Maryhill Winery is relatively new to Spokane, having established its first satellite tasting room here just two short years ago, but owners Craig and Vicki Leuthold say their quick success here has already inspired them to open two more locations in Western Washington.
Originally from Seattle, Craig is a business graduate of Washington State University. It was while he was a student there that he met Vicki, who was born and raised in Hawaii. The two were married in 1984.
"Our love affair with wine began on a trip through Napa California in the '80s, and over the next decade we just continued to expand our involvement in the wine world," he says.
In 1997, the couple decided to invest in a small winery in the Columbia River Gorge, called Cascade Cliffs. It was there that they spent two years planting grapes, bottling wine and helping with harvest, before deciding to start Maryhill.
"We were introduced to Mike Hogue, at Hogue Cellars, who allowed us to produce our first two vintages at his facility in Prosser while we built the winery, tasting room and surrounding grounds," Leuthold says. "Our first vintage at Maryhill, we produced 13,000 cases of wine eventually growing our production to around 80,000 cases where we are today."
Maryhill began with just one tasting room at its Goldendale facility overlooking the Columbia River and didn't really have plans for anything further. However, during the Christmas holidays in 2016, the couple visited friends in Spokane's up-and-coming Kendall Yards neighborhood and saw a building under construction that seemed like the perfect location for a tasting room.
"There were two things that drew us to that spot," Leuthold says. "One was the proximity to a large customer base living within walking distance, the other was the location itself. We'd always envisioned a back deck that overlooks downtown and the Spokane River, and the finished space is just stunning."
Building on the success of its Spokane location, Maryhill soon added two more tasting rooms; one along the Vancouver waterfront in April 2019, and another at a refurbished 100-year-old schoolhouse-turned-event facility near Woodinville this past November.
Leuthold says all of Maryhill's tasting room locations feature original 1800s antique bars, and expansive outdoor seating areas with sweeping views.
Each location offers fast casual dining with Northwest inspired cuisine such as Dungeness crab cakes, manila clams sautéed in a wine, sandwiches and charcuterie plates with a selection of cured meats and regional cheeses.
"We've discovered that customers, especially in the urban environment, are expecting more from their tasting room experience than a glass of wine and a cheese plate, so offering an expanded food menu was important to us," he says. "As for entertainment, all our locations offer live music from local artists several days a week, and the art aspect is included at the Spokane location with events like First Friday and the Wine Walk."
Leuthold says what sets Maryhill apart from other wineries is its use of more than 35 different varieties of grapes, sourced from more than 20 vineyards in the Columbia Valley in Washington and some in Oregon.
"Maryhill has one of the largest portfolios of wine found anywhere," he says. "Our portfolio has three tiers: our classic wines that are more affordable; our reserves, which are a more elevated level of wines; and our vineyard series, which showcases grapes from some of the finest vineyards in the Columbia Valley."
Because of the diverse sources used, Leuthold says Maryhill is able to offer more than 60 different wines, both white and red, many of which use grape varieties that originated in Spain, France, and Italy.
In terms of taste and style, Leuthold says Maryhill wines are produced with the goal of ensuring the terroir (the soil and climate of the place where the grapes were grown) is expressed.
"Our winemaker's philosophy is to have a noninvasive winemaking process that allows the wines to be distinctive and express the uniqueness of where they are grown," he says. "With very few exceptions, the varietal on the label will be 100 percent of what is in the bottle, as we want our customers to experience those varietals in their purest form."
Leuthold says Maryhill's most popular wine is its Winemaker's Red; a blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. He adds that Maryhill's Viognier is also a regional and national favorite, and its Rose of Sangiovese is a popular "summer sipper."
Looking ahead to future growth, Leuthold says that because Maryhill already has three satellite tasting rooms, they would only be able to add one more location.
"We're still settling in at our newer locations, and with the current economic situation there will be things we need to adjust to," he says. "So we'll probably stay where we are for the foreseeable future."
For now, Leuthold says the winery is looking forward to returning to relatively normal operations soon.
"Sharing our wines and being able to showcase the diversity of grapes grown in Washington has always been our greatest joy and we're excited to continue to do that once we're able."
As to the best food to pair with Maryhill wines, Leuthold says his recommendations include: the Chenin Blanc with oysters on the half shell, the Reserve Cabernet with a grilled New York steak, or the Marvell paired with barbecued ribs.