The transformation of Chelan’s Mellisoni Vineyards from small-town winery to one of Washington’s finest has been nothing short of amazing.
When the winery opened its doors in 2010, husband-and-wife owners Rob and Donna Mellison were operating their tasting room from their 40-foot fifth wheel.
From those humble beginnings, they have grown into one of Chelan’s most iconic winery destinations, with four acres of estate vineyards, breathtaking lake views from a contemporary tasting room, and extraordinary, award-winning wines.
This year, they’ve added yet another honor to their growing list of achievements: Wine Press Northwest has named Mellisoni Vineyards its 2021 Washington Winery of the Year.
“We were completely humbled by the award,” Rob says. “We work hard to try to make the best, high-end quality wine, and the fact that we received recognition for it was beyond anything we expected.”
From the onset, the Mellisons have focused on the “experience” of visiting the winery, providing impeccable customer service alongside stellar wines. They were one of the first wineries in the state to move away from the traditional tasting bar and offer guests tastings and glass pours on the winery’s outdoor patio and landscaped terrace areas.
The Mellisons currently make all their wines with a minimum of outside consulting. While Donna feels that Rob’s forte is crafting full-bodied reds, he in turn, notes that “Donna’s chemistry background has completely transformed our wines, especially our whites.”
“It starts in the vineyard,” Donna adds, “and we want the vineyard to speak for itself. From there, you’re going to make a phenomenal, gorgeous, aromatic wine. It’s the most rewarding experience for a winemaker. That’s what we’re trying to attain…to make the best wines for our wine club members and our guests.”
Together, the two have earned plenty of impressive accolades, including a Double Gold and four Gold medals at the 2020 Bellingham Northwest Wine Festival, and three Best in Class, five Double Golds, and four Golds at the 2020 Seattle Wine Awards.
Those medals qualified them for the Wine Press Northwest Platinum Judging, where they received six Platinum and two Double Platinum awards. Wine Press contributor Eric Degerman noted that this year’s results put Mellisoni on the Platinum Judging all-time leaderboard of Pacific Northwest winery elite, with a cumulative total of 11 Platinum and Double Platinums.
In addition to the 10 different red and white varieties grown at their estate, the Mellisons source grapes from nearby Larc Hill Vineyards, also located within the Lake Chelan American Viticultural Area (AVA), and Stillwater Creek Vineyard in central Washington’s Royal Slope AVA.
For those considering a visit to the winery, a Bellingham-to-Chelan drive over State Route 2 and Stevens Pass makes for a scenic four-hour journey. Reservations are encouraged and can be made at mellisonivineyards.com.