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Regular I-5 commuters through Mount Vernon have likely seen the “Winery Coming Soon” sign along the northbound highway. It was an attention grabber for years, promising the imminent arrival of a winery that was curiously slow to open. First the vineyards were planted, then the tasting room and winemaking facility erected. Then suddenly the sign changed to, “Bertelsen Winery Open”. The promising wines produced at this boutique winery are worth the wait.
Traveling north or southbound on Interstate Five, take exit 218 and stay on Starbird Road to Bertelsen Winery. The Pinot Gris vineyard, just over an acre, at the entrance to the winery welcomes visitors to a pleasant wine experience. The tasting room and winemaking facilities share space in the newly constructed building. It is a comfortable tasting room that is decidedly contemporary and will easily accommodate about 50 guests, and about 15 at the serpentine wine bar. Large windows line the west wall, and overstuffed furniture awaits guests who want to watch sports on the large wall-mounted flat screen television while they sample wine.
Founded by retired orthodontist Richard Bertelsen and managed by his son, Steve, the winery offers wine tasting in two flights consisting of four one-ounce samples. At $8.00 the Young Vines flight is a smart buy for those new to wine tasting or eager to try a wine made from young vines. The Reserve Flight, an $11.00 indulgence, is a short flight of some delightfully well-balanced wines. As it is a new winery you can expect most of their first releases to be fairly recent harvests.
The 2012 Malbec from Tapteil Vineyard in the Red Mountain appellation is a wonderful wine. This wine has full brambleberry flavors set against mineral notes and heady tannins. The result is a chewy, flavorful wine that lingers without wearing out its welcome. This wine is fairly priced at $32.00, and the tannins offer some assurance that it will cellar nicely for quite some time. Buy it soon because this wine is certain to quickly sell out.
At $27 a bottle the 2012 Merlot, sourced from the Walla Walla Valley shows beautifully. Aged for two years in French oak, Bertelsen Winery’s effort is full of raspberry notes and a spicy crabapple nose, with a finish reminiscent of caramel. This wine is good alone, but paired with a nice roast beef or slice of lamb it really shines.
Most red wine drinkers have a soft spot for Syrah, a hardy grape loaded with potential. Bertelsen’s $29 a bottle 2012 Columbia Valley Syrah is a fine example of the varietal. Rich black cherry, clove, allspice and vanilla bean flavors cascade over the palate followed by a lush lingering plum finish.
Bertelsen’s Winery is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 8:00 in the evening, Sundays from noon to 6:00pm, and closed Monday and Tuesday. From a distance the tasting room may look like an odd building set in a big field. Stop in for a visit, sample a flight of wine and enjoy being among the first to discover this winery. For more information visit www.starbirdwine.com. 

"Aged for two years in French oak, Bertelsen Winery’s effort is full of raspberry notes and a spicy crabapple nose, with a finish reminiscent of caramel."