After last year’s enthusiastic reception of Cougar I wine, the WSU Alumni Association initiative continues with Cougar II, another fine blend from a Coug-owned winery.

Laura Sorge, part of the winemaking team who made the blend at Columbia Crest, says Cougar II celebrates the synergy between Washington wine pioneer Walter Clore, WSU, and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates—with a twist.

Sorge herself is an innovative winemaker. After many years in biopharmaceutical research, she decided to change careers. She studied enology at WSU before joining Columbia Crest under head winemaker Juan Muñoz Oca. Sorge says she loves that she can blend her science background with winemaking creativity.

“People are open to look not just at the art of winemaking but also applying science into the care and quality of our wines,” says Sorge.

That thoughtfulness went into Cougar II. The red blend begins with a base of 2013 Columbia Crest Icon primarily with merlot grapes. Some Cabernet Franc keeps with the traditional Bordeaux style.

Then there’s a surprise, says Sorge. Cougar II has a syrah fermented in a nontraditional manner in Columbia Crest’s concrete tanks. “It lends savory elements to the wine, along with big spice from the syrah and nice fruity components,” she says.

Cougar II encapsulates the winemakers’ philosophy. With an eye toward tradition, the wine does something novel. And that’s the goal of blending, says Sorge, to create multiple layers of flavor, where “one plus one makes three.”

To learn more about the WSUAA and Wine By Cougars, visit or call 1-800-258-6978.