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Brian Carter Cellars
November 25, 2018 | Brian Carter Cellars

Flourless Chocolate Cake & Opulento for the Holidays

Port is the most recognizable name in fortified dessert wines. In 2007, Brian Carter started a project to produce a great port-style wine in Washington. Working with the Newhouse family on Snipes Mountain in the Yakima Valley, we planted the Portuguese varieties Touriga Nacional, Souzao, Tinto Cão and Tinto Roriz (also known as Tempranillo) - the finest port varieties used to make the great fortified dessert wines of Portugal.

Hailing from the Douro River Valley in northwest Portugal, Port was originally created in the 18th century by the British who experimented with adding brandy to still red wines, fortifying them to stabilize them for the extended voyage across the Bay of Biscay and up the coast of France to England.

Most port-style wines have a semi-sweet to the notably sweet taste profile. Brian Carter Cellars Opulento is no different showing the intensity of fruit with a deep impenetrable garnet color, with aromas of raspberry, cherry, and chocolate with hints of almond and orange peel. On the palate, this wine has opulent flavors of chocolate and berry fruits with a perfectly balanced and satisfyingly sweet finish. The sweetness in the wine comes from the brandy that is added during fermentation, which halts the fermentation process, leaving some sugar behind.

Serve with your favorite dark chocolate dessert, such as our Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake

•   8 oz unsalted butter
•   8 oz bittersweet chocolate
•   1 Tbls cocoa powder
•   1 cup white sugar
•   5 eggs, separated
•   1 cup slivered almonds ground till fine or
•   1 cup almond flour

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease 9” springform pan with butter or pan spray and set aside.

Melt butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder either in a double boiler over water or in a microwave. Mix together till homogenous. Beat 5 egg yolks with sugar till pale yellow. Add chocolate mixture to egg mixture and mix well. Add ground almonds (or almond flour) and mix.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites till stiff. Gently fold whites into chocolate mixture.

Pour batter into prepared springform pan and bake at 350˚F for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Remove from oven and slide a knife around the inside of springform to separate cake from pan to eliminate center of cake falling.  Allow to cool.

When ready to serve, remove the jacket from springform pan and slice into 16 servings, as the cake is incredibly rich.  Serve with raspberry purée or fresh raspberries and whipped cream.  The perfect dessert served with Brian Carter Cellars Opulento!

Time Posted: Nov 25, 2018 at 10:31 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
November 12, 2018 | Brian Carter Cellars

Meet our Employees - Jenny Schaening

Meet our Employees
Jenny Schaening

Jenny Schaening is Brian Carter Cellar’s Tasting Room Manager and is always ready with a smile and ready to create the perfect wine tasting experience for you. If you have any questions about our tasting room, you can contact Jenny at

What is your favorite part about your job? 
I began by volunteering with Brian Carter Cellars during crush season in 2009 while I was working in the tasting room at Columbia Winery. I quickly became hooked with learning everything there was to know about wine production and went on to complete two years of study at the NW Wine Academy. In 2012 I was offered a position at Brian Carter Cellars working in the tasting room and was promoted to Tasting Room Manager in 2017. I continue to get my hands dirty during crush as often as Brian will let me.

What attracted you to work for Brian Carter Cellars?
Meeting the customers that come through our door from all walks of life. I love working with my staff - they are super energetic, passionate about wine and a joy to have on the team.

What is your favorite Brian Carter Wine?
I would have to say Trentenaire, which I consider the most unique wine in Brian’s portfolio. With the main grape variety being Petit Verdot it also includes four other Bordeaux varieties. Big, bold, inky, slightly tannic and beautiful in its bouquet. I adore wine that you can sink your teeth into!

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I am all about cooking, enjoying great wine, spending time with my family and friends and listening to fun eclectic music! I would consider myself a culinary adventurer. Always up for exploring new cuisines, mastering recipes and creating some of my own. Sharing my cooking with others is one of my greatest passions.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
I have a BFA and an MA in graphic design and photography. My first job was dressing up as an elf and taking holiday pictures of unhappy kids on Santa’s lap.

Tell us a little bit about your family?
We are Michigan natives that transplanted to this beautiful state in 2004. I have three grown children, a wonderful husband, and a very active mini-Aussie named Audie. The rest of my extended family still live in Michigan, so I am a frequent mid-west visitor. I consider Seattle my home.

Time Posted: Nov 12, 2018 at 11:14 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
November 7, 2018 | Brian Carter Cellars

Thanksgiving is Right Around the Corner

Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving
What will you be serving with your Thanksgiving dinner?

Question: Red or White? - A good and simple strategy for Thanksgiving wine is to offer a great bottle of each to allow your guests their choice. Plus, it's a good opportunity to introduce your guests to something new that they might not have tried before.

For a white wine, look for a wine with well-balanced acidity. The Oriana is the perfect choice for those prefer traditional white wines. With its seductive aromas and perfect balance, it’s popularity just keeps soaring. Oriana is a richly aromatic wine, resplendent with tangerine, apricot, ripe pear and apple with touches of honey and anise. Crisp acidity greets the palate while mouth-filling fruit flavors linger making this an excellent companion to any Thanksgiving table.

For reds, look for soft tannins that will yield to and blend with your dishes and will delight most red wine lovers without overpowering lighter turkey flavors. The ripeness of the 2013 Byzance with its complex nose of bright red cherries, tar, and white pepper. The wine explodes in your mouth with lots of bright fruit and finishes with a long slightly earthy mineral note. A great balance and a hint of tannin make this wine a great match for a wide range of foods, including your mother-in-law’s stuffing recipe.

Ending on a Sweet Note - Well, what pairs with traditional Thanksgiving desserts like Pumpkin or Pecan Pie? We suggest a glass of Opulento. Deep impenetrable garnet color, with aromas of raspberry, cherry, and chocolate with hints of almond and orange peel. On the palate, this wine has opulent flavors of chocolate and berry fruits with a perfectly balanced and satisfyingly sweet finish.   

Time Posted: Nov 7, 2018 at 10:56 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
November 6, 2018 | Brian Carter Cellars

2018 Harvest

Grapes are in! It is time to look back at the harvest and see what happened. Another memorable harvest indeed. A successful one, my 39th in Washington State. While the wines are certainly not finished, I am happy to say that 2018 was a good one for Brian Carter Cellars and Washington State. The flavors are really nice across almost all varieties. It was a warmer year which favored the varieties that like basking in the heat such as Cabernet Sauvignon. Just to put the heat in perspective: while 2018 was warmer than average, it was not in the record-setting league of 2015. 2018 was in terms of heat pretty close to 2017.  The hot summer got harvest started a week earlier than normal, but a moderate September and October temperatures gave us good hang time on most of our fruit. Harvest finished at the end of October which is pretty normal. We did have some rain this year, which caused us to cancel several pickings in October, but it did not last long and did not seem to have a significant effect on quality.

Quantity wise, yields were pretty close to expected in most vineyards.  I worked with each grower to assure we had a modest yield while supplying what we needed.  In total we crushed about 160 tons and just under 100 tons for Brian Carter Cellars, the balance being for our custom clients. This puts Brian Carter Cellars production a bit higher than the 2017 harvest and almost exactly what we did in 2016.

Again, the wines are tasting good. The white and rosé wines are fruit forward with some weight; the reds are dark in color and have good varietal character and balance. The tannins in the Bordeaux varieties are there but have a nice ripe smoothness.  More to come as the wines get finished; I can’t wait until the spring when I start blending!

Brian Carter, Winemaker

Time Posted: Nov 6, 2018 at 2:47 PM
Brian Carter Cellars
October 10, 2018 | Brian Carter Cellars

BCC~ Real Men Wear Pink

Hello Friends,

Thank you to all of you who have donated so far to my "Real Men Wear Pink" campaign, raising both consciousness and funds for breast cancer research. Today is my 5th day of wearing pink at the winery, the shirts are getting splashed with lots of grape juice and stems from the clusters. You can follow my daily sartorial photos on Instagram!

There are still 26 days left in the "Real Men Wear Pink" campaign, and I grateful to all of you who have donated. I'm hoping to inspire those who haven't donated yet to dig down and give!  

We currently have a donor of $3,165 who is in the lead for the five-course wine dinner for six at Karen's home.  We have a $2000 donation that is in line for receiving the six-year vertical of Solesce, and we have two folks in line for the private tasting at Brian Carter Cellars with food and some treats from Brian's private library. Plus, there are 37 $100 raffle tickets sold so far that are vying for the Jeroboam of Solesce.

Now is the time to up the ante for anyone who wants to compete for the wine dinner or the six-bottle vertical. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month; please give by the end of the month to make your donation count! 

Come by the tasting room and see the daily collection of my photos in PINK, or feel free to visit the winery any time in October to see me in person in PINK!

With kind thanks,
Brian Carter, Winemaker

Click here to visit my PERSONAL page

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Time Posted: Oct 10, 2018 at 11:57 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
September 11, 2018 | Brian Carter Cellars

This is ACE

We recently received a great article from a local wine writer about our first dedication release, "ACE" ~ Enjoy!

Ace is a tribute wine to Brian Carter’s beloved Grandpa, Nick Carter. It is also the first offering of an annual release; The Dedication Series; inspired by people who have contributed to Brian’s life directly. Therefore, the bar is set high for “Ace”.

Nick Carter learned to fly before he drove a car. He and his parents paid for flight school; even though they didn’t have a plane. It finally arrived . . . in a box! After assemblage, they melted the engines twice. The third time was the charm because they switched from aluminum pistons to steel. Nick was first to volunteer to fly with the instructor. They almost crash-landed on a beach. The instructor was so shaken, he quit on the spot.

Nick didn’t quit. He went on to fly hundreds of missions out of France and was awarded The Distinguished Service Cross and other medals for winning 17-0. He lived on to give Brian many best memories from boyhood. Nick is pictured on “Ace”; in uniform, standing next to his tri winged plane. You can see his swag; so it’s fitting his wine would be a Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah blend that was popularized in Australia; where swag is in men’s DNA.

When I decanted “Ace”, I expected it to be boldly flavored . . . but not immediately! Usually, I decant for an hour or sometimes a day, if it needs it. It allows the fruit and secondary traits to surface and have a chance to blend. After only 30 minutes, I stopped decanting; to save the pleasure of unfolding components to be enjoyed over dinner. There is no meltdown in Ace. Its flavors are solid to the last drop. Its immediate gratification makes it a good choice for opening on short notice; like in a restaurant.

I imagine Brian gave a lot of extra effort to “Ace” to best eulogize his beloved Grandpa, as well as to set the bar high for his first Dedication Series bottle. Suppose you wanted to honor through your art, a person you love deeply. How would you that, compose the music, or write the poem? You would spare nothing, bringing your best to it. That worked for Brian. He recently won Double Gold Medal and Best of Class for “Ace”.

It was at the Northwest Wine Summit; the largest competition for exclusively Northwest wines. He won so many medals there (12 across varieties and blends) that they judged him THE 2018 Winery of Distinction out of the 320 wineries considered.

That is why you need to stop in at Brian Carter’s Woodinville tasting room or simply buy a bottle of his at your local wine store. Brian Carter Cellars has had more huge wins than ever, since 2015. That is when he was named Washington’s Winery Of The Year by Winepress NW. Since then, everything is coming up Aces.

~ Scot Overturf 


Scot Overturf, sommelier in Seattle. Overturf is a longtime wine expert, judge, and writer in the greater Seattle market. He has written for publications around Washington for several years.

Time Posted: Sep 11, 2018 at 12:40 PM
Brian Carter Cellars
August 13, 2018 | Brian Carter Cellars

Real Men Wear Pink

Dear Friends,

I am participating in the American Cancer Society’s “Real Men Wear Pink” campaign this year to help raise funds for the fight against breast cancer. I am doing this both because I believe the ACS has and is making a huge difference in the battle to save the lives of women from breast cancer, and also because my life has been personally touched by this disease: my older sister is a breast cancer survivor.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in American women who currently have a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with an invasive form of breast cancer, and 41,000 women will die of breast cancer in 2018.  By raising awareness about prevention and early diagnosis, as well as providing caretaking, free transportation and reduced hotel rates for patients receiving treatment, the ACS helps both patients and caretakers.  The ACS has funded $46 billion in cancer research since 1946 and currently has $62 million currently invested in breast cancer research. This has helped the death rate from breast cancer drop by 39% between 1989 and 2015 which translates to saving 322,6000 lives.

I am reaching out to you, my community of personal, business and wine-loving friends and professionals to help me, the ACS and all women who have been or could potentially be affected by this disease to contribute to my “Real Men Wear Pink” campaign. I will be wearing pink every day for the month of October and you are all welcome to visit me in the winery as proof! Any amount you can contribute is gratefully accepted, I offer some extra motivation for you to dig deeper…

  • For each $100 contributed, you will get a ticket for a raffle to win a Jeroboam (3L) of our most highly coveted wine, Solesce. The winner will be announced at the end of the campaign.
  • The third biggest donor to my campaign which requires a minimum bid of $250 will enjoy a private tasting at Brian Carter Cellars for 6 persons. I will personally lead you through the wines and will provide some special food pairings to bring out the best in the wines. Expect some special library treats.​
  • The second highest donor which requires a minimum bid of $500 will receive a 6-bottle vertical of Brian Carter Cellars Solesce including 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, all sold out and highly sought after.
  • The top donor with a minimum donation of $1,500 will enjoy a dinner for 6 at my darling Karen’s home on Portage Bay (several of you can band together for this one!).  Karen and I will offer 5 courses expertly paired with wines from Brian and Karen’s cellars, both vintage Brian Carter Cellars wines as well as European wines.

Click here to visit my PERSONAL page

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You can also follow me on Instagram! Spread the word and the posts…the more folks who are involved the greater is our impact!

Kind thanks in advance,
Brian Carter, Winemaker

Time Posted: Aug 13, 2018 at 8:33 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
August 10, 2018 | Brian Carter Cellars

A Trip to the Vineyard: Veraison is Here

Having just returned from the vineyards in Eastern Washington, I can report that veraison is underway. Veraison is when grape berries change color and texture on their way to ripening. Before veraison, the berries are hard and green, while after the berries are soft and red or light yellow, depending on the grape variety. This transformation is much easier to see in red varieties where it is easy to see the percentage of berries have changed color. In the picture to the left, about half the berries are either starting or are through the process of veraison.  This picture was taken at Stone Tree Vineyard, Wahluke Slope, where veraison was the most advanced of the ten vineyards I visited this week.

Veraison can be a critical time for winemakers and growers. It marks an essential transition for the ripening process. There are a couple of thoughts on how long it takes between veraison and harvest, all of which depend on the area, weather and the grape variety. Some people say six weeks is a good measure, but it indeed can be longer or shorter. In any case, it is time to start getting the picking bins and tanks ready; harvest is right around the corner!

 Veraison can also be an important time to start the process of ‘green thinning.’  Winemakers and growers work together to determine if the vine is in balance: is there the appropriate amount of crop on the vine for the fruit to ripen in a timely way and maximize quality? If the crop is too large, this is a particularly good time to trim some of the clusters as it is easy to see which ones are lagging behind. When the greener clusters are thinned in favor of the redder ones, it evens out the ripeness of the clusters on the vine and is an important quality consideration as it will lead to more uniformly ripe clusters when picked.  Some varieties tend to ripen more evenly than others, so this process is more important in varieties that tend to have uneven ripeness such as Petit Verdot. It is important to time ‘green thinning’ so that you can see the lagging green clusters. Often this is when about 80% of the berries have completed veraison. On my latest trip, most of the vineyards were still little early for green thinning to occur. I will be returning in a few weeks to walk the vines and talk to the growers on how to proceed. 

~Brian Carter, Winemaker

Time Posted: Aug 10, 2018 at 9:59 AM
Brian Carter Cellars
July 26, 2018 | Brian Carter Cellars

Brian Carter Cellars Honored at 2018 Northwest Wine Summit

Brian Carter Cellars was awarded the “Winery of Distinction” award at the 23rd annual Northwest Wine Summit, for capturing twelve medals across a full spectrum of styles.  

Brian Carter Cellars was awarded four ‘Best of Category’ for 2013 Le Coursier, 2013 Solesce, 2013 Ace, and 2015 Opulento. 

Brian Carter is “deeply honored to have Brian Carter Cellars chosen for this highly competitive award, especially in a year where we are remembering Parks Redwine. This award along with the many honors we have received is a great tribute to the Washington growers who provide us with such superlative grapes and to my hardworking staff who continue to contribute to making Brian Carter Cellars great.”

The founder of the Competition Parks Redwine recently passed away on June 3, 2018.  His illness developed during this year’s competition.  Parks founded the Northwest Wine Summit in 1996, he truly loved the northwest and he championed their wines and producers at each opportunity.

The current team that manages the Northwest Wine Summit and the Redwine family plan to continue the competition and have incorporated memorial awards in the honor and memory of H. Parks Redwine.

Approximately 320 producers of wines, ciders, sake and spirits produced in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. This year’s judging was held in British Columbia and Hood River, Oregon, at the Columbia Gorge Hotel.

Details of the competition can be found at

Best of Category/Gold Medal
2015 Opulento
2013 Le Coursier
2013 Solesce

Silver Medal
2015 Abracadabra Red
2014 Byzance
2013 Tuttorosso
2014 Trentenaire
2014 ONE Cabernet Sauvignon

Bronze Medal
2016 Oriana
2014 Corrida
2014 ONE Syrah

Brian Carter Cellars
June 26, 2018 | Brian Carter Cellars

Brian Carter Rosé Rises to the Top of Washington State Wine Competition

Brian Carter Cellars topped the 2018 Washington State Wine Competition with its 2017 Abracadabra Rosé, winning Best of Show at this year’s competition.  This is the second time in five years that Brian Carter Cellars has been awarded Best of Show, 2009 Solesce won the honors at the 2014 Washington State Wine Competition. The 2017 Abracadabra Rosé beat out 286 entries for Best of Show award.

Brian Carter thinks “rosé is here to stay, it used to be that in the tasting room we’d offer them rosé and customers would look askance at it, saying that rosé was what their mother or grandmother used to drink,” Carter believes that “people are realizing what a delightful wine it is.”

Brian Carter’s primary source for Sangiovese is Willard Farms, a venerable vineyard managed by Jim Willard along Snipes Road and known by some as Solstice Vineyard. Also included are Syrah, Grenache, Malbec and Mourvèdre in the Abracadabra Rosé.

“We call it our ‘magical blend’ because while it does not vary significantly from year to year, I don’t agonize over ‘two percent of this’ or ‘two percent of that’ like I do with my other blends. It’s more serendipitous where this wine ends up each year.”

The 35th year of the statewide competition was staged in Grandview, WA, and serves as a scholarship fundraiser for the Yakima Valley College’s viticulture and enology program.

Details of the competition can be found at

Double Gold Medal
Brian Carter Cellars 2014 Trentenaire

Gold Medal
Brian Carter Cellars 2015 Opulento
Brian Carter Cellars 2015 Takahashi Dedication Series

Silver Medal
Brian Carter Cellars 2014 Byzance Red Wine
Brian Carter Cellars 2014 ONE Syrah
Brian Carter Cellars 2015 Abracadabra Red Wine
Brian Carter Cellars 2016 Oriana White Wine

Bronze Medal
Brian Carter Cellars 2013 Le Coursier Red Wine
Brian Carter Cellars 2013 Solesce Red Wine
Brian Carter Cellars 2014 Corrida Red Wine

Time Posted: Jun 26, 2018 at 12:08 PM