What do you get when you mix two ex-NFL players with a penchant for good Washington wine,
a superstar winemaker and some of the finest fruit in the state?
There is a temptation to overlook Passing Time as a serious player in the ever-growing wine industry in Washington in favor of branding it as a hasty vanity project of partners and ex-NFL quarterbacks, Damon Huard and Dan Marino. But that’s where that old saying about assumptions comes in handy. The truth is the idea and passion for this wine has been fermenting in their minds for decades.
Huard and Marino both have longtime ties to Washington wine. Marino has been drinking, following and collecting Washington wines for decades. When they were teammates, Marino shared his love with Huard. “Going back 15 years, when I was a young college kid who had not drank a lot of fine wine, Dan, in South Florida, started pouring all these fine wines,” says Huard. “He was opening bottles from Leonetti, Andrew Will, Col Solare, and he’s like Damon, man, these are right from your backyard.” It was all those years ago that the two decided when they got done playing football that they would start a winery together.
Huard, a native of Washington, also has extensive roots in the Washington wine industry. “My great grandparents were some of the first Concord grape growers in the state of Washington,” Huard says. “And there are so many fun stories and connections getting back to my roots with this project. My dad played high school basketball with Paul Champoux, arguably the greatest fruit farmer from our state. I love that it’s coming back full circle with my family’s agricultural roots in eastern Washington, especially for my dad. We get our grapes from Horse Heaven Hills, where he grew up playing and sledding.”
With no shortage of passion or local support, Huard and Marino brought winemaker Chris Peterson on board to help them with the delicate work in the cellar. Along with the other wines he’s created, Peterson, who worked for eight years at DeLille Cellars and co-founded Avennia in 2010, creatively pushed Passing Time. “Avennia makes a lot of wines from cooler vineyard sites, and there’s a big focus on Syrah and Bordeaux,” Huard says. “But our wines are all about cabs. I want people to think of Passing Time as the place to taste cabernet.” And the results speak for themselves.
On April 18, the team released the first vintage of their Passing Time Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills. The wine’s first rating with Wine Advocate received 92–94 points and came with a glowing review, “Their 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon is a more than promising start. Made from 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc that spent 21 months in 80% new French oak, it offers a classic feel with black and blue fruits, violets, No. 2 pencil shavings and notable minerality giving way to a medium to full-bodied, elegant and layered feel on the palate.”
Decades after the initial idea was born, Huard says he’s proud of the wine and hopes that people will drink it with the name of the wine in mind. “Passing Time is all about spending time with family and friends; it is perfect on Sunday for dinner, or there’s no doubt on a Friday night, hanging out with friends, we’ll open a bottle.”
With their Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet now released, Huard says they hope their future Walla Walla Cabernet and Red Mountain Cabernet will be as equally well received.
For more information or to order wine, visit passingtime.com.