It’s a marvelous thing when a hobby born out of passion turns into reality. That’s what happened for Les and Gretchen Adams, who started making wine nearly a decade ago. They loved it so much that they wanted to learn all aspects of winemaking, which, of course, starts where the grapes are grown.
While living in Lake Stevens, the couple purchased a 10-acre vineyard in the Columbia Gorge AVA just outside White Salmon, Washington. This vineyard wasn’t the kind that makes you want to move to the countryside and become a viticulturist. The vineyard was down and out.
Left to fend for itself with very little love, it was overgrown, and many of the original plantings weren’t producing grapes. The Adamses saw the potential and spent two years farming the vineyard on weekends and when a break from a busy life with kids would allow.
Crystal Lane Vineyard was brought back to life with organic vineyard techniques and time and patience. The vineyard was producing chardonnay, pinot noir and riesling when they sold it and moved on to the next wine adventure — moving to the Kitsap Peninsula and taking the leap to a commercial winery. A couple of years later, the pair opened a tasting room in adorable downtown Poulsbo.
Gretchen Adams grew up near Napa Valley, California, and the smell of the cellars was very familiar at a young age. Wine became a part of her life and she developed a love for learning about all things wine. She and her husband are entrepreneurs at heart and followed their passion by turning the love of wine into a business.
The year 2017 was the first commercial vintage for State 42 Wines, and the tasting room on Front Street in downtown Poulsbo opened in late 2019. As you might guess, Washington was the 42nd state in the United States.
There are currently nine wines on the tasting menu, sourced from six Washington vineyards that focus on organic and sustainable growing practices. Most of the white wines, like chardonnay, pinot gris and soon-to-be-released grüner veltliner and sauvignon blanc, are sourced from vineyards in Underwood Mountain, close to the vineyard site Gretchen and Les Adams revived. The reds are focused on single varietals (with a few blends) and are sourced from smaller vineyards in Walla Walla, where each grape is hand-picked and organically and sustainably grown.
The wines are made with passion, and that is reflected in the glass. The 2017 skin contact pinot gris is a surprisingly delicious wine that spent 18 months in French oak barrels, resulting in flavors of candied citrus peel, leather, sweet tobacco and vanilla. With a total winery production of around 1,000 cases, all the wines are very limited in quantity. Only 47 cases were produced of this wine.
A standout among the red wines is a 2017 Petite Sirah Syrah, a blend of 45 percent petite sirah and 55 percent syrah. Only 33 cases were produced, with blackberry and pepper notes followed by beautiful rosemary and caramel finish. Medium bodied and not overly jammy, this wine is delish.
The tasting room has a refreshingly modern and clean vibe that reflects the waterfront community of Poulsbo. All the wines are fantastic and this is an up-and-coming winery to watch.
If you want the inside perspective on the wines, join the wine club. It’s a value with a three-bottle-a-quarter commitment that includes four complimentary tastings or glasses a month; 20 percent discount on additional tastings, glasses and bottle purchases; plus invites to member parties, wine releases and other special events. The tasting room is kid-friendly and open five days a week, 2-7 p.m. Look for new releases coming this spring from State 42 Wines.