Relationships matter; and in this case, I first met Jeremy Baker in Russian River Valley, when he was the managing owner of Thomas George Estates. This was at the older location for Davis Bynam Winery. I used to work on Westside Road in Healdsburg at Belvedere Winery… I knew this location well, and have followed the growth of many winery name changes and emerging new companies, about 30 years now. Jeremy was involved in updating the old facility and landscaping of David Bynam, turning it into Thomas George Estates, and he did a fabulous job. Jeremy’s new wines were so delicious, it was great fun to go there. He accommodated a wine writer guest for me – and sweetened it by also giving us a cottage for the overnight visit. It was extremely generous and kind, and a memory that’s lasted forever.
Then, Jeremy Baker was gone.
I didn’t know to where, until he contacted me again. He’s now living in Washington State, and is the managing partner of Forgeron Cellars. Proving once more, yes, we do all move around a lot. So, here’s what he’s up to now, and it’s all still very delicious.
I need to predicate what I’m about to write, with full disclosure. I’ve been to Washington State, not to visit Jeremy Baker, at the time, though. It was many years ago, while Jeremy was also in California. And… I love Washington wines. Comparatively speaking, they’re great wines for the money you’ll spend on them. They don’t give their wines away up there. They can’t; and most important, they shouldn’t. What they do do, is crafting excellent wines at reasonable prices… Restrained and delicious wines. Their Petite Sirahs floored me, with well-balanced handling. Cabs and Merlots… If you know wines, you’ve already discovered this Washington State fact. I also loved the Sauvignon Blancs.
They recently opened a tasting room, in the heart of Washington’s beloved ‘Bavarian’ destination town, Leavenworth. (Purchased photo)
This artisan winery has locations in Walla Walla, Woodinville, and now Leavenworth; while they craft their wines in Walla Walla.
“This marked Forgeron Cellars third Tasting Room location, BTW, joining the Cellar & Winery in Walla Walla, and Tasting Room in Woodinville. Jeremy Baker: “We’re more than excited to join the fantastic community of Leavenworth, while we’re offering an additional outlet for our wine club members, and consumers alike, to indulge in our latest wine releases.” Jeremy Baker, Managing Partner of Forgeron Cellars.”
The Grand Opening happened on August 27th, 2019, at their new downtown Leavenworth location. The Leavenworth Tasting Room will be open from 11:30am to 6:00pm, Thursday through Monday each week, with Private Reserve Tastings available by appointment.
Jeremy was off and running again. I believe he just may have the Midas touch.
MISSION STATEMENT: Forgeron Cellars, French for Blacksmith, was established in 2001, in a quest to produce site specific wines that illustrate the diversity found among Columbia Valley’s different appellations. Our mission is to produce small-lot, artisan wines that accurately represent each vineyard, variety, and vintage. We believe that much of winemaking occurs in the vineyard, and adhere to traditional techniques with the benefit of modern innovation. The Forgeron production facility and Walla Walla tasting room are located in an old Blacksmith building in downtown Walla Walla. We work with many of the region’s top grape-growers to assure that we are making some of the best wines the valley has to offer.
Quite the promise and they DO deliver upon their promise. I really look forward to their wines arriving.
So, what is Forgeron Cellars crafting?
This is just a sampling.
2018 Otherworldly Chardonnay by Forgeron Cellars, COLUMBIA VALLEY
They’ve paid very special attention to other really clean and crisp un-oaked Chardonnays. The Forgeron Cellars is dedicated to a style that pays special honoring to wines crafted as a world-class Chablis wine. Theirs is a very delicate apple-blossom flavor and quite tasty.
SIDEBAR: It makes my heart sing that Forgeron has gone public with this disclosure about “worldly” Chablis. I’ve had two instances when I’ve come up against clients who hear the word “Chablis,” and run for the hills. I can’t even get them to believe me that they’ve missed an opportunity of a lifetime, with a great comparison.
The reason for their trepidation is US’s history, which has cast a shadow against the word “Chablis,” is because the US was just re-beginning our wine growing from Prohibition’s Repeal, ending on December 5, 1933. Imagine if your vines were all pulled, your businesses closed – except for the craftiest among us. And, you have to begin again. It was truly a re-beginning. Then, Hearty Burgundy (actually Petite Sirah) set the stage for red wine; if it was white, it was call Chablis… just a plonk and a jug white.
Today: How about a Billaud-Simon Chablis Premier Cru, Montee de Tonnerre 2016? It only sells for $139.99 a bottle, #tongueincheek. Granted this has French pedigree. Still, Forgeron Cellars style is what it should be… Chablis-styled, and I just love writing that! Makes me a happy girl… especially if your curiosity is piqued.
2018 Pink Rabbits Rosé of Syrah by Forgeron Cellars, COLUMBIA VALLEY
Ah, Yes, the 2018 Rose of Syrah. This one was really great. It has a touch of spice and a hint of earthly aromas, which made it a refreshingly delicious comparison food and wine pairing. Almost too easy to go down… Good food, great friends, and one of the best nights. We enjoyed it with one of my “Nice Beef Soups,” on the lighter side of broth.
2016 Imaginarium Red Wine, by Forgeron Cellars, COLUMBIA VALLEY
Hello Beef Stew wine! The Imaginarium Red wine is a great collective of red wines… and you get to imagine what they might be. Their red blend doesn’t have a recipe you can nail down. This means it will change from bottle to bottle. Blends are a resource for adventure, because YOU get to tell people what it tastes like… a sommelier’s challenge, like playing “Name That Tune.” A batch is made, bottled, and sold. It’s always an adventure from a wine tank, and a yearning to just play, from the winemaker. This one hits the target. I’d see it and buy it, if I were looking for a fun red blend.
FORGERON CELLARS ~ HAS MANY MORE WINES TO EXPLORE
Take your pick. I recommend any of their wines as a great house wine; very easy to enjoy, because they’re well crafted.
2016 Chardonnay COLUMBIA VALLEY
This wine is the ultimate expression of Columbia Valley Chardonnay. Layered with the full spectrum of Chardonnay flavors: notes of elderberry, lemon meringue, and toasty hazelnut, pie crust, and vanilla.
2015 Cabernet Sauvignon WALLA WALLA VALLEY
Cabernet Sauvignon is ‘ruler’ of the reds and reveals the seriousness of a winemaker. Firm, structured and age-worthy; a result of patience and restraint used in the vineyard and winemaking process.
2014 Merlot WALLA WALLA VALLEY
Walla Walla Merlot from Forgeron Cellars has structure and balance that will make you do a double take.
2016 Merlot MINNICK HILLS VINEYARD ~ Walla Walla
Merlot from Forgeron Cellars has structure and balance that will make you do a double take.
2015 Façon Rouge COLUMBIA VALLEY
Rhone varietals are a perfect match for the dry and arid conditions of Eastern Washington. Our Façon Rouge is a generous, ripe and spicy wine reminiscent of the wonderful lifestyle of Southern France.
2016 Façon Rouge ~ BLUE MOUNTAIN
Rhone varietals are a perfect match for the dry and arid conditions of Eastern Washington. Our Façon Rouge is a generous, ripe and spicy wine reminiscent of the wonderful Syrah that Walla Walla offers
2017 Façon Blanc CRAWFORD VINEYARD ~ YAKIMA VALLEY
White Rhône varietals are a great match for our arid Eastern WA climate and this blend is bold, fruity, and flavorful. Perfect as an aperitif or with seafood.
NV Walldeaux Smithie Red Blend COLUMBIA VALLEY
From Walla Walla to Bordeaux, we all need an everyday wine to relax with. Our Walldeaux Smithie is a red blend composed of one or two vintages of wine barrel aged for complexity, and wine that is fresh and fruity.