MANSON — Angela Jacobs skated into the world of winemaking wearing kneepads and a crash helmet. A decade after starting WineGirl Wines, Jacobs has mellowed a bit, along with her sure-footed presence in Lake Chelan’s burgeoning wine industry.
And her wines? They’ve aged and mellowed beautifully, without giving up any of that hell-on-wheels excitement that has marked her wines from the start.
Jacobs, with partner Todd Link, recently expanded the original tasting room and production center in Manson (222 E. Wapato Way), opened a second tasting room in Leavenworth (217 8th St.) and launched a new line of tasty wines with eye-catching pin-up girl labels and attractive pricing. They plan to add a bistro menu in Manson soon. The couple also produced a daughter, Brooklyn, now 18 months old.
All those changes have helped root the couple with a serious sense of place and future. Over the past few years, Jacobs has sought out the best local vineyards that give her wines a true Lake Chelan area character. “I have a clear idea of what I want to do with wine. I want them to speak for themselves,” said Jacobs, 37, adding, “I think we grow some of the best Merlot and Syrah in the state.”
Lake Chelan has the best location for wine in the state, not only for growing grapes of unique wine flavor and intensity, she said, but also for marketing wine to a growing throng of wine-loving visitors who are extending the lake’s tourist season.
Jacobs has an MBA in marketing and entrepreneurship. She’s served as president of the Lake Chelan Wine Alliance and on the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce board.
Jacobs visited vineyards and wineries throughout Europe and worked in Sonoma, California and Willamette Valley, Oregon wineries on her way to a wine career. The Dallas, Texas, native originally moved to the Northwest to study medicine at the University of Washington. Her science background came in handy in learning how to formulate pharmaceuticals, which she did for awhile, as well as wine.
She started WineGirl Wines in 2007 while still living in Seattle, where she rolled wild with roller derby queens and rode a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. She moved the winery to Manson in 2010 after studying the state’s best areas for potential wine growth. The Lake Chelan area, she believes, will soon rival Walla Walla and even Napa as a wine tourism magnet.
WineGirl specializes in hearty Bordeaux and Rhone style red wines and fragrant whites, including Chardonnay, Viognier and Gewürztraminer. She plans to add a Champagne-style sparkler in the near future. The winery produces about 2,500 cases of wine annually, nearly all of it sold through its two tasting rooms and WineGirl Wine Club.
Here are my notes on a few of the WineGirl Wines I tasted at the Manson tasting room:
<> 2016 WineGirl Reserve Viognier: A full-bodied white wine with fresh fruit blossoms on the nose and lovely notes of pear, Asian pear and Golden Delicious apples. Sourced from Antoine Creek Vineyard and fermented and finished in French oak barrels.
<> 2014 Snow Ski Girl Pinup Chardonnay: A buttery, oaky and complex Chardonnay that calls out for a slab of wild salmon. Grapes are sourced from Ancient Lakes and fermented and aged in new French oak.
<> 2015 Miner Girl Pinup Sangiovese: Bright, slightly tart offerings, brimming with fresh raspberry, pie cherry and pomegranate fruit; nice finish of cedar, smoke and spice. Antoine Creek Vineyard.
<> 2015 Butte Pinup Bordeaux-style Blend: A lively red blend of 50 percent Merlot, 37.5 percent Cabernet Franc and 12.5 percent Malbec sourced from Lake Chelan AVA vineyards. Layered flavors of fig, black cherry, cranberry, raspberry and tobacco.
<> 2015 WineGirl Reserve Cabernet Franc: Bursting with blackberry jam, blueberries, black currants, very ripe Van cherries and a touch of licorice; seasoned with hints of black pepper and tobacco.
<> 2015 WineGirl Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: Lots of depth in this 100 percent Cab sourced from Agate Fields Vineyard in the Yakima Valley AVA. Deep, ripe blackberry and Italian plum flavors, spiced with vanilla and oak.