Production: (2000) 6,000 cases/year; full production potential 25,000 cases
Vineyards: 80 acres, south-southwest facing on the Snake River; planted in Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Riesling; will be adding Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc in 1997, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc in the future
Claar Cellars is a family owned Estate Winery. Christa's parents, Audrienne and Russell Claar (rhymes with "fair"), developed the first farm in 1950 and planted the first grapes in 1980. Bob and Christa were both Active Duty Naval Officers until 1983, when Bob retired and Christa transferred into the Naval Reserve. Since then they have developed over 300 acres into premium wine grapes, apples and asparagus.
Claar's 80 acres of vineyards are on south and southwest facing hillsides above the Columbia River. In this distinct microclimate, located a few miles north of Sagemore Farms and Bacchus-Dionysus vineyards, they are endowed with an almost ideal combination of climate and soil. This region receives more heat than growing areas to the west and avoids the more frequent frosts and killer freezes to the east. Also the south facing hillsides allow cold air to drain in the spring and collect more heat during the growing season. The sandy, rocky soil is especially conducive to growing quality grapes and researchers have frequently stated that this region is the best in the state of Washington.
After 13 years of selling grapes to wineries throughout Washington, from New York to Mississippi to New Mexico, and of being told of their unique taste and quality from numerous winemakers, the Whitelatches decided to take the steps necessary to become an Estate Winery.
With the 1997 crush Claar Cellars became an Estate Winery processing and bottling all of their grapes in their own 10,000 square foot facility. They have recently added an 84' x 40' Temperature and Humidity controlled Barrel Building. Claar's winemaker, Bela Varga, is Hungarian by birth and received his Masters Degree in Enology from Budapest University before immigrating to Canada. He has many years’ experience in wineries in California and Canada and they are pleased to have him join with the winery to produce quality Premium wines.
Claar Cellars has bottled award-winning Dry, White, Late Harvest and Ice Wine Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. They have Merlot and Sangiovese vines in production and recently planted Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. They have 1997 Cabernet and Merlot and 1998 and 1999 Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sangiovese in barrels. They will produce about 25,000 cases of wine annually.
The Wines: (Spring 2000)
Bela Varga, 1999-current
Tom Dibello 1997-1998
Of special note:
Claar Cellars' winemaking technique includes riesling which is cold fermented to retain its fruit character. Chardonnay is barrel fermented on the lees and undergoes malolactic fermentation. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are aged in French oak. Grapes are from their Vineyards, making their wines 100% Estate Bottled.
Scheduled for 2000 opening are a staffed visitor center, gift shop and picnic area.
Other winery activities include Barrel Tasting, Come Catch The Crush, Nouveau Celebration, and a Christmas Open House.
CLAAR CELLARS -- a family owned Estate winery committed to quality!
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