smak wine

Winery of the Month: SMAK Wines

You’ve likely heard the terms “rosè all day” and “yes way, rosè.” At SMAK Wines, the terms are literal. That is because the Walla Walla winery only makes rosè, including vintages to be enjoyed outside of summer pool and beach season.

Founder and winemaker Fiona Mak decided to go in this truly unique direction after frequent travels to the French Rivera as well as Napa and, of course, Walla Walla. She saw both a niche and a challenge, and went all in like no one ever has before.

A hospitality giant even before SMAK, Hong Kong native Mak is a veteran of such iconic spots as Morimoto in Philadelphia, Haru Sushi in New York, and Quality Meats in Manhattan. It was while at Quality Meats that she began to really focus in on wine, training with the Court of Master Sommelier and earning the Certified Sommelier title. Inspired, Mak left the West Coast to attend the Walla Walla Community College Enology and Viticulture program in 2013. While still a young brand, she is making a name for SMAK already, earning a spot in the Seattle Times’ “Top 20 Northwest Wines of 2020” and a No.1 ranking on its list of “Best Wines Under $20.”

A visit to the tasting room – which does require advance reservations – is a visual adventure as much as a vinicultural one, primarily because she personally changes the venue’s décor, vibe and accents each season to help put you in the mood for certain wines based on time of year. One very cool aspect of doing a curated tasting flight: if you buy a bottle, your tasting fee is waived. Join the wine club, and there are even more goodies, including private events and release parties.

For me, the 2020 Fall/Winter Rosé is drinking exceptionally well right now, with notes of orange blossom, almond, pear and just the tiniest bit of coconut in every sip. Some folks even note a little cinnamon, which really makes it ideal as the weather changes. Funny enough, its 2019 sister Fall/Winter Rosé tastes different to me, but also well worth a sip or two. Or…do a side-by-side comparison with both. Here, I get the almond for sure, but more orange peel than blossom and definitely more spice.

Finally, because I am not much for following rules, I also recommend the 2019 Spring Rosé despite it being fall. Why? Because the honeysuckle, acid and tropical citrus should be enjoyed all year long!

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