In 1992, the winery pioneered its Chaleur Estate Rouge and D2, both blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. The team at DeLille believed that blending Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the traditional style would create wines in which each varietal would contribute its own attributes and would create classically structured wines in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, wines that showcase the purity of fruit that defines Washington State terroir, a “first growth” wine from some of the oldest vines in the state. This belief remains one of the winery’s guiding principles today.
In 1994, DeLille Cellars was fortunate to acquire the rights to Harrison Hill vineyard which had some of the oldest vines in the Washington. Now, with vines over 50 years old, Harrison Hill has become one of the most sought after Bordeaux blends in the state.
Observing the Bordeaux tradition of blending varietals together, in 1995 the team at DeLille chose to make a barrel fermented blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon for our first white wine: DeLille’s Chaleur Estate Blanc. We knew this would create a wine with more complexity, diverse aromas and classic structure than many White varietal wines and which would pair well with a wide variety of food. From the first, we achieved nuances of white flowers, sweet grass, honey suckle, creamy crème brûlée, toasted almonds and more. Over the years, Chaleur Estate Blanc has shown us all just how well a properly structured white wine can age.
DeLille Cellars is a portfolio company of Bacchus Capital Management, an investment firm providing strategic capital and making equity investments in United States wineries and wine businesses. www.bacchuswinefund.com
“At DeLille, we believe that Washington State is a Grand Cru wine growing region, created 10,000 years ago. The challenge for us has always been and remains: to create special wines from the uniquely expressive terroir that Mother Nature gave us a long time ago,” states DeLille Cellars’ acclaimed winemaker Chris Upchurch. “We know that this challenge of discovery is never ending, and is becoming tradition here at DeLille Cellars.”
Chris’ love for wine started in his youth, with extensive travel throughout the Grand Cru wine-growing regions of Europe and the west coast of the US. "I had to start off developing my palate and my perspective. How can you make great wine if you don’t know what that is?" he reflected.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Washington, Chris began his career as a wine merchant, working with several of Seattle’s best-known restaurants. This experience allowed him to hone his palate while tasting wines from around the world. Deep in his heart, Chris knew he wanted to express his passion in the production end of the wine industry.
Armed with his love of wine and commitment to learning its craft, Chris initially developed a successful grape-brokerage business contracting grapes from Washington State and selling them to winemakers. Chris uncovered his true calling once he started spending endless hours in the vineyards. That love of the land, the vine and its fruit, fostered Chris’ passion of winemaking and his passion for charting a course in Washington State.
An acclaimed professional winemaker for over twenty years, Chris still spends much of his time in the vineyards of Washington State, primarily Yakima Valley and Red Mountain AVA’s. Reflecting on the great European winemaking tradition, he remarks “The truly long-lived wines are made in the vineyards. I expect to be here for many years to come.”