Rocky Pond Estate Winery is located on the banks of the Columbia River just south of Chelan in the city of Orondo. With our estate vineyard now at 125 acres, this unique Washington winegrowing region is about to become Washington’s 20th designated region, called the Rocky Reach AVA (For American Viticultural Area). What sets Rocky Reach apart is the rocky soil, the terroir, which is unlike anything else in the state. This is an individual and unique site that gives wines grown here an identity.
Rocky Pond Estate Winery is creating a wine destination 2.5 hours from Seattle to design and build a hotel, spa and restaurant on this site. Construction is set to begin in 2023 and open to the public in 2026.
Rocky Pond Estate Winery, the Washington producer crafting wines from their spectacular sustainably farmed riverside and lakeside vineyards in the Columbia River Valley, is pleased to announce that Elizabeth Keyser has been hired as their new winemaker. The timing of this appointment comes at a defining moment, with Rocky Pond perfectly poised to take their portfolio of premium Washington wines to new heights.
“We are beyond thrilled to have Elizabeth join our team,” stated owners David & Michelle Dufenhorst. “Her remarkable talent and enthusiasm will help propel Rocky Pond and the region onto the national stage. We have full confidence that her appointment is the next step in transforming Rocky Pond into the top Eastern Washington wine destination. We believe in the potential of this special region and Elizabeth shares in our vision.”
Keyser brings with her a level of expertise befitting of a tenured Napa Valley winemaker. She recently held the title of Assistant Winemaker at HALL Family Wines, where she crafted wines for the famed California producer’s three-brand portfolio (HALL, Walt, and Baca). Before this, Keyser had key winemaking positions with California’s Cliff Lede in Yountville, A to Z Wineworks in Newberg, Oregon, and Hardy’s Tintara in the McLaren Vale region of Australia and obtained her master’s degree with a concentration in enology from Cornell University. Her deep understanding of multiple varietals and styles ensures that she will be the ideal fit with Rocky Pond’s varied portfolio of premium wines.
This talented winemaker is no stranger to the intricacies of making wine in an emerging AVA such as the Columbia Valley. Having earned her stripes early on in New York’s Finger Lakes, she is inspired by the community spirit and forward thinking that is often found in up-and-coming wine regions. “I look at this as a challenge to think creatively and perhaps step out of some preconceived notions about Washington wine,” says Keyser. “Making wine in an up-and-coming region is an incomparable opportunity to push boundaries.”
Though similarly captivated by the rustic charm of downtown Chelan on her first visit, it wasn’t just the place itself that encouraged her to relocate — it was also the people. “David and Michelle have this pioneering vision and the team that they’ve pulled together is such a rockstar cast of characters — I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”
Notably among this vanguard team is Keyser’s good friend and mentor Steve Leveque, who has consulted for the Dufenhorsts since 2020. Leveque’s winemaking resume is impressive, resplendent with Napa icons such as Chalk Hill, Opus One, Mondavi, and HALL, where he and Keyser first crossed paths. His addition to the Rocky Pond team was a significant investment in the winery’s future. Now reunited with Keyser, the two will continue Rocky Pond’s mission to create world-class award-winning wines from their estate vineyards.
“Steve and I approach winemaking from a similar perspective,” explains Keyser. “We both have an innate curiosity and want to push boundaries. Steve is not a by-the-book winemaker, and it’s fascinating to work with someone with his combination of experience and innovation. Our dynamic is perfectly balanced and it’s beyond exciting to collaborate with him again.” Keyser foresees Rocky Pond entering not only the national spotlight but also the international conversation about fine wines: “Rocky Pond has the opportunity to be the standard-bearer for inspiring and compelling wines from Washington.” This belief puts her squarely in line with Leveque and the Dufenhorst’s vision to tirelessly work to drive quality, while always paying tribute to vineyard expression and terroir.
Keyser joins the team officially on February 1st, 2022 and will hit the ground running. This will be a busy and exciting start to the year for Rocky Pond, with the imminent launch of their two newest red and white prestige wines, Tumbled Granite, and dynamic new offerings from their hospitality program.
Also effective on Feb. 1, Rocky Pond’s former winemaker Shane Collins will take on a new role as Director of Viticulture for Rocky Pond Holdings, which owns and operates Rocky Pond Winery’s three estate vineyards. Shane’s knowledge of the terroir and vineyard experience is crucial in elevating the wine quality for Rocky Pond and the wineries that purchase their fruit. Shane will also spearhead a new venture called Cascade Valley Custom Crush. The Dufenhorsts are grateful to Shane for his significant contributions over the last five years and look forward to working closely with him in his new and critically important role.
Two of our top wines have received 91 points — plus the Editors’ Choice designation!
We are pleased to announce that the latest Wine Enthusiast ratings for our 2019 vintage release are in — and each has earned 91 points and the prestigious ‘Editors’ Choice’ distinction.
Our 11 Dams from the LIVE Certified Double D Estate Vineyard is named for the eleven dams that line the majestic and mighty Columbia River, and the grapes cultivated for this red blend are grown on deeply rooted vines in the sandy soils found riverside on our meticulously and sustainably farmed Double D Estate Vineyard. Our Stratastone, also from the Double D Vineyard, is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre — both savory and smooth, it is one of our most highly sought-after wines.
As always, you can find these newly-acclaimed wines in our online store, by calling (425) 949-9044, or by visiting one of the Rocky Pond Estate Winery tasting rooms in Lake Chelan or Woodinville.
All eyes are turning to Woodin Creek Village for world-class wine and food experiences
Over the past several years, Woodinville, Washington is has become not only the go-to weekend getaway for Seattle-area wine lovers, but also a major wine destination in its own right. With over one hundred tasting rooms representing wineries from all over Washington state, Woodinville is a destination that rewards connoisseurs and casual enthusiasts alike.
Launched in autumn of last year, Rocky Pond Estate’s tasting room in the dynamic Woodin Creek Village district is the perfect place to showcase our critically acclaimed wines in the hub of Woodinville’s world-class wine, lodging, and dining scene.
Our owners and founders David and Michelle Dufenhorst hired regional super stars to lead the Woodinville project, creating what we believe is an unparalleled wine and hospitality experience! Open every Wednesday through Sunday, Rocky Pond Estate Winery in Woodinville offers a variety of wine and food tastings, including farm-to-table small plates prepared by our Director of Culinary, Chef Doug Setniker.
Rocks Society wine club members will be welcomed with exclusive options at the Woodinville location, including wine flights and small bite pairing menus of three delectable wine-and-food combinations curated just for them.
With elegant seating options for all, our beautiful Woodinville tasting room is also perfect for walk-up wine tastings, bottle service, and wines by the glass. Two large outdoor patios offer a variety of relaxing options for wine enthusiasts looking for an intimate al fresco experience.
Sip a sultry glass of our coveted 11 Dams or our silky Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from the Double D Vineyard. We’ll have you planning your next visit out to our idyllic estate winery situated between Wenatchee and Lake Chelan along the Columbia River before you know it.
Looking to make a day of it? We are proud to be centrally located next to some of the top Woodinville wineries and restaurants. Try our friends at Bayernmoor Cellars, Alexandria Nicole, Ambassador, or TruthTeller Winery. When you’ve almost had your fill, head over to nearby Brix Wine Café for one of the best burgers in Woodinville, and tell them Rocky Pond Estate sent you.
Three Wines Capture the Hearts of the Judges at Sunset Magazine
In the June publication of Sunset Magazine, three of our wines were awarded medals of the highest distinction in the prestigious 2021 Sunset International Wine Competition!
This is the second Double Gold and 95+ point rating for the 2017 Rocky Pond Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve and a second Gold Medal and 94-point rating for the 2017 Rocky Pond Malbec Reserve in just the past month after a great showing in the Seattle Wine Awards!
Sunset is the leading media brand of the Western lifestyle. Its International Wine Competition makes its winning wines part of the most influential wine program in the country. Its 42 judges are some of the most experienced wine professionals in the West, including winemakers, journalists, chefs, and many Master Sommeliers and Masters of Wine. Wines were judged from a field of over 2900 entries and only wines rating 90+ points were awarded Gold medals. Wines rated Double Gold were scored 95 points or higher and mean all the judges on the panel unanimously deemed it Gold-worthy!
We are excited to be included in this prestigious publication and are thrilled that our wines continue to get favorably mentioned. This speaks to our passion for continual improvement in the quality of the vineyards and the wine.
You can find limited quantities of these critically acclaimed wines in the online marketplace at RockyPondWinery.com, by calling (425) 949-9044, or by visiting one of the Rocky Pond Estate Winery tasting rooms in Lake Chelan or Woodinville.
Washington Tasting Room Magazine selected Rocky Pond Winery as one of eight exceptional wine club to join in Washington for 2021-2022. The particularly noted that our club is best to join if you love Estate-grown wines from the Chelan & Columbia Valley AVA’s.
Taking Home 97, 94, and 93 Points on Their Estate Wines
Rocky Pond Estate Winery, the Washington producer crafting wines from their beautiful and sustainably farmed riverside and lakeside estate vineyards, was honored with some of the highest scores in the competition at this year’s Seattle Wine Awards. This marks the second year in a row that this young producer has made a major impact on this annual event that features the best wineries in the Pacific Northwest.
“We are ecstatic to see three of our most highly sought-after wines earning some of the highest scores in the event again this year,” stated Owners and Founders David and Michelle Dufenhorst. “These high marks reinforce our dedication to produce compelling wines of character through innovative viticulture and winemaking techniques. The most exciting thing is that this is just the beginning. We are just now scratching the surface of the full potential of our LIVE Certified/Salmon Safe estate vineyards, with their unique microclimates and soils, in our beautiful section of the Columbia Valley. The future is bright!”
Founded in 2006, The Seattle Wine Awards is the largest and most prestigious wine competition in the state of Washington. Their tasting panel consists of the best and brightest wine professionals in the nation and include the region’s top Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers, wine buyers, wine directors, sommeliers, and wine journalists.
Rocky Pond Estate Winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Bordeaux Red Blend wines were submitted alongside hundreds of entries and tasted blind by the all-star panel – they results were nothing short of spectacular.
Taking the category, the 2017 Rocky Pond Estate Winery Double D Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve received an eye-popping 97 points – the highest-rated Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon in the competition – and was awarded Double Gold. Equally impressive, the 2017 Rocky Pond Estate Winery Malbec Reserve was awarded 94 points and earned Rocky Pond Estate Winery a second Double Gold on the day. Finally, in the heavy-hitting Bordeaux-Style Red Blends category, the 2017 Rocky Pond Estate Winery La Domestique Reserve was given 93 points.
Rocky Pond Estate Winery garnered a total of 5 Awards in
WinePress Northwest Winter Judging Contest!
Platinum Medal Winner
2017 11 Dams Cabernet Sauvignon
Double Gold Medal Winners
2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
2016 Cabernet Sauvignon
Gold Medal Winner
2017 Clos Chevalle Syrah
Browse all of Rocky Pond Estate Winery’s exceptional wines!
Rocky Pond Estate Winery, the Washington producer crafting wines from their beautiful and sustainably farmed riverside and lakeside estate vineyards, has reached an agreement with highly regarded and accomplished winemaker and viticulturist Steve Leveque. He will join the team for the 2020 growing season and will lead all winemaking activities alongside their established Winemaker Shane Collins and current vineyard management team led by Javier Rocha.
“We are filled with excitement and anticipation as we welcome Steve to the team,” stated Owners and Founders David and Michelle Dufenhorst. “This is another building block in our mission to elevate Rocky Pond as the top Eastern Washington wine destination. We believe in the potential of this special region, its micro-climates, and soils. By adding Steve to share his wealth of experience and to guide our excellent winemaking and vineyard teams, we hope to take our offering to the next level.”
Leveque’s list of winemaking work is impressive, extensive, and full of household names like HALL, Chalk Hill, Opus One, and Mondavi. His addition to the Rocky Pond team is a monumental investment in the future of wine quality and vineyard management that will further elevate and expand the burgeoning program for decades to come.
Leveque honed his winemaking techniques during his 10-year tenure as winemaker at Robert Mondavi Winery. He also gleaned cutting-edge ideas from leading viticulture research and visionary collaborators including prominent wine consultant Michel Rolland. Steve went on to work as executive vice president and winemaker of Chalk Hill Estate Winery in Sonoma, where he handcrafted an award-winning portfolio from small-lot Bordeaux varietals and Chardonnay.
Leveque has also earned three 100 Point scores from Wine Advocate, two 100 Point scores from Jeb Dunnuck and the #2 Wine in the World from Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2011. Over 80 of Steve’s wines have been rated 99-95 Points from the elite wine publications.
“I am excited and humbled to be working with such a dedicated and talented team. The level of commitment and leadership shown by the Dufenhorst family is something I rarely get to experience, and I can’t wait to make wine from their amazing vineyards.” states Steve Leveque. “The Double D and Rocky Reach vineyards, with an abundance of rock and glacial silt soils, coupled with ideal climatic conditions, makes me confident that world-class wines will be the standard at Rocky Pond.”
The Dufenhorsts have been actively compiling quite the all-star team. They are laser-focused on increasing quality across the board through innovation in winemaking, sustainable vineyard practices, and elevated hospitality experiences. Leveque will work alongside current Rocky Pond Winemaker and native of Lake Chelan Shane Collins in addition to President John Ware who recently took the reins after twenty years at Quilceda Creek.
Rocky Pond Estate Winery has opened a new tasting room in the heart of downtown Woodinville at the Woodin Creek project. Opening late September 2020, the Rocky Pond team is raising the bar by adding new and exciting culinary and wine experiences.
“The new Rocky Pond Tasting Room in Woodinville will take our King County offering to the next level,” stated Owners and Founders David and Michelle Dufenhorst. “Our experienced team is focused on elevating the current offerings in the region by creating exclusive wine and food pairing experiences and intimate wine dinners in a sophisticated, yet casual, setting like no other.”
The Dufenhorsts have been actively compiling quite the all-star team of wine and service professionals at Rocky Pond and have again added regional super stars to create an unparalleled wine and hospitality experience in Woodinville.
To lead the culinary program, Rocky Pond has hand-selected a veteran of the industry in Chef Douglas Setniker to be the new Director of Culinary Experiences. Chef Doug has been involved in the high-touch catering industry for nearly thirty years. Doug graduated first in his class from the American Culinary Institute in Hyde Park, NY. From there, his career included eight years as the Director of Catering at Microsoft and fourteen years at Guckenheimer as the Executive Chef for the Pacific Northwest.
Chef Doug will be creating a locally sourced menu to accentuate and elevate each Rocky Pond wine. Guests can expect a menu of rotating small bites, weekly chef specials, and regularly scheduled multi-course wine dinners.
Holly La Porta-Jones, no stranger to the world of fine wine, recently joined the team as the Tasting Room Manager and will be creating a welcoming, world-class hospitality experience. Holly is a graduate of the University of Hawaii and worked as a Restaurant Manager at the Four Seasons Hualalai before joining Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits as a Fine Wine Specialist. Holly holds her Level 2 Certified Sommelier Certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers as well as her WSET Level 2 Certification from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.
The new tasting room was thoughtfully designed with comfort and elegance in mind. The Dufenhorsts took cues from their popular downtown Chelan Tasting Room and have combined upscale touches with a beautiful mix of leather, metals, and stone textures throughout. Boasting a variety of comfortable seating options for private and members-only wine flights, the main room is anchored by a gorgeous custom-built bar that is perfect for walk-up tastings, bottle service, and wines by the glass. Two large outdoor patios are located on either side of the main room and offer a variety of relaxing options for wine enthusiasts looking for an intimate al fresco experience.
A large private room – perfect for small to medium sized private events – was created to host corporate functions, birthdays, wedding showers and more. This beautifully designed private space will be available for rent throughout the year with catering options.
Rocky Pond Estate Winery, the up-and-coming Washington producer crafting wines from their beautiful riverside and lakeside estate vineyards, is announcing a major advancement by adding an experienced Chef to develop a cutting-edge culinary program to further elevate and expand their highly regarded wine experiences.
“It is with great pleasure that we welcome Chef Austin to our growing team,” state Owners and Founders David and Michelle Dufenhorst. “This is yet another way that we are elevating Rocky Pond as the Eastern Washington wine destination. The culinary program will be another shining piece of the puzzle and will accentuate the majestic setting, excellent terroir, sustainably farmed vineyards, and distinct wines. Chef Austin’s creativity and experience in fine dining will assist us in fulfilling our mission to create the most memorable wine experiences in the Pacific Northwest.”
By adding Chef Austin to develop and lead the culinary program, the ownership team is looking to take another big step in taking their young wine brand to the next level through a variety of wine and food pairing experiences, wine dinners, and so much more.
Chef Austin is no stranger to the region. He grew up in the picturesque Lake Chelan area and graduated from Chelan High School before bouncing between California and Seattle to chase his culinary dreams. Ultimately, he would land starring roles in some of the top fine dining destinations on the West Coast, including Executive Sous Chef at the Craftsman in Encinitas California, Chef Tournant in Seattle Met’s Restaurant of the Year, Altura Restaurant, and most recently at the Campfire Restaurant in Carlsbad California. He is also no stranger to the world of wine, working at Carruth Cellars in Solana Beach California as the assistant winemaker over multiple vintages.
“I am so excited to be joining the Rocky Pond team as their new Executive Chef,” states Chef Austin. “They have been building an unparalleled paradise in one of the most underrated corners of the Columbia Valley that I have been lucky enough to call home for many years. I am beyond excited to create a culinary program like no other so we can continue to make this area a top travel destination for wine and food lovers not only from Seattle, but from the Pacific Northwest and the entire West Coast.”
The Dufenhorsts with John Ware and Chef Austin have more exciting plans in the pipeline that will be announced very soon. Soon, interested consumers can enjoy wines and a full culinary offering at both of Rocky Pond’s highly adorned tasting lounges located in Lake Chelan and Woodinville, WA in addition to at their winery in Orondo, WA.
Rocky Pond Estate Winery, the up-and-coming Washington producer crafting wines from their beautiful estate vineyards, is announcing a major move to increase its knowledge-base and expertise by adding John Ware as their new President.
“We look forward to John bringing his real-world expertise and proven track-record to Rocky Pond,” state Owners and Founders David and Michelle Dufenhorst. “All the pieces are here – a majestic setting, excellent terroir, top-notch vineyards, and a community-minded business built on integrity and excellence. We have global aspirations for Rocky Pond in the coming years and know that by enlisting John we can realize our vision for the future.”
By adding John to run the organization, the ownership team is looking to take the young wine brand to the next level with an increased focus on high-quality winemaking and vineyard management of their sustainably farmed estate vineyards.
John Ware grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and has been in the wine business for decades. He spent the past twenty years at Quilceda Creek Winery where he started in their cellar, then moved into administration, into national and international sales and finally landed in the General Manager role where he oversaw all aspects of the burgeoning brand. Over his tenure, he played an integral part in growing their business into a Columbia Valley powerhouse that has been awarded numerous high marks. While there, the 2012 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley was selected as the #2 Wine in the World on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 and multiple, 100 point rated wines from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, who subsequently awarded them the 2017 Extraordinary Winery Award for Best Washington State Winery.
“It is an honor to be assuming the role of President for Rocky Pond Estate Winery,” states John Ware. “The Dufenhorst family has quietly been building an undiscovered paradise in one of the most beautiful and soon-to-be discovered corners of Washington. I am excited to offer guidance to an already dynamic team of experienced professionals as we continue to elevate our winemaking, vineyard management, event offerings and overall high-touch consumer experiences.”
John and the Dufenhorsts have game-changing plans in the pipeline that will be announced very soon. For now, interested consumers can enjoy wines at both of Rocky Pond’s beautifully adorned tasting lounges located in Lake Chelan and Woodinville, WA.
Thanks to Washington Tasting Room Magazine for featuring Rocky Pond Estate Winery!
Inspired by Europe’s grand winery estates, Rocky Pond Winery expands into a major destination, complete with a vineyard amphitheater for weddings and concerts. On the horizon is an event pavilion, luxe cave tours, spa and casitas.
DAVID AND MICHELLE DUFENHORST, owners of Rocky Pond Winery, like the way the world looks from a bicycle. The couple spent ten years bike touring through numerous wine regions in Europe with DuVine Cycling and Adventure Tour Co. “The very first trip that got us all jazzed up was Tuscany,” recalls David. “We visited wineries that have been in the same family for 600 years and after that first trip and subsequent ones, Michelle and I decided we needed to come back and find a cool place to create a legacy for our kids.”
91 PointsEditors’ Choice2017 Clos CheValle Vineyard Syrah
91 PointsEditors’ Choice2017 Stratastone Double D Vineyard Rhône-style Red Blend
90 Points2016 Reserve Double D Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
90 PointsCellar Selection2017 11 Dams Cabernet Sauvignon
Marji with Lines on Wines talks with David Dufenhorst and Shane Collins:
After cycling trips through the vineyard lands of Italy and France, David and Michelle Dufenhorst decided they wanted to create a vineyard and winery in their home state of Washington. They fell in love with a Columbia River site south of Chelan, and started building a home. Although there were no vineyards along the river, the land was rocky and sloped nicely down to the Columbia. They hired vineyard consultants, who concluded the slope, soil, wind and water conditions were perfect for wine grapes. Double D Vineyard was born with a 30-acre purchase that has grown to 200 acres today, 125 planted to wine grapes. The Columbia River front land is so ideal for vineyards that a new AVA is on the verge of approval, to be named Rocky Reach, extending from Orondo south to the Wenatchee Bridge.
In summer 2017, Shane Collins left Tsillan Cellars to become winemaker at Rocky Pond Winery. He grew up on a fruit farm on the north shore of Lake Chelan and loves the taste profile of grapes grown in the area. He spends much of his time in Rocky Pond’s two vineyards, Double D on the river and Clos Chevalle on the south shore of the lake. He and the Dufenhorsts are very excited about their new winery not far from Double D, scheduled to be finished sometime in September. There is also a riverfront wine lifestyle community in the works, with 6 lots offering river access close to what will soon be a third vineyard. Boaters will be able to dock for food and wine pairings. The Pond area of Double D includes an amphitheatre for concerts and can be rented for weddings.
For its many outstanding, award winning wines and unique tasting experiences, Rocky Pond Winery was named 2019 Winery to Watch by Wine Press Northwest.
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