In the United States, two varieties of grapes rule wine. Cabernet is the king of reds and chardonnay is the king of whites.You won’t find them at Clarkston’s newest tasting room, Parejas Cellars. Instead you’ll find lesser-known varietals and blends served by artisan winemaker Mark Wysling.
“I do a lot of things that aren’t so mainstream,” said Wysling, whose white-walled tasting room includes a turntable and record collection of early rock ’n’ roll.
Parejas (pronounced pa-ray-has) means pairs or partners in Spanish. Pairing varietals and partnering wine with food are both passions for Wysling, who has 30 years experience as a winemaker. He is an adjunct professor for a winemaking program at Yakima Valley College in Grandview, Wash., where he creates his wines. He opened a tasting room in Clarkston in June after moving to the area to be with his partner, Rebecca Doolittle of Lenore, who helps run Parejas.
“I’ve been watching this area for awhile. It’s just the tip of the iceberg for wine in the Lewis-Clark Valley,” he said of the growing wine scene.
Wysling began making wine in college and is greatly influenced by Spanish wines and styles of winemaking. Among the wines under his Parejas label is an Albarino, a light-bodied, dry white with notes of peach and apricot that grows mostly in Spain and Portugal. There are 20 acres or fewer growing in Washington state, where he gets his grapes, he said. He wants to encourage people to plant the varietal in the Lewis-Clarks Valley American Viticultural Area because he believes it would grow well here.
“It’s like a slice of sunshine in the glass,” Wysling said.
His version of a southern Spanish red blend is Tres Rojas de Mesa, Three Reds on the Table. The full-bodied blend, with flavors of mixed black fruits and Mediterranean spices, uses graciano, monastrell and tempranillo grapes. While he used grapes from the Yakima Valley viticultural area for this vintage, these varieties are being grown at Colter’s Creek in Juliaetta, Wysling said. He plans to use grapes from the Lewis-Clark Valley area as they become available.
Wysling has created a line inspired by grapes and styles from southern France, under a label bearing his last name. Among them is a traditional rose that is full-bodied and bone dry. Another wine he offers that people find unusual is a savory Cinsaut, with hints of red fruits like cherries, strawberries and red currants. Only five or six acres grow in Washington, and it’s usually found in blends, he said.
Parejas Cellars sells wine by the glass ($7 to $15) and the bottle ($14 to $30). People are welcome to bring food or order in from neighboring restaurants. The cellar is also available to rent for events. In the fall and winter they plan to offer a wine club along with classes in food and wine pairing, blending and wine faults, Wysling said. Parejas Cellars will be one of the wineries at this weekend’s Chef Hop Vine event at the Quality Inn in Clarkston.
Parejas Cellars, 903 Sixth St., Clarkston; (509) 910-9844.