Red, white, or pink? Whatever the wine color, fatty and flavorful Chinook, or king, salmon requires a varietal to match its richness. Chardonnay, pinot noir, and rosé are natural choices. And Cougar-connected wineries offer plenty of options. Here are just a few.

Chardonnay was the first varietal planted at Walla Walla’s Woodward Canyon Estate Vineyard by Rick Small (’69 Ag.) in the 1970s. Its 2021 Washington State Chardonnay is made with grapes from two different blocks: old vines planted in 1978 and newer vines planted in 2011. The result is crisp, spicy, and balanced⁠—with notes of vanilla and understated oak and aromas of apple and pear. It’s produced and bottled at Woodward Canyon Winery, established in 1981.

The 2020 Reserve Chardonnay from Mercer Estates Winery is made from grapes from the Horse Heaven Hills. Forty percent was aged eight months on new and neutral French oak. Notes of toasted marshmallow and tropical fruit along with pear and apple create a wine that’s both bright and fresh but balanced with midpalate creaminess. Rob Mercer (’91 Poli. Sci.) and his brother, Will (’93 Busi.), trace their roots in the region to 1886. Their team includes winemaker Jeremy Santo (’03 Biol.) and Rob’s wife Brenda (’90 Busi.).

Goldendale’s Maryhill Winery, owned by Vicki and Craig Leuthold (’82 Busi.), makes more than 60 wines, including the 2018 Proprietor’s Reserve Pinot Noir, aged 10 months in new French (60 percent) and seasoned (40 percent) oak. It’s made with grapes sourced from an award-winning Oregon vineyard and features bright notesof blackberry, cherry and other red fruit⁠—pairing especially well with grilled or blackened Chinook.

Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards’ 2020 Whole Picture Pinot Noir is a medium-bodied offering with “a rocking nose of ripe red raspberries and brambly fruits, red cherry, earth, and peppery herbs,” according to the winery’s own description. The Lake Chelan winery is owned by Judy and Don Phelps (’80, ’82 MS Civ. Eng.).

Hard Row’s limited production 2022 Soixante-neuf Rosé, made exclusively from Gamay Noir grapes, was inspired by the dry, crisp rosés the couple sampled in the South of France.

And the award-winning Rosé of Sangiovese is a signature offering from Barnard Griffin, owned by Deborah Barnard and Rob Griffin, parents of Elise Jackson (’09 Busi.) and Megan Hughes (’10 Hort.), whose husband, Shane Hughes (’11 Int. Plant. Sci.), is also a Coug. Refreshing and versatile, this popular, bright, dry, and fruit-driven rosé features strawberry, melon, and pineapple flavors to cut through the rich fish.

For more information about Cougar-connected wineries or the Washington State Alumni Association’s Wine-By-Cougars Wine Club, visit


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