“Between the small, state-of-the-art cellar and the ability to work closely with Renzo Cotarella from Antinori and learn aspects of Italian winemaking style that we can apply to the Col Solare wines, my days usually start with me pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming!”
For many of us, retirement is a time to pursue hobbies and travel. For Darel Allwine, retirement from the U.S. Air Force led to a new calling in wine.
Returning to his native Washington state after 20 years traveling the globe for the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, including a stint in Germany where he first became interested in wine after touring the Mosel and the Rheingau, Allwine answered an ad for a cellar worker at Columbia Crest winery, where he quickly rose through the ranks. After his first harvest he was given the responsibility of overseeing all fermenting, racking, topping, and bottling for the winery’s Reserve wine program. Under Allwine’s care, the reserve program at Columbia Crest grew from 100 barrels to over 2000 barrels. The winery’s 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was also ranked #1 on Wine Spectator’s annual list of the Top 100 wines of the world in 2009.
During this time, Allwine also met and began working with Marcus Notaro, then red winemaker at Columbia Crest. Both began working with Col Solare during the production of the 2003 vintage. In 2006, the pair assumed full responsibility for winemaking at Col Solare and oversaw planting of the estate vineyard and construction of the estate winery on Red Mountain, which opened for crush that year. In 2012, Allwine and Notaro celebrated their 17th harvest together in Washington state and their 8th on Red Mountain. In 2013, Allwine was appointed winemaker for Col Solare by the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates-Marchesi Antinori partnership, after Notaro became winemaker for Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, the iconic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon producer, also a Ste. Michelle-Antinori joint venture.
At Col Solare, Allwine collaborates closely with Renzo Cotarella, chief enologist for the Antinori estates in Italy, to bring their collective expertise to bear on a shared vision – to craft Washington State’s premier Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine using fruit from the region’s best vineyards. As the Col Solare estate vineyard has matured, the vision of the partners has evolved to focus on the Cabernet Sauvignon of the renowned Red Mountain appellation and, ultimately, the specific fruit of their unique vineyard site. With the 2009 vintage, fruit from the estate vineyard plays an important role in the Col Solare blend for the first time and, beginning with the 2011 vintage, all future vintages of Col Solare will carry the Red Mountain designation.
In addition to learning about and drinking new wines, Allwine is an avid golfer who also enjoys participating in outdoor activities with his family– a lifelong passion instilled by becoming an Eagle Scout in his youth. He lives with his wife in Richland, Washington.