Monday, September 13, 2010

A Visit to Masquerade Wine Company

A Red Mountain Winery

There’s a winemaker with his own unique vision who’s moved to the Red Mountain AVA. His name is Bill Kimmerly, the winery is named Masquerade Wine Company. I had the pleasure of visiting with Bill last Friday afternoon.

Some of you may remember Masquerade as a Prosser winery, but Masquerade Wine Company is now a Red Mountain winery. Bill and his wife Jennifer have had quite the adventure, moving from California to Washington State and from Prosser to Red Mountain. I found their story a fascinating read; Bill tells a good tale about their many adventures in the world of wine - it's on their website.

Entry to Masquerade Wine Company.

While Masquerade is not on the Red Mountain Sunset Road, they are just across the street and part of the Red Mountain AVA. You’ll pass them either entering or leaving the Red Mountain area. They have a newer, larger, better secured sign on their property – you can’t miss it. The road to the tasting room is framed by sagebrush on one side and vineyards on the other side. Yes, we do live in the desert.

The road to Masquerade Wine Company Tasting Room.

My visit with Bill Friday was at his Red Mountain tasting room. No, it’s not a fancy tasting room, for now it’s a basement under a home, similar to other wineries I’ve known. We sat outside on the “patio” to be and enjoyed the lovely weather and his lovely wines. Over two hours, we visited and tasted through the complete line of Masquerade wines.

As I mentioned, the Masquerade tasting room is in a basement – but the entry is from outside. This is a good opportunity to see the tasting room in its early stages. Bill and Jennifer do have plans for expanding the winery and tasting room; this also includes plans to partner with someone to build a Bistro. Red Mountain has plenty of wineries, but there is no place to eat on Red Mountain - a Bistro is a great idea. He has the room, he has the vision; he’s just looking for some interested investors. His contact info is below.

The Wines

All of these wines were freshly opened. I was the first visitor of the day.

Effervescing Elephant Sparkling Wine.

We started with his sparkling wine, the “Effervescing Elephant”. This wine is one of his best sellers and it’s a sparkling wine. If you ask me, there are not enough sparkling wines in Washington. Bill has plans to expand his sparkling wine offerings beyond this, and to offer a complete flight of sparklers. That’s a vision I’m behind. The label on this wine is part of an artist series in collaboration with Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project, a non-profit group from New York, NY. AEACP raises money for elephant conservation in Southeast Asia by selling artwork painted by elephants. Visit his web site to learn more. Very cool.

2006 Chardonnay.

Next we sampled the 2006 Chardonnay. The Chardonnay was not what I expected. Something about it seemed different. Bill explained that he chose the fruit he thought would best express his vision of Chardonnay. His 2006 Chardonnay is made from Oregon grapes. Not what I expected.

2008 Viognier.

Our next wine was the 2008 Viognier. The Masquerade Viognier is stone fruit paradise to the nose – peach, pear and apricot, well done. Surprisingly, this wine is 15% alcohol and 2% residual sugar, very captivating. Once again, this wine was not what I expected and is recommended for a blind tasting.

The Red Wines

2007 Malbec.

One of the other big sellers is the Masquerade 2007 Malbec. This Malbec is very absorbing, while soft, it’s very complex and spicy. This is not a heavy Malbec, it’s light and fruity, perfect for the patio and dinner with friends.

2007 Syrah.

We followed up with the Masquerade Syrah. Which I’ll describe as a feast to the senses; smoky, meaty, dark fruit and truly a meal in a glass.

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Masquerade 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Les Collines vineyard Walla Walla. This wine is made from fruit from the very well known Les Collines vineyard in Walla Walla. It's aging very gracefully, and I suggest you visit the tasting room to sample it.

2004 Red Mountain Merlot.

Our tasting finished, appropriately, with the Masquerade 2004 Red Mountain Merlot. Classic Red Mountain fruit and so satisfying. If only I had more time to wait for all these wines to open up just a bit more. Anyone going tasting Saturday?

Thank you Bill for such an enjoyable visit. I'm looking forward to your future Estate releases too.

You can find Masquerade wines locally at the Kennewick Fred Meyer (off of highway 395) and in South Richland at Albertsons on the corner of Gage and Leslie. Call or email the winery for shipping.

Bring your putter when you visit the tasting room.

I encourage you to stop by Masquerade Wine Company to enjoy their wines and the big sky of Red Mountain – I’d love to stay for the sunset. It’s a perfect time of year to visit. Also, bring your putter; Masquerade has a couple of pretty greens just for you.

The Tasting Room is open Friday through Sunday, 11 AM to 5 PM.

They also open on holiday Mondays, 11 AM to 5 PM.

For personal tastings and sales by appointment, please contact Jennifer Kimmerly at (509) 554-9268.

Masquerade Wine Company, 28719 E SR 224, Benton City, WA 99320

Phone: 509-416-MASQ (6277)


Have I mentioned recently that this is wine tasting weather? We are blessed with perfect weather for wine tasting. Plenty of sun, not too hot and the grapes are almost ready for harvest.

Cheers!