Archived Press & Awards for Rocky Pond Winery

Steve Leveque Joins Our Team

October 2020
Rocky Pond Estate Winery Adds Accomplished Consulting Winemaker
Steve Leveque Joins the Growing All-Star Team

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 Opens New Tasting Room in Woodinville

October 2020

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 Winery Estate tasting room in Woodinville
Guests toasting in tasting room
Guests enjoying wine
Learn More About This Tasting Room Here

Rocky Pond Estate Winery Adds Talented New Executive Chef

June 2020
Experienced Chef Austin Harmon to Expand Culinary Offerings

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.

Chef Austin
Chef plating in the kitchen
LEarn More ABout Our Culinary Program

John Ware to Take The Reigns in 2020

March 2020
Rocky Pond Estate Winery Adds Top-Talent to Their Growing Team
Industry Veteran John Ware to Take the Reins in 2020

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.

John Ware at Rocky Pond
Washington Tasting Room Magazine

Rocky Pond Winery: Of Rocks, Toil & Vines

January 2020

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.”

Read Full Article
Wine Enthusiast

Wine Enthusiast: Reviews & Awards January 2020

January 2020
The editors at Wine Enthusiast have recently rated and reviewed our wines and we are pleased to share with you!

2017 Clos CheValle Vineyard Syrah
91 Points
Editors’ Choice
2017 Clos CheValle Vineyard Syrah

91 Points
Editors’ Choice
2017 Stratastone Double D Vineyard Rhône-style Red Blend

90 Points
2016 Reserve Double D Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

90 Points
Cellar Selection
2017 11 Dams Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine Press Northwest

2019 Washington Winery To Watch

December 2019

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.

Listen To the interview here
Rocky Pond Estate Winery
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