McCrea is based in Western Washington, near the city of Olympia. It is owned and operated by Doug and Kim McCrea and Susan and Bob Neel. The winery was started in 1988 when Doug McCrea, a professional musician and educator, decided to turn his interest in wine-making, and making Rhone blends in particular, into a business. With his wife and business partners he started making Rhone-style blends from grapes grown in Eastern Washington, producing his first commercial vintages in the late 1980s. By the early 1990s McCrea was producing some of the first Grenache and Syrah wines in Washington. Within a few years they were also using Washington-grown Viognier, Mourvedre, Roussanne and other Rhone varietals to make Rhone-inspired blends. McCrea uses grapes sourced from Yakima Valley. Wine Advocate has noted that “Doug McCrea is one of Washington’s leading proponents of Rhone Ranger style wines. He gets considerable credit for getting Syrah underway in the State. He currently produces 3500 cases from his new winery from some of Washington’s finest terroirs.”
Yakima Valley AVA was the first AVA created in Washington State. The valley, a 600,000-acre area in south central Washington, was granted AVA status in 1983. In 1984 Columbia Valley was given AVA status, and Yakima Valley was enclosed within the Columbia Valley AVA. Nevertheless, Yakima Valley remains home to the largest concentration of vineyards and wineries in the state. There are more than 60 wineries and some 16,000 vineyard acres, and nearly 40% of Washington wines are made with Yakima Valley grapes. The most frequently planted grape is Chardonnay, followed by Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemaking here dates to 1869, when a winemaker from Alsace planted grape vines. Vineyard planting and wine production plodded along slowly until the early 1980s when numerous modern pioneers started making well-reviewed Yakima Valley wines. Some of the state’s newest, most closely watched appellations, including Red Mountain AVA and Horse Heaven Hills AVA, are contained within Yakima Valley.
Fans of Cabernet Sauvignon appreciate Mourvèdre. It’s a full-bodied Spanish native. It is grown prominently in Bandol, France, Paso Robles, CA and many other regions. It is often blended with Grenache and Syrah and can be used to make rosé and port-style wines.