A NICE GLASS of wine serves many purposes, but according to the effervescent Kevin Cedergreen, its chief function is to cleanse the palate between bites. To put it bluntly, each mouthful of food leaves the tongue coated with some sort of flavor that lessens the impact of the next bite.
“Wine sweeps it cleans so that the next bite is like your first kiss all over again,” says Cedergreen who knows his wine talking points and loves to get a laugh.
Cedergreen has been making his own wine under the Kirkland-based label for more than a decade now, with bottles appearing in many local restaurants like , and Grand Cru. The winery doesn't have a storefront or tasting room, but stocks a few of its wines; carries the Sauvignon Blanc, a consistent winner of the generated competition.
Cedergreen's 2007 Sauvignon Blanc made the 2009 top list out of more than 130 West Coast wines, and its 2010 SB won in 2011 and 2012. When asked what makes a good oyster wine pairing, Cedergreen doesn’t hesitate saying, “Great acidity, nice fruit -- like apple or pear, and no oak.”
Though Washington vineyards produce some big red varieties, white wine goes well with the plentiful seafood in our Northwest cuisine. A nice pairing is important to Cedergreen, who isn’t convinced that the big serious award winners are really better wines.
“Everybody is into extreme nowadays -- extreme tannins, extreme alcohol, extreme hops. But it doesn’t pair well with food,” he says, then laughs and adds, “I don’t want to marry a serious girl.”
A good wine properly paired with good food creates a memorable food and wine experience -- 2+2=10, as Cedergreen likes to say; the best meal or the biggest wine can only ever be a five.
CEDERGREEN GREW UP in Eastern Washington, pressing cider from the family orchard each fall. The taste of freshly crushed juice remains at the forefront of his mind.
In 1979, Cedergreen and his wife Julie moved west to the Seattle area, where he spent two decades as a landscape architect. The couple loved their new home, but missed Eastern Washington. During the mid-90’s, the Cedergreen’s began to strategize how they could live on both sides of the mountains. How about making wine?
Like most people in the wine industry, they kept their day jobs. On September 1, 2001, Kevin signed on at Coventry Vale Winery, the second largest in Washington, unsure how he was going to keep up his landscaping business. Ten days later, 9/11 happened and his phones stopped ringing.
“It gave me a bit of a sign that this was the thing to do,” says Kevin.
Working for such a large scale production (16,000 tons) gave him the experience necessary for a stint at a 500-ton facility in New Zealand. Thus, the crazy schedule of a winemaker began. Kevin would work through the crush in Prosser, where Coventry Vale is located, then do a bit of landscaping work before flying to New Zealand, followed by more landscaping. Then, repeat.
Though he now sticks closer to home, it was his work in New Zealand that cemented Kevin’s place in New World style wines. Once he got his own wine flowing, citizenship on dual sides of the Cascades became a reality.
“Kevin Cedergreen is among the growing number of Washington winemakers who ‘get it,’” says a quote on the Cedergreen Cellars website from Jeff Cox, the beer and wine merchandiser at PCC.
Cox went on to describe the Sauvignon Blanc as, “...crisp, clean, rather racy, but nonetheless well-mannered...bursting with juicy, ripe, tangy starfruit and citrus aromas and ﬂavors. Add a note of wild things blown on the breeze.”
In other words, Cedergreen makes wine like he likes his women -- fun, refreshing and always playing well with others.