Made in the Northwest: Overbluff Cellars

SPOKANE, Wash. – Overbluff Cellars occupies a corner of a very old building and makes its wine using some very old school methods.

“If there’s an easy and a hard way, we usually choose the hard way with the idea that it’s going to produce better wine,” explained owner and winemaker Darby McKee. “So we’re very hands on.”

In 2012, McKee and his partners bought Overbluff Cellars from Jerry Gibson, who started the winery in his garage on Overbluff Rd., before moving it to another facility.

“Went in, tasted the wine, fell in love with the wine and the atmo

sphere and that sort of thing,” recalled McKee. “And decided it would make sense for us to go ahead and take a shot at the wine business.”

Three years later, McKee and his partners bought and refurbished the Washington Cracker Building in downtown Spokane.

“We rebuilt the whole place and started building out different quadrants for the businesses, including the winery, so that the winery could be kind of a core tenant in the space.”

And in its new home, it didn’t take long for Overbluff Cellars to dramatically increase its production from its previous level of 200 cases a year.

“We’ve since grown to about 3,000-3,500 (cases), depending on the year,” said McKee.

In fact, Overbluff’s barrel room in the basement is now triple stacked to the ceiling.

“There’s really no more room, so I have to be careful on how much with the quantity of grapes I’m getting, compared to what I’m selling, so I can rotate things through and keep things aged there as long as we possibly can.”

Overbluff has become known for its Cabernet Sauvignons and Syrahs.

“You know, the big, bold Walla Walla, Rattlesnake Hills types of wines that come out of there,” said McKee.

And he credits those vineyards in Walla Walla and the Rattlesnake Hills in the Yakima Valley for the quality of his wines.

“It costs a little more to be on those vineyards, but you’re on much more established vines that have been there 20-plus, 30-plus years.”

But when you visit Overbluff’s tasting room, McKee says it’s about more than just the wine.

“You’re going to talk to the winemakers, you’re going to be able to ask questions. It’s about what you’re doing while you’re tasting the wine, too. So that whole, overall experience.”

And that’s part of the reason it doesn’t even have a wine club.

“I think that’s really our goal is that you leave here happy with what you’re taking home, but also happy with the time you’ve spent here.”

And he’s pretty confident you will be.