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Northstar Winery Winemaker Dinner

Architect Ed Luebben being poured 2010 Stella Blanca Semillon.

Vintage Walla Walla Winemaker dinner.

Last night my friend, Architect Ed Luebben, joined me at Northstar Winery for a winemaker dinner. My wife was unable to attend this dinner in Walla Walla, so I felt it was appropriate to invite the Architect who designed Northstar Winery, my friend Ed Luebben.

Ed used to live in Walla Walla and he has been involved in numerous Walla Walla wine projects, including Northstar. I apologize for not having better photos of the facility; I was more interested in food, wine and conversation last night (I dug through my old files for construction photos of Northstar, but all I could find were project renderings and a short animated walk-through).

Assistant Winemaker Noah Reed guides us through the wines.

We dined outside, enjoying an ideal view of vineyards and the Blue Mountains. Our delicious wines were provided by Northstar and our wonderful dinner was prepared by Chef Greg Schnorr of Fat Duck Inn. Assistant Winemaker Noah Reed, was our friendly guide through dinner.

I find it interesting that Noah was part of the second graduating class in the winemaking program at Walla Walla Community College’s Institute for Enology and Viticulture, since this was another of Ed Luebbens Walla Walla wine projects (Phase I and Phase II).

The beautiful setting, wonderful food, great company and some excellent wines, made for a perfect evening. The two ladies from Portland who joined us at our table kept the conversation lively all evening. But, I must tell you about the wines.

Northstar Winery entrance at night.
The Northstar wines were stunning last night.

Yesterday, Northstar released their 2010 Semillon. They don’t make Semillon every year. The Semillon is such a limited production wine, you can only purchase it from their winery. A note of cinnamon still lingers on my mind. 2010 Stella Blanca Semillonrecommended.

Originally, the purpose of Northstar Winery was to produce only premium Merlot. Today, they are producing a variety of premium wines, but the Merlot they do make is stellar. The Northstar 2007 Columbia Valley Merlot was big and complex, jammed with fruit. I’d call this wine the realization of the original vision, recommended.

I’m listing these wines in order of presentation at last night’s dinner; the next wine was the 2005 Walla Walla Valley Syrah. This gorgeous Syrah was paired with a Steamed Chinese BBQ bun (what I call a Humbow). The Chinese 5 spices in the Humbow were a perfect match to the dark fruit, spices and hint of funk in the Syrah, definitely recommended. More please?

The 2007 Walla Walla Merlot was an interesting contrast to the earlier 2007 Columbia Valley Merlot. These are two completely different wines. While the Columbia Valley Merlot is big and boisterous, the Walla Walla Valley Merlot is a study in elegance and subtlety. 2007 is a great vintage and drinking very, very well now, recommended to all.

We wrapped up dinner with some of the best strawberries I’ve eaten in years. They were Klicker Strawberries, which were paired with the Northstar 2008 Cabernet Franc. Quite a few happy diners last night were surprised at how good a Washington Cabernet Franc can be. I was not surprised, just happy to share a wonderful wine with great company. The Cab Franc was not over the top, but it was very tasty and a great wine to finish dinner with - recommended.

It was a pleasant drive back home from Walla Walla. Ed and I spoke the entire way home. A most enoyable time, thank you to everyone who made it such a great evening. Put Northstar Winery on your must visit list.

Northstar Winery
1736 J.B. George Road, Walla Walla, WA 99362
Tasting Room Hours:
10 am to 4 pm Monday through Saturday
11 am to 4 pm Sunday

*Related posts: Garrison Creek Cellars and Walla Walla Wine Incubators

*What Is A Klicker Strawberry™?
"A Klicker Strawberry™ is a vine-ripened strawberry that has been grown in the foothills of the Blue Mountains by the Klicker Family. A Klicker Strawberry™ has the tradition of having excellent quality, and of being "Famous for Flavor". Klicker Strawberries™ are also a tradition of Walla Walla youth who have helped in producing and harvesting the annual crop for the past 80+ years. The current goal of the Klicker family is to provide a ministry to the young people of the community. This will provide the opportunity for them to learn about a good work ethic, leadership, and gain personal growth." Website:


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