Motor City Kitty

A classy bottle of MCK, with dark glass and white label and white capsule on top, red syrah wine on a glass counter next to a glass, which is partially full with the dark liquid, and ready to enjoy.

“Penetrating color. Potpourri of aromas. Blackberry, plum and chanterelles continue to engage the palate. Forest floor, cured meat, black cherry and pine needles. Rich, engaging and oh so persistent. Complex to the max. Nothing is spared.”
–Winemaker Charles Smith

Charles has made – and makes – a ton of wine. Every one of them is the result of a personal journey, a combination of choices and personality that culminates in uniquely delicious ways. M.C.K., aka Motor City Kitty, is one of our oldest wines, a call-back to our very beginnings when Charles was just starting out in Walla Walla.

“It started back in 2000,” he recollected. “At the time I was only making three wines, and when you’re taking the wine out of the barrels and carefully bottling it unfiltered you leave a little wine behind. Considering I was at the beginning of my career, every bottle mattered. So, I racked the leftover wine together to release as a holiday barrel release in Walla Walla.”

After combining the wines into one vessel, a new problem presented itself: How to tell it apart from his other barrels?

A bottle of red wine being poured into a glass.

Considering I only made single vineyard Syrah, like I still do, I didn’t know what to write on the barrel,” he laughed. “Well, resting on one of the barrels was my cat, a tabby. She had an ‘M’ on her forehead, so I’d named her Motor City Kitty ‘cause she was such a rock & roll cat. I wrote her name on that barrel so I wouldn’t forget which one it was, and thus the wine was named for my very Detroit tabby cat, MCK.”

While MCK was no doubt a very tough and rock & roll kitty, her memory lives on in the form of a wine that has made plenty of friends over the years.

2017’s vintage garnered lavish praise from critics. James Suckling awarded 95 points, describing it as ‘deep and flavorful.’ Jeb Dunnuck also gave 95, calling it ‘a powerful, full-bodied, concentrated beauty,’ while Vinous’ Stephen Tanzer gushed over MCK’s ‘spectacular wild nose… Wonderfully silky yet penetrating, showing a restrained sweetness.’

MCK is sustainably grown on legendary Washington vineyard operator Dick Boushey’s Oldfield Block, which was planted with help from our own winemaker, Brennon Leighton. Coming from high elevation and sandy, volcanic soils, MCK is still crafted from three distinct Syrah clones to make one of our longest running wines. Delicious, complex, and, even better, at just $35 a bottle it’s also an incredible value.

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