Though he grew up far from wine country, David Volmut always figured the passion he was born with would lead him to a better life. Volmut was raised in an Italian family in the Midwest, where wine on the dinner table was ubiquitous.
Its part of my heritage, he said. I learned that wine and food go hand in hand. Its part of the meal like salt and pepper.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in medieval history, Volmut worked in telecommunications until he decided to follow his heart. He moved to Washington wine country in 2007 and began earning a winemaking degree at Yakima Community College in Grandview while working at area wineries.
By 2009, he earned his degree and began to plan his next move: to launch a small winery called Wind Rose Cellars. He wanted to locate in an area that was not saturated with wineries but also was a tourism draw. He initially focused on Hood River, Ore., but rules that required him to have a working vineyard before he could sell wine were a deterrent.
Meanwhile, his wife, Jennifer, got a job in the Olympic Peninsula town of Sequim, one of the sunniest places west of the Cascade Mountains. The peninsula and San Juan Islands are growing wine regions, so they moved.
Volmut focuses primarily on Italian grape varieties grown in the Columbia Valley, including Barbera, Dolcetto, Primitivo, Nebbiolo and Pinot Grigio.
His first vintage was from the 2009 vintage, and his rosé immediately gained attention from professional wine judges and critics. Volmut has been able to use quality winemaking and out-of-the-mainstream varieties to quickly distinguish Wind Rose amid the more than 1,300 winemakers in the Pacific Northwest.
So far, Volmut produces fewer than 1,000 cases annually, and he has no plans to grow that beyond about 1,500. Here are some of Volmuts newest wines.
Wind Rose Cellars 2011 Rosado, Washington, $18: This rosé blends Barbera (60 percent), Primitivo (20 percent) and Dolcetto. Aromas of bubblegum, strawberry/rhubarb jam and minerality funnel into brisk flavors of cherry, red currant and apricot.
Wind Rose Cellars 2010 Dolcetto, Columbia Valley, $18: This wine includes 14 percent Barbera and 9 percent Tempranillo. It opens with aromas of plums, blueberries and cedar, all backed with a rush of acidity and a long, easy-drinking finish.
Wind Rose Cellars 2009 24K Vineyard Nebbiolo, Wahluke Slope, $30: The nose leads with black currant, Rainier cherry, sassafras, moist earth and a sliced portobello mushroom. On the attack, its light and lively with more black currant, slightly underripe blackberry and leather. The firm tannins and savory finish call for London broil served with a mushroom sauce or a bowl of teriyaki.
Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman are the editors of Wine Press Northwest maga-zine. www.winepressnw.com.