Those that travel to Washington and find Artisan Hill in Northeast Woodinville might call it a hidden gem. Locals are more inclined to skip the clichés and revel in the tunes, craft, and culture that make this wine-walk one of the city’s stomping grounds.
Countless breweries, distilleries, restaurants, and wineries make up this nook of the town and lend their charms and character the buzz that permeates the city.
At Two Vintners, Morgan Lee has been taking risks for over a decade. For nearly half that time, he’s been walking away with awards praising his wines, most notably his Syrahs.
Two Vintners swept the category at the 14th Annual Seattle Magazine wine awards, taking home top honors in both Best Splurge Syrah and Best Everyday Syrah. Not bad for a guy who grew up in the Midwest and didn't have the slightest inkling about industry until he took a wine appreciation class taught by Dr. Vine his senior year at Purdue University.
“The Seattle Magazine awards mean a lot in particular,” Morgan said. “It’s a blind tasting done by a panel of my peers... For them to hold my Syrahs with that kind of esteem is incredible… it feels really good.”
While attending Purdue, Morgan garnered a letter of recommendation from his professor that landed him an internship at Tabor Hill winery in Michigan. Although he loved cooking, his thoughts of becoming a professional chef waned. Nevertheless, he continued with his Hospitality degree.
Morgan and his wife Sally moved to Kennewick in 2006. Morgan managed to procure an internship at Columbia Crest. The transition was tough, but the experience helped him tremendously.
On the weekends, Morgan would walk around handing out resumes with aspirations of reaching the next steppingstone of his career. Serendipity slipped his way when he walked into Covington Cellars and met David and Cindy Lawson.
The couple was looking to hire their first employee and Morgan seemed like a great candidate. Initially the assistant winemaker, he kept at the craft for a few years before gaining the title of head winemaker. When Morgan approached Cindy and David about making Merlot and Syrah, the two didn’t think that stylistically they would make sense under the Covington label. All the same, they were happy to invest, and Two Vintners was born.
Two Vintners is Morgan's creative outlet. The scope and the style differentiate the kinds of wines he makes for Covington Cellars though he does remain their head winemaker.
He thinks of wine as his artistic medium. His wines under the Two Vintner label are more adventurous and slightly esoteric but that doesn’t deter Morgan too much. Despite the scores his Two Vintners wines get, he’s just happy to be creating something unique and quintessentially Washington.
On Sept. 4, Morgan was driving from vineyard to vineyard, checking out fruit, but was kind enough to take my call. “Syrah and Merlot are exceptionally good wines in the state of Washington,” he said. It turns out, critics are agreeing.
The Two Vintners tasting room at 18570 142nd Ave NE in Woodinville is open from noon to 5 p.m. on the weekends. The facility is fast growing into a family affair for locals.
“I really want to express the general notion for people to get out and embrace Woodinville,” Morgan said. “Two Vintners has a substantial kids’ area. I’m really trying to shun the notion that wineries are stuffy. Laughing, he continued, “I’ve seen kids throw fits when they have to leave the winery. One of the parents came up to me and told me they had asked their kid what they wanted to do that weekend and the response was ‘play with toys at the winery’. That just warms my heart.”