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HISTORY & LEGACY

DeLille Cellars is regarded as a top American producer of Bordeaux-style blends, showcasing a tradition of quality and excellence over its 30-year history. DeLille remains a principal influence in establishing Washington State as a premier viticultural region, with a focus on the Red Mountain AVA and other prestigious vineyard sites throughout the Columbia Valley.

Founded on the concept of crafting world-class wine from Washington State, DeLille was one of the first five wineries in Washington to receive Robert Parker's 5-star excellence rating. The winery’s legacy of consistent quality and acclaim includes over 700 individual 90+ ratings from top international critics, numerous placements on Top 100 lists, and four consecutive Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wineries of the World accolades (2017-2020). 

Celebrating 30 Years of Washington Wine

 

Since our founding in 1992, DeLille Cellars has crafted top Bordeaux-style blends showcasing the unique terroir of Washington State. Below are some milestones throughout our 30-year history that have shaped our journey as well as the Washington wine industry as a whole. 

DeLille Cellars Founders

The Founding

In the spring of 1992, DeLille Cellars was founded by Chris Upchurch, Jay A. Soloff, Greg Lill, and Charles Lill. The name 'DeLille' was chosen to honor the Lill's family heritage and years of winemaking efforts. Greg's ancestor Julius DeLille was a Huguenot who fled the French city of Lille to escape religious persecution. In 1574, he started a winery and brewery in modern-day Czech Republic, establishing the foundation for winemaking craft in the Lill family.

DeLille Cellars Founding Wines: Chaleur Estate and D2

The First Vintage: D2 & Chaleur Estate

1994 brought "a knockout first release" (Stephen Tanzer) of two DeLille Cellars classics: Chaleur Estate and D2. DeLille's inaugural wine, Chaleur Estate marks the foundation on which the winery has built its craft of blending Washington State fruit. The wine showcases, depth, complexity, focus and elegance that personifies the French word for warmth, chaleur.

Following Bordeaux tradition, DeLille also produced a "Deuxieme," or second wine, called D2. The wine takes its name from the grand route du vin, or great wine road that travels through the historic wine region of Bordeaux. Today, D2 is the winery's most sought after label.

Upon release, both Chaleur Estate and D2 received outstanding scores from Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, earning a 93 and 90, respectively. Robert Parker's Wine Advocate described Chaleur Estate as "one of the most impressive Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc blends to emerge from Washington State."

David Lake with Founders Greg Lill and Chris Upchurch

David Lake Consults for DeLille

David Lake, a luminary in the Washington wine industry, was the consultant to DeLille Cellars for the winery’s first decade. David was the head winemaker at Associated Vintners/Columbia Winery and was the first Washington winemaker to hold a Master of Wine accreditation. He guided DeLille in the early years, advising on everything from equipment and winemaking techniques to vineyards and varietals.

David was key in making introductions to vineyard sources, including Red Mountain sites and Red Willow in Yakima Valley. He encouraged DeLille to acquire the rights to Harrison Hill vineyard and guided them in the production of Washington’s’ first white Bordeaux-style blend, Chaleur Blanc.

David’s advice and support was an essential contributor to the exceptional quality and critical acclaim achieved in those early years. With the sincerest respect, admiration and gratitude, we honor David Lake’s legacy.

Harrison Hill First Vintage

Harrison Hill

In 1994, DeLille Cellars was fortunate to acquire the rights to Harrison Hill vineyard in the Snipes Mountain AVA, which has the second oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines in Washington State. Now, with vines over 50 years old, Harrison Hill has become one of the most acclaimed Bordeaux blends in the state. 

First Vintage Chaleur Blanc

Chaleur Blanc: Crafting a White Bordeaux-Style White Wine

Observing the Bordeaux tradition of blending varietals together, in 1995 the team at DeLille chose to make a barrel fermented blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon for our first white wine:  DeLille’s Chaleur Estate Blanc. We knew this would create a wine with more complexity, diverse aromas and classic structure than many White varietal wines and which would pair well with a wide variety of food.

From the first vintage, we achieved nuances of white flowers, sweet grass, honey suckle, creamy crème brûlée, toasted almonds and more.  Over the years, Chaleur Estate Blanc (now called Chaleur Blanc) has shown us all just how well a properly structured white wine can age.

Planting Grand Ciel Vineyard, Red Mountain

Planting Grand Ciel Vineyard, Red Mountain

Grand Ciel vineyard is DeLille's 'state of the art', no expense spared estate vineyard located in the Red Mountain AVA. Every aspect of it was meticulously designed by Chris Upchurch - from the orientation of the planting and clone selection to the trellising, every detail is intentional to yield the highest quality wine. Limited production coupled with long-term aging capabilities make this a highly desired label for wine enthusiasts and collectors alike. The additional fruit from this site is blended into wines such as D2 and our Four Flags Cabernet.

Robert Parker and Founder Charles Lill

Robert Parker Names DeLille the ‘Lafite Rothschild of Washington State’

DeLille Cellars was one of the first four Washington State wineries to receive an “Outstanding, Five-Star” rating in Robert Parker’s Wine Buyer’s Guide. With the first vintage of Chaleur Estate receiving 90 points from Parker followed by this great achievement, the team at DeLille was further inspired to continue their passion for world-class winemaking that would help Washington achieve international acclaim as a premier wine region. Later that year, Parker declared DeLille to be “The Lafite Rothschild of Washington State.”

DeLille makes three acclaimed top 100 lists

DeLille Cellars Makes Three Acclaimed Top 100 Lists (2007 – 2008)

In 2007, DeLille Cellars was recognized in multiple renowned Top 100 Lists, including Wine Enthusiast, Robb Report, and Wine Spectator

Four Flags First Vintage

Four Flags Named Seattle Times Wine of the Year

Masterfully blended, Four Flags is a harmonious and complex representation of the incomparable terroir of Red Mountain and a tribute to our steadfast commitment to this respected viticultural area. Four Flags is crafted from the idea of blending Cabernet Sauvignon from four renowned vineyards on Red Mountain: Grand Ciel, Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, and Upchurch vineyards.

Each of these vineyards contributes unique flavors to the blend. Grand Ciel, DeLille's estate vineyard, demonstrates a seamless purity of Cabernet fruit showcasing cassis and Herbs de Provence. Ciel du Cheval contains shallower soils and lends minerality and graphite flavors alongside blueberry notes. Located at the bottom of the Red Mountain AVA with deep soils, Klipsun fruit is very rich and ripe, creating concentrated wines with plum brandy nuances. Finally, Upchurch vineyard has a floral aspect to it originating from Clone 2 Cabernet Sauvignon, offering violets and faded roses along with rich fruit.

Jason Gorski at DeLille Cellars

Jason Gorski Named Director of Winemaking & Viticulture

Jason Gorski joined DeLille Cellars in 2011 as lead winemaker under Chris Upchurch. In 2019, Jason took over all winemaking and vineyard operations as Director of Winemaking and Viticulture. Jason has been instrumental in DeLille Cellars’ success, expanding production and improving quality, including the achievement of numerous Top 100 ratings.

DeLille Cellars Woodinville Tasting Room

DeLille Cellars Moves to the Old Redhook Brewery

In 2019, DeLille Cellars moved all winery production and operations to the Old Redhook Brewery in Woodinville, Washington, where it built a three-story tasting room and opened a restaurant — The Lounge at DeLille Cellars. Today, DeLille’s portfolio consists of over 20 wines, a handful of which are internationally distributed. 

The Lounge at DeLille Cellars Woodinville Restaurant

The Lounge at DeLille Cellars Opens

In 2021, DeLille Cellars opened a new wine-centric dining experience at the Old Redhook Brewery in Woodinville. Located adjacent to DeLille’s winery and tasting room, The Lounge at DeLille Cellars is a full-service restaurant and offers glass pours, comparative tastings, and a unique food menu crafted by Executive Chef Michael C. Toni.

Tom Dugan and Jason Gorski in front of the DeLille Cellars Tasting Room

The Future

 The founding principle of “always seeking” guides the winery’s steadfast commitment to constant improvement, continuous discovery in the cellar, and the creation of exceptional wines and experiences. Always seeking to build on the strong foundation of its founders, DeLille Cellars is celebrating its 30th anniversary this spring, and we toast to what the upcoming years will bring.

“Established with a focus on wine quality, DeLille Cellars is an integral part of the history of Washington wine and its increasing reputation throughout the world. I look forward to continuing to build upon that foundation, working to continuously improve our wines, and promote the excellence of Washington vineyards.” 

- Jason Gorski, Director of Winemaking and Viticulture

 

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