Quilceda Creek Vinters

Alex and Jeannette Golitzin

Biographical Sketch

Alex and Jeannette Golitzin
Alex and Jeannette Golitzin have relentlessly pursued their goal of crafting world-class Cabernet Sauvignon since founding Quilceda Creek in 1978 by dedicating themselves to quality every step of the way. What started as Washington State's 12th bonded winery has slowly grown to become one of America's most sought-after Cabernets. Since 2004 the wines have been made in a state-of-the-art winery next to the family’s home in Snohomish, Washington.

Some say Alex's path to winemaking was predestined. He is a relative of Prince Lev Sergervich Golitzin, acclaimed winemaker to Russian Tsar Nicholas II, also known as the founder of the Massandra collection. Begun by Prince Golitzin in the late 19th century, the Massandra Collection comprises examples of every Massandra vintage, as well as European wines from the personal collection of Golitzin himself. On his mother's side, Alex is the nephew of the late, great André Tchelistcheff, legendary Napa Valley vintner.

Born in France at the beginning of World War II, Alex lived in Paris until 1946 when his family immigrated to San Francisco, California. Throughout his youth, his family often visited Napa Valley and his Uncle André at Beaulieu Vineyards.

Alex received a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of California in Berkeley. Following two years as an officer in the Army Chemical Corp, including duty at Fort Lewis, Washington, he worked for Standard Oil at the Richmond, California refinery for three years before moving back to Washington in 1967 to work for Scott Paper.

Uncle André, whose consulting work brought him to Washington frequently in the '70s and '80s, was a mentor to Alex during Quilceda Creek's early years. Washington State's ability to grow fine red wine was unproven at the time, but Alex and Jeannette were undaunted and so while Alex worked his "day job" as a chemical engineer for Scott Paper and Jeannette was a busy mother of three, the couple made their first barrel of Cabernet in 1974. Following three more barrels in each of the following vintages, Alex and Jeannette made the bold decision to bond the winery in 1978. With Alex as winemaker and Jeannette as sales director, Quilceda Creek produced its first commercially-released Cabernet Sauvignon in 1979.

In 1983, Quilceda Creek was awarded the Enological Society of the Northwest's Grand Prize, an honor that caught the attention of astute wine enthusiasts both locally and nationally. Throughout the 1980s, acclaim for the wines began to grow and production slowly increased. In 1994, Alex retired from Scott Paper to pursue his quest for the ultimate Cabernet full-time.

Son Paul Golitzin assumed winemaking responsibilities with his father in 1992. With a commitment to quality that rivaled his parents, Paul focused the winery's attention on its greatest asset, the vineyards of the Columbia Valley. As a result, Quilceda Creek selectively acquired a handful of vineyards over the next decade, a move that catapulted the quality of wines to a new level of excellence.

In 1997, Quilceda Creek formed a partnership with Paul Champoux and a few other marquee wineries, including Andrew Will, to purchase Mercer Ranch Vineyard (renamed Champoux Vineyard) in the Horse Heaven Hills. Then in 2001, the family planted the 17-acre Galitzine Vineyard estate adjacent to Ciel du Cheval on Red Mountain. In 2006, the winery expanded its estate vineyard holdings again with the purchase of a five acre site adjacent to Champoux Vineyard that included a long-term lease for 3.5 additional acres next to the property.

In the fall of 2007, the winery released its first vineyard-designated Cabernet Sauvignon from Galitzine Vineyard, its estate property on Red Mountain, and in the fall of 2009, Quilceda Creek added Palengat Cabernet Sauvignon to its all-star line-up.

In recent years, acclaim has driven fever-pitched demand for the wine. "There isn't a Cabernet producer with this winery's track record for consistency," wrote Robert Parker's Wine Advocate in 2006, bestowing two perfect 100 point ratings on both the 2002 and 2003 vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon. In the summer of 2008, the winery received another 100 point rating from Mr. Parker's publication, this time for the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2004 and 2006 vintages both earned 99 pts.

Quilceda Creek was the only Washington winery featured in Mr. Parker's most recent book, The World's Greatest Wine Estates, placing the winery alongside such old world estates as Lafite, Latour and Petrus. "(Quilceda Creek) is turning out compelling wines of irrefutable richness and complexity," writes Parker, "These are prodigious, world-class wines."

In his recent book, Washington Wines & Wineries – the Essential Guide Washington wine expert and critic Paul Gregutt, says it's the winery's track record for consistency that is one of the principal reasons Quilceda Creek was the only Washington winery to receive a perfect score in his book. Gregutt writes, "The father-son team of Alex and Paul Golitzin are making, by anyone's standard, as fine a Cabernet Sauvignon as anyone in the world. Their single-minded focus, their ability to make brilliant wine in virtually every vintage, and, most impressively their unbroken track record of excellence are unparalleled. Nobody does it better."