When Ed Fus arrived in Oregon in 1997, he was intent on getting into the wine industry.
His path ended up being different than most.
By 2001, the Penn State grad found a cherry orchard in the Eola-Amity Hills. After clearing the blackberry bushes, he planted Pinot Noir. But his first love was Zinfandel, something you dont find much of in Oregon. So Fus looked north when he decided to launch Angel Vine.
But Washington, while it has a warmer climate, doesnt have a lot of Zinfandel fewer than 100 acres. In 2006, he bought a little Zin from the Walla Walla Valley and began his quest to focus on the grape most often associated with Californias Dry Creek Valley.
Today, Fus crafts no fewer than five Zinfandels and one Primitivo, which is a clone of Zin making his the only winery in the Pacific Northwest to put such focus on the red grape.
Here are a few Angel Vine wines weve tasted in recent weeks. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or order directly from the winery.
Angel Vine 2011 Alder Ridge Vineyard Zinfandel, Horse Heaven Hills, $20: This wine produces aromas of raspberry-chocolate sauce, black cherry reduction, plum skin and pepper. On the pour is a rich entry of raspberry, plums and pomegranate.
Angel Vine 2011 StoneTree Vineyard Petite Sirah, Columbia Valley, $22: The aromas for this big red come with hints of ripe dark plum, blackberry, licorice, moist earth, crushed walnut and pepper. Theres a bold core of dark fruit with tannins akin to Western serviceberry skin and an undercurrent of boysenberry acidity.
Angel Vine 2011 Primitivo, Columbia Valley, $20: This produces gorgeous aromas of black cherry, raspberry and dark chocolate. On the palate, it shows elegance and richness with Bing cherries and dried strawberry amid refined chocolaty tannins. Accents of minerality and pepper extend the finish.
Angel Vine 2011 Avery Vineyard Zinfandel, Columbia Valley, $20: This vineyard near Goldendale, Wash., produces some of the Northwests best Zin grapes. The nose is reminiscent of black cherry, black pepper, pipe tobacco and toasted oak. The drink is bright and straightforward with dried strawberry, cherry and pomegranate.
Angel Vine 2011 StoneTree Vineyard The Sweet One, Columbia Valley, $25: This Port-style red uses Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. The nose is filled with hints of a freshly opened can of pie cherry filling, backed by plum, raisin and Tootsie Roll. Its a plump and sweet drink of cherry and plum, and the structure shows sturdy tannins and skillful integration of alcohol.
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run GreatNorthwestWine.com.