Sipping Washington State Syrah

In full disclosure, I won this bottle of wine on a pre-conference excursion at the 2018 Wine Bloggers Conference. I won it for answering the question “what was the first AVA designation in Washington State?” The answer is Yakima Valley, designated in 1983. So there’s your wine trivia for the day.

The entire Upsidedown Wine story is pretty awesome – and not just because it would be perfect to drink while watching Stranger Things. They are doing so many things right — outstanding viticulture, low intervention, indigenous yeasts, and giving back is the foundation of the winery’s philosophy.

Ugh! Too hard:(

I have one complaint. It is sealed with a wax enclosure. I really hate wax enclosures. Maybe I’m just doing it wrong, but the wax enclosure on any wine bottle exhausts me. But, alas, I prevailed.

The Wine

The color of this wine alone is beautiful, but look at the crystal clarity of this wine. It’s notable because this wine is unfined and unfiltered. I expected a little sediment at the end but there was absolutely none.

So beautiful!

My initial impression of this wine was very nice – smooth, well balanced, nice fruit and tannins – but I never take notes on my first go round. The next day I re-visited this wine and my notes say dark fruit and chocolate with a savoriness that was just delicious. Beautiful smooth tannins with a lush, mouth coating feel. It feels so good in your mouth – it’s bold but so well balanced. The most intriguing thing about this wine is the finish. At first I wrote peppery, super long finish. After nibbling on some olive tapenade however, the finish turned to unmistakable blueberry and the finish was not only long, I literally couldn’t get rid of it. And I didn’t want to. I’ve never had a wine that gave me such an identifiable and lingering finish. Ir surprised me, and I love when that happens. You can purchase a bottle for $50 here.

The Winemaker

Upsidedown Wine is the venture of husband and wife team, Seth and Audrey Kitzke. Seth is the winemaker for both Upsidedown Wine and his parents’ Kitzke Cellars.

There are a lot of unique things about Upsidedown Wine. Most notably is that they give back 20% of the net proceeds of their wine to charitable causes – something they refer to as Pour It Forward. That definitely softens the edges of the $50 price point. Also noteworthy to me is the fact that they make Washington wine, but the tasting room for Upsidedown Wine is in Hood River, OR.

Fellow attendees of the Wine Bloggers Conference, Sandra Everingham & Dave Adamsand, interviewed the Kitzkes for an episode of their podcast, Decanted. Listen to Seth and Audrey discuss Upsidedown Wines and this Syrah in detail on this episode.

On The Radar

The grapes for this wine come from the Candy Ridge vineyard on Candy Mountain. This is important because Candy Mountain petitioned for AVA status in January of 2017, still pending at the time of this writing (along with 4 other Washington regions).  Located just southeast of the famed Red Mountain AVA, the soil compositions are similar but Candy Mountain is noted for a high amount of fragmented granite giving the wines a minerality that makes the site identifiable for those with an advanced enough palate to detect such nuances.  The AVA, if granted, will include only the south facing slopes of Candy Mountain,, an interesting point if you ask me. The location would be a sub appellation of the Yakima Valley.

This is of particular importance because the winemaker, Seth Kitzke, grew up on Candy Mountain. Candy Mountain is home to not only the vines and tasting room for Kitzke Cellars, but their family home as well.  Helping with the vines for his family since the age of 12, it’s no wonder he is now able to turn fruit from this location into such a beautiful expression in his wines.

The Label

The Artist Collection Series is a collaboration with artist Stephanie Severance. I really am curious about the inspiration for the label and also how the idea to put art on the label came to fruition. I am an unashamed label lover, so I love knowing the story behind labels. I reached out to the Kitzkes on social media but have not received a reply, if I do, I’ll update this post. If you listen to the referenced podcast, Seth mentions that he believes the label should speak to the level of what’s inside. I couldn’t agree more. Clearly this one was meant for me;)






4 Comments Add yours

  1. Oh I’m such a cynical bastard.(actually my parents were married when I was conceived)
    20% of the net profits donated to charity.
    1)Many accountants will tell you that there is no reason to have net profits.
    2) which charitable organization? Do they operate one where the CEO gets $500,000 a year.
    3) sustainable? Looks like a very heavy bottle, the biggest part of wine’ s carbon footprint is the package. Bottle over 425 grams, not minimum 90% post consumer waste? made in China?
    I think you just got greenwashed, sustainable is like ” reserve” it means whatever the marketing people want.
    4) $50 ?! Would you spend that much of YOUR money?

    But, thanks for coming to Washington.

    Paul Vandenberg
    Paradisos del Sol
    The World’s first (only?) Zero Pesticide Vineyard
    Washington’s first and America’s second, ingredient labeled wines


    1. Side Hustle Wino says:

      I always appreciate interaction, but I just want to point out I don’t think I used the word sustainable anywhere in my article? Also, the charities are clearly listed on their website, and no, I did not research the charities as I write about wine, not the structure of non-profits, but you are certainly welcome to do so as the information is there. And yes, I would spend my own money on this, or any myriad of other quality wines, but I’m sure your point is that $50 is not an everyday price point, and I can 100% agree with that.


  2. I was sooo jealous when you won this! What an amazing morning at Elephant Mountain Vineyard! I did get to enjoy a little of that wine the evening before at the dinner. I am glad to hear how well it opened up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Side Hustle Wino says:

      I was so happy to win it! It was definitely a beautiful wine. Cheers Robin!


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