Casting a long shadow
There is no other winery like it in the world. Seven individual wines made by seven globally famous winemakers at one state-of-the-art winery using only fruit grown in Washington’s Columbia Valley AVA.
It’s an “only in the Northwest” kind of endeavor.
Long Shadows Vintners is the creation of Washington wine legend Allen Shoup. He hand-picked a group of equally iconic international winemakers to come to Washington to make wine. These are winemakers who, as Shoup puts it, cast “long shadows” thanks to their lasting influence on the improvement of wine quality.
The goal of the winery is simple: prove that the Columbia Valley is world-class winegrowing territory.
“Washington is at the very beginning of its viticultural history,” says Shoup, explaining the vision behind Long Shadows. “Viticultural regions last for a thousand years, so here we are very, very young. To take Washington to the next level, I wanted to see great winemakers from around the world coming here to make wine.”
Shoup is in a special position to help make that happen. As former CEO of what is today Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, he was responsible for creating international partnerships that brought to Washington Italy’s Piero Antinori to craft Col Solare wines, and Ernst Loosen to make Eroica Riesling. After retiring from Ste. Michelle, Shoup was determined to expand on his earlier vision by creating Long Shadows Vintners in 2002.
He began by approaching individuals who had become famous both for the quality of their wines, and their mastery of particular varieties and styles: Armin Diel for Riesling, Randy Dunn for Cabernet Sauvignon, Michel Rolland for Merlot, John Duval for Syrah, Philippe Melka and Agustin Huneeus, Sr. for Bordeaux-style blends, and Ambogio and Giovanni Folonari for Sangiovese. Shoup offered a simple proposition to his invited winemakers: he would finance the development of a winery facility that met all their individual needs and give them each an ownership stake in their own winery to produce the single wine they would make from Columbia Valley fruit. They were to be partners, not consultants. In return they agreed to come to Washington each vintage to oversee fruit selection, determine the final blend, and the ultimate release of their wine.
The opportunity at Long Shadows was intriguing.
“To produce a high-class Riesling near the 45th parallel, in comparison to the 50th parallel in Germany, was a challenge I could not resist,” says Armin Diehl, of Schlossgut Diehl in Germany’s Nahe region.
“I had a basic understanding of Washington,” says John Duval, whose work with Syrah at Australia’s Penfolds gained worldwide acclaim. “When I visited with Long Shadows in September 2003 and saw the potential of the top Syrah vineyards, I was excited.”
Similarly, famed Napa Valley Cabernet virtuoso Randy Dunn was attracted. “Eastern Washington is a neat area and an example of diverse agriculture that we don’t have in Napa Valley,” he says. “The area is basically a desert that has the luxury of a lot of water running through it and the viticulture is very different—I knew this would be a fun project.”
But to make the project succeed, Shoup needed not only a winery flexible enough to meet the needs of each vintner, but also a resident winemaker who could work smoothly with each of the partners to execute their processes and shepherd their wines, day-to-day, throughout the year.
THE LONG SHADOW VINTNERS WINES: