Kestrel Vintners – Leavenworth Review
Address: 843 B Front St. Leavenworth,Washington 98826.
Phone Number: 509-548-7348
Tasting Hours: Sun-Thurs 11:00-5:00, Fri-Sat 11:00-8:00
Region: Leavenworth, Washington
Reviewer: Denise Gangnes
Review Date: 1/4/2013
Reviewer: Denise Gangnes
Walk into a Starbucks or a Costco; whether youre in Waikiki or Woodinville, London or Leavenworth, and the format is consistent: layout, construction materials, color palette and ambiance are remarkably similar. Wine tasting rooms, however, should reflect the ambiance of the city where theyre located; a good example is Kestrel Vineyards. Each of their three locations (technically two in Prosser, one each in Leavenworth and Woodinville) boast wine tasting facilities truly tailored to their clientele and surroundings.
The Place:  Leavenworths wine tasting tourist industry is growing faster than you can say pass the brats. Kestrel was one of the first to make their mark, with a prime location on Front Street (Leavenworths equivalent of the Las Vegas strip). My companions agreed that their facility definitely felt very Leavenworth-y which translates to a bit less contemporary feel and a little more of the omnipresent faux-Autumn-leaf Bavarian themed décor that permeates this town, along with the requisite copious amount of souvenirs on display.
The Experience:  This was my third visit to the winery in the past 6 months; Visit #1 in August represented a typical Leavenworth summer day: long lines of tourists swarming the half dozen wineries located in the main downtown block. To their credit, the pouring staff did their best to accommodate the crowds, and we managed a few pours in the small but tasteful club room before heading on our way.
Visit #2 was just two days before Thanksgiving. With the town quietly awaiting the impending holiday crowds, we found ourselves the only patrons in the place. Alas, we walked away less than impressed with the service. A combination of remarkably tiny tastes (hereafter known as pity pours), accompanied by a stream of angst-filled exclamations about the stress of trying to decorate the room for the holidays while attending to the infrequent tasting groups left my companions less than enthusiastic about our experience. Her efforts were rewarded with the purchase of only one bottle, a fruity Pinot Gris. My biggest beef? Butchering the names of varietals. Even in Leavenworth, this is unacceptable.
Fortunately, Visit #3 just after the Christmas holidays redeemed our pre turkey-day disappointment; a dark-haired fraulein waited on us at a table near the street, away from the busy tasting room bar. Not only did she cheerfully serve us well after closing time, but her knowledgeable, service-oriented attitude greatly enhanced our experience as well as the bottom line on our receipt.
The Wines:  Kestrels lineup of reds is nearly 90% of their overall production. The Falcon moniker is branded onto several blends; the Raptor Red walked away with Double Gold and Best of Show at the 2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition last summer. Kestrels Winemaker Select series of wines matched both our pocketbook and taste buds: the Co-Ferment Syrah features an inspired splash of Viognier in the blending, and the Mourvedres soft red fruit flavors are succulent. The Pinot Gris is fruity and drinkable. The Port was irresistible; the uniquely shaped bottle alone is worthy of a space on your table. Several vintages are on the bubble for release early in 2013, so check their website for updates.
Insider’s Tip:  Be aware that crowds during festivals can be claustrophobic; expect long waits on holiday weekends. Kestrels website states: Wine Bar Opens at 6. Translation: they serve wine all day but try to close around 7 p.m. Check out their wine slurpee machine. Although we havent had opportunity to slurp some on any visits, we are intrigued now that liquor is privatized in Washington State, could expansion of this chilly beverage into 7-11s be far behind?