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Paul Zitarelli of Full Pull Wines (Image: Rasmus Rasmussen)

Talking Washington Wine Month with Full Pull's Paul Zitarelli

The Washington State Wine Commission has deemed March as Taste Washington Wine Month. Finally, a full month to celebrate Washington wine, winemakers, producers, farmers, and the teams of people responsible to create this thing called Washington wine. It's so big, the industry itself has an impact of about $8 billion dollars to the state's economy. The month concludes the last weekend of March with the Washington State Wine Commission's big event; Taste Washington. You should go. We can cheers to good wine.

As we move forward this month, we're going to focus on some people that bring Washington wine to us. The first installment will be with Paul Zitarelli of Full Pull Wines. If you're not familiar with Full Pull, you should become so. Paul is part of a new breed of wine seller that does their customer contact purely through email. With Paul's wine offer emails, you'll learn about wines and producers that he thinks are interesting and why you might think so too. He started out focusing on Washington wine and has since opened it to more regions around the world, yet still taking pride in offering wines from our state.

What is an AVA in Washington you are excited about?
The Columbia Gorge. It's sort of like the mad-science lab of Washington. Unlike most of the rest of the state, it's legitimately cool-climate, which makes it great for wines that don't turn up elsewhere in Washington with any regularity: Pinot Noirs, Gruner Veltliners, sparkling wines. It's also a beautiful place to visit, and it still has a real undiscovered feel, with lots of friendly growers and winemakers.

What Washington producers do you think more consumer should know?

  • Soos Creek. Dave Larsen is a quiet guy, and his winery in Kent is only open one weekend each year, so he flies below the radar, but his single vineyard Champoux and Ciel bottles are amazing values year in and year out, and his entry level wines are fabulous also.
  • Bunchgrass. A Walla Walla winery that has deep roots in the valley but is still under-known. They have limited distribution in Seattle and limited open hours for their tasting room, but the wines are beautiful expressions of (mostly) Walla Walla Valley fruit.
  • Proper. Proper makes exactly one wine: a Syrah from their estate vineyard in the rocks of the Walla Walla Valley. It drinks like baby Cayuse, but it's half the price, and it's actually available.

What was the last Washington wine to surprise you?
Savage Grace Cabernet Franc. It's a Franc from Rattlesnake Hills, and it drinks more like something from Chinon in the Loire Valley than like a Franc from eastern Washington.

What surprises did you learn from your customer base when you went from Washington to regions outside of Washington?
I've been surprised at the depth of interest/appetite for deeply geeky wines. I knew we had an adventurous list, but their willingness to experiment has exceeded my expectations.

When someone asks for your elevator pitch on Washington wine, what would you say?
Washington is a wonderful bridge between old-world and new-world styles. It's a young enough region that you still get the excitement of experimentation, and because its reputation is still a work in progress, there are incredible values to be had, especially in relation to other domestic wines.