Have you heard the one about the two lawyers who walk into a winery? The best punch line to this joke is that it isn’t a joke at all. Barrister Winery, located in Spokane Washington, is producing outstanding wines worthy of good judgment.
While their wines are very serious, the way that the winery got its start is almost a joke in the making. Greg Lipsker and Micheal White, the owners and winemakers of Barrister, started their winery almost on a whim. The two Spokane area lawyers were vacationing with their families in 1997 when they found a 5 gallon winemaking kit. They made the purchase of the kit, started producing wine for themselves, and found that it was something that they really enjoyed.
As is the case with most hobbies that get “out of control”, eventually someone suggests that you try making back some of the money you’ve spent on your venture. Micheal and Greg did just that. In 2001 their hobby had grown to a full-blown obsession. They developed a complete, bonded winery, with a tasting room in downtown Spokane. Their specialty is Bordeaux red wines, but they also offer Syrahs and a few whites on occasion.
The great thing about Barrister winery is that their wines are their passion. Winemaking isn’t just something that Lipsker and White do day in and out to make a living, but something that they truly enjoy. This shows in the hand-picked selection of grapes that they source. The vineyards that their juice comes from are some of the most prestigious in the Western United States, including Pepperbridge, Bacchus, Seven Hills, and Weinbau, just to mention a few.
The other evening I enjoyed tasting a few of the Barrister wines. Their red blend, named “Rough Justice” is a fantastic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Syrah. It is wonderfully jammy on the nose, with lots of smoky plum. The flavors are fruit forward and drinkable with lots of texture and structure. A long silky tannic structure finishes the wine very nicely. I have to say that just opposite of the name, the wine is very friendly, just like a very lenient jury might be.
Barrister’s 2007 Cabernet Franc is a beautiful 88% Cabernet Franc and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon. Lots of red berries on the nose. It fills the mouth with sweet baking spices, and finishes long and silky. The 2006 vintage received a 90 pts in Wine Enthusiast, so the 2007 is in very high demand and not expected to be around long.
For those who don’t like red wines, or want to spread their wings a little, Barrister creates a Klipsun Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc very much worth trying. Their 2008 vintage offers a mouthful of summer, with pears and crisp apples on the front, turning to melon on the back of the palate.
The great thing about Barrister is that they are expanding distribution to the region. They are now readily available in the Tri Cities and Walla Walla area, and have strong hopes of being in Eastern Oregon soon as well. My hope is that you’ll give them a try when you find them, and be the judge yourself. Enjoy!