We got a note from the nice people at Maryhill Winery asking us if we’d like to try their wines before we visit Washington this summer. Something about the name was familiar.
Then Friday night after we sampled two of their whites, it hit me and promptly stuck in my head! It was a song from Billy Joe Royal. I didn’t quite understand the lyrics when I first heard them — because I was 7 years old. But I was already watching American Bandstand and would generally pick up on anything I could sing. While not as racy as some of the tunes on the radio today, the song made it clear that Mary Hill did what she wanted without worrying about what other people thought. I guess at that age, since I had more fun playing football outside with the boys rather than inside playing Barbies with the girls, I identified with these lyrics:
Mary Hill used to hang out in Cherry Hill Park
The game she played lasted all day to way after dark
Now all the girls they criticized her but all the guys just idolized her
cause Mary Hill was such a thrill after dark, in Cherry Hill Park
The 10th largest winery in Washington state, family-owned Maryhill Winery is located at the Southern tip of the Columbia Valley appellation in Goldendale, Washington. Named “2009 Washington Winery of the Year” by Wine Press Northwest, Maryhill produces 23 varietals and 28 wines. In addition to the winery, Maryhill hosts weddings and special events, with an adjacent 4,000-seat outdoor amphitheatre that hosts a summer concert series with artists like Lyle Lovett, Jackson Browne, Natalie Merchant and Earth, Wind and Fire (and that’s just this summer!)
Last weekend we tasted two of Maryhill Winery’s white wines and found them very enjoyable; the 2008 Viognier from Columbia Valley; and the 2007 Winemaker’s White.
Maryhill Winery 2007 Winemaker’s White – Columbia Valley
Reminiscent of a white Bordeaux with a bit of a twist, the Maryhill Winemaker’s White combines 49% Chardonnay, 36% Sauvignon Blanc, 11% Sémillon and 4% Viognier for a well-balanced semi-dry white table wine perfect for seafood, or Mediterranean fare. We tried it with stuffed grape leaves; hummus; feta and Greek olives that we had left over from our Greek wine tasting the previous evening. Plenty of citrus on the nose, with a bit of zesty lemon, peach and apricot. With notes of melon and tropical fruit on the palate, it is both creamy and refreshing, the Sémillon providing the perfect balance to the acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc. 13.5% Alcohol by Volume. A nice value at just $12.00.
Joe teases me and says I taste honey in every bottle of white. Not true, I say, sometimes I taste banana – not regular banana, but saltwater taffy banana. But that’s only a particular type of Chardonnay whose maker has decided that there never can be too much malolactic fermentation. Believe me, there can be. And it’s the one wine I will take one sip of and then give the rest of the glass or bottle to whomever happens to be in my vicinity. Cannot stand the stuff – at all! Thank goodness we tasted none of those!
Maryhill Winery 2008 Viognier – Columbia Valley
The 2008 Viognier from Maryhill Winery is more honeysuckle and star jasmine than Sue Bee on the nose, with delightful aromatics of sweet wild florals. Once in the mouth, we tasted Granny Smith apples and Anjou pear, with just a hint of vanilla bean, a bit of honey and a smidgen of toasty French oak. Light acidity and balanced sweetness cut the flash of spice and garlic in our leftover Baba Ghanoush. 13% Alcohol by Volume, down from the 14.3% of the 2007 vintage. Also a nice value at just $15.00.
Richard Batchelor joined Maryhill Winery in July 2009 and is responsible for directing all production activities at the winery including winemaking, bottling and harvest coordination. Prior to joining Maryhill Winery, Batchelor was head winemaker at Hall Winery in the Napa Valley, and was responsible for some of the fabulous 2006 vintages we enjoyed during our lunch and visit to Hall Winery last summer. A native of New Zealand, he holds a postgraduate degree in Viticulture and Oenology, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree from Lincoln University in Christchurch.
Established in 1999 by Craig and Vicki Leuthold, Maryhill Winery is a 90-minute drive from Portland, Oregon and a three-hour drive from Seattle, Washington. Located at 9774 Highway 14 in Goldendale, they are open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For those of you not familiar with the song; take a listen to Billy Joe Royal’s Cherry Hill Park, which peaked at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the year 1969. I apologize in advance if it sticks in your head!