Wine Adventure: Walter Dacon
When you think of the Olympic Peninsula, you do not think of great wine. You think of amazing hiking trails, pleasant winding roads, and shellfish. On the contrary, the Olympic Peninsula is the home to several great wineries, to include the first in Western Washington - Hoodsport Winery. Among this celebrity and the other small notable wineries is Walter Dacon.
Living out on the Peninsula I have been fortunate enough to have tasted wines from several of these wineries. A lot of which are located in towns where tourists will be stopping through on their weekend getaway. Walter Dacon is not much different.
The tasting room is located in Shelton just off of Highway 101, about a 30 minute drive from The Compound (Allyn, WA). Large signs on the highway point you in the right direction and it is very easy to find. Slightly off of the beaten path the winery sits quietly in a clearing of trees.
Unlike those in Hoodsport or Belfair, this winery did not sit on the main road near other businesses that may entice people to stop in and taste wine. Making me wonder how much business they received. It was hard for me to imagine that people would drive off course while passing through Shelton to stop at a winery. I have taken countless trips through Shelton myself and never stopped. This led me to believe that the consumers of these wines would likely be locals or people referred by word of mouth. If you did not have another reason to be in the area, I am not sure if many would go.
The secluded location and environment of the tasting room is very similar to the tasting room at Trillium Creek Winery. When you walk into the small house an alarm sounds, alerting the owner that a patron has entered the tasting room. It is quaint and cozy. Boxes of wine and literature that are stacked neatly wall to wall, confirm you are in the right place.
Ann and her delightful pup Beaux met us in the tasting room. We were the only customers in the winery when we arrived. Shortly after our arrival, a couple who lived in town that have never been there before stopped in to try the wine. Then a group of two regulars and their four friends piled in. My notion that this was a poor location was debunked. If you make good wine, people will come and bring their friends. Or order the six cases of Syrah, Ann was preparing to ship out to the east coast.
Ann is one half of this family owned and operated winery. She has been making wine since 2000 and established Walter Dacon in 2003 with her partner Lloyd. Ann is a joy to talk to and she is excited to share her wines with anyone who stops by. Passion exudes from her, much like Beaux's when he is meeting new winery guests.
We tasted through 5 or 6 wines, all finely crafted. Of these were the 2013 Syrah Belle and the 2013 Syrah Beaux. Both wines were made from grapes harvested from the Columbia Valley. However, they tasted drastically different. Belle was fermented in French oak and Beaux in American oak. It is so delightful to have the experience to try the same juice produced with what would seem to be a minor difference. In reality, different barrels vastly influence the taste of the wine. My preferred tasting profile leaned more toward the Beaux. A bold, peppery Syrah with much more tannin. These wines are named after their past and current Winery Dogs. Belle was a black lab that has sinced passed away and Beaux is their current tasting room greeter.
As Ann was handling the other patrons in the tasting room, Blake and I snooped around looking at the other wines that were not featured in the tasting flight. We found a 2013 Mourvedre and a 2015 Petite Verdot, making us all the more curious. It is intriguing to see a small production winery with several unique varietals available. We enjoyed the other wines so well, we knew it would not be a risk to purchase a wine we did not have the opportunity to taste. We went home with the Petite Verdot.
Walter Dacon has delicious wines, and to be honest I never would have expected to taste such phenomenal wines from Shelton. Blake and I will definitely be going back. The atmosphere, the company and the wines were lovely. I recommend that anyone passing through Shelton or out for a Sunday drive stop in. They are open Noon to 6 PM, Wednesday through Sunday. You can also find their wines for order on their website. I hope you get a chance to try their wines. Cheers!