One of the best parts about the Chelan wine region is you never quite know what you’re going to get with each winery in terms of varietals. While there seems to be no staple grape of the region, there seems to be a staple wine region to which the grapes predominately come from—France. Welcome to Cairdeas Winery.

Cairdeas digs deep into the terroir of France and focuses in on the Rhone Valley, both the northern and southern regions. The Rhone Valley is one of the lesser known wine regions to most wine drinkers. That has a bit to do with the fact the region itself doesn’t take the name of the wine. Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne are French wine regions and names of wine. Those names you’ll see on store shelves of your wine shop, yet the Rhône Valley gets a pass, often getting lumped into the “French” wine section, or “other.”

At Cairdeas, there is no Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir to run to. Those are of the Bordeaux and Burgundy world’s, respectively. In addition, you can’t default to Chardonnay for your starter wine. It’s time to jump head first into a Viognier / Roussanne.

My tasting partner was staring at me as I read through the tasting sheet, getting all the more excited at the prospect of varietals rarely found this side of the Atlantic. He, meanwhile, was attempting to just pronounce the grape, Cinsault (sin-so) up on the written chalk board.

The great part about Cairdeas is they are very accommodating to whatever wine skill set you have. If you are completely new to where even the Rhône Valley is, they will guide you through it. For the more seasoned wine taster, you can get a tour of both the Northern Rhône’s wines along with the southern.

I was elated to see a Grenache Blanc, a grape I can only count on one hand another winery having (spoiler alert, it’s Frick winery of Dry Creek Valley). The Grenache Blanc is not a Grenache sans skins but rather a completely different grape. It’s light, floral, crisp and with an extra chill, a perfect summertime wine to enjoy out on a lake.

The wines at Cairdeas are a mixture of single varietals and blends. Wines, pursuant to American regulations can’t be labeled as a single varietal unless it contains at least 75% of a single varietal. That’s a tall order when you’re attempting to simulate wines from France (or any other old-world wine region for that matter). So you’ll find a handful of wines that have blend names, such as Trí, a blend of Syrah, Grenache (Noir) and Mourvedré (pronounced Mour-vehd-draw). It’s a common blend in France, though often it’s made with Grenache being the predominant grape, though with Cairdeas it’s the Syrah making up the majority of the wine.

If you’re confused just how to pronounce the the grape name, the wine blend or even the title of the winery, just ask. I did, especially in regards to the name of the winery. For while all of the grapes are French, the name is Gaelic, pronounced Car-das. Cairdeas translates to mean friendship, goodwill or alliance; three words required to have a stewardship with the land & the people one works with.

Those three words can easily translate to the tasting we experienced at Cairdeas. For both tasting novice or sommelier, there is plenty of information, and wine for both to keep asking, “So what’s next?” That’s Cairdeas Winery.

Happy Tasting!
Haydn Adams