JM Cellars, located in Woodinville just up the hill from Chateau Ste. Michelle, was founded in 1998 by John and Peggy Bigelow. With encouragement and advice from Peggy’s brother-in-law Mike Januik, John decided to venture into winemaking and in 1998 turned the basement of the family home into a winery. 100 cases were made that first year, most of it given to family and friends. In 1999, he made 350 cases of Tre Fanciulli a Bordeaux Blend, JM Cellars’ first commercial wine.
The property for the current location was purchased in 2000, and the existing residence was modified to accommodate a fully functional barrel room, tasting room and event space. The winery sits on a beautiful seven acres, featuring over 120 Japanese Maples. Walking trails and picnic tables are just a few of the highlights that make it a welcome respite from the nearby hustle and bustle of the Woodinville Warehouse District.
JM Cellars sources fruit from acclaimed Washington vineyards such as Boushey, Klipsun and Ciel du Cheval. In 2005, the Bigelows had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase 40 acres in the SeVein Vineyard. This was the genesis of Margaret’s Vineyard, currently planted with 12 acres of Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenère.
A recent December afternoon had us bundled up for a tour of the barrel room and to taste through some future releases:
2012 Sauvignon Blanc Klipsun Vineyard – Aged in stainless steel tanks. Aromas of apple and citrus just jump out of the glass. Co-fermented with 5% Semillon which adds just a touch of honey on the palate. This wine is crisp, light and refreshing. The wine had me yearning for a July afternoon in the sun on my deck.
2011 Syrah Boushey Vineyard – Rich and savory aromas that are so much the trademark of Boushey Vineyard. Pepper, blueberries, game and dark fruits on the palate. Young, taut and in need of years in the cellar. Loads of potential.
2011 Cabernet Franc Margaret’s Vineyard – This barrel sample will ultimately end up end the Margaret’s Vineyard Estate Red but we were fortunate to try it today. Rich with lush bright fruit, it holds up well on its own. I almost hope John bottles a half barrel of this as a standalone wine.
We also tried several current releases:
2009 Margaret’s Vineyard Estate Red – The inaugural vintage of Margaret’s Vineyard Estate Red is comprised of 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 17% Malbec, 6% Petite Verdot and 6% Carmenere. Graphite, leather, vanilla and a hint of barnyard. My rating: 89 points. $42 at the winery.
2010 Longevity – The wine is a Right Bank inspired blend of 41% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot. Cherries, cassis, violets, cedar and herbs. My rating: 90 points. $45 at the winery.
John credits much of his early success to the great relationships he’s cultivated with some of Washington’s iconic wine personalities, including Charlie Hoppes of Fidelitas, Dick Boushey of Boushey Vineyards and Gary Figgins of Leonetti. Even as Washington’s wine industry grows, you can tell the community of winemakers and growers remains a tight group that hold each other in high regard.
I highly recommend a visit to JM Cellars on your next trip to Woodinville. If the weather cooperates, bring a picnic, buy a bottle and take advantage of one of the most picturesque wineries in the area.
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