35th harvest in Washington State.
Hailing from Trier, West Germany, Juergen ventured to the States to work with German wine producer Wolfgang Langguth. Although Langguth’s timing for the promise of Washington grapes was a bit premature, Juergen adopted the apple state as his second home while Langguth returned to the Mosel Valley.
It is through the relationships that Juergen has cultivated since 1983 and his extensive terroir knowledge that Treveri Cellars is able to procure the quality of grapes for their acid-driven portfolio of wines. From zero dosage — the driest offering — to a fruit-forward sparkling Rosé and a red offering that showcases Syrah, Treveri continues to craft customer favorites vintage after vintage while adding grape varietals less commonly seen in the sparkling world.
From Chardonnay to Pinot Noir to Müller-Thurgau, Riesling and Gewürztraminer, $15 to $20 is the price range for the majority of the Treveri line-up. Affordability is an intentional business model.
Juergen’s son Christian explains: “When we started this project, we decided what kind of winery we wanted to be. We wanted to put Washington more on the map in regards to sparkling and you can’t necessarily do that when charging $85 or more because it’s not accessible.”
With roughly 80 wineries spread across 17,000 acres of vines in the Yakima Valley AVA, the terraced patios of Treveri are an oasis for wine tasters to sit and linger. Visual contrasts of lush vineyard landscape give way to the arid and undulating hills of the Cascade Mountain Range punctuated by Mount Adams off in the distance.
Settled with a bottle of Brut Blanc de Blancs, their ample small bites menu is nirvana. Curated to complement the fruit-forward flavor profile of their bubbles, options include a caviar tray, the Pacific Northwest Platter or a Yakima apple flatbread.
For those desiring to explore a bit more, a selection of six sparkling cocktails sets out to dispel the very American myth that champagne style wine mixes best with orange juice (egads!). Sangria Syrah, Tropical Paradise and Blackberry Crush demonstrate that aromatic bitters, pineapple juice and blackberries can take a traditional mimosa to new heights.
During the winter months, their salon style tasting room emphasizes personal service with a splash of education thrown in. There are no “belly up to the bar” tastings at Treveri. Instead, the Grieb family sees their tasting room as an extension of their home and guests are “hosted” accordingly. Team members deliver tastings table side as visitors enjoy the warm glow emanating from the stone fireplace or take a window perspective in cozy, leather chairs.
If the flirty bubbles of Treveri’s sparkling wine have you curious to learn more about this adult beverage steeped in tradition, be sure to sign up for a private tour. Christian, a winemaker in his own right with a degree from U.C. Davis, leads monthly tours that explain the many stages of crafting sparkling wine in the traditional method practiced in the Champagne region for centuries. The star of the tour is their state-of-the-art bottling line that hails directly from Epernay, France.
“What’s unique about our wine is that we’re able to care for it from tank to the finished, labeled bottle, Christian explains. “Not a lot of wineries in the United States have a complete line that can do everything. Because we have our own line, we can increase our quality and consistency.”
This attention to detail and willingness to invest in top winemaking equipment is a testament to the commitment the Grieb family has to share their passion for bubbles with a New World audience. To be sure, it is a family affair with Juergen’s wife, Julie, in the position of co-owner/general manager, and Christian’s wife, Katie, wearing the hat of senior vice- president of marketing.
The Griebs’ approach to making quality wine manifested itself at the Tri-Cities Wine Festival in Kennewick, WA. on Nov. 10 where the winery won three medals – a Double Gold medal for its single vineyard Gewürztraminer, a Gold medal for its Blanc de Blancs Brut Zero, and a Silver medal for its Brut Blanc de Noir.
Sparkling Wine Trivia
To make sure you’re equipped with enough trivia worthy of idle banter at a holiday party this season, read on:
Many of us know that true Champagne can only come from the designated region of Champagne, located 90 miles northeast of Paris. Names like Champagne-style, sparkling and bubbles connote the fantastical beverage made outside this strictly-regulated area.
Other bottle-fermented sparkling wines include Crémant — most famously made in the Loire Valley — and Cava from Spain. Prosecco is Italy’s version of sparkling although it is traditionally tank-fermented resulting in a fruitier style wine.
Interesting tidbits only begin there. Pick up a bottle of bubbles and you’re sure to notice immediately that there’s something different about it. The bottle is intentionally stout to keep the wine from exploding. In fact, experts cite that the pressure in a champagne bottle is equivalent to two to three times the pressure in a car tire — stemming from the double fermentation process that creates the sought-after bubbles.
At the base of the bottle is an indent called a punt. Although it now has other uses, it was originally conceived to add strength to the glass.
Just like the present that it is, the top of sparkling wine is wrapped in foil. Unwrapping only heightens the anticipation. Revealed underneath is a wire cage called a muselet. If not for this contraption, the cork could blow at any moment.
To open the bottle, the ring on the muselet must be bent to a horizontal position and turned, counter-clockwise. Research proves that every muselet requires six half turns of the ring to be removed. That’s my kind of research.
Once the muselet is no longer corralling the cork, keep a firm grip on it or it’s liable to shoot off prematurely. I’ve seen it happen at industry events so all levels of expertise are prone to this faux pas.
You’ll notice that even the rim at the opening of a champagne bottle is different. Called an annulus, its protruding shape secures the muselet to the bottle.
Then there’s the cork. Denser than still wine corks — again to contain contents under pressure — its shape is initially similar to a normal cork and becomes mushroom-shaped after compression and expansion.
We’ve all seen — in person or otherwise — the dramatic uncorking of a Champagne bottle. There’s this impressive pop, the cork shoots out on a haphazard trajectory and bubbles spit and pour everywhere.
May I suggest a less flamboyant idea: opening the bottle to avoid an insurance claim. Once the wire cage is removed, always hold the cork. You’ll gain better leverage by twisting the bottle from the base rather than twisting the cork. Once popped, pour the wine with the bottle at an angle into a fluted glass that is also held at an angle. This will reduce the foaming and keep the beautiful bubbles bright and active.
Treveri Cellars is located at 71 Gangl Road, Wapato, WA 98951. For tasting room hours, call (509) 877-0925 or visit: www.trevericellars.com. If you can’t visit the winery in person, you can buy all of Treveri Cellars’ wines online.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Viki Eierdam is a freelance writer who lives in Battle Ground, WA. Connect with her at: www.savorsipandsojourn.com.