MikeL's Guide to WA Wineries
Kestrel Vintners
2890 Lee Road, Prosser, WA 99350
Phone: 1-888-343-CORK

[Label source: Beth Schoenberg]
Click here for map/directions.
YVWGA member winery
Page last updated: 22-Dec-2002, Page generated: 11-Sep-2005

Kestrel owner with winemaker
Owner with Winemaker
Production: (1995) 3k cases; plans to expand to 12k-15k by 2001
Vineyards: Hinzerling Vineyard, Smith Canyon

In 1989 John Walker, a Florida businessman and developer visited Washington to discuss the creation of a harness-racing track for his passion - trotting horses. Although he was basically a scotch drinker then, Walker visited Quilceda Creek Vintners of Snohomish and was stunned by the quality of Washington wines.

He found the finest WA wines were unavailable for purchase as they would always sell out so fast, so he decided it would make good business sense to get into the wine trade himself and emulate such top-of-the-line wineries.

In 1995 John acquired vineyards started Kestrel, named after the falcon often seen in Eastern Washington. The building was put up in 1998. The first releases were contracted with Brian Carter at Washington Hills. He hired Winemaker Ray Sandidge, and Judi Smasne from Washington Hills Cellars. Judy is the business manager and oversees the tasting room, with Gudrun Parker (accounting) and Annette Jackson (events coordination). (Gudrun has worked for several WA wineries including Cascade Crest Estates.)

In 1998 the new building was erected next door to Thurston Wolfe Wines and Hogue Cellars in Prosser.
Sources: [Wine Press NW online] [The winery]

The Wines:(Spring 1999)
  • 1995 Chardonnay Well-balanced oak and fruit with a rich mouth feel. Touches of pear and a tiny lemon zest add to its appeal. $15.
  • 1996 Chardonnay Flavors of honeydew melons with essences of pear and enhanced by a buttery finish and a beginning of toasty -but not overpowering - oak. $22.
  • Pinot Gris coming soon!
  • Viognier coming soon
  • 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon A bold cabernet with lots of ripe berry fruit, good tannins and a pleasing oak and vanilla aroma. $22.
  • 1996 Merlot Begins with lightly toasted oak aromas and vanilla, follows with intense flavors of raspberries and chocolate and ends with a long, satisfying finish. (200 cases produced.) $28.
  • Syrah coming soon! (only 70 cases produced).

Ray Sandidge
Ray Sandidge 1998-present
Brian Carter 1995-1998

Of special note:
Ray's obsession is to make the best wine from the best grapes. He's working with the contracted growers and planning their own vineyards for small crops of the highest quality.

Events: The Grand Opening will be 20-Mar-1999, and is a "bottle your own" event. 19-Mar-1999 will be the first winemakers dinner, catered by Emily's Kitchen from seattle. The YVWGA events -- Red Wine & Chocolate, Barrel Tasting, etc. There is a yearly Audobon Society event in the planning stages.

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